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The administrative impact of computers on the British Columbia public school system 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 Univers i ty 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 Adminis t ra t ive , Adult And Higher Education We accept th i s thesis as conforming -^o the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March 25, 1986 © TREVOR P. GIBBENS, 1986 7 8 In presenting th i s thesis in p a r t i a l fulf i lment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t freely ava i lab le for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of th i s thesis for scholar ly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Depart- ment or by his or her representat ives. It i s understood that copying or publ ica t ion of th i s thesis for f i nanc i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my wri t ten permission. Department Of Adminis t ra t ive , Adult And Higher Education THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date: March 25, 1986 i i ABSTRACT This case study analyzes and evaluates the administra- t ive computer systems in the B r i t i s h Columbia public school organiza t ion . H i s t o r i c and contemporary po l i cy developments are s c r u t i n i z e d . Research sources include interviews with twenty-three educational administrators representing the Min i s t ry of Education, s ix school d i s t r i c t s and f ive schools. Respondents from educational agencies and the com- mercial sector were also interviewed. Research documents range from po l i cy statements and correspondence to f i n a n c i a l data and in te rna l s tudies . Four c lose ly related questions serve as the study's focus: 1.) What are the cost-benefi ts of computers? 2.) What, i s the impact of computers on managerial work? 3-.) Is com- pute r iza t ion associated with c e n t r a l i z a t i o n in organiza- t ions? 4.) What i s the r e l a t ionsh ip between organizat ional objectives and the design of computer systems? After a twenty-five year h is tory involv ing 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 rapid t r a n s i t i o n at a l l l eve l s of the B r i t i s h Columbia publ ic school system. The t r a n s i t i o n i s driven by rapidly advancing technologies, manufacturers' s t ra teg ies , and p o l i - c ies fostered by Cabinet, the publ ic se rv ice , and the Min i s t ry of Education. Between 1980 and 1984, a s ign i f i can t expansion in the adminis t ra t ive use of computers occurred throughout the school system. i i i The new school d i s t r i c t computerization p o l i c y , while designed to enhance Min i s t ry control over d i s t r i c t finances by supporting a Planning, Programing and Budgeting System (PPBS), i s in i t s implementation, considerably less c e n t r a l - ized than many other publ ic service e lec t ron ic data process- ing systems (EDP). The administrators experienced d i rec t and ind i rec t effects of computerization. Direct 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 re t r ieved data on microcomputers. At higher ranks, computer terminals were not observed in the personal of f ices of adminis t ra tors . No educational managers senior to that of v i c e - p r i n c i p a l operated a computer in the i r work. The l a r g - est ind i rec t effect arose from increased cen t ra 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 scrut iny with the assistance of large-scale computerized monitoring, adminis- t r a t i ve act ion at these l eve l s becomes more constrained. Cen t ra l i za t ion i s enhanced by computers. The educa- t i o n a l organiza t ion ' s current c e n t r a l i z a t i o n program has t resul ted in a degree of cont ro l not exercised by the Min i s t ry since the 1950's. The use of computers at a l l l eve l s of the school system leads to increased cont ro l at each of those l e v e l s , but the largest increase in cont ro l i s exerted by the M i n i s t r y . Highly computer dependent monitor- ing systems, in the form of PPBS, and p r o v i n c i a l examina- t ions and achievement t es t s , are the chief cont ro l veh ic l e s . iv Optimal solutions to the design and implementation of a provincial distributed data processing system are not mani- fested in the British Columbia educational organization. Hardware and software incompatibility among districts, and between districts and Ministry encumber electronic communi- cations. Full networking and cost-effective development of system components cannot be realized within the present pro- vincial 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 ina- bi l i ty to exploit the