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Happy Belated Electronic Records Day!

Saturday was the birthday of ‘Electronic Records Day’, who has just turned four. I bet many of you did not know that. Neither did I. Now ask me if I know when national doughnut day is, and I can tell you – June 3, 2016. Can’t wait.

You may be interested in more information about Electronic Records Day. Electronic Records Day is an opportunity to raise awareness among government agencies, related professional organizations, the general public and other stakeholders about the crucial role electronic records play in our world. It was created by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) as part of its State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI).

I believe we all would have our heads in the sand if we didn’t realize the role of electronic records. However, I do give kudos to CoSA, who are responsible for encouraging cooperation among the states and State Historical Records Advisory Boards (SHRABs) on matters of mutual interest, define and communicate archival and records concerns at a national level, and work with the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)National Archives (NARA), and other national organizations to ensure that the nation’s documentary heritage is preserved and accessible.

Now that I do think is worth celebrating. For more information on the organization, please click here.

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Dysfunctional Search and the FBI, any of it sound familiar?

I think dysfunctional search is a great name. Unfortunately, it appears that the FBI wins the prize, but I am sure there are many organizations that also feel that their search is dysfunctional. An article in techdirt, ‘How The FBI’s Dysfunctional Search Systems Keep Information Out Of FOIA Requesters’ Hands’, did provide a chuckle, simply because it is just too late to take the US government seriously anymore.

To try to make this short, Trentadue versus the FBI, deals with a requested release of videotapes containing footage of the Oklahoma City bombing. Somehow during the first four days of testimony it was revealed that the FBI has ‘convenient’ information silos, instead of a cohesive repository for search. The problem is the person requesting the information must specify the correct records system for a comprehensive search to take place. The FBI typically only searches the main repository. In addition, the requester must specify in their request a ‘cross-reference’ check, which may mention the subject, but is not stored in the main repository. Again, the now beleaguered requester, must also send a request to the field offices involved, because the FBI ‘Records Information Dissemination’ has no cross-links to other than the original field office.

What about internal search at the FBI? The Central Records System (CRS), as it turns out, is not really a central repository and will accept three different methods of search, which will return three different sets of documents. One of the search methods, Automated Case Support (ACS) is used to search the CRS, but that search isn’t unified. To make matters worse the ACS is then split into three components. And, I think I’ll stop there as it just gets worse and worse, really it does. Oh, one more tidbit, the FBI decides what keywords to use.

I would imagine, or sincerely hope most organizations do not have a search environment such as the FBI. But enterprises do have silos of information and many have no integrated way to search across multiple repositories either via a software product that crosses repositories or through federated search. This should be a basic function. According to an AIIM study, only 18% of organizations have cross repository search capabilities. Maybe the FBI should provide training lessons.

Does your organization have cross repository search capabilities or federated search?

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Keeping the Problem People Out of the System – Possible?

It’s widely documented that most security breaches are caused by internal staff, either by accident or on purpose. Training can help in the accidents, but what about a disgruntled employee who deliberately causes a data breach? Think it won’t happen to you? Think again.

In an article on ZDNet, ‘After OPM breach, Manning and Snowden are just the beginning’, the author, David Gewirtz commented on the basic problem of people and security, “It is impossible to separate individual decision-making and action from the national security apparatus of any nation. Sure, we can carefully vet individuals, subject them to background checks and psychological tests. We can interview friends and neighbors. We can examine financial records and elicit stories about what they were like in college. We can certainly weed out the obvious problem cases. But we can’t keep all the problem people out of the system.”

Ok, you may say well, that’s the government and the staff can deal with highly secure information that impacts the country. That’s true. According to Mr. Gewirtz, “While some very misguided individuals celebrate Snowden’s actions, I submit that any individual who harms the American economy to the tune of at least 47 billion dollars and costs nearly a million jobs is no hero.” I hardly think that most organizations are in the same position as the government.

But, what if a data breach happened in your organization? Chances are it isn’t going to jeopardize national security – but your organization is in for some hefty fines, potential loss of brand and customers.

How do you protect your organization from the enemy within?

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