I was out and about on visits for a couple of days last week as part of my Communities and Local Government role, so I didn’t get a chance to blog. I want to say ‘thank you’ for all the comments on my last blog about the budget which provided some very helpful feedback.
Meanwhile, I want to briefly touch on the new Classification Policy that we all start using today. As I hope you all know by now, we are dropping the labels UNCLASSIFIED, PROTECT, RESTRICTED and CONFIDENTIAL. You’ve told us that you find this system difficult and bureaucratic and it hinders rather than helps your information sharing – and doesn’t make things any more secure. Instead, in their place, comes the new OFFICIAL classification. This is a much more straightforward approach and it’s encouraging that colleagues who have completed the e-learning package say it is easier to understand. If you have yet to complete this then please do.
A change to this system is long overdue, the first attempt to reform it was in 1947! However, I know some of you are nervous about the change, so I want to emphasise a couple of key points and be very clear about the expectations we should all have for handling information properly.
First and foremost all information has value. Whether it originated outside or within HMG, has been labelled or not. We should all be used to handling information from colleagues, the public, commercial partners, local authorities and elsewhere and treating it sensibly and appropriately for what it is. At the very least everyone should appreciate that information cannot be released outside of HMG without good reason or the appropriate clearance. We should all be able to exercise our judgement about the sensitivity of the information we work with, but if in doubt then please ask.
This change is being delivered throughout departments and I’ll be taking a close interest in the implementation of the new policy. I’d welcome your comments on how this will impact on your work below.
Over Easter I’ll be taking a break from the blog, and I hope some of you will be able to take some time off work. I’ll be back after Easter and look forward to engaging with you further then.