potential of a large 1982-1985 invest- ment. School district resistance to central direction in data processing spans almost two decades and has contributed to system fragmentation. Loss of Ministry of Education EDP professionals in the wake of the 1977 centralization of a l l government data processing faci l i t ies , and the 1983 imposi- tion of financial restraint contributed to the Ministry's failure to take complete charge of the district 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, computeriza- tion was viewed as a significant means of reducing expendi- tures 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. v i ACRONYMS B r i t i s h Columbia Research Council B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation B r i t i s h Columbia School Trustees Associa t ion B r i t i s h Columbia Teachers' Federation Basic Operating System Software Commodore Business Machines Comite Consul ta t i f Internat ionale de Telegraphique et Telephonique CEMCORP Canadian Educational Microprocessor Corporation; CEMCORP Internat ional CIPS Canadian Information Processing Society CPF Control Program F a c i l i t y CPS Characters per second CPU Central processing unit 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 lec t ron ic data processing ERIBC Education Research Ins t i tu te Of B r i t i s h Columbia GCOS General Comprehensive Operating System IBM Internat ional Business Machines Corporation IDC In ternat ional Data Corporation (Canada) Limited ILO In ternat ional Labour Organization LAN Local area network MAI Management Assistance Incorporated MIS Management information system BCRC BCSC BCSTA BCTF BOSS CBM CCITT v i i NCR National Cash Register Of Canada Limi ted; 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 Internat ional Peace Research Ins t i tu te SNA Systems Network Archi tecture UNESCO United Nations Educat ional , S c i e n t i f i c , And Cul tu ra l Organization VAX/VMS V i r t u a l Address Extended/Virtual Memory System VS V i r t u a l Storage v i i i Table of Contents ABSTRACT . . i i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENT v i ACRONYMS v i i 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 Administrat ion 22 2. The Relat ionship Between Organizat ional and Computer Programing Hierarchies 25 D. DECENTRALIZATION AND THE NEW TECHNOLOGY 26 1. Ambiguity of Computer-Based Decentra l is t Pos i t ion 27 2. Microcomputer Autonomy Absorbed by Networks 28 3. The Market as a Determinant of Organizat ional Impact 31 E. PLANNING, PROGRAMING, AND BUDGETING SYSTEMS 37 1. Role in Publ ic Education 41 a. The United States of America 43 b. Canada 46 c. B r i t i s h Columbia 49 2. 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. ' Interviewer Bias And Respondent V a l i d i t y . . . . . . . 7 6 G. SUMMARY 78 IV. RESEARCH FINDINGS 79 A. MINISTRY OF EDUCATION 82 1. Changing Role of EDP 85 2. Computing Expenditures and Cost Analysis . . .87 3. M i n i s t r y ' s School D i s t r i c t Computer Acqu i s i t i on Po l i cy 92 4. Management Information Systems 93 5. Repatr ia t ion of E lec t ron ic Data Processing? 95 6. Computing F a c i l i t i e s in Trans i t ion 96 7. Were BCSC's Systems Development Charges Too High? 97 8. Mul t ip l e Keyboard Entry of Data 98 x 9. E lec t ron ic Transmission of Data 100 10. Summary 101 SCHOOL DISTRICT 102 1. 1969 Plan for Regional Data Processing Centres 102 2. 1978 School D i s t r i c t Computer Needs Report 104 3. Computer Systems in the Research Sample . . .108 4. Increased Min is t ry Control 109 5. Decentra l iza t ion of D i s t r i c t EDP Services .115 6. Cap i ta l and Operating Costs 118 7. Software Development 122 8. Processing Capacity Soon Exhausted ..124 9. Flat"Organizat ion 127 10. The 1983 Planning, Programing, and Budget- ing System 131 1 1 . Summary 134 SCHOOL 135 1. Formal Communication of Experiences with Computers 136 2. Types of Computer Services .137 3. Student Management Microcomputer Programs .138 4. Transfer of Costs 140 5. Indirect Labour Costs 142 6. Data Re t r i eva l 149 7. Preference for D i s t r i c t Office Star Network 152 8. F i e l d Testing 1 54 9. Organizat ional Con f l i c t • 155 10. Computers and Cen t ra l i za t ion 156 x i 1 1 . Summary 157 D. BRITISH COLUMBIA SYSTEMS CORPORATION 158 1. Standardization On SNA 160 2. Min i s t ry of Education Included in Centra l ized Service 162 3. School D i s t r i c t Response 164 4. BCSC Preva 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. Recapi tulat ion 171 V. CONCLUSION "174 A. Conclusions 174 l \ Cost-Benefit Analys is 175 2. Managerial Impacts 177 3. Cen t ra l i z ing Effects 179 4. Organizat ional Objectives And Computer Systems Design 181 B. RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS 183 1. Costs and Cost-Benefi ts 183 2. I n t e r -p rov inc i a l Cooperation 185 3. Administrat ive Computers and Educational D ive r s i t y 185 4. Middle Management — Candidates for Computerization? 