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The administrative impact of computers on the British Columbia public school system Gibbens, Trevor P. 1986

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c. THE ADMINISTRATIVE IMPACT OF COMPUTERS ON THE BRITISH COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM by TREVOR P. GIBBENS B . E d . , The U n i v e r s i t y Of B r i t i s h Columbia,  1982  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department Of A d m i n i s t r a t i v e , Adult And Higher Education  We accept t h i s t h e s i s as -^o the  conforming  required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March 25,  1986  © TREVOR P. GIBBENS,  1986 7 8  In presenting  this  thesis  in p a r t i a l  fulfilment  of  the  requirements for an advanced degree at the THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, I  agree that  the L i b r a r y  f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e for reference and that permission  for extensive  study.  copying of  s h a l l make I further  ment or by  h i s or  that copying  her r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s .  or p u b l i c a t i o n  of t h i s  agree  this thesis  s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my It i s  t h e s i s for  understood financial  Department Of A d m i n i s t r a t i v e , Adult And Higher Education  Date: March 25, 1986  ii  for  Depart-  gain s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n permission.  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5  it  ABSTRACT  This case study analyzes and evaluates the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computer systems in the B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c school organization.  H i s t o r i c and contemporary p o l i c y  are s c r u t i n i z e d . twenty-three  developments  Research sources include interviews with  educational administrators  representing  the  M i n i s t r y of Education, s i x school d i s t r i c t s and f i v e schools.  Respondents from educational agencies and the com-  mercial sector were a l s o interviewed.  Research documents  range from p o l i c y statements and correspondence to f i n a n c i a l data and i n t e r n a l  studies.  Four c l o s e l y r e l a t e d questions serve as the focus: 1.) What are the c o s t - b e n e f i t s  study's  of computers? 2.) What,  i s the impact of computers on managerial work? 3-.) Is comp u t e r i z a t i o n associated with c e n t r a l i z a t i o n i n organizat i o n s ? 4.) What i s the r e l a t i o n s h i p between o r g a n i z a t i o n a l o b j e c t i v e s and the design of computer  systems?  After a twenty-five year h i s t o r y i n v o l v i n g r e l a t i v e l y slow development, computing f a c i l i t i e s are undergoing a r a p i d t r a n s i t i o n at a l l l e v e l s of the B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c school system.  The t r a n s i t i o n i s driven by r a p i d l y  advancing technologies, manufacturers'  s t r a t e g i e s , and p o l i -  c i e s fostered by Cabinet, the p u b l i c s e r v i c e , and the M i n i s t r y of Education.  Between 1980 and 1984, a s i g n i f i c a n t  expansion i n the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e use of computers occurred throughout  the school system. iii  The new school d i s t r i c t computerization p o l i c y , while designed to enhance M i n i s t r y c o n t r o l over d i s t r i c t  finances  by supporting a Planning, Programing and Budgeting System (PPBS), i s i n i t s implementation, considerably l e s s c e n t r a l ized than many other p u b l i c s e r v i c e e l e c t r o n i c data processing systems (EDP). The administrators experienced d i r e c t and i n d i r e c t effects  of computerization.  D i r e c t effects were noted at  the lowest rank, where some v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s entered and r e t r i e v e d data on microcomputers.  At higher ranks, computer  terminals were not observed i n the personal o f f i c e s of administrators.  No educational managers senior to that of  v i c e - p r i n c i p a l operated a computer i n t h e i r work.  The l a r g -  est i n d i r e c t effect arose from increased c e n t r a l c o n t r o l . As the f i n a n c i a l and educational performance of schools and school d i s t r i c t s comes under increasing s c r u t i n y with the assistance of l a r g e - s c a l e computerized monitoring, administ r a t i v e a c t i o n at these l e v e l s becomes more c o n s t r a i n e d . C e n t r a l i z a t i o n i s enhanced by computers.  The educa-  t i o n a l o r g a n i z a t i o n ' s current c e n t r a l i z a t i o n program has  t  r e s u l t e d i n a degree of c o n t r o l not exercised by the M i n i s t r y since the 1950's.  The use of computers at a l l  l e v e l s of the school system leads to increased c o n t r o l at each of those l e v e l s , but the l a r g e s t exerted by the M i n i s t r y .  increase in c o n t r o l i s  Highly computer dependent monitor-  ing systems, i n the form of PPBS, and p r o v i n c i a l examinat i o n s and achievement t e s t s , are the chief c o n t r o l v e h i c l e s .  iv  Optimal solutions to the design and implementation of a provincial distributed data processing system are not manifested in the British Columbia educational organization. Hardware and software incompatibility among districts, and between districts and Ministry encumber electronic communications.  Full networking and cost-effective development of  system components cannot be realized within the present provincial configuration.  Some financial information is pre-  sented as a basis for indicating the system's operating and capital costs. Lack of a firm Ministry commitment to standardization resulted in redundancy, duplication of services, and an inab i l i t y to exploit the potential of a large 1982-1985 investment.  School district resistance to central direction in  data processing spans almost two decades and has contributed to system fragmentation. professionals  Loss of Ministry of Education EDP  in the wake of the 1977 centralization of a l l  government data processing f a c i l i t i e s ,  and the 1983 imposi-  tion of financial restraint contributed to the Ministry's failure to take complete charge of the d i s t r i c t computer project. Parallel to, but unconnected with this project, teacher and school trustee organizations also introduced new central office systems.  As administrators within these different  precincts strove to decrease operating costs, computerization was viewed as a significant means of reducing expenditures and increasing organizational control.  V  ACKNOWLEDGMENT  I wish to thank Dr. Daniel Brown for his supervision in the preparation and writing of this thesis. I also thank Dr. John Andrews and Dr. Paul Gilmore, the other committee members, for their encouragement and criticism. The cooperation of interviewees and correspondents in the British Columbia public education system, the public service, and the commercial sector made this research possible. A special thanks to my mother, Mrs. Betty Gibbens, who typed the interview transcripts and helped to edit the thesis. Project completion was facilitated by a University Graduate Fellowship.  vi  ACRONYMS  BCRC  B r i t i s h Columbia Research Council  BCSC  B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation  BCSTA  B r i t i s h Columbia School Trustees A s s o c i a t i o n  BCTF  B r i t i s h Columbia Teachers'  BOSS  Basic Operating System Software  CBM  Commodore Business Machines  CCITT  Comite C o n s u l t a t i f I n t e r n a t i o n a l e et Telephonique  Federation  de Telegraphique  CEMCORP Canadian Educational Microprocessor Corporation; CEMCORP I n t e r n a t i o n a l CIPS  Canadian Information Processing Society  CPF  Control Program F a c i l i t y  CPS  Characters per second  CPU  Central processing u n i t  DEC  D i g i t a l Equipment Corporation  DOS-VSE Disk Operating System - V i r t u a l Storage Extended DP '  Data processing  EDP  E l e c t r o n i c data processing  ERIBC  Education Research I n s t i t u t e Of B r i t i s h Columbia  GCOS  General Comprehensive Operating System  IBM  I n t e r n a t i o n a l Business Machines Corporation  IDC  I n t e r n a t i o n a l Data Corporation (Canada) Limited  ILO  I n t e r n a t i o n a l Labour Organization  LAN  Local area network  MAI  Management Assistance  MIS  Management information system vii  Incorporated  NCR  National Cash Register Of Canada L i m i t e d ; NCR Limited  PC  personal computer; Personal Computer (IBM product)  PPBS  Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System  RSTS-E Resource Sharing, Time Sharing — Extended SDLC  Synchronous Data Link Control  SIPRI  Stockholm I n t e r n a t i o n a l  SNA  Systems Network A r c h i t e c t u r e  Peace Research I n s t i t u t e  UNESCO United Nations E d u c a t i o n a l , S c i e n t i f i c , And C u l t u r a l Organization VAX/VMS V i r t u a l Address Extended/Virtual Memory System VS  Virtual  Storage  viii  Table of  Contents  ABSTRACT  ..iii  ACKNOWLEDGEMENT  vi  ACRONYMS  vii  I . INTRODUCTION  1  A. THE PACE OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE  1  B. BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY  4  C. THE BRITISH COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOL ORGANIZATION  5  D. AN OUTLINE OF THE STUDY  6  1.  Research Questions  ...  *  7  2.  Research Design  7  3.  Organization of Topics  8  I I . REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE  9  A. CENTRALIZATION AND DECENTRALIZATION  10  B. CAUSE AND EFFECT  14  C. COMPUTERS AND CENTRALIZATION  18  1.  Informatics and A d m i n i s t r a t i o n  The R e l a t i o n s h i p Between O r g a n i z a t i o n a l and Computer Programing H i e r a r c h i e s D. DECENTRALIZATION AND THE NEW TECHNOLOGY  22  2.  1.  Ambiguity of Computer-Based Position  2.  Microcomputer Autonomy Absorbed by Networks  28  The Market as a Determinant of O r g a n i z a t i o n a l Impact  31  3.  Decentralist  25 26  E. PLANNING, PROGRAMING, AND BUDGETING SYSTEMS 1.  27  37  Role i n P u b l i c Education  41  a.  43  The United States of America  2.  b.  Canada  46  c.  B r i t i s h Columbia  49  PPBS Overview  54  F. SUMMARY OF THE LITERATURE REVIEW  55  111 . METHODOLOGY  57  A. SAMPLING TECHNIQUES  60  B. PILOT STUDY  62  C. CANDIDATE SELECTION  63  D. CANDIDATE PROFILES  64  E. THE INTERVIEWS . . .  68  1.  Interview Schedule  71  2.  Respondent's Consent  72  3.  Tape Recording  73  4.  Transcripts  75  F. ' I n t e r v i e w e r Bias And Respondent V a l i d i t y  .......76  G. SUMMARY  78  IV. RESEARCH FINDINGS  79  A. MINISTRY OF EDUCATION  82  1.  Changing Role of EDP  2.  Computing Expenditures and Cost A n a l y s i s  3.  M i n i s t r y ' s School D i s t r i c t Computer Acquisition Policy  92  4.  Management Information Systems  93  5.  R e p a t r i a t i o n of E l e c t r o n i c Data Processing?  95  6.  Computing F a c i l i t i e s i n T r a n s i t i o n  96  7.  Were BCSC's Systems Development Charges Too High?  97  M u l t i p l e Keyboard Entry of Data  98  8.  x  85 ...87  9.  E l e c t r o n i c Transmission of Data  100  10. Summary  101  SCHOOL DISTRICT  102  1.  1969 Plan for Regional Data Processing Centres  2.  1978 School D i s t r i c t Computer Needs Report 104  3.  Computer Systems in the Research Sample . . . 1 0 8  4.  Increased M i n i s t r y Control  5.  D e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of D i s t r i c t EDP Services .115  6.  C a p i t a l and Operating Costs  118  7.  Software Development  122  8.  Processing Capacity Soon Exhausted  9.  Flat"Organization  102  109  ..124 127  10. The 1983 Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System 131 1 1 . Summary  134  SCHOOL  135  1.  Formal Communication of Experiences with Computers  2.  Types of Computer Services  3.  Student Management Microcomputer Programs .138  4.  Transfer of Costs  140  5.  I n d i r e c t Labour Costs  142  6.  Data R e t r i e v a l  149  7.  Preference for D i s t r i c t Office  136 .137  Star  Network  152  8.  F i e l d Testing  1 54  9.  Organizational Conflict  10. Computers and C e n t r a l i z a t i o n xi  •  155 156  1 1 . Summary  157  D. BRITISH COLUMBIA SYSTEMS CORPORATION  158  1.  Standardization On SNA  160  2.  M i n i s t r y of Education Included i n C e n t r a l i z e d Service  162  3.  School D i s t r i c t Response  164  4.  BCSC P r e v a i l s  1 64  5.  Corporate Control of Microcomputers  165  6.  Treasury Board Attempts to S e l l BCSC  167  7.  Summary  171  E. R e c a p i t u l a t i o n  171  V. CONCLUSION  "174  A. Conclusions  174  l\  Cost-Benefit A n a l y s i s  175  2.  Managerial Impacts  177  3.  Centralizing Effects  179  4.  O r g a n i z a t i o n a l Objectives And Computer Systems Design  181  B. RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS  183  1.  Costs and Cost-Benefits  183  2.  I n t e r - p r o v i n c i a l Cooperation  185  3.  A d m i n i s t r a t i v e Computers and Educational Diversity  185  4.  Middle Management — Candidates Computerization?  186  for  C. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS  186  1.  M i n i s t r y Coordination of EDP Purchases  2.  Standardize Informatics Components  188  3.  Common Operating System  188  xi i  ....187  4.  Use BCSC Communications Network  188  5.  Transmit Data E l e c t r o n i c a l l y  189  6.  E s t a b l i s h a D i v i s i o n of Informatics  190  7.  Retain Ownership of Software Developed Under Contract I n s t i t u t e F u l l Informatics Accounting Practices . . .  190  Seek Cooperation Between P r o v i n c i a l M i n i s t r i e s of Education  192  8. 9.  191  D. AFTERWORD  193  GLOSSARY  196  BIBLIOGRAPHY  200  APPENDICES  '.233  A.  Time L i n e : A d m i n i s t r a t i v e Computers And The B r i t i s h Columbia P u b l i c Education System  233  B.  1982 Computer A c q u i s i t i o n Program For School D i s t r i c t s  238  Consequences Of E x t r a - n a t i o n a l C a p i t a l Outflow — Generated By Informatics Purchases — On Educational Finance  253  The B r i t i s h Columbia M i n i s t r y Of Health Expert System  256  C. D. E.  The Informatics System Of The Quebec M i n i s t r y Of Education  ....257  F.  Schedule Of Questions  262  G.  Notice Of Consent  268  BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION  269  xi i i  Number I  TABLES United States Expenditures On P u b l i c Education And Defense, 1980 - 1985  II  Interview Respondents By P o s i t i o n And Organizational Level  III  B . C . M i n i s t r y Of Education Computer Costs Compared With Total P u b l i c Education Expenditures, 1977 - 1984  Page 47 ...69  ..89  IV  Computer Manufacturers, Models And Operating Systems Represented In The 1984 D i s t r i c t Sample . . . 1 0 7  V  Standard Equipment For Fourteen Member Consortium Of Small School D i s t r i c t s  111  VI  B r i t i s h Columbia School D i s t r i c t C e n t r a l Office Computers By Manufacturer, 1973 - 1 981  VII  B r i t i s h Columbia School D i s t r i c t Central Office Computers By Manufacturer, 1982 - 1985  128  VIII  B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation F i n a n c i a l Performance, 1979 - 1984  168  xiv  113  Number I  FIGURES Major Components Of The Program Accounting And Budgeting System - F i s c a l Year 1983/84 — B r i t i s h Columbia M i n i s t r y Of Education  Page  51  II  Respondents Mean Years Of Experience In Present P o s i t i o n By Organizational Level  65  III  Respondents Mean Years Of Educational Employment Experience By Organizational Level  65  xv  I.  INTRODUCTION  A. THE PACE OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE Canada faces a new t e c h n o l o g i c a l challenge,  either  r a p i d l y integrate m i c r o e l e c t r o n i c s , or be integrated a g e o p o l i t i c a l e n t i t y that has.  within  S e r a f i n i and Andrieu s t r e s s  the important role which t h i s technology p l a y s : A number of recent s t u d i e s . . . r e f l e c t the experts' growing b e l i e f that Canada must exploit the new information technologies if it is to maintain degree of economic, technological, political cultural sovereignty in the future.  [authors' emphasis]  some and  (1981:7).  The pace of computer r e l a t e d change i s a c c e l e r a t i n g .  A good  measure of the a c c e l e r a t i o n rate i s the number of computer terminals i n s t a l l e d each year in Canada.  Over 120,000 t e r -  minals were i n s t a l l e d i n 1980 (Communications Canada 1983: 13).  This figure represents one terminal for every  s i x w h i t e - c o l l a r workers.  1  fifty-  The number of terminals  i n s t a l l e d annually i s expected to reach 511,000 by 1987, with a t o t a l value of 1.5 b i l l i o n d o l l a r s  (1983:13).  2  There i s a need for rapid t e c h n o l o g i c a l a s s i m i l a t i o n i n the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of p r o v i n c i a l p u b l i c school organizations.  How w e l l the p u b l i c education system makes the  There were 6.7 m i l l i o n w h i t e - c o l l a r employees i n 1980. ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada 1980:90). In 1983, the United States r a t i o was one keyboard for every f i v e w h i t e - c o l l a r employees. The a n t i c i p a t e d 1985 r a t i o i s one i n three, with an expectation of one terminal for each employee by the year 2000. (Barna 1985:19). 1  2  1  2 t r a n s i t i o n to a computer i n t e n s i v e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n w i l l affect  the system's f i n a n c i a l capacity to support a f u l l  complement of educational s e r v i c e s . Correspondence in 1983 from senior personnel representing several p r o v i n c i a l m i n i s t r i e s of education  indicates  that Canada's p u b l i c education organizations have not only adopted separate system designs, but are a l s o at stages i n systems development.  different  Cooperation among m i n i s t r i e s  in the area appears v i r t u a l l y nonexistent.  Some m i n i s t r i e s  possess f a i r l y advanced e l e c t r o n i c information networks; of these, Quebec's i s one of the most s o p h i s t i c a t e d (Appendix E ) . In' 1982, the Quebec network had 132 o n l i n e organizations,  3  school  ( d e f i n i t i o n s for most terms r e l a t i n g to com-  puters are found in the G l o s s a r y .  A l i s t of acronyms  appears before the Table of Contents) and s e r v i c e d 250 school d i s t r i c t s , making the system one of the l a r g e s t in the world ( B a l l 1984:38).  The M i n i s t e r e de l ' E d u c a t i o n pro-  duced software for c o l l e c t i v e use throughout the province (Kirby 1983a).  Ontario was moving toward the i n t r o d u c t i o n  of a p r o v i n c i a l educational a d m i n i s t r a t i o n e l e c t r o n i c network.  This province was already w e l l advanced with the  design and manufacture of microcomputers for teaching and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e use (McLean 1983:3). A tendency e x i s t s in some Canadian education p r e c i n c t s to develop a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computerization p o l i c i e s which O n l i n e : operation of a f u n c t i o n a l unit when under d i r e c t c o n t r o l of the computer (Canada 1984:0-2). 3  the  3 only s u p e r f i c i a l l y consider the hard-won experience of other provinces.  For t h e i r p a r t , m i n i s t r i e s with advanced  systems  have not made t h e i r knowledge of computerization a matter of detailed public disclosure.  When each education m i n i s t r y  r e l i e s s o l e l y on the examination of i t s past experience and the commercially motivated advice of the business sector * as the foundation of computer p o l i c y , p r o v i n c i a l independence can d e t e r i o r a t e into r e t r o g r e s s i v e  isolationism.  The  implementation and operation of i l l - c o n c e i v e d a d m i n i s t r a t i v e informatics  5  produces s u b s t a n t i a l extra costs which a r i s e  from undelivered s e r v i c e s , r e s t r i c t i v e planning horizons, incompatible software and hardware, and d u p l i c a t e d  effort  among u n i t s . . Many.of the problems associated with informatics are neither e a s i l y a n t i c i p a t e d nor q u i c k l y s o l v e d .  Throughout  North America, s p e c i a l i s t s are in short supply (Denning, Feigenbaum, Gilmore et a l 1981).  Canada's shortage of  experts i s e s p e c i a l l y acute (Oren, Brzozowski, Gilmore et a l 1983:24).  Faced with t h i s r e a l i t y , and the s c a r c i t y of  d e t a i l e d independent  studies of e l e c t r o n i c information  * This problem i s not confined to education m i n i s t r i e s . W i l l s found, "Small and medium-sized Canadian companies (100-500 employees) r e l y e x c e s s i v e l y on s u p p l i e r s (usually agents of foreign owned m u l t i n a t i o n a l s ) [ s i c ] who have a vested i n t e r e s t i n s e l l i n g p a r t i c u l a r and perhaps inapprop r i a t e products as a source of t e c h n i c a l i n f o r m a t i o n . " (1979:18). Informatics i s the study of information and i t s handling, e s p e c i a l l y by means of new information technology, such as computers and telecommunications (Medows 1982:90). The term o r i g i n a t e s with A . I . M i k h a i l o v e , a Russian communications t h e o r i s t ( G a r f i e l d 1986). 5  4 systems operated by p r o v i n c i a l school o r g a n i z a t i o n s , m i n i s t r i e s are often forced to depend on inadequate resources  for  the planning, implementation and evaluation of i n f o r m a t i c s . Research of these systems i s overdue.  This study of the  development and impact of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e informatics i n the B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c school system i s an i n i t i a l step toward f u l f i l l i n g  t h i s need.  B. BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY Few studies have i n v e s t i g a t e d the computer systems of p r o v i n c i a l p u b l i c education organizations (kindergarten grade twelve).  to  Academic research has focused mainly on the  school (Bird 1983 & 1984; Marshall 1982; Ragsdale 1982; Westrom 1982b; Brown & Reusse 1983; Gatley 1984; Binns & Brown 1985), and to a lesser extent the school d i s t r i c t (Anderson 1967; Roney & Perry 1976).  A dearth of studies  found at the p r o v i n c i a l and state l e v e l s . research subjects,  6  is  As prospective  schools and school d i s t r i c t s  constitute  more e a s i l y managed and comprehended subjects than t h e i r parent o r g a n i z a t i o n , the p r o v i n c i a l m i n i s t r y of education. The complexity of o r g a n i z a t i o n a l behaviour  increases  according to the educational u n i t ' s l o c a t i o n in the administ r a t i v e hierarchy.  At the lowest l e v e l , the school i n t e r -  acts with school board o f f i c e and the m i n i s t r y .  At the  In September, 1985, a search of- the United States e l e c t r o n i c data bases, Research In Education, and Current Index To Journals In Education, using the d e s c r i p t o r s "State Departments of Education and A d m i n i s t r a t i o n and Computers or E l e c t r o n i c Data Processing" produced only two relevant titles. 6  5 highest,  the m i n i s t r y of education i n t e r a c t s with schools,  school d i s t r i c t s , school boards, other m i n i s t r i e s , government agencies, cabinet, the l e g i s l a t i v e assembly, and the federal government.  Comprehending the process of computer-  i z a t i o n r e l a t i v e to p r o v i n c i a l educational governance especially challenging.  is  Research here, however, has a  p o t e n t i a l l y larger impact, since economies of scale make p o s s i b l e new services and greater  cost-benefits.  7  C. THE BRITISH COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOL ORGANIZATION The f i r s t B r i t i s h Columbia M i n i s t r y of Education computer, when i n s t a l l e d in 1961 (Annual Report  1961-62:47),  was among l e s s than one thousand computers operating i n Canada ( S e r a f i n i & Andrieu 1981:21).  The twenty-f i f'th  anniversary of the i n t r o d u c t i o n w i l l be marked i n 1986. Over the intervening decades, computers moved from the M i n i s t r y ' s bureaucratic periphery to i t s a d m i n i s t r a t i v e core. During the 1960's, computers performed M i n i s t r y  tasks,  such as t a b u l a t i n g p r o v i n c i a l examinations, which p r e v i o u s l y were accomplished by c l e r k s .  Today, computers model  d e t a i l e d personnel, f i n a n c i a l and demographic data to pred i c t changes i n a v a r i e t y of functions,  including learning  The importance of scale i s c i t e d in a 1983 federal report by the Telecommunications Agency on the f e a s i b i l i t y of a shared network that w i l l meet p u b l i c service data transmission and messaging requirements. The study found "that the government could benefit from economies of scale i f i t cons o l i d a t e d data networks i n a manner s i m i l a r to i t s c o n s o l i dation of voice networks." (Communications Canada Annual Report 1983-84, page 86). 7  6  assessment, teacher supply and demand, and property tion.  taxa-  A s s i s t e d by e l e c t r o n i c a l l y manipulated information,  planners guide educational p o l i c y .  From a s o l i t a r y l o c a t i o n  in the M i n i s t r y , t h i s equipment by 1983 had dispersed to a l l school d i s t r i c t c e n t r a l o f f i c e s .  Today, the d i s p e r s i o n con-  tinues as many school o f f i c e s acquire computing technology for  the f i r s t time.  D. AN OUTLINE OF THE STUDY The t h e s i s assesses the development of computer  systems  w i t h i n the B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c school system and t h e i r impact on a d m i n i s t r a t i o n .  Research methods were derived  from the s o c i o l o g i c a l l i t e r a t u r e on the implementation and effects  of computers in commerce and government  (Deardon  1966; Mowshowitz 1976; Kraemer & King 1977a; F r a n t z i c h 1982; Danzinger et a l 1982; de Sola Pool 1983; O'Higgins 1984). The computer has a complex impact on organizations and the people in them.  At a l l a p p l i c a t i o n l e v e l s , consideration of  the i n t e r a c t i o n of the computer with the surrounding s o c i a l system i s e s s e n t i a l  (Sheingold, Krane & Endreweit 1983).  How t h i s i n t e r a c t i o n a l t e r s over time, as computing a c t i v i t i e s affect  the o r g a n i z a t i o n , and the organization shapes  computing technology, i s of c e n t r a l concern to t h i s  study.  7  1 . Research Questions A d m i n i s t r a t i v e p o l i c i e s on e l e c t r o n i c data processing in education organizations i s influenced by s o c i a l , economic and p o l i t i c a l processes i n which educational takes p l a c e .  governance  To date, school administrators have l a r g e l y  escaped the o p e r a t i o n a l research a c t i v i t i e s that have modif i e d the work of many of t h e i r p u b l i c s e r v i c e and business counterparts.  Changes in these sectors are a m p l i f i e d due to  the i n t e n s i t y with which computers have been a p p l i e d to mana g e r i a l work.  Four c l o s e l y r e l a t e d questions a r i s i n g from  the study of computer generated change provide a springboard for the l i n e of i n q u i r y adopted i n t h i s study. 1.  What are the c o s t - b e n e f i t s  2.  What i s the impact of computers on managerial work?  3.  Is computerization associated with c e n t r a l i z a t i o n in organizations?  4.  What i s the r e l a t i o n s h i p between o r g a n i z a t i o n a l objectives and the design of computer systems?  of computer  systems?  2 . Research Design The study i s a synthesis of information derived from diverse q u a l i t a t i v e and q u a n t i t a t i v e sources.  Main data  sources include i n t e r v i e w s , correspondence,  financial  records, and p u b l i c and p r i v a t e documents.  Twenty-eight  semi-structured interviews were conducted with educational administrators from the B . C . p u b l i c school system. view respondents included v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s ,  Inter-  8 secretary-treasurers,  superintendents,  tors w i t h i n the M i n i s t r y of Education. tim typed t r a n s c r i p t s were prepared.  and department  direc-  In each case, verbaInterviews were also  undertaken with p r e s i d e n t s , managers and marketing  represen-  t a t i v e s of software and hardware firms serving the B r i t i s h Columbia educational a d m i n i s t r a t i o n market. 3 . Organization of Topics A l i s t of acronyms precedes the Table of Contents.  The  theory p e r t a i n i n g to the o r g a n i z a t i o n a l and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e effects of computers i s discussed i n Chapter Two.  Since the  f i e l d of informatics i s undergoing a succession of r a p i d changes, the d i s c u s s i o n includes references  to recent  c i a l , economic and t e c h n i c a l developments.  Chapter Three  e x p l i c a t e s the research methods.  so-  Findings are reported i n  Chapter Four for three o r g a n i z a t i o n a l l e v e l s : M i n i s t r y of Education, school d i s t r i c t and s c h o o l .  Findings for the  B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation (BCSC), a p r o v i n c i a l l y owned Crown corporation which has influenced the development of educational data processing, are a l s o recorded i n Chapter Four.  This chapter ends with a r e c a p i t u l a t i o n of the  ings.  The conclusions are set f o r t h i n Chapter F i v e .  Implications for further  research and p o l i c y  are presented at the end of Chapter F i v e .  find-  recommendations  A Glossary  located at the back of the work includes d e f i n i t i o n s of important t e c h n i c a l terms. sect i o n .  F i n a l l y , there i s an Appendices  II.  REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE  The review begins w i t h . a d i s c u s s i o n of c e n t r a l i z a t i o n and d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n as o r g a n i z a t i o n a l concepts.  Centrali-  zation i s then examined i n r e l a t i o n to computers.  Of par-  t i c u l a r relevance i s the p r o p o s i t i o n , now several decades old,  that computerization acts as an autonomous element  accelerate c e n t r a l i z a t i o n .  In recent years, a t t e n t i o n  to has  s h i f t e d from t h i s d e t e r m i n i s t i c view to whether, with caref u l design and implementation, computerization w i l l decentralization.  The p r a c t i c a l i t y of t h i s  support  instrumental  r e l a t i o n s h i p i s discussed in the context of current  market-  ing trends. The p o s t u l a t i o n of a free market model i n computer pro ducts allows the explanation for c e n t r a l i z i n g effects  to be  c h i e f l y located i n the d e c i s i o n s on equipment design taken by the purchasing o r g a n i z a t i o n .  In sharp c o n t r a s t ,  i s the  model of the planned economy where the informatics market i an extension of long-range s t r a t e g i e s formulated by the world's leading computer manufacturer. model, the c e n t r a l i z i n g effects tions assist  According to t h i s  found in c l i e n t organiza-  the o r i g i n a l equipment manufacturer  long-term corporate goals.  to.attain  Both of these models are  reviewed. Observing how computers are used i s of o v e r r i d i n g consequence to a determination of t h e i r a d m i n i s t r a t i v e  impact.  In B r i t i s h Columbia, one of the most s i g n i f i c a n t p r o v i n c i a l  10 education a p p l i c a t i o n s i s to process data for a new budgeting and accounting system.  This system i s derived from the  Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System (PPBS), a c o s t benefit methodology which has been attempted with quite l i m i t e d r e s u l t s by various f e d e r a l , p r o v i n c i a l and l o c a l governments.  The h i s t o r y of PPBS and the relevance of an  operations model to p u b l i c education i s examined. A. CENTRALIZATION AND DECENTRALIZATION C e n t r a l i z a t i o n denotes a high concentration of power measured by c r i t e r i a of weight, scope and domain (de Grazia 1964:81).  An a d m i n i s t r a t i o n i s c e n t r a l i z e d to the extent  that d e c i s i o n s are made at r e l a t i v e l y high l e v e l s in the organization (Simon et a l 1954:1).  The meaning of c e n t r a l i -  z a t i o n i s c l o s e l y associated with other key o r g a n i z a t i o n a l concepts, among them c o n t r o l , d i s c i p l i n e , autonomy, chy,  i n t e g r a t i o n , and c o o r d i n a t i o n .  hierar-  With these words, d i s -  cussion of c e n t r a l i z a t i o n and d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n i s p o s s i b l e without ever a c t u a l l y mentioning the terms (de Grazia 1964: 81 ) . In an absolute sense, c e n t r a l i z a t i o n and d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n occupy opposite ends of a continuum.  The p o s i t i o n  which an a d m i n i s t r a t i v e unit holds along t h i s continuum i s gauged by the degree of autonomy that i s exercised r e l a t i v e to other parts of the same o r g a n i z a t i o n or to other cies.  agen-  At the c e n t r a l i z a t i o n end, power i s concentrated  the o r g a n i z a t i o n a l apex.  in  At the d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n end, power  11  i s dispersed among subordinates. conform to these absolutes. constant  flux.  Rarely do organizations  The exercise of a u t h o r i t y i s i n  On separate issues, and at d i f f e r e n t  times,  the power locus s h i f t s . A r r i v i n g at a generally agreed upon understanding of these terms i s complicated by the h i s t o r i c a l a s s o c i a t i o n s which they h o l d .  D e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n i s commonly advocated as  a p r e c o n d i t i o n for the achievement and preservation of a free society (Fesler 1968:371).  Among contemporary democra-  c i e s , c e n t r a l i z a t i o n may bear a popular negative connotat i o n , due to the term's c l o s e h i s t o r i c a l a s s o c i a t i o n with the growth of r o y a l absolutism and the r i s e of the modern o l i g a r c h i c a l state (Shepard 1963:308).  While acknowledging  the importance of these p o l i t i c a l a s s o c i a t i o n s , t h i s study follows the e m p i r i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n of Kochen and Deutsch (1980:17) who f i n d , itself.  " d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n i s not a value i n  Our key values are quick responsiveness,  reliabil-  i t y , adequacy, and q u a l i t y of the needed or requested vice.  ser-  In t h i s view, a s e r v i c e system w i l l be more e f f i c i e n t  with more of these values d e l i v e r e d at a lower c o s t . " Over t h i r t y years have elapsed since the f i r s t a p p l i c a t i o n of a computer.  C e n t r a l i z a t i o n effects  observers from the beginning.  In January,  business concerned  1954, a computer  was d e l i v e r e d to the Kentucky d i v i s i o n of General E l e c t r i c for accounting and business operations.  Two a r t i c l e s pub-  l i s h e d the same year, one by Higgins and Glickauf i n March, the second by Osborn i n J u l y , reported on the General  12 Electric i n i t i a t i v e .  Each predicted that increased c e n t r a l -  i z a t i o n would r e s u l t .  L e a v i t t ' s and W h i s l e r ' s 1958 a r t i c l e  Management  s  i n t he  1980'  lead to c e n t r a l i z a t i o n .  prophesied that computers would In time t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p was  accorded the status of an o r g a n i z a t i o n a l axiom. Two factors make a determination of the degree of cent r a l i z a t i o n l e s s simple than might otherwise be the  case.  F i r s t l y , s u b s t a n t i a l d e c i s i o n s are often made by adhoc committees whose members may be drawn from a l l l e v e l s of the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e hierarchy ( G a l b r a i t h 1978:66).  Secondly,  a d m i n i s t r a t i v e workload i s not n e c e s s a r i l y an i n d i c a t i o n of s u b s t a n t i a l d i s c r e t i o n a r y power. The a t t r i b u t i o n of s i g n i f i c a n t decision-making power to a p a r t i c u l a r i n d i v i d u a l w i t h i n a modern o r g a n i z a t i o n i s i n most cases a conventional f i c t i o n .  Questions beyond the  scope of o r g a n i z a t i o n a l routine are u s u a l l y determined by committee ( G a l b r a i t h 1978:66).  Decision-making passes down  the hierarchy to find the l e v e l of relevant e x p e r t i s e . some issues, representation  On  from the lowest w h i t e - c o l l a r and  b l u e - c o l l a r l e v e l s i s sought.  Those of high formal rank  exercise only modest power i n t h i s decision-making process, since autonomy i s c r i t i c a l to the group's success.  For the  senior executive, " C o o r d i n a t i o n . . . c o n s i s t s i n assigning the appropriate t a l e n t to committees,  intervening on occasion to  force a d e c i s i o n , and, as the case may be, announcing the d e c i s i o n or c a r r y i n g i t as information for a yet d e c i s i o n by a yet higher committee."  (1978:66).  further  -13 The d e c l i n i n g a u t h o r i t y that accompanies the approach of the highest rungs of the promotional ladder i s documented by Burns: To be an older man i n an i n d u s t r i a l concern used to mean that one was more e f f e c t i v e and better q u a l i fied... But i n the new s i t u a t i o n of t e c h n i c a l and commercial change, the whole s t r u c t u r e of a u t h o r i t y i m p l i c i t in t h i s arrangement i s becoming i n v a l i dated. I t i s not merely that chief executives, and even heads of i n d u s t r i a l l a b o r a t o r i e s , confess i n interviews that they find i t d i f f i c u l t or impossible to grasp vocabulary, or meaning, or i m p l i c a t i o n s of the t e c h n i c a l information and s k i l l s which t h e i r j u n i o r s possess, and for the sake of which they have been r e c r u i t e d . . . (1974:164). D e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of workload i s not i d e n t i c a l with decent r a l i z a t i o n of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e power (Fesler 1968).  Movement  of the work load to geographically or f u n c t i o n a l l y subordinate u n i t s may not provide an opportunity for l o c a l a u t h o r i t i e s to exert s u b s t a n t i a l decision-making power. notes that where work i s standardized,  Fesler  "the c r i t e r i a to  guide l o c a l decision-making are prescribed so p r e c i s e l y and comprehensively that f i e l d o f f i c i a l s can only perform the c l e r i c a l operation of matching the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of each d e c i s i o n a l case against d e t a i l e d rule-book p r e s c r i p t i o n s . " (1968:373).  This observation i s apposite i n a p u b l i c educa-  t i o n s e t t i n g where the quantity of school l e v e l decisions w i l l r i s e as s c h o o l - s i t e tuted.  1  management p r a c t i c e s are  insti-  In Canada, s i g n i f i c a n t s t r u c t u r a l change i s seldom  granted to p u b l i c school p r i n c i p a l s since s o c i a l and S c h o o l - s i t e management i s a decision-making arrangement that s u b s t a n t i a l l y increases the a b i l i t y of parents and school personnel to influence school p o l i c i e s . (Garms, Guthrie & Pierce 1978:178) 1  14 educational l e g i s l a t i o n , c u r r i c u l u m , student assessment, and planning and budgeting p o l i c i e s combine to t i g h t l y r o u t i n i z e their decisions.  These effects  are stronger during periods  of i n f l a t i o n and reduced educational spending.  School  a d m i n i s t r a t o r s may e a s i l y mistake the increased work load that accompanies a d i s t r i c t i n i t i a t i v e , nominally touted as s c h o o l - s i t e management, for an extension of t h e i r  autonomy.  In t h i s circumstance, not only w i l l F e s l e r ' s p r i n c i p l e on d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of workload apply, but the school manager may a l s o experience l e s s independence because the d e c i s i o n r u l e s are more e x p l i c i t .  B. CAUSE AND EFFECT Technology and society simultaneously influence each other as cause and e f f e c t .  With computers,  the  interaction  occurs across a l l s o c i a l dimensions (Sheingold, Krane & Endreweit 1983:414).  For the sake of s i m p l i f y i n g the analy-  s i s of a complex r e l a t i o n s h i p , most observers take e i t h e r a cause or an effect  stance on whether the form of computer  technology determines the degree of o r g a n i z a t i o n a l c e n t r a l i zation.  Some a n a l y s t s ,  the s o c i o l o g i s t Daniel B e l l  example, have held both views, though at d i f f e r e n t  for times.  In a 1973 work, B e l l ' s p o s i t i o n was that "by enlarging our c o n t r o l over nature, technology has transformed s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s and our ways of looking at the w o r l d . "  (1973:188).  Technology can resolve what he considered an a x i a l problem of p o l i t i c a l systems,  "the r e l a t i o n between the desire for  15 popular p a r t i c i p a t i o n and bureaucracy."  (1973:115).  By  1979, however, B e l l had retreated from h i s e a r l i e r commitment to t e c h n o l o g i c a l determinism.  He declared, "Technology  does not determine s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e ; p o s s i b i l i t i e s . " (1979:39).  i t simply widens a l l  The a f f i r m a t i o n that choice was  s t i l l p o s s i b l e came at a time of mounting evidence which indicated a growing c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of most government and commercial s e r v i c e s .  Amidst the debate over what would be  the ultimate a d m i n i s t r a t i v e effect of the new microprocessor technology, there emerged a challenge to the very existence of a causal r e l a t i o n s h i p between microprocessors and centralization. At l e a s t one observer, Simon, has denied the  existence  of a causal r e l a t i o n s h i p between computers and c e n t r a l i z a t i o n (Simon 1979:218).  Simon claims that the e f f e c t s of  computerization can no longer be described i n terms of e i t h e r c e n t r a l i z a t i o n or d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n , because "what i s occurring i s a profound q u a l i t a t i v e change i n the d e c i s i o n making process, which i s being formalized, made e x p l i c i t , and subjected to d e l i b e r a t e planning" (1979:222).  He does  not make c l e a r how these components fundamentally d i f f e r from those which lead to c e n t r a l i z a t i o n .  F o r m a l i z a t i o n of  decision-making coupled with a strong planning element i s at the core of c e n t r a l i z a t i o n , and u s u a l l y i s accompanied by improved o r g a n i z a t i o n a l c o n t r o l .  A d i r e c t connection  between technology and c e n t r a l i z a t i o n , however, i s to demonstrate;  difficult  v e r i f i c a t i o n depends on the c a l i b r e of  16 existing  research.  There are few d e t a i l e d case-studies on the between computerization and c e n t r a l i z a t i o n .  relationship  Commonly,,  explanations are proposed and conclusions reached on sparse evidence (Mowshowitz 1976).  This support often  comprises  general statements about contemporary events, and references to e a r l i e r reports which on close s c r u t i n y lack tion.  substantia-  Where e m p i r i c a l studies i n t o the o r g a n i z a t i o n a l  phenonomenon have been mounted, the research methods are frequently discounted for t h e i r lack of r i g o r .  In 1976,  Mowshowitz summarized the c a l i b r e of research,  "The measures  developed thus far tend to be crude and do not  adequately  d i s c r i m i n a t e between the effects of computers and other c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of o r g a n i z a t i o n a l change."  (1976:81). A  decade of research has not r e c t i f i e d t h i s s i t u a t i o n . 1985, G o t l i e b observed, "The d i f f i c u l t y numerical values means that q u a n t i t a t i v e  In  in assigning studies of the cen-  t r a l i z a t i o n / d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n issue are r a r e . "  (1985:86).  Despite the methodological problems that have been only p a r t l y resolved, the r e l a t i o n s h i p between computerization and c e n t r a l i z a t i o n continues to a t t r a c t the a t t e n t i o n of s o c i o l o g i s t s and other•students of o r g a n i z a t i o n . A major s t r i d e in the f i e l d was achieved by Kochen and Deutsch with t h e i r 1980 study of d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n .  Using an  operations research methodology, i n which mathematical models are devised for complex problems concerning the best a l l o c a t i o n of a v a i l a b l e resources,  they u n i f i e d much of the  17 research into a t h e o r e t i c a l framework that may serve as a foundation for further  investigation.  Formulae are provided  from which to c a l c u l a t e optimal l e v e l s of d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n for  p u b l i c service o r g a n i z a t i o n s .  The degree of p r e c i s i o n  and the i n c l u s i o n of considerable d e t a i l mark the study as exceptional. The f i r s t objective of the research into the administ r a t i v e use of computers in the B . C . p u b l i c school system i s to determine i f s u f f i c i e n t means e x i s t to c a l c u l a t e computer optimality.  C l o s e l y associated with use i s the adequacy of  the p r o v i n c i a l EDP design.  The research question:  What are the c o s t - b e n e f i t s  of computer  systems?  The quest for a methodology that provides a d e f i n i t i v e c a l c u l a t i o n of o p t i m a l i t y i s tempered with the knowledge that constants are e l u s i v e when the technology i s i n f l u x . Today's c e r t a i n t i e s may be tomorrow's dinosaurs.  Gotlieb  (1985:86) offers a recent evaluation of t h i s problem: Although the subject can be explored, i t i s not p o s s i b l e so far to apply c o s t - b e n e f i t comparisons in a way that w i l l allow one to conclude e x a c t l y what balance between c e n t r a l i z e d and d e c e n t r a l i z e d systems w i l l achieve the optimum r e s u l t s in a p a r t i c u l a r s i t u a t i o n . The d i f f i c u l t i e s are compounded because whatever cost estimates can be made are subject to continous r e v i s i o n due to the rapid rate of t e c h n o l o g i c a l developments in the computer and communications i n d u s t r i e s . " (author's emphasis). The current debate over whether a d m i n i s t r a t i v e users should purchase e i t h e r the largest mainframe which they can a f f o r d , or the smallest computers consistent with departmental needs and j o i n them together in a network (Economist 1985),  18 i l l u s t r a t e s the  uncertainty.  C. COMPUTERS AND CENTRALIZATION Shortly after computers were a p p l i e d to p u b l i c and business a d m i n i s t r a t i o n i n the 1950's, o r g a n i z a t i o n a l theor i s t s began to speculate on whether t h e i r e f f e c t s would lead to greater or lesser c e n t r a l i z a t i o n .  Those who predicted  increased c e n t r a l i z a t i o n (Laubach & Thompson 1955; S l a t e r 1958;  L e a v i t t & Whisler 1958; Simon 1965; Lasswell 1971)  focused on the enhanced c o n t r o l of information which a computer furnished.  Applying F r a n c i s Bacon's w e l l - t r i e d  dictum, "knowledge i s power" (1825:219) to the new computing' phenomenon, these analysts predicted that increased power w i l l accrue to those who c o n t r o l the machine. 1960's appear to confirm t h e i r f o r e c a s t .  Events of the  Increasing cen-  t r a l i z a t i o n during that decade evoked a new maxim, "Shared data means shared power; a monopoly of data means a monopoly of power." (Lasswell 1971:197). The t e c h n i c a l l i m i t a t i o n s inherent to the 1960's genera t i o n of computers meant that there was no p r a c t i c a l a l t e r native to c e n t r a l i z a t i o n during the e a r l y years.  Computers  were expensive; t h e i r a p p l i c a t i o n was therefore confined to head o f f i c e s where e l e c t r o n i c data processing departments became c l o s e l y l i n k e d with senior management 1958:166).  (Slater  Only a few observers at that time foresaw the  p o s s i b i l i t y of d e c e n t r a l i z i n g e f f e c t s .  19 Lasswell was among the e a r l i e s t to conceive not only the p o s s i b i l i t y , but the importance of assuring the decent r a l i z a t i o n of computing f a c i l i t i e s .  