A leading expert on the security and management of data is calling for the creation of a new professional post within public bodies, including local authorities.
Chris Ensor, technical director of CESG - the information assurance arm of GCHQ at Cheltenham - believes the best way for councils to meet the legal requirement to look after information professionally is the creation of a specific information assurance role with appropriate training and nationally recognised qualifications.
“While there is lots of good work going on in different parts of the public sector, bringing a holistic approach to information assurance professionalism is going to be key to ensuring information risks are being properly managed,” he said.
The drive from Whitehall for greater security across the public sector follows a series of embarrassing data mishaps, most notably the loss by the Ministry of Defence in 2008 of a computer drive with the personal details of about 100,000 serving personnel in the Army, Royal Navy and RAF and their next of kin.
Mr Ensor is preparing a paper to back his call for identifiable information assurance professionals in the public sector and has summarised its main arguments for LGC.
However, rather than creating new posts in straitened times, ICT managers in local government are strengthening the existing management of council-held data and raising awareness of the risks of storing such information.
They include Tony Ellis, head of IT at Brent LBC, who as the chief information officer believes it is reasonable for existing staff to fill the roles recommended by Mr Ensor, provided the council has a rigorous security strategy in place.