What’s the Difference between Data Governance and Information Governance?

By James Merrifield, Director of Information Governance & Business Intake, Robinson & Cole

Executives are experts in the field of decision-making and analyzing critical information. They understand how vital data and information are in making informed decisions. However, many executives are confused about the difference between data governance and information governance. You are not alone! Although these two terms appear similar, they have distinct meanings and purposes. In this article, we will explain the difference between data governance and information governance and why it matters to executives.

Data Governance:

Data governance is a comprehensive framework that encompasses the management of an organization’s valuable data assets. It involves various aspects such as the collection, storage, maintenance, and utilization of data. By implementing data governance policies and procedures, organizations gain control over how their data is utilized, ensuring its accuracy, security, and compliance with relevant policies and regulations.

Furthermore, data governance extends beyond mere data management. It encompasses practices that ensure data quality, traceability, and metadata management. These practices contribute to maintaining the integrity and reliability of the data assets. Additionally, data governance plays a vital role in ensuring that data is accessible to authorized personnel or departments only. This level of control helps safeguard against unauthorized access and potential data breaches, thus enhancing overall data security.

In summary, data governance provides a systematic approach to managing data assets, promoting data accuracy, security, and compliance, while also enabling effective data utilization and accessibility within organizations.

Information Governance:

In contrast, information governance is the comprehensive management of all the valuable assets within an organization that contain information. These assets encompass not only structured and unstructured data but also extend to non-data elements such as documents and physical record-keeping. The scope of information governance policies encompasses the entire information lifecycle – from its creation, through transfer and sharing, to eventual secure destruction. The ultimate goal is to establish robust policies and practices that ensure the accuracy, reliability, security, and regulatory compliance of information assets. By implementing effective information governance, organizations can safeguard their valuable resources, mitigate risks, and optimize the utilization of information to drive strategic decision-making and achieve business objectives.

Data Governance versus Information Governance:

Data governance focuses on the management of data content and its handling within an organization. It encompasses the policies, processes, and procedures that ensure data quality, integrity, and security. On the other hand, information governance is a broader concept that covers the entire landscape of organizational information, including data, documents, and records. It encompasses the strategies and practices for managing, organizing, and leveraging information assets effectively. While data governance primarily deals with data strategy, information governance encompasses the broader information management strategy within the organization. It is important to note that information governance plays a crucial role in the effective management of information assets at the enterprise level, and it relies on the foundational elements provided by data governance.

Why Does it Matter to Executives?

The distinction between data and information governance is crucial for executives who aim to establish robust and effective information governance programs. By understanding this distinction, executives gain insight into how data fits within the broader landscape of organizational information, allowing them to develop comprehensive strategies for managing and leveraging data assets.

Data governance serves as the foundation of information governance, ensuring that data is managed correctly and by established policies and procedures. It encompasses various aspects such as data quality, data integrity, data privacy, and data security. By implementing sound data governance practices, organizations can lay a solid groundwork for effective information governance.

Furthermore, a strong data governance framework leads to improved information governance outcomes. When data is governed effectively, it enhances the accuracy, reliability, and trustworthiness of the information derived from it. This, in turn, enables executives to make more informed decisions and take strategic actions based on reliable and trustworthy information.

Therefore, executives need to have a clear understanding of the distinctions between data and information governance. By doing so, they can establish comprehensive governance programs that safeguard their organization’s information assets, promote data-driven decision-making, and drive business success.


Data governance and information governance are two distinct concepts that executives must understand thoroughly. Data governance primarily revolves around managing an organization’s data assets, ensuring their quality, security, and compliance with regulations. It is a vital practice that focuses on data-related aspects.

On the other hand, information governance takes a broader approach to managing an organization’s informational assets. While it encompasses data governance, information governance extends beyond data assets and also includes non-data assets such as documents and physical record-keeping. This holistic approach ensures that all informational assets within the organization are effectively managed, protected, and utilized.

By understanding these differences, executives can establish a robust governance program that safeguards their organization’s information assets not only in the present but also for future challenges. This knowledge enables them to make informed decisions and implement strategies that align with the overall governance framework, ensuring the long-term success and resilience of their organization’s information management practices.

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