Although discussed i n  a p o l i t i c a l context, h i s i n s i g h t s have a d i r e c t bearing on public administration.  He ascertains "that a vast system of  documentation that r e l i e s on automatic methods i s almost c e r t a i n to possess b u i l t - i n biases that affect p u b l i c p o l i c y in the d i r e c t i o n of c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . . . " (1971:195). bias i s not n e c e s s a r i l y d e t r i m e n t a l .  This  E f f e c t i v e use of t e l e -  communications by g l o b a l agencies can help to supplant paroc h i a l nationalisms with a democratic u n i v e r s a l i s m .  There i s  a continuing danger, however, that c o n t r o l might s l i p into the hands of a t o t a l i t a r i a n regime, leading to monopolism and regimentation.  Lasswell b e l i e v e d that t h i s outcome can  be avoided i f laws are enacted to ensure broad popular access to data and the computer-based simulations with which data are analyzed. Formal guarantees of access are not achieved without a g i t a t i o n , " i f the many p l u r a l i s t i c elements in modern i n d u s t r i a l nations seize promptly on modern methods of documentation,  i t w i l l be p o s s i b l e to sustain p o l i t i c a l  initia-  t i v e s in the d e c i s i o n process of s u f f i c i e n t i n t e n s i t y to support a p u b l i c order i n which power i s genuinely shared." (1971:197).  Lasswell never s a t i s f a c t o r i l y resolved a con-  t r a d i c t i o n between two of h i s basic premises.  On one hand,  he a s s e r t s that the power of telecommunications media should be d i r e c t e d to overcome n a t i o n a l r e t r o g r e s s i o n , on the  20 other,  the emergence of t o t a l i t a r i a n c o n t r o l would be pre-  vented by i n v e s t i n g numerous stakeholders with a d i r e c t influence i n the new communications systems. one of the foremost stakeholders  Inevitably,  i s the nation s t a t e .  The  question then should be asked, how can a g l o b a l outlook be achieved without an i n t e r n a t i o n a l a u t h o r i t y compelling nations to surrender some of t h e i r j u r i s d i c t i o n a l r i g h t s ? To expect compliance by v i r t u e of reason alone i s to be u n r e a l i s t i c a l l y o p t i m i s t i c about the conduct of i n t e r n a tional relations.  However democratic the i n t e n t , a barely  d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e l i n e may e x i s t between compulsion and the p r a c t i c e of o l i g a r c h i c a l r e a l p o l i t i k .  As Meek warns, "a  system geared to c e n t r a l i z e d c o n t r o l — even for the purest motives, to protect s e c u r i t y and p r i v a c y and the l i b e r t y of the i n d i v i d u a l — i s l i k e l y to be tailor-made for an autocrat i c or t o t a l i t a r i a n regime. with the thought  (Those who comfort  ' i t c a n ' t happen here'  places where i t has happened.)" conflict,  themselves  should look at the  [ s i c ] (1984:220).  2  This  which may be better understood i n a p h i l o s o p h i c a l  rather than an operations research context,  i s implicit in  nearly every assessment of the s o c i a l impact of i n f o r m a t i c s .  The events surrounding F r i d a y , October 16, 1970 provide an i l l u s t r a t i o n . Robert F u l f o r d , e d i t o r of Saturday Night, c h r o n i c l e d those troubled times, "In Montreal that f i r s t t e r r i b l e week of the War Measures A c t , hundreds of Canadians were a r b i t r a r i l y denied t h e i r r i g h t s — t h e i r r i g h t to l i b e r t y , t h e i r r i g h t to counsel, t h e i r r i g h t to know why they were being held i n j a i l , t h e i r r i g h t to communicate with r e l a t i v e s and f r i e n d s . They were s t r i p p e d , by an order of the federal c a b i n e t , of a l l personal r i g h t s that hundreds of years of h i s t o r y had bestowed on them." (1970:11). 2  21  On a l e s s e r s c a l e , the i n t e r n a l r i v a l r y between an organization's  head o f f i c e and i t s regional d i v i s i o n s p a r a l -  l e l s the p o l i t i c a l c o n f l i c t between universalism and nationalism.  The r i v a l r y i s consummately one of c e n t r a l i z a -  t i o n versus d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n : against r e g i o n a l autonomy.  of head o f f i c e c o n t r o l waged  On an o r g a n i z a t i o n a l  stage,  informatics provides an a d m i n i s t r a t i v e means of r e s o l v i n g the d i s p u t e .  Who c o n t r o l s the implementation of  informatics  and how i t w i l l be used to shape the s t r u c t u r e of the organ i z a t i o n are key questions that may be applied to a host of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e matters.  Perhaps L a s s w e l l ' s most s i g n i f i c a n t  insight,  i s that nonquantitative  in t h i s regard,  issues  r e s i d i n g in the p h i l o s o p h i c a l ' a n d p o l i t i c a l realms may be of greater s o c i a l consequence than the c o s t - e f f i c i e n c y of operations r e s e a r c h .  3  concerns  This view i s shared by Kochen and  Deutsch who s t r e s s that "The content of p o l i t i c a l d e c i s i o n making i s c r i t i c a l l y dependent on what the d e c i s i o n maker values."  (1980:4).  Few a d m i n i s t r a t i v e decisions do not  include a p o l i t i c a l dimension. M i c r o e l e c t r o n i c s has revolutionary i m p l i c a t i o n s for society (Bylinsky 1981; Perlowski 1981; Ableson & Hammond 1981; S e r a f i n i & Andrieu 1981).  Since 1945, computer gener-  a t i o n s have superceded one another with increasing valve, t r a n s i s t o r , integrated c i r c u i t ,  rapidity:  large-scale  Gordon B. Thompson notes that " . . . t h e ' b a s i c t r u t h s ' of economics change throughout time. The r e a l sources of wealth are p r e c i s e l y those a c t i v i t i e s that we perceive as being worthwhile, p a r t i c u l a r l y where some labour gain can be incorporated. Were i t otherwise, we would organize to change t h i n g s . " (Memo From Mercury. 1979:27). 3  22 integrated c i r c u i t , very l a r g e - s c a l e integrated c i r c u i t , and now f i f t h generation* (Braemer 1984:148).  Overall,  the  a p p l i c a t i o n rate of integrated c i r c u i t s has been faster for a l l previous technologies (ILO 1985:148).  than  Individual  o r g a n i z a t i o n s , however, have v a r i e d i n the speed of adoption.  P u b l i c school systems, as with the adoption of older  technologies have been r e l a t i v e l y slow (Oettinger 1969; Boyer 1983:186). Different organizations.  informatic e f f e c t s may be noted i n separate The combined r e s u l t of m i c r o e l e c t r o n i c s ,  however, i s unpredictable in many areas of a p p l i c a t i o n (ILO 1985:7).  Two aspects of these multifaceted informatics  trends are discussed in the following two s e c t i o n s : 1.)  the  i n c r e a s i n g dominance of a d m i n i s t r a t o r s and p r o f e s s i o n a l s in the o r g a n i z a t i o n , and 2.) the r e l a t i o n s h i p between computer programing h i e r a r c h i e s and o r g a n i z a t i o n a l h i e r a r c h y . 1. Informatics and A d m i n i s t r a t i o n In 1967, Wilensky p r e d i c t e d , "The gulf between top executives and the information t e c h n o l o g i s t s . . . and men whose work i s more programmed... w i l l widen." (1971:282). Subsequent events i n Canada ( S t e r l i n g 1985:396) and other t e c h n o l o g i c a l l y advanced c o u n t r i e s substantiate h i s * F i f t h generation c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s i n c l u d e : 1) m u l t i p l e i n s t r u c t i o n datastream, 2) does not need to know how many computers are in the system, 3) can double in performance, i f the number of computers i s doubled, 4) a u t o m a t i c a l l y r e j e c t s any f a i l i n g computer, yet continues to work, 5) combines ' a r t i f i c i a l i n t e l l i g e n c e ' with p a r a l l e l i s m (Parkinson 1985:765).  23 prognosis.  Menzies finds that large employment sectors  which comprise c l e r i c a l and j u n i o r a d m i n i s t r a t i v e p o s i t i o n s in Canada's s e r v i c e i n d u s t r i e s are i n c r e a s i n g l y i s o l a t e d from management.  There i s "a widening s k i l l s gap between  what i s considered c l e r i c a l and what i s considered profess i o n a l work." (Menzies 1981:39).  She reports ongoing "stan-  d a r d i z a t i o n , fragmentation and separation of occupational and job f u n c t i o n s . " that have followed in the wake of i n f o r matics (1981:38).  The t r a d i t i o n a l job m o b i l i t y which held  the p o s s i b i l i t y of promotion for c l e r k s and s e c r e t a r i e s supplanted by complete occupational d i s c o n t i n u i t y .  is  Word  processor operators and data e n t r y / r e t r i e v a l personnel are often confined to workstations where t h e i r day i s c l o s e l y organized and t h e i r p r o d u c t i v i t y constantly monitored. S o c i a l i s o l a t i o n from the o r g a n i z a t i o n accompanies t h i s confinement.  An a l e r t i n d i v i d u a l i n the pre-microprocessor  period could amass a large and often unique store of t a c i t knowledge about the o r g a n i z a t i o n , derived from handling c o r respondence and conversations with managers.  An i n t e n s i v e l y  networked and programed employment environment offers few o p p o r t u n i t i e s to accumulate t h i s knowledge (1981). In the head o f f i c e of an insurance company, which for Menzies t y p i f i e s n a t i o n a l trends, between s i x and eight word processor operators i n two workstations took care of a l l but two of the two hundred member p r o f e s s i o n a l and managerial group.  The two senior management exclusions were the only  a d m i n i s t r a t o r s to r e t a i n personal s e c r e t a r i e s  (1981:38).  24 The word processor operators work in i s o l a t e d c u b i c l e s . There are no higher p o s i t i o n s to which they may a s p i r e . Adopting H a r r i n g t o n ' s view: in the advanced c a p i t a l i s t  soci-  e t i e s of l a t e twentieth century they are, l i k e the poor and c h r o n i c a l l y unemployed, on t h e i r way to becoming " s u p e r f l u ous people"  (1984:123).  The same s h i f t s in o r g a n i z a t i o n a l s t r u c t u r e occur i n Europe where the I n t e r n a t i o n a l Labour Organization records that as the effects  of m i c r o e l e c t r o n i c s are experienced,  "Intermediate-grade jobs v a n i s h , and the work becomes more and more c l e a r l y d i v i d e d between ' e x e c u t i v e ' routine subordinate operations."  functions and  [ s i c ] (ILO 1985:41).  Despite mounting i n t e r n a t i o n a l evidence that i n d i c a t e s a c l e a r causal r e l a t i o n s h i p between computerization and cent r a l i z a t i o n , some s o c i o l o g i s t s c l i n g to the b e l i e f  expressed  by Horowitz, "It i s dangerous to conceive of p o s t i n d u s t r i a l technology as n e c e s s a r i l y feeding the f i r e s of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e domination." (1984:124).  Here, Horowitz challenges  those who conclude that choice no longer can be e x e r c i s e d , i  that events of recent decades are manifestations  of an inev-  i t a b l e movement toward g l o b a l i n t e g r a t i o n where informatics monitors and mediates the a c t i v i t i e s of a l l o r g a n i z a t i o n s : governmental, non-governmental, and commercial. The study's second o b j e c t i v e i s to describe the impact of computers on a d m i n i s t r a t o r s .  The research  question:  What i s the impact of computers on managerial work? .  25 2. The R e l a t i o n s h i p Between O r g a n i z a t i o n a l and Computer Programing H i e r a r c h i e s Simon argues that the structure of computer programs r e i n f o r c e s the h i e r a r c h i c a l composition of those organizat i o n s i n which computers function (1965:101).  This effect  i s b e l i e v e d to a r i s e from the sequential method in which computers process i n s t r u c t i o n s .  A program i s a set of  statements d i v i d e d into routines and subroutines each of which, in a computer designed according to von Neumann p r i n c i p l e s , i s processed i n l i n e a r sequence  5  (Conrad 1985:465).  The need to input c e r t a i n types of information at s p e c i f i c points in the program i s supposed to induce more r i g i d sequencing of information i n the o r g a n i z a t i o n .  This propo-  s i t i o n derives from the assumption that information to which a t y p i c a l organization responds i s for the most part rout i n e ; therefore,  content can be a n t i c i p a t e d and methods  devised to guide decision-makers. Some of the most important types of information confronting an o r g a n i z a t i o n , however, i s of an exceptional nature.  As Minsky recognizes, there i s " d i s p a r i t y between  the e x p l i c i t bureaucratic r e g u l a t i o n s that are supposed to handle s i t u a t i o n s i n general and the i n e v i t a b l e bugs and problems such systems cannot deal w i t h . " (1979:415).  Refer-  ence to e x i s t i n g p o l i c y i s of l i t t l e help in formulating Contrast the l o c k - s t e p nature of l i n e a r processing with the m u l t i p l e i n s t r u c t i o n datastream found in p a r a l l e l and f i f t h generation computers (Parkinson 1985:766). When para l l e l processing becomes commonplace, s o c i o l o g i s t s may v i s u a l i z e the t y p i c a l human o r g a n i z a t i o n as a p a r a l l e l processer. 5  26  responses to the non-routine. u s u a l l y reject  Although computer  programs  data for which they were not s p e c i f i c a l l y  designed, an o r g a n i z a t i o n ' s survival.may depend upon the capacity of i t s members to recognize the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the s i n g u l a r and r a p i d l y respond. The claim that there i s a connection between an o r g a n i z a t i o n ' s decision-making routines and the s t r u c t u r e of those governing a computer seems to have been abandoned.  An  explanation for the r e l a t i o n s h i p between programing and increasing o r g a n i z a t i o n a l hierarchy may be traced to the a n a l y t i c a l procedure that accompanies the w r i t i n g of a program.  Rules governing work procedures become better under-  stood during the systems a n a l y s i s  6  that precedes the pro-  gram, and t h i s a n a l y s i s leads to f o r m a l i z a t i o n of work routines.  Senior management derives improved means of c o n t r o l  from the f o r m a l i z a t i o n process.  Despite the tendency of  computers to have an overwhelming c e n t r a l i s t  impact on orga-  n i z a t i o n s , the p o s s i b i l i t y that with c a r e f u l design they might equally sustain a d e c e n t r a l i z e d o r g a n i z a t i o n a l ture has received renewed  struc-  attention.  D. DECENTRALIZATION AND THE NEW TECHNOLOGY Whether computerization can foster d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n has received renewed a t t e n t i o n by many analysts  (Bell  1979;  Simon 1979; Nora & Mine 1980; Kochen & Deutsch 1980; Systems a n a l y s i s i s the a n a l y s i s of the r o l e of a proposed system and the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of a set of requirements that the system should meet, and thus the s t a r t i n g point for system design ( I l l i n g w o r t h 1983:358). 6  27  F r a n t z i c h 1982; de Sola Pool 1983; Brooke 1984).  Generally,  t h i s group r e j e c t s the hypothesis that an autonomous  force,  t e c h n o l o g i c a l determinism, produces c e n t r a l i z a t i o n ;  instead,  they hold that o r g a n i z a t i o n a l impact r e s u l t s from the way the machine i s used. decentralists desirable,  Three main arguments forwarded by  are t h a t : (1) d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n  ipso  facto  is  (2) some forms of m i c r o e l e c t r o n i c s , for instance  personal computers, provide an a l t e r n a t i v e to c e n t r a l i z a t i o n , and (3) marketplace competition offers the organizat i o n a l consumer s i g n i f i c a n t t e c h n o l o g i c a l c h o i c e .  1. Ambiguity of Computer-Based D e c e n t r a l i s t P o s i t i o n There i s a large degree of ambiquity present i n the argument for d e c e n t r a l i z e d c o n t r o l .  Completely independent  use of t h i s technology by a subunit at any o r g a n i z a t i o n a l l e v e l grants that u n i t improved c o n t r o l over i t s immediate environment, thereby leading to increased c e n t r a l i z a t i o n at that l e v e l (Brooke 1984:147).  Observations by F r a n t z i c h  provide a recent example of the ambiguity (1982).  In the  opening chapter of h i s study on the use of computers i n the Congress of the United States of America, F r a n t z i c h s t a t e s , "Whoever c o n t r o l s the c r e a t i o n and dissemination of informat i o n can c o n t r o l i t s content and impact.  To the degree that  Congress i s dependent on others for i t s information, Congress loses i t s r o l e as a free p a r t i c i p a n t making process"  (1982:35).  with Congressional autonomy.  i n the d e c i s i o n -  Control of computers i s equated Yet i n summarizing h i s  28 f i n d i n g s , F r a n t z i c h seems r e l u c t a n t to concede that a s i m i l a r computer-based information dependency i s found at an i n t r a - o r g a n i z a t i o n a l l e v e l among Congressional members. An hypothesis derived from increased Congressional dependence on computer-based information might reasonably p r e d i c t a narrowing of the members' voting behaviour, which thereby r e s t r i c t s the breadth of new l e g i s l a t i v e i n i t i a tives.  For F r a n z i c h , proof of c e n t r a l i z i n g forces that  r e s u l t from computer use, although s e l f - e v i d e n t i n the dealings of Congress with other agencies and l e v e l s of government, remains i n s u f f i c i e n t i n the i n t e r n a l operations of Congress. (1982:250).  There i s an a r b i t r a r y l i m i t to the  autonomy which d e c e n t r a l i s t s are prepared to grant.  2. Microcomputer Autonomy Absorbed by Networks The appearance of microcomputers seemed for a while to lend substance to the d e c e n t r a l i s t claim that ownership of appropriate technology would assure autonomy.  The use of  personal computers was expected to lead to increased autonomy for o r g a n i z a t i o n a l u n i t s such as schools.  The f i r s t  commercial production of a minicomputer by D i g i t a l Equipment Corporation in 1963 (Vacroux 1975:32), c o n t r i b u t e d to the further d e c l i n e of data processing costs which continued to the present.  S i m i l a r l y , the i n i t i a l manufacture of a micro-  computer i n 1971 (1975:36) leant even greater reductions i n hardware c o s t s .  impetus to  Departments and d i v i s i o n s  s i t e d at l o c a t i o n s remote from t h e i r head o f f i c e s c o u l d , for  29  the f i r s t time, afford the comparatively low cost of standalone equipment. The d i f f u s i o n of computer technology to the organizat i o n a l periphery was not accompanied by a transfer  of power.  On the c o n t r a r y , senior executives u t i l i z e d informatics to consolidate t h e i r c o n t r o l (Scannell 1981).  U n t i l approxi-  mately 1982, corporate command over personal computers was v i r t u a l l y non-existent  (Pantages 1985:24).  Following 1982,  the d i r e c t o r s of corporate Management Information Systems (MIS)  7  puters,  became involved i n d e c i s i o n s to acquire personal comand they now c o n t r o l any plans to connect  machines to mainframes.  the  Their influence accelerates  ware and software standardization  (Gotlieb 1985:101).  hardThe  d e c e n t r a l i z i n g p o t e n t i a l of microcomputer a c q u i s i t i o n at  the  lowest o r g a n i z a t i o n a l l e v e l s i s offset by the increased processing capacity of c e n t r a l o f f i c e mainframes.  As a 1981  Fortune survey showed, companies which switch from c e n t r a l ized to d i s t r i b u t e d data processing often do so to maintain c e n t r a l i z e d c o n t r o l over remote branches operating as p r o f i t centres (Scannell 1981:10).  Throughout the e a r l y 1980's a l l  aspects of work have been evermore t i g h t l y  integrated  through the medium of these machines (Menzies 1981; Perrow Management Information System: "An information system whose prime purpose i s to supply information to management. The i n i t i a l concept of MIS, commonplace in the 1960's and e a r l y 1970's, was that systems analysts would determine the information requirements of i n d i v i d u a l managers i n an organ i z a t i o n , and would design systems to supply that informat i o n r o u t i n e l y and/or on demand. Decision support systems form a new c l a s s of MIS, g i v i n g much greater independence in t h e i r use of computer-based i n f o r m a t i o n . " ( I l l i n g w o r t h 1983:215). 7  30 1984; ILO 1985). Where microcomputers appear, computer networks soon follow.  Local area networks (LAN)  8  frequently  relegate  microcomputers to the status of workstations capable of some stand-alone processing.  Extending computer networks to  encompass a l l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e facets continues i n most p u b l i c and business o r g a n i z a t i o n s .  This development i s r e f l e c t e d  in the current I n t e r n a t i o n a l Business Machines Corporation (IBM) marketing strategy i n which the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of smaller computers i s expected to r a i s e the demand for mainframes (Economist 1985:68).  During recent years, IBM has  promoted the expansion of l o c a l area networks and, as was the case with personal computers, supported t h e i r  inclusion  w i t h i n the MIS department's  IBM has  sphere of i n f l u e n c e .  a l s o extended i t s corporate domain to include a g l o b a l sate l l i t e communication system (Borrus & Zysman 1985:188), the l i n c h p i n of a wholly integrated and p r i v a t e l y owned worldwide telecommunications network.  This recent  event  leant further confirmation to a 1983 study for Communicat i o n s Canada which contends that IBM i s "undergoing a metamorphic change from being a manufacturer to being a v a s t , immensely s o p h i s t i c a t e d processing and communications s o l u t i o n - o r i e n t e d network." (1983:91).  P r i v a t e l y owned  Local area network: "A communication network l i n k i n g a number of s t a t i o n s i n the same ' l o c a l ' area, v a r i o u s l y defined as the same b u i l d i n g , a radius of one k i l o m e t e r , or a s i n g l e p l a n t . Local area networks g e n e r a l l y provide high-speed (100K bps to 100M bps) data communication serv i c e s to d i r e c t l y connected computers." ( I l l i n g w o r t h 1983:203). 8  t  31 i n t e r n a t i o n a l systems are considered by some c r i t i c s of a d e c e n t r a l i s t persuasion to be the a n t i t h e s i s of democratic c o n t r o l (de Sola Pool 1983). A strong d i s t i n c t i o n i s drawn by de Sola Pool between microcomputer use, and the ownership of n a t i o n a l and i n t e r n a t i o n a l telecommunication networks.  "Freedom i s  fostered,"  he w r i t e s , "when the means of communication are dispersed, d e c e n t r a l i z e d , and e a s i l y a v a i l a b l e , as are p r i n t i n g presses or microcomputers.  C e n t r a l c o n t r o l i s more l i k e l y when the  means of communication are concentrated, monopolized, and scarce, as are great n e t w o r k s . " ( 1 9 8 3 : 5 ) .  Although the  a s s o c i a t i o n of personal computers with autonomy may have been a reasonable expectation during the e a r l y 1980's, market developments have already s h i f t e d them toward c o n t r o l w i t h i n a c e n t r a l i z e d e l e c t r o n i c data processing environment. In no small measure, t h i s move r e s u l t s from the influence of leading computer manufacturers  that make o r g a n i z a t i o n a l  i n t e g r a t i o n of personal computers part of t h e i r marketing strategy.  3. The Market as a Determinant of O r g a n i z a t i o n a l Impact The market i s proposed as a mechanism for r e g u l a t i n g the ultimate s o c i a l effects of computerization.  Those who  hold t h i s view summon the market as a c a t a l y s t for  translat-  ing t e c h n o l o g i c a l advances d i r e c t l y into p u b l i c and commerc i a l benefit.  The numerous m u l t i v a r i a t e , i n t e r r e l a t e d and,  at times, c o n t r a d i c t o r y forces which d r i v e the a c t i v i t i e s of  32  o r i g i n a l equipment manufacturers  and c o n s t r a i n the a c t i v i -  t i e s of t h e i r corporate c l i e n t s (Fishman 1981; F i s h e r , McRie & Mancke 1983) play l i t t l e part i n t h i s i d e a l i z e d model. According to the l a i s s e z f a i r e paradigm, buyers are free choose. designs..  to  Consumer exercise of choice generates new product In support of t h i s c l a i m , de Sola Pool s t a t e s ,  "Today, i n an era of advanced (and s t i l l advancing) e l e c t r o n i c theory, i t has become p o s s i b l e to b u i l d v i r t u a l l y any. kind of communication device that one might wish, though at a price.  The market, not technology, sets m o s t . l i m i t s . "  [sic] (1983:6).  9  The connection between computerization  and c e n t r a l i z a t i o n i s reduced to a matter of  financial  expediency; q u i t e simply, "any change in technology that makes i t cheaper and easier e i t h e r to c e n t r a l i z e or decent r a l i z e d e c i s i o n s w i l l t i p the balance i n that d i r e c t i o n . " (Simon 1979:216).  C o s t - e f f i c i e n c y i n Simon's view outweighs  a l l other c o n s i d e r a t i o n s .  If an enterprise can afford to  purchase a s p e c i f i c product, then t h i s a c t i o n i s taken i r r e spective of outcome.  F l u c t u a t i o n s i n the i n t e n s i t y of cen-  t r a l i z a t i o n are explained as responses to s h i f t s i n the a f f o r d a b i l i t y of new technology. The s i m p l i f i e d marketplace model advanced by de Sola Pool and Simon does not begin to approximate the complex Addressing the r o l e of the market as a determinant of q u a l i t y i n United States t e l e v i s i o n programing, Goodlad w r i t e s , "As for t h i s s o c i e t y , t e l e v i s i o n may b e . . . the nearest thing we have to a common s c h o o l . But i n pondering the fare offered and the sums of money invested i n p r o v i d i n g i t , one easily.becomes despondent. Free competition among the major networks has not provided much to enlighten the mind or free the human s p i r i t . " (1983:342). 9  33 nature of informatics sales w i t h i n the western  economies.  In these planned economies (Burns 1974; G a l b r a i t h 1978:402; Walker 1984:100), the informatics market i s dominated by a small number of m u l t i n a t i o n a l corporations V e r i t y 1985:36).  (Archbold &  Their predominance allows them to plan for  product c y c l e s l a s t i n g at l e a s t research and development p e r i o d .  f i v e years beyond the With few exceptions,  pro-  duct design r e s u l t s s o l e l y from choices made by equipment manufacturers.  The p u b l i c and most commercial users exer-  c i s e only an i n d i r e c t and r e l a t i v e l y modest influence i n the design process.  As with a l l great firms, these corporations  " e s t a b l i s h p r i c e s and seek to ensure a demand for what they have to s e l l . "  ( G a l b r a i t h 1978:33).  The overwhelming capac-  i t y to influence the informatics market i s manifest leader,  in the  I n t e r n a t i o n a l Business Machines C o r p o r a t i o n .  The extent of IBM's influence i s i n d i c a t e d by i t s 1984 f i s c a l performance.  IBM's t o t a l 1984 data processing reve-  nues of 44.29 b i l l i o n d o l l a r s represents t h i r t y - t h r e e  per-  cent of the 132 b i l l i o n - d o l l a r revenue generated by the noncommunist w o r l d ' s leading data processing (Archbold 1985:58).  manufacturers  IBM has seventy-five percent of the  market for mainframe computers and mass-storage disc drives (Economist 1985:58) — a near world monopoly s i n c e , with t h i s overwhelming share, competing companies are forced to follow IBM s p e c i f i c a t i o n s (Fisher et a l 1981:58).  Mainframe sales  alone reached twelve b i l l i o n d o l l a r s in 1984, accounting for one-half of IBM's net 6.6 b i l l i o n - d o l l a r earnings  (Economist  34 1985:65).  These sales place i t at the top of a l l corpora-  t i o n s with head o f f i c e s in the United S t a t e s .  Research and  development costs t y p i c a l l y run at between nine and ten percent, of revenue ( 1 9 8 5 : 6 6 ) .  10  Revenue, of course, i s only a  rough measure of i n f l u e n c e , a c o r p o r a t i o n ' s h i s t o r y and c u r rent structure provide a better composite of i t s i n f l u e n c e . Computers and IBM have grown together.  In the popular  imagination, as w e l l as the reports of analysts who s p e c i a l i z e in the business of i n f o r m a t i c s , often the two appear inseparable.  IBM and contemporary n a t i o n a l governments have  grown together, leading Foster to d e c l a r e , "The complex and i n t r u s i v e nature of the modern state would be no more p o s s i ble without computers than would a f l i g h t to the moon." (1984:28).  Behind IBM stands a corps of 400,000 employees,  i n c l u d i n g sales personnel, planners, engineers and s c i e n tists.  1 1  The Corporation maintains close r e l a t i o n s with  senior p o l i t i c i a n s and executives around the world. Previous IBM employees with d i s t i n g u i s h e d company records occupy important MIS posts throughout higher education, government and i n d u s t r y .  The personal r e l a t i o n s network con-  s i s t i n g of contacts i n education, business and government, i s a force without equal.  F i n a l l y , corporate data banks  containing d e t a i l e d information on the governments and i n s t i t u t i o n s with which IBM deals permit considerable scope "In 1981, IBM spent $1,612 b i l l i o n on R&D. Out of every R&D d o l l a r spent by the American computer i n d u s t r y , IBM accounted for about forty c e n t s . " (Department Of Communicat i o n s I982b:82). 11,000 employees in Canada (Foster 1984:22). 1 0  1 1  35 to the planning p r o c e s s .  12  IBM's c o n t r o l of the informa-  t i c s market has seldom been stronger.  Foster p r e d i c t s that  w i t h i n the decade, IBM, or IBM compatible machines,  will,  hold n i n e t y - f i v e percent of the world market for mainframes (1984:27). • Even the few corporate c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s surveyed in t h i s sketch have been glossed over by those who suppose  signifi-  cant choices are permitted the o r g a n i z a t i o n a l purchaser of computer products.  I n e v i t a b l y , lead times i n v o l v i n g  research and development, and the considerable sums expended in b r i n g i n g new m i c r o e l e c t r o n i c products on stream, compel major informatics companies to plan c a r e f u l l y and ensure a v i r t u a l l y captive market for t h e i r g o o d s .  13  Apart from a  few research i n s t i t u t i o n s , and some large m u l t i n a t i o n a l c o r porations s p e c i a l i z i n g i n non-computer production, the parameters of choice are determined by the s e l l e r . success of corporate marketing s t r a t e g i e s  The very  i n assuring demand  may have l e d to what some c r i t i c s p o s i t as an overly favourable view of computer economics. S e r a f i n i and Andrieu (1981:28) comment, "They (multinat i o n a l informatics corporations) have a l s o been able on occasion to take advantage of weak i n t e r n a t i o n a l agreements and i n t e r n a t i o n a l r i v a l r i e s between c o u n t r i e s to evade n a t i o n a l l e g i s l a t i o n and pursue independent p o l i c i e s , sometimes i n c o n f l i c t with the i n t e r e s t s of the host c o u n t r i e s . The r o l e of these firms i s p a r t i c u l a r l y important i n Canada where a large number of m u l t i n a t i o n a l branches e x i s t as a r e s u l t of heavy foreign investment over many y e a r s . " Barna (1985:19) implores, "Waiting another four years before reexamining IBM's market power may be too l a t e . The b i l l that i s rendered may w e l l be t a l l i e d i n terms of technologies not developed because prudent business people found the prospect of competing with IBM too daunting." 1 2  1 3  36 On an applied l e v e l , the cost of performing o f f i c e work with computers frequently increases, compared with the cost of o l d e r , non-computer r o u t i n e s .  King cautions that for  l o c a l governments "Early adoption of advanced a p p l i c a t i o n s of information technology i s often uneconomical in c o s t benefit terms."  (1982:25).  F r a n t z i c h warns that while com-  puters are " . . . t o u t e d as a method of saving money, in the long run, computerization involves dramatic personnel and s t a r t - u p c o s t s , which are followed in quick order by updating c o s t s . "  (1982:57).  Further confirmation in a p u b l i c  s e r v i c e s e t t i n g comes from Ayers and K e t t i n g e r , who f i n d " l i t t l e e v i d e n c e . . . that the i n t r o d u c t i o n of computers has a c t u a l l y reduced costs i n government."  (1983:565).  While  labour p r o d u c t i v i t y can often be shown to have r i s e n ,  factor  p r o d u c t i v i t y — where unit outputs are compared with a l l input costs i n c l u d i n g labour, c a p i t a l , energy and f a c i l i t i e s — have climbed i n most p u b l i c s e r v i c e o r g a n i z a t i o n s . Frequent claims by senior management that an o f f i c e compute r i z a t i o n project i s c o s t - e f f i c i e n t , may upon close s c r u t i n y , prove f a l s e .  Lack of d e t a i l e d f i n a n c i a l information  in the p u b l i c domain prevents a thorough evaluation of computer derived c o s t - b e n e f i t s .  Even i f the performance of  e s t a b l i s h e d c l e r i c a l routines by computers i s of marginal cost-benefit,  t h e i r capacity to perform new types of analy-  sis w i l l l i k e l y justify their cost. . f r e q u e n t l y lead to increased c o n t r o l .  These new a p p l i c a t i o n s  37 The s t u d y ' s t h i r d research objective i s to observe whether computerization i s leading to increased tion.  The research  centraliza-  question:  Is computerization associated with c e n t r a l i z a t i o n in organizations?  E. PLANNING, PROGRAMING, AND BUDGETING SYSTEMS A form of a n a l y s i s that the B r i t i s h Columbia M i n i s t r y of Education finds a t t r a c t i v e  in achieving improved f i n a n -  c i a l c o n t r o l w i t h i n the p u b l i c school organization i s that offered by the Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System (PPBS). " 1  The M i n i s t r y introduced t h e i r version of PPBS i n  f i s c a l year 1983-84 to manage school d i s t r i c t  financing.  The five-year school d i s t r i c t computer a c q u i s i t i o n program, begun in 1982, met the increased data processing demands of the M i n i s t r y ' s new program, budgeting and accounting  system.  Hence, in the context of the B . C . p u b l i c school system, an assessment of the i m p l i c a t i o n s of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e  computeriz-  a t i o n would be incomplete without a d i s c u s s i o n of the  theory  and p r a c t i c e of the Planning, Programing and Budgeting i.  System. Conceptually, PPBS i s a t o t a l l y integrated process that extends from the planning and a n a l y s i s functions programing and budgeting into operations, trol.  through  reporting and con-  PPBS depends h e a v i l y on computers (Novick 1973:30; 1 « P P B S i s a l s o known as "PPBES, where the ' E ' stands for E v a l u a t i o n ; EPPBS where the ' E ' represents Education; ERMS or Educational Resource Management System; and the Resource A l l o c a t i o n Decision System RADS," among other designations. (Knezevich 1981:2).  38 Brackett et a l 1983:44) and i s c e n t r a l i z i n g in i t s organizat i o n a l effects 328).  (Hirsch 1967:205; Wildavsky 1969:192, 1975:  Expectations that PPBS w i l l r e s u l t i n increased cen-  t r a l i z a t i o n are supported by Gross and Mosher in separate assessments.  Gross observes that PPBS budgeting reforms are  necessitated "whenever i n c r e a s i n g c e n t r a l i z a t i o n outruns c a p a b i l i t i e s of the c e n t r a l guidance c l u s t e r . "  the.  (1969:113).  Mosher notes that "Like most other budgeting reforms,  its  basic effect — perhaps i t s basic though seldom-stated purpose — i s toward c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of p o w e r . . . " (1969:164). While there are competing theories about whether computeriza t i o n leads u l t i m a t e l y to c e n t r a l i z a t i o n or d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n , no s i m i l a r debate frequents the PPBS l i t e r a t u r e .  The  p o s s i b i l i t y of a d e c e n t r a l i z i n g outcome does not seem ever to have been s e r i o u s l y considered. Beyond the c e n t r a l p r i n c i p l e of r a t i o n a l i t y i n choosing between a l t e r n a t e courses of a c t i o n , Steiner l i s t s three important d i s t i n g u i s h i n g features of program budgeting: s t r u c t u r a l , a n a l y t i c a l and informational (1967:310).  First,  the structure of PPBS i s end-product o r i e n t e d ; o b j e c t i v e s are f u n c t i o n a l and include a l l cost elements associated with t h e i r attainment.  While short-range d e c i s i o n s continue to  be made, emphasis i s placed on the long-range p e r s p e c t i v e . Second, the a n a l y t i c a l process compares a l t e r n a t e courses of a c t i o n , and leads to an assessment of t h e i r i m p l i c a t i o n s . The process has various names, i n c l u d i n g c o s t - b e n e f i t analys i s , c o s t - e f f e c t i v e n e s s a n a l y s i s , systems a n a l y s i s , and  39  operations research  (1967:311).  costs and benefits are compared.  At t h i s stage, a l l major The t h i r d element i s the  information system which i s c l o s e l y integrated with the f i r s t two functions.  It not only aids in the s p e c i f i c a t i o n  of p o s s i b l e o b j e c t i v e s , but a l s o tracks a l l pertinent attached to e x i s t i n g programs.  costs  The information system pro-  vides a method of c o n t r o l l i n g expenditures and reporting a d m i n i s t r a t i v e progress. Some p o l i c y analysts  (Royal Commission On F i n a n c i a l  Management And A c c o u n t a b i l i t y 1979; Crozier 1980) claim that present p u b l i c a d m i n i s t r a t i o n budgeting and accounting p o l i c i e s are l a b y r i n t h i n e ,  1 5  and therefore  overdue for reform.  Other analysts (Lindblom 1968; Wildavsky 1975, 1979), while not denying the serious a d m i n i s t r a t i v e problems that have a r i s e n , counter that t h i s complexity accurately r e f l e c t s our l a t e Twentieth Century knowledge of the world, and that incremental budgeting wins support for government p o l i c i e s where the only a l t e r n a t i v e i s ' c r i p p l i n g d i v i s i o n and admini s t r a t i v e secrecy.  Issuing a challenge to complex adminis-  t r a t i v e p r a c t i c e s , C r o z i e r contends,  "Behind the American  PPBS, the French RCB, and various other versions of the same techniques throughout the world, one does not have to look very far to f i n d a deep-seated and p e r f e c t l y j u s t i f i e d d e s i r e to reform a machine so weighed down by the complexity The Commission found that the, "hodge-podge of accounting methods used in assembling the f i n a n c i a l statements of the Government of Canada... defeats t h e . . . p r i n c i p l e purposes for which f i n a n c i a l information about governments, and other non-commercial organizations i s r e q u i r e d . " (1979:247) 1 5  40 of mutual adjustment 172).  that i t i s impossible to r u n . " (1980:  This argument i s countered by Wildavsky who maintains  that the a t t r i b u t e of complexity, that i s , "The incremental, fragmented, nonprogrammatic, and sequential procedures of the present budgetary process help to win agreement and reduce the burden of c a l c u l a t i o n . " (1975:329). When performed properly the p r a c t i c e of PPBS i s an expensive undertaking.  Since i t s i n t r o d u c t i o n i s u s u a l l y  spurred by a l e g i s l a t i v e preoccupation with dwindling f i n a n ces, there are i n s u f f i c i e n t resources a v a i l a b l e to ensure success.  At l e a s t two a u t h o r i t i e s , Lee and Johnson (1983)  b e l i e v e that the the implementation of PPBS i s beyond the f i n a n c i a l resources of most governments, no matter solvency.  their  They f i n d that i n v i r t u a l l y a l l cases "the capa-  b i l i t y of p u b l i c a d m i n i s t r a t i o n to meet the complete requirements of systems a n a l y s i s i s non-existent.  The costs  of information are so high as to make i t r a t i o n a l to be^ ignorant, to make d e c i s i o n s on the basis of l i m i t e d search behaviours and l i m i t e d i n f o r m a t i o n . " ( 1 9 8 3 : 1 6 ) .  16  The issue i s complicated by L a r k e y ' s and Smith's f i n d i n g (1984:80) that budget o f f i c i a l s and, "Chief executives misrepresent more than t h e i r p u b l i c formulations of the budget problem. They a l s o misrepresent the reasons for the formul a t i o n s . In the p u b l i c j u s t i f i c a t i o n s of t h e i r budget f o r mulations, c h i e f executives follow a dominant explanatory s t r a t e g y : they explain their budget formulations in ways that absolve them of most responsibility (authors' emphas i s ) . Their basic t a c t i c i s to portray the budget as l a r g e l y due to factors beyond t h e i r c o n t r o l . Explanations emphasize bad news above a l l e l s e . . . Any good news presented i s q u a l i f i e d by the b a d . . . " (see a l s o D. Gerwin, Budgeting P u b l i c Funds: The Decision Process In An Urban School D i s t r i c t . U n i v e r s i t y of Wisconsin Press, 1969). 1 6  41 The remaining d i s c u s s i o n focuses on the p u b l i c service experience of PPBS by three governments: the United States of America, Canada, and B r i t i s h Columbia.  The d i s c u s s i o n  begins with a general examination of PPBS i n p u b l i c educat i o n and ends with a summary of the 1983 i n t r o d u c t i o n of a PPBS-derived f i n a n c i a l and budgeting reform w i t h i n the B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c school o r g a n i z a t i o n . 1. Role in Public Education Educational administrators have turned to PPBS with the expectation that t h i s budgeting system w i l l a s s i s t them i n choosing more e f f i c i e n t and e f f e c t i v e p o l i c i e s (van Geel 1973:1).  However, education, u n l i k e a i r c r a f t production  (where PPBS was f i r s t a p p l i e d ) , i s not transparent to p o l i c y - o r i e n t e d a n a l y s i s (Garms & Guthrie 1978:255; Lee & Johnson 1983:104; Saunders & Klau 1985:124).  There are many  questions which may confound the circumspect educational planner.  Some of these are o u t l i n e d by H i r s c h :  What knowledge and s k i l l s should be developed; when, where, how, and by whom and for whom? . . . i n a given year, what kind of education should be offered for how many students, by how many teachers (and support personnel), with what background and t r a i n i n g , and in what f a c i l i t i e s ? In a d d i t i o n , there i s the issue of who should pay for the education, [ s i c ] (1967: 181 ) . The s i m p l i c i t y and d i r e c t n e s s of these questions have a u n i v e r s a l appeal; they concern parents, p o l i t i c i a n s , p h i l o s o phers and educational s p e c i a l i s t s a l i k e .  The unwary may  seek f a c i l e answers where two m i l l e n i a of our best minds have perceived a challenge without end.  42 Fundamental questions are u s u a l l y neglected in administ r a t i v e debates about budget a l l o c a t i o n .  When program bud-  geting i s a p p l i e d to educational p o l i c y , the administrator t y p i c a l l y commits the organization to an  a priori  mode of  reasoning i n which p o l i c i e s a r i s i n g from these questions assumed to be susceptible to r a t i o n a l a n a l y s i s .  are  In t h i s  context, the teaching of reading provides a good demonstrat i o n of a PPBS a p p l i c a t i o n . Reading i s a subject which some educational budgeters consider adaptable to a process model.' Set aside the perenn i a l debate about whether any s i n g l e reading education method i s a s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t improvement over the rest.  1 7  Assume that for an a d d i t i o n a l expenditure of one  hundred d o l l a r s per p u p i l , reading scores w i l l improve by a known amount.  The PPBS process model o p e r a t i o n a l l y reduces  the reading p o l i c y to a formula where more d o l l a r s , or input, i s t r a n s l a t e d  into better pedagogical techniques, or  improved throughput,  f i n a l l y producing higher reading  scores, or enhanced output. performance,  To achieve advances in reading  funds must e i t h e r be d i v e r t e d from other educa-  t i o n a l programs or be obtained from outside the organization.  The second a l t e r n a t i v e requires that costs -of other  government s e r v i c e s , such as health and defense,  be  Otto, Wolf & E l d r i d g e (1984:799) in a perceptive review of major reading methods f i n d that as for r e s u l t s there i s i s l i t t l e to d i s t i n g u i s h them, "Now, with some of the major h i s t o r i c a l trends i d e n t i f i e d , consider again the question of how best to organize students and teachers for the e f f e c t i v e teaching of reading. The question has an easy answer: put one student and one teacher together and l e t teaching proceed through one-to-one t u t o r i n g . " 1 7  43  accounted for by the same f i n a n c i a l system, since to funct i o n according to PPBS p r i n c i p l e s , comparisons can be drawn only with those programs already operating w i t h i n a process model.  To compare educational costs with government service  costs a r r i v e d at through other accounting methods i s to plunge into an a r b i t r a r y world of muddling through, where p o l i c y j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s sought 1959).  18  a posteriori  (Lindblom  The topic of f i n a n c i a l reform as i t r e l a t e s to  reading education i s one that w i l l be resumed l a t e r in the context of the United a.  States,  The United States of America PPBS emerged from an i n d u s t r i a l planning and accounting  model which the United States of America a p p l i e d successf u l l y to a i r c r a f t production i n the Second World War. During post-war r e c o n s t r u c t i o n , Ford Motor Company refined the model to automobile manufacture  (Halberstam 1969:229).  Following ten years of preparatory work by the Rand Corporat i o n , PPBS was f i r s t introduced to p u b l i c a d m i n i s t r a t i o n in 1961 for use i n the United States Department of Defense (Schultze 1968:1).  Four years l a t e r , President Lyndon  Johnson d i r e c t e d a l l federal departments and ma j o r * c i v i l i a n agencies to adopt PPBS along the l i n e s of the Defense Model (Schultze 1968:1). short-lived.  These undertakings were r e l a t i v e l y  The federal government, f i r s t to introduce  program budgeting, was f i r s t to abandon i t (Schick 1973: 147). C r o z i e r ' s c a u s t i c r e t o r t , "The a posteriori rationality i s a s t a t i c r a t i o n a l i t y of v i c i o u s c i r c l e s . " (1980:172). 1 8  44 In the summer of 1967, Budget Bureau o f f i c i a l s t a n t l y , but o f f i c i a l l y  reluc-  found "the longer term objectives of  PPBS are now unclear to many."  19  By September of that  year, W i l l i a m Gorham, former A s s i s t a n t Secretary,  Department  of H e a l t h , Education and Welfare, and widely acknowledged to be an outstanding p r a c t i t i o n e r of program budgeting, t e s t i f i e d on the problematic nature of achieving a consensus on program objectives for p u b l i c education: But we want our c h i l d r e n to be d i f f e r e n t sorts of people. We want them to be capable of d i f f e r e n t sorts of t h i n g s . We have, i n other words a p l u r a l i t y of opinions about what we want our schools to turn out. So you drop down a l e v e l and you t a l k about objectives in terms of educational attainment. Here you move i n education f r o m . . . fuzzy o b j e c t i v e s , . . . t o more concrete, l e s s c o n t r o v e r s i a l , more e a s i l y to get agreed upon o b j e c t i v e s . . . [ s i c ] . 