Every month, Digital Government Institute will profile an Education Advisory Committee (“EAC”) Member. DGI’s Inaugural Interviewee is FTC’s David Shonka who serves on DGI’s E-Discovery, Records & Information Management EAC. We hope you join us Thursday, March 22, 2018 in Washington, DC for the 15th annual E-Discovery, Records and Information Management Conference.

Executive Insight: David C. Shonka, Acting General Counsel, Federal Trade Commission

David C. Shonka has been the Acting General Counsel of the Federal Trade Commission since March 2016. He has served in that position twice previously (January – June 2009 and October 2012 – June 2013). The FTC’s General Counsel is the agency’s chief law officer and adviser.  He is also the agency’s Principal Deputy General Counsel. In both roles, Mr. Shonka provides legal services that cover the full range of the Commission’s activities, from appellate litigation to internal operations, including counseling on legislation, ethics, and administrative matters.  He has also personally represented the Commission in numerous district court and appellate proceedings.

Mr. Shonka is a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States, where he serves on the ACUS Committee on Judicial Review and the Council of Independent Regulatory Agencies; and he is an active member of the Sedona Conference, where he serves on the Steering Committee for Working Group 6 (cross-border transfers of data), has served on the Steering Committee for Working Group 1 (e-discovery and electronic records), and participates in projects for Working Group 11 (privacy and data security). He also speaks frequently on issues relating to privacy, data security, cross-border transfers of information, e-discovery, government investigations, and other regulatory matters. In 2015, Mr. Shonka received the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive, one of the highest honors available to members of the Senior Executive Service.

How long have you been at your Agency and what do you do there?

I joined the Federal Trade Commission in February 1977 –so going on 41 years. I am the Acting General Counsel and have oversight of a legal office of about 50 people who defend the Agency and provide legal advice to the Commission. In describing our office to prospects, I say we are 3% of the budget and 5% of the personnel doing 100% of the work.

What is the hottest topic being discussed at the Agency?

FTC has a sweeping mandate within our two mains areas: competition and consumer protection. From my personal perspective, I think the hottest competition issues concern healthcare, pending mergers of all sorts, pharma, and Intellectual Property. On the consumer protection side, I think all of them are interesting, but personally tend to get most excited about data security and privacy and related matters.

What will people at your Agency be confronted with the next 3-5 years– what opportunities/hurdles (especially with respect to Robots, chatbots, Artificial Intelligence, etc.)?

I think our hurdles will be harnessing technology within the confines of limited budget and resources. The greatest opportunity with respect to technology (Data Analytics, Technology Assisted Review, Artificial Intelligence) lies in its ability to improve efficiencies and provide better workflow and security. 

What is your funniest/fondest memory/What are you most proud of during your government service?

My fondest memories are of those times when a small group would be working intensely on a case (long hours, nights and weekends) and would produce a quality product. Contrary to what many people seem to think, the government isn’t a gigantic monolith—very often, it is out-resourced by the other side. A former colleague of mine said it well when he commented (more than once) about the pride he felt in being able to stand up in a federal court and say that he was there on behalf of the people of the United States.

What are your top three recommendations for others entering the discipline within government?

  1. Always look around for unmet needs—my own involvement in e-discovery and security are examples of this. A privilege issue I was asked to look into spurred more involvement in e-discovery, which was becoming very important at that time. Later, when the 2006 Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were about to take effect, I (and many others in the Agency) thought it critical that all of our attorneys take a consistent approach to e-discovery in the scores of cases that we have pending at any one time. We organized ourselves to make sure that happened.
  2. Own and correct your mistakes.
  3. No matter what, keep your eye on the ball—ask, what really matters here

 

Whether you are addressing record keeping by NARA, focusing agency efforts on IT Modernization, selecting Emerging Technologies for improved Citizen Services or improving IT security, one important common denominator is the need for an appropriate Information Governance schema that is holistic, cross-agency and keeps up with technological capability. Whatever Information Governance an agency has in place (and it certainly varies), there is no question it needs to continually be updated to incorporate all the ways data are being created, shared and stored.

Some recent developments/current events to factor in existing Information Governance processes include:

  • NARA’s Strategic Plan (FY 2018 – FY 2022), scheduled to be published next month, ushers in a new era of government information management. Several of the Plan’s Objectives enable change through provision of policies and processes for the transition to fully electronic recordkeeping, as well as sponsorship of a career development program to ensure proper skills.
  • The Modernizing Government Technology Act (“MGT”) signed into law last month (as part of the National Defense Authorization Act). The MGT “creates a $500 million central modernization fund for agencies to borrow against to update aging and insecure systems.
  •  The US General Services Administration hosted the Interagency Emerging Citizen Technologies Meeting December 2017. The plan is to create a Pilot training and education program around the discussed emerging technologies and target high-need communities including Data Stewards, Contracting Officers and Non-Technical Program Managers.
  • On January 3, 2018, almost a quarter million people received notification letters from the US Department of Homeland Security about a potential privacy incident related to the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) Case Management System.