186 C. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS 186 1. Min i s t ry Coordination of EDP Purchases . . . . 187 2. Standardize Informatics Components 188 3. Common Operating System 188 x i i 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. Es tab l i sh a D i v i s i o n of Informatics 190 7. Retain Ownership of Software Developed Under Contract 190 8. Ins t i tu te F u l l Informatics Accounting Pract ices . . . 191 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 192 D. AFTERWORD 193 GLOSSARY 196 BIBLIOGRAPHY 200 APPENDICES '.233 A. Time L ine : Adminis t ra t ive Computers And The B r i t i s h Columbia Publ ic Education System 233 B. 1982 Computer Acqu i s i t i on Program For School D i s t r i c t s 238 C. Consequences Of Ext ra-nat ional Cap i ta l Outflow — Generated By Informatics Purchases — On Educational Finance 253 D. The B r i t i s h Columbia Min i s t ry Of Health Expert System 256 E. The Informatics System Of The Quebec Min i s t ry Of Education . . . . 257 F. Schedule Of Questions 262 G. Notice Of Consent 268 BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION 269 x i i i TABLES Number Page I United States Expenditures On Public Education And Defense, 1980 - 1985 47 II Interview Respondents By Pos i t ion And Organizational Level . . . 69 III B .C . Min i s t ry Of Education Computer Costs Compared With Total Publ ic Education Expenditures, 1977 - 1984 ..89 IV Computer Manufacturers, Models And Operating Systems Represented In The 1984 D i s t r i c t Sample . . .107 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 Central Office Computers By Manufacturer, 1973 - 1 981 113 VII B r i t i s h Columbia School D i s t r i c t Central Off ice Computers By Manufacturer, 1982 - 1985 128 VIII B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation F inanc ia l Performance, 1979 - 1984 168 x iv Number FIGURES Page 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 Min i s t ry Of Education 51 II Respondents Mean Years Of Experience In Present Pos i t ion By Organizat ional Level 65 III Respondents Mean Years Of Educational Employment Experience By Organizat ional Level 65 xv I . INTRODUCTION A. THE PACE OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE Canada faces a new technological challenge, ei ther rapid ly integrate microelec t ronics , or be integrated wi th in a g e o p o l i t i c a l en t i ty that has. Sera f in i and Andrieu stress the important role which th i s technology plays: A number of recent s t u d i e s . . . r e f lec t the experts ' growing be l i e f that Canada must exploit the new information technologies if it is to maintain some degree of economic, technological, political and cultural sovereignty in the future. [authors' emphasis] (1981:7). The pace of computer related change i s acce le ra t ing . A good measure of the accelerat ion 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 in 1980 (Communications Canada 1983: 13). This figure represents one terminal for every f i f t y - s ix whi te -co l la r workers. 1 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 do l l a r s (1983:13). 2 There i s a need for rapid technological a s s imi la t ion in the administrat ion of p r o v i n c i a l public school organiza- t i ons . How wel l the public education system makes the 1 There were 6.7 m i l l i o n whi te -co l l a r employees in 1980. ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada 1980:90). 2 In 1983, the United States r a t i o was one keyboard for every f ive whi te -co l la r employees. The ant ic ipa ted 1985 r a t io i s one in three, with an expectation of one terminal for each employee by the year 2000. (Barna 1985:19). 1 2 t r ans i t i on to a computer intensive administrat ion 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 serv ices . Correspondence in 1983 from senior personnel represent- ing 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 public education organizations have not only adopted separate system designs, but are also at d i f ferent stages in systems development. Cooperation among min i s t r i e s in the area appears v i r t u a l l y nonexistent. Some min i s t r i e s possess f a i r l y advanced e lec t ron ic information networks; of these, Quebec's i s one of the most sophist icated (Appendix E ) . In' 1982, the Quebec network had 132 o n l i n e 3 school organizat ions, (de f in i t ions for most terms r e l