2 0  Despite the s a t i s f i c i n g  2 1  character of incremental bud-  g e t i n g , and the acknowledged d i f f i c u l t y of a r r i v i n g at gene r a l l y agreed upon program o b j e c t i v e s , p u b l i c education has achieved a s u r p r i s i n g l e v e l of e f f i c i e n c y . budgeting nor s i m i l a r c o s t - b e n e f i t  Neither program  f i s c a l processes  fully  capture the e f f i c i e n t nature of p u b l i c education since what a student a c t u a l l y learns may be a t t r i b u t e d more to pers o n a l , parental and community a s p i r a t i o n s than to the U . S . Bureau of the Budget. The Work of the Steering Group on Evaluation of the Bureau of the Budget: A Staff Summary, J u l y 1967, p. 2-11. J o i n t Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, Hearings, The Planning, Programming Budgeting System: Progress and P o t e n t i a l s , 90th Congress, F i r s t Session, September 1967, page 80 (quoted i n Wildavsky 1969:195). "A v a r i a b l e r e l a t i o n s h i p between a s p i r a t i o n and s a t i s f a c t i o n , or, more s p e c i f i c a l l y , a v a r i a b l e perception of opport u n i t y costs i n v o l v e d . " (Burns 1974:138). The term was coined by Simon (1958). 1 9  2 0  2 1  45 c e n t r a l l y mandated c u r r i c u l u m .  R e f l e c t i n g on the d i s j u n c -  t i o n s which occur between the formally mandated organizat i o n a l goals and those of the diverse p u b l i c s which the American p u b l i c school serves, Perrow concludes with gentle irony, "the system of education i s quite e f f i c i e n t for accomplishing many things that many p a r t i c i p a n t s d e s i r e ; they are j u s t not what the school d i s t r i c t or the federal government, which supplies the money, had in mind." (1984: 91). The preoccupation of many f e d e r a l , state and l o c a l educ a t i o n a l a d m i n i s t r a t o r s with f i n a n c i a l and budgetary reform i s a triumph of process over content.  There i s no evidence  to show that these procedures have placed more teachers, more books and improved educational f a c i l i t i e s in the nation's schools.  On the c o n t r a r y , resource cutbacks and  r e a l l o c a t i o n s often accompany f i s c a l reform (Hartle 1976:24).  The constant a t t e n t i o n demanded by continuing  s h i f t s in bureaucratic procedure saps the o r g a n i z a t i o n of energy that i s more a p p r o p r i a t e l y expended on improvements in educational services for students. I n t e r n a l f i n a n c i a l reform apparently contributes  little  to winning the important p o l i t i c a l d e c i s i o n s that ensure improved educational o p p o r t u n i t i e s for a l l — e s p e c i a l l y the c h i l d r e n of the poor and disadvantaged. States,  In the United  these d e c i s i o n s have been l o s t to m i l i t a r y l o b b y i s t s  (Table I , page47).  United States education received  137 b i l l i o n d o l l a r s -in 1980, f i f t e e n b i l l i o n d o l l a r s more  46 than the t o t a l spent on defense. p i c t u r e had changed.  Five years l a t e r  the  Defense spending in 1985 was 299  b i l l i o n d o l l a r s , almost one hundred and f o r t y - s i x b i l l i o n d o l l a r s more than the t o t a l f e d e r a l , state and l o c a l expend i t u r e on p u b l i c education (Table I ) . An important output measure of the diminished United States support for p u b l i c education i s gauged from the r i s i n g l e v e l of i l l i t e r a c y .  The Adult Performance Level  (APL), a study c a r r i e d out at the U n i v e r s i t y of Texas, placed United States i l l i t e r a c y at t h i r t y percent (Kozol 1985:9).  After considering several sources on United States  i l l i t e r a c y , Kozol c a u t i o u s l y estimates the number of  illit-  erates " i n terms of U . S . p r i n t at the present time" at s i x t y m i l l i o n out of a t o t a l of two hundred and t h i r t y - f o u r m i l l i o n people ( 1 9 8 5 : 1 0 ) .  22  The r i s i n g number of  illiter-  ates c o i n c i d e s with e i t h e r the reduction or termination of major s o c i a l and educational programs.  C o i n c i d e n t a l l y , the  1985 United States m i l i t a r y expenditure was higher i n constant d o l l a r s than i n any year since 1946 (SIPRI 1985:242). b.  Canada The Canadian p u b l i c a d m i n i s t r a t i o n experience with PPBS  follows a pattern s i m i l a r to the United S t a t e s . government's  The federal  f i r s t serious move i n the d i r e c t i o n of PPBS  came i n 1966 with the Treasury. Board d i r e c t i v e to a l l year  departments requesting submission of a f i v e - f o r e c a s t  on what  UNESCO reports the 1979 U . S . A . i l l i t e r a c y l e v e l at 0.5% for those fourteen years and older (UNESCO 1984, 1-18). 2 2  47  Table I United States Expenditures On Public Education And Defense: 1980-1985 (In B i l l i o n s of D o l l a r s ) Public Education  Year 1 980 1 981 1 982 1 983 1 984 1985  3  137.8 149.5 160.5 172.2 152.2" 153.8 tt  1  Defense  :  122.7 142.7 213.7 239.4 273.4 299.0  Notes: 1  2  Preschool to Grade 12 — includes l o c a l , state and federal spending. S t a t i s t i c a l Abstract Of The United S t a t e s : 1985 (105th e d i t i o n ) , U . S . Bureau Of The Census, 1 984. The M i l i t a r y Balance. 1979-1980 to 1984-85 i n c l u s i v e , I n t e r n a t i o n a l I n s t i t u t e For S t r a t e g i c S t u d i e s . After a forty percent increase i n m i l i t a r y spending over the l a s t four years, the A d m i n i s t r a t i o n ' s plans are for a further forty percent r i s e i n the next f i v e f i s c a l - years up to f i s c a l year 1989. (SIPRI 1985:14). P r o j e c t i o n s of Educational S t a t i s t i c s To 1990-91, Volume I . National Centre For Educational S t a t i s t i c s , 1 982.  48 each considered to be t h e i r programs (MacDonald 1973:78). There was considerable resistance to operational a n a l y s i s . Summing up seven years of federal PPBS e f f o r t , MacDonald d i d not b e l i e v e i t p o s s i b l e to " c i t e a c l e a r l y documented instance where a d e c i s i o n to undertake program A rather than program B or C was a r r i v e d at on the basis of a n a l y s i s a l o n e . . . " (1973:77).  The Royal Commission on F i n a n c i a l Man-  agement and A c c o u n t a b i l i t y , struck i n 1976, to examine the accounting methods used by the federal government,  in summa-  t i o n was more d i r e c t : O v e r a l l , the a p p l i c a t i o n of PPBS as the c e n t r a l budgetary t o o l has met with mixed success. The d e c i s i o n was made i n 1970 to overlay the system with a new procedure r e q u i r i n g departments.to submit budgets d e t a i l i n g both the l e v e l of e x i s t i n g programs (the "A" budget) and the costs required to improve the q u a l i t y of s e r v i c e , to extend the programs, or to finance new program and new c a p i t a l projects (the "B" budget). In p r a c t i c e , the use of two budgets enhanced the tendency in the budgetary process, c a r r i e d over from the pre-PPBS system, to concentrate a t t e n t i o n on requests for new funds, with the r e s u l t that there i s a more l i m i t e d review of the "A" budget, i f at a l l , and e x i s t i n g programs seldom come up for serious re-examination. Moreover, i t has proved extremely d i f f i c u l t to e s t a b l i s h more e x p l i c i t o b j e c t i v e s for programs, and to put in place w i t h i n departments workable systems whereby the e f f i c i e n c y and effectiveness of the programs are measured. (1977:23). This passage lends o f f i c i a l Canadian credence to Wildavsky's unequivocal statement that "PPBS has f a i l e d everywhere and at a l l times."  (1975:363).  49  c.  B r i t i s h Columbia Commencing i n the l a t e seventies, a major program of  f i s c a l and budgetary reform was i n s t i t u t e d by the B r i t i s h Columbia government.  The province selected zero base bud-  geting (ZBB) as i t s reform model.  ZBB which i s an e x p e r i -  ment to see i f a PPBS-type mechanism w i l l work (Wildavsky 1975:276), was introduced to the M i n i s t r i e s of Forests and the Attorney General i n f i s c a l year 1979-80.  By the 1981-82  budget c y c l e , ZBB was implemented in a l l but four m i n i s t r i e s - Education was one of the exceptions ( R i t t e r & Cutt 1985: 45).  In i t s o r i g i n a l form, ZBB requires that budgeters  s t a r t from a zero base; expenditures w i t h i n each program are j u s t i f i e d at the beginning of the budget c y c l e .  The p r o v i n -  c i a l government's p r a c t i c e of Zero Base Budgeting c a r r i e d s i g n i f i c a n t a d d i t i o n a l costs r e s u l t i n g from extra preparat i o n time required to meet the new s t i p u l a t i o n s 1983:192).  (Ruff  When a m i n i s t r y a c t u a l l y met the s t i p u l a t i o n s ,  Treasury Board could not conduct a complete review: The Treasury Board d i d not have the capacity to u t i l i z e a l l the information generated by ZBB. The decision-making process was not being served by the i n t r o d u c t i o n of excessive d e t a i l . ( R i t t e r & Cutt 1985:47) Costs r e l a t e d to negotiation are viewed by Lee and Johnson (1983:73) as wasting "valuable a d m i n i s t r a t i v e time by r e q u i r i n g the rehashing of o l d issues that had already been resolved."  These costs soon forced the replacement of the  zero base with an o p e r a t i o n a l minimum — an amount below  50 which the budgetary a l l o c a t i o n would not f a l l .  The concept  of an o p e r a t i o n a l minimum restored the o l d i n c r e m e n t a l i s t maxim, where what i s spent t h i s year i s the best measure of what w i l l be spent in the next. In f i s c a l year 1983-84, the B r i t i s h Columbia M i n i s t r y of Education replaced a l o n g - e s t a b l i s h e d school d i s t r i c t l i n e item accounting and budgeting procedure with a new Program, Budgeting, and Accounting System. referred to as PPBS by M i n i s t r y o f f i c i a l s ,  Although seldom the o u t l i n e i n  Figure I (page51) demonstrates that a l l major elements incorporated i n the M i n i s t r y ' s model.  are  The genealogy of t h i s  budgetary reform i s e x p l i c i t i n the following excerpt from the M i n i s t r y ' s Program Accounting and Budgeting Manual: The development and implementation of a f u l l p l a n n i n g , programming, budgeting and evaluation system i s at the d i s c r e t i o n of each school d i s t r i c t . However, the i n t r o d u c t i o n of a program accounting and budgeting system on a uniform basis across the province i s the i n i t i a l , and very valuable step i n developing a more comprehensive d i s t r i c t planning system. (1983C:1.5) This statement implies that the M i n i s t r y ' s reform model i s incomplete; however, the d e f i n i t i o n of what c o n s t i t u t e s a 'full'  PPBS system remains moot.  Neither a p u b l i c s e r v i c e ,  nor an educational a d m i n i s t r a t i o n has succeeded i n i n t r o d u c ing a pure PPBS model — one i n which every output i s operat i o n a l l y r e l a t e d to a resource i n p u t .  Educational adminis-  t r a t o r s u s u a l l y are s a t i s f i e d with i d e n t i f y i n g a r e l a t i v e l y small number of output measures.  For the B . C . M i n i s t r y of  Education, these measures appear to be c l a s s s i z e and the cost of d e l i v e r i n g each of the programs w i t h i n the nine  51 Figure I Major Components Of The Program Accounting And Budgeting System - F i s c a l Year 1983-84 B r i t i s h Columbia M i n i s t r y Of Education 1  1 . Information - r e p o r t s finances and operations -fewer forms f i l l e d l e s s frequently 2. F i s c a l Framework - s e t s the amount required to provide a basic educational service in each school d i s t r i c t -province e s t a b l i s h e s service l e v e l s (standards) and cost factors - r e t u r n to 1975-76 service l e v e l s by 1985-86 (a) F u n c t i o n : -a group of r e l a t e d programs representing the highest l e v e l of educational a c t i v i t i e s - t o t a l of nine functions in 1984 (b) Program: -a set of r e l a t e d a c t i v i t i e s , i n c l u d i n g statements d e s c r i b i n g content, objects and resources 3. Budgeting -boards project revenues and expenditures by educational a c t i v i t i e s - f i n a n c i a l expression of o b j e c t i v e s , programs and a c t i v i t i e s of the p u b l i c school system -planning t o o l rather than a cost accounting exercise 4. Funding  -funding i n the form of p r o v i n c i a l grants w i l l cover at least s i x t y . a n d as much as n i n e t y - f i v e percent of approved budget  5. Accounting - f o l l o w s program budget s t r u c t u r e to record expenditures and revenues  Sources: 1  Fleming & Anderson (1984) and B . C . M i n i s t r y of Education Program Accounting and Budgeting Manual (1983c).  52  functions.  2 3  Although few o f f i c i a l M i n i s t r y statements r e l a t e  stu-  dent achievement d i r e c t l y to expenditure, there i s a marked increase i n the measurement of p u p i l performance.  The  M i n i s t r y introduced p r o v i n c i a l grade twelve examinations and c a r r i e d out the t h i r d p r o v i n c i a l reading assessment for grades four, seven and ten in the 1983-84 school year ( J e r o s k i , Tolsma & Labercane 1984).  Grade twelve examina-  t i o n r e s u l t s contributed toward f i f t y percent of a student's graduating mark.  The 1984 reading assessment was the f i r s t  to provide s c h o o l - l e v e l measurements  (1984:2).  The p r o v i n c i a l examinations replaced those set by l o c a l teachers at the school and school d i s t r i c t l e v e l .  Their  primary aim i s to "...encourage teaching to the curriculum and promote more e f f e c t i v e and purposeful t e a c h i n g . " [ s i c ] (Heinrich 1983:60).  Thus an output measure gauges the  degree to which teachers comply with the c e n t r a l l y mandated curriculum or a n a l y t i c a l m o d e l . " 2  Testing f u l f i l l s an important r o l e i n the new educat i o n a l process model.  Assessment scores are made p u b l i c ,  and l o c a l school boards are i n s t r u c t e d to release examinat i o n r e s u l t s to t h e i r c o n s t i t u e n t s .  In the M i n i s t e r ' s  words: With both Grade 12 exams and the reading assessment A major objective i s to reduce p u b l i c school expenditures and increase p u p i l / t e a c h e r r a t i o s to 1975-76 l e v e l s by the 1985-86 f i s c a l year (Fleming & Anderson 1984:36). " Anderson, one of the authors of the f i n a n c i a l and budgeting system, e x t e n s i v e l y researched teacher p r o d u c t i v i t y among i n n e r - c i t y schools i n the southern United S t a t e s . 2 3  2  53 for Grades 4, 7 and 10, o v e r a l l achievement l e v e l s for the province w i l l be made p u b l i c . D i s t r i c t or i n d i v i d u a l school r e s u l t s w i l l not be i d e n t i f i e d . These r e s u l t s w i l l be forwarded to the d i s t r i c t superintendent of schools. I s h a l l expect boards of school t r u s t e e s , in c o n s u l t a t i o n with l o c a l educat o r s , to review the data and provide the l o c a l taxpayer with a summary of student achievement i n the d i s t r i c t . (Heinrich 1983:60). The M i n i s t e r ' s c l e a r a f f i r m a t i o n of a connection between the resource base or ' l o c a l taxpayer' and the output or  'student  achievement' r e f l e c t s the very nature of the M i n i s t r y ' s new Program, Budgeting and Accounting System.  Increasing school  and school d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t i v e concern with aggregate c l a s s and school performance on these metrics supports  the  claim that output measures are being a p p l i e d more extens i v e l y than i s at f i r s t apparent  from the M i n i s t r y ' s new  accounting procedures. How these output measures c o n t r i b u t e to improved educat i o n a l performance i s not c l e a r .  Resources which could be  d i r e c t e d to reducing c l a s s s i z e and introducing expanded educational opportunities have been d i v e r t e d to assessments and f i n a n c i a l m o n i t o r i n g .  student  Assessments demon-  s t r a t e what has long been known i n B r i t i s h Columbia and elsewhere i n North America: only s i g n i f i c a n t increases i n expenditure in the classroom w i l l bring about improved learning among c h i l d r e n . .Reading i s a s a l i e n t example. Five years before the f i n a n c i a l cutback and reform programs were i n s t i t u t e d , the M i n i s t r y acknowledged that "Comprehens i v e , high q u a l i t y reading programs are a v a i l a b l e on only a l i m i t e d basis i n the secondary schools of B r i t i s h Columbia  54 for a. v a r i e t y of reasons,  i n c l u d i n g a shortage of t r a i n e d  personnel — a factor which should be amenable to treatment." ( M i n i s t r y of Education 1977b:1).  Rather than improve l e a r n -  ing o p p o r t u n i t i e s , the 1982 program of f i n a n c i a l  cutbacks  r e s u l t e d in higher student/teacher r a t i o s and reduced or . eliminated s p e c i a l educational programs for c h i l d r e n who encounter d i f f i c u l t y  learning E n g l i s h .  Whether the M i n i s t r y ' s PPBS-type budgeting reform w i l l succeed where v i r t u a l l y a l l others have f a i l e d i s  debatable.  Perhaps the M i n i s t r y of Education's greatest success,  as  with the p r o v i n c i a l government's p r a c t i c e of Zero Base Budg e t i n g , i s to have "reinforced a r e s t r a i n t and e f f i c i e n c y m e n t a l i t y . . . " (Ruff  1983:192) w i t h i n the p u b l i c school orga-  nization.  2. PPBS Overview PPBS i s an accounting method which increases  central  c o n t r o l by maximizing the r e l a t i o n s h i p between inputs and outputs.  The system emerged i n a commercial s e t t i n g where  i t was p r o f i t a b l y applied to automobile production. Following ten years of preparatory work by the Rand Corporat i o n , program budgeting was introduced to the United States Department of Defense in 1961.  This c o n s t i t u t e d the  a p p l i c a t i o n to p u b l i c a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . States'  first  By 1965, a l l United  federal government departments and agencies were  required to adopt PPBS.  Despite considerable o f f i c i a l com-  mitment, only a few years passed before the United States  55  government abandoned program budgeting. Canada's p u b l i c administrators had a s i m i l a r with PPBS.  Two years after  experience  the federal Treasury Board  introduced t h i s system, incremental methods again p r e v a i l e d . In B r i t i s h Columbia, Zero-Base Budgeting, a system with a comparable methodology, was introduced i n 1979.  Within two  years, ZBB's guiding p r i n c i p l e , that in each budget  cycle,  proponents j u s t i f y a l l program expenditures beyond a zero base, was j e t t i s o n e d i n favour of incrementalism. Most p r a c t i t i o n e r s and independent researchers concur that PPBS i s i l l - s u i t e d to p u b l i c a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . r i f i c e s p o l i t i c a l for o p e r a t i o n a l r a t i o n a l i t y .  PPBS sac-  The system  i s c o s t l y to i n s t i t u t e and a shortage of s k i l l e d p r o f e s s i o n a l s compounds a d m i n i s t r a t i v e acceptance.  In p u b l i c educa-  t i o n , where schools must respond to a m u l t i p l i c i t y of competing and not infrequently c o n t r a d i c t o r y goals, PPBS i s p a r t i c u l a r l y problematic. This leads to the fourth research question: What i s the r e l a t i o n s h i p between o r g a n i z a t i o n a l objectives and the design of computer systems?  F. SUMMARY OF THE LITERATURE REVIEW Computers f a c i l i t a t e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n .  This r e l a t i o n s h i p  was c l e a r e r when there were fewer computers and they were i n s t a l l e d only i n head o f f i c e s .  Centralization effects  remain strong and continue i n s p i t e of new i n f l u e n c e s , such as that of the microcomputer which offers s i g n i f i c a n t computing power to l o w - l e v e l a d m i n i s t r a t o r s .  Long-term  56 planning s t r a t e g i e s adopted by IBM p a r t l y e x p l a i n the recent resurgence of c e n t r a l i z i n g technologies.  The organization  and a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of a l l aspects of society on a g l o b a l s c a l e , however, has proceeded unabated for several centuries.  In recent decades, t h i s process has  accelerated.  There are profound p o l i t i c a l and environmental reasons for administering the Earth and i t s peoples as a highly i n t e grated set of interdependencies.  Among educational o r g a n i -  z a t i o n s , computers are i n d i s p e n s i b l e i n the progress  toward  world management. C l o s e l y a l l i e d with the inherent capacity of informat i c s to favour c e n t r a l i z a t i o n i s the issue of how t h i s techology i s a p p l i e d to perform work.  The largest adminis-  t r a t i v e a p p l i c a t i o n of computers i n the p u b l i c education system of B r i t i s h Columbia was undertaken to meet the requirements of a new planning and budgeting system.  Cost  reductions and increased e f f i c i e n c y , the twin aims of t h i s c e n t r a l i z e d f i n a n c i a l system, are a t t a i n e d by l i n k i n g f i n a n c i a l inputs with educational outputs, performance of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e  units.  then comparing the  III.  METHODOLOGY  This study of the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e impact of computers on the p u b l i c school system drew on the a n a l y s i s of interviews and documents.  Interview d i s c l o s u r e s were compared with  each other, and with statements derived from published and unpublished r e p o r t s .  Although some q u a n t i t a t i v e data were  integrated with t h i s information, the methodology remained predominantly that which many contemporary o r g a n i z a t i o n a l t h e o r i s t s refer to as q u a l i t a t i v e research (Van Maanen 1983). During the past decade, the term q u a l i t a t i v e  research  has gained wide parlance among educational research methodologists.  In s p i t e of the more than s i x books and many a r t i -  c l e s on the subject, tion.  the term has eluded rigorous d e f i n i -  Van Maanen notes that q u a l i t a t i v e research has no  precise meaning i n the s o c i a l sciences ( 1 9 8 3 : 9 ) .  1  For.  Wilson, q u a l i t a t i v e research i s synonymous with anthropol o g i c a l , phenomenological and ethnographic research 245).  (1977:  At l e a s t one methodologist avoids the problem of def-  i n i t i o n e n t i r e l y by subsuming these terms under a broad c a t egory and then d e f i n i n g i t .  Guba chooses t h i s route when he  categorizes ethnography along with q u a l i t a t i v e research as a Van Maanen's d e f i n i t i o n of q u a l i t a t i v e as a "term covering an array of i n t e r p r e t a t i v e techniques which seek to d e s c r i b e , decode, t r a n s l a t e . . . the meaning, not the frequency, of c e r t a i n , more or l e s s n a t u r a l l y occurring phenomena i n the s o c i a l w o r l d . " (1983:9) t y p i f i e s the lack of p r e c i s i o n . 1  57  58 " n a t u r a l i s t i c research paradigm," i n s i s t i n g , moreover, that n a t u r a l i s t i c research i s not a method at a l l , but a paradigm for i n q u i r y (1981:76).  Others, such as Eisner, find the term  q u a l i t a t i v e m i s l e a d i n g , "since a l l e m p i r i c a l research must of necessity pay a t t e n t i o n to q u a l i t i e s . . . " (1981:5).  He  believes that the main d i s t i n c t i o n l i e s between what i s studied in a s c i e n t i f i c mode, and what i s studied a r t i s t i cally.  This o b s e r v a t i o n ' s authentic r i n g , however, i s damp-  ened by the n o v e l i s t E . L . Doctorow who cautions that w r i t e r s may "compose f a l s e documents more v a l i d , more real,.more t r u t h f u l than the ' t r u e ' documents of the p o l i t i c i a n s or the j o u r n a l i s t s or the p s y c h o l o g i s t s . " (1977:232).  Doctorow's  f i c t i o n a l perspective i m p l i c i t l y h i g h l i g h t s the fundamental question around which a l l d i s c u s s i o n s about q u a l i t a t i v e and ethnographic research i n e v i t a b l y o r b i t : how i s the researcher, and the researcher's audience assured of the t r u t h of what i s before them? There are no wholly s a t i s f a c t o r y answers.  Tests of  r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y , the keys to judging the accuracy of e m p i r i c a l research, have a very r e s t r i c t e d a p p l i c a t i o n i n q u a l i t a t i v e research.  Beyond a knowledge of l o g i c and an  i n t e l l i g e n t a p p l i c a t i o n of the f a c t s , there are no comparably powerful t o o l s a v a i l a b l e for t e s t i n g the accuracy of ethnography's i n t e r p r e t a t i v e methods.  One of the  strongest  v e r i f i c a t i o n procedures i s t r i a n g u l a t i o n , a l s o c a l l e d convergent v a l i d a t i o n , where agreement i s sought between the products of two or more methods of c o l l e c t i n g evidence  59 (Abrahamson 1983; Miles 1984).  An example of t r i a n g u l a t i o n  in an o r g a n i z a t i o n a l s e t t i n g i s where the interview d i s c l o sures of pharmaceutical executives are confirmed by World Health Organization s t a t i s t i c s .  Such correspondence  between  two research techniques enhances the b e l i e f that the  results  are v a l i d ( J i c k 1983:136).  The process of combining d i f f e r -  ent methods can be traced to the m u l t i p l e operations work of Campbell and F i s k e (1959).  Although q u a l i t a t i v e researchers  c l a i m t r i a n g u l a t i o n as t h e i r own, there i s ample evidence of i t s e a r l i e r a p p l i c a t i o n by h i s t o r i a n s and a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s . March B l o c h ' s  Feudal  Chrysanthemum  And  Society  The  Sword  (1961) and Ruth B e n e d i c t ' s (1974) are two benchmark  The  studies  in t h e i r respective f i e l d s which r e l y h e a v i l y on assembling c o r r o b o r a t i v e evidence from a wide v a r i e t y of sources. Yvonna L i n c o l n , co-author of  Effective  Evaluation  That  (Guba &  L i n c o l n 1981), one of the most popular t e x t s on n a t u r a l i s t i c methodology, a l s o studied medieval h i s t o r y provides strong i n d i r e c t testimony to the e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l roots of q u a l i t a tive  research. There i s l i t t l e which d i s t i n g u i s h e s the core methods of  q u a l i t a t i v e and n a t u r a l i s t i c research from e i t h e r phy or h i s t o r i o g r a p h y .  ethnogra-  A l l researchers i n these f i e l d s i n -  vest selected facts with meaning i n a continuing process of moulding facts to i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n facts.  Ethnography's concern with studying l i v i n g  to cultures  does not n e c e s s a r i l y lead to a d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n of i t s research methodology.  Compare ethnography's  direct  60  perception of the present with h i s t o r i o g r a p h y ' s use of v a r i ous types of recorded information.  In both d i s c i p l i n e s , a  d i s c r e t e observation i s selected from a wide range of p o s s i ble events.  The ethnographic observation once noted i s cast  as an a c t i o n that e x i s t s in the past.  The recorded observa-  t i o n i s then subject to the same d i s c r i m i n a t i v e process as h i s t o r i c a l fact.  An event which ethnography describes usu-  a l l y cannot be reproduced.  For a l l p r a c t i c a l purposes,  the  methods of q u a l i t a t i v e , n a t u r a l i s t i c , ethnographic, and h i s t o r i o g r a p h i c endeavour are fundamentally the same.  That i s  why a d e f i n i t i o n that would c l e a r l y d e l i n e a t e q u a l i t a t i v e and n a t u r a l i s t i c research from ethnography has not been made.  In t h e i r current use, these.two expressions are  l i t t l e more than misleading tags for long established'forms of humanist i n q u i r y .  A. SAMPLING TECHNIQUES The p r i n c i p a l data sources c o n s t i t u t e d interviews with educational administrators who were employed throughout the B. C. p u b l i c school system.  Supplementary sources included  p o l i c y documents, i n t e r n a l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e s t u d i e s ,  financial  and annual r e p o r t s , as w e l l as studies on the a p p l i c a t i o n of e l e c t r o n i c information technology to the p u b l i c s e r v i c e  2  and  P u b l i c s e r v i c e denotes the c o l l e c t i v e instrument whereby things that government i s responsible f o r , get done. Swainson (1983:119) w r i t e s , " r e f l e c t i n g current governmental p r a c t i c e i n B r i t i s h Columbia, (the term p u b l i c s e r v i c e ) i s used to embrace the departments of government, i t s c e n t r a l and s p e c i a l agencies, i t s boards, commissions and crown c o r p o r a t i o n s , and the s t a f f s of a l l of them." 2  61 to business management.  The a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of the p u b l i c  school system — whether at the school, school d i s t r i c t or m i n i s t r y l e v e l — i s treated as i n t e g r a l " t o the p u b l i c service.  For the purpose of r e p o r t i n g the research  findings,  and d i s c u s s i n g t h e i r i m p l i c a t i o n s , the B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation (BCSC) although a p r o v i n c i a l l y owned Crown corporation and therefore i n the s t r i c t e s t sense part of the p u b l i c s e r v i c e , w i l l be considered s e p a r a t e l y . Several sources were tapped for information that could be used to assemble a p r e l i m i n a r y model about how computers have affected the modern o r g a n i z a t i o n .  These sources  included research journal a r t i c l e s , newspaper r e p o r t s , and correspondence.  Although to date r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e has been  published about the impact of computers on the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of the p u b l i c school o r g a n i z a t i o n , there i s a w e l l developed l i t e r a t u r e on t h e i r corporate impact, and a s m a l l , but growing research e f f o r t has begun on the experience of government.  S p e c i a l i z e d p u b l i c a t i o n s on computers, manage-  ment science, and information science can provide a good composite of the o r g a n i z a t i o n a l change which the computer has wrought. Correspondence with f i v e Canadian educational m i n i s t r i e s was undertaken before the fieldwork was launched i n l a t e May, 1984.  The p r o v i n c i a l experience was v a r i e d .  Ontario, Manitoba, and A l b e r t a reported that a small number of d i s t r i c t s t r a n s f e r r e d data to the M i n i s t r y i n e l e c t r o n i c form.  Quebec had developed a province-wide computer network  62  l i n k i n g more than two hundred and f i f t y  school d i s t r i c t s  with the M i n i s t r y of Education (Appendix E ) .  In 1983,  Ontario established the Canadian Educational Microprocessor Corporation (CEMCORP), a government sponsored program for educational microcomputers.  manufacturing  Although the main  purpose was to supply computers for classroom use, an a d d i t i o n a l objective was to apply some of these machines to school management.  Knowledge about how other p r o v i n c i a l  j u r i s d i c t i o n s addressed the a p p l i c a t i o n of computers  to  a d m i n i s t r a t i o n , afforded comparisons with the p r e l i m i n a r y research r e s u l t s of the B r i t i s h Columbia i n q u i r y .  B. PILOT STUDY A p i l o t study was conducted to test the interview methods.  The p i l o t was held with a superintendent  p o l i t a n school d i s t r i c t .  The interview was  of a metro-  semi-structured,  and followed a f l e x i b l e schedule of questions.  After close  assessment of the t r i a l r e s u l t s which included d i s c u s s i o n s with experienced o r g a n i z a t i o n a l researchers, the p i l o t was deemed a success.  The interview was completed w i t h i n the  designated time of one hour and the respondent r e p l i e d in a f o r t h r i g h t manner to a l l questions.  A d d i t i o n a l information  or c l a r i f i c a t i o n was provided as requested.  At the c l o s e ,  the researcher was introduced to two of the d i s t r i c t ' s head o f f i c e personnel, an a s s i s t a n t s e c r e t a r y - t r e a s u r e r and a curriculum c o o r d i n a t o r . i z e some future  In. a pattern that would character-  i n t e r v i e w s , an a d d i t i o n a l ninety minutes  63 were spent seeking supplementary evidence from them.  Exten-  sive note-taking replaced the tape recorder for the two supplementary i n t e r v i e w s . Some ad hoc questions which were prompted by the i n t e r viewees' responses were added to the schedule.  The sequence  of questions was rearranged with the i n t e n t i o n of "maximizing the flow of information and maintaining optimum i n t e r personal r e l a t i o n s . . . " (Gorden 1975:406). formalities,  The p r e l i m i n a r y  i n c l u d i n g o b t a i n i n g consent, were abbreviated.  A few questions which apparently had been perceived by the respondent as threatening were rephrased.  C. CANDIDATE SELECTION The s e l e c t i o n process began with a knowledge-gathering phase.  Limited research funds r e s t r i c t e d the search for  candidates to d i s t r i c t s located w i t h i n the region encompassed by southern Vancouver I s l a n d , the Greater Vancouver Regional D i s t r i c t , and the Lower Fraser V a l l e y .  This  conurbation i s w i t h i n easy commuting of the  researcher's  home and includes f i f t e e n "school d i s t r i c t s .  D i s t r i c t s with  the longest h i s t o r y of computer use i n B r i t i s h Columbia are to be found here; indeed, some were selected for the research sample.  Input was sought from schools and school  d i s t r i c t s which had been p a r t i c u l a r l y a c t i v e over recent years i n the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e a p p l i c a t i o n of computers. A core group of s i x a d m i n i s t r a t o r s was selected for i n i t i a l contact.  This group included an executive d i r e c t o r  64 of a research agency, three superintendents  of schools, and  two senior managers from the M i n i s t r y of Education.  The  sample was constructed to produce immediate input from as many o r g a n i z a t i o n a l l e v e l s as p o s s i b l e .  An a d d i t i o n a l  twenty-six respondents were i d e n t i f i e d from document searches and references provided by the i n i t i a l six-member target group.  Discussions with representatives  of profes-  s i o n a l education a s s o c i a t i o n s and i n d i v i d u a l s outside the educational system enhanced the knowledge gathering phase.  D. CANDIDATE PROFILES The p r o f i l e s of the i n i t i a l set of p u b l i c school orga-' n i z a t i o n respondents  fulfilled  the following c r i t e r i a .  Interviewees were administrators w i t h i n the B . C . p u b l i c school system who functioned as p r i n c i p a l s , v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s , superintendents, treasurers,  assistant  superintendents,  secretary-  or branch d i r e c t o r s at the M i n i s t r y l e v e l .  The  educational respondents had many years of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e experience i n the B . C . school system.  Figure II (page 65) 1  compares the average number of years that various categories of respondent had held t h e i r current p o s i t i o n .  Most had  occupied t h e i r current posting from four to ten years.  The  average number of years of teaching and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e experience by respondent category i s reported in Figure I I I . With accumulated experience averaging twenty-eight years, the secondary school p r i n c i p a l s between them had served the longest time in the system, c l o s e l y followed by the  Figure I I Respondents Mean Years Of Experience In Present Position By Organizational Level  Ministry Superintendent SecretaryTreasurer Computer Manager Secondary School P r i n c i p a l School Trustees Association Teachers' Federation  [—i—i—i—i—|—i—i—i—i—|—i—i—i—i—| 0  5  10  15  Figure I I I Respondents Mean Years Of Educational Employment Experience By Organizational Level  Ministry Superintendent SecretaryTreasurer Computer Manager Secondary School P r i n c i p a l School Trustees Association Teachers' Federation  |—i—i—I—I 0  1—i—i—i—i—r—i—i—i—i—|—i—i—i—i—i—i—i—i—i—[—i—i—i—i—| 5  10  15  20  25  30  66  superintendent category with twenty-six years.  These t o t a l s  demonstrate that the educational respondents drew on a long working acquaintance with the B . C . school system. Administrators belonged to o r g a n i z a t i o n a l u n i t s which e i t h e r maintained in-house computers, contracted t h e i r computer services to p r i v a t e l y operated data processing companies o r , in the case of the M i n i s t r y , contracted to a Crown corporation.  Representatives were sought from organiza-  t i o n a l u n i t s in which e i t h e r the microcomputer, minicomputer or mainframe predominated.  In some instances, the i n t e r -  viewees were regarded by computer p r o f e s s i o n a l s and t h e i r peers as i n d i v i d u a l s who had d i s p l a y e d a strong i n t e r e s t i n the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e a p p l i c a t i o n of computers. Any s i n g l e school d i s t r i c t was represented by no more than two respondents.  This design feature reduced p o t e n t i a l  i n t e r n a l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e c o n f l i c t and increased the range of inputs.  Once s e l e c t e d , w r i t t e n contact was i n i t i a t e d s o l i c -  i t i n g the candidate's p a r t i c i p a t i o n .  The introductory  l e t t e r b r i e f l y stated the purpose of the research,  the  nature of the i n t e r v i e w , and asked the respondent to i n d i cate a convenient time.  Some l e t t e r s of i n t r o d u c t i o n were  w r i t t e n by the research s u p e r v i s o r , others by the author. A follow-up telephone c a l l was made three days after expected a r r i v a l of the l e t t e r . changed.  the  L a t e r , t h i s routine was  L e t t e r s of i n t r o d u c t i o n were d e l i v e r e d by hand to  expedite securing an appointment.  67  The i n i t i a l plan c a l l e d for respondents to be selected e x c l u s i v e l y from the B . C . p u b l i c school o r g a n i z a t i o n . A d e c i s i o n was taken e a r l y in the fieldwork to widen the sample.  An improved understanding of the research  questions  was b e l i e v e d p o s s i b l e with a broader range of i n p u t s . Widening the sample was accomplished in two steps.  In the  f i r s t , candidates were added from two c l o s e l y a l l i e d o r g a n i z a t i o n s : the B . C . School Trustees A s s o c i a t i o n and the B . C . Teachers' F e d e r a t i o n .  In the second step, respondents who  had a commercial knowledge of the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e a p p l i c a t i o n of computers to the p r o v i n c e ' s school system were s o l i c i t e d from software and hardware companies. The p r o f i l e s of the non-educational respondents were more diverse both in career and geographical dimensions than those of educational a d m i n i s t r a t o r s .  Interviewees included  systems a n a l y s t s , software developers, and hardware vendors. Several executives of small companies were a l s o contacted. Discussions with these respondents u s u a l l y concentrated on s p e c i f i c questions r e l a t i n g to t h e i r area of e x p e r t i s e . Their c o n t r i b u t i o n s , although on occasion not e x p l i c i t l y r e l a t e d to educational a d m i n i s t r a t i o n , a s s i s t e d i n the a n a l y s i s of information provided by the p u b l i c education o r g a n i zation  respondents.  68 E. THE INTERVIEWS During the study's planning stage, one hour was d e s i g nated for each formal i n t e r v i e w .  In p r a c t i c e , however, the  interview duration averaged close to one and three quarter hours.  There were several occasions in which unanticipated  though rewarding interviews were conducted on the spot with members of the a d m i n i s t r a t o r ' s support s t a f f .  The number of  personnel interviewed from the p r o v i n c i a l p u b l i c school organization t o t a l l e d twenty-two.  Table II (page 69) pro-  vides a l i s t of interview respondents by p o s i t i o n and organizational level.  An a d d i t i o n a l seven interviews were con-  ducted with representatives  of four c l o s e l y r e l a t e d  profes-  s i o n a l o r g a n i z a t i o n s , the B . C . School Trustees A s s o c i a t i o n , the B . C . Teachers' Federation, the B . C . Research C o u n c i l , and the Educational Research I n s t i t u t e of B r i t i s h Columbia. F i n a l l y , ten representatives panies were interviewed.  from hardware and software com-  Personnel interviewed in these  categories e i t h e r designed educational a d m i n i s t r a t i o n computer programs, acted as advisors to school d i s t r i c t s or served as research consultants to senior l e v e l s of government.  Their p r o f e s s i o n a l knowledge extended beyond B r i t i s h  Columbia to include Canada and the United S t a t e s .  Table II  provides a d e t a i l e d breakdown of respondents by organization and p o s i t i o n .  The t o t a l time spent questioning respondents  exceeded f i f t y  hours.  Table II Interview Respondents By Position And Organizational Level  1. Ministry of Education Directors  2 subtotal  2  2. School Districts Superintendent Assistant Superintendent Secretary-Treasurer Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Computer Services Manager Computer Coordinator Coordinator Audiovisual Services  4 1 2 1 1 1 1 subtotal  11  3. Schools Principal, Elementary Principal, Junior Secondary Principal, Junior/Senior Secondary Principal, Senior Secondary Vice-principal, Senior Secondary  1 1 2 3 2 subtotal  9  4. B.C. School Trustees Association Administrator  1 subtotal  1  cont'd..:.  5. B . C . Teachers'  Federation  Bargaining and P r o f e s s i o n a l Development Computer Services  2 2 subtotal  6 . Research  4  Institutions  Administrator  2 subtotal  2  7 . Software Companies Manager Systems Analyst/Programer Marketing Representative  2 1 3  1  1  1  subtotal  6  8. Computer Companies Marketing Representative  3  1  subtotal  Total Respondents  Note: 1  w r i t t e n summary of interview only  3  38  71 1. Interview Schedule Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each p a r t i c i p a n t according to an interview schedule.  This f a c i l -  i t a t e s comparisons between interviews (Abrahamson 1983:338). I n d i v i d u a l respondents were not required to answer each question, and the sequencing of questions v a r i e d with each interview.  If the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s answers demonstrated  excep-  t i o n a l knowledge in an area deemed l i k e l y to enhance the study, the interviewer departed from the schedule and d e v e l oped impromptu questions which more f u l l y explored t h i s expert knowledge.  In those instances where a respondent  strayed onto less productive ground, c i t i n g a scheduled question sharpened the focus.  The strategy of p a r t l y  s c r i p t i n g the i n t e r l o c u t o r ' s r o l e while a l l o w i n g s u f f i c i e n t flexibility  to determine the timing of a p a r t i c u l a r ques-  t i o n , meant that the interviewer could more r e a d i l y adapt to the respondent's i n d i v i d u a l s t y l e and experience. As i n t e r v i e w i n g progressed,  the schedule of questions  was revised to r e f l e c t the improved understanding of the research i m p l i c a t i o n s .  With experience,, the  schedules  better a n t i c i p a t e d the type of c o n t r i b u t i o n that a respondent could make by v i r t u e of the respondent's p o s i t i o n and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e experience.  The r e v i s i o n process,  together  with the production of schedules t a i l o r e d to p a r t i c u l a r a d m i n i s t r a t i v e p o s i t i o n s r e s u l t e d i n the further a t i o n of questions.  differenti-  72 Two administrators asked for a l i s t of questions to be submitted three weeks in advance of the i n t e r v i e w . request was granted.  Their  To the researcher's s u r p r i s e , on com-  mencing the interview the respondent began to read from a prepared l i s t of short answers.  This arrangement was  s t i l t e d ; although the accuracy of the information was good, the depth and breadth of the answers were very l i m i t e d . When the interviewer engaged the respondent in conversation r e l a t e d to the questions, the respondent soon began to relax.  This technique proved more productive than the pre-  paration of short, w r i t t e n answers and t h i s experience points to the inherent r e s t r i c t i o n s of the survey questionnaire.  2. Respondent's Consent At the i n t e r v i e w ' s commencement, a summary of the respondent's r i g h t s and the c o n d i t i o n s of the interview was submitted for signing (see Consent Form, Appendix G ) .  Among  the important assurances were the r i g h t to d e c l i n e to answer s p e c i f i c questions, and to withdraw from the '-interview at any time.  Any questions concerning procedure were answered  to the s a t i s f a c t i o n of the respondent.  After s i g n i n g the  form, a copy was retained by the respondent and the i n t e r viewer.  C o n f i d e n t i a l i t y of the d i s c l o s u r e s and anonymity of  the sources were ensured. C o n f i d e n t i a l i t y was achieved by not r e f e r r i n g l a t e r to any matter d i s c l o s e d during an interview i n a manner which  73 could be considered a breach of t r u s t .  Anonymity was  secured by not i d e n t i f y i n g the respondent e i t h e r during the taping session or subsequently i n the typed t r a n s c r i p t s . Where references were made i n t h i s study to content which might have revealed e i t h e r the i d e n t i t y of the or the respondent's a s s o c i a t e s ,  respondent,  the references are designed  to conceal that i d e n t i t y and maintain the i n t e g r i t y of the reference.  The s t u d y ' s methodology here, as elsewhere,  is  designed to comply with the s t i p u l a t i o n s of the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia Behavioural Sciences Screening Committee For Research Involving Human Subjects.  3. Tape Recording Twenty-seven interviews were recorded on a portable cassette-tape machine.  The small r e c o r d e r ' s  built-in  e l e c t r o s t a t i c microphones faced i n opposite d i r e c t i o n s and were designed to capture the speech of both d i s c u s s a n t s . Recording equipment preparation was simply a matter of p l u g ging the machine i n t o a convenient power receptacle and performing a sound t e s t .  Setup was kept to approximately three  minutes, a time which allowed maximum use of those few instances where the administrator s t r i c t l y adhered to the one hour l i m i t .  A ninety-minute cassette tape was selected  because t h i s format reduced cassette handling to one change per hour.  An a d d i t i o n a l t h i r t y minutes of blank tape  remained for interviews which took longer.  D i s c l o s u r e s of a  more important nature seemed to occur with greater  fequency  74 toward the end of the one hour p e r i o d .  Had the flow of con-  v e r s a t i o n been interrupted by a cassette change, the i n f o r mation would probably have been l o s t .  The choice of t h i s  tape format a l s o contributed to the e f f e c t i v e u t i l i z a t i o n of the time a l l o t t e d . Tape recording provided an accurate a u d i a l t r a n s c r i p t i o n of the i n t e r v i e w .  The interviewer was r e l i e v e d of  laborious note t a k i n g .  