Better Information for Better Government report published

A new report, along with the programme of activity it describes, outlines the government’s response to Sir Alex Allan’s Review of the government’s strategy for managing its digital records and archives.

It sets an agenda for change and notes wider, structural issues that require further attention. As all departments are different the focus is on developing collaborative approaches across departments and professional disciplines.

In the Better Information for Better Government report it’s noted that “there is an immediate need to improve the organisation and management of departments’ accumulated digital records”.

“Fortunately, the tools and techniques for doing so have improved rapidly in recent years and some departments are already making effective use of them,” the report adds. “All departments need to be confident that they understand their digital information assets and have clear plans to ensure that they are managed in a way that addresses short term needs and risks and also supports long term preservation.

“There is also a need – and a great opportunity – to prevent the problem continuing to build up in future, the report notes.

“The solution is primarily in the culture and work practices of the civil service. There needs to be clear accountability for information, as there is for other assets. Working practices need to recognise and value good information management with effective professional support for teams and projects.

“Getting information management right from the outset will deliver short term value through making better use of existing information and expertise and in doing so will deliver longer term value in managing information risks and creating a solid foundation for maintaining public records.”

The report concludes by making a number of recommendations, which are:

All government departments should:

  1. Evaluate the level of risk they face from legacy digital information collections and take appropriate action
  2. Undertake renewed efforts to drive information management compliance across their business

Cabinet Office, The National Archives and Government Digital Service should:

  1. Continue to support departments to manage legacy risks and improve information management
  2. Continue to identify and progress strategic initiatives to improve government information management structures and processes cross-government
  3. Continue work on emerging information management issues and trends

Sir Alex Allan said in response: “I welcome this report. The government has taken the issues I identified very seriously and come forward with a strong set of recommendations which, if put into place by individual departments, should greatly improve digital records management across the civil service.”

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