Enabling the Digital Office

Recently, ADMs from across the GC met to discuss a “digital office” initiative. This meeting, co-chaired by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and Treasury Board, was convened to launch an exploration of this digital office idea and look at some opportunities to pilot it inside the GC. This should give some hope that information management, if not growing in importance in the minds of senior public servants, is not fading away.

While the vision of the digital office is still a bit fuzzy, the idea is that all GC information is captured digitally, easily accessible, shared, and, last but not least, managed. One may wonder at this since GC has been doing nothing but digital for at least 15 years: email, WordPerfect, Word, electronic forms and now wikis, etc. (Is there any document or data set created in the past 15 years that isn’t digital in origin?)

The kicker is that while we may be generating digital information in breathtaking quantities, we have not come to grips with managing it, with making it easily findable shareable and useful, and with preserving the growing legacy of truly valuable knowledge that we all play a part in creating daily.

But why are we talking about it now?

Here are a few reasons:

  • A shift in policy direction to favour digital over paper i.e. TBS policy on IM


  • LAC’s decision to no longer accept paper records as of 2017


  • The information explosion – this has to be the longest explosion on record but the rates of expansion do not seem to be slowing – think of your inbox after coming back from vacation


  • We now have established tools and processes that will allow us to manage this digital information i.e. document management solutions, search engine technologies, a growing body of guidelines,  procedures and knowledge.


  • Most importantly, in my view, a culture that increasingly recognizes the value of our electronic and legacy information and sees it as a foundation for future science, policy and program delivery and a culture that is increasingly open to sharing this information both inside GC and outside.

Many of us in the IM space are going to be watching with interest as this truly important initiative evolves, and I, for one, will look for opportunities to contribute wherever I can.

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5 Responses to Enabling the Digital Office

  1. cdh86 says:

    I’m glad that these discussions are taking place — having IM frameworks updated to cope with the speed of development in the tech/comms world is a daunting task. It’s not just a matter of developing procedures, though, it’s integrating those procedures into the psyche of each public servant and making a second nature.

    That challenge is even larger than the first!

    • deepishthoughts says:

      I agree, culture change is the critical ingredient, but i also think that we have never been in a better position to make this happen. Stay tuned

  2. Pingback: An argument for information hoarding or 5 reasons to keep everything « Deepishthoughts’s Weblog

  3. IMCurious says:

    Just curious– where does this statement about LAC come from:

    “.LAC’s decision to no longer accept paper records as of 2017”

    That’s just 7 years away, not very long to prepare for really, in the general scheme of things

    • deepishthoughts says:

      This date was tweeted at one of the GTEC conference sessions a few days ago but to give you more than 140 characters on this, LAC is currently preparing an official communiqué on the subject, but the orientation is that information created after 2017 will be expected to have been born (created) in a digital format and will therefore be kept in a digital format, and submitted to LAC in a digital format. This also means, I believe, that records of archival value in paper format that are created before 2017 will still be accepted. This is a bold move on LACs part and I think the right one in a time where all information and records are ‘born digital’.

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