Information Systems

Download Information Technology in Government: Britain and America by Helen Margetts; PDF

By Helen Margetts;

This publication explores the massive influence of knowledge know-how at the governments of the united kingdom and US during the last twenty years, interpreting computerization as a device of presidency and significant coverage implications.

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From the 1950s to the 1990s financial systems spread throughout the bureaucracy in both countries until each department and agency was peppered with financial management, budgeting and accounting computer systems. Information technology has thereby introduced completely new risks into the management of treasure, even in agencies where technology plays only a minor role in the Computerising the tools of government? 17 organisation’s core activities. Even a small computer system can have a highly significant impact when it ceases to operate.

In off-line applications an integrated circuit card (ICC) or a smart card with a microprocessor performs similar functions by itself without direct, immediate linkage to a host computer program or database. Periodically transaction information recorded by the off-line device is transferred to the central computer database. Such applications have been popular in the US since the mid-1980s. By 1988 there were 51 entries in a Department of Treasury publication entitled Applications of Computer Card Technology, by 1989 there were 86 and by 1990 there were 184 (Department of Treasury, 1990:xx).

The cost of information technology staff as a percentage of information technology expenditure had dropped from 41 per cent to 22 per cent over ten years. In Britain by 1995 central governments were contracting out 30 per cent of their information technology expenditure, a rise of 7 per cent from 1993 to 1995: this explains why expenditure on information technology staff had fallen to £411 million in the same period (Kable, 1995b:43–6). Therefore, the drawing-in of organised expertise to central government through the use of information technology occurred in two stages in each government.

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