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Title: Computerisation in American and British central government 1975-95 : policy-making, internal regulation and contracting in information technology.
Author: Margetts, Helen Zerlina.
ISNI:       0000 0000 8395 4598
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1996
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This study explores twenty years of computerisation in central government in the USA and Britain. Information systems now lie deep in the heart of the 'tools' of government, dispensing treasure, authority and information, replacing organisational functions and creating new requirements for technical expertise. Traditional Public Administration pays little attention to the implications of this change, while approaches based on modernism attribute radical transformational powers to information technology. This study synthesises elements of postmodern and critical modern approaches, challenging assumptions of previous work. The US and Britain provide a fruitful site for comparison, with similar cultures, agency structure and contract providers, but contrasting legal systems, contracting traditions and regulatory approaches. Since the 1 970s, both governments have ceased direct involvement in producing information systems at the forefront of available technologies; in 1 995, both stand outside a contractor driven process. In the US spiralling regulations and competing oversight agencies have periodically threatened to strangle information technology development; in Britain absence of central guidance has led to potential loss of administrative and policy control. The computerisation of benefits delivery and tax collection in the two governments throughout the 1 980s illustrates the range of risks involved when central bureaucracies embarkon large-scale technology-based projects: problemsfor central oversight, difficulties in retaining policy flexibility and the dangers inherent in grand scheme designs. Information technology in the 1 990s provides increasing possibilities for policy innovation through systems integration and technological development. Decisions made in response to information technology problems during the last twenty years of computerisation in central government will dictate pathways available for policy in the future. Yet debate over crucial information technology issues currently takes place on the fringe of policy-related fields. This study provides a framework for resituating information technology policy on the centre stage of public policy and management.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Information science & librarianship