12 Oct 2015

Why Bother With Records

October 12, 2015Uncategorized

Public officials ignore records policies…FOIA requests sit unprocessed…management directs that e-mails be trashed all at once…does it seem public opinion has shifted to “keeping records is so 1990s”? It takes real work and time and resources to manage records effectively. Shouldn’t organizations use those resources for something else? How bad could it be?

Ask PG&E.

Records managers who worked for the company say their records management program was great until cutbacks left the system with some holes. Big holes? Not so much. When a PG&E pipeline exploded in San Bruno it was clear there was going to be litigation. Was the pipeline installed correctly? Were there safety inspections? Was the pipeline maintained properly? Records are evidence of business operations. They answer questions like this – ones that get asked by opposing counsel. Just one problem; 8% of pipeline safety records were missing.

Oopsey. California seismologists detected a small tremor from the collective palm slap in the PG&E legal department. It is hard to defend yourself against accusations of negligence when you lack any proof that you did what you were supposed to do. “Did too…did not…did too…did not” does little to convince a jury.

Once you move past regulatory requirements for record retention or retention for audit support, there is some discretion. Proof of proper action is key to litigation protection. That makes records central to risk management. Records management also adds value. That comes after the need to manage risk. Attorneys need records to defend you. Don’t tie their hands.

You have to be able to defend yourself – in court, before regulators, in the media – wherever you get dragged into a conflict. For that, you need records. If you need help with your records call Advanced at (323) 727-7277 or e-mail us at Cartons@advancedrecords.com.