a t i ng to com- puters are found in the Glossary. A l i s t of acronyms appears before the Table of Contents) and serviced 250 school d i s t r i c t s , making the system one of the largest in the world ( B a l l 1984:38). The Minis tere de l 'Educa t ion 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 introduct ion of a p r o v i n c i a l educational administrat ion e lec t ron ic net- work. This province was already wel l advanced with the design and manufacture of microcomputers for teaching and adminis trat ive use (McLean 1983:3). A tendency ex i s t s in some Canadian education precincts to develop adminis trat ive computerization p o l i c i e s which 3 Online: operation of a funct ional unit when under the d i rec t cont ro l of the computer (Canada 1984:0-2). 3 only s u p e r f i c i a l l y consider the hard-won experience of other provinces. For the i r part , min i s t r i e s with advanced systems have not made the i r knowledge of computerization a matter of de ta i led publ ic d i sc losure . When each education minis t ry r e l i e s so le ly 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 indepen- dence can deter iorate into retrogressive i so l a t i on i sm. The implementation and operation of i l l - c o n c e i v e d adminis t ra t ive informat ics 5 produces substant ia l extra costs which a r i se from undelivered services , r e s t r i c t i v e planning horizons, incompatible software and hardware, and duplicated effort among un i t s . . Many.of the problems associated with informatics are neither e a s i l y ant ic ipa ted nor quick ly solved. 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 spec ia l ly acute (Oren, Brzozowski, Gilmore et a l 1983:24). Faced with th i s r e a l i t y , and the sca rc i ty of de ta i led independent studies of e lec t ronic 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) re ly excessively on suppliers (usually agents of foreign owned mul t inat ionals) [ s i c ] who have a vested in teres t in s e l l i n g pa r t i cu la r and perhaps inappro- pr ia te products as a source of technica l information." (1979:18). 5 Informatics i s the study of information and i t s handling, e spec ia l ly by means of new information technology, such as computers and telecommunications (Medows 1982:90). The term or ig inates with A. I . Mikhai love, a Russian communications theor is t (Garf ie ld 1986). 4 systems operated by p r o v i n c i a l school organizat ions, minis- t r i e s are often forced to depend on inadequate resources for the planning, implementation and evaluation of informat ics . Research of these systems i s overdue. This study of the development and impact of adminis trat ive informatics in the B r i t i s h Columbia public 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 invest igated the computer systems of p r o v i n c i a l publ ic education organizations (kindergarten to grade twelve). Academic research has focused mainly on the school (Bird 1983 & 1984; Marshal l 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 i s found at the p r o v i n c i a l and state l e v e l s . 6 As prospective research subjects, schools and school d i s t r i c t s const i tu te more eas i ly managed and comprehended subjects than the i r parent organizat ion, the p r o v i n c i a l minis t ry of education. The complexity of organizat ional behaviour increases according to the educational u n i t ' s loca t ion in the adminis- t 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 of f ice and the min i s t ry . At the 6 In September, 1985, a search of- the United States e lec- t ronic data bases, Research In Education, and Current Index To Journals In Education, using the descr iptors "State Departments of Education and Administrat ion and Computers or E lec t ron ic Data Processing" produced only two relevant t i t l e s . 5 highest, the minis try of education interacts 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 , govern- ment 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 za t ion r e l a t i ve to p r o v i n c i a l educational governance i s e spec ia l ly chal lenging. Research here, however, has a po t en t i a l l y larger impact, since economies of scale make possible new services and greater cos t -bene f i t s . 