Modernizing Federal Information Governance How US Federal Government Agencies can Optimize IG
Do you wonder how successfully you are managing your agency’s
information? Do you look to your peers for comparison and validation?
This year, government executives gain a new window into what others in
the federal sector are doing to manage their information assets effectively.
Iron Mountain has underwritten the Information Governance Benchmarking
Survey from Cohasset Associates. This is the 8th biannual study, and this
year it is sponsored by ARMA and AIIM. This brief serves as analysis of the
The 2013 – 2014 Information Governance Benchmarking Survey for the
U.S. Federal Government examines survey responses from government
executives to provide benchmarking metrics on information lifecycle
practices. It also compares U.S. Federal Government responses to the
findings of the 1,300 people who took the survey, irrespective of industry,
to give an indication of the maturity of Information Governance (IG) in a
variety of industries.
Recommendations are provided for modernizing IG so that you can
formulate internal action plans and develop communications about your
program’s strengths and opportunities, with facts to support your strategy.
This brief is a companion piece to the 2013 – 2014 Information
Governance Benchmarking Survey for the U.S. Federal Government.
Written by Iron Mountain subject matter professionals who focus on
government Records and Information Management (RIM), it provides
our view of three “big takeaways” and nine potential “dial movers” for
strengthening government RIM/IG. It also incorporates government sector
trends, along with the challenges and opportunities that these present.
Iron Mountain services many U.S. Federal Government organizations,
and we share this experience as it relates to the findings.
Big Takeaway 1
RIM programs are established and supported in most agencies, although
many ess ential implementation elements still haven’t been address ed.
92% of U.S. Federal Government survey
participants with RIM responsibility report
the existence of a records and information
51% of respondents affirm the development of a
comprehensive strategy to guide future RIM
direction is underway.
Only 13% report a mature strategy.
Only 6% of respondents report the mature use of
metrics to guide RIM program assessment
Only 19% of the time is a cross-functional RIM
governance structure identified as
“mature,” indicating the execution of
governance with cross-disciplinary balance
and perspective is not easy.
Iron Mountain's Take:
Consistent policies, strong retention rules, and an ongoing training regimen
form the essential foundation of any defensible records and information management program. This is the
best way for agencies to deliver systematic, repeatable, and measurable implementation outcomes that
can help address realities they face daily in managing growing volumes of information.
Potential Dial Movers
Measuring the success of your RIM efforts is crucial to
raising awareness and garnering greater support for your
agency’s IG program.
When you look at actions you can take to improve areas that may lag behind other agencies,
along with areas in which the U.S. Federal Government lags behind other industries, you
must look at actions that can deliver the most “bang for your buck.” We call these “dial
movers.” Dial movers, when strengthened, often positively affect other program metrics.
Actionable dial movers from Takeaway #1 include:
1 Realistically assess IG performance — Perform a thorough assessment of
current policy-level requirements and your implementation results. This practice
can serve as the baseline for your benchmarking moving forward. You must be
realistic, comprehensive — include all information about paper and digital results, along with
the full lifecycle — and differentiate between high-value versus ancillary information. Use the
full assessment to identify strengths and recognize improvement opportunities. Comparing
primary IG program components as they match or differ from modern best practices allows
you to create a plan to address program gaps.
2 Management support remains a critical
need — The levels of support experienced in
the Federal Government from its top-level
executives (52%) and from mid-level management
(47%) are lower than those reported by all industry
organizations surveyed. By comparison, in the survey of
1,300 RIM executives across all industry sectors, strong
support was cited from 65% of executives and 61% of
mid-level management. The results here indicate that a
greater focus on building stronger management support
for IG is warranted across federal agencies.
3 Refresh policies and communications — Strengthen alliances with other governance
programs, simplify retention schedules, and in
all cases, expand the program to address all information
4 Enhance training — According to the survey,
over half (56%) of federal respondents report
that employees “never really receive any RIM
training.” Establishing regularly scheduled training for
all employees that includes a strong emphasis on the
benefits of IG to the organization will help improve your
5 Prepare to measure performance — Measuring
the success of your RIM efforts is crucial to
raising awareness and garnering greater support
for your agency IG program. The benchmarking efforts
you implement and metrics you generate will document
progress toward your agency’s primary goals, provide
crucial proof of the program’s benefits and deliver
warning indicators when an implementation strategy isn’t
achieving desired outcomes.
