18 July 2008
Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell has admitted to the public administration select committee that there were no checks on whether departments are following data-handling guidance.
PASC chair Tony Wright opened the July 15 session by outlining disasters such as Revenue and Customs' loss of 25 million people's records last year.
When Wright cited reports pointing to 'systemic failures' in data security, O'Donnell said: 'What they found was the guidance was there, but there wasn't testing to see if it was followed.' He added that after his own review of Whitehall data security, there would be greater scrutiny and spot checks to ensure departments were implementing guidance.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Ed Miliband said: 'The government needs to do a lot better and raise its game.' But he defended recent government moves to increase data sharing between public bodies as a means of improving public services. 'I don't think the response to recent events is to say that we shouldn't be sharing data,' he added.