7 C. THE BRITISH COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOL ORGANIZATION The f i r s t B r i t i s h Columbia Min i s t ry of Education com- puter, when i n s t a l l e d in 1961 (Annual Report 1961-62:47), was among less than one thousand computers operating in Canada (Seraf ini & Andrieu 1981:21). The twenty-f i f'th anniversary of the introduct ion w i l l be marked in 1986. Over the intervening decades, computers moved from the M i n i s t r y ' s bureaucratic periphery to i t s adminis t ra t ive core. During the 1960's, computers performed Min i s t ry tasks, such as tabulat ing p r o v i n c i a l examinations, which previously were accomplished by c l e r k s . Today, computers model de ta i led personnel, f i n a n c i a l and demographic data to pre- d i c t changes in a var ie ty of functions, including learning 7 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 publ ic service data transmis- sion and messaging requirements. The study found "that the government could benefit from economies of scale i f i t con- sol idated data networks in a manner s imi la r to i t s c o n s o l i - dation of voice networks." (Communications Canada Annual Report 1983-84, page 86). 6 assessment, teacher supply and demand, and property taxa- t i o n . Ass is ted 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 loca t ion 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 cent ra l o f f i c e s . Today, the dispersion con- tinues as many school off ices acquire computing technology for the f i r s t time. D. AN OUTLINE OF THE STUDY The thesis assesses the development of computer systems within the B r i t i s h Columbia public school system and the i r impact on adminis t ra t ion . 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; Frantz ich 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 app l ica t ion l e v e l s , consideration of the in te rac t ion of the computer with the surrounding s o c i a l system i s essen t ia l (Sheingold, Krane & Endreweit 1983). How th i s in te rac t ion a l t e r s over time, as computing a c t i v i - t i e s affect the organizat ion, and the organization shapes computing technology, i s of cent ra l concern to t h i s study. 7 1 . Research Questions Administrat ive p o l i c i e s on e lec t ronic 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 in which educational governance takes place. To date, school administrators have la rge ly escaped the operational research a c t i v i t i e s that have modi- f ied the work of many of the i r public service and business counterparts. Changes in these sectors are ampli f ied due to the in tens i ty with which computers have been applied to man- ager ia l work. Four c lose ly re la ted 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 inquiry adopted in th i s study. 1 . What are the cost-benefi ts of computer systems? 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 re la t ionsh ip between organizat ional objectives and the design 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 quant i ta t ive sources. Main data sources include interviews, correspondence, f i n a n c i a l records, and publ ic and pr ivate documents. Twenty-eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with educational administrators from the B .C . publ ic school system. Inter- view respondents included v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s , 8 secretary-treasurers , superintendents, and department d i r ec - tors within the Min i s t ry of Education. In each case, verba- tim typed t ranscr ip t s were prepared. Interviews were also undertaken with presidents, managers and marketing represen- ta t ives of software and hardware firms serving the B r i t i s h Columbia educational administrat ion market. 3 . Organization of Topics A l i s t of acronyms precedes the Table of Contents. The theory per ta ining to the organizat ional and adminis trat ive effects of computers i s discussed in Chapter Two. Since the f i e l d of informatics i s undergoing a succession of rapid changes, the discussion includes references to recent so- c i a l , economic and technical developments. Chapter Three expl icates the research methods. Findings are reported in Chapter Four for three organizat ional l e v e l s : Min i s t ry of Education, school d i s t r i c t and school . 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 also recorded in Chapter Four. This chapter ends with a recap i tu la t ion of the f i n d - ings. The conclusions are set forth in Chapter F i v e . Implications for further research and po l i cy recommendations are presented at the end of Chapter F i v e . A Glossary located at the back of the work includes de f in i t i ons of important technica l terms. F i n a l l y , there i s an Appendices sect ion . I I . REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE The review begins with.a discussion of c e n t r a l i z a t i o n and decent ra l iza t ion as organizat ional concepts. C e n t r a l i - zation i s then examined in r e l a t i on to computers. Of par- t i c u l a r