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Information governance, or IG, is the set of multi-disciplinary structures, policies, procedures, processes and controls implemented to manage information at an enterprise level, supporting an organization's immediate and future regulatory, legal, risk, environmental and operational requirements. Information governance should determine the balance point between two potentially divergent organizational goals: extracting value from information and reducing the potential risk of information. Information governance reduces organizational risk in the fields of compliance, operational transparency, and reducing expenditures associated with e-discovery and litigation response. An organization can establish a consistent and logical framework for employees to handle data through their information governance policies and procedures. These policies guide proper behavior regarding how organizations and their employees handle electronically stored information (ESI).
Information governance encompasses more than traditional records management. It incorporates information security and protection, compliance, data governance, electronic discovery, risk management, privacy, data storage and archiving, knowledge management, business operations and management, audit, analytics, IT management, master data management, enterprise architecture, business intelligence, big data, data science, and finance.
Records management deals with the creation, retention and storage and disposition of records. A record can either be a physical, tangible object, or digital information such as a database, application data, and e-mail. The lifecycle was historically viewed as the point of creation to the eventual disposal of a record. As data generation exploded in recent decades, and regulations and compliance issues increased, traditional records management failed to keep pace. A more comprehensive platform for managing records and information became necessary to address all phases of the lifecycle, which led to the advent of information governance.
In 2003 the Department of Health in England introduced the concept of broad-based information governance into the National Health Service, publishing version 1 of an online performance assessment tool with supporting guidance. The NHS IG Toolkit is now used by over 30,000 NHS and partner organisations, supported by an e-learning platform with some 650,000 users.
In 2008, ARMA International introduced the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles®, or "The Principles"  and the subsequent "The Principles" Information Governance Maturity Model. "The Principles" identify the critical hallmarks of information governance. As such, they apply to all sizes of organizations, in all types of industries, and in both the private and public sectors. Multi-national organizations can also use "The Principles" to establish consistent practices across a variety of business units. ARMA International recognized that a clear statement of "Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles®" ("The Principles") would guide:
- CEOs in determining how to protect their organizations in the use of information assets;
- Legislators in crafting legislation meant to hold organizations accountable; and
- Records management professionals in designing comprehensive and effective records management programs.
Information governance goes beyond retention and disposition to include privacy, access controls, and other compliance issues. In electronic discovery, or e-discovery, relevant data in the form of electronically stored information is searched for by attorneys and placed on legal hold. IG includes consideration of how this data is held and controlled for e-discovery, and also provides a platform for defensible disposition and compliance. Additionally, metadata often accompanies electronically stored data and can be of great value to the enterprise if stored and managed correctly.
With all of these additional considerations that go beyond traditional records management, IG emerged as a platform for organizations to define policies at the enterprise level, across multiple jurisdictions. IG then also provides for the enforcement of these policies into the various repositories of information, data, and records.
A coalition of organizations known as Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), which was founded in 2005 to address issues related to electronic discovery and information governance, subsequently developed, as one of its projects, a resource called the Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM). In 2011, EDRM, in collaboration with ARMA International, published a white paper that describes How the Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM) Complements ARMA International’s Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles ("The Principles")  The IGRM illustrates the relationship between key stakeholders and the Information Lifecycle and highlights the transparency required to enable effective governance IGRM v3.0 Update: Privacy & Security Officers As Stakeholders.
In 2014, John Wiley & Sons published the first textbook on information governance, "Information Governance: Concepts, Strategies, and Best Practices"  by Robert Smallwood. Also in 2014, The Information Governance Conference, an annual conference on information governance best practices began and the Information Governance Model was launched at the inaugural event, it is now in use at over 1000 organizations worldwide.
In the past, records managers owned records management, perhaps within a compliance department at an enterprise. In order to address the broader issues surrounding records management, several other key stakeholders must be involved. Legal, IT, and Compliance tend to be the departments that touch information governance the most, though certainly other departments might seek representation. Many enterprises create information governance committees to ensure that all necessary constituents are represented and that all relevant issues are addressed.
To address retention and disposition, Records Management and Enterprise Content Management applications were developed. Sometimes detached search engines or homegrown policy definition tools were created. These were often employed at a departmental or divisional level; rarely were tools used across the enterprise. While these tools were used to define policies, they lacked the ability to enforce those policies. Monitoring for compliance with policies was increasingly challenging. Since information governance addresses so much more than traditional records management, several software solutions have emerged to include the vast array of issues facing records managers.
Other available tools include:
- ARMA Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles
- EDRM Information Governance Reference Model
- Information Coalition Information Governance Model
- NHS Information Governance Toolkit
Laws and regulations
Key to IG are the regulations and laws that help to define corporate policies. Some of these regulations include:
- The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI Compliance
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA
- Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, or GLBA
- Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002, or Sarbox or SOX
- Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
- ISO 15489 Information and Documentation - Records Management
- DoD 5015.2, or Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Applications
- Data defined storage
- Data governance
- Electronic discovery
- Enterprise content management
- Information management
- Information technology governance
- Knowledge management
- National archives
- Records management
- Gartner definition
- [Kooper, M., Maes, R., and Roos Lindgreen, E. (2011). On the governance of information: Introducing a new concept of governance to support the management of information. International Journal of Information Management, 31(3), 195-200]
- "The Facets of Information Governance", Information Governance Initiative Annual Report 2014
- EDRM. "About EDRM." Retrieved 2015-01-21.
- White Paper (2011). Ledergerber, Marcus, ed. How the Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM)Complements ARMA International’s Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles (PDF). EDRM and ARMA International. p. 15.
- Information Governance Conference InfoGovCon.com
- Information Governance Model InfoGovModel.com
- ALM IG Overview
- ARMA International, "The Principles", ARMA International
- EDRM, "Information Governance Reference Model", EDRM
- Information Coalition, "The Information Governance Model", Information Coalition
- NHS, "NHS Information Governance Toolkit", NHS