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Forces and Trends in State and Local Government EDP
Caleb B. Laning
Public Administration Review
Vol. 25, No. 2 (Jun., 1965), pp. 151-155
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/973808
Page Count: 5
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Revolution or evolution, primary progress or substantial threat-automation, computers, and electronic data processing have been intensively examined by a literal deluge of social science and technical writing. Analysis of the public impact and consequence of the new technology, an impact clearly being felt in both traditional and innovative governmental functions with managerial consequences for every level of the public enterprise system has, however, been heavily skewed to consideration of the federal establishment. It has also been at the federal level that the immediate opportunities for improved performance and the attendant psychological, educational, and social consequences of automation have been most fully grasped and examined. Only such relatively isolated items as (1) the 1963 Edward F. R. Hearle and Raymond J. Mason volume, A Data Processing System for State and Local Government, (2) the Metropolitan Data Center Project in Tulsa, Oklahoma (in operation since 1961 through a federally financed grant), and (3) the October 1964 New York University-System Development Corporation Conference have focused directly on the applications and issues in the use of processing techniques by state and local governments. Electronic data processing activities in state and local governmental establishments holds center stage in the following articles, though the possibility of national EDP systems, as suggested in the article by Dennis G. Price and Dennis E. Mulvihill, and the need for national regulation, as advocated in the paper by Caleb B. Laning, are in the wings. Price and Mulvihill, using as background a 1963 Electronic Data Processing Survey conducted by the consulting firm of Touche, Ross, Bailey, and Smart contrast the EDP practices and progress in forty-three of the fifty states. After providing quantitative data on "typical monthly rentals, most common EDP applications and functions, and specific manufacturer's systems employed by the states, the authors indicate the organizational innovations employed by such states as New York, Texas, Hawaii, California, Michigan, and Wisconsin to centrally control and manage the total state EDP establishment. Law enforcement, employment security, and motor vehicles licensing and registrations are some of the specific state functions where they find excellent prospects for utilizing total information systems and on-line real-time systems. Interchange of EDP information between states is strongly urged as a necessary prelude to the control and guidance of automated systems. Potential disasters and retrogressions in "debugging" EDP systems, computer access systems (time-sharing), and methods and sources of funding in the introduction of systems are treated by Caleb B. Laning in his analysis of "forces and trends." But for Laning the crux of the problem is the "potential tyranny in the operation of EDP systems," particularly as manifested in loss of employment, denial of individual knowledge and access to government EDP records, and unreasonable government data reporting requirements. Laning advocates federal legislation, a "Bill of Rights"-and strongly suggests that far from being a neutral tool of management, the further growth of electronic data processing in government will involve basic constitutional issues of personal security and privacy.
Public Administration Review © 1965 American Society for Public Administration