Controlling Electronic Information In A Challenging Federal Environment

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Introduction

Government information in the digital universe continues to grow at a rapid pace. Between now and 2020, the world’s electronic information will double in size every two years.1 At the same time, Government IT budgets have been relatively flat, creating a major divide in need and available resources. With the rapid growth of electronic information; maintaining secure, uninterrupted, and cost effective access is essential to digital government.

Managing vast volumes of information typically requires a sizeable, complicated infrastructure, as well as time-consuming processes that can be a significant drain on limited government resources. Federal agencies know that as the volume and formats of critical electronic information grow, aligning their plans and operations with records management and IT policies becomes more and more essential. Federal IT professionals need to address comprehensive requirements that impact how data must be stored, managed, and utilized. Facing the challenge of managing electronic information, while at the same time complying with legislation can be daunting.

Making informed data management decisions requires agencies to fully understand the impact to federal Information Governance (IG) policies and the trade-offs of each. This requires agencies to use a unified approach to meet their own strategic goals as well as federally mandated outcomes.

Federal Agencies are influenced by various legislative and policy pressures, creating constraints that must be taken into account as strategies and investments in electronic data are defined.

Challenges

Federal Agencies are influenced by various legislative and policy pressures, creating constraints that must be taken into account as strategies and investments in electronic data are defined. The critical policies that agencies need to address as part of their data management programs include:

Freeze The Footprint:

  • Restrict agencies increasing the size of their real estate inventory
  • Offset acquisition of new space through consolidation, co-location, or disposal of space from inventory

Cloud First Policy:

  • Evaluate safe and secure cloud computing options
  • Provision IT resources to support mission critical capabilities
  • Innovate through use of IT

National Continuity Of Operations:

  • Establish national programs to ensure preservation and continuity of government functions
  • Protect and make readily available all information that is needed for the resumption of normal operations

Open Government/Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA):

  • Provide access to federal agency records to any persons making a request (except in cases where records are protected from public disclosure)
  • Encourage use of online portals by agencies to submit and receive FOIA requests

Open Data Policy:

  • Build or modernize information systems to maximize interoperability and information accessibility
  • Create an enterprise data inventory that accounts for all agency datasets

Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI):

  • Reduce cost of data center hardware, software, and operations
  • Promote the use of green IT by reducing energy and real estate footprint

Presidential Directive On Records Management:

  • Reform records management policies and practices; develop a modernized framework for the management of information
  • Manage all permanent electronic records in an electronic format by 2019

Each policy pressure has unique requirements, goals, and milestone dates that can be difficult to achieve when trying to solve for all challenges at once. Ensuring that data is organized, secure, and accessible can be a costly and laborious endeavor.

As the volume and types of digital information expand and budgets remain tight, agencies will find it more challenging to meet government requirements. Agencies will need to make smart and highly-strategic decisions about how to store and access data, to ensure that information is protected for the long term. These decisions will provide the agility and insights needed to keep pace with changing business, legal, and compliance obligations.

Agencies will be increasingly looking for ways to streamline their data management programs and identify opportunities for significant efficiency gains. Iron Mountain advises federal agencies to take a phased approach to planning and implementation that systematically moves through each aspect of the data management lifecycle. By assessing individual areas in a defined and methodical order, agencies can maintain a line of sight between their decisions and the impacts to organizational goals and records/IT policy requirements. When done right, agencies will provide stakeholders with the data they need to perform mission-critical tasks.

Planning For Success

To support agencies in achieving their data management goals, and to create government efficiency, Iron Mountain has developed the Federal Data Management Model. The model provides agencies with a comprehensive methodology to manage electronic information and align data management practices with the implementation of various critical Federal Government IT and records management initiatives.

Whether an agency is just beginning to plan their data management vision, or is evaluating ways to enhance or reform their existing programs, the model and Iron Mountain solutions, can help achieve marked improvements in efficiency and cost savings.

Using the Federal Data Management Model will help agencies:

  • Gain control of all electronic information for utilization in mission-focused activities
  • Reduce risk exposure through the use of security and data management best practices
  • Adopt new IT standards through modernization of Government data centers
  • Reduce budget expenditures through a balanced approach to managing data

Federal Data Management Model

Achieving this ideal data management state, while addressing government policy constraints, poses a formidable challenge for federal agencies. The Federal Data Management Model incorporates the products and services to enable agencies to achieve key outcomes and implement the appropriate standards for their unique environments.

Overview

The Federal Data Management Model allows agencies to confront the rapid growth of the digital universe and critical IT, and records policy to manage data in a compliant and cost-efficient manner. The Model achieves this by aligning data management practices with best-in-class products, facilities, and services from Iron Mountain and multiple partners. This comprehensive methodology can provide the guidance and support needed to solve various agency challenges.

Assessing Electronic Data

Iron Mountain and its partners will work with agencies to gain a comprehensive understanding of their digital information to readily inform data management planning and operations. A complete inventory should be done to uncover key attributes, including: data types/categories, location, active vs. inactive, and user accessibility. This type of analysis offers agencies an understanding of their current digital environment to support accurate forecasting of data growth, determining which data can be archived, and planning for future IT equipment needs.

