Federal agencies remain uneasy about their ability to manage e-discovery and electronic data, according to Deloitte’s “Seventh Annual Benchmarking Study of Electronic Discovery Practices for Government Agencies.” Only 53 percent of respondents felt adequately prepared to discuss e-discovery with opposing counsel. This represents a steep decline from the 2012 survey, when it was 90 percent.
According to the survey, the federal government is far behind the private sector when it comes to using predictive coding. Government agencies are only half as likely as those in the private sector to use it. Respondents to the 2013 survey also considered themselves hamstrung by a lack of technical support on the e-discovery front. Only one in four respondents believed they had adequate technical support when dealing with opposing counsel. In the 2012 survey more than half thought they had enough support.
These results reflect the reality that government attorneys are increasingly aware of the difficulties involved with aligning e-discovery technology to processes and capabilities. Some government agencies may find that years after installing new software, the technology doesn’t mesh with internal processes and skill sets. That means that even the best technology may compromise the e-discovery effort, rather than improve it.
It appears that federal agencies and in-house departments have a lot in common. Both are grappling with cases that have large amounts of potentially responsive information, even as they face pressure to curb costs and improve efficiencies.