Establishing an effective governance structure is another key process in an information management plan. This is especially critical if multiple stakeholders with competing information needs are involved. A governance structure clearly lays out the level of authority and processes and procedures whereby strategic and key operational decisions are made. Proper governance of information management outlines the relationship among the multiple stakeholders, the decision-making process and how issues are resolved. It ensures that ongoing implementation continues to support the strategy agreed upon by the stakeholders.
Public agencies encounter frequent changes in administration that affect policy, processes and priorities. Governance structures can help manage change so that changes in your management of information are based on evaluation of the overall impact relative to the organization’s mission and vision rather than on the current direction of political winds.
Information Management Advisory Committee
Within individual agencies, information management staff should be at the table with program and policy staff to understand agency needs and be a part of the discussion to improve service delivery through the use of technology. One process that helps information management staff maintain close and positive relationships with public child welfare staff is through the development and maintenance of an information management advisory committee that includes child welfare staff. Whenever changes to the technological or information management structures are considered, the impact is most felt by the child welfare staff. These staff members are responsible for supplying data to the system and are an important group of stakeholders who need information to help them improve their practice.
Level of Authority
There is a strong need to develop multi-sector opportunities for data sharing to reduce the overall reporting burden on the children, youth and families that are served and to increase efficiencies within our child and family serving systems (health, mental health, education and public child welfare). Using different systems governed by varying policies and regulations and the lack of uniform data elements creates a slow and cumbersome process when public child welfare agencies need to provide data to external stakeholders. Agency leaders setting a strategy for effective information management must envision a future for the exchange of public child welfare data across systems and beyond current boundaries.
So that there is efficient and effective information management, overall responsibility for oversight and implementation of the IM strategic plan should be vested at the highest possible level, optimally at the cabinet level of the state, county or tribe. This model is known as the Federated Governance Model. This governance structure maintains the authority of agencies to manage program specific information management strategies. Technology functions that are common across systems are managed at the highest level. This model supports the premise that programmatic needs drive technology decisions.
Potential benefits of a centralized strategy structured in a federated governance model include: