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The 2007 Enterprise All-Star Issue

 

Baltimore utility powers up with e-discovery program

Constellation Energy whips through document searches and easily meets compliance mandates since implementing tools and best practices

By , Network World
November 26, 2007 12:10 AM ET

Network World - Constellation Energy makes nuclear power. That's besides the smattering of hydro, coal, natural gas and other types of generating facilities it runs, and its Baltimore Gas and Electric subsidiary. Naturally, it deals with a lot of regulatory oversight -- and mounds of associated documentation.

But because of an advanced e-discovery program implemented early last year, the $19 billion, Baltimore-based company can easily seek out the right documents as needed. It stands as a shining example of how to use technology and organizational best practices in creating effective e-discovery. For this, Constellation earns a 2007 Enterprise All-Star Award.

Regulatory data

The key to understanding Constellation's massive document load is the word "regulated." Constellation has to report to an array of agencies, from the Maryland Public Service Commission to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It deals with a deluge of e-document requests from these agencies, as well as from a dozen states' environmental and utility regulators. In addition, as a public company, it reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Besides all that, there are human resources regulations, contracts and myriad internal documents.

Before implementing its sophisticated e-discovery system, searching for e-mails and other documents was onerous and costly. The search functions typically found in e-mail programs or on file servers were inadequate.

Frank Chambers, ConstellationFrank Chambers, director of information security management, recounts the effort it took to fulfill just one big e-discovery project. Comprising 225 different requests, that project required a team of about 30 Constellation employees to spend more than six weeks and hundreds of hours searching through 3TB of data across 700 e-mail in-boxes and other caches of data. Worse, the work had to be done after hours to avoid disrupting the regular workday.

In the light of such untenable search requests, Chambers led a three-year, multimillion-dollar e-discovery project. As of January 2006, Constellation has been storing, organizing and reproducing electronic documents in its IT system more efficiently. "I would consider Constellation a model for any company, not just utilities," he says.

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