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Introduction to Information Resource Management Policies

Information resource management (IRM) provides agency and information resource community executives and line managers an effective way to get more out of their investments in information resources. Information resources are defined as data, applications, technology and associated facilities. Information resources are managed in compliance with public information policy, primarily contained in Minnesota statutes, and IRM policies, standards, and guidelines. Information resource communities are organizations that have common business processes and customers.

IRM provides the legislature assurances their investments in agencies' information resources are being implemented appropriately and in compliance with public information policy. The environment described by the IRM policies will take many years to put in place but a long journey always begins with the first step. The first step for agency executives and managers is to begin understanding IRM. Minnesota IRM policies will provide managers with a framework for managing information resources and will help them to understand the IRM direction.

In 1985, the Information Policy Council established Information Management Principles for agencies to follow when managing information. These general, strategic-level principles have guided the work of the Information Policy Council and the Minnesota Office of Technology in the ensuing years. The IRM policies are a logical extension of these principles.

  • Data Principle - Data is a valuable resource that is to be managed and shared across organizational boundaries. Data must be secure and privacy protected while making it available to those who need it to do their job or function in our democracy.
  • Management Principle - Management of information is a fundamental responsibility of managers that cannot be delegated. Executive leadership and involvement is fundamental to the success of information management
  • Standards Principle - Standards for information technology bring agencies together to allow cooperation and more effective and efficient work
  • People Principle - Information empowers people. Government workers can do their jobs better and citizens can participate in our democracy more effectively with good information.

In order to put these principles into practice, the Minnesota Legislature established the Minnesota Office of Technology (M.S.16E). The Minnesota Office of Technology is responsible for setting the state's direction in information resource management. Specifically mentioned in the legislation are responsibility for the Minnesota Office of Technology to, among other things, develop and establish:

  • policies and standards for state agencies to follow for the development, purchase, and training for information systems;
  • techniques for planning and managing information systems that ensure the needs of the agency and the state as a whole are met;
  • a state technology architecture, standards, and guidelines that ensures individual agency systems do not needlessly duplicate or needlessly conflict with the systems of other agencies;
  • information needs analysis techniques;
  • contracts for the purchase of equipment and services;
  • training of state agency personnel on these issues; and
  • efficient and cost-effective methods of producing, sharing, and storing data.

In accordance with the IPC Principles for Information Management, the Minnesota Office of Technology has established a vision for Minnesota regarding information that can be reached through effective information resource management: This vision for Minnesota is:

Equal and lawful access to information regardless of location.

Lawful access is defined in large part by a series of statutes administered by the Department of Administration, Technology Management Bureau. These laws, M.S. 15.17 (Official Records), M.S. 138.17 (Government Records), and M.S. Chapter 13 (Government Data) pertain to data practices and records retention and disposition. In addition, there are numerous other statutes that provide agencies, information resource communities and programs with their policy purpose, responsibilities, and detailed guidance on handling government data. It is imperative that agency executives understand and manage issues related to lawful access and other public policy requirements that affect government data.

The Minnesota Office of Technology will be issuing standards and guidelines related to the IRM policies in consultation with the Information Policy Council to help agencies and information resource communities with their journey to the IRM environment. For these IRM policies, standards, and guidelines to be effective, the legislative policy purpose, agency or information resource community business objectives, and data practices, access, privacy, and retention considerations must be clearly identified and articulated by agency executives.

The legislature and the federal government formulate public policy that directs state agencies in the conduct of their business and the handling of information. It is within this body of public policy and public information policy that IRM is conducted. In our democratic society, there is a necessary tension between IRM and public policy. On the one hand, IRM requires government to optimize the use of its information resources through sharing to avoid unnecessary duplication of data, applications, and technology. On the other hand, public policy and public information policy require government to safeguard its information resources -- especially data resources -- and sometimes limits the sharing of and accessibility to data. It is this paradox of making information accessible and sharable while protecting it and managing its use that absolutely requires executive leadership and involvement.