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Stop hoarding data and start managing it.

Today's rapid pace of data growth provides agencies with unprecedented insight into the needs of the citizens they serve. With more data, however, comes new challenges around organizing, storing and protecting this information, according to a report from GovLoop and Veritas.

The report cites a study indicating that approximately 69 percent of a government agency's data had no value to the business of government. Another study indicated that 80 of an organization's electronically stored information is redundant, outdated, or trivial. Still another found that 78 percent of technology decision makers believed that less than half of their unstructured data had any value or was mined for content in any way.

And by the way, data are proliferating at an average rate of 39 percent a year.

The annual cost of data ownership is 39 cents per gigabyte per month, according to another citation--not an insignificant cost. To cut costs and make better use of information, the report suggests that governments create an information governance strategy, incorporating the policies, controls, and information lifecycle management processes organizations use to control cost and risk. The first suggestion is that the quality of data be consistent, the result of well-documented and repeatable processes and accurate data collection automation. Another suggestion: make sure information conforms to set standards, which can be controlled by automated data tagging or other strategies. Finally, the report stresses that the volume and complexity of the data must be easily manageable, observing that "this is usually done with automated data processing for analytics, and visualizations such as dashboard interfaces."


The report urges governments to think of information as a strategic asset. Establishing policies about data allow administrators to better prioritize investments. They also "promote standardization, not only within an agency, but between organizations. Its processes become more efficient, repeatable, and independent of bias. And it is easier to put controls on the protection of information."

A significant source of data that must be managed is e-mail. The Capstone approach for e-mail records management, developed by the National Archives Record Association, helps improve transparency and also helps resolve issues with information governance. "Capstone requires federal agencies to improve their management of electronic records, beginning with e-mail," according to the report. "Adopting this approach simplifies management of e-mail retention, implements controls of e-mail deletion, and provides a more practical method for managing e-mail accounts."

Regarding compliance and security, the report advises that "the best way to minimize risk is to expose it." This is done by making sure the organization understands its information structure by determining the age of its information, its location, and its ownership. "Understanding the risk profile of information allows agencies to shift from the 'store everything' mentality to a value-focused perspective."

"Information governance is ultimately about the discovery of authoritative data," the report concludes. A governance strategy will help governments save money, improve transparency, and make better use of important data.

The report is available for download at
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Title Annotation:News & Numbers
Publication:Government Finance Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2016
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