relevance i s the propos i t ion , now several decades o l d , that computerization acts as an autonomous element to accelerate c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . In recent years, a t tent ion has shif ted from t h i s determinis t ic view to whether, with care- fu l design and implementation, computerization w i l l support decen t ra l i za t ion . The p r a c t i c a l i t y of t h i s instrumental r e la t ionsh ip i s discussed in the context of current market- ing trends. The pos tu la t ion of a free market model in computer pro ducts allows the explanation for c e n t r a l i z i n g effects to be ch ie f ly located in the decisions on equipment design taken by the purchasing organizat ion. In sharp contrast , i s the model of the planned economy where the informatics market i an extension of long-range s t ra tegies formulated by the world 's leading computer manufacturer. According to th i s model, the c e n t r a l i z i n g effects found in c l i e n t organiza- t ions ass i s t the o r i g i n a l equipment manufacturer t o . a t t a i n long-term corporate goals. Both of these models are reviewed. Observing how computers are used i s of overr id ing con- sequence to a determination of the i r adminis trat ive impact. In B r i t i s h Columbia, one of the most s i gn i f i can t p r o v i n c i a l 10 education appl ica t ions i s to process data for a new budget- ing and accounting system. This system i s derived from the Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System (PPBS), a cost- benefit methodology which has been attempted with quite l im i t ed resul ts by various federa l , p r o v i n c i a l and l o c a l governments. The h i s tory of PPBS and the relevance of an operations model to public education i s examined. A. CENTRALIZATION AND DECENTRALIZATION Cen t ra l i za t ion 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 administrat ion i s cen t ra l i zed to the extent that decisions are made at r e l a t i v e l y high l eve l s in the organization (Simon et a l 1954:1). The meaning of c e n t r a l i - zat ion i s c lo se ly associated with other key organizat ional concepts, among them c o n t r o l , d i s c i p l i n e , autonomy, h ie ra r - chy, in tegra t ion , and coordinat ion . With these words, d i s - cussion of c e n t r a l i z a t i o n and decen t ra l i za t ion i s possible without ever ac tua l ly 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 decent ra l iza - t ion occupy opposite ends of a continuum. The pos i t ion which an adminis trat ive unit holds along th i s continuum i s gauged by the degree of autonomy that i s exercised r e l a t i ve to other parts of the same organizat ion or to other agen- c i e s . At the cen t r a l i z a t i on end, power i s concentrated in the organizat ional apex. At the decen t ra l i za t ion end, power 11 i s dispersed among subordinates. Rarely do organizations conform to these absolutes. The exercise of authori ty i s in constant f l u x . On separate issues, and at dif ferent 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 associat ions which they hold . Decentra l iza t ion i s commonly advocated as a precondit ion 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 connota- t i o n , due to the term's close h i s t o r i c a l associat ion with the growth of royal absolutism and the r i se 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 associa t ions , t h i s study follows the empir ical o r ien ta t ion of Kochen and Deutsch (1980:17) who f i nd , "decentra l iza t ion i s not a value in i t s e l f . Our key values are quick responsiveness, r e l i a b i l - i t y , adequacy, and qua l i ty of the needed or requested ser- v i c e . In t h i s view, a service system w i l l be more e f f i c i e n t with more of these values del ivered at a lower cos t . " Over t h i r t y years have elapsed since the f i r s t business app l i ca t ion of a computer. Cen t ra l i za t ion effects concerned observers from the beginning. In January, 1954, a computer was del ivered 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 shed the same year, one by Higgins and Glickauf in March, the second by Osborn in J u l y , reported on the General 1 2 E l e c t r i c i n i t i a t i v e . Each predicted that increased cen t r a l - i za t ion would r e su l t . L e a v i t t ' s and Whis le r ' s 1958 a r t i c l e Management i n t he 1980' s prophesied that computers would lead to c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . In time th i s r e la t ionsh ip was accorded the status of an organizat ional axiom. Two factors make a determination of the degree of cen- t r a l i z a t i