Transparent or Translucent?

Last week I was at the recent Department of Homeland Security’s Government 2.0 Privacy and Best Practices conference. Not surprisingly the subject of transparency came up again and again. One thing that definitely caught my attention was a comment by one of the panelists that efforts towards government transparency are too often focused on data transparency rather than process transparency. While we have Data.gov as one of the current administration’s steps towards furthering government transparency, we do not have an analogous Process.gov. Said another way – we get the sausage but don’t get to see how it is made. This isn’t transparent government but translucent government.

From what I’ve seen I’d say that enterprises have achieved the opposite kind of translucency with their identity management programs. Though enterprises have achieved some degree of process transparency by suffering through the pains of documenting, engineering, and re-engineering process, they haven’t been able to achieve data transparency. Identity information has yet to become readily available throughout the enterprise in ways that the business can take advantage of. Identity information (such as entitlements) has yet to achieve enterprise master-data status. Worse yet, the quality of identity data still lags behind the quality of identity-related processes in the enterprise.

For those of you attending the Advanced Role Management workshop at Catalyst this year, you’ll hear me and Kevin present the findings from our recent roles research. Throughout our interviews we heard identity teams discuss their struggles with data management and data quality. Finding authoritative sources of information, relying on self-certified entitlement information, and decoding arcane resource codes were just some of the struggles we heard.  No one said that identity data transparency was easy, but without it enterprises can only achieve identity translucency and not true transparency.

(Cross-posted from Burton Group’s Identity Blog.)

3 Replies to “Transparent or Translucent?”

  1. Then again, someone did once say that sausages and laws have something in common: the less one knows about how they are made, the happier one tends to remain…

  2. I used to believe that but I think it is high time that we expose the sausage making process to the light of day. Yes, we are going to be sick when we first see it, but we’ll be better off in the long run.

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