There’s Room for Knowledge Management in Open Records

Over the past couple of months I have found myself doing a large amount of research in the realm of state legislation and regulations.  The one thing that is clear from this work is that while information is significantly easier to find than it used to be, all states are not equal.

The sophistication and ease of use for each state’s system varies widely.  Organizationally, the regulations are frustrating.  Some regulations are spread through departments within departments others are deceptive.  The deception comes from the appearance that there is a single place for all proposed rules and the information is complete.  In reality, there are often other places within the wealth of state data that can and do contain this type of information.  The reality of needing to look in multiple places is just part of the frustration.  The lack of complete tracking information and an inconsistency even with the same state, depending upon the regulation and/or the responsible department increases the searcher’s blood pressure too.

Bringing Infrastructure up to Date is a Challenge

If ever a need for Knowledge Management was apparent, it is in the handling of these valuable open records resources.  I certainly understand that the appearance, availability and frequency are dependent upon a number of factors ranging from human to fiscal resources. Not the least of these dependent factors is existing and available technology.  Bringing old infrastructure to the 21st century is a huge and costly challenge.

However, I think organizations responsible for maintaining and making available to the public large amounts of information, should look closely at the impact a well executed content and knowledge management plan could have.  Could human resources actually have a reduced burden if the full date was used in a legislative docket, especially a docket that ranges across two years?  I think so.

Systems and processes in inputting data must be considered in light of the ultimate output and user.  A capable Knowledge Manager will be able to balance the technological and information demands and capabilities against user expectations and desires.  This information professional will establish and maintain protocols to benefit the organization at all levels.

There are many ways to handle information but it should be handled by a professional.  At minimum, organizations responsible for providing access to public records should invest in an Information Professional to establish good  protocols on the front-end.

Constance Ard 3/14/2010