Implementation guideline – Principle 1: Business information is systematically governed

Proactively plan and implement information governance to manage business information as an asset to support immediate and future business outcomes, needs and obligations.

Recommended actions

1.1 Include information governance within corporate governance structures and frameworks.

Information governance is an approach to managing business information across an agency. It is an essential element of corporate governance that must be aligned with business outcomes and risks.

Information governance should be included in corporate governance structures to ensure business information is managed systematically across an agency with key senior management input. This can be achieved by establishing an information governance committee or incorporating similar responsibilities across existing governance committees.

A critical role to include in governance structures is that of a chief information governance officer, accountable for enterprise wide information governance.

Key resources

Digital Continuity 2020 Policy targets:

  • 30 June 2016: Agencies have established an information governance committee
  • 31 December 2017: Agencies have a chief information governance office

1.2 Develop frameworks, strategies and policies outlining how business information will be managed to:

  • support and improve operational processes and strategic outcomes

  • satisfy stakeholder needs and legislative and regulatory obligations

  • support the implementation of whole of government policies and initiatives such as transitioning to digital practices

  • meet industry and information management standards and codes of practice.

An information governance framework explains the unique context within which your agency’s information is managed to meet your specific business outcomes. It provides an overview perspective of the intersecting factors which influence and shape the management of your business information. It is supported by an information management strategy and an information management policy.

Your framework includes how you will govern information to meet your specific responsibilities, including any imposed by your enabling legislation or legislation you administer. It will also consider whole-of-government information management responsibilities such as legislation, policies, standards and advice.

These include policies and advice released by the National Archives such as:

  • the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy which is a whole-of-government approach to digital information governance with implementation targets and pathways to achieve the desired outcomes; and
  • the Digital Transition Policy which provides direction for Australian Government agencies to move to digital information management for efficiency purposes.

Key resources

Digital Continuity 2020 Policy target:

  • 30 June 2016: Agencies have an information governance framework.

1.3 Ensure valuable information assets are known and controlled by registering them and assigning a responsible business owner or custodian to oversee their management.

An information asset register is one way of identifying information assets, their purpose and who is responsible for their management. This can be done as part of conducting an information review to identify and evaluate the ability of your agency’s information assets to meet your business needs.

Key resources

Digital Continuity 2020 Policy targets:

  • 31 December 2016: Agencies identify high-value and long-term information assets, evaluate risk and management requirements, and implement strategies.
  • 31 December 2018: Agencies identify all information assets, evaluate risk and management requirements, and identify strategies.

1.4 Review and audit how well information management practices and processes support the business and realise return on investment. Develop strategies for quality assurance and continuous improvement.

It is important to understand how effectively your agency’s information is supporting business outcomes and where its management can be improved. One way to find this out is to conduct an information review , to research, analyse and report on strengths and weaknesses in how you are managing information.

This information can then be included in your information management strategy which sets out a plan of measurable tasks or actions to meet short, medium and long term goals for continuous improvement.

The National Archives’ Check-up Digital survey can also be used to review your agency’s digital information capabilities and identify pathways for improvement.

The Archives reports on the maturity of digital information capability development across the Australian Government based on the results of regular surveys.

Review and audit should also be done at specific project or process level, for example after implementing a new system or process that impacts on information management.

Key resources

Digital Continuity 2020 Policy target:

  • 30 June 2016: Agencies have an information governance framework.

1.5 Resource information management with:

  • sufficient budget to support agency needs particularly in critical areas of business

  • skilled and proficient staff or expertise

  • technological systems with adequate functionality to meet business information needs.

Your information management strategy can be used as the basis for planning and acquiring information management resources needed to meet organisational targets including funding, staffing and technological systems.

Your information governance committee can advise on resource allocation to manage information assets including infrastructure planning and management based on information costs and benefits. It also:

  • implements an information workforce plan to ensure your agency has access to the necessary information management skillset
  • approves business cases for the procurement of business systems to ensure they meet information needs.

Key resources

1.6 Senior management (particularly those with specialist information roles) coordinate and review information governance and report regularly to the agency head.

1.7 Senior management provide leadership by actively supporting information management, including authorising key products and tools.

It is essential that information governance is coordinated across your agency at senior levels so that there is an integrated approach to information management. Your information governance committee is one mechanism for senior staff and specialist stakeholders, including your chief information governance officer to coordinate and review information management activities across your agency. It can also be used to authorise key products and tools.

As agency heads are accountable for information governance, they should be regularly informed how information management is performing to support strategic business outcomes and directions.

Key resources

Digital Continuity 2020 Policy target:

  • 31 December 2015: Agency senior management drives change to digital information and records management. Survey reports to the Archives are authorised by agency heads.

1.8 Foster a culture which values and manages information as an asset and an enabler for business use and community reuse.

Your information management framework sets out how a culture that supports information governance will be achieved. Your chief information governance officer’s role includes championing the importance of, and establishing a culture for, effective information management.
Some practical measures to foster a corporate culture that values and manages information as an asset across all levels in your agency include:

  • advising staff of their responsibilities through policy and training, and integrating specific actions into work procedures and processes
  • promoting the corporate, and individual benefits of good information management with a focus on ‘what’s in it for me’, for example at induction sessions for new staff
  • consulting users when designing and implementing information management tools and systems to ensure they support business processes and user needs
  • implementing successful change management processes to modify user behavior and maximise user adoption particularly when a shifting information environment transforms business processes.

A case study of an agency establishing a digital culture can be found in the Parliamentary Budget Office’s submission for the 2015 Awards for Digital Excellence.

Key resources

1.9 Produce and disseminate policies and procedures providing guidance and direction to staff on creating and managing business information. Assign and explain information management responsibilities at all levels from agency head to general staff, including outsourced providers, contractors and volunteers.

Your information management policy provides guidance to staff by explaining the benefits of good information management to your business. It clearly sets out their responsibilities and what actions they need to take to manage information appropriately in your agency.

Your policy is a strategic document, where possible its advice should be incorporated into daily workflows, procedures and tasks by information or business managers. The aim should be to make information management a seamless process for staff.

Key resources

1.10 Train and educate staff on an ongoing basis to assist them to meet their responsibilities.Support ongoing professional development for staff with specialist information management roles to keep up to date with current and evolving information management trends.

Staff should be educated on the corporate importance of good information management. This can start when they are inducted into your agency. Staff will need to have, obtain or develop skills and knowledge capabilities appropriate to their information management responsibilities in order to create and manage information effectively. Including information management responsibilities in annual performance assessments can be a useful reminder and accountability mechanism.

Access to relevant training will assist staff to meet their responsibilities. The Archives has developed eLearning products to help build digital information management knowledge and capabilities across the Australian Government. Training can be specific and targeted, for example staff should be trained when a system which manages information changes, so that they are familiar with any different actions they may need to take.

The Archives provides online and face-to-face networking opportunities for Australian Government information and records managers to share experiences and expertise though the Government Agencies Information Network (GAIN Australia). We also provide advice through our Agency Service Centre (ASC).

There are a number of ways that staff in specialist information management roles can keep their capabilities and skills up to date through formal or informal professional development.

Key resources

Digital Continuity 2020 Policy target:

  • 31 December 2020: Agencies meet targets for professionally qualified or accredited information managers.
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019