• United States

Records retention

Mar 16, 20042 mins
Data Center

* Nearly half of American firms don't have records retention policies in place

What are your company’s policies regarding retention of e-mail and electronic documents? As an IT executive, it’s probably your job to know. In fact, regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the Health Care Information Portability and Accountability Act, and Securities and Exchange Commission mandate storage requirements for some industries.

However, nearly half of American firms haven’t adopted records retention policies for e-mail and electronic documents, according to a survey from ARMA International and AIIM. ARMA, a professional association for records and information managers, and AIIM, the industry association for enterprise content management, surveyed 2,200 records managers about electronic records management.

Here are some of the highlights:

* 47% said their company doesn’t include electronic records in its retention and destruction schedules.

* 59% of respondents said their firms lack a formal policy for e-mail retention.

* 46% have no system for placing holds on records in the event of pending litigation or a regulatory investigation, risking possible destruction of crucial information. And of those that do have a hold order policy, 65% said it did not include electronic records.

“With most business documents and so much correspondence created and sent electronically today, it’s amazing that companies are not taking e-records more seriously, especially given what happened to Anderson,” says Peter Hermann, executive director and CEO of ARMA International. “Records, whether they are on paper or electronic, must be managed in the same fashion to ensure they can be properly retrieved when needed and are purged on a set schedule according to when their useful time has passed.”

Oversight of electronic records falls upon the IT departments of 71% of the survey respondents. Yet 67% of records managers said IT folks may be computer experts, but don’t understand the core principles of life cycle management. If your organization falls into the category of those who haven’t yet established e-mail retention policies, go to This Network World article by storage expert Deni Connor gives you advice on where to start and what issues to consider.

For more information about ARMA International and AIIM International, go to and, respectively.