Will Digital Government Kill Traditional Information Management?

Buzzwords aside, let’s get real with Digital Government. While there are some examples of digital services being offered, digital government is still in its nascent stage within the Government of Canada. As I reflect on information within this concept, I realize that the evolution of information management as a service becomes more critical: information flows will evolve; policies and institutions will have to adapt to this trend; and information risks to will have to be identified and mitigated.

Evolving information management into a service within a digital context will shake traditional information management to its core. My three cents below:

1. Digital: information management within context as opposed to information management of content
The concept of digital government within the Government of Canada is a mesh of service delivery processes and supporting infrastructure that is invisible to citizens. This means designing new citizen-centric workflows, breaking some policy barriers, and embedding supporting infrastructure into workflows.

How does information management fit into this? Information management is an integral part of the supporting infrastructure as it looks at the information that is created and transformed within workflows. In the digital context, this means zooming out from a retention and disposition focus to include an encompassing array of services that embraces all aspects of information within workflows (e.g. privacy, security, access, legal).

2. Digital times call for a rethink of structures
If information is created and transformed during workflows and relationships, how can we isolate different aspects of information such as privacy, security, access, and liability from the policies, workflows, and institutions? Cohesiveness of Policies, Workflows, and Institutions is necessary. To live up to digital times, information management needs to embrace a greater understanding of how information is created and transformed (workflows) and related aspects (as mentioned above: privacy, security, access, legal). This demands institutional redesign around how information is managed.

Questions arise such as why do we have the Office of Privacy Commissioner separate from the Office of Information Commissioner in the Government of Canada? The Province of British Columbia has already combined them into the single Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC. Why do departments and agencies have different heads for information security, IT, privacy, and ATIP? And how do all these experts work together with the business areas, who are the ones creating and transforming information?

3. Information Accountability Equals Workflow Lead
Accountability for information also becomes a critical discussion when talking digital services. Since digital services are citizen-centric workflows and information is an integral part of those workflows, accountability for information must be tied to workflow leads.

What does this kind of accountability mean for business areas? It means:
1) Developing policies, workflows and business requirements that will encompass information management in its broadest definition (see #2 above);
2) No longer developing silo-ed solutions to workflows;
3) More discussions amongst executives about information risks and governance.

What does it mean to information management? It means:
1) Letting go of information control;
2) Thinking beyond retention and disposition;
3) Starting to manage information risks,
4) Supporting executives in designing digital solutions to services in a way that integrates information management in workflows.

Vision and leadership at the top (@alexbenay) in designing information management as a service within the Government of Canada are critical to evoke meaningful and cohesive support to the design and delivery of digital government. The information management community across Canada, including all levels of government, associations, and academia also has to adapt quickly to this changing and exciting time in service delivery.

To read more about IM as a service, click here.

Andrezza Falk has a Master’s in Public Administration from Queen’s University and has been involved in high profile projects at the provincial and federal levels of government for over 10 years. Andrezza is enthusiastic in working together with clients to create the best solution for their own context. As a senior consultant with Systemscope, Andrezza’s expertise involve business transformation, business strategy, and information governance.


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