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.