On public officials and public records: Never assume you won’t be asked

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Assume that, eventually, someone is going to ask.

Someone is going to ask to see that record, that piece of documentation, or that email. They might be from a regulatory agency, or a potential acquirer doing due diligence, or your own compliance department.

Hillary’s woes hold a lesson for all of us

Now, of course, no one may ever ask. That little piece of information may languish somewhere for years, to finally be removed from the files when some time limit is reached. It may be forgotten forever.

But you’d be unwise to assume that no one will ask. It might be a hostile request, from a plaintiff’s attorney, or a friendly one, from a colleague in another country who wants to ensure that their process conforms to yours. It might be for information that seems innocuous, or routine. It might seem like a waste of your time.

Maybe it is all of those things—but the one thing you know is that the really big problem will come when you are unable to produce that documentation. That is what former Secretary of State Clinton is discovering now.

You may not lose the nomination- but you still could lose

Of course, most of us aren’t presumptive Presidential candidates. The attention focused on our inability to provide what we’ve been asked for will be narrower and less public. That won’t make it less significant to us. The negative consequences could, in fact, be much worse.

So, turn away from the news of someone else’s documentation problem and consider what it means for your own. Here in New England, where Information Mapping’s US office is located, we have a saying about basements. There are only two kinds: those that have flooded, and those that haven’t flooded yet.

You should follow that rule for your documentation and assume there are only two kinds: documentation someone has requested, and documentation no one has asked for yet. If we don’t see you in the news, we’ll know we’re doing our jobs.

 

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Thursday, 13 December 2018

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