Consulting services from Iron Mountain and its partners will provide you with industry best practices for gauging your short- and long-term records management needs to reduce the costs and complexity of today’s data management challenges.

Benefits to be gained against federal policies include:

  • Budget Constraints: Make smart and informed decisions on tiered data storage to lower costs
  • Freeze the Footprint: Understand long-term needs for IT facility utilization without increase in real estate
  • Presidential Directive: Implement RM best practices to organize and protect electronic data

Transition Of Data

Implementing technology and operational changes to successfully migrate data management systems requires significant resources and expertise. Iron Mountain can support agencies as they operationalize key decisions essential to transition, including data protection, backup programs, retention schedules, and destruction rules.

Migrating and modernizing systems can prove a daunting task. Iron Mountain and its partners offer a range of data management solutions and tools that agencies can leverage to help support key activities such as centralizing/ co-locating data centers and preserving older media formats by transitioning to new standards/technologies. Some of the key solutions include: archival tape management, data restoration services, IT asset disposition, and wholesale data centers.

Benefits to be gained against federal policies include:

  • Federal Data Center Consolidation: Identify opportunities to reduce data center operations and utilize centralized FISMA compliant locations
  • Freeze the Footprint: Reduce total IT real estate investments
  • Cloud First Policy: Leverage cloud services as part of data storage and systems migration
  • Open Government/Freedom of Information Act: Identify essential electronic data to respond to FOIA requests
  • Open Data Policy: Maximize interoperability and information accessibility through modernized systems

Manage Data Storage And Access

Once data has been migrated and programs put in place, ensuring that stakeholders maintain access to electronic data becomes essential. When information is secure, organized, and accessible it enables agencies to support employees’ mission-critical tasks, create collaboration in government business activities with other agencies, and support transparency in government operations. To achieve these outcomes, agencies will need to leverage new infrastructure and equipment to provide better access to records and manage access to information in live or legacy systems.

Benefits to be gained against federal policies include:

  • Federal Data Center Consolidation: Promote green IT with regulatory compliant, and energy efficient data centers
  • Presidential Directive: Manage more agencycritical records and information in electronic formats
  • Open Government/Freedom of Information Act: Implement infrastructures and software that support efficient request response
  • Open Data Policy: Manage electronic data inventories to have complete insight of agency information system records

Monitor And Protect Information

Agencies need to be confident that they have the right strategies and tools to ensure preservation of data and continuity of government functions. Enacting the appropriate programs, procedures, and security measures will allow agencies to protect their critical information. Data should be safeguarded through the balanced use of various backup formats, systems, and offsite and/or redundant storage. This includes creating a centralized, scalable, and secure recovery strategy in the event of various disasters or system failures.

Iron Mountain offers a range of data backup and disaster recovery services that allow agencies to implement robust continuity of operations programs. Iron Mountain coordinates the transportation and storage of customer backup tapes following proven security best practices as well as fully-managed, cloud-based services that continuously and automatically backup customer PC and server data to a mirrored data center. Iron Mountain’s solutions help agencies to reduce the burden on in-house staff and accelerate recovery times.

Benefits to be gained against federal policies include:

  • National Continuity Program: Quickly implement recovery measures, no matter the time or location of an unplanned event
  • Freeze the Footprint: Store backup and archived data with third-party vendors rather than government owned or leased facilities

Benefits Of The Federal Data Management Model

  • Meet various Federal Government policies and initiatives
  • Regulate information through an agency-wide robust data lifecycle management methodology
  • Decrease expenditures through energy efficient facilities, reduced transportation costs, and modernized technology
  • Support 24/7 data availability to execute agencies’ mission-critical activities
  • Utilize state-of-the-art services to enhance IT operations to ensure security and recoverability of records

Reassessment

On a recurring basis, Iron Mountain advises that agencies reassess their data management approach to ensure that the tactics in place are appropriate given the growing digital universe and ever changing federal landscape. This includes evaluating whether the technologies, backup/archiving techniques, and facilities/data centers utilized support the current needs of the agency.

Conclusion

Working with Iron Mountain to address agencies’ growing digital universe is the first step in gaining control of information. Using the Federal Data Management Model, Iron Mountain can help federal agencies define their strategies and investments in electronic data to drive federally-compliant change.

By partnering with Iron Mountain, agencies can deploy organization-wide and comprehensive data lifecycle management methodologies to assist with their information management goals. Iron Mountain and its partners can provide the expertise and solution set needed to identify and deploy the appropriate data storage, backup services, and facilities to reduce overall IT expenditures, gain energy efficiencies, and modernize technology.

Iron Mountain regularly assists agencies with their data management and storage challenges, helping to protect their most valuable information assets and drive efficiencies. Regardless of where your agency is in terms of data management maturity, Iron Mountain can provide you with resources and expertise of the world’s leading records management company.