When it comes to managing and protecting information, few organisations face a greater challenge than local authorities. Each of these 443 bodies spread across the UK is charged with delivering around 800 public services, ranging from transport, libraries and benefits to social services, housing and recycling.
Within this remit is some of the most sensitive information to be found anywhere outside a government intelligence agency, including adoption and fostering records, and children’s social care records. Yet many are not meeting their obligations as they should. In the first three months of 2016, local authorities accounted for one in ten of all reported data breaches in the UK.
A study conducted by Iron Mountain into the growing pressures on local authorities in an increasingly digital age uncovered significant obstacles these organisations face managing growing volumes of information successfully.
The biggest challenge is sheer volume. Over half of records and information managers believe it is only a matter of time before they experience a data breach. Many say they have just seconds to handle each document they are responsible for, while others claim there simply aren’t enough people to deal with everyday information demands.
This is made worse by the predominance of paper. With the exception of invoices, 40% of documents are only partially digitised, and between a fifth and a quarter of all records exist only in paper format. Aside from the inefficiency, private companies have long regarded paper as their greatest potential security risk.
Resource and reward
Then there’s the new information governance strategy being introduced across local government organisations. Whilst it was designed to protect information better and reduce the number of data breaches, it faces a number of hurdles. The most significant of these is the need for more resources, skills and time to implement it effectively.
We’ll be publishing a new whitepaper soon. In the meantime, be sure to view my other local government blog.