Data Sharing to Drive Government Spending on Risk Management

In February 2007, Symantec surveyed 310 IT professionals, 25 percent of whom represent national, regional or local government, nongovernmental organizations or education institutions. The IT Risk Management -- Public Sector Report focused specifically on the responses from that pool of participants.

Results of the report show that more than half of public sector respondents -- 55 percent -- rate IT risks associated with finance and administration as high or critical; fewer associated high or critical levels of IT risk with what the survey referred to as external-facing processes -- business intelligence, customer relationship management and supply-chain management.

"The biggest difference between the public and private sectors' perceptions of risk is in its inability to manage customer relationships," says Jeremy Ward, director of service development for Symantec Global Services. "Government is not yet regarding the citizen as a customer. It's not taking on board the whole issue of if you're making services available, you have to ensure the customer experience is as valid, smooth and effective as when they go on EBay."

As governments seek ways to meet citizens' demands, investments will be made to keep data and the infrastructure both available and secure. For that reason, agencies will likely spend more on staff, systems and security hardware and software to support e-government and shared services initiatives, according to the report.

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"The increasing requirement for government to share data requires the correct balance between transparency and security," Ward says. "I'm not pessimistic; it's perhaps happening slower than we would have anticipated, but government can move forward as [VARs] teach the lessons learned from private sector."