Governing body

By Infoxchange Australia

The governing body of any community sector organisation has always maintained strategic control of the direction of the organisation and fulfilment of its mission and its legal, financial and accounting obligations.

The computer revolution of the last twenty years has been so profound, however, that it has changed the very nature of every organisation that has adopted its benefits. As a consequence, digital proficiency has now also become a matter of strategic importance to every governing body.

Governing body oversight of digital proficiency must now rank as a fundamental strategic responsibility. Digital proficiency has become as important for the effectiveness of the organisation as responsibility for the skills and performance of staff and even for issues like legal, financial and accounting performance. Without digital proficiency, organisations will not maintain effectiveness or efficiency.

Information communication technology (ICT) is now more than a tool, it is an essential strategy for every modern organisation. It is for this reason that every governing body must play a central role in the development and function of ICT.

In essence, a responsible governing body, will have an ICT governance officer, an ICT subcommittee, and organisational structures and processes that facilitate its obligations for the proficiency of ICT operations.

Owing to its technical nature, however, responsibility for digital proficiency poses unique challenges for governing body members and the senior management team. Management will need to become familiar with the level of information communication technology (ICT) use in the organisation, its impact on the effectiveness of service provision and the importance of establishing and maintaining ICT monitoring and development programs so that the organisation remains at the forefront of digital proficiency.

The governing body needs to accept responsibility for developing an ICT management strategy.

The following elements should be included in the strategy:

  • creation of an ICT strategy committee to ensure continuing governing body input into ICT use in the organisation
  • inclusion of ICT as an agenda item for each governing body meeting
  • establishment of an ICT strategy aligned with the organisation’s mission
  • review of the ICT hardware portfolio
  • establishment of measurement criteria for digital proficiency
  • supervision of the level of security required in ICT systems, particularly in relation to privacy law. 

Following establishment of an ICT strategy, the governing body should seek the submission of initial and then regular reports from staff on the following subjects:

  • hardware and software portfolio
  • digital proficiency monitoring and measurement
  • digital proficiency development activities and programs
  • risk management responsibilities within the organisation
  • staff responsibility for new ICT projects
  • progress of current and projected ICT projects
  • assessment of current ICT capability and identification of deficiencies
  • problems, progress and development of ICT strategy in relation to the organisation’s mission and, particularly, in relation to the provision of client services.

The governing body has responsibility to ensure that the organsation that they are resposible for meets the legal and regulatory requirements prescribed by Government.

The following links will enable a greater understanding of these in relation to IT.

Electronic Frontiers -  Data Protection Laws/Privacy Acts - http://www.efa.org.au/Issues/Privacy/privacy.html

Office of Australian Information Commissioner Laws http://www.privacy.gov.au/law

Australian Privacy Foundation - http://www.privacy.org.au/Resources/PLawsWorld.html 

About the author
Infoxchange Australia
An Australian not-for-profit social enterprise encouraging the use of technology for social justice.
Copyright © 2011 Infoxchange Australia