Sharing Information Across and Within Organizations Shouldn’t Be Challenging!

Are you involved in a collaborative project where you need to share information? Whether it is within an organization across units or external to an organization – across agencies, or levels of government – sharing of information can be fraught with challenges. The Center for Technology in Government, (CTG) University at Albany, New York has released a toolkit Government Information Sharing: A Planning Toolkit, (http://www.ctg.albany.edu/publications/guides/infosharing_toolkit) designed for government professionals to help guide the process of sharing information.

Over the last 15 years of working with many different types of government agencies, at all levels of government, I have learned that all organizations share one specific challenge – sharing i

Picture of people collaborating around a table

nformation. It sounds easy in concept but when organizations sit down to actually work through the intricacies of sharing information, the complexity of the issues become more apparent. What adds to this complexity is the perception that in a digital age the concept of sharing data (information) should be easy, transparent, and seamless.

In reality it is not. Regardless of the level, size, policy area, and complexity of the government organization, understanding each other’s capabilities, both your own and those with whom you are sharing the process becomes less problematic. Owners of the information must be willing to invest time in understanding these capabilities from a policy, technology, and management perspective.

The CTG toolkit helps assess where capabilities for information sharing exist and where they must be developed to achieve targeted goals. The results provide a basis for action planning to fill capability gaps. These partnering agencies and organizations need to answer the following questions:

  • What information sharing is necessary to be successful?
  • What capability do you need in order to be able to share?
  • What capabilities am I missing?
  • What is the gap between the two?,
  • What is the plan to close this gap?

This toolkit is based on research conducted by CTG over the last twenty years and is informed by knowledge and experience gained from our work in numerous government policy areas, including justice and public health as well as more general data sharing efforts carried out in the interests of opening government data. The toolkit guides assessment and planning along sixteen capability dimensions and aids in developing a collaborative plan for how to increase the chances that a specific initiative will be successful. Use of the toolkit will:

  • Inform planning and design of information sharing or integration initiatives.
  • Identify both relevant capabilities and capability gaps in each participating organization.
  • Focus investments in specific capability-building efforts.
  • Help identify risks and risk mitigation strategies.

This toolkit provides a framework and an approach to help guide your success. I invite you to use our toolkit in your work, to explore it and its potential use, and to let me know through this blog on your experience with using it.

Donna Canestraro provides management and technology support for projects at the Center for Technology in Government. Her current work focuses on the policy, management and technology issues related to inter- and intra-organizational information integration, enterprise IT Governance, and business process analysis.

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