Comprehensive note t a k i n g would have  been impossible, when combined with other r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , such as a t t e n t i o n to content and the formulation of follow-up questions. With a tape recorder,  the interviewer was able to con-  centrate on e s t a b l i s h i n g a c l o s e rapport with the dent.  respon-  A t t e n t i o n could focus on the content of the verbal  communication, i t s f i d e l i t y with the speaker's  kinesthetics  and proxemics (Downs 1980:68), and i t s accord with the i n t e r v i e w e r ' s understanding of the subject.  A swift evalua-  t i o n of the respondent's answers could be made before proceeding to the next question.  Occasional b r i e f notes e i t h e r  h i g h l i g h t e d the i n t e r v i e w e r ' s evaluations or i d e n t i f i e d a subject  for a follow-up q u e s t i o n .  L a t e r , the recording  would allow the interviewer "to hear h i s own verbal techniques and detect p o s s i b l e b i a s i n g e f f e c t s . " 474).  (Gorden 1975:  The presence of the tape recorder d i d not appear to  i n h i b i t interviewee responses.  The apparent n e u t r a l i t y of  the recording device may be a product of i n c r e a s i n g s o c i a l acceptance of various recording  techniques.  75 4. T r a n s c r i p t s A verbatim t r a n s c r i p t was typewritten for each recorded interview.  There were approximately 670 typed double-spaced  pages of t r a n s c r i b e d m a t e r i a l .  Neither t r a n s c r i p t s nor  notes were presented to the respondents for confirmation, since t h i s procedure would slow the e v a l u a t i o n .  In a d d i -  t i o n , there was concern that respondents would a l e r t administrators to the content of the questions, reducing the l e v e l of spontaneity.  other  thereby  On several occasions  during a n a l y s i s of the w r i t t e n t r a n s c r i p t s , however, c o n f i r mation was sought on a p a r t i c u l a r point from e i t h e r respondent  the  or from other sources in the respondent's o r g a n i -  zational unit. More rapid and more complete a n a l y s i s of the m a t e r i a l was p o s s i b l e with typed t r a n s c r i p t s than with the o r i g i n a l audio r e c o r d i n g .  When the t r a n s c r i b e r was uncertain about  p a r t i c u l a r words or phrases,  the tape counter number was  included i n the typewritten copy.  L a t e r , the  researcher  returned to these areas and i d e n t i f i e d the missing passage. The t r a n s c r i p t  incorporated methods of recording the use of  presymbolic utterances, and noting verbal emphasis given by the respondent to a word or phrase. Repeated recourse was made to the typed t r a n s c r i p t s the a n a l y s i s proceeded.  Information divulged in the  as  inter-  views was checked for i n t e r n a l consistency, and consistency with the d i s c l o s u r e s of other respondents.  The researcher's  responses to the. testimony were noted i n the margins.  76  Summaries of key points were made for quick future ence.  refer-  A coding system was devised to i d e n t i f y the page  l o c a t i o n s of s p e c i f i c content used in reporting research findings.  While i n progress, the job of accurately t r a n s -  c r i b i n g twenty-seven interviews hardly seemed warranted.  As  the a n a l y s i s of the research question matured, however, the e a r l i e r e f f o r t was j u s t i f i e d . Had a w r i t t e n summary been s u b s t i t u t e d for the tape recording/typed t r a n s c r i p t method, much valuable m a t e r i a l would have been i r r e t r i e v a b l y l o s t .  The summary approach to  recording interviews prematurely reduces the richness of the data.  The t a c t i c i s quick, but i t tends to confirm precon-  ceived notions, since the r e s u l t s are mediated "by the f i e l d w o r k e r ' s own standards of relevance as to what i s and what i s not worthy of o b s e r v a t i o n . " (Van Maanen 1983:51). A verbatim t r a n s c r i p t preserves many s u b t l e t i e s which await discovery and e l a b o r a t i o n when the interviews are compared.  F . Interviewer Bias And Respondent V a l i d i t y Various means were invoked to reduce the p o s s i b i l i t y of interviewer bias and to assure the v a l i d i t y of the d i s c l o sures which were l a t e r incorporated i n t o the study. A schedule of questions was followed (Appendix F ) .  Verbatim  typed t r a n s c r i p t s reduced spurious and subjective judgements of what t r a n s p i r e d i n the i n t e r v i e w .  Since the complete  interview was recorded, content a n a l y s i s could proceed over the eighteen-month period of t h e s i s p r e p a r a t i o n .  77  Information which might have been dismissed as i r r e l e v a n t in the i n i t i a l phases of the project was not l o s t , but remained u n t i l i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e was recognized. I d e n t i f y i n g interviewer bias was part of the review process that accompanied the completion of each i n t e r v i e w . Appropriate changes were made to the schedule of questions and to the i n t e r v i e w e r ' s s t y l e .  The r e l a t i v e l y large number  of respondents in a study of t h i s type c o n t r i b u t e d to improved r e l i a b i l i t y .  D i s c l o s u r e s were compared with those  of administrators at other o r g a n i z a t i o n a l l e v e l s and with those of respondents from outside agencies.  Agreement  between many respondents may i n d i c a t e a higher degree of reliability.  However, due c o n s i d e r a t i o n was given in the  content a n a l y s i s to the r e c o g n i t i o n that overwhelming agreement does not of i t s e l f assure c r e d i b i l i t y : a minority of one may be the s o l i t a r y bearer of the t r u t h . Where p o s s i b l e , interview d i s c l o s u r e s were checked against w r i t t e n documents, such as s t u d i e s , r e p o r t s , p o l i c y statements,  financial  and minutes of meetings.  Requests for w r i t t e n r e p l i e s to questions were sent to respondents on the assumption that a d m i n i s t r a t o r s take great i n t e r e s t i n the accuracy of signed statements.  Comparing  the interviewees' r e p l i e s with the findings of research in a l l i e d f i e l d s a s s i s t e d with a determination of r e l i a b i l i t y . Most research findings i n the study are supported with references to t h e i r source: p u b l i c or p r i v a t e r e p o r t s , personal correspondence or respondent d i s c l o s u r e s .  .78  G. SUMMARY Q u a l i t a t i v e research i s rooted in a long t r a d i t i o n of humanist i n q u i r y .  I t s methods are not fundamentally d i f f e r -  ent from h i s t o r i o g r a p h y or anthropology.  In the p u r s u i t of  an improved understanding of s o c i a l phenomena, a s i m i l a r process of a n a l y s i s and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s shared by a l l three.  As with q u a n t i t a t i v e research, a set of data or  facts may be invested with r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t meanings. Tests of r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y , keystones of s c i e n t i f i c method, have a r e s t r i c t e d a p p l i c a t i o n in q u a l i t a t i v e studies.  C l a r i t y and the r e v e l a t i o n of sources are the chief  guarantees of r e l i a b i l i t y .  IV.  RESEARCH FINDINGS  Throughout the twenty-five year h i s t o r y of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computing in the B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c education system, two major trends have occurred.  F i r s t , computer  a p p l i c a t i o n s w i t h i n the M i n i s t r y move from a labour ment r o l e i n which e x i s t i n g c l e r i c a l routines are  replace-  automated,  to a planning mode in which informatics a s s i s t s p o l i c y makers.  In the second trend, computer use diffuses  from the  o r g a n i z a t i o n a l apex to a l l school d i s t r i c t s and many schools. The effect of computers on a d m i n i s t r a t i o n i s pervasive. Their capacity to manipulate large q u a n t i t i e s of data i s the backbone of the M i n i s t r y of E d u c a t i o n ' s  1  current  centraliza-  t i o n program which embraces budgeting, and curriculum and learning evaluation.  Without these t o o l s , the planning,  implementation and monitoring of several major p o l i c i e s introduced since 1982 would be p r o h i b i t i v e l y expensive.  As  a consequence of computer a p p l i c a t i o n s , the parameters of i,.  l o c a l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e a c t i o n were redefined, and school and school d i s t r i c t autonomy eroded. The same a d m i n i s t r a t i v e p r a c t i c e s that l e d i n 1961 to the i n s t a l l a t i o n by the M i n i s t r y of Education of an antiquated computer, to be replaced only a year l a t e r by The Department of Education was proclaimed the M i n i s t r y of Education on October, 1977 ( B r i t i s h Columbia 1977:551). This body i s referred to throughout t h i s study as the M i n i s t r y of Education. 1  79  80 equipment already nearing obsolesence, the 1980's.  have p e r s i s t e d  Recently i n s t a l l e d school d i s t r i c t  computers  run on mutually incompatible software which r e s t r i c t mies of scale and l i m i t d i g i t a l communication.  into  econo-  At the same  time that the M i n i s t r y exerts increasing c o n t r o l over the whole education o r g a n i z a t i o n , with the recording and monit o r i n g assistance of computers,  the M i n i s t r y seems reluctant  to firmly coordinate school and d i s t r i c t data processing. D i s t r i c t s have long r e s i s t e d c e n t r a l i z a t i o n and stand a r d i z a t i o n of t h e i r computing systems.  A late  1960's  study, and one a decade l a t e r recommended that the M i n i s t r y r a t i o n a l i z e d i s t r i c t EDP (Howe & Totherow 1969; B . C . M i n i s t r y of Education 1979).  In the absence of firm  M i n i s t r y r e s o l v e , however, school d i s t r i c t p o l i c y on data processing evolved without reference to p r o v i n c i a l needs. The course of p r o v i n c i a l government computing a l t e r e d sharply with the 1977 founding of the B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation.  Following transfer of data processing  r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s to the new Corporation, a small but important cadre of M i n i s t r y of Education computer was d i s p e r s e d .  professionals  Confronted by the controversy that attended  the BCSC s t a r t - u p , M i n i s t r y o f f i c i a l s seemed l e s s  favourably  disposed to the implementation of p r o v i n c i a l processing standards. A chain of events in the e a r l y 1980's once again focused M i n i s t r y a t t e n t i o n  on d i s t r i c t computers.  response to p u b l i c service f i n a n c i a l reforms and  In fiscal  81 restraint  measures spearheaded by the M i n i s t r y of Finance,  the education m i n i s t r y devised a new Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System.  PPBS complexity required that most  school d i s t r i c t s acquire computers with an enlarged ing c a p a c i t y .  Introduction of PPBS was therefore  by the 1982 announcement and replacement  process-  preceded  of a four-year computer expansion  project.  Schools and school d i s t r i c t s are represented by many administrative units.  In 1984 there were seventy-five  school d i s t r i c t s and 1,712 schools ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada 1985a).  Among these u n i t s , considerable v a r i a t i o n e x i s t s  2  in the manufacturing o r i g i n of hardware and software composing the data processing systems.  Each a d m i n i s t r a t i v e ' e n t i t y  w i t h i n the research sample of s i x schools, and s i x school districts equipment  3  has a d i s t i n c t c o n s t e l l a t i o n of  manufacturer's  (Table I V ) .  Although M i n i s t r y experience with computers  accumulated  over twenty-five consecutive years, d e t a i l e d information on the t o p i c i s scarce."  The M i n i s t r y ' s e l e c t r o n i c data pro-  cessing systems were implemented i n r e l a t i v e o b s c u r i t y ; l e g i s l a t i v e debates and news media coverage do not record the h i s t o r i c junctures as they have for the Systems Corporation. In 1985-86 there were seventy-five d i s t r i c t s and 1,692 schools ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada 1985b). Were the d i s t r i c t s represented by the s c h o o l - l e v e l sample added, there would be a t o t a l of eight d i s t r i c t s i n the sample. " Dr. C. B. Conway, the leading figure i n the e a r l y years, i s deceased. If he kept a d a i l y j o u r n a l , none appears to have s u r v i v e d . M i n i s t r y of Education papers from t h i s period have yet to be released to the P r o v i n c i a l A r c h i v e s . 2  3  82 Rarely do M i n i s t r y Annual Reports f i n d the subject worthy of comment. Research findings are reported i n three s e c t i o n s : 1. 2.  M i n i s t r y of Education School D i s t r i c t  3.  School.  Findings for the B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation are d i s c l o s e d in a fourth s e c t i o n .  The r e c a p i t u l a t i o n  grates the research findings i n summary form.  inte-  Since the  events which compose the story form a complex whole, a time l i n e i s included i n Appendix A as a convenient guide. A. MINISTRY OF EDUCATION The year 1947 marked the f i r s t time an e l e c t r i c a l l y powered computing device was d i r e c t l y u t i l i z e d by the B. C. M i n i s t r y of Education.  This simple machine was the  focus of a short-term study on i t s a p p l i c a t i o n to test ing.  The machine e l e c t r i c a l l y detected  scor-  graphite-filied  answer spaces ( M i n i s t r y of Education Annual Report 1964-65: 53).  According to Dr. C l i f f o r d B. Conway, the 5  first  D i r e c t o r of the D i v i s i o n of Tests, Standards and Research, "one machine operator could accomplish as much as three or four h a n d - s c o r e r s . . . "  (1947-48:130).  Machine scoring cost  approximately two cents per s u b - t e s t , while hand-scoring was Conway probably saw t h i s machine i n operation while serving i n the Canadian Army under General Brock Chisholm during World War II (Annual Report 1973-74:D12). He acknowledged the important influence h i s experience with the army M-Test played i n administering the marking of p r o v i n c i a l t e s t s and m a t r i c u l a t i o n examinations. 5  83 valued at four cents. cost-benefit  The Annual Report i n d i c a t e s that the  of the computer was amply demonstrated,  but a  large number of small e r r o r s r e s u l t e d in test scores which . were too low,.soon foreing the p r o j e c t ' s c a n c e l l a t i o n . Fourteen years elapsed before the i n t r o d u c t i o n of an e l e c t r o n i c computer.  In the immediate post World War II  era, the p r o v i n c e ' s educational system expanded r a p i d l y . Student enrolment in grades one through twelve climbed from 125,135 students in 1945 to 400,080 in 1965 (1978-79:156). As the volume of achievement t e s t s and j u n i o r m a t r i c u l a t i o n examinations kept pace, manual marking and t a b u l a t i n g methods proved slower and more c o s t l y .  The a d d i t i o n a l expenses  incurred i n s e r v i c i n g high enrolments probably contributed s u b s t a n t i a l l y to j u s t i f y i n g the costs of an in-house computer to Treasury Board.  Treasury kept a t i g h t hold on gov-  ernment data processing ( R i t t e r & Cutt 1985). The M i n i s t r y ' s i n i t i a l commitment to e l e c t r o n i c data processing came in 1961 with the i n s t a l l a t i o n of an IBM 650  6  to accomplish " p a r t i a l mechanization of the handling of  63,000 m a t r i c u l a t i o n examination scores." (Annual Report 1962-63:47).  Education was probably the f i r s t M i n i s t r y in  The IBM 650 main memory ranged from 10,000 to 20,000 decimal d i g i t s ( F i s h e r , McKie & Mancke 1983:17). I t was a smaller version of IBM's f i r s t computer (1983:15). Data was entered by keypunch cards read at a speed of 250 cards per minute. There was no v i s u a l d i s p l a y t e r m i n a l . The machine rented for between $3,000 and $4,000 U . S . when- f i r s t released i n 1954 (1983:17). In November 1985, the IBM AT personal computer had a 16 b i t processor, 512 K RAM and a 20 megabyte hard d i s k . The package included keyboard, v i s u a l monitor and a DOS operating system — r e t a i l i n g for under $10,000 Canadian. 6  84 the P r o v i n c i a l Government to operate an in-house computer; only in f i s c a l year 1963-64 d i d the Finance computerize t h e i r accounting system ( R i t t e r & Cutt 1985:13). At the time of M i n i s t r y implementation, the  seven-year  old 650 technology already had been rendered obsolete by IBM's 1960 i n t r o d u c t i o n of the 1400 system ( F i s h e r , McKie & Mancke 1983:52).  Two replacements for the 650 system,  the  IBM 1620 computer and 1403 p r i n t e r were i n s t a l l e d i n 1963  7  ,  as the M i n i s t r y prepared for "the tremendous upsurge i n m a t r i c u l a t i o n candidates expected in 1964 and 1965" (Annual Report 1962-63:47).  The 1620 computer was a second genera-  t i o n machine with a magnetic core storage capacity of 20,000 alphameric d i g i t s (IBM 1963:2).  The accompanying 1403 h i g h -  speed chain p r i n t e r operated at 600 numeric data l i n e s per minute, a considerable improvement over the 150 l i n e rate for  e a r l i e r models ( F i s h e r , McKie & Mancke 1983:53). Rewriting the o l d 650 computer programs for the 1620  took two years ( M i n i s t r y Annual Report 1963-64:53), an i n d i c a t i o n that the d e c i s i o n to abandon the 650 hardware was made only a few months after  installation.  After  1963, com-  puters assumed an i n c r e a s i n g l y c e n t r a l p o s i t i o n w i t h i n Ministry  operations.  The IBM 360 s e r i e s was announced on A p r i l 7, 1964 ( F i s h e r , McKie & Mancke 1983:139), proof that r a p i d t e c h n o l o g i c a l obsolescence was as germane then as i t i s today. 7  85 1. Changing Role of EDP As computers underwent an expanded o r g a n i z a t i o n a l r o l e , the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e a t t i t u d e  toward them changed.  This  change was c l o s e l y l i n k e d to how they accomplished M i n i s t r y goals. first,  Two h i s t o r i c stages are d i s c e r n i b l e .  During the  l a s t i n g from 1960 to 1974, many c l e r i c a l  are automated.  Computers replaced people.  procedures  Some of the  remaining non-automated c l e r i c a l routines are modified to accommodate e l e c t r o n i c data p r o c e s s i n g .  Administrative  observations at t h i s time stressed the labour  replacement  aspect of computers; demands for increased automation c i t e p o t e n t i a l e f f i c i e n c i e s and c o s t - b e n e f i t s  (1961-62:47).  A summary of computer a p p l i c a t i o n s published i n the M i n i s t r y ' s 1961-62 Annual Report conveys a pronounced i n t e r est in t h e i r labour replacement p o t e n t i a l .  The M i n i s t r y  computer marked and tabulated achievement t e s t and examination results.  Eight automated c l e r i c a l steps are l i s t e d ,  ranging from hand i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of papers to conversion of raw to scaled scores.  A strong plea i s made for the i n s t a l -  l a t i o n of in-house keypunch machines:  i  The maximum benefit of automation w i l l only become evident when machines are i n s t a l l e d in the Department of Education for p r e l i m i n a r y punching operations and the whole procedure i s mechanized. (1961-62:48) This concern with computing e f f i c i e n c y continues through 1965, when a comparative study of two p h o t o e l e c t r i c i s reported.  The t r a n s i t i o n from labour replacement  scorers to  wholly new a p p l i c a t i o n s begins in 1966 when the B r i t i s h  86 Columbia Research Council (BCRC) produces an IBM 360 program for the "mathematical p r o j e c t i o n " of enrolment (Annual Report 1966-67:58).  8  Since the program i s designed to  handle new data inputs, the p r o j e c t i o n s can be revised as a d d i t i o n a l data are c o l l e c t e d .  The effects of changes to  c l a s s s i z e , course offerings and teacher graduation were a l s o modeled.  This program i s probably the f i r s t  to  d i r e c t l y inform M i n i s t r y p o l i c y - m a k i n g . During the second h i s t o r i c a l stage, beginning in 1974 and continuing to the present, computers not only continue to automate c l e r i c a l work, they a l s o undertake never before required by the M i n i s t r y . adjuncts  assignments  They become close  to the planning process (1974-75:15).  Their e f f i -  ciency i s u s u a l l y assumed, and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e statements about costs which dominate the f i r s t stage, give way to cons i d e r a t i o n s about how best to respond to growing s t a t i s t i c a l demands that o r i g i n a t e w i t h i n e i t h e r the M i n i s t r y or outside agencies  (1974-75:16).  Observations from t h i s period point  to the complexity of data requirements as l a r g e - s c a l e assessments of the p u b l i c school system are undertaken.  The  computer assumes the dual tasks of simulator and a r c h i v i s t . Multi-purpose data banks are devised with s u f f i c i e n t  flexi-  b i l i t y to handle e x i s t i n g s t a t i s t i c a l requirements and those in the future whose exact nature i s not yet known (1980-81: 69).  The Data Operations Branch a p t l y c h a r a c t e r i z e s  the  According to Glen Foster of BCRC, p r e l i m i n a r y work began in 1966 with the o p e r a t i o n a l model d e l i v e r e d in l a t e 1968 (interview March, 1986). 8  87 change as one that went "from 'what i s or what was' 'what w i l l be i f . ' " [ s i c ]  towards  (1980-81:69).  In f i s c a l year 1973-74 the Research and Standards Branch, responding to r i s i n g s t a t i s t i c a l and data processing demands, underwent "greater expansion in one year than i n the previous twenty-five" (1973-74:14).  The Branch was  divided i n t o three: Learning Assessment, Information, and Data S e r v i c e s .  Each new branch used EDP h e a v i l y .  Some of  the processing load was removed when school assessments of student achievement replaced p r o v i n c i a l examinations.  Data  Services began work on a new management information system (MIS)  "to a s s i s t the Department in the management of the  whole education e n t e r p r i s e . "  (1975-76:31).  In 1976, a com-  puter was introduced to the P u b l i c a t i o n Services Branch to manage the purchasing and d i s t r i b u t i o n of textbooks to the p r o v i n c e ' s schools (1976-77:32).  2. Computing Expenditures and Cost A n a l y s i s According to respondents,  a commonly-held expectation  of the conversion of c l e r i c a l procedures to e l e c t r o n i c rout i n e s i s that they w i l l be performed for e i t h e r the same or less cost.  F i n a n c i a l information therefore provides an  important measure for gauging the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e impact of computers.  D e t a i l e d f i n a n c i a l a n a l y s i s of computer impacts  on the B . C . p u b l i c school system was thwarted by the c i t y of r e l i a b l e information.  scar-  Changes in o r g a n i z a t i o n a l  structure and accounting p r a c t i c e reduced the usefulness of  88 the small amount of f i n a n c i a l data a v a i l a b l e . Between 1977 and 1982, a period when Treasury Board required a l l m i n i s t r i e s to p u b l i c l y d i s c l o s e computer and computer consultancy c o s t s , P u b l i c Accounts report M i n i s t r y of Education increases  annual  in expenditure on e l e c t r o n i c  data processing (Table I I I , page 89).  Excluding the  1977-78  d i s c l o s u r e , which represents only a p o r t i o n of the amount spent on EDP that year, figures range from a 1978-79 low of approximately one m i l l i o n d o l l a r s to a 1983-84 high of approximately 1.6 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s .  The average annual  expenditure on computers and system c o n s u l t i n g exceeded 1.3 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s during the seven-year period 1978-79 to 1984-85.  While in the same p e r i o d , the M i n i s t r y ' s annual  average expenditure on p u b l i c education (kindergarten  to  grade twelve) was 964.4 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s . Given the data a v a i l a b l e , production of a r e l i a b l e l o n g i t u d i n a l comparison between computer and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e costs i s not p o s s i b l e .  For several years, the M i n i s t r y ' s  f i n a n c i a l statements published in the P u b l i c Accounts include an a d m i n i s t r a t i v e category v a r i o u s l y reported under 'Administration,' Operations,'  'Ministry Services,'  'Management  ' E d u c a t i o n a l F i n a n c e , ' and more r e c e n t l y iden-  t i f i e d as 'Management O p e r a t i o n s . '  I r r e s p e c t i v e of changing  t i t l e s , t h i s category does not represent the cost of admini s t e r i n g the M i n i s t r y ; rather i t i s the combined expenditure of Management Operations and Educational Finance Branches (correspondence,  1985).  These branches support  internal  89  Table I I I B . C . M i n i s t r y of Education Computer Costs Compared With T o t a l Public Education Expenditures 1974-1984 (nearest 1,000 d o l l a r s ) 1  Fiscal Year  1974-75 1975-76 1976-77 1977-78 1978-79 1979-80 1980-81 1981-82 1982-83 1983-84 1984-85  Computer & Systems Consulting  Total Ministry  232,000 1,016,000 1,298,000 1,386,000 1,357,000 1,479,000" 1,653,000" 1,516,000"  391,236,000 479,117,000 ,578,824,000 627,851,000 680,776,000 673,073,000 788,538,000 896,897,000 984,829,000 1,033,841,000 1,065,122,000  3  Percentage BCSC P r i c e Reduction 2  -  10 7 7  5  Notes: Sources: P u b l i c Accounts of B r i t i s h Columbia, and BCSC Annual Reports P r i c e reduction in percentage over previous year Figure represents only part of the 1977-78 t o t a l . No e n t r i e s appear in e a r l i e r e d i t i o n s of the P u b l i c Accounts. " Supplied by M i n i s t r y of Finance B r i t i s h Columbia Estimates for f i s c a l year ending March 31, 1984, page 61 1  2  3  5  90 m i n i s t r y and external school objectives  (correspondence,  1985). Another change which reduces comparability i s that since 1982, i n order to conform more c l o s e l y with the needs of Treasury Board, the emphasis i n budget preparation  has  been on the assembly of information at the program rather than the o p e r a t i o n a l l e v e l . ( R i t t e r & Cutt 1985:47).  Votes  are no longer d i s t r i b u t e d on an expenditure b a s i s ; now they are a l l o c a t e d to program o b j e c t i v e s .  A d m i n i s t r a t i v e and  data processing costs are charged to each program w i t h i n the M i n i s t r y and are not itemized i n the P u b l i c Accounts. Were the B . C . p u b l i c school system's a d m i n i s t r a t i v e and computing costs a v a i l a b l e to the researcher  for f i s c a l  years  1982—1985 — which they are not — t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n c e would be subject to broad i n t e r p r e t a t i o n .  E f f e c t i v e A p r i l 1, 1981,  the Comptroller General a l t e r e d the method of accounting from a cash to an a c c r u a l b a s i s .  A d d i t i o n a l l y , there have  been three reorganizations of the M i n i s t r y of Education: i n 1980-81, when r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for u n i v e r s i t i e s was transferred to the new M i n i s t r y of U n i v e r s i t i e s , Science and Communications, followed by two i n t e r n a l reorganizations in 1982-83 and 1985-86. BCSC s e r v i c e charges f e l l by ten percent for the 1979-80 f i s c a l year, and seven percent for each of the  fol-  lowing two years (BCSC 1979-80:4; 1980-81:5; 1981-82:6). These reductions apply to a large proportion of M i n i s t r y data processing expenditures, and are i n t e r p r e t e d in t h i s  91 a n a l y s i s as p r o d u c t i v i t y g a i n s . Although outside agencies such as BCRC and the Education Research I n s t i t u t e of B r i t i s h Columbia (ERIBC)  9  received some data processing c o n t r a c t s , BCSC's strategy was to increase c o n t r o l u n t i l v i r t u a l l y a l l government  process-  ing development was channelled through the Corporation (see Research F i n d i n g s , D. B r i t i s h Columbia Systems C o r p o r a t i o n ) . By f i s c a l  1981-82, t h i s corporate o b j e c t i v e was l a r g e l y  achieved (BCSC 1981-82:12). F i s c a l 1981-82 a l s o marked the beginning of an o f f i c i a l four-year program of f i n a n c i a l cutbacks to the p u b l i c serv i c e , referred to as f i s c a l r e s t r a i n t 1983a).  10  This s o c i a l a u s t e r i t y program, according to some  respondents, tion.  ( B r i t i s h Columbia  had reduced the effectiveness of p u b l i c educa-  T o t a l P r o v i n c i a l Government expenditures continued to  c l i m b , but i n f l a t i o n a r y e f f e c t s  reduced the a c t u a l purchas-  ing power. The M i n i s t r y benefited from the production of a c a p i t a l budgeting program which ran on a micromputer: In September 1982 work began on the development of a microcomputer support system for c a p i t a l budgeting to replace the e x i s t i n g inadequate computer system. The new system provides estimates of debt s e r v i c i n g costs and compares estimates to a c t u a l expenditures. The system has been implemented i n a l l m i n i s t r i e s which have s i g n i f i c a n t c a p i t a l budgets. ( R i t t e r & Cutt 1985:50) ERIBC i s a non-profit education research agency located i n Vancouver, B r i t i s h Columbia. The f i s c a l r e s t r a i n t program was announced on February 18, 1982, although key l e g i s l a t i o n such as the 9  1 0  Public Finance  1 983.  Sector Restraint Amendment Act  Act  and  the  Education  (Interim)  was not proclaimed u n t i l October 26,  92 Production of t h i s program heralded the growing influence of microcomputers i n the p u b l i c s e r v i c e , and the  relative  d e c l i n e in the importance of h i g h l y c e n t r a l i z e d f a c i l i t i e s in a growing number of a p p l i c a t i o n s .  On August 31, 1983,  the M i n i s t e r of Finance announced that the P r o v i n c i a l Government would seek a p r i v a t e purchaser for the Corporat i o n (BCSC 1983-84:18, Danylchuk l983b:A3).  This d e c i s i o n  was eventually reversed, but BCSC, which had made a heavy commitment to mainframe processing, experienced a major r e o r g a n i z a t i o n (BCSC 1983-84:18).-  The concept of  Information System Branches (ISB) located on c l i e n t premises and staffed by BCSC personnel•was tries  implemented i n a l l m i n i s -  (BCSC-84:6).  3. M i n i s t r y ' s School D i s t r i c t Computer A c q u i s i t i o n P o l i c y The B . C . M i n i s t r y of Education has not yet developed comprehensive c r i t e r i a for the a c q u i s i t i o n of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computers, nor i s development of such a p o l i c y imminent. Apart from some general g u i d e l i n e s on computer  cost-sharing  between M i n i s t r y and school d i s t r i c t , and an o u t l i n e of the approval procedure, the M i n i s t r y ' s involvement i s minimal (Appendix B ) .  In p r a c t i c e , choice of hardware and  software  vendor r e s t s mainly with the d i s t r i c t , a s t r i k i n g d e v i a t i o n from the c e n t r a l i z e d procedure regarding h e a v i l y computerdependent p o l i c i e s , such as finance and the measurement of student achievement.  The s k e l e t a l s t i p u l a t i o n s  computer s e l e c t i o n are an anomally i n a c e n t r a l  regarding educational  93  management accustomed to e f f i c i e n c y and c o s t - c u t t i n g .  The  l e s s than f u l l y coordinated d r i v e toward improved computeri z a t i o n at the school d i s t r i c t l e v e l produced s i g n i f i c a n t a d d i t i o n a l costs and some o r g a n i z a t i o n a l d i s c o n t i n u i t y  (see  Research F i n d i n g s , B. School D i s t r i c t ) . 4 . Management Information  Systems  The p r o p o s i t i o n that the current Management  Information  System (MIS) i s c l o s e l y integrated with and subsumed by the f i n a n c i a l management of p r o v i n c i a l education was confirmed during an interview with a senior M i n i s t r y  administrator:  The MIS i s but one component of a new system of managing education in the p r o v i n c e . . . that we are c a l l i n g the new F i n a n c i a l Management System (FMS). For t h i s respondent, as with many o t h e r s , the term F i n a n c i a l Management System i s synonymous with PPBS.  The new MIS  emerged from the Office and Data Technology Branch, to become broadly based w i t h i n the M i n i s t r y .  He offered  the  following summary: I t ' s a determination of what c r i t i c a l data elements are needed by t h i s M i n i s t r y to run i t s new F i n a n c i a l Management S y s t e m . . . and i t ' s the output records which are being generated by the M i n i s t r y . One of the key issues i n Planning, Programing, and Budgeting Systems i s who has access to the Management System.  Information  Information that i s accessed only by M i n i s t r y ana-  l y s t s contributes  to c e n t r a l i z a t i o n .  The data w i l l be used  by senior management to support t h e i r p o l i c y i n i t i a t i v e s . Information accessed by lower o r g a n i z a t i o n a l l e v e l s tends e i t h e r to n e u t r a l i z e the c e n t r a l i z a t i o n forces, or move the  94 o r g a n i z a t i o n toward d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n .  I f i n d i v i d u a l school  boards can make d e t a i l e d comparisons of t h e i r operations with the f i n a n c i a l performance of other d i s t r i c t s , then they w i l l be capable of more f o r c e f u l budget arguments. Budget a l l o c a t i o n s derived from information c o l l e c t e d by the MIS are a major source of c o n f l i c t between some school boards and the M i n i s t r y .  During t h i s study, the  M i n i s t e r of Education dismissed two school boards for subm i t t i n g budgets which exceeded p r o v i n c i a l g u i d e l i n e s .  The  Vancouver School Board was dismissed on May 5, 1985 and the Cowichan Lake School Board on May 13, 1985.  E l e c t i o n s to  replace the appointed trustees were held in both d i s t r i c t s on January 30, 1986. The M i n i s t r y respondent encapsulated the matter i n these terms: Is a l l the information that we c o l l e c t going to be analyzed, and (are) these analyses to be fowarded back to the f i e l d , or w i l l the information a n a l y s i s be retained by the M i n i s t r y with only selected b i t s going to the f i e l d ? Embedded in t h i s response i s a t a c i t acknowledgment that the M i n i s t r y d i d not possess the resources to analyze the i n c r e a s i n g amounts of PPBS generated data that was flowing from the school d i s t r i c t s .  The capacity of the M i n i s t r y to  analyze the increasing amounts of PPBS generated data was i n doubt.  Although there had been previous attempts to reduce  the number of forms, the t o t a l required of school d i s t r i c t s stood at one hundred and e i g h t y - s i x , and seemed to be rising.  Deputy m i n i s t e r s had i d e n t i f i e d f o r t y a d d i t i o n a l  95 output reports they wished to have produced.  An i n t e r d e -  partmental committee was d r a f t i n g a set of MIS recommendations.  These output reports would compare d i f f e r e n t  parts  of the MIS, for instance, enrolment, budgeting, examination r e s u l t s , and budgets produced by the school d i s t r i c t against what i s generated by the f i s c a l  framework.  When asked whether he thought the Management Informat i o n System would r e s u l t i n reduced operating c o s t s , a M i n i s t r y informant gave t h i s r e p l y : I don't think (MIS) was an economy measure by any means — i n f a c t , in the short term I think they are going to be spending, from my observations, more money on systems development, as t h i s system i s put in p l a c e , and that the. long-term e f f i c i e n c y or d o l l a r saving i s a decade or more down the road. A microcomputer i s used to analyze the f i s c a l  framework  for the seventy-five school d i s t r i c t s , i n terms of each function and the amount the d i s t r i c t s budget w i t h i n each function.  Some d i s t r i c t s are already producing t h e i r own  budget a n a l y s i s with microcomputers (Kelk 1985:B1).  5. R e p a t r i a t i o n of E l e c t r o n i c Data Processing? The unsuccessful attempt to s e l l BCSC c o i n c i d e d with the M i n i s t r y ' s 1983-84 r e i n t r o d u c t i o n of compulsory grade twelve p r o v i n c i a l examinations for students entering postsecondary t e c h n i c a l and academic i n s t i t u t i o n s ( J e r o s k i , Tolsma & Labercane 1984:2).  During the previous nine years,  only those secondary school students who pursued s c h o l a r ships wrote p r o v i n c i a l examinations ( M i n i s t r y Annual Report 1972-73:E29).  F i n a l standing of most students was  96 determined by t h e i r s c h o o l . The increased costs associated with h i r i n g a d d i t i o n a l c l e r i c a l personnel to mark and tabulate p r o v i n c i a l examinat i o n s and t e s t s , had provided the i n i t i a l incentive for the f i r s t computer i n s t a l l a t i o n in 1960.  In the years  following  1960, considerable e f f o r t was expended on improving the a p p l i c a t i o n programs used to generate computations for exami n a t i o n s and t e s t s , however, neither the programs nor the hardware to run them appear to have survived BCSC's 1977-78 assumption of EDP r e s p o n s i b i l i t y .  Confronted by a Corpora-  t i o n with an uncertain future, and by funding cutbacks that made returning to an in-house system i n f e a s i b l e , M i n i s t r y contracted the work to E R I B C .  the  11  6. Computing F a c i l i t i e s i n T r a n s i t i o n Computing f a c i l i t i e s are in t r a n s i t i o n at a l l l e v e l s of the B . C . p u b l i c school system.  To some extent t h i s t r a n s i -  t i o n i s driven by t e c h n o l o g i c a l change.  Hardware manufac-  t u r e r s are marketing s m a l l e r , yet more powerful computers that can be i n s t a l l e d in school o f f i c e s without c o n s t r u c t i n g s p e c i a l e l e c t r i f i e d and a i r conditioned machine rooms. Software manufacturers market p r o p r i e t a r y products that allow school a d m i n i s t r a t o r s to perform many functions on ERIBCs i n i t i a l management of the examination contract caused serious delays i n the release of marks to students (Times-Colonist l984b:A-4). Some p r o f e s s i o n a l schools at B . C . u n i v e r s i t i e s refused admission to students who had maintained f i r s t c l a s s averages, because data processing delays meant that the M i n i s t r y could not send t r a n s c r i p t s before the a p p l i c a t i o n deadlines e x p i r e d . (1984a:B-11). 1 1  97  stand-alone personal computers that previously were confined to r e l a t i v e l y expensive minicomputers.  P r i v a t e sector,  school and school d i s t r i c t respondents recognized that the advent of s m a l l , inexpensive microcomputers and powerful software s u i t a b l e for a v a r i e t y of school-based tasks had r e s u l t e d i n growing demands for computers by school administ r a t o r s {see Research F i n d i n g s , C. S c h o o l ) . 7 . Were BCSC's Systems Development Charges Too High? According to one M i n i s t r y of Education respondent, BCSC's development costs for a s t a t i s t i c a l modeling program designed to run on the C o r p o r a t i o n ' s mainframe was estimated at two hundred and f i f t y thousand d o l l a r s .  The model would  have projected the effects of changes i n property tax to the f i s c a l framework.  Development of t h i s mainframe computer  program was not approved; instead, the M i n i s t r y purchased two Apple microcomputers.  The M i n i s t r y administrator com-  pared the mainframe and microcomputer development  expenses:  . . . d a t a processing costs were estimated to be a quarter of a m i l l i o n d o l l a r s to get the system i n p l a c e . We d i d i t with two Apples for five thousand d o l l a r s — we now have three IBM P C ' s . . . the t o t a l layout for equipment i s w e l l under one hundred thousand d o l l a r s . I t does many jobs besides f i s c a l framework. The equipment, i n c l u d i n g software,  i s more l i k e l y / t o have  t o t a l e d l e s s than f i f t y - t h o u s a n d d o l l a r s .  Each personal  computer had a hard d i s k , a p r i n t e r and some o f f - t h e - s h e l f software.  As the respondent s t a t e d , there i s the a d d i t i o n a l  benefit of using the in-house systems for other  purposes.  98 The BCSC estimate i s deemed by the respondent as not excessive for mainframe program development.  Successive  attempts at d e s c r i b i n g the exact nature of the task to systems a n a l y s t s and programers were expected to consume a large p o r t i o n of the t o t a l .  These refinements meant a d d i -  t i o n a l development costs and postponements i n use; outcomes that were avoided with p r o p r i e t a r y software where u t i l i z a t i o n c l o s e l y followed basic mastery. Although the respondent asserted that BCSC personnel costs were "very, very e x p e n s i v e . . . " and c o n s t i t u t e the l a r g e s t expenditure when d e a l i n g with the Corporation, he a l s o affirmed that t h e i r mainframe rates were low, so that "we c a n ' t c o s t - j u s t i f y the purchase of our own equipment." The a l l e g e d p r i c i n g structure may have been associated with Corporate attempts to slow the advance of microcomputer a p p l i c a t i o n s w i t h i n the p u b l i c s e r v i c e {see Research F i n d i n g s , D. B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation, 5. Corporate Control of Microcomputers).  8. M u l t i p l e Keyboard Entry of Data M i n i s t r y and d i s t r i c t respondents concurred that t r a n s fer  of data on schools operations would be more e f f i c i e n t  were i t accomplished e l e c t r o n i c a l l y .  Current p r a c t i c e  requires d i s t r i c t s to enter and process the data on t h e i r computers.  Selected summary data from p r i n t o u t s are manu-  a l l y t r a n s c r i b e d by c l e r i c a l personnel to forms for M i n i s t r y  99 of Education u s e .  A M i n i s t r y respondent  1 2  stressed:  We r e l y and w i l l continue to r e l y on the school d i s t r i c t o f f i c e to aggregate much of the data that comes from almost thirty-thousand teacher r e t u r n s . When the completed forms a r r i v e at the M i n i s t r y , the i n f o r mation i s once again manually keyed into a computer.  Nearly  a l l d i s t r i c t - t o - M i n i s t r y l a r g e - s c a l e o p e r a t i o n a l data fers follow t h i s procedure.  After repeated e f f o r t s  trans-  to  streamline MIS and reduce the number of forms — a process dating at l e a s t to 1977 — the M i n i s t r y again i s h e a v i l y burdened with paper.  More than 120,000 forms were processed by  keyboard during the 1982-83 f i s c a l year, with approximately h a l f entered manually during October to December (Annual Report, 1 9 8 2 - 8 3 : 5 7 ) .  13  Second s h i f t s were r e q u i r e d .  Undoubtedly, the new F i n a n c i a l Management System has brought further p r o l i f e r a t i o n . Two impediments prevent procedural s t r e a m l i n i n g : 1.)  school d i s t r i c t computers do not conform to a s i n g l e  operating system standard and, 2.) software a p p l i c a t i o n s are not w r i t t e n in a s i n g l e programing language. Despite the 1982 m i n i s t r y d i r e c t i v e r e q u i r i n g a l l d i s t r i c t purchases to meet BCSC approval (Appendix B ) , a c q u i s i t i o n of mutually e x c l u s i v e operating systems and compilers continued (Table I V ) .  P r o v i n c i a l operating and a p p l i c a t i o n  Contrast t h i s l a b o u r - i n t e n s i v e method with e l e c t r o n i c data transmission procedures already common in other Canadian p r o v i n c i a l education systems, Manitoba and Quebec for example (Appendix E ) . This figure excludes the processing of M i n i s t r y forms by the B . C . Research Council and ERIBC for the M i n i s t r y of Education. 1 2  1 3  100 system standards f a c i l i t a t e data exchange.  D i g i t a l trans-  mission of data would reduce costs associated with the manual processing of forms, and r e p e t i t i o u s data entry. Each l e v e l of summation reduces the d a t a ' s p o t e n t i a l s e n s i t i v i t y to s m a l l - s c a l e v a r i a t i o n s i n operational formance.  per-  An objective of the M i n i s t r y ' s planning, program-  i n g , and budgeting system i s to i d e n t i f y e f f i c i e n c i e s .  Were  school d i s t r i c t f i n a n c i a l databases a c c e s s i b l e to the M i n i s t r y , planners could devise p o l i c i e s which respond better to differences  i n school and school d i s t r i c t o r g a n i -  zation . The p r o v i n c i a l capacity to assess l e a r n i n g on a c l a s s room, school and school d i s t r i c t l e v e l , has not been extended f i n a n c i a l performance. 9. E l e c t r o n i c Transmission of Data Limited data transmission between the M i n i s t r y and outside agencies was noted.  The M i n i s t r y c u r r e n t l y sends  magnetic tapes containing s t a t i s t i c a l information to S t a t i s t i c s Canada and the B r i t i s h Columbia Teachers Federation. " 1  The 1976-77 M i n i s t r y of Education Annual  Report s t a t e s that data tapes are a l s o sent to the  federal  Department of Education i n the United States of America. Data i s not sent between the M i n i s t r y and school d i s t r i c t s i n e l e c t r o n i c form and, of course, no f a c i l i t y i s i n place for accessing data bases at e i t h e r of these " Respondents representing S t a t i s t i c s Canada and BCTF complained i n 1984 of unusual delays in r e c e i v i n g t h i s data. 1  101 organizational levels.  A M i n i s t r y respondent i n d i c a t e d that  systems c o m p a t i b i l i t y was once again under  consideration:  We are looking forward t o , and beginning to consider, the p o s s i b i l i t y of e l e c t r o n i c transmiss i o n , and we are beginning to i n v e s t i g a t e the p o s s i b i l i t y of c o m p a t i b i l i t y of school d i s t r i c t systems and our systems. This i s not the f i r s t time that B . C . ' s p u b l i c education organization has considered t h i s important aspect of computer s e r v i c e s .  its  Studies emphasizing computer c o m p a t i b i l -  i t y were published as early as 1968 (Howe and Totheroh 1969).  10. Summary Computers continue to replace people i n the  performance  of routine M i n i s t r y work, but i n c r e a s i n g l y , new types of work are found for these machines. impact on p o l i c y development.  They are having a major  The strongest example of t h i s  impact i s the Program and Budgeting System f i n a n c i a l reform. The M i n i s t r y ' s PPBS was developed with microcomputers. Today, the M i n i s t r y compares school d i s t r i c t budgets on a microcomputer.  Increasing Management Information System  reporting demands required of school d i s t r i c t s seem to be negating previous reductions in the number of forms. Lack of d e t a i l e d f i n a n c i a l information on data processing expenditures,  which was a c c e s s i b l e to the researcher,  prevented a c o s t - b e n e f i t  a n a l y s i s of t h e i r impact.  A sharp  boundary was noted i n the use of computers by administrators and c l e r k s .  Senior managers were not using computers i n  102 t h e i r work.  Their data entry needs were met by c l e r k s and  s p e c i a l i z e d personnel. B. SCHOOL DISTRICT In a period spanning over two decades, computers were adopted by a l l seventy-five B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t s , and a growing number of schools, to perform routine administrative tasks. the past f i v e years.  Most of t h i s growth took place during The expansion of e l e c t r o n i c data pro-  cessing to a l l l e v e l s of the B . C . p u b l i c school system occurred with minimal M i n i s t e r i a l d i r e c t i o n .  District deci-  sions in many instances took precedence over p r o v i n c i a l data processing standards and o b j e c t i v e s .  