UK Liberty

Data errors

Posted in database state by ukliberty on January 28, 2009

All but one government department has no system in place to correct data errors, an investigation has revealed. 

Tom Ilube, the chief executive of the identity management company Garlik, revealed that just one department has a procedure in place to correct errors within its databases. Ilube discovered this after submitting a Freedom of Information request to each central government department asking if they have a system in place to correct data errors.

The education watchdog Ofsted is the only organisation to get a clean bill of health, with major government departments like the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health admitting to no procedure in place. …

Also speaking on the programme, Dr Louise Bennett, chairwoman of the British Computer Society’s security forum, said: “Every department will have tens of millions, hundreds of millions of records. The chance of it all being accurate is absolutely nil. Between one and five per cent of the data in databases across the public and private sector is inaccurate,” which could potentially mean millions of records are wrong. …

Bennett said there needs to be a culture change in government and called for some sort of “gold standard” to be adopted. “Someone needs to take control,” she said. “This whole thing should be sorted out by total quality. Right first time and every time and certainly I have seen departments where there are just targets for getting data in, not targets for getting the data in correctly. All of these things it matters that it is accurate.”


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