12 December 2005

CSPS I310 Course - Integrated Information Management - Day 1

Today, I delivered at the Canada School of the Public Service (CSPS) Day one of the subject three day course. We had four periods:
  • Introduction, ice breaker, overview of the manual, introduction to the case study (see at the end of this post)
  • The "what": Information Management (IM) as a Unified Discipline
  • The "why": IM Value Propositions
  • Individual Exercise
The IM as a unified discipline covered the IM Problem Space and the following semantic clarifications, among other topics:
  • What is Data? Series of objective facts.
  • What are Opinions? Subjective statements reflecting beliefs, not necessarily based on facts.
  • What is Fiction? Works derived of imagination, the storyline necessarily not based on facts. Elements of the story may embody data and opinions.
  • What is Information? Data, opinions or fiction given context. Giving context to data happens whenever you correlate data, for example, a graph plotting cancer risk as a function of age and gender (correlation of data). Giving context to opinions happens when several opinions are presented and either contrasted or related to each other. Giving context to fiction, similarly, happens when the work of fiction is discussed in terms of its significance, impact on other authors, etc. Giving context to data, opinions and fiction provides added value not apparent from the underlying data, opinion or fiction. This added value, together with the underlying data, opinion or fiction; is information. Information can therefore exist physically or in electronic format.
  • What is Knowledge? Information internalized. To internalize information, one must study it, apply learning skills and derive significance from the information. As a result, knowledge only resides in people (and animals). Knowledge is subjective. Knowledge cannot exist on paper or in electronic format.
  • What is Knowledge Management (KM)? KM is concerned with the planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, controlling, evaluating and reporting on the acquisition, sharing, use and transfer of internalized information, hence, for example, issues of succession planning. In the organizational context, for example, succession planning deliberately plans for and encourages the transfer of knowledge from departing employees to other employees.
  • What are Information Activities? Whatever you do (verb) that is information related - find, create, receive, acquire, monitor, classify (for records management), index (for content management), safeguard, verify (for accuracy), organize, store, access, use, collaborate, send, route, disseminate, publish, transfer (alienate), archive and dispose are all non exhaustive examples of information activities.
  • What is Information Management (IM)? The planning, organizing, directing, coordinating & controlling, evaluating and reporting of information activities in order to meet program objectives.
IM value propositions covered the "why" organizations should invest in IM: Is it worth investing in IM when so many other funding pressures compete with it? (in government) To answer that question, we covered a few basic accounting concepts (as some participants would say: yikes!) in order to come up with a method to quantify the affirmation that "information is an asset". Let's just say that many participants did not expect to be faced with accounting right after lunch!!

I have posted, below, the initial case study given to participants. Throughout the courses they will also be given incremental case study information and each participant will assume a role (Librarian, Records Manager, IT Team Leader, Consultant, Information Manager and PAAO Desk Officer).

"In Year 2015, you are part of the new federal Special Operating Agency called the “Program Activity Architecture Office” (PAAO), created in 2013 under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Reg Alcock. The government decided it was important to have a permanent and distinct agency supporting the Privy Council Office and Treasury Board Secretariat in their respective governmental roles with regards to Program Activity Architecture.

The mandate of PAAO is two-fold: first, to continuously update and maintain federal program activity architecture information; second, to translate this information into a comprehensive dynamic web site for the Canadian public and facilitate the access to program activity information.
Note: Each department’s Program Activity Architecture consists of three main elements: (a) clearly defined and appropriate Strategic Outcome(s); (b) a complete program inventory that links all departmental programs and program activities to these Strategic Outcomes; and (c) annual business plans & performance reports.

The PAAO has been given time to cope with its awesome challenges. Expectations are high: Members of Parliaments, the Office of the Auditor General, Privy Council and Treasury Board Secretariat bureaucrats are all looking to the PAAO not only for accurate program activity architecture information, but also for related business plan and program cost information. In addition, the media and the public have discovered, in the PAAO web site, a wealth of information never before so freely disclosed to the public. This openness has created the foreseeable effect of creating more demand for quality information on the web site. Web site users are also pushing for a more friendly user interface environment, as the site is currently little more than a collection of static pages and links to web sites and documents.

Typical services provided by the PAAO to federal government clients include program activity architecture mapping and documentation, support to develop their business plans, support to develop their balanced scorecard performance measurement frameworks and support on how to link their financial departmental data to an activity-based costing framework aligned with their programs.

Typical services provided by the PAAO to the Canadian public include the provision of program activity architecture information linked to financial information in documents published on the Internet site. Each document can be accessed by a link on a static web page.

The PAAO has three divisions.

The corporate services division of the PAAO serves its parent organization by managing all corporate functions, including accommodations, finances, Human Resources, Information Management and, of course, business management of the PAAO itself.

The PAAO, in addition to the corporate services division, has two main divisions aligned with its two main business lines. The Federal Government Liaison division provides to client departments and agencies a number of desk officers, typically on secondment from other federal departments and agencies. They provide the services described above.

The Canadian Public Liaison division includes an Access to Information & Privacy (ATIP) section; a call center providing similar information as found in the PAAO web site; a section of desk officers maintaining the web site, monitoring the content, answering queries from the public and providing quality assurance services.

The Head of the PAAO is a Deputy Minister level bureaucrat, reporting to the Deputy Prime Minister, as specified in the Program Activity Architecture Act, S.C. 2010, c. P-2.1.

In recent news, the PAAO has come under attack for its antiquated web technologies, incapable of providing near real time information to the public. In addition, the Head of the PAAO has shared with the senior staff of the Office that she is unhappy with the loss of corporate knowledge every time the rotational staff in the Federal Government Liaison changes and that this loss created a significant risk of inaccurate program activity information."