Today, information is one of the pillars that powers modern Government. Effectively managing and sharing public sector information has the power to improve people’s lives and drive economic growth. There are many stakeholders involved in the process.
Central and local Government, its departments and agencies, the civil service, researchers, and suppliers all need secure access to Government information. More importantly, all Government bodies are seeking to create greater engagement with citizens to simplify and improve the services they deliver.
Most Government bodies have well developed information management strategies that handle information access, storage and security. However, these have often grown up at a departmental level to address single solutions. In addition, Government bodies often have knowledge management programmes to define the value within this information.
The challenge within the digital era is to manage the explosion of information to increase collaboration and direct Government access while protecting individuals’ data and privacy. This requires an over-arching Information Governance strategy.
Keeping Confidential Information Safe
High profile media reports highlight the damage to reputation and trust that can occur when personal data is lost of stolen. The challenge for Government is that more and more of its activity takes place beyond the corporate firewall. As they actively seek to engage directly with citizens, the focus on information security and the privacy of personal data. There needs to be a balance between an ease of access that encourages participation and the highest level of security required for Government’s to meet statutory requirements.
The challenge is further heightened by the fact that user access will primarily be Internet based. The open nature of the Internet makes it extremely vulnerable to attack. Information Governance can provide an over-arching strategy of how information is created and processed allied to policies outlining the operation of mobile devices while Government employees are away from the office.
Evolving Service Provision
Government bodies are investigating how technology can change the way they provide services. The UK administration terms this ‘Transformational Government’. The information infrastructure has to be created with the use of web-based portals for user access. Procedures and policies have to be created and enforced for the creation, capture, sharing, analysis and secure storage of Government information. This enables Government to treat information as an asset that underpins cost-effective, efficient service delivery. There is widespread recognition that technology changes must be matched to changes in culture and process. This is where the full benefits of Information Governance can be realised.
The widespread use of the Internet to provide government information and services has altered the landscape dramatically for those who organise, store, and provide access to government content. There are many technical challenges include digital preservation, authentication, security, and accessibility for a diverse and geographically dispersed user community.
Management challenges include controlling costs, improving workflow, building staff skills and resources, and setting user expectations. Key issues include the maintenance of personal privacy, re-use of government information, and addressing the digital divide so that more people are capable of engaging with e-Democracy.