Several jurisdictions are also expanding forms of personal privacy legislation to cover electronic records held by government agencies. For example, the electronic social care records system (ESCR) was created as part of the Department of Health’s Information for Social Care Initiative. The new code of practice for Information Management, is intended to govern the creation, retention, deletion and sharing of records, and control the authentication and access to information. Implemented in October 2005 for all new cases, councils have also had to convert the 10-15 million existing paper-based and video and audio records to electronic format. The ability to restrict access to particular employees, and the ability to mark such records as containing sensitive data, are critical requirements of building an information management infrastructure to help streamline these new compliance mandates.
The third pressure facing governments is the constant battle to develop operational efficiencies in the face of budget and program cutbacks. The Gershon efficiency review set a target of savings of Ј21 billion by 2008. Contract management has been identified as a process within eProcurement that is expected to contribute Ј7 billion in savings. Enterprise content and information management provides huge efficiencies and reduces legal costs by helping with the creation of contracts, managing the contract post-signature, including the process of scheduling and renegotiation. Public sector organisations can also work more collaboratively to take advantage of aggregated spend, as well as measuring supplier performance – qualitatively and quantitatively. The further challenge for public sector organisations of reducing risk in contract creation and ensuring compliance with regulations can also be managed electronically.
Cost efficiencies can be easily realised when an agency can focus on supporting, maintaining and troubleshooting a smaller set of technology products. Having skilled resources with similar technical and business process knowledge in sister agencies allows the government staff to develop a deeper level of in-house expertise as well as reusable templates, customisations and training/change management techniques. An enterprise approach to technology platforms also allows a government body to negotiate more favourable support and licensing models with system vendors, leveraging license volume and allowing for greater input into product direction when speaking with a unified voice.
Enterprise content management vendors such as Hummingbird recognise that the compliance culture that permeates the commercial sector today has in fact been present in the public sector for years. Government represents the priorities and interests of the citizens within its borders. Transparency, privacy protection and information management mandates have been front-and-centre in the government sector for many years. Agencies that move smoothly into an online model of citizen service are those who are now looking at building IM practices into their technology framework. Those organisations will be in the best position to meet the challenges of the retirement wave, the move to electronic services, and will achieve the highest value for the tax dollars spent.