20% of Feds Say Their Agency Still Relies on Paper Records

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And many federal employees also doubt the effectiveness of their chief data officers.

A recent survey of federal employees shows government agencies still have a long way to go in improving their data management systems, and they face a number of obstacles including a dependency on paper.

A majority of respondents were confident in their ability to handle agency records but indicated room for improvement in areas like document digitization. More than one-third said their agency maintains a mixture of digital and paper archives, and almost 20 percent said their agency still relies primarily on paper records.

Only 28 percent of respondents said their agency has implemented a comprehensive data governance plan, and nearly 40 percent doubt their chief data officer’s effectiveness.

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Survey respondents believe many data management processes are constructed more tactically than efficiently, and once implemented, they are often difficult to change. They cited budget constraints and outdated data infrastructure as the two biggest barriers to improving agencies’ existing frameworks.

The survey was conducted by the Government Business Council and underwritten by Veritas. GBC and Nextgov are both part of Government Executive Media Group. Respondents include 452 randomly selected federal employees, 65 percent of whom were at GS-12 level or above. At least 34 different defense and civilian agencies were represented in the survey.

Eight years ago, the Office of Management and Budget urged the government to increase its transparency, collaboration and participation, a mission that requires improving information management. Today, many federal employees have yet to see their organizations heed that call. Almost half the respondents were unsure how data center and IT modernization ranks among their agency’s priorities, and about the same number didn’t know how their organizations use big data analytics at all.