Three megatrends THAT are driving significant changes
across the U.S. Federal Government
The rapid growth and expansion of
regulations, federal mandates and
initiatives aimed at improving records
management, are driving federal agencies
to seek solutions that will help unify the
management of physical and electronic
records. The Presidential Directive on Managing
Government Records, in combination with the
Administration’s “Freeze the Footprint” mandate,
FOIA reform, Open Government policies, and
other information-centered initiatives such as the
Open Data Policy, have put federal agencies at an
information management “tipping point.”
The staggering amount of data
that flows through government
organizations continues to grow,
and must be collected, maintained, and
eventually destroyed according to strictly
regulated information lifecycle and
preservation requirements.The explosive
growth of data in all forms, combined with
expanding efforts to modernize and analyze
government information, including “big data,”
is driving agencies and departments to seek new
ways to gain greater value from legacy data and
records. Information contained in legacy records
can be used to reevaluate, seek out patterns,
and search for relevant insights to better serve
Unfortunately, agencies must juggle everexpanding
record volumes with flat or shrinking
budgets, while racing to meet mandates that
require a fundamental shift in how they store, access, and manage records and information.
They understand that unifying records
management is not just about reorganizing and
filing records. It is about enabling agencies to
search, locate, and review information to make
better and faster decisions. They recognize that
records management empowers agencies to
better achieve their core mission goals.
Most federal agencies recognize
digitizing everything is NOT a fiscally
responsible or viable option. Instead,
managing both paper and digital records in
a unified framework makes the most sense,
from an economic and practical perspective.
Marrying the two types of records under a single
information governance plan is considered
crucial to meeting federally mandated goals. A
unified approach to records management would
also allow agencies to apply consistent policy
management and enforcement, no matter where
records are located, what format they are in, or
where they were created.
For now, the pressure to unify records
management intensifies as the current
Administration continues efforts to promote
greater transparency and better information
management. Key deadlines associated with
the Presidential Directive have already begun.
The longer agencies delay in getting started,
the more difficult it will be to keep pace with
continually evolving federal mandates.
Big Takeaway 2
Broader automation can streamline support of information
disposition, including unstructured content and legal holds.
Only 39% of U.S. Federal Government survey
participants affirm the automated
deletion of email, instant messages, and
electronic communications. But, 51% of
the respondents report that they have
automated the deletion of paper records
stored offsite. Given the maturity of
automated systems, it’s troubling that so
few respondents say deletion processes are
fully or partially automated.
Only 3% indicate that the current content/document
management solutions in use have evolved
to fully automate the disposition process.
67% of respondents strongly or mostly agree
that over-preservation of information
occurs due to how legal holds are written
On the bright side, when it comes to paper records, 88% of federal survey respondents agree their
organization’s deletion/destruction practices work to render sensitive information unrecoverable,
although responses for both electronic media (64%) and fixed media (59%), identify opportunities
for agencies to better define information lifecycle controls.
Iron Mountain’s Take:
Over-preservation of information in legal hold processes remains an immense
challenge. The implementation of effective information lifecycle controls will help to reduce risks and
complexity for many federal agencies. Ultimately, greater automation and unification of all records
retention processes represents one of the clearest ways federal agencies and departments can effectively
modernize information governance.
Potential dial movers
6 Enhance and update retention
schedules to enable automated
deletion processes — The migration
to a fully automated process that systematically
performs consistent and repeatable records
deletion relies on well-defined retention
schedules. Because retention schedules
ultimately dictate how automation rules are
applied, establishing strong retention rules is a
critical first step toward automated deletion. A
vast majority (87%) of government respondents
affirm the need to improve their organization’s
retention schedules by developing uniformity
across all operational functions.
7 Broader categories, or “bigger
buckets” ease retention efforts — 60% of the respondents identified
with using a current retention schedule that
contains “between 250 and 499” or “500 or
more” categories. At the same time, those same
federal survey respondents would prefer a
retention schedule format that contains between
25 and no more than 249 categories. Too many
retention categories make it difficult and time
consuming for users to align information with
the proper category and retention requirements,
not to mention making it almost impossible to
effectively automate RIM.