o n less simple than might otherwise be the case. F i r s t l y , substant ia l decisions are often made by adhoc com- mittees whose members may be drawn from a l l l eve l s of the adminis trat ive hierarchy (Galbrai th 1978:66). Secondly, adminis trat ive workload i s not necessar i ly an ind ica t ion of substant ia l d iscre t ionary power. The a t t r i b u t i o n of s ign i f i can t decision-making power to a pa r t i cu la r i nd iv idua l within a modern organizat ion i s in most cases a conventional f i c t i o n . Questions beyond the scope of organizat ional routine are usual ly determined by committee (Galbrai th 1978:66). Decision-making passes down the hierarchy to f ind the l e v e l of relevant exper t i se . On some issues, representation from the lowest whi te -co l la r and b lue -co l l a r l eve l s i s sought. Those of high formal rank exercise only modest power in 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, "Coord ina t ion . . . consis ts in assigning the appropriate talent to committees, intervening on occasion to force a dec i s ion , and, as the case may be, announcing the decis ion or carrying i t as information for a yet further decis ion by a yet higher committee." (1978:66). - 1 3 The dec l in ing authori ty that accompanies the approach of the highest rungs of the promotional ladder is documented by Burns: To be an older man in an i n d u s t r i a l concern used to mean that one was more ef fec t ive and better q u a l i - f i e d . . . But in the new s i tua t ion of technica l and commercial change, the whole structure of authori ty 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 abora tor ies , confess in interviews that they f ind i t d i f f i c u l t or impossible to grasp vocabulary, or meaning, or impl ica t ions of the technical information and s k i l l s which the i r juniors possess, and for the sake of which they have been r e c r u i t e d . . . (1974:164). Decent ra l iza t ion of workload i s not i d e n t i c a l with decen- t r a l i z a t i o n of adminis t ra t ive power (Fesler 1968). Movement of the work load to geographically or func t iona l ly subordi- nate uni ts may not provide an opportunity for l o c a l au thor i - t i e s to exert subs tant ia l decision-making power. Fesler notes that where work i s standardized, "the c r i t e r i a to guide l o c a l decision-making are prescribed so prec i se ly 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 cha rac t e r i s t i c s of each dec i s iona l case against de ta i l ed rule-book p re sc r ip t ions . " (1968:373). This observation i s apposite in a public educa- t ion se t t ing where the quanti ty 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 1 management pract ices are i n s t i - tuted. In Canada, s i gn i f i c an t s t ruc tura l change i s seldom granted to public school p r i n c i p a l s since s o c i a l and 1 School-s i te management i s a decision-making arrangement that subs tan t ia l ly 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) 14 educational l e g i s l a t i o n , curr iculum, student assessment, and planning and budgeting p o l i c i e s combine to t i g h t l y rou t in ize the i r dec is ions . These effects are stronger during periods of i n f l a t i o n and reduced educational spending. School administrators may ea 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 school - s i t e management, for an extension of the 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 decent ra l iza t ion of workload apply, but the school manager may also experience less independence because the decis ion rules are more e x p l i c i t . B. CAUSE AND EFFECT Technology and society simultaneously influence each other as cause and ef fec t . With computers, the in te rac t ion occurs across a l l s o c i a l dimensions (Sheingold, Krane & Endreweit 1983:414). For the sake of s impl i fy ing the analy- s i s of a complex re l a t ionsh ip , most observers take ei ther a cause or an effect stance on whether the form of computer technology determines the degree of organizat ional c e n t r a l i - z a t i on . Some analysts , the soc io log i s t Daniel B e l l for example, have held both views, though at d i f ferent times. In a 1973 work, B e l l ' s pos i t ion was that "by enlarging our cont ro l over nature, technology has transformed s o c i a l r e l a - t ionships and our ways of looking at the wor ld ." (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 on between the desire for 15 popular pa r t i c i pa t i on and bureaucracy." (1973:115). By 1979, however, B e l l had retreated from his e a r l i e r commit- ment to technological determinism. He