There has been much debate on “The Value of Information” and on responsibilities for protecting personal data. Last week the Audit Commission released a report on the need to address the problems of quality in public sector information: “Nothing but the Truth“. Today the Information Society Alliance (EURIM) released a one page summary for political audiences on the need to treat information as an asset in order to prevent it from turning into a liability.
The one page summary reads as follows:
From Toxic Liability to Strategic Asset: Unlocking the Value of Information
EURIM has reviewed approaches to managing and exploiting the value of information in a six page report with links to current guidance and reference material. The key points are:
1) Treat information as a valuable asset or it will become a toxic liability.
Compared to a ‘security-centric’ approach, an ‘asset-centric’ approach to information management is more likely to succeed in both protecting against abuse and realising value. A culture that sees information as the life-blood of the organisation, alongside finance, people and property, is more likely to adopt and deploy the disciplines necessary to ensure quality and security.
2) Quality of service delivery correlates with quality of information management.
Research by the Audit Commission and the private sector shows clear linkages between good information management and improved performance. Poor management leads to inferior performance, higher costs, poor reputation and even loss of life. All reports into public sector data losses and tragedies, such as Baby P, have highlighted systemic information governance deficiencies.
3) Treating information as an asset changes visibility, approach and achievable benefits.
The process of creating Information Asset Registers and valuing their content entails involving Chief Financial Officers in scrutiny, governance and benefits assessment. This commonly leads to more efficient management and use of information, including the removal of duplication and waste. There are, however, issues regarding the supply and availability of those with the necessary information management skills.
4) Parliament should require impact assessments covering the opportunities and intentions for exploiting the creation of any new information systems or the innovative use of existing ones.
Those for new systems should include clear statements as to why these would be better and less costly than extending the scope and improving the quality, security and availability of existing systems.
5) All public sector bodies with their own systems should have Information Asset Registers.
The National Audit Office and Audit Commission should define common standards for valuation, quality and performance measurement and audit, in co-operation with professional bodies, trade associations and prospective private sector partners.
6) The Knowledge Council should develop and disseminate good practice guidance.
The Council is a neutral focus for collecting and publishing good practice in information asset management. They should coordinate contributions from the National School of Government, professional bodies, trade associations, academic institutions and suppliers.
7) EURIM should work with its members and others to help educate the new intake of MPs on the critical importance of good information governance to policy formation and public service delivery.
The EURIM Press release quotes Professor Jim Norton, who chaired the group that produced the report, as saying: “Treating information as the very valuable asset it increasingly is, provides a ‘win-win’ situation. It helps establish a culture where information is valued and exploited appropriately and at the same time provides the incentives for a more responsible approach to security and quality.”
Dave Waltho, Head of Government Affairs, Public Sector (SAS) who, with Professor Chris Higson of London Business School produced the status report and identified the material for the micro-site, is quoted as saying “What we don’t value, we don’t take care of. All organisations acknowledge the importance of measuring, protecting and optimising the potential value of pounds or property, yet most do not apply the same disciplines to their information – a strategic asset of at least equal importance.”
This paper addresses the second of the six threads in the Information Society Alliance programme that was launched after the Director’s Round table on Information Governance almost exactly a year ago:
Security by Design: the means of reducing or removing vulnerabilities and ensuring sysems and services are fitter for purpose. This sub-group group is reviewing what will hopefully be the penultimate version of its report tomorrow