This is a case study for Principle T3: Orderly release.

The Welsh Government makes excellent use of its corporate electronic records management software (Objective ECM) to manage pre-release access across the organisation. The system allows secure groups to be set up which means documents can be shared with only specific individuals.

For each output, a group is set up that is bespoke to the specific pre-release access list. Links to those documents are then sent around under pre-release access rules which means that final versions of releases are never attached to emails as unsecure documents. This is done with clear guidance that no indication of the substance of the statistical release are included in the email text.

This has a number of benefits:

  • If a name is accidentally included on an email distribution list, or it is forwarded to someone else, they cannot actually open the document
  • Pre-release access arrangements can be managed centrally
  • The Objective ECM system has full audit functionality, which allows statisticians to identify who has opened the release (and when). This ensures that they know who has accessed the statistics pre-release, but also allows them to assess whether pre-release access is actually needed in future
  • It provides a safe space for press notices and lines to take to be developed under the same secure conditions as the statistical release
  • It provides a facility for secure external sharing of official-sensitive material through a linked product Connect, in the event that there are pre-release access recipients in outside organisations
  • It ensures that outputs and associated correspondence are automatically part of corporate record
  • Functionality can provide built-in sign-off of documents to support quality assurance and internal clearance processes

Since the introduction of this approach Welsh Government report that the number of accidental or near-miss pre-release sharing occurrences has reduced to virtually zero.

This example shows how Welsh Government has developed an effective system to manage the circulation of statistics in their final form, in line with its obligations under pre-release access legislation. The system also securely supports Welsh Government’s quality assurance and press-notice development processes, and supports statisticians in reviewing whether listed individuals should require continued access in future, which helps to keep the number of individuals granted pre-release access to a minimum.