I caught some of The Week in Politics last night. The video stream of the discussion can be found here (requires RealPlayer).
What interested me was Noel Ahern, Junior Minister for the Environment (and sibling of our Prime Minister) seeking to distract attention from the electoral register fiasco by implyingÂ (please note that he didn’tÂ actuallyÂ say that it was happening)Â that there was nefarious activity on behalf of Sinn Fein registering people without their knowledge whilly-nilly.
Very “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”… but unfortunately Junior Minister Ahern’s comments further highlight the need to do more than just scrap and rework our Electoral Register. If there is the potential for such abuse and manipulation of our Electoral Register then there is a further compelling case for a root and branch review of the processes for collating, maintaining and updating our Electoral Register to improve the accuracy of the register, reduce the scope for malicious abuse of the register and ensure that the information on the register meets or exceeds our expectations.
The revelation during the week that different Local Authorities were using different format templates for capturing Electoral registration data apparently came as a shock to the Minister. I would ask WHY? The report by the C&AG into the PPARS implementation cited divergences in work practices and basic formats for information capture as being a key element in the Information quality issues that contributed to the massive cost over runs there.
This is a symptom of the same issue -divergence of work practices arising from slio’d processes and an absence of co-ordinated governance and control.
The roadmap to a solution is simple – assess processes, seek root causes, use statistical data to measure and prioritise root causes, refine processes to address root causes and institute leadership and governance to ensure quality and a focus on continuous improvement of process and information quality to meet the needs and expectations of the electorate.
If certain political parties are taking advantage of control deficienies in the Electoral Register process, then that is disturbing but unsurprising. The solution is not to foist blame for the overstatement on to these parties but to refine the processes toÂ improve the controls and quality of the processes and toÂ protect our democracy.
Â Minister Ahern… yup, them’s the droids we are looking for.
Â For any media persons looking for a piece based on my posting to date – please leave a request in the comments and I will respond.
For anyone looking to learn more about Total Information Quality Management, check out the IQ Master Class on Friday 5th May at ICTEXPO