Big Takeaway 3
The U.S. Federal Government most likely has RIM report to their Legal
or IT departments, but greater coordination, collaboration, and
integration between these functions are needed to achieve key IG goals.
30% of federal survey respondents affirmed
a reporting relationship to information
technology, which is significantly higher
than the 18% reported by all industries
surveyed. This is likely due to the impact of
the Administration’s Presidential Directive
on Managing Government Records and the
Open Data Policy, which directed federal
agencies to migrate to electronic records,
thus requiring a closer relationship between
RM and IT staffs.
50% of U.S. Federal Government respondents
reported interdisciplinary affiliations
with risk management, and 56% with
Only 55%of those surveyed reported that they
currently get the necessary support from
IT despite that a third of respondents said
they now report to IT.
Iron Mountain's Take:
While information governance may drive agency efforts, involvement from
IT and coordination with the RM professionals within IT, along with support from top agency leaders is a
prerequisite to attaining desired levels of automation. A strengthened alliance with IT would greatly aid
Potential dial movers
8 Greater collaboration will help
unify records management — The current level of support provided
by IT (cited at 55%) should be strengthened.
More active engagement between RM and IT
translates to the opportunity for RIM to have
a “voice at the IT planning table.” Without this
emphasis, new content will be created, managed,
and stored without proper information lifecycle
controls, increasing the mass of “unattended”
information the agency must deal with in the
future. Also, greater collaboration among agency
legal and IT teams will help make preservation
practices more precise, less costly, and minimize
9 Establish cross-functional
cooperation — Gain knowledge
of key compliance and risk
management operations, and then tighten
the integration across all information
governance disciplines. It’s important to
leverage synergies among all governance
disciplines, such as compliance, risk
management, and ethics.
As federal agencies
struggle to “do
more with less,”
the success of
their ongoing RIM
require a complete
This brief was created to provide benchmark comparison data, insights, and
information resources for government executives seeking to increase the
effectiveness and efficiency of their RIM/IG operations. It is also useful to
help them better comply with federal regulations and to help lower the costs
associated with ongoing information governance initiatives.
This brief identifies three “big takeaways” and nine potential “dial movers”
from the Cohasset 2013 – 2014 Information Governance Benchmarking
Survey and Industry report and the impact of three U.S. Federal
As federal agencies continue the struggle to “do more with less,” the success
of their ongoing RIM programs and initiatives shouldn’t require a complete
renovation effort. Focused planning, implementation, measurement, and
reporting of RIM initiatives and successes gained along the way will help
create an effective roadmap to better information governance. It’s our
hope that using information and insights from peers, coupled with guidance
and support from internal and external partners, sustains you on your IG
Iron Mountain Authors
Director, Product Management, Iron Mountain Government ServicesTyler is a product manager for Iron Mountain’s Government business. He is responsible for
determining Iron Mountain’s government sector growth strategy and developing solutions
for Federal government customers. Prior to Iron Mountain, Tyler worked as a management
consultant in Accenture’s corporate strategy practice focusing on Federal government clients.
He has also managed large-scale IT system implementations for various health care providers
and state governments. Tyler received his undergraduate degree from James Madison
University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland.
Lisa De Luca
Director, Product and Solution Marketing, Iron Mountain Government ServicesLisa is responsible for the marketing strategy of Iron Mountain products and solutions for the
Government business. Prior to working at Iron Mountain, Lisa held various field and
communications marketing positions in the industry for Cloud, IT Reseller, System Integrator,
and Networking companies. She has over 20 years of marketing experience serving government
and education customers in the public sector. Lisa is a graduate of Trinity University in
Product Manager, Iron Mountain Government ServicesApril is a Product Manager in Iron Mountain’s Government business. She is responsible for
Iron Mountain’s federal content management and document conversion solutions. She has
managed several projects facilitating the success of thought leadership within an organization,
including Iron Mountain’s Federal Information Asset Framework. Prior to Iron Mountain, she
worked as a Consultant in revenue management and contracting for the healthcare industry.
April graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and holds an MBA from the University
of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.