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

John O'Hanlon
- Leadership - Mar 18, 2015

Newly published research from data management specialist 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 per cent of the public sector information leaders surveyed in the study say their approach to information management is fit-for-purpose, 61 per cent admit their organisation has lost or misplaced important documents and 40 per cent 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 per cent), a disconnected approach to information across teams (71 per cent), a lack of information management skills (60 per cent), and a failure to stick to guidelines (57 per cent).

Phil Greenwood, UK Managing Director and Commercial Director of Iron Mountain, 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. 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 efficiency and many had experienced a data breach or loss. 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. 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. It is 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.”

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