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Data Risk Management

How Government Agencies Can Get Ahead of Data Requirements

May 10, 2024

In an era defined by the relentless surge of data, governmental entities find themselves navigating an increasingly complex web of information governance challenges. From the imperatives of e-discovery to the demands of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, public sector organizations are tasked with much more than just managing data—they must harness it effectively, without delay, and within the bound of the law.

“When governmental agencies don’t fully understand what data they have, it opens them up to a number of risks,” said Adam Johnson, Regional Vice President for Public Sector at Exterro, whose solutions help organizations gain deep insight into data across a complex enterprise infrastructure and manage that data more effectively. A recent Exterro and Govloop market trends report, How to Find and Process Data with a Data Risk Management Platform.

Download the whitepaper here.

The Big Challenge of Managing Data in Government

The numbers are shocking and the challenge is huge. In federal agencies, the amount of digital information has grown a lot, leading to a 34.9% increase in delayed FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests each year. At the same time, the files for FOIA responses in the public sector grew by an amazing 333% during the pandemic. This shows that as we have more digital info, handling the legal and practical problems gets harder.

Governments face two big problems with all this data. First, if data is scattered and not well managed, it can cause missed deadlines and legal issues. Second, keeping too much unnecessary data can create a mess of compliance risks and make managing data harder.

Understanding the Risks and Responsibilities

The increase in data size and amount isn't just a practical problem; it's changing the whole risk and responsibility scene. FOIA requests and the need for e-discovery are now regular tasks for government legal teams. Not adjusting to this new reality filled with lots of data can lead to big legal problems and slow down the agencies responsible for enforcing the law.

The key point here is that managing data well means an agency works better. To turn data chaos into clear operations, agencies need to use a risk-management platform that helps organize and protect all their information. It's not just about avoiding risks; it's key to making sure government actions are effective and accurate.

Making Things Better with Technology

There is a solution—a data risk-management platform designed for government needs. This kind of technology deals with every step of data's life, from when it's created to when it's thrown away. It includes making e-discovery better, protecting privacy, managing data, and following cybersecurity rules. This all-around approach is vital for handling today's complex data.

However, technology alone isn't enough. It's also important to have solid practices and processes. Creating teams from different parts of the agency to work together on data governance and doing thorough data audits helps figure out which data is actually useful. This guides the strategy on what data to keep and what to get rid of.

Making Things Future-Ready with Best Practices

As we deal with more and more data, there's no easy fix—just careful, systematic ways to lower risks and work more efficiently. Teaching employees how to manage this huge amount of data is key. After all, it's the people who make the real difference in finding information and avoiding mistakes.

So, investing in training employees while also getting better technology is a smart plan. This helps government agencies not just do their jobs now but also prepares them for the future. Best practices could include things like:

  • Building an accurate, up-to-date data inventory
  • Understanding legal requirements for data retention and deletion
  • Training employees on how to manage data 

The New Challenge for Government Work

With a huge amount of data expected (over 149 zettabytes globally by 2024) and more money spent on cloud services, having strong data rules is more important than ever. The challenges are big, the risks are high, and it's time to act. Government agencies need to see the world of data as full of chances as well as challenges.

By managing data well and planning ahead, government groups can follow rules and also be innovative. Having a system to manage data risks is not just playing it safe; it's a promise to the public, a way to run things efficiently and responsibly for the long haul.

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