The challenges presented to records management by open government data in the public sector in England. A case study

Publication Date17 July 2017
Pages149-158
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/RMJ-09-2016-0034
AuthorKatherine Mary Chorley
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information management & governance
The challenges presented to
records management by open
government data in the public
sector in England
A case study
Katherine Mary Chorley
Department of Information Studies, University College London, London, UK
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the challenges that open government data initiatives
present to records management within the public sector in England and to identify areas of practice and policy
that will need to be developed to ensure compliance with such environments.
Design/methodology/approach A review of current literature underpins the analysis of data collected
through an anonymised case study of a National Health Service (NHS) hospital trust. Data were collected
through a qualitative research in the form of semi-structured interviews with information professionals at the
case study site. Additionally, a short descriptive online survey was distributed to the members of a specialist
interest group, the Health Archives and Records Group.
Findings Open government data presents a series of interconnected practical challenges to records
management at a local level as the open government data environment continues to develop. These practical
challenges overshadow a number of technical challenges, such as ensuring the accuracy and integrity of
proactively published data.
Research limitations/implications The main limitation of this research is the small number of
interviews conducted during data collection, which limits its capacity to present more generalised ndings.
Originality/value The case study of an individual NHS hospital trust allows for a specic insight into the
challenges that open government data presents to records management within a single operational unit.
Keywords Public sector, United Kingdom, Records management, Information governance, Policy,
Practice, Legislation, Open government, National Health Service, Open government data
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
The open government data environment is an “evolving ecology” (Worthy, 2014, p. 3) which
at present, in many countries, is focused on information sharing for the purposes of
collaboration and participation (Luna-Reyes et al., 2014). Legislative and regulatory
frameworks across the world promote ideas of openness and transparency, with many
national governments adopting “the idea of the ‘right to access information’ or ‘freedom of
information’ as an essential element” of citizens’ rights (Shepherd, 2015, p. 715). Public sector
organisations wishing to demonstrate their transparency and accountability can do so by
proactively publishing information online as open government data; such agendas, however,
This work was supported by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC),
Trust in Digital Records in an Increasingly Networked Society (InterPARES Trust), grant number
895-2013-1004.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/0956-5698.htm
Challenges
presented to
records
management
149
Received 30 September 2016
Revised 6 January 2017
20 February 2017
Accepted 4 March 2017
RecordsManagement Journal
Vol.27 No. 2, 2017
pp.149-158
©Emerald Publishing Limited
0956-5698
DOI 10.1108/RMJ-09-2016-0034

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