The f o s t e r i n g of e l e c -  t r o n i c communication l i n k s and data exchanges using e x i s t i n g p r o v i n c i a l f a c i l i t i e s was not an e x p l i c i t o b j e c t i v e of the 1982 M i n i s t r y of Education computer p o l i c y .  1. 1969 Plan for Regional Data Processing Centres As e a r l y as 1968, B r i t i s h Columbia school boards expressed serious concern with the r i s i n g costs of e l e c t r o n i c data processing (BCSTA 1969).  A survey that year  showed that eighteen school d i s t r i c t s already used some form of e l e c t r o n i c data processing equipment or s e r v i c e (Howe & Totheroh 1969).  D i s t r i c t EDP costs for the province were  estimated to be $225,000, with over $175,000 of t h i s amount spent by metropolitan Vancouver school boards (BCSTA 1969:1).  One year l a t e r the number of d i s t r i c t s using EDP  1 03 had climbed to twenty-eight for an estimated t o t a l expenditure of $300,000.  To contain these costs, BCSTA recommended  that the M i n i s t r y immediately e s t a b l i s h r e g i o n a l educational data processing centres (1969:1).  Each centre would service  100,000 students (Howe & Totheroh 1969:21). A major study completed i n 1968 by the Educational Research I n s t i t u t e  of B r i t i s h Columbia issued t h i s warning:  If a r e g i o n a l centre i s not developed, then many of the d i s t r i c t s w i l l acquire data processing equipment, expand e x i s t i n g EDP f a c i l i t i e s , or contract for s e r v i c e s . This w i l l lead to a d i v e r s i t y of systems and d u p l i c a t i o n of hardware with the r e s u l t a n t sky-rocketing of c o s t s . (Howe & Totheroh 1969:1) To avoid a one m i l l i o n d o l l a r program development cost (1969:4), the study recommended adoption of the student and personnel s e r v i c e system.  I f the  California  California  system were not adopted, the authors urged that $500,000 should immediately be reserved for comprehensive system development over the next f i v e years (1969:4). mate d i d not include operating c o s t s .  This e s t i -  Demonstration of an  integrated school d i s t r i c t management system was expected in C a l i f o r n i a during the 1969-70 f i s c a l year.  This program  processed various business functions, c l a s s i f i e d personnel, and p r o f e s s i o n a l personnel records  (1969:8).  The report d i d not consider computer l o c a t i o n a prime factor i n the development of B r i t i s h Columbia's r e g i o n a l EDP centres.  C e n t r a l i z a t i o n , however, would reduce the d i s p a r i -  t i e s that might develop i f s e v e r a l agencies and m u l t i p l e d i s t r i c t s were to develop t h e i r own systems (1969:2).  The  1 04 plan would be achieved within a two-year h o r i z o n . The education finance formula and the accounting pract i c e s of the time m i l i t a t e d against the emergence of r e g i o n a l data centres.  Therefore,  immediate M i n i s t r y of  Education i n t e r v e n t i o n was required (1969:5).  The proposed  r o l e for the M i n i s t r y included p o l i c y development — to ensure a "common computer language" consistent with M i n i s t r y needs.  The B r i t i s h Columbia School Trustees'  plan c a l l e d  for establishment of two regional centres in the Lower Mainland of B r i t i s h Columbia.  Although a p r o v i n c i a l EDP  s e r v i c e centre had already been implemented i n Quebec (Appendix E ) , and r e g i o n a l education processing after  centres,  seven years of a n a l y s i s and design, were operating  s u c c e s s f u l l y in C a l i f o r n i a  (Howe & Totheroh 1969:4), no  a c t i o n was taken by the B r i t i s h Columbia M i n i s t r y .  1  2. 1978 School D i s t r i c t Computer Needs Report In 1978, lower mainland school d i s t r i c t s were again the focus of a computer needs study undertaken on t h i s occasion by the M i n i s t r y .  Those p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the review commit-  tee included the M i n i s t r y of Education, and the d i s t r i c t s of Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta and New Westminster. At t h e i r request, the d i s t r i c t s of West Vancouver, North Vancouver and Richmond were excluded. that in the areas of p e r s o n n e l / p a y r o l l ,  The study determined purchasing/stores,  a u d i o - v i s u a l , general accounting and student s e r v i c e s , e s t a b l i s h e d procedures warranted standardized hardware and  105 software ( M i n i s t r y of Education 1979:12). The report found that two proposals merited study.  further  The f i r s t .sought a c e n t r a l i z e d s e r v i c e patterned on  the r e g i o n a l data centres plan of a decade e a r l i e r .  Each  centre would be operated by f i v e data processing employees. Short-term contracts would be issued for s p e c i f i c systems development.  The report concluded s p a r i n g l y that a c e n t r a l -  ized system "appeared to present some c o s t - b e n e f i t . . . " (1979:5).  The second proposal c a l l e d for d i s t r i b u t e d data  processing centres.  An agency under j o i n t -control of par-  t i c i p a t i n g d i s t r i c t s (1979:7) would coordinate equipment purchases and c o l l e c t i v e l y develop a p p l i c a t i o n s .  A l l equip-  ment, operating systems and programs were to be standardized. Concern was expressed i n the report that i n t e r - d i s t r i c t disagreement over c e n t r a l i z e d hardware, and the p o t e n t i a l domination of the system by the l a r g e s t d i s t r i c t s made the c e n t r a l i z a t i o n option l e s s a t t r a c t i v e than d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n where "agreement on common separate hardware seemed a r e l a tive possibility..,."  (1979:8).  The 1978 study stopped short of d e s c r i b i n g how the EDP project should be managed.  Although the need for a new  agency was recognized, no r e s o l u t i o n was offered for what could prove a serious o p e r a t i o n a l c o n f l i c t : how would the agency have s u f f i c i e n t power to impose s t a n d a r d i z a t i o n (1979:6) and yet remain under the d i s t r i c t s ' c o n t r o l (1979:7)?  The obvious s o l u t i o n , to invoke M i n i s t r y  106 a u t h o r i t y , ran counter to the i n t e n t i o n to make the agency answerable s o l e l y to member d i s t r i c t s . was M i n i s t r y representation  The fact that there  on the planning committee ren-  ders the apparent f a i l u r e to resolve t h i s fundamental conflict  less explicable.  The M i n i s t r y ' s weak advocacy of cen-  t r a l i z a t i o n may be traced to the p u b l i c service d i s f u n c t i o n s that accompanied r e o r g a n i z a t i o n of p r o v i n c i a l government EDP under the 1977 System Act (see Research F i n d i n g s , D. B r i t i s h Columbia Systems C o r p o r a t i o n ) .  In sum, the report  retreats  from the BCSTA c a l l , made ten years e a r l i e r , for a strong M i n i s t r y presence.  Where the e a r l i e r report produced a plan  and a timetable for achieving r e g i o n a l educational data cent r e s , the 1979 report i s s i l e n t .  C i r c u l a t e d to a l l p r o v i n -  c i a l d i s t r i c t s as a d i s c u s s i o n paper, the report became the foundation for formulating p o l i c y on the 1982 school d i s t r i c t computer  project.  When planning began i n 1981 for the B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t computerization p r o j e c t , a trend toward an integrated informatic approach had been evident for almost a decade in some Canadian p u b l i c education j u r i s d i c t i o n s (Appendix E ) .  While elsewhere education m i n i s t r i e s were  intent on e i t h e r introducing or expanding computer networks, B r i t i s h Columbia reproduced much of the o l d t e c h n o l o g i c a l d i s j u n c t i o n that had c h a r a c t e r i z e d i t s pre-1982 school d i s t r i c t computer systems (Table VI and Table V I I ) .  A new  opportunity was l o s t for i n t e g r a t i n g these d i s t r i b u t e d data processing systems.  Table IV Computer Manufacturers, Models, and Operating Systems Represented in the 1984 D i s t r i c t Sample  Manufacturer  1.  Model  Operating System 1  Digital Equipment Corporat ion  VAX 11/750  VAX/VMS  2.  Honeywell  Level Six +DPS 6  GCOS  3.  IBM  38  CPF  4.  IBM  4331 Group 2  DOS-VSE  5.  Management Assistance Incorporated  Four 400  BOSS  Note: 1  VAX/VMS, GCOS operating systems incorporate the Standard Network A r c h i t e c t u r e X.25 p r o t o c o l . Refer to Acronyms for f u l l name of operating system.  108 3. Computer Systems in the Research Sample Of the five manufacturers and over s i x models to receive M i n i s t r y funding approval since f i s c a l year ( M i n i s t r y and school d i s t r i c t correspondence), t u r e r s and f i v e models were represented d i s t r i c t sample.  f i v e manufac-  in t h i s study's s i x  Table IV l i s t s the computer  models and operating systems included in the sample.  1982-83  manufacturers, research  Not one of the s i x computer models had an operating  system f u l l y compatible with the others.  Program procure-  ment and development were u s u a l l y managed on a d i s t r i c t by district  basis.  Only two d i s t r i c t s in the s i x d i s t r i c t sample had i d e n t i c a l models and operating systems.  These d i s t r i c t s  f r e e l y exchanged programs and shared i n updates and the development of new a p p l i c a t i o n s .  A d m i n i s t r a t i v e respondents  acknowledged the savings which t h i s p r a c t i c e gained. Although the two d i s t r i c t s belonged to a loose consortium of s i x B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t s which owned Management A s s i s t a n t Basic Four business computers, t h e i r a p p l i c a t i o n s development was independent of the other four. from the two d i s t r i c t s stressed that differences  Respondents i n the s i z e  and complexity of school d i s t r i c t operations precluded t h e i r l a r g e r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the consortium.  Although such d i f -  ferences may have applied to the smaller I n t e r i o r d i s t r i c t members, a t h i r d metropolitan d i s t r i c t has a comparable number of students and teachers. were a l s o s i m i l a r in s i z e .  The three annual budgets  D i s t r i c t demographics and  109 a d m i n i s t r a t i o n s do not appear to be remarkably  different.  Regional p o l i t i c a l differences may have impeded greater cooperation with the t h i r d metropolitan d i s t r i c t on systems development.  15  4 . Increased M i n i s t r y Control The 1982 School D i s t r i c t A d m i n i s t r a t i v e Computer Program marked a new stage of increased M i n i s t r y involvement in d i s t r i c t e l e c t r o n i c data processing.  P r e v i o u s l y , the  choice of computer model and manufacture was exercised mainly by the d i s t r i c t s .  Under the new p o l i c y , . a l l  district  computer purchases would receive p r i o r approval by the M i n i s t r y of Education, Treasury Board and the B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation ( M i n i s t r y of Education 1981; correspondence).  16  The p o l i c y ' s wording i s e x p l i c i t :  School Boards contemplating a c q u i s i t i o n of informat i o n systems technology for which the M i n i s t r y w i l l cost-share are required by both Treasury Board D i r e c t i v e and the B . C . Systems Corporation to provide evidence of comprehensive Information Systems P l a n s . . . B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporat i o n w i l l evaluate Information Systems Plans and equipment requests p e r t a i n i n g to the a c q u i s i t i o n and/or operation of information systems technology, and based upon the review, w i l l make recommendations to the M i n i s t r y for systems support. ( M i n i s t r y of Education I982a:3). This clause ensures that school d i s t r i c t computer The d i s t r i c t respondents were not e x p l i c i t about the reasons for the f a i l u r e to e s t a b l i s h close systems development t i e s with the t h i r d metropolitan d i s t r i c t . The author suggests that p o l i t i c a l differences are at the root of t h i s c o n f l i c t , but a c l e a r determination of cause requires fur-ther research. Refer to Appendix B for the 1981 B r i t i s h Columbia M i n i s t r y of Education p o l i c y on school d i s t r i c t computers. 1 5  1 6  110 i n s t a l l a t i o n s are compatible with the information systems strategy of the P r o v i n c i a l Government  (1982a:3).  The p o l i c y was shaped by an advisory committee convened in f i s c a l year 1981-82.  Superintendents,  secretary-  t r e a s u r e r s , and administrators from several M i n i s t r y of Education Branches and the B . C . Systems Corporation were represented.  Following the May, 1982 implementation, a .  steering committee of s i m i l a r composition coordinated the i n t r o d u c t i o n of new computer systems for eighteen months. A d m i n i s t r a t i v e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for the program was eventually absorbed by the Schools and Management Operations Branches (correspondence,  March, 1985).  The 1982 p o l i c y remained in  effect for four years with only minor changes made in 1983 to the c o s t - s h a r i n g formula. The B . C . Systems Corporation subsequently itself  distanced  from the p o l i c y ' s formulation and a p p l i c a t i o n .  In a  personal l e t t e r to the author w r i t t e n i n e a r l y 1985, a senior Corporate executive emphasized, "The p o l i c y and program i s not BCSC's but remains s o l e l y that of the M i n i s t r y of E d u c a t i o n . . . "  The computer p o l i c y , however, was produced  by the M i n i s t r y i n c o n s u l t a t i o n with school d i s t r i c t  repre-  sentatives and the B . C . Systems Corporation; furthermore, s t i p u l a t e s that the program w i l l conform to government c i e s on computer a c q u i s i t i o n .  it  poli-  Given t h i s d i r e c t i v e , an  important expectation of BCSC's evaluation procedures would have been that the seventy-five school d i s t r i c t i n s t a l l a t i o n s comply with P r o v i n c i a l Government standards and were  111  Table V Standard Equipment for Fourteen Member Consortium of Small School D i s t r i c t s 1  1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.  ) ) ) ) ) )  DEC PDP 11/23+ with 512 KB memory RSTS-E Operating System 2 - RL02 10 MB Hared D i s k s 2 - VT 101 Terminals 1 - LA100 240CPS P r i n t e r s SRB I n t e r n a t i o n a l Limited software a p p l i c a t i o n s 2  3  Note: 1  2  3  A11 hardware manufactured by DEC School D i s t r i c t #21 has a 32 MB disk d r i v e Time sharing up to eight terminals  f u l l y compatible with each other. o b j e c t i v e was not r e a l i z e d .  In most cases,  this  Operating systems and a p p l i c a -  t i o n programing languages are d i v e r s e .  Corporate i n s i s t e n c e  that r e s p o n s i b i l i t y l i e s with the M i n i s t r y alone seems a t a c i t r e c o g n i t i o n that p o l i c y implementation f e l l short of expectation. BCSC's greatest influence i n the realm of standardizat i o n was achieved as a planning consultant for the small school d i s t r i c t computer p r o j e c t .  The consortium was formed  from fourteen of the smallest school boards which were f i n a n c i a l l y unable to r e t a i n c o n s u l t a n t s .  Digital  E l e c t r o n i c Corporation PDP 11/23+ microcomputers were selected (Table V ) .  SRB I n t e r n a t i o n a l supplied the  1 12 applications. lectively.  A l l hardware and software was purchased c o l -  This purchasing p r a c t i c e was so successful that  the M i n i s t r y of Education d e c l a r e d : The program included the formation of a consortium of small school d i s t r i c t s , which, with the a s s i s tance of personnel from the d i v i s i o n , was able to o b t a i n , through c o l l e c t i v e planning, a computerized system c o s t i n g s u b s t a n t i a l l y less than any that could be achieved through i n d i v i d u a l e f f o r t p r e v i ously . (Annual Report 1982-83:56) Standardized a p p l i c a t i o n s and operating systems among the fourteen d i s t r i c t s w i l l f a c i l i t a t e the exchange of data and the use of the computers for communication, i f such i s required by the M i n i s t r y .  BCSC's c l o s e involvement with the  small d i s t r i c t consortium (personal correspondence,  1985) i s  an exception; Corporate expertise and objectives do not appear to be r e f l e c t e d i n most d i s t r i c t i n s t a l l a t i o n s . BCSC c o l l a b o r a t e d with M i n i s t r y personnel on the formul a t i o n of new computer standards for school d i s t r i c t s respondence, in 1982.  1985).  (cor-  These new requirements were introduced  An immediate effect of increased BCSC and M i n i s t r y  involvement can be traced by comparing Table VI with Table V I I .  During 1981, one year before the i n t r o d u c t i o n of  the a c q u i s i t i o n p o l i c y , sixteen computers representing  seven  separate manufacturers and seven operating systems were purchased.  By 1984, three years after  i n t r o d u c t i o n , the t o t a l  number of manufacturers was halved: twenty-six computers representing three manufacturers  were a c q u i r e d .  1 7  Even i n  A small m i n o r i t y of d i s t r i c t s i n s t a l l e d t h e i r computers in the year following M i n i s t r y funding approval (correspondence, February, 1985). 1 7  Table VI B r i t i s h Columbia School D i s t r i c t Central Office Computers By Manufacturer 1973 —  Manufacturer  1981 Total by Manufacturer  Year Purchased and Quantity  Models '73  '74  '75  '76  '77  '78  '79  •80  '81  Burroughs  2  C.B.M.  1  1  1  Data General  1  1  1  D.E.C.  5  3  5  General Automation  1  Honeywell  2  M.A.I.  4  Milacron  5  Mohawk  1  N.C.R  2  TOTAL  24  1  1  1  1  2  1  1 1  1  1  1 5  3  2  9  10  1  4  1  11  1 1  1  1  1  1  1  2  2  2  5  4  6  16  38  1 14 t h i s post-1982 p o l i c y p e r i o d , the three manufacturers' a t i n g systems were incompatible.  oper-  IBM's stronger standing i n  the f i n a l year of the program may presage a greater  future  presence. Each operating system requires separate programs w r i t ten i n i t s s p e c i a l i z e d a p p l i c a t i o n s language. " Some programs are Canadian v a r i a t i o n s of U . S . produced programs, while others are completely developed i n B r i t i s h Columbia.  Due to  these system d i s p a r i t i e s , v e r t i c a l and h o r i z o n t a l e l e c t r o n i c network i n t e g r a t i o n i s v i r t u a l l y non-existent  throughout  most of the B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c education o r g a n i z a t i o n . This r e s t r i c t i o n was generally recognized by M i n i s t r y and d i s t r i c t respondents.  A secretary-treasurer  concluded:  Networking i s just not f e a s i b l e . You look at an operation somewhere and i t s got a whole investment in a p a r t i c u l a r DEC, or a p a r t i c u l a r whatever— IBM, I don't know, and then t r y to shuffle those back i n t o some sort of network. I have d i f f i c u l t y imagining the amount of energy that would have to go i n t o such a p r o j e c t . Along with the loss of networking, vanishes the p o s s i b i l i t y of shared a d m i n i s t r a t i v e databases and expert systems.  The  r a p i d expansion in school d i s t r i c t e l e c t r o n i c mail s u b s c r i p t i o n s that developed p a r a l l e l to the computerization project i n d i c a t e s that a need e x i s t s for these systems (BCSTA 1984b: 5 & 1985:2).  The M i n i s t r y , refusing at f i r s t to subscribe  to the Envoy s e r v i c e for d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n , relented (Heinrich 1985:10).  finally  A simply designed l e g a l  opinion database i s already offered by the B r i t i s h Columbia School Trustees A s s o c i a t i o n , but access i s l i m i t e d to BCSTA  11 5 members.  Access a l s o involves s u b s c r i p t i o n and  fee-for-use  charges by Envoy.  5. D e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of D i s t r i c t EDP Services Two d i s t r i c t s were i d e n t i f i e d in the study's s i x d i s t r i c t sample as having implemented strong  standardization  p o l i c i e s on school purchases of administrative  computers.  With only one exception, these p o l i c i e s do not specify that school i n s t a l l a t i o n s of personal computers must be compatible with the d i s t r i c t ' s c e n t r a l o f f i c e computer. A trend began i n -1981 in those few school d i s t r i c t s which had serviced schools from a computer located at a remote commercial or c e n t r a l o f f i c e s i t e to move the data processing f a c i l i t i e s to the schools.  However, two school  d i s t r i c t s i n the research sample were maintaining t h e i r networked data processing s e r v i c e s , and two other  districts  had plans to introduce networked services when finances allowed.  Networked equipment at the secondary school l e v e l  includes a v i s u a l d i s p l a y t e r m i n a l , keyboard, and p r i n t e r connected by telephone l i n e to a mainframe.  Batch services  are supplied to the schools by e i t h e r a company or the d i s t r i c t ' s data service department. speed p r i n t e r s produce most r e p o r t s .  C e n t r a l l y located h i g h Slow-speed p r i n t e r s  s i t u a t e d i n some schools allow l i m i t e d l o c a l output.  Most  data entry and output i s performed at the c e n t r a l o f f i c e . T y p i c a l l y , a c o u r i e r d e l i v e r s school data entry jobs to the EDP centre for batch processing.  The completed work i s  116 returned to the school w i t h i n two days  (respondents).  S p e c i a l i s t data entry c l e r k s are employed to handle input. With c l e r k s concentrated at a c e n t r a l l o c a t i o n , work schedules can be adjusted to changes i n input loads.  At times of  high input, temporary employees are h i r e d and.extra  shifts  arranged. There i s appreciably less f l e x i b i l i t y when data input i s wholly confined to school microcomputers.  A s i n g l e key-  board allows only one person at a time to enter data. School l e v e l completion of data entry for student may take one to two weeks each term.  records  Some v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s  report that they worked overtime at night and on the weekends to complete the process (see Research F i n d i n g s , C. School, 5. I n d i r e c t Labour C o s t s ) . In recent years, several p r i v a t e companies have produced microcomputer programs for school and student ment.  manage-  For at l e a s t one company which had supplied computer  s e r v i c e s to schools, the number of c l i e n t s expanded to the point where by 1983 an acceptable turn-around time between data entry and data processing could no longer be guaranteed in a l l cases.  Columbia Computing Services Limited responded  to the overload problem by r e w r i t i n g t h e i r mainframe program for the DOS operating system used on IBM the PC XT and PC AT computers.  According to some respondents,  Columbia's d e c i -  sion to offer the school management package i n t h i s form received added stimulus from the commercial success of the  1 1V HARTS  18  Apple 11+ microcomputer program for school adminis-  tration.  The HARTS program i s presently designed for  schools which enrol up to 1,500 students March, 1986).  (correspondence,  Columbia's mainframe had served schools with  enrolments of more than 3,000  (respondent).  Recent studies of the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e use of microcomputers in B r i t i s h Columbia schools recorded the enthusiasm many school managers d i s p l a y for these machines (Sale 1982; Binns 1983; Gatley 1984).  Indeed, several  administrators  interviewed for t h i s study remarked that the microcomputer led to more responsive data processing.  Most school admin-  i s t r a t i v e respondents assert that they c o n t r o l a technology p r e v i o u s l y thought remote and i n f l e x i b l e . Only one of the s i x p r i n c i p a l s interviewed, expressed a strong preference  for a c e n t r a l data processing s e r v i c e .  He  stressed that a c e n t r a l i z e d network of school terminals supported a range of s e r v i c e s that could not be offered by a s o l i t a r y school-based microcomputer.  Some of the computing  s e r v i c e s c u r r e n t l y a v a i l a b l e to schools in h i s d i s t r i c t included a u d i o - v i s u a l booking, l i b r a r y c i r c u l a t i o n and s t u dent records t r a n s f e r .  Transfer of student records i s  deemed e s p e c i a l l y important, given the degree of family mobility.  D e l i v e r i n g records by m a i l , to a r r i v e at  their  d e s t i n a t i o n up to one week after the student, no longer was acceptable.  When transferred e l e c t r o n i c a l l y , records often  a r r i v e d before the student; c o u n s e l l o r s were then able to HARTS and Columbia have head o f f i c e s in Vancouver, B r i t i s h Columbia 1 8  118 make informed judgements. 6. C a p i t a l and Operating Costs Obtaining a c l e a r figure for computing expenditures  at  the d i s t r i c t l e v e l does not appear p o s s i b l e at t h i s time. P u b l i c access to school d i s t r i c t accounts i s r e s t r i c t e d b r i e f annual f i n a n c i a l statements.  to  Of the summaries exam-  ined, none contained items r e l a t i n g to e l e c t r o n i c data processing.  Although a l l p r o v i n c i a l m i n i s t r i e s were d i r e c t e d  by the M i n i s t r y of Finance in 1977 to include computer and computer c o n s u l t i n g costs as a separate item in t h e i r annual submission to Public A c c o u n t s ,  19  the M i n i s t r y of- Education  d i d not s i m i l a r l y i n s t r u c t school d i s t r i c t s to p u b l i c l y report computer c o s t s . D i s t r i c t s apparently are not required to r e g u l a r l y submit d e t a i l e d accounts of t h e i r computer operating expenses to the M i n i s t r y .  Current p r a c t i c e i s to d i s t r i b u t e  these costs among i n d i v i d u a l educational program expenditures,  for example, l e g a l and xerography expenses  dents, BCTF I984a:31).  (respon-  T h e M i n i s t r y , however, may have the (  means to e x t r a c t computer costs from the annual d i s t r i c t f i n a n c i a l submissions.  The B r i t i s h Columbia M i n i s t r y of  Education does not keep records of the microcomputers which are acquired by the d i s t r i c t s for school a d m i n i s t r a t i o n (correspondence,  September,  1984).  No p r o v i n c i a l  procedure  In f i s c a l year 1982-83, Treasury Board abandoned the p r a c t i c e of i n c l u d i n g computing expenses as a l i n e item i n the Public Accounts. 1 9  11 9 e x i s t s for evaluating d i s t r i c t hardware and software. p o l i c y lacunae arose after  These  the M i n i s t r y ' s hard-won e x p e r i -  ence of the 1960's and e a r l y 1970's was dispersed in 1978 along with i t s computer On average,  specialists.  the M i n i s t r y has committed over one m i l l i o n  d o l l a r s toward d i s t r i c t computer a c q u i s i t i o n for each of the four years commencing in 1982.  A s i m i l a r l e v e l of expendi-  ture w i l l probably be required as machines are  retired  w i t h i n the five-year replacement c y c l e noted by several respondents.  20  The long-term p r o v i n c i a l trend, demon-  s t r a t e d by comparing the systems acquired i n the 1982 program with those p r e v i o u s l y catalogued by the M i n i s t r y ( M i n i s t r y of Education, 1982b), i s to larger and more complex in-house computer systems.  Greater processing power  and program complexity come at an increased p r i c e . behaviour i s an i n d i c a t i o n of future performance,  I f past then a  s u b s t a n t i a l l y larger f i n a n c i a l commitment than the  estimated  one h a l f of one percent of the t o t a l p r o v i n c i a l expenditure c u r r e n t l y spent on data processing c a p i t a l and operating costs w i l l be r e q u i r e d .  With no c e n t r a l i z e d agency i n place  to make continuing assessments of school and school d i s t r i c t computers, and an apparent reluctance to maximize the use of p r o f e s s i o n a l advice from other areas of the P r o v i n c i a l Government, p r o v i s i o n of an informed planning leadership that seeks to optimize informatics c o s t - b e n e f i t s  w i l l be  An a n a l y s i s of the 1981 B r i t i s h Columbia School D i s t r i c t Computer Systems Catalogue ( M i n i s t r y of Education, 1982b) and subsequent a c q u i s i t i o n s confirmed that on average these computers are replaced every f i v e - y e a r s . 2 0  120 difficult. The  1981 computer a c q u i s i t i o n p o l i c y states that d i s -  t r i c t computer plans should allow eight d o l l a r s per p u p i l on average for set-up charges, and four d o l l a r s for operating costs ( M i n i s t r y of Education I982a:3).  When the o r i g i n a l  c a p i t a l allowance i s m u l t i p l i e d by the p r o v i n c e ' s 1982 f u l l time equivalent enrolment of 507,955 students ( M i n i s t r y of Education 1984:122), the M i n i s t r y ' s c a p i t a l i z a t i o n share, over the four-year l i f e expectancy of the p r o j e c t , t o t a l i n excess of 4 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s . ever, was soon increased. School  District  This formula, how-  An information c i r c u l a r  Administrative  Computers  will  titled  dated March 14,  1983 announced that shared c a p i t a l funding w i l l be increased "to a maximum of $12.40 per p u p i l for core a p p l i c a t i o n s on a cost per a p p l i c a t i o n b a s i s . . . "  The revised formula brought  the t o t a l p o s s i b l e four-year p r o v i n c i a l expenditure to approximately 6.3 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s .  Using the 1982 formula  and enrolment, the M i n i s t r y ' s t o t a l annual share for operating expenses exceeds 2 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s .  The allowable  school d i s t r i c t share of c a p i t a l and operating costs was not identified.  Some respondents i n d i c a t e that t h e i r school  boards would spend more on computerization i f they were released from f i s c a l r e s t r a i n t .  With respect to l o c a l  expenditures on computerization, a superintendent commented: Our Board would be q u i t e w i l l i n g to spend far more money to get computer hardware because that i s t o t a l l y l o c a l l y - f u n d e d . But i t i s frozen by the M i n i s t r y , and so i t has l i m i t e d us to somewhere i n the v i c i n i t y of one hundred to one hundred and fifty-thousand d o l l a r s for new equipment t o t a l l y .  121  As r e s t r a i n t measures are relaxed the d e s i r e for expanded and improved computer f a c i l i t i e s may t r a n s l a t e  i n t o larger  school d i s t r i c t o u t l a y s . Estimates of computer system expenditures supplied by school d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t o r s v a r i e d on a one-shot  basis  from one-hundred and t h i r t y - t h o u s a n d d o l l a r s , to two-hundred and seventy-five thousand d o l l a r s .  One superintendent,  whose d i s t r i c t was not the largest surveyed, claimed that computer expenditures i n h i s d i s t r i c t were considerably higher. the  His j u s t i f i c a t i o n for these costs i s contained in  following: As you can imagine, we've spent a f a i r b i t of— s i x or seven hundred thousand d o l l a r s on computers. But i f one could appreciate that in a matter of a year and a h a l f , when we went i n t e r n a l l y with our p a y r o l l system, our bank charges went down twenty-thousand d o l l a r s a year, but, more importantly, we went from s i x people in the p a y r o l l department, plus a supervisor, to two c l e r k s . That i s a payback between the student a d m i n i s t r a t i o n system and the p a y r o l l a p p l i c a t i o n , that system was paid for in two years.  Even a l l o w i n g for d i s t r i b u t i o n of these costs over several years and the e l i m i n a t i o n of some e x t e r n a l service expendit u r e s , the t o t a l seems h i g h . Transfer of EDP r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s from outside agencies to the school d i s t r i c t o f f i c e causes a r e a l l o c a t i o n of some charges.  The a c q u i s i t i o n , maintenance, and operating costs  associated with data processing systems which were once d i s t r i b u t e d among a l l users of the commercial operation are now borne s o l e l y by the d i s t r i c t .  The cost of an in-house  system may be considerably higher than l e a s i n g online or  1 22 batch services from a data processing company.  By f i s c a l  year 1983-84, the M i n i s t r y of Finance responded to these long-range operating d i f f e r e n t i a l s by i n s i s t i n g that a l l p u b l i c s e r v i c e Information Systems Plans were to include a f i v e - y e a r cost comparison of in-house and s e r v i c e centre data processing (correspondence,  1985).  7. Software Development Two d i s t r i c t s represented in the sample had recently played leading r o l e s i n developing and p i l o t i n g new administ r a t i v e programs for t h e i r respective computer c o n s o r t i a . Each contracted t h e i r systems a n a l y s i s and program development to separate companies.  According to a d i s t r i c t  respon-  dent, the work was supported by a s p e c i a l M i n i s t r y of Education grant.  One of the two school d i s t r i c t s belonged  to an eighteen member consortium.  This d i s t r i c t , invested  h e a v i l y i n the production of a program that processed data for the new p r o v i n c i a l Program, Budgeting, and Accounting System.  Software development was contracted to a Vancouver  company. A s e c r e t a r y - t r e a s u r e r who had p a r t i c i p a t e d c l o s e l y i n the software production process d i s c l o s e d that although the o r i g i n a l request for proposal contained c l e a r l y defined o b j e c t i v e s , a d e t a i l e d d e s c r i p t i o n could not be prepared i n advance.  Some system components remained poorly defined  u n t i l the program was f i e l d t e s t e d .  Furthermore, many  improvements occurred to users only after  program  1 23 development was underway. • A superintendent  from another  school d i s t r i c t concurred: I t ' s v i r t u a l l y impossible to sign a (systems d e v e l opment) contract because the costs are so open. You can describe o b j e c t i v e s , but, in a s i t u a t i o n where new demands are being made, where the system i s i n flux and something comes down that looks f a i r l y s m a l l . . . When you think of i t i n terms of programi n g , of changing the system round, and what your hardware can do — the cost can skyrocket. Control of development costs was complicated by the i n v o l v e ment of two o r g a n i z a t i o n a l l e v e l s of the p u b l i c school system: M i n i s t r y and school d i s t r i c t .  The Program, Budget-  i n g , and Accounting System was a l t e r e d as problems were encountered after  its introduction.  Further computer pro-  gram modifications were required to meet these a l t e r a t i o n s . Programing e r r o r s contributed to delays in implementation. Debugging  21  was a process of successive refinements achieved  through the i n t e r a c t i o n of users, systems analysts and programers. In the f i r s t of the two program development cases j u s t c i t e d , the M i n i s t r y and the d i s t r i c t requested several program changes  22  to accommodate accounting and budgeting  system r e v i s i o n s .  Program development expenses,  including  hardware c o s t s , were estimated by the respondent to exceed $130,000. trict.  The cost apparently was not recouped by the d i s -  Once the project was complete, neither the d i s t r i c t  nor the M i n i s t r y seems to have assumed ownership i n order to The i d e n t i f i c a t i o n and removal of l o c a l i z e d implementat i o n e r r o r s — or bugs — from a program or system ( I l l i n g w o r t h 1983:99). Neither the number nor the extent of these program changes were d i s c l o s e d . 2 1  2 2  124 d i s t r i b u t e the program free-of-charge, as the  following  extract from the 1982 M i n i s t r y of Education computer a c q u i sition policy stipulates: A l l software acquired under M i n i s t r y c a p i t a l cost sharing arrangements w i l l be owned j o i n t l y by the M i n i s t r y of Education and the l o c a l school d i s t r i c t . D i s t r i c t s w i l l make t h i s software f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e to any other school d i s t r i c t , upon the request to do so by the M i n i s t r y . ( M i n i s t r y of Education I982a:2) This clause mandates the securing of j o i n t software ownership and i m p l i c i t l y prevents the use of software as a school d i s t r i c t revenue source.  The p o l i c y does not address what .  should occur when the company r e t a i n s copyright after d e v e l opment costs have been met by the d i s t r i c t and/or the Mini s t r y . In t h i s instance, the company retained c o n t r o l and sold s l i g h t l y customized copies to the remaining seventeen consortium members.  Considering that development costs had  already been f u l l y absorbed, the p r i c e s reported to have been charged for these copies seem very h i g h . 8. Processing Capacity Soon Exhausted With two exceptions, a l l d i s t r i c t s in the sample exhausted the processing power of t h e i r computers between eight and eighteen months after  installation.  2 3  As part of  t h e i r replacement programs, several had e i t h e r changed One commercial sector respondent claimed that a competing software company, i n the process of w r i t i n g an accounting a p p l i c a t i o n , had exhausted the capacity of a newly i n t r o duced computer model widely represented among the p r o v i n c e ' s districts. 2 3  125 models or upgraded t h e i r systems to meet a d d i t i o n a l processing demands, but t h i s expanded capacity was soon expended. One d i s t r i c t had connected the recommended maximum of forty terminals to a DEC VAX 11/750 using a bus i n t e r f a c e . Employee f r u s t r a t i o n attended the slow input/output response.  The superintendent's  surprise with t h i s u n a n t i c i -  pated r e s u l t i s evident i n the following excerpt: There i s some concern about the capacity of the thing (computer)... the response time of the t h i n g . And therefore there has been some reluctance to expand. I f i n d t h i s a b s o l u t e l y i n c r e d i b l e , that we wouldn't know the capacity of one of these things before we-bought i t . The  i n t e n s i v e use of the machine for text processing appears  to be a major c o n t r i b u t i n g f a c t o r .  Approval for a d d i t i o n a l  requests for text processing terminals was pending r e v a l u a t i o n of the c e n t r a l o f f i c e system. wanted to f i l l  these requests,  The superintendent  but the M i n i s t r y prevented  the a l l o c a t i o n of more d i s t r i c t resources to t h i s area. Several respondents referred to the i n f l a t e d claims of software and hardware sales r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s .  The commercial  o b j e c t i v e i s to achieve a firm sales commitment.  Once  i n s t a l l e d , they a n t i c i p a t e that o n - s i t e under capacity problems w i l l be solved by improving the e x i s t i n g system. Upgrading represents a captive market, for i t i s u n l i k e l y that school d i s t r i c t s , having r e c e n t l y made a large c a p i t a l o u t l a y , w i l l be in a f i n a n c i a l p o s i t i o n to replace the e x i s t i n g unit with a c o m p e t i t o r ' s .  Most school d i s t r i c t s  determine t h e i r computer needs with the a i d of e i t h e r f u l l - t i m e employees or c o n s u l t a n t s .  Some respondents argued  126 that the M i n i s t r y of Education should provide t h i s guidance. A superintendent  commented:  I t ' s a shame that (the M i n i s t r y ) d i d n ' t provide assistance i n terms of developing g u i d e l i n e s — which from the point of view of an administrator are p r e t t y w e l l impossible to do much about — for determining the best machine for a system such as t h i s . . . you c a n ' t depend upon the industry because they are not very o b j e c t i v e . Another school d i s t r i c t pioneered the development of an a p p l i c a t i o n for the new program accounting system, only to f i n d that subsequent accounting r e v i s i o n s and program improvements led to a s e r i e s of modifications which soon exhausted the capacity of the c e n t r a l processor in t h e i r Honeywell Level 5. performance,  Use of hard disk space exceeded optimal  slowing the input/output  speed.  A third dis-  t r i c t found that demands associated with program changes outstripped the capacity of i t s MAI Basic 4.  In t h i s case,  computer replacement and system upgrading was being c o n s i d ered. The three machines i d e n t i f i e d i n the preceding d i s c u s sion - MAI Basic Four, Honeywell Level 5, and DEC VAX 11/750 — were i n s t a l l e d in 1982. overloaded.  By the Spring of 1984, each was  According to the school d i s t r i c t  informants,  improvements to a p p l i c a t i o n s , increases i n user demand for e x i s t i n g a p p l i c a t i o n s , and the development of new a p p l i c a t i o n s l e d to unanticipated heavy processing l o a d s .  A weak  planning procedure r e s u l t e d i n the s e l e c t i o n of computers with processing c a p a c i t i e s which could not meet a two-year  127 hor i z o n . " 2  An a n a l y s i s of computer purchases over the l a s t years reveals the following trends.  four  Of the f i f t y - o n e d i s -  t r i c t s which received M i n i s t r y funding, between 1982 and 1985 i n c l u s i v e , to acquire a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computers, one purchased replacements for e x i s t i n g equipment.  twentyThe  average working l i f e of the equipment was f i v e years, a figure c o n s i s t e n t with current i n d u s t r i a l and p u b l i c service expectations.  An a n t i c i p a t e d f i v e - y e a r expectancy was c i t e d  by each d i s t r i c t respondent.  The average age of the current  stock of pre-1982 hardware i s approximately f i v e years ( M i n i s t r y of Education 1982b; correspondence).  Machine  replacement for the twenty-two d i s t r i c t s for the period 1985 to 1988 represents a considerable commitment of future educ a t i o n a l c a p i t a l and an opportunity to p r e v a i l over previous policy  inadequacies.  9. F l a t Organization A s i n g l e superintendent  asserted that/compared  to  urban d i s t r i c t s with s i m i l a r enrolments, there were r e l a t i v e l y few c e n t r a l o f f i c e administrators i n h i s d i s t r i c t . He described the o r g a n i z a t i o n a l structure as f l a t .  School  l e v e l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e functions were c o n t r o l l e d d i r e c t l y rather than through several intermediary management l e v e l s . " This school d i s t r i c t predicament i s a p u b l i c sector example of W i l l s ' finding that "Small and medium-sized Canadian companies r e l y e x c e s s i v e l y on s u p p l i e r s . . . who have a vested i n t e r e s t i n s e l l i n g p a r t i c u l a r and perhaps inappropriate product as a source of t e c h n i c a l i n f o r m a t i o n . " ( W i l l s 1979:18). 2  B r i t i s h Columbia  School D i s t r i c t  Table V I I C e n t r a l O f f i c e Computers By Manufacturer 1982 —  Manufacturer  1985  1  Year Purchased and Q u a n t i t y ^  Models '82  '83  '84  T o t a l by Manufacturer •85-  Burroughs  1  Data General  1 13  DEC PDP 11/23+ DEC VAX/11  12  4  18  1  3  3  20  4  5  Honeywell  3  IBM System 36-5362  1  IBM System 38  1  1  MAI  2  4  TOTAL  26  12  53  Notes: ^ d e r i v e d from correspondence and i n t e r v i e w s ^ f i s c a l year i n which M i n i s t r y granted f u n d i n g a p p r o v a l — the year i n which computer was purchased  not n e c e s s a r i l y  ^data f o r f i s c a l year ending March 31, 1985 complete t o February 1, 1985  1 29 The a d m i n i s t r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e ,  however, had evolved l a r g e l y  before h i s d i s t r i c t ' s 1980 i n t r o d u c t i o n of in-house computers.  Despite t h i s observation, and the unusually young  cohort of teachers,  compared with other d i s t r i c t s in the  researach sample, as w e l l as the d i s t r i c t ' s predominantly white middle c l a s s demography, which represent s i g n i f i c a n t causes, the superintendent  maintained that computers had  reduced the need for c e n t r a l o f f i c e administrators and c l e r ical staff.  The v a l i d i t y of the superintendent's  not appraised.  claim was  His views are recorded here since they may  serve as a p o t e n t i a l subject of enquiry for other  research-  ers. In A p r i l ,  1982, approximately t h i r t y school d i s t r i c t s  contracted t h e i r EDP requirements to p r i v a t e agencies with remote computing f a c i l i t i e s ( M i n i s t r y of Education 1982b; correspondence).  Datatech Systems Limited was the most  prominent s i n g l e vendor, c l o s e l y followed by the banks.  chartered  Some d i s t r i c t s were connected v i a terminal to com-  puters at remote l o c a t i o n s .  As of February, 1985, a l l d i s -  t r i c t s had in-house computer f a c i l i t i e s (correspondence) none contracted data processing to p r i v a t e  agencies.  and  25  The expanded use of e l e c t r o n i c data processing appeared to meet various p r a c t i c a l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e needs.  In the case  of word processing, p r o d u c t i v i t y was reported to have increased.  More work i s being accomplished with e i t h e r a  To the best of the a u t h o r ' s knowledge. In some d i s t r i c t s , p s y c h o l o g i c a l and achievement t e s t i n g may represent a l i m i t e d exception. 2 5  1  very s m a l l , or no increase i n employee complements.  30  The  t o t a l number of a d m i n i s t r a t o r s and c l e r i c a l support s t a f f was reported by M i n i s t r y and d i s t r i c t respondents to be falling.  The d e c l i n e i s commonly a t t r i b u t e d to d e c l i n i n g  enrolment and lowered educational funding rather than to the impact of computers.  There can be l i t t l e doubt, however,  that computers are f i l l i n g o r g a n i z a t i o n a l gaps which a r i s e . through the M i n i s t r y of Education sponsored f i n a n c i a l  cut-  back program of employee termination and a t t r i t i o n . A t a c t i c of r e s t r a i n i n g the i n t r o d u c t i o n of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computers had served one of the d i s t r i c t s under study well.  While neighbouring d i s t r i c t s forged ahead with com-  p u t e r i z a t i o n , t h i s d i s t r i c t waited. secretary-treasurer  The d i s t r i c t ' s  r e l i s h e d the success of t h i s  strategy:  We d i d our whole computerization from (a) computer manual plus t h i s p a y r o l l that we had done by the Royal Bank off the premises. We converted a l l that and got a whole accounting system of o n l i n e budget— and i n c l u d i n g the hardware, the software, and the c o n s u l t i n g , the overtime hours — for e i g h t y - f i v e thousand bucks. That i s just phenomenal for a s i x t y m i l l i o n d o l l a r operation. The other d i s t r i c t s experienced long l e a r n i n g curves i n mast e r i n g and r e f i n i n g t h e i r hardware and software. encountered f a i l u r e .  Some  Shrewd administrators from the holdout  d i s t r i c t analyzed these events with the assistance of a p r i vate c o n s u l t a n t .  According to the s e c r e t a r y - t r e a s u r e r ,  p i t f a l l s were avoided.  many  131 10. The 1983 Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System Several s e c r e t a r y - t r e a s u r e r s  i d e n t i f i e d the 1983  M i n i s t r y of Education f i n a n c i a l reform as a Planning, Programing and Budgeting System.  Most objected to PPBS, pro-  nouncing i t l a r g e l y i r r e l e v a n t to p r o v i n c i a l educational needs.  PPBS i s viewed as a means of comparing school d i s -  t r i c t f i n a n c i a l performance, thereby f a c i l i t a t i n g reductions in educational expenditure.  A l l s e c r e t a r y - t r e a s u r e r s and  some superintendents believed that the system was unworkable.  