Archives & Records Manager Aaren Purcell is using Rational Governance to categorize, cleanup, and control its unstructured data to ensure compliance with State records retention regulations.

Seattle Public Schools is the largest municipal school district in the State of Washington, operating 97 schools serving nearly 52,00 students. The District recently began an information governance initiative to identify and classify 20 years of unstructured content created by school district employees; the effort was designed to reduce Seattle Schools’ electronic footprint and costs associated with maintaining 30 TB of data. 

To this end, Rational Enterprise serves the District in categorizing, cleaning up, and controlling its unstructured data to ensure compliance with State records retention regulations, as well as to more efficiently and effectively respond to open government requests and e-discovery demands.

Project Goals

Rational Enterprise is being used or will be used to satisfy ten (10) key use cases pertaining to records management and open government response:

  1. Ability to categorize and make sense of large volumes of unclassified, unstructured content
  2. Ability to define classifications that can then be applied to large amounts of unknown, unstructured content
  3. Ability to search for data across large amounts of unclassified, unstructured content
  4. Ability to search for data across large amounts of classified, unstructured content
  5. Ability to classify a record for multiple purposes
  6. Ability to conduct e-discovery and respond to public records requests
  7. Ability to create and apply policy rules to specified records, resulting in automated messaging and automated (audit and confirmation) actions
  8. Ability to move inactive archival records to State archives, either directly from its original location or after being moved to an intermediary, in-house archive repository
  9. Ability to export records and their related data when the need arises to migrate from the proposed system; exposing records and their related data to other systems
  10. Ability to delete classified content that has met its state-mandated retention requirements, while offering legal hold to preserve content past its retention period.

Current Projects

To date, Rational Governance has been deployed to District file shares and Exchange email servers. The current phase of the project is targeting over 12,000 email boxes for ingestion. To date, RG has ingested the text and metadata for approximately 118 million document locations (equating to 23 terabytes of native content), primarily composed of file share data. RG’s ability to recognize duplicate documents via hashing has narrowed that set to only 53 million unique documents.

The District is currently using RG’s search and machine learning models to explore and categorize content, as well as effect a legacy data analysis and defensible disposition program. It has removed 500 gigabytes of redundant, obsolete, and trivial data as a part of a pilot within two (2) departments. 

RG has also helped the departments understand the overall picture of the content they are creating and storing over time, as access to content is lost through staff attrition, bad filing, and naming conventions.

Near-Term Future Projects

Rational Governance will soon be used to purge file share and email data from 22,000 legacy employees. RG will be also deployed to the District’s SharePoint 2007 repository to identify and cull documents in advance of migration to SharePoint 2013. RG will then be deployed to the District’s SharePoint 2013 and OneDrive environments.


Aaren Purcell

Archives & Records Manager | Seattle Public Schools

Aaren Purcell has been the records manager for Seattle Public Schools for the past 4 years and serves as the committee chair of the Washington State School Officials Records Management Committee.  After an extensive 25-year career in information technology supporting and developing structured solutions in state government, she moved to web and SharePoint technologies, specialized in managing unstructured electronic records. In addition to managing electronic records, Ms. Purcell has supported an archive of paper records and artifacts that document the operations and schools of Seattle, stretching back to the 1860’s.