GovKM.com – So, how can government knowledge be controlled?


Taking control of all organizational government knowledge, information and data (KI&D) has rarely been attempted possibly because of negative absolutes that surround it:

  • Information can’t be controlled;
  • Managing information is the users’ job and they don’t know what they’re doing;
  • The cost of getting it straight is prohibitive.

These are complete fallacies. Information can be controlled, Knowledge Managers manage information (users enter data), and the cost of straightening and structuring the data, while significantly fair for the work being performed, is far from prohibitive, especially knowing the cost increases hourly as the data continues to grow.

Described in the last article, the employment transience of modern industry staffers, government service employees, and military service members has led to the creation of isolated caches of employee-generated organizational information scattered across the digital map. Client apps allowing users to “Save As” and ubiquitous connectivity to public and private storage provide abundant options for employees to create and store proprietary organizational information in countless unknown locations.

Because it could be true, it must be considered true: Employees have the ability so they are creating, maintaining, storing, sharing, repurposing, and disposing of organizational information in places organizations do not control.

Has this created, among other problems, a Gordian knot for agencies in regards to their ability to collect their organizational employee-generated information? Yes. Don’t fret about it. Everyone must take responsibility for allowing organizational information to get to its current state – out of control. Set the problem aside. We’ll get to it.

The wild west period of digital knowledge and information management, possibly nearing the end but within which we still find ourselves today, may be an unavoidable consequence of the confusion caused by the world’s transition from mostly paper files and manila folders to 1s and 0s saved in the ether. Most certainly, we attempted over the past few decades to apply the rules for information created in the paper files and folders world to the life-cycle management of information in the digital world. Applying paper file and folder policy to digital KI&D doesn’t work.

The reason is because:

The efficiencies created to manage information in the paper file and folder world were intended to make knowledge tasks simpler for humans; the efficiencies needed today are ones that make knowledge tasks simpler for computers.

The efficiencies created to manage information in the paper file and folder world were intended to make knowledge tasks simpler for humans; the efficiencies needed today are ones that make knowledge tasks simpler for computers.

In the paper files and folders world, the human performs knowledge talks involving organizational business KI&D: Validating, analyzing, copying, moving, accessioning, disposing, etc. The arrangement of KI&D in the paper files world is the arrangement that works best for humans making it easy to find quickly the specified KI&D in order to perform knowledge tasks with it.

In the digital world, computers perform these same tasks faster and more efficiently, but in order to do so KI&D must be structured in ways that best serve how computers perform knowledge tasks, such as, and among other functions, validating, analyzing, copying, moving, accessioning, and disposing of organizational knowledge.

Like humans, in order to perform knowledge tasks on specific KI&D objects, computers must first find the KI&D item. Locating the KI&D item on which the knowledge task is to be performed is the initial and most important step.

Structuring organizational KI&D for searchability structures it also for optimal computer use.

Structuring organizational KI&D for searchability structures it also for optimal computer use.


Will restructuring organizational data to make it machine-readable rather than human-readable mean…it won’t be understandable at the human level? Probably. That’s fine.

Once we get past this data structuring portion of your KI&D transformation into a modern knowledge format, you’ll no longer worry yourself with managing digital versions of real-world filing systems. You’ll begin querying your content management system to answer business intelligence questions hidden in your KI&D.

To begin the journey of controlling organizational data by giving structural management of KI&D to computers, KMs need to:

  • Determine the data formats that best suit the needs of your organization;
  • Choose a content management system that works most flexibly with the data formats you choose;
  • Implement metadata schema based on a strict organizational taxonomy/ontology;
  • Re-engineer, wherever possible, manual processes into automated processes on the content management system(s);
  • Restrict the storage of KI&D outside of the organization;
  • And, develop questions to ask of your data.

Where to start?

Coming soon: Determine the data formats that best suit the needs of your organization

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