A s e c r e t a r y - t r e a s u r e r observed:  They (the M i n i s t r y ) b e l i e v e , by the f i s c a l framework — which i s r e a l l y a modified Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System — they w i l l be able to get a handle on i t (comparing school d i s t r i c t f i n a n c i a l performance). I don't b e l i e v e that the production of stream q u a n t i t i e s of data i s going to allow them to do t h a t . The generation of f i n a n c i a l information, although tedious and time consuming, was r e l a t i v e l y easy compared with i t s analysis.  M i n i s t r y l e v e l accountants and planners probably  would have encountered d i f f i c u l t i e s with data a n a l y s i s in the more f i n a n c i a l l y robust p r e - r e s t r a i n t period preceding 1982.  The number of M i n i s t r y personnel, however, was  d e c l i n i n g at the same time that new types of PPBS generated information was flowing i n i n c r e a s i n g quantity i n t o the Ministry.  Two outcomes were p r e d i c t e d : 1.) e i t h e r the  information would be ignored, or 2.) management would founder i n an inchoate sea of data.  The same s e c r e t a r y -  treasurer commented on the l a t t e r : I think they w i l l be overcome, as other j u r i s d i c t i o n s have been, with the tremendous amount of  1 32 information t h a t ' s going to be flown back at them. I think other j u r i s d i c t i o n s have found t h i s in Planning, Programing and Budgeting Systems and have modified them e x t e n s i v e l y or have scratched them. M i n i s t r y o f f i c i a l s were not the only ones who might succumb to a data deluge.  School d i s t r i c t administrators were a l s o  experiencing d i f f i c u l t y r e p o r t i n g system.  i n d e r i v i n g meaning from the new  During the time taken to f u l l y a s s i m i l a t e  the information, i t became outmoded and i r r e l e v a n t . secretary-treasurer  Another  spoke f o r t h r i g h t l y about h i s experience  with the d i s t r i c t ' s f i n a n c i a l r e p o r t i n g : Our management c o n t r o l r e p o r t s , for example, at one time a person in a couple of hours could get a f a i r l y good grasp on what the f i n a n c i a l plans of the d i s t r i c t w e r e . . . Because there were only twenty pages of computer p r i n t o u t , we got an e x c e l l e n t handle on i t very q u i c k l y . Now we are running for the f i s c a l framework, a hundred and f i f t y pages. One i n d i v i d u a l can no longer get a grasp on that unless he spent h i s f u l l time monitoring reports, because by the time one a s s i m i l a t e d the f i r s t set of r e p o r t s , that month would be out of the way, and the second set would be on the desk. The school d i s t r i c t o f f i c i a l s  interviewed for t h i s study and  those senior p u b l i c servants studied by R i t t e r and Cutt (1985) acknowledged a problem which M i n i s t r y of Education managerial respondents seemed u n w i l l i n g to address — large q u a n t i t i e s of data make PPBS unworkable. According to some d i s t r i c t respondents,  rigid  adherence  to the f i s c a l framework would obscure rather than c l a r i f y the basis for deciding f i n a n c i a l a l l o c a t i o n s .  District  resources cannot sustain the increased a n a l y t i c a l and input functions required of PPBS.  R i g i d deadlines leave managers  no option than to report or p e r i s h .  The danger i m p l i c i t i n  1 33 t h i s choice i s contained in a b r i e f commentary d e l i v e r e d by a  superintendent: So what i t (reporting procedure) r e a l l y does i s encourage expedient behaviour which renders the data l e s s valuable for comparative purposes, or for the o r i g i n a l purpose. It compromises the i n t e g r i t y of the f i s c a l framework.  A s i t u a t i o n where middle management questions the  content  v a l i d i t y of the new f i n a n c i a l reporting s t r u c t u r e may have been one of the least expected r e s u l t s when M i n i s t r y p l a n ners introduced PPBS.  F i n a n c i a l reporting which once had  been meaningful to a l l l e v e l s of the education o r g a n i z a t i o n was replaced by a procedure where budgeting formulas changed to meet new e x i g e n c i e s . D i s t r i c t o f f i c i a l s viewed PPBS c h i e f l y as a c e n t r a l i z e d means to achieve f i n a n c i a l cutbacks rather than as a means to improve educational performance.  A superintendent  referred to the f i s c a l framework's hidden agenda: o  W e l l , the f i s c a l framework i s simply a PPBS model, i n s t i t u t e d i n B r i t i s h Columbia a decade after i t was introduced i n many other p l a c e s . But i n s i d e that f i s c a l framework, which i s nothing but accounting procedure t i e d to program, i n s i d e that were the s o l d i e r s of r e s t r a i n t . There was general r e c o g n i t i o n that PPBS r e s u l t e d in increased c e n t r a l i z a t i o n .  Another s e c r e t a r y - t r e a s u r e r sum-  marized the debate: Although there are some people who would plead for the new f i s c a l framework, that i t involves the d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of decision-making, I b e l i e v e the opposite has happened and i s happening r i g h t now. Most of the school d i s t r i c t respondents s i m i l a r l y assessed the M i n i s t r y ' s f i n a n c i a l reform measures.  134 11. Summary In a period spanning more than two decades,  computers  were adopted by a l l seventy-five B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t s and a growing number of schools to perform routine administrative tasks. the past f i v e years.  Most of t h i s growth took place during The extension of e l e c t r o n i c data pro-  cessing to a l l l e v e l s of the B . C . p u b l i c school system occurred with a minimum of M i n i s t e r i a l d i r e c t i o n .  District  decisions i n many instances took precedence over p r o v i n c i a l data processing standards and o b j e c t i v e s .  The f o s t e r i n g of  e l e c t r o n i c communication l i n k s and data exchanges using . e x i s t i n g p r o v i n c i a l f a c i l i t i e s , an implied objective of the 1982 M i n i s t r y of Education computer p o l i c y , was not acted upon. After four years and an estimated s i x m i l l i o n d o l l a r s spent by the M i n i s t r y a l o n e ,  2 6  the d i s t r i c t systems remain  l a r g e l y i s o l a t e d from communication and data processing trends sweeping the commercial and p u b l i c  sectors.  Nonetheless, demand i s increasing among a d m i n i s t r a t i v e  units  for improved d i g i t a l communication and o n l i n e database access. H i s t o r i c a l l y , school d i s t r i c t s in B r i t i s h Columbia have r e s i s t e d the c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of t h e i r e l e c t r o n i c data processing f a c i l i t i e s .  Even the q u i t e l i m i t e d r e g i o n a l cen-  t r a l i z a t i o n proposal of 1969 was not favoured.  The 1982  Based on the revised 1983 c a p i t a l cost sharing formula. For a more d e t a i l e d d i s c u s s i o n , refer to section 6. C a p i t a l and Operating Systems under the School D i s t r i c t research findings. 2 6  1 35 computerization project was r e a l i z e d for the most part along a d e c e n t r a l i z e d schema.  F u l l y standardized computer systems  would have allowed these systems to- be f u l l y integrated in the BCSC p r o v i n c i a l d i g i t a l communications network. Instead, p a r a l l e l computer communications are contracted to Envoy, a p r i v a t e l y operated e l e c t r o n i c mail system.  The  e x i s t i n g school d i s t r i c t computer systems do not appear to have been integrated i n t o the e l e c t r o n i c mail s e r v i c e . Hardware and software purchases by i n d i v i d u a l d i s t r i c t s have l e d to increased c a p i t a l c o s t s .  A lack of c e n t r a l coordina-  t i o n has l e d to school d i s t r i c t s unnecessarily repeating the experience of other d i s t r i c t s .  Some aspects of p r o v i n c i a l  software development p o l i c y apparently are being ignored.  C. SCHOOL Many school a d m i n i s t r a t o r s are a c q u i r i n g useful knowledge as they experience the v i c i s s i t u d e s of rapid change i n computer technology.  As some expectations remain u n f u l -  f i l l e d and new problems a r i s e , a l e r t managers become more adept at implementing microcomputer a p p l i c a t i o n s . of l e a r n i n g i s r a p i d .  The pace  In 1984, a senior secondary school  p r i n c i p a l offered t h i s perspective on the speed with which a d m i n i s t r a t i v e microcomputers were introduced i n t o B r i t i s h Columbia s c h o o l s : Three years ago (1981), I don't think there were very many people around i n our f i e l d that knew what they were looking f o r . This was the year in which Harts Systems Limited a f i e l d  136 t r i a l in a second Greater Vancouver•school d i s t r i c t of  its  Apple 11+ microcomputer program for student management. Since then, some d i s t r i c t s have appointed a committee of school administrators to evaluate the f i e l d t e s t s of personal computer hardware and software sures).  (respondents d i s c l o -  Informal networks, however, may continue to be the  main information source for many.  1. Formal Communication of Experiences with Computers Computer knowledge garnered at personal and organizat i o n a l cost c i r c u l a t e s formally and i n f o r m a l l y among schools in a school d i s t r i c t .  Apparently there i s no prescribed  method of communicating t h i s knowledge to schools in other districts.  T r i a l and error t e c h n o l o g i c a l adaptation seems  the r u l e , with i n d i v i d u a l schools often repeating successes and f a i l u r e s of neighbouring d i s t r i c t s . of change contributes to managerial u n c e r t a i n t y . software,  the The pace Improved  more powerful hardware and new informatics ser-  v i c e s tempt managers to solve o l d problems with new products.  These items are often unproven i n the commercial and  p u b l i c sectors and have had l i t t l e , c a t i o n at the school l e v e l .  i f any, previous a p p l i -  In the absence of a p r o v i n c i a l  or n a t i o n a l t e s t i n g f a c i l i t y to coordinate and report  field  t r i a l s , the school manager may be unsure of the best purchasing s t r a t e g y . A powerful o r g a n i z a t i o n a l dynamic influences the d e c i sion to introduce these products.  When more schools acquire  137 computers, the administrators of schools which do not possess the equipment may be perceived by t h e i r colleagues as dilatory.  Contemporary administrators function in a society  that places a high value on applying t e c h n i c a l s o l u t i o n s to s o c i a l and economic problems.  Another strong influence i s  that an a d m i n i s t r a t o r ' s close a s s o c i a t i o n with the i n t r o duction of new microprocessor technology may enhance an upwardly mobile c a r e e r .  2. Types of Computer Services On a d i s t r i c t b a s i s , schools had the largest v a r i a t i o n in computer s e r v i c e s .  The two main categories were the  stand-alone microcomputer and the c e n t r a l i z e d data processing s e r v i c e .  C e n t r a l i z e d data processing services included  two d i v i s i o n s : 1.) d i s t r i c t managed, and 2.) commercially managed.  Within the two main c a t e g o r i e s ,  microcomputers v a r i e d w i d e l y .  school-based  Some d i s t r i c t s , according to  several respondents, s t i p u l a t e d a standard model and manufacturer  for a l l school a d m i n i s t r a t i v e systems.  Others  allowed schools considerable l a t i t u d e in machine s e l e c t i o n , a p o l i c y that had led to the i n s t a l l a t i o n of several incomp a t i b l e operating  systems.  At the service l e v e l , each of two d i s t r i c t s in the research sample had a network of school terminals  connected  to a minicomputer located i n the c e n t r a l o f f i c e .  One d i s -  t r i c t contracted with a p r i v a t e company.  Although i n t h i s  case, some batch jobs were sent v i a c o u r i e r for entry at  the  1 38 company o f f i c e , most data was entered through a school keyboard by a f u l l - t i m e data entry employee.  In the d i s t r i c t  managed network, according to d i s t r i c t and school informants, a l l data was transported by c o u r i e r for entry. Most school administrators expressed general t i o n with t h e i r EDP systems.  One administrator was search-  ing for a microcomputer O n e - W r i t e general o f f i c e bookkeeping.  satisfac-  27  accounting program for  Another p r i n c i p a l had purchased  a microcomputer on a Vancouver company's assurance that an off-the-shelf  inventory program could be modified for s t u -  dent scheduling.  The program d i d not meet expectations.  He  had p r e v i o u s l y encountered s i m i l a r problems with a privately-owned computer s e r v i c e which offered batch student scheduling.  During three years of c o n t r a c t i n g with t h i s  company, programing e r r o r s were encountered.  The scheduling  algorithm d i d not respond to the s c h o o l ' s needs.  With dead-  l i n e s looming, the p r i n c i p a l resorted on several occasions to p e n c i l and paper s o l u t i o n s for i n t r a c t a b l e computer scheduling problems.  3. Student Management Microcomputer Programs Two Vancouver companies, Columbia Computing Services Limited and Harts Systems L i m i t e d , promote microcomputerbased school management programs throughout B r i t i s h Columbia and North America.  Student attendance, marks reporting and  student scheduling comprise three main elements of these One-Write i s a p r o p r i e t a r y accounting package which since t h i s interview has been released in microcomputer form. 2 7  139 •programs.  In 1984, when most of the interviews for the  study were conducted, the Harts program processed for a maximum of about 1,000 students.  records  This maximum was  increased u n t i l i n 1986 some United States schools were processing records for over 1,500 students March, 1986). CPU.  2 8  (correspondence,  Harts runs on an Apple 11+ which has a 48K  The Apple 11+ uses the DOS operating system.  The  current p r i c e for the complete Harts I I I i s approximately four thousand d o l l a r s (correspondence, March 11, 1986).  The  annual l i c e n c e in subsequent years i s s i x hundred d o l l a r s . In 1984, Columbia converted i t s mainframe student management program containing approximately 200,000 l i n e s of code for use on an IBM PC XT compatible system (Company respondent).  The PC XT version required 256 K of memory and  a ten megabyte hard d i s k . 2,000 students (respondent).  I t handled records for up to Today the l a r g e s t format of  t h i s program runs on a PC AT with a 20 megabyte hard d i s k . The current software p r i c e for the 20 megabyte v e r s i o n i s approximately s i x thousand d o l l a r s , with a one thousand d o l l a r annual s e r v i c e fee (Company respondent).  The program  i s presently supporting a maximum of 3,500 students i n a C a l i f o r n i a secondary school a p p l i c a t i o n . In 1968, Columbia began supplying batch s e r v i c e s to B r i t i s h Columbia secondary schools.  By 1980, an o n l i n e  C e n t r a l processing unit (CPU): The a r i t h m e t i c and l o g i c unit (ALU) and the c o n t r o l unit (CU) and sometimes, but not always, the primary memory. As the functions in- a computing system have become more d i s t r i b u t e d and autonomous, the s p e c i f i c a t i o n of the CPU has become l e s s s i g n i f i c a n t . ( I l l i n g w o r t h 1983:52). 2 8  140 capacity was added.  Within two years of the 1982 Harts  i n t r o d u c t i o n , Columbia released i t s own personal computer v e r s i o n , withdrawing the o r i g i n a l batch and online services (Company respondent).  Microcomputer-based programs  suffi-  c i e n t l y robust to handle the l a r g e s t senior•secondary e n r o l ment are p a r t i c u l a r l y a t t r a c t i v e to school a d m i n i s t r a t o r s . They return f u l l c o n t r o l over marks, scheduling and a t t e n dance to the p r i n c i p a l .  Comparing the mainframe and micro-  computer programs, a respondent  stated:  The b i l l for running outside t i m e t a b l i n g and schedu l i n g had i n f l a t e d somewhat, and i t was c o s t i n g them f i f t e e n hundred to two thousand d o l l a r s a run. And i t s t a r t e d to look pretty good to buy a microcomputer for that amount of money, and buy a program for i t , and pay off the cost in l e s s than a year for the s c h o o l . And you could run i t as many times as you wanted, and you d i d n ' t have to pay for each run. The microcomputer system gave administrators improved cont r o l over s c h e d u l i n g .  P r i n c i p a l s could ask "What i f ? " ques-  t i o n s without i n c u r r i n g thousand d o l l a r expenditures.  There  were many i n d i r e c t c o s t s , however, which added s i g n i f i c a n t l y to o v e r a l l computer expenditures. i,  4. Transfer of Costs Moving from a remote data processing service to an i n house personal computer, t r a n s f e r s maintenance and operating costs to the s c h o o l .  For Harts and Columbia, an annual ser-  v i c e fee follows the program a c q u i s i t i o n charge.  The fee  includes system updates and an u n l i m i t e d number of questions r e l a t i n g to software o p e r a t i o n . t o l l - f r e e telephone number.  Columbia alone offers a  Hardware costs i n c l u d i n g  141  computer, p r i n t e r , hard disk d r i v e and, i n some instances a tape d r i v e and o p t i c a l mark reader, may t o t a l over twentythousand d o l l a r s .  Although many school administrators  regard these as one-time expenditures,  i f the recent example  of school d i s t r i c t computer a c q u i s i t i o n s i s a r e l i a b l e guide, schools may on average expect to replace t h e i r hardware once every f i v e years (see Research F i n d i n g s , B. School D i s t r i c t 8. Processing Capacity Soon Exhausted). R e s p o n s i b i l i t y for the operational f a i l u r e of new microcomputer programs i s not c l e a r .  Is system f a i l u r e due  to a f a u l t of the operator, hardware, or software? Administrators tend i n i t i a l l y to a t t r i b u t e operating problems to the software because they recognize that the programs are often r e l a t i v e l y young and unproven.  While  addressing the d i f f i c u l t y which schools had in e s t a b l i s h i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , a senior secondary v i c e - p r i n c i p a l commented: They are obviously s e r v i c i n g the p i l o t project very w e l l because they want to guarantee i t s success. But I am not sure what happens when t h a t . . . e x p i r e s . The concern I have already i s , for example, i f there is a hardware f a i l u r e , Columbia has no r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i n t h a t . Their response i s : " W e l l , phone wherever you bought i t . " The person's (hardware representative) t y p i c a l response w i l l be: "It sounds to me l i k e i t ' s a programing f l a w . . . " So you end up with the school being i n d i v i d u a l l y responsible for maintaining t h i s equipment. C u r r e n t l y , software support by the two vendors appears s a t i s f a c t o r y since the respondents d i d not c i t e any problems. Administrators t a c i t l y acknowledged that some e r r o r s w i l l be encountered due to program immaturity.  School managers gen-  e r a l l y p a r t i c i p a t e a c t i v e l y i n program debugging, a d v i s i n g  142  programers by telephone of the problems encountered. When school-based personal computer c o s t s , for example system s e c u r i t y , data a r c h i v i n g , data entry and annual serv i c e and maintenance are t o t a l l e d , personal computers may prove more expensive than e i t h e r the c e n t r a l i z e d batch or online o p t i o n s .  The only area where microcomputers appear  to have a c l e a r advantage i s in the immediacy of  response.  Delays which a r i s e from backlogs associated with c y c l i c a l overloads and c e n t r a l system f a i l u r e s are u s u a l l y not encountered in the microcomputer environment. 5. I n d i r e c t Labour Costs Hidden labour costs are recognized by school managers as a s i g n i f i c a n t factor i n operating a d m i n i s t r a t i v e microcomputers.  Depending on the s c h o o l , data entry and  r e t r i e v a l tasks are assigned to v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s , teachers, c o u n s e l l o r s , c l e r k s , and students.  Many of these costs do  not appear to be captured by e i t h e r s c h o o l - s i t e bookkeeping or the p r o v i n c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n ' s new budgeting system. Although job r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s are often a r b i t r a r i l y redefined to encompass school-based computer tasks,  these  changes appear to be only infrequently r e f l e c t e d in o f f i c i a l job d e s c r i p t i o n s .  Comparing the labour charges of commer-  c i a l batch contracts with those of microcomputer processing, a senior secondary school p r i n c i p a l remarked: The costs (of microcomputers) are l e s s . There was a b i t of a cost thing there, going o u t s i d e . Mind you, t h e r e ' s time here with c o u n s e l l o r s and c l e r i c a l s t a f f plugging i n and p u t t i n g a l l the s t u f f into the  1 43 computer, but the cost t h i n g , turn-around time and a l s o the expertise that the (microcomputer programing) companies do not have. So we r e a l l y , other than the time factor that we're adding, you know, bags of— a f a i r amount of a d d i t i o n a l time r i g h t now. But in the long run, I think i t ' s going to be better a l l the way round. Some v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s found themselves assigned not only the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of maintaining the s c h o o l ' s personal computer, but a l s o performing the task of keyboard data entry. These new r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s departed s i g n i f i c a n t l y from the e x c l u s i v e l y a d m i n i s t r a t i v e o r i e n t a t i o n of the v i c e - p r i n c i pal. In the midst of r e s t r a i n t , c r e t i o n remains.  some l o c a l purchasing d i s -  P r i n c i p a l s and v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s i n d i c a t e  that avenues e x i s t for obtaining computer products which do not involve d i s t r i c t o f f i c e a p p r o v a l .  A senior  secondary  p r i n c i p a l described the redeployment of a microcomputer: With the hardware, with the Apple, we managed to not have to put any money out for that at a l l . Some schools have had to go and buy the hardware, but i n t h i s case, we got i t in the school for— I t ' s being used for Career Choice (a student counseling proj e c t ) , w e l l , i t s being used for the timetable sort of t h i n g . We've got a dual purpose t h i n g . On the tape recorded t r a n s c r i p t , phrasing convey u n c e r t a i n t y .  the p r i n c i p a l ' s voice and  He had u n w i t t i n g l y stumbled on  a subject which from h i s vantage may have been better ignored.  The microcomputer was acquired for the benefit of  students who sought career c o u n s e l l i n g , but was reassigned to recording student attendance.  Since attendance for the  s c h o o l ' s approximately one thousand students i s taken every p e r i o d , there i s only a slender opportunity for students to  144  access the machine for career c o u n s e l i n g . With only one exception, a shortage of data entry personnel was observed. school o f f i c e s t a f f  F i n a n c i a l cutbacks had reduced the i n the sample by as much as f i f t y  cent, according to some respondents.  In some cases,  peroffice  workers belonged to the Canadian Union of P u b l i c Employees (CUPE).  School a d m i n i s t r a t o r s seemed aware that CUPE i s in  the vanguard of those Canadian organizations responding to the employment e f f e c t s of microprocessors.  One strategy  for  overcoming employee r e l u c t a n c e , e l i c i t e d from school managers, i s for the administrator to introduce the machines g r a d u a l l y , while never i n s i s t i n g on t h e i r use.  This s t r a t -  egy was o u t l i n e d by a senior secondary school p r i n c i p a l : When word processing f i r s t came... there was c o n s i d erable anxiety about what t h i s would do to the stenographic workpool. There were union c o n t r a c t s . . . People f e l t , I t h i n k , somewhat threatened. So, a c t u a l l y using word processing i n a d m i n i s t r a t i o n i n o f f i c e s i s something that has come very, very slowly. S e c r e t a r i e s and c l e r k s i n the target d i s t r i c t s for the study were slowly adopting word processors.  Only two p r i n c i p a l s  c i t e d labour contracts as obstructions to the implementation of microprocessor technology.  According to some respon-  dents, once o f f i c e s t a f f had operated these machines, they demanded word processors for t h e i r own use, but strongly r e s i s t e d job reassignment to data entry s t a t u s . None, of the p r i n c i p a l s interviewed had a computer t e r minal or a personal computer i n t h e i r own o f f i c e .  With only  a s i n g l e exception, a l l denied knowing how to operate a  145  computer.  The exception, a p r i n c i p a l , said that he had  never used the s c h o o l ' s a d m i n i s t r a t i v e microcomputer although he had operated a PC in h i s home. r e l i e d on c l e r i c a l s t a f f ,  Principals  j u n i o r administrators and  counselors to produce computer-based reports and perform data entry work.  Some a d m i n i s t r a t o r s noted the important  r o l e computer generated student attendance,  performance and  counseling reports played i n b r i e f i n g ' parents. The demands of data processing seldom r e s u l t i n a new s c h o o l - l e v e l employment category.  Most EDP tasks are  absorbed w i t h i n e x i s t i n g c a t e g o r i e s , apparently without any necessity to change job d e s c r i p t i o n s .  T y p i c a l l y , school  s t a f f already carry a heavier work load due to reductions i n o f f i c e personnel performed w i t h i n the mandate of p u b l i c sector r e s t r a i n t .  C l e r i c a l s t a f f time was f u l l y committed,  in some cases even overextended.  Under these s t r a i t e n e d  circumstances, data entry tasks are assigned to v i c e p r i n c i p a l s , c o u n s e l l o r s and teachers.  One senior secondary  p r i n c i p a l expanded favourably on h i s v i c e - p r i n c i p a l ' s new chores: The v i c e - p r i n c i p a l i s a f i r s t - c l a s s expert i n computers, and so he has taken upon himself, with the help of the c o u n s e l l o r s , to r e a l l y s t a r t from square one and put the timetable together. I t ' s an Apple, and they are making i t a l l happen. We bought the Harts system which i s a t h i r t y - s i x hundred dollar item... V i c e - p r i n c i p a l s had a d i f f e r e n t perspective on t h e i r new assignments.  They objected s t r o n g l y to what one p r i n c i p a l  c a l l e d , "donkey-work."  To meet scheduling and r e p o r t i n g  1 46 deadlines, some v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s worked overtime.  A senior  secondary v i c e - p r i n c i p a l complained b i t t e r l y about h i s computer r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s : In the j u n i o r h i g h , I used to sit-down and key-in d a i l y attendance. Now, i s that what an a d m i n i s t r a tor of a school should be doing? Is that my job function? I t ' s almost l i k e asking the captain of the s h i p , and saying, " W e l l , you paint the side of the h o l d , f e l l a h . " I mean, that i s not in my opinion where we're at, but sometimes, because of your p o s i t i o n , you're the one who can come i n on Saturday and Sunday to do i t . I mean, i f you f i n d out how many times I ' v e opened up t h i s school on a Saturday or Sunday in the l a s t three months to work on the timetable because the work i s not being done by our, c l e r i c a l help. This administrator spoke at length about h i s f r u s t r a t i o n . His a s s e r t i o n that computer-related r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s represent a m i s a p p l i c a t i o n of resources are c r e d i b l e , but he seems to have authored h i s own problem.  Confronted with  p u b l i c sector r e s t r a i n t , and the high p r o b a b i l i l t y of e i t h e r being made redundant or reassigned to a f u l l - t i m e teaching p o s i t i o n , computer involvement presented an opportunity to consolidate h i s hold on the v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s h i p . There was wide r e c o g n i t i o n that microcomputer data entry costs were absorbed in ways which d i v e r t e d resources from o f f i c i a l l y approved budget c a t e g o r i e s .  With c e n t r a l l y  operated systems, accounting for the a c t u a l operating costs i s s i m p l e r , since these are included i n the contract p r i c e . A senior secondary p r i n c i p a l . r e f l e c t e d : W e l l , someone at Columbia, or i t was in C a l i f o r n i a , or wherever, Cogito, wherever i t was done— Someone was paid there, which we were paying for to i n s e r t a l l that information i n t o the computer. W e l l , now we're doing i t i n the b u i l d i n g here. Someone has to  147  do i t i n the b u i l d i n g . And I bet you, you know, i f you looked around i n d i f f e r e n t schools, you might f i n d anywhere from the v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s to timetable committees, to department heads, to c o u n s e l l o r s . . . You know, many of the people in the c l e r i c a l s t a f f are not t r a i n e d . . . Nevertheless, you're taking money away from something e l s e . . . It takes a f a i r amount, and when t h a t ' s happening other things a r e n ' t being done. A senior secondary school v i c e - p r i n c i p a l estimated that i t took forty hours for a s k i l l e d t y p i s t to enter course and student data each term. approximately 950.  Enrolment in t h i s school was  The v i c e - p r i n c i p a l commented:  If you want to put i n there (timetable program) eight courses for each student, there i s a week's work for one t y p i s t working eight hours a day (at) data e n t r y . Several school managers agreed that considerable time would be saved i f student records were entered i n t o a computer data base i n grade one, to accompany the student  through  j u n i o r and senior secondary s c h o o l . One respondent surmised that since the appearance of microcomputer attendance programs, teachers were required to perform l e s s c l e r i c a l work.  The school d i s t r i c t department  manager noted: i. What i s happening there (schools) i s you've got a s h i f t ; instead of the teachers' time f i l l i n g i n the registers— ( i t ' s ) s h i f t i n g now to the s e c r e t a r y . So we have to look at i t . Which i s more economical? Most of a t e a c h e r ' s time i s absorbed i n reading the r o l l and noting absentees, manual tasks which are s t i l l required by a computer attendance program. any, i s probably quite s m a l l .  The amount of time saved, i f As a soon to be c i t e d example  of teacher resistance to computerized attendance w i l l  148 demonstrate,  some teachers remain unconvinced of i t s labour-  saving p o t e n t i a l . As a l a s t r e s o r t , puter r e l a t e d t a s k s .  students are drafted to complete comA department coordinator reported that  h i s computer science clubs had laboured on an attendance project.  The clubs typed computer cards for each student  and completed other c l e r i c a l d u t i e s .  The respondent  recounted: I had my computer science and computer clubs type-up or p r i n t o u t a computer card for every student i n the school, and that was eleven hundred at that time. Despite the voluntary commitment made by teacher and s t u dents the attendance program f a i l e d .  Some teachers strongly  objected to computerized attendance records. tor summarized the events which led to the  The coordinaproject's  abandonment: And I made another presentation to the s t a f f , and we had a couple of dry runs with i t . And there was such a lack of cooperation among the s t a f f — and i t s people make the system run even i f the computer i s being used — that I gave up on i t , after several dry runs, because of m u t i l a t i o n of the computer cards, because of (the) i n a b i l i t y to f o l l o w , maybe, f i v e simple i n s t r u c t i o n s on how to send the cards down to the o f f i c e . Two issues are presented i n t h i s account. question of the appropriateness  F i r s t i s the  of students volunteering  t h e i r time from t h e i r e x t r a c u r r i c u l a r studies to perform c l e r i c a l work u s u a l l y done by employees.  Second i s the  problem of teacher resistance to computerized attendance. School managers have c o n t r i b u t e d to the debugging and improvement of microcomputer school a d m i n i s t r a t i o n programs  1 49  developed by Harts, Columbia and other companies. the twelve- to twenty-four months of operation  During  following  t h e i r i n t r o d u c t i o n , these programs require considerable user feedback.  One company targeted several B r i t i s h Columbia  schools for t e s t i n g before launching i t s product on the marketplace. representative  According to three respondents,  including a  of the company, these schools were not com-  pensated for the c o n t r i b u t i o n t h e i r s t a f f and administrators made toward program improvement.  Non-monetary motivations,  however, may make the voluntary e f f o r t a s a t i s f y i n g one for school a d m i n i s t r a t o r s .  A senior secondary v i c e - p r i n c i p a l  spoke glowingly of h i s involvement: I think there are a number of a d m i n i s t r a t o r s , perhaps myself and four others, who gave them a l o t of good suggestions, and they have incorporated a l o t of these i n t o t h e i r timetable (program)... So (product name deleted) has r e a l l y improved greatly. S a t i s f a c t i o n at having completed a job w e l l motivated t h i s administrator.  Close involvement in a project outside  the  bureaucratic routine i s welcomed as a challenge i n which l a t e n t t a l e n t s can be e x e r c i s e d .  6. Data R e t r i e v a l Many j u n i o r secondary schools which use Apple 11+ microcomputers to record student attendance have found data r e t r i e v a l time-consuming.  In one case, twenty floppy d i s k s  were loaded before a student's y e a r l y attendance was generated. tages.  Slow d a t a - r e t r i e v a l n u l l i f i e d the machine's advanA department manager r e c a l l e d a conversation he had  1 50 with a p r i n c i p a l on t h i s  subject:  He i n d i c a t e d that the things they l i k e d about Harts were the nearness of the information. It was r i g h t there at t h e i r finger t i p s . What they d i d n ' t l i k e is the slow processing speed, and the disk handling is r i d i c u l o u s . Slow processing speed, frequent  disk handling, and the need  to support each floppy disk with several floppy disk copies on a d a i l y basis was mentioned by several school a d m i n i s t r a tors.  Copies of the attendance data base were p r i n t e d regu-  l a r l y on paper (hard c o p i e s ) .  Some v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s stored  backup floppy disks at home to reduce the chance of data loss through f i r e ,  theft  and tampering.  A senior secondary  school v i c e - p r i n c i p a l addressed t h i s a r c h i v a l q u e s t i o n : When you s t a r t - o u t with H a r t s , you end-up with four d i s k e t t e s , but when the year f i n i s h e s , you end-up with about twenty-two floppy d i s k s . . . I mean, I run four backups on a d a i l y system. So the most I would lose i s a day's documentation. Some of these problems w i l l be p a r t l y solved or completely eliminated as new products are introduced.  Harts and  Columbia continue to improve t h e i r products, e s p e c i a l l y i n processing speed.  Hard disk p r i c e s have f a l l e n considerably  over the l a s t three years.  Columbia's microcomputer school  management program depends p r i m a r i l y on hard disk  storage.  Mass market d i g i t a l tape d r i v e s , announced by manufacturers, but not yet d e l i v e r e d , w i l l probably end the labouri n t e n s i v e handling of floppy d i s k s . Important problems remain: c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , s e c u r i t y of student records, and the danger that students w i l l become i r r e v o c a b l y typecast by education and s o c i a l systems which  151  i n c r e a s i n g l y store and manipulate large q u a n t i t i e s of personal information.  Several school administrators proposed  that computer-based records accompany students from kindergarten through senior secondary.  As a consequence,  the  burden of data entry at each l e v e l would be e l i m i n a t e d . Other dimensions could benefit the student.  Medical knowl-  edge (one microcomputer program records health problems) could improve student l e a r n i n g and a s s i s t with health emergencies.  2 9  An unambiguous synopsis of student  interests  and l e a r n i n g p r o f i l e s would a i d the teacher-student  rela-  t i o n s h i p , assuming that c l a s s e s are s m a l l , and the  teacher  has time to consult the data base.  Given the recent  British  Columbia trend toward l a r g e r c l a s s s i z e , most teachers have l e s s time to u t i l i z e such a p o t e n t i a l l y valuable resource. No a d m i n i s t r a t o r s objected to computerized preparation of student  report cards.  One senior secondary p r i n c i p a l  i n i t i a l l y opposed them, but over a f i v e - t o - s i x year p e r i o d , he came to accept t h e i r e f f i c i e n c y ; he observed: No, I had strong, in the other schools, anyway, strong objections to computer r e p o r t i n g . I c a n ' t say the parents (had strong o b j e c t i o n s ) . You get one or two parents who sort of, who comment. But with the computer r e p o r t i n g you can always have— your hundred and twenty-ninth comment can be, "See comment." And so you can always leave i t out for somebody to do something i n the handwritten form, i f they so wish. Computerized report cards are here to stay.  Missing i s e v i -  dence that t h i s new technology i s being f u l l y e x p l o i t e d i n During a student management program demonstration, a sales representative c l e a r l y implied that a database demographic category would be used by some United States schools to i d e n t i f y students by race. 2 9  152  the service of students and parents.  Current  computer-based  reporting of student progress e x i s t s w i t h i n the 'ten words or l e s s comment per subject'  constraint  ceding manual reporting procedures.  i n h e r i t e d from pre-  Supported by a text  processing program s i m i l a r to that e s t a b l i s h e d in 1968 by the Prime M i n i s t e r ' s Office to answer mail (Westell 1970: 329) and improved over the years, computerized student report cards could convey s u b s t a n t i a l a d d i t i o n a l information regarding i n d i v i d u a l student  progress.  Several p r i n c i p a l s d i s c l o s e d that the use of computers for i n d i v i d u a l l y addressed mass mailings to parents c o n t r i b uted to improved community r e l a t i o n s .  P r i o r to microcomput-  e r s , d i s t r i b u t i n g personally addressed l e t t e r s was not f i n a n c i a l l y f e a s i b l e for most schools.  No community r e l a -  t i o n s problems were c i t e d regarding computer preparation of student  reports.  7. Preference for D i s t r i c t Office Star Network A s i n g l e exception was noted to the preference  school  managers expressed for school-based microcomputer performance of data processing t a s k s .  This p r i n c i p a l ' s twenty-year  managerial career i n education and h i s long involvement with a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computers make h i s remarks worthy of elaboration.  Strong s a t i s f a c t i o n was expressed with the  d i s t r i c t ' s o n l i n e and batch processing computer s e r v i c e . The c e n t r a l i z e d data entry service i s e s p e c i a l l y advantageous because i t s features are not d u p l i c a t e d i n a  153  microcomputer processing environment.  C e n t r a l i z e d data pro-  cessing enabled the most c o s t - e f f e c t i v e use of labour. A d d i t i o n a l personnel were h i r e d on short notice and extra s h i f t s i n s t i t u t e d to meet c y c l i c a l peaks i n data-entry demands.  During these peaks, data was dispatched by courier  and r e s u l t s returned the following day.  At best, a large  secondary school can afford only a s i n g l e data-entry employee, indeed, only one senior secondary school i n the sample a c t u a l l y employed a f u l l - t i m e terminal operator.  In  periods of heavy demand, such as student grade r e p o r t i n g , deadlines may not be met in a school-based microcomputer environment.  Keeping the keypunch operator productively,  employed during periods of low demand poses an a d d i t i o n a l problem. This p r i n c i p a l favoured a star network based t e r m i n a l s .  30  with s c h o o l -  He had p a r t i c i p a t e d in the d i s t r i c t ' s ,  f i r s t a d m i n i s t r a t i v e foray i n t o computer a p p l i c a t i o n s in the mid-1960's when i t was. the f i r s t in B r i t i s h Columbia to apply computers to a d m i n i s t r a t i v e tasks.  The senior second-  ary school p r i n c i p a l ' s experience served as an h i s t o r i c a l precursor to the contemporary microcomputer experience of other p r i n c i p a l s : IBM wouldn't l i s t e n to us (about w r i t i n g the timetable program); the l o c a l people thought that i t was simply another bookkeeping process. And we found out i n short order that they were in a h e l l of a mess. And they sent two of t h e i r heavy-duty people A star network topology c o n s i s t s of a s i n g l e hub node with various terminal nodes connected to the hub. The t e r minal nodes do not interconnect d i r e c t l y ( I l l i n g w o r t h 1983:240). 3 0  1 54  in to cleanup t h e i r reputation and the problem. This concern for the success of i t s a p p l i c a t i o n s ,  irrespec-  t i v e of customer s i z e , contributed to IBM's reputation as a h i g h l y responsive c o r p o r a t i o n .  In t u r n , t h i s  responsiveness  helps to e s t a b l i s h a higher standard of r e l i a b i l i t y for business a c t i v i t i e s i n v o l v i n g a l l aspects of the computer marketplace. 8. F i e l d Testing Most d i s t r i c t s f i e l d tested t h e i r microcomputers, but none of the schools v i s i t e d had p a r t i c i p a t e d in the t r i a l s . Some p r i n c i p a l s referred to f i e l d t r i a l s underway in t h e i r districts.  One of the l a r g e s t d i s t r i c t s was p a r t i c u l a r l y  advanced.  A committee c o n s i s t i n g of secondary school p r i n -  c i p a l s coordinated f i e l d t e s t i n g of personal computers and software.  Several schools conducted r o t a t i n g t r i a l s .  Their  assessments were for i n t e r n a l use and d i d not appear to be made widely a v a i l a b l e to other d i s t r i c t s . schools were also conducting f i e l d To an extent,  Some elementary  trials.  the conduct of f i e l d t r i a l s was a school  d i s t r i c t response to the unfortunate school a d m i n i s t r a t o r s .  experiences of some  One p r i n c i p a l described the a c q u i s i -  t i o n of a computer and program which proved to be a f i n a n c i a l loss.  The software, o r i g i n a l l y designed for warehouse  inventory, never functioned properly despite repeated modif i c a t i o n s by the Vancouver vendor.  The d e c i s i o n to purchase  an u n t r i e d program was taken at the p r i n c i p a l ' s i n i t i a t i v e .  155 Since t h i s f a i l u r e , the d i s t r i c t has t i g h t l y coordinated microcomputer a c q u i s i t i o n s by school a d m i n i s t r a t o r s .  31  9. O r g a n i z a t i o n a l C o n f l i c t As fresh a p p l i c a t i o n s are found for student data,  the  education organization may stray onto a l i e n t e r r i t o r y .  An .  example of t h i s c o n f l i c t was uncovered during t h i s study. School and school d i s t r i c t organizations had clashed with the c i t y Health Department.  According to the d i s t r i c t  o f f i c i a l ' s d i s c l o s u r e , a p r i n c i p a l , during the course of e x t r a c t i n g information from the student database, revealed that a group of h i s students required eye examinations. This l i s t was dispatched to the health a u t h o r i t i e s .  Here i s  the school d i s t r i c t department manager's d e s c r i p t i o n of the succeeding events: One of them ( p r i n c i p a l s ) a c t u a l l y caused a minor controversy with the Health Department because t h i s person put the p u p i l health records on the system and then d i d a search and p u l l e d out a l l the students who had never been screened for eye examina t i o n s . And then (he) sent a memo to the school health nurse saying, "These students haven't been screened, please screen them." She got upset and went to the Health Board, and everything, saying that was her r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , the p r i n c i p a l shouldn't be i n t r u d i n g in her area. But to the p r i n c i p a l ' s point of view, t h i s was sort of dead information on The problem of overly e n t h u s i a s t i c administrators c o n t i n ues. An advertisement was placed by the Prince Rupert School D i s t r i c t (#52) for "programs for the Macintosh microcomputer on the following subjects: School D i s t r i c t Operating Budgets, Teacher Personnel Data." (BCSTA 1984:2). The advertisement appeared only s i x months after the Macintosh was introduced; general business a p p l i c a t i o n s were r a r e . By November, 1985 the d i s t r i c t had not located a s i n g l e a d m i n i s t r a t i v e programing a p p l i c a t i o n s u i t a b l e for school d i s t r i c t s . At l a s t report, the 256K RAM machine was being used as a word processor. 3 1  156 paper cards, and what i t d i d was suddenly, by just poking around on the computer, t h i s was p u l l i n g out information in new and unusual w a y s . . . which gave him a d i f f e r e n t perspective on h i s students. A manual examination of the cards would have produced the same information.  What i s new, however, i s the speed with  which the relevant data was e x t r a c t e d .  Enter a few simple  i n s t r u c t i o n s , wait only a few minutes while the machine r e t r i e v e s and p r i n t s the information, and one has a l i s t which would have taken several hours to produce — hours not e a s i l y found i n a school experiencing s t a f f and teacher  cut-  backs.  10. Computers and C e n t r a l i z a t i o n Although some school a d m i n i s t r a t o r s said that s c h o o l based accounting procedures remained e s s e n t i a l l y unchanged by the M i n i s t r y of Education's f i n a n c i a l reform, most thought that the school -system had become more c e n t r a l i z e d . Some addressed the connection between computers and c e n t r a l i z a t i o n at the school d i s t r i c t l e v e l .  A j u n i o r secondary  school p r i n c i p a l phrased the i s s u e : The computer i s only the machine that does the a c t u a l work, so that i s no problem. In f a c t , I think i f we can save a l o t of paper work going across my desk, t h a t ' s g r e a t . It i s the d e c i s i o n s behind the computer that bother me. He explained that these d e c i s i o n s focused on achieving f i n a n c i a l cutbacks and i n c r e a s i n g M i n i s t r y c o n t r o l .  Another  j u n i o r secondary p r i n c i p a l d e l i n e a t e d the problem: I think i f they can work that ( d i s t r i c t computer c o m p a t i b i l i t y with the M i n i s t r y ) through, they have the computer system, they have a l l the d i s t r i c t s  1 57  working the same way, and i t w i l l a l l flow back and f o r t h . That i s c o n t r o l to a great extent, and there i s no doubt about i t that I think the whole system i s set up to be computerized and h e a v i l y c o n t r o l l e d .  1 1 . Summary The p u b l i c school system appears to be i n c u r r i n g large a d d i t i o n a l costs as student management programs, p r e v i o u s l y run on a f e e - f o r - s e r v i c e b a s i s , are now leased and operated on school-based microcomputers.  