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Information Asset Register


inforoute provides direct access to the Government’s Information Asset Register (IAR). The IAR lists information resources held by the UK Government, concentrating on unpublished resources. In doing so it enables users to identify, from one single source, the information held in a wide variety of government departments, agencies and other organisations. inforoute is a key part of the Government’s agenda for freeing up access to official information.

We are continuing to work with departments to help them develop their IARs further and co-ordinating our work with Freedom of Information (FOI) Publications Schemes. As departments identify information to be published through their FOI Publication Schemes, so unpublished information can also be identified for inclusion in the IAR.

IAR aims to cover the vast quantities of information held by all government departments and agencies. This includes databases, old sets of files, recent electronic files, collections of statistics, research etc. The IAR concentrates on information resources that have not yet been, or will not be formally published.

Ownership and responsibility

Individual departments have primary responsibility for putting in place their own IARs which they will maintain on their own web sites. OPSI has overall responsibility for IAR formats and standards and for maintaining the inforoute website.


The IAR complements, not duplicates, existing lists of published materials

inforoute links to other sources of official information and lists of official publications (e.g. Directgov, UKOP and The Stationery Office).

Departments maintain their IARs on their own web sites with links and search facilities from inforoute.

inforoute is evolving constantly as a collaborative effort across Government. It must not become resource-intensive or over centralised.

OPSI is establishing agreed indexing practices across all IAR Web sites to build an evolving central service.

Indexing is by natural language as well as formal or technical terms. Example: ’Greenhousekeeping’ as well as ’Environmental Management’.

inforoute lists the formats in which information can be supplied, gives contact names and encourages users to investigate the most efficient methods for accessing official material.

What IAR records tell you

The following template will be used to describe information resources. More detailed guidance on each field is also available.

TITLE: Title of resource, with additional or alternative titles if they exist.

IARN: The IAR Number; a unique number identifying each record. The first part of the number indicates which organisation created the record.

IDENTIFIER: Identifier or acronym by which the resource may be commonly known, or file name with full path.

DESCRIPTION: A description of the information contained the resource. An abstract if the resource is document-like. A content description of visual or other resources.

SUBJECT: Keywords and phrases indicating the subject matter of the resource.

COVERAGE: Geographic area covered by the information in the resource.

DATE: The date on which the resource was created or published.

UPDATING FREQUENCY: For databases etc, to indicate currency.

DATE MODIFIED: The date on which a database or other resource was last updated.

SOURCE: The source(s) of the information found in the resource.

FORMAT: Physical formats of resource. Examples: Book, CD-ROM, Database (Access 97;); Collection of documents (Word 6, 17 files)

LANGUAGE: The language(s) of the resource content.

AUTHOR: Person, group or organisation responsible for the intellectual content of the resource.

PUBLISHER: The office or organisation to be contacted for further information about, or access to, the resource.

RIGHTS: Basic indication of the user’s rights to view, copy, redistribute or republish all or part of the information held in the database.

CATEGORY: A term/terms from the Government Category List (GCL). Users can search for all the records covered by each term from the GCL.

Why create an Information Asset Register?

To help deliver the government policy of making official information as widely and easily available as possible.

To ease the frustration at the difficulty in locating information. This frustration was one of the most striking responses to the consultation on the Future Management of Crown Copyright.

To provide a comprehensive resource that does not require an advanced understanding of the structure of Government. Users need not know which departments hold the information they seek, as a search is made across the whole of government.

To cater for the pressing demand to identify unpublished data holdings within Government. This complements both official bibliographies which only list material that is published and Freedom of Information Publication Schemes.

To facilitate and encourage the re-use of government information.

Overseas examples

IARs are not unique to the UK Government.

UNITED STATES: The US Government has the Government Information Locator Services to identify publicly available federal information resources. GILS uses network technology and international standards to provide a single point of entry to all US Federal GILS databases.

CANADA: In Canada, Info Source is a series of publications and databases containing information about the Government of Canada, its organisation and information holdings. It supports the government’s policy to provide open and accessible information regarding its activities.

inforoute and IAR comments and suggestions

We welcome any comments or suggestions users may have about the inforoute website and the departmental Information Asset Registers.