– Where is all of a government employee’s personally-created knowledge and information?

Although this is a blog for Government Knowledge Management, for the reasons I’m explaining below this article also applies to industry.

Concerning employee-created knowledge and information, it should be understood that the traditional vertical movement process for more money or higher positions within industry has changed.  Moving vertically “up the ladder” in a single organization has shifted to an often horizontal movement approach of job-hopping, sometimes laterally, from employer to employer, in time keeping pace with or even surpassing employees remaining in the traditional single organization approach.

This shift to job-hopping within industry is what creates similiarities now more than ever before between industry employee experience and government/military employee experience.

Vertical movement up the ladder in DoD, and to some degree in the non-DoD federal government, depends as much on patience as it does on competence and leadership ability. Patience is required while waiting for one’s Time in Service (TIS) and Time in Grade (TIG) to meet the scheduled eligibility points. Once a number of available spots for promotion are determined and packets of candidates whose TIS and TIG meet the eligibility requirements are reviewed, top candidates are chosen for the previously-determined available number of positions. Other factors do apply.

While waiting on promotion eligibility, however, like job-hopping industry employees, government service employees can move multiple times within the same organization or to positions available in other government agencies that need their government speciality. Military service members periodically experience Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves that physically relocate their place of duty from one military installation to another, restarting in a new organization like the job-hopping industry employee.

Relative to knowledge, information, and data (KI&D), by industry job-hopping and government/military moving about the tax-funded world, caches of unuseable digital information, created by the employee, are abandoned and stranded and untouchable, left behind as the employee moves from organization to organization.

Why should anyone be concerned about previous employee knowledge and information? It’s likely of no value anyway.

True…but not all of it is worthless…and we don’t know which of it is not. Inside government and DoD, the tax-payer’s right to full disclosure in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the court’s right to full disclosure in legal discovery proceedings, and the general responsibility of government and military personnel to preserve public knowledge and information for posterity become the mandate for KI&D organization and management.

That said, all three employee types face similar challenges with the scattered nature of their information: The job-hopping industry employee has likely left work-related information for each employer scattered across information repositories, personal, private, and public; the government employee moving from office-to-office within an agency or agency-to-agency within the government, awaiting their TIS and TIG to qualify them for other positions, usually elsewhere, leaves job-specific knowledge in repositories relative to the different organization and offices within organizations where they work; and, the military service member who PCSs from one military organization to another creating new K&I on newly-assigned DoD-owned hardware at each new workstation upon arrival.

Typically, no guidance on knowledge management, particularly no instruction on organizational governance involving the creation, maintenance, and disposition of KI&D, is provided to any employee regardless of their employer.

Freely released in the new organization, the new employee uses K&I generation tools (any device used to generate knowledge) without information management instruction, governance, or policy. Employees blindly turn their machine on and begin generating K&I and then immediately save the generated knowledge…and by doing so, begin another cache of digital information on some hard drive, shared drive, or content management system, that will someday in the future when the employee moves on, become abandoned and stranded, untouchable.

How is every single bit of knowledge and information created by a single industry employee, civilian government service employee, or military service member collected, in toto, for instant review – not just across the government, but within an agency, within a directorate, within a division, within an office, or within a team?

Where does the industry, government, or military begin looking for all the knowledge and information generated by a single employee?

Does the employee’s information get destroyed?

Is the KI&D to be destroyed of no practical or mission use?

Or, was its destruction an easy solution because that information is not in one simple useable standard format that can be searched and applied; and, it’s not worth the headache figuring it out since it’s likely not of any value anyway?

Kudos to the DoD Armed Services!!!

Each service has created their own service-specific information portal: Army Knowledge Online (AKO), Air Force Portal, MarineNet, or the Navy Enterprise Portal. These portals provide service members the ability to save content in a single location for use regardless of the duty station on which the servicemember finds themselves. From Fort Bragg, NC to Camp Red Cloud, Korea, if a servicemember has wi-fi they can reach these portals. From the Army National Guard’s benefits document describing Army Knowledge Online (AKO) portal,

AKO is a single enterprise web portal that provides single sign on capability for email, directory services, blogs, file storage, instant messenger, and chat as well as links and access to other related army websites (e.g. ATTRS, iPERMS, MEDPROS, etc).

This is a good start, but there is no mandate for using it for all Army-related business. Soldiers whose jobs place them with computers are given very little guidance to manage information in AKO.

What little guidance is given in the document above is concerning:

AKO offers the capability for users to build pages and file storage folders….

Folders is the “F” word in Knowledge Management. So, even though AKO provides a single location for Army employee management of knowledge and information, it falls short on actually providing valuable instruction on how K&I should be structured. Folders are not the answer!


Where is the KI&D belonging to your industry, government, or military employee? It’s everywhere.

What can you as the KM for your organization do about “rounding up” all the K&I already created by your users? You probably can’t do anything!

Ok…don’t despair. The cloud is coming, maybe your organization is already there. Once you’re committed to a cloud-based strategy, you need to immediately focus on applying knowledge, information and data management protocols in order to avoid the same chaotic mess that was allowed to accumulate in the pre-cloud days.

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