Many costs associated with  these microcomputers, for instance data entry and informat i o n r e t r i e v a l , seem not to be captured by e i t h e r e x i s t i n g s c h o o l - s i t e or province-wide accounting p r a c t i c e s .  Until  those costs are f u l l y t a l l i e d , the service and f i n a n c i a l benefits of d i s t r i c t computer networks connecting schools cannot be compared with those of stand-alone microcomputers. Some d i s t r i c t s are conducting f i e l d t r i a l s , but there are no means for d i s t r i b u t i n g r e s u l t s to schools throughout  the  province. P r i n c i p a l s often delegated EDP tasks to v i c e p r i n c i p a l s , counselors, teachers and c l e r k s .  Several v i c e -  p r i n c i p a l s reported that t h e i r managerial r o l e s had been s i g n i f i c a n t l y changed by computers.  They r o u t i n e l y per-  formed data entry and r e t r i e v a l t a s k s , o c c a s i o n a l l y on an overtime b a s i s .  The v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s strongly objected to  this clerical responsibility.  No administrators were found  to have computers i n t h e i r personal o f f i c e s .  158 D. BRITISH COLUMBIA SYSTEMS CORPORATION One of the strongest  influences on the development of  computer services w i t h i n the M i n i s t r y of Education was the p r o v i n c i a l government's d e c i s i o n to c e n t r a l i z e e l e c t r o n i c data processing under the aegis of the B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation (BCSC).  The Corporation coordinates  information a c t i v i t i e s thoughout the p r o v i n c i a l  government,  while the f i n a n c i a l and expenditure management of informat i o n systems i s the function of the Treasury Board. System  Act  The  e s t a b l i s h i n g the Corporation was proclaimed on  September 1, 1977 ( B r i t i s h Columbia 1978).  Colleges and  boards of school trustees came under the data processing a u t h o r i t y of BCSC.  By March 31, 1978, the Corporation had  consolidated a l l f i n a n c i a l and other data processing work for seventeen m i n i s t r i e s and most Crown corporations (Turnbull 1979:4). The d e c i s i o n to consolidate was preceded by a 1976 conf i d e n t i a l study of government e l e c t r o n i c data processing, i n c l u d i n g the M i n i s t r y of Education, prepared for Cabinet by the management c o n s u l t i n g firm of Woods Gordon.  The report  warned that were m i n i s t r i e s allowed to "continue b u i l d i n g in-house computer empires, manpower savings that might r e s u l t from o f f i c e automation could be swallowed by programs intended to take up the slack" (Globe & M a i l 1984:BC1). Premier W i l l i a m R. Bennett r e i t e r a t e d t h i s view i n an October, 1976 address,  " a l l computing resources of s t a f f and  equipment have been uncoordinated and scattered  throughout  159 many departments...  t h i s approach has r e s u l t e d i n many prob-  lems r e l a t e d to t o p - l e v e l neglect, lack of p o l i c y , and lack of equipment and q u a l i f i e d s t a f f . "  (Leiren 1976:76).  P r i o r to 1977, there were seven p r o v i n c i a l government computer centres which together followed three mutually e x c l u s i v e t e c h n o l o g i a l d i r e c t i o n s (BCSC 1980-81:4).  The  M i n i s t r y of Education computer was not one of these centres (correspondence,  May, 1985).  The three operating  systems  included one designed by Honeywell and two designed by I n t e r n a t i o n a l Business Machines Corporation (BCSC 1980-81: 12).  According to BCSC, each systems a r c h i t e c t u r e  a separate t e c h n i c a l support s t a f f ,  required  a factor which l e d to  s i g n i f i c a n t l y increased c o s t s , while l i m i t i n g p r o d u c t i v i t y improvements and personnel u t i l i z a t i o n .  Of the two IBM  access systems, V i r t u a l Storage (VS) and V S I , the Corporat i o n chose V S .  3 2  The Woods Gordon consultants were a l s o  concerned that i n d i v i d u a l M i n i s t r i e s would entrap thems e l v e s , thereby reducing t h e i r a b i l i t y to combine and i n t e grate computer a p p l i c a t i o n s (BCSC 1980-81:5).  With rapid  accessing of shared databanks a primary o b j e c t i v e of government and commerce, e l e c t r o n i c communication among p r o v i n c i a l m i n i s t r i e s , and between m i n i s t r i e s and non-governmental agencies received renewed i m p o r t a n c e .  33  V i r t u a l Storage i s an access method s u i t a b l e for f i l e s with sequential or r e l a t i v e o r g a n i z a t i o n on d i r e c t - s t o r a g e d e v i c e s . The whole f i l e i s mapped into v i r t u a l memory so that records can be accessed at random using a c a l c u l a t e d v i r t u a l address ( I l l i n g w o r t h 1983:387). According to W i l l i a m McMinn, p r i n c i p a l author of the 1976 Woods Gordon report, "a c e n t r a l computer f a c i l i t y would hold annual increases i n data processing costs to ten percent, 3 2  3 3  160 1. Standardization On SNA By 1982, BCSC at considerable cost had converted a l l three systems a r c h i t e c t u r e s  to a contemporary IBM VS design  (correspondence May, 1985). " 3  That IBM competed with com-  panies which manufactured IBM plug-compatible products was deemed the chief reason for standardizing on t h e i r system.  operating  The Corporation a n t i c i p a t e d that competition would  r e s u l t i n these products being d e l i v e r e d e i t h e r at l e s s cost or with a better design than those of a manufacturer  which  d i d not have plug-compatible competition (1980-81:11).  In  p r a c t i c e , contracts for mainframes and most disk d r i v e s were l e t without competitive b i d d i n g .  IBM has been the main  r e c i p i e n t of these t h r e e - t o - f i v e - y e a r 83:12).  3 5  contracts  (BCSC 1982-  The objective of a s i n g l e a r c h i t e c t u r e was  a t t a i n e d i n l a t e 1981 (1979-80:6). IBM's successful  de  facto  i n t e r n a t i o n a l standard i n  computer communications networks — the Systems Network A r c h i t e c t u r e (SNA) — was of considerable consequence to a Corporation confronted with the complexities of r a p i d l y i n s t a l l i n g and supporting a data processing network that would unite government and p u b l i c agencies across the province (BCSC 1981-82:13).  SNA i s the d e s c r i p t i o n of the  ( c o n t ' d ) versus the twenty to t h i r t y percent increase e x p e r i e n c e d . . . between 1972-75." (Globe & M a i l 1984:BC1). * Conversion of Honeywell 6066 a p p l i c a t i o n s took 268 people who logged i n excess of 100,000 hours (BCSC 1981-82:12). The M i n i s t e r of Finance estimated the cost to be s i x m i l l i o n d o l l a r s (Hansard I981b:4737). BCSC purchases of IBM 3081D and IBM 3081K processors are examples. 3 3  3  3 5  161 l o g i c a l structure,  formats, p r o t o c o l s , and o p e r a t i o n a l  sequences for t r a n s m i t t i n g information u n i t s through, and c o n t r o l l i n g the c o n f i g u r a t i o n and operation of networks (IBM 1985:58).  This i n t e r f a c e i s the foundation of IBM's u n i f i e d  t e l e p r o c e s s i n g strategy  (Rutledge 1981:2).  Open Systems Interconnect  (OSI), a seven layered r e f e r -  ence model designed by I n t e r n a t i o n a l Standards O r g a n i z a t i o n , i s SNA's major competitor.  OSI connects d i s s i m i l a r systems,  while SNA i s the basis for a coherent product o f f e r i n g .  In  1985, under the d i r e c t i o n of the European Parliament, IBM produced two pieces of software that provide l i m i t e d bridges between SNA and OSI (New S c i e n t i s t 1985:34).  Computer users  w i l l have to look elsewhere for software t r a n s f e r , e l e c t r o n i c mail from OSI to SNA networks (1985:34).  such as The  more f u l l y a computer can p a r t i c i p a t e in an IBM data network, the more valuable i t i s to users and vendors ( V e r i t y 1985:93). SNA was announced in 1974 and network s e r v i c e s based on the SNA CCITT X.25 packet network standard f i r s t appeared i n 1977 (Rutledge 1 9 8 1 : 2 7 ) .  36  By June 1979, differences i n  CCITT X.25 implementation had r e s u l t e d in increased cost and had retarded the a v a i l a b i l i t y of equipment to support packet networks (1981:34).  Although r e u n i f i c a t i o n of X.25 was  achieved by 1982, continuing changes to complex SNA p r o t o c o l s make the s h i f t i n g shape of t h i s i n t e r f a c e paramount i n the planning of large data processing agencies such A l l school d i s t r i c t minis and mainframes in the research sample complied with the CCITT X.25 p r o t o c o l . 3 6  162 as BCSC and the B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c school system.  A  version of the M i n i s t r y of Education p o l i c y c i r c u l a t e d in 1983 refers  s p e c i f i c a l l y to the r o l e of the SNA/SDLC proto-  c o l i n the p r o v i n c i a l government's communication network ( M i n i s t r y of Education 1983b:14).  Synchronous Data Link  Control (SDLC) i s a d i s c i p l i n e for connecting network components, using telecommunication l i n k s (IBM 1985:12).  On SDLC  a number of messages flow i n one d i r e c t i o n before r e c e i v i n g a response,  thereby increasing the data c a r r i e d on a l i n k .  2. M i n i s t r y of Education Included in C e n t r a l i z e d Service Shortly after  the 1977 proclamation of the  System  Act,  r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for M i n i s t r y of Education computer s t a f f was transferred  to BCSC.  M i n i s t r y programers and analysts were  relocated to p o s i t i o n s outside the p u b l i c s e r v i c e . transfer  The  produced many months of user service problems.  Deputy M i n i s t e r of Education, D r . Walter Hardwick, was among the f i r s t p u b l i c servants to openly express  reservations  about the Corporation: "the idea of c o n s o l i d a t i n g  operations  might be sound, but the problems of bureaucracy always seem to develop when the p o l i c i e s are c a r r i e d out." (Danylchuk 1979:9).  His comments r e f l e c t e d a widely held p u b l i c s e r -  v i c e view. Other p u b l i c servants,  anonymously conveying t h e i r  c r i t i c i s m s to the news media, c i t e d high rate  structures,  slow terminal response time, l o s t data and lengthy processor downtime.  In 1977, a committee of deputy m i n i s t e r s drawn  1 63 from the M i n i s t r i e s of Finance, Human Resources, Health, Forests,and Environment, the major data processing consumers, began to meet i n f o r m a l l y to lend an a u t h o r i t a t i v e voice to the growing d i s a f f e c t i o n with c e n t r a l i z e d data processing.  The M i n i s t r y of Education may have been an i n d i -  rect p a r t i c i p a n t .  On October 31, 1979, at the request of  Evan Wolfe, M i n i s t e r of Finance, the committee was formally e s t a b l i s h e d as the Users Review Committee (Hansard 1981c: 6093), and l a t e r integrated i n t o the Corporation. e a r l i e r , on October 15, 1978, the Inter-ministerial Processing  Services  Committee  on the  Initial  Report  Electronic  A year of  the  Data  was submitted i n t h i r d d r a f t ,  the request of the M i n i s t e r (Hansard I979a:329).  again at The report  recommends: 1.  The minister be given a u t h o r i t y to e f f e c t i v e l y cont r o l the systems and e l e c t r o n i c data programming functions required to d e l i v e r t h e i r s e r v i c e s .  2.  Each m i n i s t r y be given the c a p a b i l i t y and a u t h o r i t y for s e l e c t i n g computer service best s u i t e d to i t s needs.  3.  To improve communications, to reduce l e a r n i n g time and e r r o r s and to improve the s e r v i c e , i t i s essent i a l that a minimum number of maintenance programmers be permanently a v a i l a b l e to the m i n i s t r i e s . At the moment they only e x i s t w i t h i n the Systems Corpor a t i o n . The development and operation of a good EDP system i s dependent upon EDP s t a f f , which understands and associates with the goals of user m i n i s tries .  4.  The i n t e r m i n i s t e r i a l committee on data processing be the v e h i c l e whereby a l l m i n i s t r i e s can exert the necessary l e v e l of influence upon decisions which affect them. (Hansard  Cabinet d i d not act on these recommendations.  I979a:330) Implementing  164 them would have returned c o n t r o l to the m i n i s t r i e s , reversing the already w e l l advanced c o n s o l i d a t i o n process. 3. School D i s t r i c t Response School d i s t r i c t response was mixed.  At least two  school boards, Coquitlam and Nanaimo, sought e x c l u s i o n from the  System  Act  (Hansard 1977:4582).  Coquitlam School Board  motioned that the M i n i s t e r of Education be asked to have: School D i s t r i c t s removed from the p r o v i s i o n s of B i l l 44 - Systems A c t , thereby allowing Boards the opportunity to find economies in p r o v i d i n g data processing s e r v i c e s . [ s i c ] (Coquitlam 1977:8) Nanaimo p e t i t i o n e d the M i n i s t e r of Finance for the r i g h t to continue t h e i r EDP service contract with a l o c a l c r e d i t union.  The M i n i s t e r of Finance assured the d i s t r i c t s that  they "are s t i l l going to be able to use the current that they employ.  services  We merely want to be able to vet t h e i r  plans from time to t i m e . " (Hansard 1977:4583).  The M i n i s t e r  a l s o i n d i c a t e d that several boards had requests before  the  systems group to use t h e i r terminals and s e r v i c e s (1977: 4584).  4. BCSC P r e v a i l s By 1980, BCSC managers p r e v a i l e d over many of the s t a r t - u p problems.  For several years, costs to c l i e n t s had  d e c l i n e d , f a l l i n g by ten percent  in 1980 (Table I I I ) .  access time and processing speed had improved.  User  A 1980 P r i c e  Waterhouse Associates study confirmed that the strategy of  165 combining in-house systems development with sub-contracting some software work to p r i v a t e companies had r e s u l t e d i n rates to c l i e n t s below those charged by p r i v a t e data processing companies (BCSC 1980-81:6; Kesselman 1984:14). d e l i v e r y of an executive management information system  The 37  to  the M i n i s t r y of Health for use by the M i n i s t e r and h i s p l a n ning department was proof that BCSC could produce a software a p p l i c a t i o n of considerable complexity (Appendix D ) . At present, the data processing c o n f i g u r a t i o n which BCSC supplies to the M i n i s t r y of Education includes o n l i n e and batch processing of a time-shared computer located at a remote C o r p o r a t i o n - c o n t r o l l e d s i t e .  Access t o the computer  i s achieved v i a s i x ministry-based data entry terminals " ( M i n i s t r y Annual Report 1982-83:57).  There i s o n l i n e e d i t -  ing and batch transmission to master f i l e s on the BCSC host.  5. Corporate Control of Microcomputers Since 1977, M i n i s t r y of Education computer expenditures have been c l o s e l y monitored under a government-wide p o l i c y i n i t i a t e d by Treasury to ensure that computer purchases comply with BCSC p o l i c y .  A l l microcomputer purchases,  excepting word processors, were channelled through the Corporation ( M i n i s t r y respondent).  I t appears that in the  founding years of the Corporation one of the primary object i v e s of t h i s p o l i c y was to r e s t r i c t microcomputer use. An automated advisory system composed of management r u l e s which specify a c t i o n s that can be taken i f c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s occur. 3 7  166 P u b l i c servants were thus compelled to u t i l i z e the c e n t r a l ized computing s e r v i c e .  To avoid t h i s c o n s t r a i n t , some min-  i s t r i e s were reported to have modified t h e i r word processors by adding memory boards that made them capable of running off-the-shelf  financial,  s t a t i s t i c a l and spread sheet pro-  grams (Danylchuk l983a:B7).  For accounting purposes,  parts were recorded as a d d i t i o n s to o f f i c e (l983a:B7).  spare  inventories  In order to c o n t r o l the r i s i n g use of microcom-  puters, BCSC attempted i n 1983 to gain j u r i s d i c t i o n over word processor r e q u i s i t i o n s .  However, as e a r l y as 1981, the  Corporation recognized the larger r o l e which microcomputers and minicomputers were to play in government processing (BCSC 1981-82:4). Personal computers appear to have been deemed a threat to the f i n a n c i a l success of the mainframe o p e r a t i o n .  BCSC  was committed to using mainframes for as many a p p l i c a t i o n s as p o s s i b l e .  Over the short-term, microcomputers could not  be c o n t r o l l e d to the same extent.  Indeed, some a d m i n i s t r a -  t i v e respondents at the M i n i s t r y l e v e l avowed that personal computers could not be c e n t r a l l y c o n t r o l l e d under any circumstance. During f i s c a l year 1982-83, Treasury Board p o l i c y was changed to permit m i n i s t r i e s to purchase personal computers i f t h e i r use achieved economies o u t l i n e d i n the Public Sector R e s t r a i n t Act - in short,  i f they reduced the number  of employees ( M i n i s t r y respondent).  By 1984, approval for  personal computers and word processors appeared r o u t i n e .  167 F&t only large purchases, formal business  d i d Treasury Board require a  case:  M i n i s t r i e s must make a submission to the Treasury .Board for any systems a c q u i s i t i o n s or development expenditure which exceeds $100,000 and t h i s submission must be accompanied by a business case showing costs and benefits over f i v e years. Each submission i s analyzed by Treasury Board Staff w i t h i n the M i n i s t r y of Finance. The determination of whether a computer a p p l i c a t i o n should be run on a mainframe, mini or micro computer i s based upon the r e l a t e d costs and benefits contained in the business case. (correspondence, December, 1984)  6. Treasury Board Attempts to S e l l BCSC On August 31st 1983, the Government of B r i t i s h Columbia abruptly announced that the B . C . Systems Corporation was for sale (BCSC 1983-84:18).  This a c t i o n coincided with the  second year of f i n a n c i a l r e s t r a i n t and the r e i n t r o d u c t i o n of compulsory p r o v i n c i a l examinations for a l l grade twelve s t u dents.  BCSC with 1983 revenues of over s i x t y - f o u r m i l l i o n p o  3  e  d o l l a r s (Table VIII/168) was the t h i r d largest EDP agency in Canada (Kesselman 1984:14). Several developments may have p r e c i p i t a t e d C a b i n e t ' s d e c i s i o n to unload the C o r p o r a t i o n . modestly exceeded expenses  F i r s t , revenue only  (Table V I I I ) .  But in four years,  revenues i n the form of d i r e c t charges to the p r o v i n c i a l government had almost doubled from the '1980 t o t a l of f o r t y m i l l i o n d o l l a r s to the l a r s in 1984.  . sum of seventy-five m i l l i o n d o l -  This r a p i d e s c a l a t i o n in t o t a l processing and  development charges not only c o n t r a d i c t e d the  government's  1976 p r e d i c t i o n that c e n t r a l i z e d data processing would hold  168  Table VIII B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation F i n a n c i a l Performance 1979—1984 (in d o l l a r s ) 1  Year 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985  2  Revenue  Expenses  Net Income  29,115,000 40,173,000 49,103,000 57,928,000 64,984,000 75,586,000 72,689,000  26,886,000 39,936,000 47,581,000 55,252,000 64,964,000 77,238,000 73,722,000  2,229,000 237,000 1,522,000 2,676,000 20,000 (1,417,000) (1,427,000)  Notes: 1  2  3  Source: B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation Annual Reports Year ending March 31 Deficit  3  3  169 annual increases to approximately ten percent,  but a l s o came  at a time of p r o v i n c i a l revenue s h o r t f a l l s and mounting fiscal restraint.  Second, the Deputy M i n i s t e r of Finance  had c a n c e l l e d the C o r p o r a t i o n ' s development of "a comprehens i v e integrated government-wide network of f i n a n c i a l systems." finding that i t was too complex and c o s t l y ( R i t t e r & Cutt 1985:73).  Two years of systems development e f f o r t and  several m i l l i o n d o l l a r s were funnelled i n t o the  project.  T h i r d , considerable l a t e n t opposition to BCSC remained w i t h i n p u b l i c s e r v i c e ranks — a s i t u a t i o n not assuaged by BCSC's pre-1982 attempts to r e s t r i c t microcomputer use. Fourth, the d e c i s i o n to pursue markets w i t h i n untapped  sec-  t o r s of the p u b l i c s e r v i c e , such as school d i s t r i c t s (Globe & M a i l 1984), swelled the number of d i s g r u n t l e d users with a p o t e n t i a l l y vocal p o l i t i c a l o p p o s i t i o n : boards of school trustees. The proposed sale created considerable uncertainty for most of the C o r p o r a t i o n ' s employees.  Some a c t i v i t i e s were  disrupted to the point of p a r a l y s i s .  For many l i n e workers  termination of employment seemed imminent.  Of the  C o r p o r a t i o n ' s 540 employees, 350 personnel reorganized themselves into a worker-owned cooperative, Hi Tech Staff Ventures Limited (Danylchuk 1983C:B8).  Hi Tech submitted  one of the three bids received to purchase BCSC a s s e t s . Opposition to the sale was widespread among the p r o v i n c e ' s business s e c t o r ; most commercial software d e v e l opers believed that p r i v a t e a c q u i s i t i o n by a s i n g l e company.  170 would lead to t h e i r e x c l u s i o n from l u c r a t i v e program and systems a n a l y s i s contracts  (Danylchuk l983b:A3).  For the  years 1980 to 1982 i n c l u s i v e , annual spending in the commerc i a l sector averaged ten m i l l i o n d o l l a r s (BCSC 1980-81:6 & 1981-82:1).  The software developers' revised p o s i t i o n  departed from t h e i r i n i t i a l  1977 condemnation of the govern-  ment for c e n t r a l i z i n g data processing (Vancouver Sun 1977: 44; Boyle 1978:D8). After s o l i c i t i n g bids for seven months, the p r o v i n c i a l government rejected a l l o f f e r s .  Ownership of most assets  such as b u i l d i n g s , hardware and software remained with the BCSC.  The federal government had a d i r e c t i n t e r e s t  i n the  C o r p o r a t i o n ' s s u r v i v a l ; t h i r t y - s e v e n m i l l i o n d o l l a r s was loaned to BCSC from the Canada Pension Plan to finance cons t r u c t i o n of a new headquarters (Kenneth B e l l 1983:17).  In  the r e o r g a n i z a t i o n which followed, some systems analysts and programers were stationed with m i n i s t r i e s on a semipermanent b a s i s .  The number and value of system development  contracts l e t to the p r i v a t e sector was expected to increase to f i f t e e n m i l l i o n d o l l a r s (Danylchuck I984a:7).  Despite a  f i r s t - t i m e 1984 loss of 1.4 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s , BCSC remained undaunted.  The 6,000 workstations on networks serving  B r i t i s h Columbia's 35,000 p u b l i c servants were growing by f i f t y percent each year (Greer 1985:4).  This represents a  r a t i o of one workstation for every s i x employees.  The work  s t a t i o n s are supported by two mainframes and t h i r t y mediums i z e d computers from four d i f f e r e n t manufacturers  (1985:4).  171 With the p r o v i n c i a l government's strong r e l i a n c e on systems technology, the future of c e n t r a l i z e d data processing i s assured. 7. Summary The B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation guided the p r o v i n c i a l government through a demanding r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n of i t s informatics system.  The process was c o s t l y , but the  r e s u l t s , an improved communications system, a means of t r a c k i n g system development c o s t s , and the guidance of spec i a l i s t s are indispensable to a large p u b l i c service o r g a n i zation.  As BCSC experience continues to accumulate, knowl-  edge about system development i s a v a i l a b l e to a l l government offices.  Corporate r e l a t i o n s h i p s with the p r o v i n c i a l p u b l i c  school o r g a n i z a t i o n and the M i n i s t r y of Education have been mixed.  The removal of M i n i s t r y expertise was not compen-  sated by a vigorous BCSC involvement in product assessment and development of informatics standards for schools and school d i s t r i c t s .  E. R e c a p i t u l a t i o n The computer's capacity to store and manipulate large q u a n t i t i e s of information c a t a l y z e s many changes c u r r e n t l y sweeping Canadian s o c i e t y .  Computer a p p l i c a t i o n s to the  management of B r i t i s h Columbia's p u b l i c school system represent a small but s i g n i f i c a n t c o n t r i b u t i o n to t h i s n a t i o n a l trend.  Beginning i n 1961 when the M i n i s t r y of Education  172 acquired i t s f i r s t computer and continuing to 1985 when a l l school d i s t r i c t s and many schools had acquired them, cent r a l i z a t i o n has been the most s i g n i f i c a n t a d m i n i s t r a t i v e impact.  Although in 1982 the school d i s t r i c t s p r e v a i l e d in  a long-standing c o n f l i c t with the M i n i s t r y over who determines the type of computer i n s t a l l a t i o n , the M i n i s t r y retained the r i g h t to specify t h e i r p r i n c i p a l use. The aim of the 1982-84 implementation of data processing for the Planning Programing, and Budgeting System — the largest computerized project undertaken by the M i n i s t r y — was to a t t a i n firm c e n t r a l i z e d c o n t r o l over expenditures. This o b j e c t i v e was achieved.  There followed a d e c l i n e in  school board autonomy and, for a l l administrators subordinate to the M i n i s t r y , more r e s t r i c t i o n s on personal  initia-  tive . Few senior and middle management a d m i n i s t r a t o r s have had t h e i r work d i r e c t l y affected by computers.  Only at  the  most j u n i o r ranks do administrators r e g u l a r l y operate a computer.  Data and word processing for the majority of educa-  t i o n a l managers i s performed by c l e r k s and  secretaries.  The 1982 B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t computer proj e c t r e s u l t e d in one of the most o p e r a t i o n a l l y r e s t r i c t e d systems of i t s s i z e i n Canada. nations are e l u s i v e .  Simple, s i n g l e theme e x p l a -  Other p r o v i n c i a l educational a u t h o r i -  t i e s , for instance Quebec's, had many years of success experience with standardized computers and c e n t r a l l y developed software.  Two major reports in as many decades recommended  173 that the B . C . M i n i s t r y adopt a strong formative r o l e in EDP policies.  During the planning stage of the 1982 d i s t r i c t  p o l i c y , an emphasis on e l e c t r o n i c networks and d i g i t a l communications was evident in not only the Canadian p r i v a t e s e c t o r , but a l s o the B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation, the p r o v i n c i a l government's data processing agency. For at l e a s t a decade,  i n s u f f i c i e n t e x p e r t i s e has h i n -  dered M i n i s t r y p o l i c y on informatics development.  In con-  t r a s t , by 1984 at l e a s t four B . C . school d i s t r i c t s employed f u l l - t i m e computer managers who had e i t h e r systems a n a l y s i s or programing backgounds.  In recent years the M i n i s t r y had  no permanent employee with s i m i l a r experience — u n t i l 1984 when BCSC stationed personnel in each m i n i s t r y .  Additional  explanations for the p o l i c y r e s u l t s reside i n : 1) the p o l i t i c a l l y charged subject data processing became for the p u b l i c s e r v i c e , 2) f i s c a l r e s t r a i n t which plunged those responsible for M i n i s t r y computer p o l i c y i n t o a d e c l i n i n g zero sum game  38  of cutback management,  3.) inter-agency r i v a l r y over  data processing that p i t t e d school d i s t r i c t s , the M i n i s t r y and BCSC against each other arid, not l e a s t , 4.) lobbying by computer and software companies which l e d to the implementat i o n of a fragmented master p l a n .  A zero sum game i s one i n which the cumulative winnings equal the cumulative l o s s e s . I t can be argued that when cutback management i s a p p l i e d to s o c i a l programs, losses u s u a l l y exceed winnings, i r r e s p e c t i v e of s t r a t e g y . 3 8  V.  CONCLUSION  Four main conclusions are discussed with reference the research findings and the work of other Aspects of the study that warrant further surveyed under  Research  dations are included i n  Implications. Pol i cy  to  investigators.  i n v e s t i g a t i o n are  Nine p o l i c y recommen-  Recommendations  A. Conclusions In t h e i r a p p l i c a t i o n of computers to management, systems analysts r e p l i c a t e s p e c i f i c o r g a n i z a t i o n a l components. The process of program design and hardware c o n f i g u r a t i o n results  i n a remarkably v e r s a t i l e t o o l for understanding  organizations.  Otherwise hard to perceive managerial  strengths and weaknesses may be exposed when w r i t i n g ware.  soft-  Knowledge of a p a r t i c u l a r a p p l i c a t i o n can r e v e a l , as  in t h i s study, the i n t e r n a l workings of an o r g a n i z a t i o n and i t s i n t e r a c t i o n s with the p o l i t i c a l and economic e n v i r o n ment. The language of computer a p p l i c a t i o n s i n many respects i s the language of o r g a n i z a t i o n a l behaviour. t h e i r correspondence  The extent of  i s revealed i n the number of key  expressions common to both, among them, program, system, operations,  and management information system.  Conclusions are considered under four headings: benefit a n a l y s i s , managerial impacts, c e n t r a l i z i n g 174  costeffects,  175 and o r g a n i z a t i o n a l objectives and computer systems design. 1. Cost-Benefit A n a l y s i s The objective of assessing computer c o s t - b e n e f i t s terms of a d m i n i s t r a t i o n was not r e a l i z e d .  in  Comparability and  r e l i a b i l i t y of the l i m i t e d f i n a n c i a l information a v a i l a b l e is uncertain.  D e t a i l e d records of the costs of i n s t a l l i n g  and operating a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computers throughout  the  B . C . p u b l i c school system do not appear to be maintained by the M i n i s t r y . existent;  Some records are too rudimentary, others non-  for example, the M i n i s t r y does not keep an inven-  tory of microcomputers used in school a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . When a growing proportion of the educational budget i s d i r e c t e d to c a p i t a l and operating costs associated with data processing, f a i l u r e to maintain d e t a i l e d accounts seems implausible.  The exercise of informed EDP choice can be  achieved only when expenditures are l i n k e d to U n t i l a linkage between the two i s e s t a b l i s h e d ,  performance. the organi-  z a t i o n w i l l remain e x c e s s i v e l y dependent on vendors for guidance on product performance — a s i t u a t i o n strongly faulted by W i l l s (1979) in h i s study of the Canadian p r i v a t e sector. None of the o p t i m a l i t y c a l c u l a t i o n s offered by Kochen and Deutsch (1980:17) on responsiveness,  r e l i a b i l i t y and  adequacy can be a p p l i e d without s o l i d f i n a n c i a l information. Despite G o t l i e b ' s q u a l i f i c a t i o n s (1985) regarding the r e l i a b i l i t y of cost-benefit  c a l c u l a t i o n s when the technology i s  176 s h i f t i n g at an unprecedented r a t e , d e t a i l e d knowledge of past experience remains one of the best bases for p o l i c y assessment and p l a n n i n g . I d e n t i f i c a t i o n of costs provides an avenue for ing savings, e s p e c i a l l y in the current climate of restraint.  effect-  fiscal  The M i n i s t r y ' s c o s t l y d e c i s i o n to ignore t h e i r  own p o l i c y d i r e c t i v e on the development of d i s t r i c t  software  probably would not have occurred had rigorous accounting p r a c t i c e s been followed.  This p o l i c y d i r e c t e d that  software  developed under contract was to remain within M i n i s t r y jurisdiction.  The M i n i s t r y , however, appears not to have  taken possession of a major piece of f i n a n c i a l software that was developed for the p r o v i n c i a l school o r g a n i z a t i o n and subsequently i n s t a l l e d in many d i s t r i c t s .  Had company com-  p l i a n c e been sought, the software would have been d i s t r i b uted e i t h e r free or for a nominal fee once the f u l l development costs were met.  Instead, each a d d i t i o n a l purchaser  seems to have been b i l l e d an amount considerably in excess of the minor i n d i v i d u a l customizing that was made.  Ignoring  t h i s p o l i c y d i r e c t i v e may have r e s u l t e d in the school system c o l l e c t i v e l y paying for the program several times over. A s i m i l a r s t a t e of a f f a i r s e x i s t s with regard to the area l i c e n s i n g of p r o p r i e t a r y software.  Although no  M i n i s t r y or school d i s t r i c t p o l i c y yet e x i s t s , there are large benefits to be gained.  P r o v i n c i a l l i c e n s i n g agree-  ments with companies for microcomputer and minicomputer software would s i g n i f i c a n t l y reduce EDP c o s t s .  As the  1 77 s i t u a t i o n stands, schools and d i s t r i c t s purchase a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computer programs i n d i v i d u a l l y , causing the organizat i o n to c o l l e c t i v e l y pay far in excess of f a i r market v a l u e . Gaining c o n t r o l over computer system costs i s (Gotlieb 1985).  difficult  U n t i l d e t a i l e d accounts are kept, A y e r ' s  and K e t t i n g e r ' s contention that there i s l i t t l e evidence that the i n t r o d u c t i o n of computers has a c t u a l l y reduced costs in government  (1983:565) w i l l remain  untested.  2. Managerial Impacts Most educational administrators have yet to d i r e c t l y experience the effects of computerization i n t h e i r work r o u t i n e s , although i n d i r e c t e f f e c t s have led to a more constrained  management.  None of the personal a d m i n i s t r a t i v e o f f i c e s surveyed was equipped with a terminal or microcomputer.  Only a few  v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s , who occupy the lowest a d m i n i s t r a t i v e rank, operated a computer r e g u l a r l y ; a l l superordinates avoided any d i r e c t involvement.  A d m i n i s t r a t i v e data and word pro-  cessing requirements were u s u a l l y performed by stenographers or s e c r e t a r i e s .  This s i t u a t i o n departs from the case stud-  ies i n the Canadian p r i v a t e sector c i t e d by Menzies (1981) where v i r t u a l l y a l l senior and middle management have computer terminals which they use for analyses, report  prepara-  t i o n , .and the transmission and r e c e i p t of w r i t t e n communications.  178 The delay in i n s t a l l i n g - terminals in the educational manager's o f f i c e may be an a r t i f a c t of the school system's h i s t o r i c a l resistance to change (Boyer 1983).  Although at  a l l l e v e l s , educational managers waxed e n t h u s i a s t i c on the c o m p u t e r ' s ' p o t e n t i a l to improve a d m i n i s t r a t i o n , t h e i r  inter-  est waned when personal use of t h i s equipment was c o n s i d ered.  Rapid expansion of e l e c t r o n i c mail s e r v i c e to the  school d i s t r i c t s may change t h e i r reluctance.  In terms of  time and accuracy, there are economic advantages to delegate a secretary to t r a n s c r i b e l e t t e r s and reports, and for the manager to revise p r e l i m i n a r y drafts on a word processing terminal. Menzies' observations regarding " s t a n d a r i z a t i o n ,  frag-  mentation, and separation of occupations and job functions" (1981:38) among c l e r i c a l workers and lower a d m i n i s t r a t i v e ranks has a p a r a l l e l i n B r i t i s h Columbia education.  For a l l  managers, the i n d i r e c t effects of computerization are substantial. trol.  Executives at the apex have increased t h e i r con-  The remainder have experienced a diminution in power.  Their performance i s more c l o s e l y monitored than before. The o p e r a t i o n a l v e h i c l e for recording input i s the Programing and Budgeting System, while the main output monitors are p r o v i n c i a l examinations and student achievement t e s t s .  To  these devices are added the r e s t r i c t i o n s of c e n t r a l i z e d educ a t i o n p o l i c y , and education and s o c i a l l e g i s l a t i o n . Bureaucracies can overextend themselves i n t h e i r quest for a d m i n i s t r a t i v e r e i f i c a t i o n .  The d r i v e for c e n t r a l  179  c o n t r o l encounters opposing forces o r i g i n a t i n g with the diverse communities which B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c schools serve.  Local administrators  respond to l o c a l needs which  may c o n f l i c t with the c e n t r a l i z e d mandate.  The boundaries  between the c o n t r o l exerted by a m i n i s t r y and that of the community s h i f t c o n t i n u a l l y .  An administrator can take  refuge from c e n t r a l i z i n g p r e s c r i p t i o n s in the t r a n s i t i o n a l region between l o c a l needs and m i n i s t r y mandate.  3 . C e n t r a l i z i n g Effects When a p p l i e d to the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of p u b l i c education organizations  (kindergarten to grade twelve), computers have  centralizing effects.  Notwithstanding the absence of a  cadre of computer experts stationed w i t h i n the M i n i s t r y , and the independence most school d i s t r i c t s e x h i b i t when determining t h e i r software and hardware requirements, that d i f f e r e n t i a t e  two factors  the d i s t r i b u t e d data processing  systems  of the B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c school organization from others of s i m i l a r s i z e , t h i s conclusion i s supported by the following observations.  Computers are used mainly to pro-  cess data for the PPBS f i n a n c i a l reform adopted by the M i n i s t r y t o improve c o n t r o l of expenditures and p l a n n i n g . Subsidiary a p p l i c a t i o n s include the evaluation of student l e a r n i n g , p r o j e c t i o n of teacher supply and demand, and c a l c u l a t i o n of t a x a t i o n y i e l d s .  Each of these a p p l i c a t i o n s  s i g n i f i c a n t l y increases the M i n i s t r y ' s operational c o n t r o l over input and throughput processes,  which r e s u l t s i n  180 decreased l o c a l autonomy. Increased c e n t r a l i z a t i o n a r i s i n g from computerization supports the p r e d i c t i o n s of Laubach and Thompson (1955), and Lasswell (1971).  The M i n i s t r y ' s documentation system pos-  sesses biases that d r i v e p o l i c y toward c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . Increased input, throughput and output measurement  in the  form of budgeting, student l e a r n i n g assessments and graduat i o n examinations have produced greater c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . L a s s w e l l ' s a s s e r t i o n that access to data and computerbased simulations assure democratic outcomes, although post u l a t e d i n terms of n a t i o n a l government, may a l s o apply to p u b l i c sector o r g a n i z a t i o n s .  In the context of the B r i t i s h  Columbia p u b l i c school system, schools and school d i s t r i c t s have l i m i t e d access to the o p e r a t i o n a l information of other units.  The r e l a t i o n s h i p postulated by Lasswell i s  therefore  indeterminate. None of the findings uphold de Sola P o o l ' s expectation that a c q u i s i t i o n of personal computers by subordinate organ i z a t i o n a l u n i t s leads to increased autonomy (1983). Conversely, many B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t s c l o s e l y monitor the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e use of school computers.  Some  have already i n s t i t u t e d s t a n d a r d i z a t i o n p o l i c i e s for schools, while others a n t i c i p a t e introducing them.  Most  schools apply t h e i r computers to bookkeeping and student management.  Although computer use may lead to improved ser-  v i c e s and c o s t - e f f i c i e n c i e s , i t i s u n l i k e l y they w i l l lead to greater autonomy, given the recent increase i n  181 l e g i s l a t i o n and p o l i c i e s that c o n s t r a i n l o c a l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e initiative. S i m i l a r forces function at the school and school d i s trict level.  The use of microcomputers and minicomputers  leads to increased c o n t r o l of these u n i t s by administrators at these l e v e l s , but the computer-dependent  c o n t r o l achieved  by the M i n i s t r y i s g r e a t e r . 4. O r g a n i z a t i o n a l Objectives And Computer Systems Design The m u l t i p l i c i t y of manufacturers represented among B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t computers departs from the general r u l e that c e n t r a l i z a t i o n leads to s t a n d a r d i z a t i o n . Elsewhere, leading informatic companies have encouraged s t a n d a r d i z a t i o n since t h e i r market share i s enlarged and the l i k e l i h o o d of future sales improved.  B r i t i s h Columbia  school d i s t r i c t s have r e s i s t e d s t a n d a r d i z a t i o n for two decades.  Although BCSC r a p i d l y standardized p r o v i n c i a l govern-  ment data processing in the l a t e 1970's, for the most part school d i s t r i c t s thwarted Corporate and M i n i s t r y attempts to unify t h e i r data systems. Honeywell remains the major hardware s u p p l i e r and Datatech, a c t i n g as Honeywell's r e p r e s e n t a t i v e , software vendor.  the main  Before the i n t r o d u c t i o n of the 1982 d i s -  t r i c t computer p r o j e c t , Datatech, using Honeywell equipment, had secured the l a r g e s t market share of school d i s t r i c t o n l i n e and batch s e r v i c e s .  Datatech's sales and lobbying  182 campaign assured i t s preeminence i n the new p r o j e c t .  1  The h i s t o r i c a l predominance of a s i n g l e computer company i n part confirms the observations of Fishman (1981) and Fisher et a l (1983) on the emergence of a dominant informat i c s corporation.  In the B r i t i s h Columbia case, c o n t r o l i s  exerted by Honeywell, not IBM. The recent success of competitors' products among s o p h i s t i c a t e d computer users leaves undecided the question whether u n i f i c a t i o n of d i s t r i c t computers w i l l involve Honeywell s p e c i f i c a t i o n s . Future c o n s o l i d a t i o n plans must consider the prevalence of IBM Personal Computer s p e c i f i c a t i o n s among schools and d i s t r i c t s , and BCSC mainframe processor and networking standards.  Demand for improved c o s t - b e n e f i t s and more s e r v i c e s  w i l l propel school d i s t r i c t computer systems toward f u l l c o m p a t i b i l i t y with the M i n i s t r y ' s mainframe computing  facil-  ity . To some extent, L a s s w e l l ' s i n s i g h t that p o l i t i c a l issues often precede q u a n t i t a t i v e c o s t - e f f i c i e n c y concerns i s upheld by these f i n d i n g s .  In B r i t i s h Columbia, p u b l i c  service computerization became an i n t e n s e l y p o l i t i c a l and high-profile issue.  C a b i n e t ' s reputation seemed c l o s e l y  t i e d to the success of c e n t r a l i z e d computing p o l i c i e s .  2  Honeywell was frozen out of the B . C . p u b l i c service data processing market when BCSC selected IBM processors. The fate of Honeywell equipment received repeated a t t e n t i o n i n the l e g i s l a t u r e and news media. Some respondents conjectured that h i g h - l e v e l p o l i t i c a l i n t e r v e n t i o n assured a major r o l e for Datatech i n the 1982 computer p r o j e c t . By removing computer experts from the M i n i s t r y of Education, the c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of government data processing f a c i l i t i e s i n h i b i t e d the emergence of strong EDP 1  2  1 83 Lobbying and an unusually high degree of p o l i t i c a l  involve-  ment was present throughout the e a r l y years of BCSC. G o t l i e b (1985:101) notes that MIS departments favour standardized hardware and software.  The absence of a strong  M i n i s t r y of Education MIS d i v i s i o n c o i n c i d e d with system fragmentation.  B. RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS Research w i l l reveal how p u b l i c education, an inhere n t l y conservative o r g a n i z a t i o n , responds to a technology which i s r a d i c a l l y changing the society i n which p u b l i c schooling takes p l a c e . l a r g e l y uncharted.  Despite i t s importance, the area i s  A n a l y s i s of the research findings gath-  ered for t h i s study suggest several p o t e n t i a l l y rewarding d i r e c t i o n s for  research.  l . Costs and C o s t - B e n e f i t s What are the costs and c o s t - b e n e f i t s  of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e  computer i z a t ion? E s t a b l i s h i n g the costs and c o s t - b e n e f i t s  of a d m i n i s t r a -  t i v e computers i s c r i t i c a l to e f f e c t i v e p l a n n i n g . R e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e f i n a n c i a l information seems to be generated by the M i n i s t r y for a data processing system that i s i t s e l f designed to produce increased f i n a n c i a l knowledge about p r o v i n c i a l  2  operations.  ( c o n t ' d ) c e n t r a l i z a t i o n forces w i t h i n the school system.  184 Of perhaps greater concern are the economic computerization has on the n a t i o n .  effects  Educational organiza-  t i o n s e x i s t in a web of s o c i a l and economic  interdependen-  Assessed i n terms of immediate o r g a n i z a t i o n a l objec-  ces.  t i v e s , senior management's d e c i s i o n to respond to  falling  revenues by introducing a computerized Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System may be d e s i r a b l e . ment these computer-dependent  Decisions to imple-  e f f i c i e n c i e s and cost  reduc-  t i o n s , however, may p r e c i p i t a t e a further c y c l e of d e c l i n e in f i s c a l support from outside the immediate o r g a n i z a t i o n . Unlike lumber and concrete, examples of m a t e r i a l s manufactured in Canada, and common ingredients in school cons t r u c t i o n , computers and i n c r e a s i n g l y t h e i r software l a r g e l y imported.  are  An h i s t o r i c a l l y r e l i a b l e source of eco-  nomic s t i m u l a t i o n — c a p i t a l expenditure on schools — decreases i n effect ment.  3  when the goods purchased reduce employ-  Educational expenditure on domestic  contributes  manufactures  to a robust r e s i d e n t i a l and commercial tax base  which i n turn supports larger educational  expenditures.  When a s i g n i f i c a n t p o r t i o n of the educational d o l l a r i s d i r e c t e d outside Canada i n a quest for microprocessor  effi-  c i e n c i e s , then compensatory mechanisms w i l l have to be introduced to overcome d e c l i n i n g educational revenues  (see  Appendix C ) .  The author recognizes that computer sales are an employment source, but problems a r i s i n g from Canada's h i s t o r i c r o l e as an entrepot economy are e s p e c i a l l y acute i n the area of i n f o r m a t i c s . 3  185 2 . I n t e r - p r o v i n c i a l Cooperation I s . i n t e r - p r o v i n c i a l cooperation on the development of advanced computer systems  warranted?  For a province i n which o p e r a t i o n a l uniformity between M i n i s t r y and d i s t r i c t computers has yet to be a t t a i n e d ,  dis-  cussion of i n t e r p r o v i n c i a l cooperation may seem premature. The f i r s t signs of i n t e r p r o v i n c i a l cooperation have already appeared in a r e l a t e d e l e c t r o n i c endeavour, television.  educational  P r o v i n c i a l m i n i s t r i e s of education are as capa-  ble as the p r i v a t e sector of producing i n s t r u c t i o n a l , f i n a n c i a l and managerial software with n a t i o n a l relevance and marketing p o t e n t i a l . •  3 . A d m i n i s t r a t i v e Computers and Educational D i v e r s i t y How can computer systems be designed to support educational diversity? The B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t computerization project was designed to support a Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System.  