Reinventing the Third World State
Edited by Willy McCourt and Martin Minogue
Chapter 10: Information systems and public sector reform in the Third World
Richard Heeks and David Mundy RELATING INFORMATION SYSTEMS TO PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM Government is the single largest collector, user, holder and producer of information. Information is a central resource for all staff levels and for all activities of the public sector: ‘In pursuing the democratic/political processes, in managing resources, executing functions, measuring performance and in service delivery, information is the basic ingredient’ (Isaac-Henry, 1997b, p. 132). The work of the public sector is thus very information-intensive, and four main types of formal information are identifiable: • • • • Information to support internal management This includes information about staff for personnel management, and information about budgets and accounts for financial management. Like the other three types of information, it can be used for everything from day-to-day operational implementation to long-term policy analysis and planning. Information to support public administration and regulation This includes information that records the details of the main ‘entities’ in any country: people, business enterprises, buildings, land, imports/exports. It is used for a variety of purposes such as legal, commercial and fiscal. Information to support public services This information differs according to the particular public service. Examples include education (such as school staff records), health (such as patient records), transport (such as passenger movement information) and public utilities (such as customer billing information). Information made publicly available This includes three main types (POST, 1998): first, information government wishes to disseminate, such as press releases, consultation papers, details of policies, laws 196 CHAPTER 10 20/10/00 3:54 pm Page 2 Information and...
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