FOIA Text Archiving – Challenges Public Sector Will Face in 2019

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With the change of the calendar year, more and more public agencies are developing innovative ways and strategies to ensure they comply with the ever-changing FOIA text archiving requirements. As one of the major communication channels being used in the workplace, SMS text messaging is considered in most states as a public record, and therefore must be captured and retained formally in case they get requested under the public’s Right-to-Know mandate.

However, despite all the efforts, it seems that many agencies are still falling short to meet their text archiving responsibilities. According to a recent report, of 70% of federal, state, county, and city government organizations that allow SMS/text for official business communication, 46% of those are not archiving those text messages.

Apparently, failure of many agencies to meet FOIA text archiving requirements stems from a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • lack of budget for an enterprise-grade archiving solution;
  • belief that archiving text messages are not required by law;
  • agencies are still awaiting FOIA guidance.

These are the issues deterring agencies to effectively capture and record text messages, but what about the challenges they will face this year? Read on as we detail in this post the top FOIA text archiving challenges that the U.S. public sector will be facing in 2019.

NARA 2019 Mandate

In March 2017, NARA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a directive which mandated that all agencies must begin to manage their records, including mobile SMS, in electronic format by the end of December 31, 2019.

This mandate also requires agencies to have a solution in place that has the ability to identify, store, retrieve and retain archives for as long as they are needed so agencies can locate and deliver them in a timely manner, knowing they are trustworthy and complete.

While the latest reports state that 92% of agencies can meet the deadline, those that still rely on legacy systems and manual processes are at high risk of non-compliance.

Increasing BYOD Devices

Recently, the public sector has seen increased adoption of the BYOD culture, which will still continue and remain a challenge in 2019. According to statistics, two-thirds of government organizations allow their employees to use their BYOD devices for official business, yet only 35% of those organizations are retaining SMS/text messages from those devices.

Many experts believe that implementing BYOD policies comes with costly disadvantages: when agencies allow foreign devices to connect into their networks, they are exposing themselves to potential cybersecurity breaches. Without the right policies and platforms in place, BYOD can do more harm than good. In fact, according to a survey published in the U.S. State and Federal Government Cybersecurity Report, government agencies ranked as the third-lowest performing industry in overall security.

To address this growing issue, public agencies are advised to adopt a mobile messaging platform equipped with enterprise-grade security. This solution should be able to capture and record mobile SMS across all BYOD devices and archive them on a server in an immutable, secure WORM format.

More Stringent FOIA Audit

Throughout the electronic communications management and supervisory cycle, government organizations and agencies are constantly subject to audits. In 2018, it was revealed by the National Security Archive that many federal agencies are unable to respond to FOIA requests. With such an outcome, public agencies should expect greater scrutiny from regulators in the coming years.

To simplify audit preparation and minimize FOIA response delays, organizations in the public sector should invest in an enterprise mobile archiving solution that can enable them to retrieve all archived text messages quickly and efficiently.

With TeleMessage, public agencies and institutions in the U.S. can effectively comply with FOIA text archiving requirements. The TeleMessage Mobile Archiver is an enterprise messaging app that effectively addresses compliance, regulatory, eDiscovery response requirements and reduces risk across the public sector.

TeleMessage captures and records mobile content, including SMS, MMS, voice calls, and WhatsApp Chats from corporate or BYOD mobile phones. Messages are securely and reliably retained within TeleMessage servers or forwarded to an archiving data storage vendor of your choice.

Our mobile archiving products securely capture content from mobile carriers and mobile devices for a variety of ownership models (BYOD, CYOD, and employer-issued). With our multiple archiving solutions, you can always find the right tools or blend for your requirements:

TeleMessage offers cross-carrier and international mobile text & calls archiving for corporate and BYOD phones. Contact us today to try our mobile archiving products.

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