Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014 - (Page 29)
» GUEST VIEWPOINT
Retention Plan a Must for Ports
By Steve M. Lewis
President and CEO
t is easy for the busy executive to
overlook the necessity of destroying records when administrative,
legal, fiscal or historical value has
expired. A large industry likely bangs on
your door wanting to do something with
your data - image, store or content manage.
Yet, the most cost-effective and economical
solution for most data is simply destruction
based on approved record retentions. A
retention schedule is an expression of the
relative value of the data. Most data loses
value very quickly, usually within five years.
Exceptions include contracts, leases, record
drawings and personnel files. But again,
only based on approved retention schedules
in the presence of due diligence and not
To address the complexities associated
with this issue, a comprehensive, systematic records and information management
plan is an essential component of any port,
public or private, headed by a records officer reporting directly to senior management with sufficient authority to mandate
the effort. There will be much resistance
throughout the port to the idea records
should be destroyed.
Generally, records means all data regardless of physical form or characteristics or
means of transmission, made or received
pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business.
For public agency ports, an administrative
entity generally will define the public record
and may even provide retention schedules.
For private ports, the port must define
the corporate record and establish the
Email often engenders considerable
confusion relative to retention. Email is also
a most popular target for records requests
or production. Retentions are not written
Scheduling is the heart of the records program.
For the records program to be legally sufficient, the
scheduling process must be documented and approved.
for media types. Email is a media type and
has no specific retention. Retention is content driven.
Scheduling is the heart of the records program. For the records program to be legally
sufficient, the scheduling process must be
documented and approved. The program
must be systematic and comprehensive. To
selectively apply the program is to invite
adverse inference in litigation. The program
also must be developed during the normal
course of business, not developed for specific
records for specific reasons. The working
papers used to develop the program, and
especially those used to develop the retention
schedules, must be maintained permanently.
Each retention schedule and disposition document must be approved and signed through
a regular process. As retention periods are
met, the records must be destroyed and documented on a disposition list.
Spoliation is the intentional destruction
or significant alteration of evidence. When
spoliation is established, an inference may
be drawn that the evidence destroyed was
unfavorable to the party responsible for its
destruction - the spoliator. Spoliation can
constitute obstruction of justice and can
result in sanctions in court. If it rises to the
level of attempting to perpetrate a fraud
on the court, it may result in the dismissal
of an action or other summary judgment.
Careful adherence to approved retention
schedules and correct application of the
port's disposition list will virtually eliminate the potential for spoliation. Therefore,
the disposition list must represent actual
destruction. If paper records are destroyed,
yet digital records of the same information
continues to be maintained, the disposition
list is a fraud, including email and back-ups.
If source documents relative to destruction
are produced (certificates of destruction
from recyclers, land fill tickets, etc.) attach
these as a witness to the destruction.
Metadata is receiving particular attention and perhaps points to the greatest vulnerability during discovery. Metadata is data
about data - information about a particular
data set that describes various attributes,
such as authorship, creation, modification
and/or format. More frequently we see
discovery mandated in "native format," or
the "form in which it is used." For digital
records, this includes metadata. This issue
points to the need for a comprehensive,
systematic disposition effort as a regular
component of the port's record life cycle.
A comprehensive, systematic records plan
is much more than simple destruction, yet
destruction produces the biggest bang for
the buck in a busy port.
Steve M. Lewis is president and CEO of
independent records and information management consulting firm SML, Inc. He has
more than 35 years of experience at nearly
every size and type of government agency.
Clients range from small towns to major cities, counties, school boards, state agencies,
universities, community colleges, utilities,
transportation, law enforcement, court
and regulatory agencies. Learn more at
SPRING 2014 * WWW.AAPASEAPORTS.COM
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014
From the President’s Desk
Public Sector Agencies with Private Sector Expectations
Welcoming Veterans to Port Ranks
Working with Stakeholders: The Buck Stops at the CEO’s Office
Words of Wisdom from Long-Standing Port Executives
PPM® Certification Readies Executives for the Top
Facing Challenges Head On
Ports are Critical to U.S. Economy’s Health
The Changing Paradigm of Transportation Executives
Port and Maritime Environmental Compliance Planning Starts at the Top
Comprehensive Records Retention Plan a Must for Ports
Saint John Brings the Port to the Classroom
Barbados on Track for Record Cruise Growth
Santa Marta Focuses on the Environment, Community and Operational Efficiency
Northwest Ports Partner to Further Cut Diesel Emissions
Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014