Instant Messaging in the Federal Government

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In a recent Wall Street Journal article, it was reported that the House of Representatives was investigating the use of instant messaging within the Internal Revenue Service. It appeared that the IRS was using instant messaging extensively, but not archiving the contents.

Many federal agencies are looking to increase their productivity by implementing instant messaging and presence as means of communicating. One of the challenges of any rollout of instant messaging applications within a Government agency is the recordkeeping requirements of the Federal Records Act. The National Archives is the federal agency responsible for setting records management requirements within Government entities..

According to the National Archives, instant messages within Government are subject to the same regulations that preside over e-mail. Specifically:

The statutory definition of records (44 U.S.C. 3301) includes all machine readable materials made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business. Agencies that allow IM traffic on their networks must recognize that such content may be a Federal record under that definition and must manage the records accordingly. The ephemeral nature of IM heightens the need for users to be aware that they may be creating records using this application, and to properly manage and preserve record content.

Agencies looking to deploy new Unified Communications solutions such as Cisco Unified Communications Manager or Microsoft Skype for Business (previously knowin as Microsoft Lync) have been grappling with how they can take advantage of the benefits of instant messaging while still being compliant with federal regulations. Increasingly, they have turned to ISI Telemanagement to help them meet their requirements.

ISI Telemanagement Solutions, Inc., in conjunction with Verba Technologies, offers a complete solution for Government agencies who need to archive their instant messaging. In addition to providing a searchable, permanent archive of instant messages, agencies can use the Verba system to insert a message into the conversation that reminds users that they are creating records which are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests or legal discovery. Additionally, they can use the new “Ethical Wall” capability to take active control of their IM by preventing certain groups of users from messaging other groups.

Are you grappling with how to take advantage of the benefits of IM and presence while still remaining compliant? Contact us to learn how.

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Mitchell Weiss joined ISI in 1994. He holds a Bachelor's Degree Management Information Systems from the University of Illinois and a Masters in Business Administration from the Stuart School of Business in Chicago.  He is an industry leader in all phases of managing Unified Communications.  At ISI, Mr. Weiss is responsible for the vision, strategy, and implementation of a suite of Unified Communications products including Voice and Video Recording, SIP Trunk Management, and Traffic Management.  Mr. Weiss also brings his knowledge of Cloud Computing to ISI, allowing the company to create new cloud based models for its software and services.





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