Data Governance vs Records Management?

The other day I received the following question on my post titled “Data Governance Policy”:

What do you see as the major difference between the following Policies:
1) Record Management, Retention, and Destruction policy
2) Data Governance Policy
Assuming that all data assets are recorded as records

I had never really thought of Data Governance and a Record Management, Retention, and Destruction Policy as being even remotely related, however, the more I think about it the more I see at least a few commonalities. So, I decided to chart out below some of the similarities and some of the differences. I think doing this will help give the gentlemen who asked the question, as well as others with the same question, a good understanding of how these two areas are similar and different.


  • Both Data Governance and Records Management deal with critical assets to the organization.
  • Both must take absolute care to ensure that issues involving the data/documents they are managing are remedied quickly and escalated to management when necessary.
  • Both focus on creating policies that should be followed by the enterprise. In DG, the policies generally refer to the quality of the data, whereas in RM the policies generally refer to practices of storing and disposing of data and information.
  • Both assign responsibilities and authorities to other’s in the enterprise to take ownership of a set of documents, data, or information. Once someone is given authority and responsibility, the Program Manager of RM or DG will then hold that person accountable for their actions as they relate to their ownership.
  • Both work to integrate the policies and procedures into business systems, workflows, and processes.


  • Records Management does not necessarily involve a ‘council’ who meets regularly on critical issues affecting the enterprise; Data Governance does exactly that.
  • Records Management often deals with tangible objects and documents. Data Governance generally deals with data as stored on a computer system.
  • Data Governance has a very high focus on reviewing the data and ensuring there are rules, processes, and procedures to ensure the quality of the data is high. Records Management primarily focuses on the retention of the records until they are destroyed.
  • Records Management generally focuses on when data becomes obsolete and when it can be destroyed. Rarely is this ever a topic of discussion for Data Governance.
  • Data Governance has a high visibility across the enterprise (or it should) as long as the program is running. Generally Records Management as viewed as more operational, and as such, the visibility only comes when there are problems or critical issues arise.
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