UK public sector’s information management capabilities “seriously challenged” by pace of change

Cost-cutting has resulted in the loss of valuable skills in the spheres of records and information management

Cost-cutting has resulted in the loss of valuable skills in the spheres of records and information management

Newly-published research from Iron Mountain shows that records and information management in the public sector is contributing significantly to Government cost-saving and efficiency targets. However, the pace and scope of change across the sector presents a serious challenge.

While a reassuring 72% of those public sector information leaders surveyed in the study say their approach to information management is fit-for-purpose, 61% admit their organisation has lost or misplaced important documents while 40% say they have suffered a data breach.

Iron Mountain spoke to senior executives responsible for managing public sector information and implementing the Government’s digital transformation strategy. The study found that reform is welcome and already delivering considerable benefits (for example by enabling 1.3 million students to apply online for loans and generating £1.4 billion from the sale of Government-owned land and buildings, saving £600 million a year in running costs in the process).

However, the study also found that developments such as the merger and relocation of offices and job roles can result in over-burdened staff (81%), a disconnected approach to information across teams (71%), a lack of information management skills (60%) and a failure to stick to guidelines (57%).

Period of transformational change

Phil Greenwood, who’s responsible for delivering Iron Mountain’s services to the public sector, explained the need for greater collaboration between the public and private sectors.

“The UK’s public sector is going through a period of transformational change,” stated Greenwood. “Almost everyone we surveyed said that cost-cutting had resulted in the loss of valuable skills in records and information management. More than half reported reduced operational efficiencies and many had experienced a data breach or loss.”

Phil Greenwood of Iron Mountain

Phil Greenwood of Iron Mountain

Greenwood continued: “For the public sector to further its success in bringing services online, freeing up its estate and reducing costs, the transformation must be met with improvements in how records and information are managed. With four-in-five public sector bodies identifying an opportunity to make additional cost savings by optimising their records and information management, this looks like an area that deserves consideration and review.”

In conclusion, Greenwood told Risk UK: “It’s important that the individuals, teams and departments responsible for the Government’s vast estate of information have the support they need to proceed into a digital future with confidence.”

Guidance on actions to be taken

Iron Mountain has prepared a White Paper highlighting the main findings of the study and providing guidance on the actions public sector organisations can take to address the challenges and harness the opportunities.

Copies of the White Paper, entitled ‘The Public Sector – Managing Information Through the Challenge of Change’, may be downloaded from the company’s website.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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