According to The Times newspaper senior Whitehall heads will be held personally responsible for their departments' data breaches.
Public sector officials, including chief executives of NHS trusts, will be forced to take data protection "much more seriously" under proposals by Cabinet secretary Gus O'Donnell, The Times reports.
In coming weeks, O'Donnell will present the findings of a report on data security. The report was commissioned by prime minister Gordon Brown in the wake of the HMRC data breach, which leaked 25 million child benefit records.
The Times quotes information commissioner Richard Thomas, who it says has seen a draft of the report. Thomas says the new measures focus on "issues of accountability and governance".
"It has to be the likes of chief executives (of NHS trusts) and permanent secretaries who are held accountable when things go wrong," Thomas said.
"They can't simply make assumptions that everything is in the hands of the 'techies'", he said.