F i n a n c i a l cutbacks associated with PPBS  and r e l a t e d computer i n i t i a t i v e s at the d i s t r i c t and M i n i s t r y l e v e l have reduced the range of educational e x p e r i ence.  However, computer programs can be designed with the  capacity to manage increased educational d i v e r s i t y with l i t t l e i f any increase in c o s t .  The design of computerized  management systems r e f l e c t s the p o l i t i c a l and c u l t u r a l assumptions of management.  How. computers are a p p l i e d to the  management of education may be as important as t h e i r  186 a p p l i c a t i o n to i n s t r u c t i o n .  4 . Middle Management — Candidates for Computerization? Are school and school d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t i v e p o s i t i o n s good candidates for computerization? In t h i s study, d i r e c t managerial impact was observed only at the lowest rung.  Following the pattern achieved in  the commercial and p u b l i c s e c t o r s ,  further d i r e c t incursions  may be expected among middle management and executive ranks. The extent and rate at which managers, i n p r o v i n c i a l p u b l i c education organizations integrate computers i n t o t h e i r work routines i s of considerable i n t e r e s t . administrative resistance,  W i l l the present  apparently derived from managers  a s s o c i a t i n g computer use with c l e r i c a l work, p e r s i s t ? Educational administrators are a l s o l i k e l y to r e s i s t a process that under the guise of e f f i c i e n c y has l e d other organ i z a t i o n s to v i g o r o u s l y apply operations research to middle management.  techniques  The consequences are an erosion of  personal freedom and a climate where supervisors are c l o s e l y supervised.  themselves  '-•  C. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS In the years ahead, p u b l i c school organizations w i l l follow p u b l i c and p r i v a t e sector i n i t i a t i v e s i n introducing computer systems to a s s i s t administration.  in the n o n - f i n a n c i a l aspects of  A f i r s t step w i l l be the p r o v i s i o n of an  online data base containing p r o v i n c i a l p o l i c i e s and  187 l e g i s l a t i o n r e l a t e d to school management.  Such a database  w i l l include commentaries and l e g a l opinions of relevance to l i n e managers."  A second step w i l l be the c r e a t i o n of an  expert system designed to guide school and school d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t o r s through the i n c r e a s i n g l y complex maze of fede r a l and p r o v i n c i a l l e g i s l a t i o n impinging on t h e i r d a i l y routines.  The expert system w i l l a l s o be designed for use  by the M i n i s t e r and senior a d v i s o r s . A number of recommendations a r i s e from the process of comparing the B r i t i s h Columbia p u b l i c school p o l i c y on a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computers with the data processing p r a c t i c e s followed in p r i v a t e and p u b l i c j u r i s d i c t i o n s .  The following  synopsis of the most prominent recommendations r e l a t e s speci f i c a l l y to B r i t i s h Columbia, but may a l s o apply to other jurisdictions.  These recommendations can serve as departure  points for further  research.  1. M i n i s t r y Coordination of EDP Purchases Coordinate purchases at the M i n i s t r y l e v e l of computers and software for the e n t i r e o r g a n i z a t i o n . P r i c e leverage i s reduced when seventy-five school d i s t r i c t s and many more schools i n d i v i d u a l l y purchase t h e i r EDP equipment.  Data processing equipment for schools and school  d i s t r i c t s should be purchased through the B r i t i s h Columbia " The B r i t i s h Columbia School Trustees A s s o c i a t i o n has already placed t h e i r l e g a l opinions concerning current d i s t r i c t mananagement questions i n an e l e c t r o n i c f i l e which i s accessed by school d i s t r i c t subscribers through a p r i v a t e l y operated e l e c t r o n i c mail system.  188 Purchasing Commission after c o n s u l t a t i o n with BCSC and the Ministry.  2 . Standardize Informatics Components Standardize operating systems, a p p l i c a t i o n s and computers.  Develop modular programs for school and school  d i s t r i c t administration. Standardization maximizes p o t e n t i a l  cost-benefits.  Communication v i a a p r o v i n c i a l p u b l i c school network i s f a c i l i t a t e d when there are common terminals and processors. Standardization w i l l j u s t i f y the high cost of preparing an expert system and other data bases by d i s t r i b u t i n g the financial  burden.  3 . Common Operating System Make school microcomputers, d i s t r i c t minicomputers and mainframes, and the M i n i s t r y mainframe run on a common operating system. The o b j e c t i v e , as in item two, i s to improve communicat i o n s , reduce costs and increase  flexibility.  4. Use BCSC Communications Network Use the p r o v i n c i a l communications network operated by the B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation. BCSC has an advanced, high-speed e l e c t r o n i c network with nodes i n most major p r o v i n c i a l c e n t r e s .  Although users  pay for long-distance telephone connections to the nodes,  189 downline access i s without charge.  More s o p h i s t i c a t e d mes-  saging appears to be p o s s i b l e with the BCSC network than with the commercial Envoy e l e c t r o n i c mail s e r v i c e .  The  number of school and school d i s t r i c t subscribers to Envoy continues to grow — r e s u l t i n g i n considerable redundancy for the education  equipment  system.  5. Transmit Data E l e c t r o n i c a l l y Move s t a t i s t i c a l and f i n a n c i a l records e l e c t r o n i c a l l y through the medium of magnetic tape, floppy d i s k , and high speed data transmission. In the f a l l o u t of f i n a n c i a l reform, the types and quant i t y of manually prepare forms seem to have climbed.  Much  time i s consumed by d i s t r i c t s t a f f manually t r a n s f e r i n g data processing r e s u l t s to prescribed M i n i s t r y forms, followed by hand s o r t i n g and data re-entry v i a .Ministry t e r m i n a l s . These procedures are wasteful; better to fully-modernize information handling by introducing e l e c t r o n i c data t r a n s mission for a l l v i t a l f i n a n c i a l and s t a t i s t i c a l information.  5  An i n d i c a t i o n that the M i n i s t r y i s moving i n t h i s d i r e c t i o n i s exemplified by by the f i e l d t r i a l to be conducted by BCRC and the Vancouver School D i s t r i c t i n June, 1986 which w i l l involve the exchange of magnetic tapes. The tapes w i l l contain student data r e l a t i n g to senior secondary graduation. 5  1 90 6. E s t a b l i s h a D i v i s i o n of Informatics The M i n i s t r y w i l l e s t a b l i s h a d i v i s i o n responsible for systems a n a l y s i s , programs, and coordination of the  entire  p r o v i n c i a l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e informatics system. A common element unites Canadian p u b l i c school o r g a n i zations that possess advanced EDP systems: strong c e n t r a l departments manage a d m i n i s t r a t i v e i n f o r m a t i c s .  Circumspect  M i n i s t r y d i r e c t i o n in t h i s r a p i d l y changing f i e l d i s not p o s s i b l e without employing a group of f u l l - t i m e experts. Short-term employment contracts and poorly informed committees have l e d to many EDP problems. An MIS branch w i l l comprise capable programers and systems a n a l y s t s .  The branch w i l l oversee o n - s i t e t e s t i n g of  hardware and software at the school and school d i s t r i c t level.  I t s mandate w i l l include the r e a l i z a t i o n of the  recommendations c i t e d here. 7. Retain Ownership of Software Developed Under Contract Ownership and d i s t r i b u t i o n r i g h t s to be retained by the M i n i s t r y for program development contracted to p r i v a t e companies.  P r o v i n c i a l l i c e n c e s w i l l be sought for p r o p r i e t a r y  software. Again, cost reduction i s a prime o b j e c t i v e .  The status  of software ownership developed under contract i s addressed in the M i n i s t r y ' s 1982 computer p o l i c y .  Subsequent a c t i o n  appears to have departed from t h i s d i r e c t i v e .  Were the  M i n i s t r y to r e t a i n ownership, software could be exchanged  191 with other provinces. Steps should be taken to l i c e n s e popular o f f - t h e - s h e l f software for school and d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n on a p r o v i n c i a l basis.  Licensing agreements for educational  software  have already been concluded by the M i n i s t r y ' s P r o v i n c i a l Educational Media Centre.  Licences are popular with p r i v a t e  companies; they allow the r e c i p i e n t to make a designated number of copies for d i s t r i b u t i o n throughout the organization.  8. I n s t i t u t e F u l l Informatics Accounting P r a c t i c e s I n s t i t u t e accounting p r a c t i c e s that support  cost-  benefit and c o s t - e f f i c i e n c y analyses of i n f o r m a t i c s . Policy-making i s severely handicapped by i n s u f f i c i e n t f i n a n c i a l information on the r e l a t i v e cost of equipping and operating various computer o p t i o n s .  This information w i l l  be l i n k e d with performance data obtained from d e t a i l e d t r i a l s as suggested in recommendation s i x (page 189).  field This  information could a l s o serve the federal government when n a t i o n a l p o l i c i e s are evolved to address the r e l a t i o n s h i p between p u b l i c service informatics and the weakening Canadian economy.  The f i n a n c i a l i m p l i c a t i o n s for education  of a s h r i n k i n g domestic tax base coupled with a s u b s t a n t i a l e x t r a - n a t i o n a l c a p i t a l outflow a r i s i n g from hardware and software purchases i s discussed i n Appendix C.  1 92 9. Seek Cooperation Between P r o v i n c i a l M i n i s t r i e s of Education . Cooperate with other education m i n i s t r i e s to develop hardware, and modular computer programs. P r i v a t e l y packaged programs, such as those for bookkeeping and inventory, are popular i n the B r i t i s h Columbia school system.  No s i g n i f i c a n t obstacles block p r o v i n c i a l  m i n i s t r i e s from j o i n t l y producing a d m i n i s t r a t i v e packages.  software  Many mainframe-, minicomputer-, and  microcomputer-based student management,  f i n a n c i a l , and  accounting programs sold to B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t s are s l i g h t l y modified versions of products d i s t r i b uted across Canada and the United States.  Modular  software  j o i n t l y produced at a n a t i o n a l centre could be customized by individual provincial ministries. The high cost of w r i t i n g complex programs, p a r t i c u l a r l y expert systems, provides a strong incentive for cooperative development.  Operating and a p p l i c a t i o n system i n c o m p a t i b i l -  i t y between provinces hinders the extent of current  inter-  p r o v i n c i a l cooperation, but with complete hardware  replace-  ment occurring every f i v e years, the r e a l i z a t i o n of  inter-  p r o v i n c i a l computer standards for educational a d m i n i s t r a t i o n i s a reasonable  expectation.  1 93 D. AFTERWORD Any consideration of the a p p l i c a t i o n of computers  to  the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of a p u b l i c school system should consider t h e i r effect  on the education of young people.  In B r i t i s h  Columbia, several m i l l i o n d o l l a r s are spent each year on the a c q u i s i t i o n and operation of a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computers w i t h i n the school system.  Does t h i s expenditure  improve educa-  t i o n a l outcomes i n the classroom? If the annual cost,  i n c l u d i n g salary and benefit  pack-  age, of employing a recently graduated secondary school teacher i s approximately t h i r t y - t h r e e then t h i r t y - t h r e e  thousand d o l l a r s ,  6  teachers could be h i r e d for each one  m i l l i o n d o l l a r s c u r r e n t l y spent on a d m i n i s t r a t i v e  computers.  Some may argue that were a d e c i s i o n made to d i r e c t these funds from a d m i n i s t r a t i o n toward the classroom, only a r e l a t i v e l y small number of students would b e n e f i t .  Although the  o v e r a l l change may be s m a l l , for those students d i r e c t l y affected the impact would be s i g n i f i c a n t . There i s l i t t l e evidence to i n d i c a t e that a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computers have improved the educational experience of young people.  On the contrary, the recent expansion of com-  puter use i n B r i t i s h Columbia i s c l o s e l y associated with educational cutbacks, narrower course and curriculum offerings,  larger c l a s s s i z e s , and reductions i n the number  of classroom teachers. tional  These events have brought  educa-  impoverishment.  based on S t a t i s t i c s Canada and B r i t i s h Columbia Teachers' Federation respondents; S t a t i s t i c s Canada 1985b; BCTF 1984b) 6  194 C e r t a i n l y some aspects of student l e a r n i n g are more c l o s e l y tracked, and educational expenditures are monitored in greater d e t a i l , but measurement alone does not lead to educational improvement.  P l a c i n g more teachers in schools,  ensuring that students are properly clothed and nourished, and that they have good educational f a c i l i t i e s , components of any plan to improve l e a r n i n g .  are c e n t r a l  The formula i s  simple and e f f e c t i v e . Good education c o s t s ; better education costs more. When the state educates large numbers of c o l l e g e and u n i v e r s i t y graduates to deny them, on graduation, productive r o l e s in the education of school students, end do we measure?  one must ask: To what  To what ends do we educate?  The a p p l i c a t i o n of computers to p u b l i c school administ r a t i o n i s part of a l a r g e r s o c i a l r e v o l u t i o n in which computers and associated i n d u s t r i a l processes continue to disemploy ever more people.  S a l a r i e d and wage r e l a t e d jobs  have, i n the past, provided a means to r e d i s t r i b u t e s o c i a l resources. redundant,  As these labour employment mechanisms are made other means of resource d i s t r i b u t i o n must be  implemented to foster s o c i a l v i t a l i t y .  Learning and the  education of others present o p p o r t u n i t i e s for a l l to share in our c u l t u r a l and m a t e r i a l h e r i t a g e .  These endeavours  provide some of the most important means of d i s t r i b u t i n g wealth and assuring s o c i a l v i g o u r . The recent B r i t i s h Columbia scenario, i n which the very machines that have the p o t e n t i a l to e n r i c h l e a r n i n g "are used  195 instead to reduce educational opportunity, must surely rank as one of the less productive a p p l i c a t i o n s p o s s i b l e . r i s i n g importance of computers throughout community should herald s u b s t a n t i a l school expenditure;  The  the g l o b a l  increases  in p u b l i c  increases that w i l l be d i r e c t e d toward  improving classroom c o n d i t i o n s and reducing c l a s s s i z e .  1 96 GLOSSARY  1  batch  O r i g i n a l l y , a method of organizing work for a computer system, designed to reduce overheads by grouping together s i m i l a r jobs. The jobs were c o l l e c t e d into batches, each batch r e q u i r i n g a p a r t i c u l a r compiler, the compiler loaded once, and then the jobs submitted in sequence to the compiler.; At the end of the batch of compilations those jobs that had produced an executable binary form were loaded in sequence and t h e i r data presented to the jobs. The term has a l s o come to be a p p l i e d to the background processing of jobs not r e q u i r i n g i n t e r v e n t i o n by the user, which takes place on many multiaccess systems.  central processing unit The a r i t h m e t i c and (ALU) and the c o n t r o l unit (CU) and not always, the primary memory. As a computing system have become more s p e c i f i c a t i o n of the CPU has become cant.  logic unit sometimes, but the functions i n autonomous, the less s i g n i f i -  cost-benefit a n a l y s i s A determination of the r e l a t i o n s h i p between cost and benefit i n choosing between a l t e r native courses of a c t i o n . A management s c i e n t i s t , a p o l i t i c a l s c i e n t i s t or a s o c i o l o g i s t may adopt a d i f f e r e n t view or consider quite d i f f e r e n t factors in the accounting. The usual case i s that costs are i d e n t i f i e d r e a d i l y , but that benefits are more i n t r a c t a b l e because there are important ones which are i n t a n g i b l e or u n q u a n t i f i a b l e . In s i t u a t i o n s where service centres are not operated as p r o f i t or cost centres, as happens in the p u b l i c s e c t o r , even determining costs can present problems, because of accounting and budgeting r u l e s which do not allow amortization of c a p i t a l equipment or carryover of funds from one f i s c a l period to the n e x t . 2  data entry The process i n which an operator uses a keyboard or other device to input data d i r e c t l y into a system. database  A c o l l e c t i o n of i n t e r r e l a t e d data values of such a nature that they might be represented as a number  The Glossary draws e x t e n s i v e l y on the Dictionary Of by V a l e r i e I l l i n g w o r t h , Edward L . Glaser and I . C. P y l e , 1983. Extract from The Economi cs Of Computers by C a l v i n G o t l i e b , 1985, page 124. 1  Computing 2  197 of f i l e s but not a s i n g l e f i l e . Depending upon the nature of the database management system, these f i l e s may be integrated permanently into a s i n g l e connected structure or integrated temporarily for each i n t e r r o g a t i o n . distributed data processing The o r g a n i z a t i o n of processing to be c a r r i e d out on a d i s t r i b u t e d system. Each process i s free to process l o c a l data and make l o c a l d e c i s i o n s . The processes exchange information with each other over a data communication network to process data or to read d e c i s i o n s that affect m u l t i p l e processes. electronic data processing Refers e i t h e r to a c l a s s of computer a p p l i c a t i o n s or to a function w i t h i n the o r g a n i z a t i o n . Data processing a p p l i c a t i o n s may be c h a r a c t e r i z e d as those that store and process large q u a n t i t i e s of data on. a routine b a s i s , i n order to be able to produce information that i s r e q u i r e d . electronic mail Messages sent from one user of a computer system to one or more r e c i p i e n t s (or the conveyance of such messages), the computer system being used to hold and transport messages. Sender and r e c e i v e r s need not be o n l i n e at the same time, or even on the same computer to communicate. E l e c t r o n i c mail i s an important component of an o f f i c e automation system. floppy disk A magnetic information storage medium c o n s i s t ing of a c i r c u l a r polyester substrate coated on one or both sides with magnetic oxide and enclosed w i t h i n a s t i f f envelope, the i n s i d e of which i s coated with a cleaning m a t e r i a l . The envelope has a r a d i a l s l o t — or two s l o t s for a double-sided floppy disk — through which the read/write heads of a floppy-disk d r i v e can contact the d i s k . A hole in the envelope and disk i s provided so that a photosensor may be used to generate an index pulse once per r e v o l u t i o n s i g n a l . hard disk A magnetic recording medium c o n s i s t i n g of an aluminum substrate coated or plated — u s u a l l y on both sides — with a magnetic m a t e r i a l . informatics The study of information and i t s handling, e s p e c i a l l y by means of new information technology, i n c l u d i n g computers and' telecommunications. The expression a l s o designates a system, as i n 'informat i c s system.' A. I . M i k h a i l o v e , a Russian communications t h e o r i s t , o r i g i n a t e d the term ( G a r f i e l d 1986). local area network  A high-speed communication network  198 l i n k i n g a number of s t a t i o n s in the same ' l o c a l ' area, v a r i o u s l y defined as the same b u i l d i n g , a radius of one k i l o m e t e r , or a s i n g l e p l a n t . mainframe G e n e r a l l y , the combination of c e n t r a l processor and primary memory of a computer system. Any large computer system. The d i s t i n c t i o n between mainframe and minicomputer i s becoming b l u r r e d . management information system An information system whose prime purpose i s to supply information to management. memory  A device or medium that can r e t a i n information for subsequent r e t r i e v a l . The term i s synonymous with storage and s t o r e , although i t i s most frequently used for r e f e r r i n g to the i n t e r n a l storage of a computer that can be d i r e c t l y addressed by operating instructions.  microcomputer A computer system that u t i l i z e s a microprocessor as i t s c e n t r a l c o n t r o l and a r i t h m e t i c e l e ment. As'microprocessors become s t i l l more powerful and p e r i p h e r a l devices become more c o s t - e f f e c t i v e , microcomputers w i l l continue to encroach on the •domain of minicomputers and the d i s t i n c t i o n between them w i l l b l u r , i f not disappear. microprocessor A semiconductor c h i p , or chip set, that implements the c e n t r a l processor of a computer. Microprocessors c o n s i s t of, at minimum, an a r i t h m e t i c and l o g i c unit and a c o n t r o l u n i t . network  In communications, a rather l o o s e l y defined term a p p l i e d to a system that c o n s i s t s of t e r m i n a l s , nodes and interconnection media that can include l i n e s or trunks, s a t e l l i t e s , microwave, medium- and long-wave r a d i o , e t c . In general, a network i s a c o l l e c t i o n of resources used to e s t a b l i s h and switch communication paths between i t s t e r m i n a l s .  online  Connected to the system and usable.  operating system The set of software products that j o i n t l y c o n t r o l s the system resources and the processes using these resources on a computer system. planning, programing, and budgeting system A t o t a l l y i n t e grated computer dependent process that extends from the planning and a n a l y s i s functions through programing and budgeting i n t o operations, r e p o r t i n g and control. processor  A computer, u s u a l l y / o f t e n the c e n t r a l  processor.  199 systems a n a l y s i s Is the a n a l y s i s of the r o l e of a proposed system and the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of a set of r e q u i r e ments that the system should meet. I t forms the s t a r t i n g point for system design. systems network a r c h i t e c t u r e The l o g i c a l s t r u c t u r e , formats, p r o t o c o l s , and o p e r a t i o n a l sequences for t r a n s m i t t i n g information u n i t s through, and c o n t r o l l i n g the c o n f i g u r a t i o n and operation of networks. This i n t e r f a c e i s the foundation of IBM's u n i f i e d informatics strategy. text processing  Another name for word processing.  word processing An o f f i c e automation f a c i l i t y that enables users to compose documents using a computer with f a c i l i t i e s to e d i t , re-format, s t o r e , and p r i n t documents with maximum f l e x i b i l i t y . A t y p i c a l word processing f a c i l i t y c o n s i s t s of a video t e r m i n a l , word processing program, store and p r i n t e r .  BIBLIOGRAPHY  Abelson, Philip H. & Allen L. Hammond. (1981). The Electronics Revolution. The Microelectronics Revolution. 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Conway i s the f i r s t D i r e c t o r D i v i s i o n abandons e l e c t r i c machine scoring of t e s t s after t r i a l s Hand scoring of 31,480 examination papers D i v i s i o n ' s in-house IBM 650 computer " p a r t i a l l y mechanizes" scoring of 63,000 m a t r i c u l a t i o n examinations. Probably first in-house computer  in  the  British  Columbia  Government  IBM 1620 computer replaces IBM 650. Two years required to r e w r i t e 650 programs Vancouver School D i s t r i c t uses UBC mainframe to schedule secondary school classes Department of "Finance ( M i n i s t r y of Finance) computerizes accounting system B . C . Research Council completes preliminary work on an IBM 360 program which forecasts school enrolment A l l regular M i n i s t r y non-scholarship examinat i o n s are e n t i r e l y objective to f a c i l i t a t e computerized scoring Examination s c a l i n g on the IBM 360-30 Vancouver School D i s t r i c t i s f i r s t i n province to i n s t a l l an a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computer Report commissioned by Educational Research I n s t i t u t e recommends Regional Educational Data Processing Centres. At year end, eighteen school d i s t r i c t s use some form of e l e c t r o n i c data processing equipment or service  Event Columbia Computer Systems Limited introduces a c e n t r a l i z e d computer batch service for course scheduling and student marks B . C . School Trustees A s s o c i a t i o n presents b r i e f to M i n i s t e r urging immediate a c t i o n on r e g i o n a l educational data processing cent r e s , J u l y 11; no a c t i o n taken by M i n i s t r y F i r s t use of BCRC student enrolment computer model Regular grade twelve p r o v i n c i a l examinations end i n June Research and Standards Branch d i v i d e d i n t o three branches: Learning Assessment, Information, and Educational Data Services B . C . Research C o u n c i l ' s f i r s t formal computer run of Teacher Demand And Supply Model Dr. Conway, D i r e c t o r of Research and Standards r e t i r e s , December 31 Data Services Branch begins work on new Management Information System M i n i s t r y develops computerized c a p a b i l i t y for e x t r a c t i n g s p e c i a l reports from data bases U . S . N a t i o n a l Centre for Education S t a t i s t i c s requests data from M i n i s t r y Woods Gordon report on B . C . government data processing recommends c e n t r a l i z a t i o n M i n i s t r y releases  Program for Information  a Financial System,  and  March Apple C o r p o r a t i o n . s e l l s f i r s t microcomputer, June System Act proclaimed, September 1, e s t a b l i s h ing B . C . Systems Corporation (BCSC) Administrative  Event BCSC consolidates a l l e l e c t r o n i c data processing for seventeen m i n i s t r i e s and most Crown c o r p o r a t i o n s , March 31 M i n i s t r y of Education loses independent EDP c a p a b i l i t y — computer p r o f e s s i o n a l s dispersed I n t e r - m i n i s t e r i a l Committee on E l e c t r o n i c Data Processing Services reports to M i n i s t e r of Finance, October Educational Data Services Branch provides an i n t e r f a c e between the M i n i s t r y and BCSC, government, and non-government agencies R e s p o n s i b i l i t y for U n i v e r s i t i e s moved to separate m i n i s t r y , 1979-80 Lower Mai nl and School District Computer Needs Report recommends s t a n d a r d i z a t i o n of equip-  ment, operating system and a p p l i c a t i o n s ; no a c t i o n taken  M i n i s t r y c o l l e c t s 50,000 e s s e n t i a l documents each year Three years of r a d i c a l change to the f i n a n c i a l a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of the p r o v i n c i a l government commences, 1980-1983 School boards w r i t e to government expressing opposition to proposed Financial Administration  Act  M i n i s t r y sponsors p i l o t project — 100 microcomputers for classroom use; cost $200,000 P r i c e Waterhouse completes favourable study of B . C . Systems Corporation M i n i s t r y of Finance terminates BCSC development of comprehensive and integrated governmentwide network of f i n a n c i a l systems — c i t i n g complexity and cost Administration Act proclaimed, J u l y 24 IBM 8100 d i s t r i b u t e d minicomputer system i n s t a l l e d i n P u b l i c a t i o n Services Branch IBM introduces Personal Computer, August  Financial  Event Harts Systems Limited offers student management program for Apple 11+ microcomputer B . C . Government's F i s c a l Restraint Program begins, March 31 M i n i s t r y announces School D i s t r i c t Administrat i o n Computer Program, May M i n i s t r y implements sixteen IBM Personal Computers for a d m i n i s t r a t i v e purposes during 1982-83 f i s c a l year Treasury Board develops microcomputer support system for c a p i t a l budgeting for use i n a l l ministries BCSC completes s i n g l e mainframe a r c h i t e c t u r e BCSC i n s t a l l s province-wide data communications network (SNA/SDLC); regional centres l i n k Prince George, Kelowna, Nelson, Kamloops, Vancouver and V i c t o r i a ; some centres equipped with minicomputers BCSC provides courses and support for microcomputers BCSC converts Honeywell a p p l i c a t i o n s to IBM a r c h i t e c t u r e ; 268 people l o g i n excess of 100,000 hours; cost 5.6 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s M i n i s t r y of Education introduces new F i s c a l Framework and Program Budgeting System, July Government offers B . C . Systems Corporation for s a l e , August 31 Education  (Interim)  Finance  Amendment Act  proclaimed, October 26; transfers taxing and budgeting a u t h o r i t y from d i s t r i c t s to Ministry Public Sector Restraint Act proclaimed October 26; permits termination of p u b l i c sector employees to reduce the s i z e and complexity of operations  Event P r o v i n c i a l examinations r e i n s t a t e d after nineyear h i a t u s . EDP support for examinations contracted to ERIBC Government r e t r a c t s BCSC sale o f f e r , A p r i l 14; Corporation reorganized Columbia Computing Systems Limited introduces personal computer version (PC XT) of i t s student management program, February; includes c l a s s scheduling, marks r e p o r t i n g , and student demographics; t h i s program handles up to 3,000 students using a PC AT. Conclusion of four-year school d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t i v e computer project M i n i s t e r of Education dismisses Vancouver School Trustees on May 5, and Cowichan Lake School Trustees on May 13, for non-compliance with M i n i s t r y ' s budget g u i d e l i n e s IBM consolidates c o n t r o l of m i c r o - , m i n i - , mainframe computer market and g l o b a l communications Last run of BCRC Teacher Demand and Supply Model; t h i s computer program i s shelved pending M i n i s t r y of Education funding for redesign as an i n t e r a c t i v e model Japan announces commercial production of one megabyte c h i p and s i g n i f i c a n t breakthroughs in F i f t h Generation Project School trustee e l e c t i o n s c a l l e d by M i n i s t e r of Education for Vancouver and Cowichan Lake School D i s t r i c t s , January 30, 1986 Education  (Interim)  Finance  Amendment  Act,  repeal a n t i c i p a t e d by December 31, 1986 Revisions a n t i c i p a t e d to M i n i s t r y of Education f i s c a l management system Vancouver School D i s t r i c t conducts t r i a l of sending data tapes to BCRC for production of graduation c e r t i f i c a t e s Project Athena at Massachusetts I n s t i t u t e of Technology enters t h i r d year  238  Appendix B  COMPUTER ACQUISITION PROGRAM FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Page  1.  Introduction  1  2.  Program Policies  1  3.  Funding  4  4.  Information Systems Plan  4  5.  Equipment Submissions  7  Appendices A:  Treasury Board Directive 6/82  B:  Provincial Government Information Systems Strategy  239  1.  INTRODUCTION The Ministry of Education recognizes the growing demand for information systems technology to service the administrative and educational requirements of British Columbia school d i s t r i c t s . It also recognizes that most school districts are unable to move in this direction without funding assistance from the Ministry. To provide this assistance, the Ministry is setting up a Computer Acquisition Program which is outlined in this document. The major objectives of the program are: -  to provide financial assistance by way of a cost sharing program which may enable school districts to implement in-house computer systems.  -  to ensure that costs, savings, benefits and processing methods resulting from the introduction of computer processing can be determined before the decision to acquire a computer is made, as required by Treasury Board Directive 6/82 (see Appendix A).  -  to ensure that information systems developed and operated by school districts are technically and operationally feasible as well as compatible with the Provincial Government Information Systems strategy (see Appendix B).  This program is intended to assist school districts in meeting their information requirements through determining whether the acquisition of in-house computer resources could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their operations. The acquisition of in-house computer systems, on a dedicated or regionally shared basis, should be compared with the use of service bureau f a c i l i t i e s in any proposed solutions.  240  2.  PROGRAM POLICIES The Ministry has formulated the following policies to govern the implementation of the Computer Acquisition Program.  POLICIES 1.  The Ministry of Education supports in principle the acquisition of information systems technology by school boards where these technologies can be demonstrated to result in increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness in meeting the districts administrative and educational requirements. The Ministry will support proposals for the acquisition of information systems technology which promote the capability to exchange information and data effectively and efficiently between individual school districts and between school districts and the Ministry, and which are compatible with the policies established under the B.C. Systems Act.  2.  The Ministry is prepared to share with school districts capital purchase costs, or lease-to-purchase costs associated with the acquisition and/or operation of information systems technology on the same basis as capital costs are currently shared. Approved capital costs for the i n i t i a l systems set up including hardware, software and site preparation will be shared in the same ratio as the individual provincial-district ratio on capital sharing. Subsequent annual operating costs will be shared by the Ministry on the same individual provincial-district ratio as the overall district operating budget.  3.  School boards will be permitted to acquire and operate information systems technology following approval by the Ministry, and to retain ownership of equipment where financial and management advantage can be demonstrated. All software acquired under Ministry capital costsharing arrangements will be owned jointly by the Ministry of Education and the local school d i s t r i c t . Districts will make this software freely available to any other school d i s t r i c t , upon the request to do so by the Ministry.  241  GUIDELINES 1.  School Boards contemplating acquisition of information systems technology for which the Ministry will cost-share are required by both Treasury Board Directive and the B.C. Systems Corporation to provide evidence of comprehensive Information Systems Plans. These plans must relate to a minimum time period of three years and must demonstrate the economic advantage of the plan.  2.  British Columbia Systems Corporation will evaluate Information Systems Plans and equipment requests pertaining to the acquisition and/or operation of information systems technology, and based upon this review, will make »erommendat >ns to thp Ministry for systems support. ir  3.  The Ministry will establish a Computer Review Committee including representation from school d i s t r i c t s , B . C . S . C . , and the Ministry. This Committee will review a l l requests for systems support, the detailed recommendations of the B.C. Systems Corporation, and recommend to the Ministry an annual priority ranking of submissions for funding.  PROCEDURES The capital cost-sharing program will be phased in in four equal steps between 1982 and 1985. Where available shared capital funding in any one year does not meet approved requests, funding will be established based on the priority ranking of the Computer Review Committee. Key evaluation criteria will include: 1)  Compatibility of the plan with the information systems strategy of the Provincial Government (see Appendix B).  2)  A cost justification statement including identification of anticipated long term capital and operating costs.  3)  Initial set-up and annual operating costs within acceptable annual range based on d i s t r i c t size. For 1982, the overall provincial average for i n i t i a l set-up costs of $8.00/pupil and for annual operating costs of $4.00/pupil will be used when evaluating plans.  4)  Evidence of economies realized through such procedures as sharing of software development costs among two or more districts.  5)  The district is making full use of any compatible computer software packages at such time as these may become available from the Ministry.  242  The Ministry of Education may request a status report indicating all costs associated with the operation of information systems (software and equipment). The Ministry also strongly recommends that each school d i s t r i c t regularly review their systems to ensure the continuation of need and adequate service and cost levels. A Systems Evaluation Methodology Handbook is available from the Ministry of Education, Division of Data and Information Services. 3.  FUNDING To obtain Ministry cost-sharing, it is a requirement of Treasury Board and B.C. Systems Corporation, that a three to five year Information Systems Plan be prepared detailing the administrative and educational systems you anticipate starting or operating during the period. This document will be treated as part of the capital budgeting process and will be approved in principle by the Ministry upon the recommendation of the B.C. Systems Corporation and the Computer Review Committee as part of the Ministry's annual Treasury Board submission. The following information has been prepared by the B.C. Systems Corporation to assist districts in the preparation of this plan.  4.  INFORMATION SYSTEMS PLAN 4..1  Approvals Required  4..2  Objectives of the Plan  4..3  Budget Requirements and Cost Justification  4,,4  Planned Schedule  4..5  Equipment Requirements  4..6  Software Requirements  4.,7  Staffing Requirements  4.,8  F a c i l i t i e s Requirements  4..9  Operating Costs  The planning for information systems should stem from consideration of the data and information required to support the administrative and educational activities of your d i s t r i c t . In order to properly prepare an Information Systems Plan, you must have a set of prioritized organizational objectives and a clear statement of the information required to meet the defined strategic activities.  243  4.1 APPROVALS_REQUIRED This section should contain a concise statement of a l l the equipment and software you are planning to acquire or develop, and its relationship to your information requirements. Specific requests for Ministry capital cost-sharing should be highlighted. The Ministry encourages districts to pursue cooperative efforts among several districts in sharing of hardware and/or software, where this can be demonstrated to result in improved cost and operating efficiency. (See also the B.C. School District Administrative Computer Systems Catalogue which l i s t s hardware and software now in use across the Province.) 4.2 QBJECTIVES_OFJHE_PLAN This section should contain a summary of each objective or achievement you will be working towards to meet your information requirements during the next three to five years. 4  •  3  MKIPAIED_ByDGET_REgyiREMENT This section should be prepared in the form of a chart indicating the anticipated costs associated with your planned information systems. Equipment, software, staffing, f a c i l i t i e s and miscellaneous operating costs for each year of the plan should be stated (see example on page 8 . This section should also state a l l the benefits which would be derived from the implementation of the plan. All possible benefits should be quantified and compared to the anticipated costs. The 'Net Present Value' method of analysis is recommended. Any intangible benefits should be listed at the end of this section.  4.4 PLANNED_SCHEDULE A graphic schedule of proposed a c t i v i t i e s , should be included in this section (example on page 9 ). Each piece of equipment and associated software system must be indicated along with the anticipated installation dates and system l i f e span. 4.5 EQUIPMENT^REQUIREMENTS This section should highlight the type of equipment you anticipate acquiring. You should indicate the relationship of this equipment to your information systems objectives. If old equipment is being replaced, you should indicate disposal plans.  244  4.6 §OFTWARE_REQUIREMENTS This section should indicate each software system you anticipate installing. The relationship of this software to the information systems objectives should be indicated. You should also indicate whether the software is to be developed in-house or acquired from alternative sources. The Ministry of Education encourages districts to pursue cooperative software acquisition among districts with compatible hardware. Current listings of d i s t r i c t hardware and software systems are available in the catalogue of School Administrative Computer Systems prepared by the Ministry. Standard or core administrative software* is expected to include the following Payroll/Personnel General Ledger Accounts Payable/Receivable Inventory Control Systems Purchasing/Stores Acquisition/development of software in addition to these standard applications (eg.: student scheduling, student records, instructional uses) will be supported on the basis of benefits realized plan. 4  -  7  STAFFINGREQUIREMENTS The number of staff members and their s k i l l levels will probably change when you acquire computerized systems. Plans for the hiring, reassignment and re-training of staff should be included in this section.  4  -  8  ^CILITIESREQUIREMENTS During the l i f e of the plan you will probably require some major or minor renovations to your f a c i l i t i e s because of the equipment or staffing required. This information should be included in this section along with the anticipated costs.  *The Ministry of Education cautions districts to use existing software in these areas and avoid any new developments. This caution is based upon the expectation of changes in these systems by 1983/84 resulting from revisions to the school district financial funding model.  245  4.9 OPERATING_COSTS This section should contain any anticipated operating costs that may be associated with the system which have not been outlined in the previous sections. 5.  EQUIPMENT REQUEST SUBMISSIONS Information Systems Plans recommended to the Ministry Systems Corporation and the Computer Review Committee in principle, constitute a commitment by the Ministry capital costs of computer equipment acquisition. The of funding to be shared by the Ministry is determined request submission to the Ministry.  by the B.C. and approved to share the specific amount by an equipment  A submission must be covered in the District's approved Information Systems Plan before it will be accepted. A revised copy of the Information Systems Plan must be included with the submission i f there has been a significant change to the plan. This document should contain a l l relevant information concerning the exact equipment proposed and its associated costs. Background data on equipment specifications and financial arrangements should be attached. It should also be indicated how this equipment relates to current and future workload projections.  19_ New Current  Benefits/Costs Worksheet 19_ Current New Change  Change  Current  L9_ New  Change  Salaries - Established Temporary Professional/Consultative Services Staff Training Facilities Modifications Office FurTiiture/Eguipment Materials and Supplies Hardware Rental/Purchase Software Development/Purchase Hardware Maintenance Software Maintenance Other Expenditures  Total Expenditures Other intangible costs/benefits  to ON  INFORMATION SYSTEMS PLAN SCHEDULE SCHOOL DISTRICT  19 8 2 JF  1.  Phase #1 Accounts Payable Accounts Receivable General Ledger  2.  Phase #2 Time Sharing for Math Curriculum  3.  Phase 53 Lease with Purchase in 1985 for Personnel System shared with the Regional District  M A M  19 8 3  J J A S O N D J F M A M J A S  248  lip  /  BUDGET  Province of British Columbia  NEWFIFVlSED  25.1 — 1  AND  ADMINISTRATIVE  POLICY  C H A P S E C PAGE'S  ISSUE OArfc  1-Dec-81  E F F E C T I V E DATE  1-Dec-81  / " CHAPTER  25. BRITISH COLUMBIA SYSTEMS CORPORATION SECTION  1. INTRODUCTION AUTHORITY  RESPONSIBLE AGENCY  Treasury Board 25.1  Treasury Board Staff  INTRODUCTION This policy on British Columbia Systems Corporation data processing services documents the approval and monitoring procedures for ministries, the British Columbia Systems Corporation and Treasury Board.  25.1.1  Policy Ministries may contract for data processing services directly with the British Columbia Systems Corporation, provided funds and services are included in approved ministry budgets. Prior Treasury Board approval must be obtained for data processing services which deviate from approved ministry budgets if: • upward variances from the total project development budget, or the operation and maintenance budget exceed the greater of 10 per cent or $5,000, or • new data processing services are introduced which were not included in the approved budget, or • new data processing services are substituted for services already included in the approved budget. The B.C. Systems Corporation recognizes the following System Life Cycle phases: • Initiation, • Definition, • Specification, • Design, • Development, • Implementation, • Operation and Maintenance. Prior Treasury Board approval must be obtained for upward budget variances for the following groups of Life Cycle phases if any group exceeds $40,000 and the upward variance from the budget exceeds the greater of 10 per cent or $5,000: • Initiation plus Definition, • Specifications, • Design, • Development. Treasury Board will monitor projects which incur such budget variances.  NEV/ DEVISED  B U D G E T AND ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY  Province of British Columbia /"  249  CHAP SEC  PAGE*\  25.1—2 ISSUE OATF  EFFECTIVE DATE  1-Dec-81  1-Dec-81  CHAPTER  25. BRITISH COLUMBIA SYSTEMS CORPORATION SECTION  1. INTRODUCTION AUTHORITY  RESPONSIBLE AGENCY  Treasury Board  Treasury Board Staff  Prior Treasury Board approval may be obtained by. • a Treasury Board submission (see section 5.2), or • the pre-approval process, which requires full documentation in annual budget submissions together with a notification that pre-approval is being sought, (see section 5.2) Data processing services include the provision of dedicated hardware and software in addition to the regular systems and processing services. Ministries are encouraged to negotiate fixed-price contracts for Specification, Design and Development phases, if any one phase exceeds $40,000. The Systems Corporation will issue guidelines on fixed-price contracts. The British Columbia Systems Corporation will offer unit rates by transaction for on-line application systems. Ministries are encouraged to negotiate the use of unit rates by transaction to improve year to year budgeting for their data processing production workloads. Guidelines on unit rates will be issued by the Systems Corporation. 25.1.2  Application This policy applies to all ministries. «  25.1.3  Procedures Ministries must prepare their data processing services budget in collaboration with British Columbia Systems Corporation. Estimated values, feasibility and acceptability for each service will be determined jointly with the Corporation. Ministries must submit three costed listings for Treasury Board approval, as part of their annual budgets: • one for ongoing production applications, • one for approved projects under development, and • one for new projects to be started in the next fiscal year. Such projects may be considered for pre-approval, if they are fully documented. Projects which are not fully documented will still require an approved Treasury Board submission, prior to