Public sector still adapting to security challenge of digital transformation

Britain’s public sector is coping reasonably well with the information management challenges caused by the Government’s digital transformation strategy, according to a survey of 150 senior professionals carried out on behalf of document specialist Iron Mountain.

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Britain’s public sector is coping reasonably well with the information management challenges caused by the Government’s digital transformation strategy, according to a survey of 150 senior professionals carried out on behalf of document specialist Iron Mountain.

Or perhaps the public sector isn't coping well – it all depends which statistics are underscored as the important ones from a survey that offers a confusingly mixed picture.

Digital transformation covers a range of central and local authority services including online voting, claimiing benefits online, accessing bureaucratic services in a digital form, and applying for a passport to name only a few.

Some of the uncertainty is the sort of thing that is common across many organisations such as the 71 percent who believed that information management across teams was lacking and the 23 percent that rated their management of records as ‘inadequate’.

Sixty-one percent said their organisations had lost important documents (including paper documents) and 40 percent some kind of data breach.

A particular issue Iron Mountain hones in upon is the new 20-year rule under which public sector bodies  must release archived records to the public domain after 20 years rather than 30 years.  It’s a phased introduction over a decade but 30 percent of those asked hadn’t realised the requirement had even changed let alone thought how it might be implemented.

All this is happening at a time when staff numbers are being cut, as much as 30 percent according to the research. Nine out of ten felt that job cuts had affected the level of expertise on tap.

On the other hand, 77 percent of these high-level execs believed that their organisation’s information management was ‘fit for purpose’ and 96 percent were confident they could field Freedom of Information requests.

So, what should the casual observer make of a survey that hints at problems most executives don’t believe compromise the effectiveness of their overall information management? The answer is that the systems is most likely in flux.

“Almost everyone we surveyed said that cost cutting had resulted in the loss of valuable skills in records and information management,” suggested Iron Mountain’s Phil Greenwood.

“For the public sector to further its success in bringing services online, freeing up its estate and reducing cost, the transformation must be met with improvements in how records and information are managed.”

The sort of digital transformation being imposed by government would require a technological overhaul of the handling of documents and records, he said.

The firm has put its findings online (reg required).

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