This book is about a movement in the federal government to manage information and make it available to the people of the United States. It is also about a group of people, mostly government workers, who helped create and carry out extensive changes in the workplace.
The authors of these chapters are either current or former career federal personnel involved in what we believe is an information revolution. We hope that this book will stimulate discussion about the way in which information technology is reshaping our work environment.
The Conference Board Report
The issues we are dealing with in this book were first articulated over twenty years ago in a report by the Conference Board. The Conference Board is a business supported research and networking organization. Their report, entitled Information Technology: Some Critical Implications for Decision Makers (Report No. 537), first put forth the proposition that informa tion is a resource. We are indebted to the work that the authors of this report, and others, have done over the years. Quotations from that 1972 work appear throughout the book you are now reading. The full bibliographic entry for the Conference Board Report, other reports, books, and related information can be found in the last chapter of this book, "Further Information" beginning on page 193.
The Conference Board Report has long been out of print and is not generally known. We hope that referring to this important report will encourage those in the private sector and the public sector who view information as a resource to learn their historical heritage.
Making the Information Revolution
We, the authors, believe this book will interest all those who see an information revolution in the making. It is not an "objective" book. We have a position and we try to present this position as strongly as possible.
"Information may be considered a resource. Unlike other resources, it is not consumed in the process of use." Edward Glaser, "Information Technology: Power Without Design. Thrust Without Direction," in Information Technology, 1972, p. 27.
If information is managed properly, made freely available, and organized for use, we can improve the quality of lives.
"Government, like business, has become deeply involved in the new information technology on a piecemeal basis. But within government there has not been enough effort to develop coherent attitudes and policies that extend beyond the mass bureaucratic needs of this agency or that one. Max ways, "can Information Technology be Managed?" in Information Technology, 1972, p. 3.
We believe that if information is managed properly, made freely available, and organized for use, we can improve the quality of lives. Perhaps we can stop doing dumb things faster. That is our wish and our goal.
This book is a collaborative effort of a kind that will become more common as the information revolution proceeds. We have worked together throughout this project. In each chapter we say who is primarily responsible for the text. Most of us were, and many of us still are, paid by the people of the United States. We take seriously the fact that our work will help make information available to the people and will help organizations and businesses to operate more efficiently.
Many people have helped us in writing this book. Deanna Marcum, the former Dean of the School of Library and Information Science at The Catholic University of America, provided us with the kind of management that we hope will become characteristic of the Information Resources Manager. She encouraged us, provided space and resources. She made connections.
"This report (The 1972 Conference Board Report) is an effort to contribute to the formation of a more comprehensive American view of the implications of information technology. It is intended primarily for the use of leaders in business, government, and education who are making, each within his own context, the decisions that will eventually determine whether the United States in the period 1971-1990 will handle information technology better or worse than our ancestors handled the industrial revolution." Max Ways, "The Question: Can Information Technology Be Managed?" in Information Technology, 1972, p. 4.
She empowered, but eschewed control. She brought her years as a librarian and a library professional to the task of defining Information Resources Management.
We also thank the Association of Information and Image Management for making this work available to the information profession. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Betty Stone Scholarship Fund of The Catholic University of America School of Library and Information Science to help students in its Information Resources Management program.
Much of the material in this book was presented at two summer institutes on Information Resources Management at The Catholic University of America (CUA) in 1992 and 1993. In 1991, the General Services Administration, the federal agency with responsibility for Information Resources Management training, approached a number of universities in the area to develop graduate level programs in Information Resources Management. Through these graduate programs, GSA hopes to provide the needed educational programs for the emerging profession of Information Resources Management.
Advances in the storage, retrieval, processing, and distribution of information make up the central technological achievements of the twentieth century's third quarter . . . . The new ways of handling information have brought about fundamental changes in governmental and political processes. They have altered the psychological and cultural attitudes of hundreds of millions who have only the haziest notions of how the new technology works. " Max ways, "Can Information Technology be Managed?" in Information Technology, 1972, p. 3.
CUA responded by bringing together a small advisory panel to discuss what should be taught to someone interested in Information Resources Management (IRM). Most of those presenting the material at the seminars did so as a part of their duties as federal officials.
The following chapters remain in the public domain because they were primarily written by federal employees:
Chapter 2: The Statutory Basis for IRM
Chapter 3: The Government as an Information Provider
Chapter 4: Changing the Way Work is Done in the Government: SSA, IRS, and VA
Chapter 5: Adding Value to Government Information: The Bureau of Land Management
Chapter 6: Managing Government Records: The Kennedy
Records as a Case Study
Chapter 7: The Information Professional in the Federal Government
We urge you to use all of this material for educational and professional purposes to the fullest extent permitted by the copyright laws.
We hope that our work will stimulate discussion of IRM issues. We are a part of what we believe is an emerging profession. We hope others will join us in a critical evaluation of the state of information technology and how it can be used to improve the management of information.