Modernizing Information Governance means coordination and collaboration with multiple agency stakeholders — to include but not limited to Information Technology, Records Management, Privacy, Security, Data Analytics, Legal, Compliance and, of course, the relevant “Business Owners” who ultimately “own” the data and are responsible for it throughout its lifecycle. This level of cooperation and integration of strategies and implementations is no small feat.

In today’s hyper-connected, always-on world, the ability to access and or create information anytime and from anywhere is the new normal.  Agencies will need to ensure they leverage Information Governance best practices to create efficiencies and to protect government data, which includes citizen data. Information Governance, and its attendant rigor in full lifecycle management, will be critical to delivery of citizen services as well as our national security and competitiveness.

Visit www.digitalgovernment.com to register for webinars and events covering this important topic.

 

 

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Federal records managers are facing a perfect storm in records management:

  • OMB directives require that agencies transition to all electronic records
  • Agency record volumes are growing exponentially
  • Record formats and platforms are proliferating
  • Records are constantly under cyberattack
  • New political leaders are unaware of records requirements and risks

How can agencies navigate all these factors even if resources are constrained and budgets may be cut? Digital Government Institute has partnered with Veritas to help industry and government come together to generate solutions during this transition.

The 2017 Playbook for Federal Records Management provides a step-by-step approach to managing records electronically. The goal of this playbook is to enhance agency best practices in electronic RM, by providing some specific steps agency personnel can take to make headway on the journey to electronic RM including:

  • Capturing all email messages by user
  • Capturing all files and archive official/permanent records
  • Automating provisioning to assign record types
  • Automating classification of records
  • Authorize qualified users to reclassify email and files
  • Confidently delete temporary records
  • Regularly export Capstone records

This playbook also provides a clear roadmap to compliance with the 2012 Managing Government Records Directive to electronically store all permanent government records by 2019. It also includes:

  • Links to federal initiatives impactive records management
  • Information on NARA’s role and advice for a new political appointees
  • Best practice advice
  • Additional tips and techniques

  REGISTER to receive your copy

 

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Philip Droege is an interesting guy—with an even more interesting job.He’s the Director, Office of Records Management for the Executive Office of the President EOP. Which means two things:

  • He’s in charge of maintaining the paper trail for the president, vice president, and all their deputies, assistants, counsels, and other staff members
  • Every four or eight years, he’s in charge of clearing out all those records as a new administration displaces the old

Philip lead a session with Jason R. Baron, former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), during the inaugural Records Management Conference at 930gov on August 24, 2016. They spoke on “Presidential Transitions and Exit Procedures for Departing Officials,” covering what happens when the entire senior leadership of the U.S. Government packs up and leaves town.

You probably know that on Inauguration Day, it’s traditional for the president and president-elect to ride together from the White House to the ceremony at the Capitol. As the incumbent walks out through the North Portico, it’s a bittersweet moment—for the simple reason that he or she will not return that day and perhaps not ever.

And as soon as the limos sweep out of site, an army of movers attacks the residence on the third floor. All of the outgoing family’s belongings are packed into vans and are replaced by those of the new first family. When the new first family arrives, their new home will be ready for them.

The White House load-out and load-in is a tiny part of a far larger transition between the old and new administrations. As many as 1800 people work in the Executive Office of the President  (EOP) and the vast majority of those in White House components will be leaving. 

According to Jason, an advocate for information governance, what they have created and will leave for NARA to own  is an enormous mountain of presidential records, including:

  • Hundreds of millions of emails
  • Plane loads of paper
  • Petabytes of other types of data, including photographs

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978 designates every item in that vast trove as a presidential record. And under the PRA, the rules are clear: all presidential records of all White House employees must be transferred into the legal custody of NARA.  

For political appointees at federal agencies, the rules are differentOnly some records series in agencies are organized by administrations, Jason says. In other words,  a cut-off date when those records must be sent to a records center may differ from the date one administration ends and another begins.   Other internal records will be subject to an agency’s own policies regarding preservation or disposal, in accordance with the Archivist’s determination of when they will no longer have administrative, historical, informational or evidentiary value.

As a change in administration approaches, Jason recommends that departing officials follow NARA guidance and prepare thoroughly to make an “intelligent hand-off” by:

  • Meeting with their designated records officer or ombudsman
  • Working within the approved guidance framework for their agency
  • Ensuring that all records—including documents, email, and data—are accounted for
  • Removing purely personal information, especially PII
  • Transferring any emails sent via private accounts to a .gov account

We’ve seen in the news that senior officials can generate tens if not hundreds of thousands of records. Waiting until the last minute to sort and prepare all that material will make for a big, ugly job. To avoid the rush, Jason recommends officials adopt these operating principles from the first day they walk into their new offices:

  • Don’t skip the briefing on NARA and agency records management policies
  • Understand what systems are in place to automatically capture records
  • Follow procedures so that records are processed appropriately
  • Use a .gov email account for all official business (and promptly copy or transfer emails relating to government business sent over a commercial account to a .gov account)

Ideally, for most officials, the day-to-day burden of records management will be almost invisible. But taking a few simple steps can save a lot of time and keep you out of trouble—especially with new laws covering emails.

 

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