The next few weeks will to see a rash of worthy political pronouncements and initiatives that fail to balance the conflicting pressures for data protection, sharing and security. The focus on protection commony obscures the need for the information to be fit for purpose: accurate and available in usable form to those who should have it, when and where they need it.
If the data is not fit for purpose then it may be better to save money, as well as reduce risk, by simply switching the system off. One organisations recently saved 70% of its spend on IT by switching off systems and databases created to serve needs that were no longer valid or were inferior duplicates of others that addressed the same need.
There are similar potential savings across much of the public sector. But the current muddled debates over information sharing, security and protection look set to prevent practical progress. Best Practice is the enemy of Good Practice. “Adequate practice” would be a major improvement in many large organisations. Calls for perfection get in the way of the incremental, step by step change programmes that are the only credible way of delivering improvement while cutting cost.
If we really wish to secure a genuine culture change, we need to engage the hearts and minds of the new intake of MPs who will have to live with the consequences. Their support will focus the minds of those who will have to sell policy proposals to them after the next election.
As newly elected MPs, they will be sitting on their first Select Committees, seeking to make names and reputations in the course of the enhanced pre-legislative scrutiny sessions that will almost certainly be one of the innovations of the 2010 parliament. The knowledge that they will ask about the application of the basic principles of adequate Information Governance may well be the best way of ensuring that these are embedded in the proposals that will be put them.
EURIM has therefore launched a competition for succinct on-line material on the basic principles of Information Governance. The basic concept is that parliamentary candidates who understand what is at stake will work with students on University multi-media courses to produce attractive material targetted at their fellow candidates- as well as other time-poor, influence-rich, audiences.
The competition is being organised in co-operation with the Conference of Professors and Heads of Computing and timetabled so that it can be used as a student project on their courses. The British Screen Advisory Council has agreed to provide judges from among the main employers of multi-media graduates to complement those from the target audience of future politicians.
The intention is that parlimentary candidates with professional or political interests in the issues and Universities in their constituencies will help brief and support those working on entries. There is no embargo on publicity. Early submissions will be placed on the website when received. The intention is that all entrants will receive publicity for their talents as well as material for their employment portfolios.