declared, "Technology does not determine s o c i a l s t ructure; i t simply widens a l l p o s s i b i l i t i e s . " (1979:39). The aff i rmation that choice was s t i l l possible 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 services . Amidst the debate over what would be the ultimate adminis trat ive effect of the new microprocessor technology, there emerged a challenge to the very existence of a causal r e l a t ionsh ip between microprocessors and cen- t r a l i z a t i o n . At least one observer, Simon, has denied the existence of a causal r e l a t ionsh ip between computers and c e n t r a l i z a - t ion (Simon 1979:218). Simon claims that the effects of computerization can no longer be described in terms of ei ther c e n t r a l i z a t i o n or decen t ra l i za t ion , because "what i s occurring i s a profound q u a l i t a t i v e change in the dec i s ion- making process, which i s being formalized, made e x p l i c i t , and subjected to del iberate planning" (1979:222). He does not make c lear 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 . Formalizat ion 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 usual ly i s accompanied by improved organizat ional c o n t r o l . A d i rec t connection between technology and c e n t r a l i z a t i o n , however, i s d i f f i c u l t to demonstrate; v e r i f i c a t i o n depends on the ca l i b r e of 16 e x i s t i n g research. There are few de ta i led case-studies on the re la t ionsh ip between computerization and c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . 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 scrut iny lack substantia- t i o n . Where empir ical studies into the organizat ional phenonomenon have been mounted, the research methods are frequently discounted for the i r lack of r i g o r . In 1976, Mowshowitz summarized the ca l ib re of research, "The measures developed thus far tend to be crude and do not adequately discr iminate between the effects of computers and other cha rac t e r i s t i c s of organizat ional change." (1976:81). A decade of research has not r e c t i f i e d th i s s i t u a t i o n . In 1985, Got l ieb observed, "The d i f f i c u l t y in assigning numerical values means that quant i ta t ive 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 rare ." (1985:86). Despite the methodological problems that have been only pa r t ly resolved, the re la t ionsh ip between computerization and c e n t r a l i z a t i o n continues to a t t rac t the a t tent ion of soc io log i s t s and other•students of organizat ion. A major s t r ide in the f i e l d was achieved by Kochen and Deutsch with the i r 1980 study of decen t ra l i za t ion . Using an operations research methodology, in which mathematical models are devised for complex problems concerning the best a l l o c a t i o n of ava i lab le resources, they un i f i ed much of the 17 research into a theore t i ca l framework that may serve as a foundation for further inves t iga t ion . Formulae are provided from which to ca lcu la te optimal l eve l s of decent ra l iza t ion for publ ic service organizat ions. The degree of p rec i s ion and the inc lus ion of considerable d e t a i l mark the study as except ional . The f i r s t objective of the research into the adminis- t r a t i v e use of computers in the B .C. publ ic school system i s to determine i f su f f i c i en t means ex i s t to ca lcu la te computer op t ima l i t y . Closely 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 cost-benefi ts of computer systems? The quest for a methodology that provides a d e f i n i t i v e ca l cu l a t i on of opt imal i ty i s tempered with the knowledge that constants are e lus ive when the technology i s in f l u x . Today's ce r t a in t i e s may be tomorrow's dinosaurs. Got l ieb (1985:86) offers a recent evaluation of th i s problem: Although the subject can be explored, i t i s not possible so far to apply cost-benefi t comparisons in a way that w i l l allow one to conclude exact ly what balance between cen t ra l i zed and decentral ized systems w i l l achieve the optimum resul ts in a pa r t i cu 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 rev is ion due to the rapid rate of technological developments in the computer and communications indus t r i e s . " (author's emphasis). The current debate over whether adminis t ra t ive users should purchase ei ther the largest mainframe which they can af ford , 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 Short ly after computers were applied to publ ic and business administrat ion in the 1950's, organizat ional theo- r i s t s began to speculate on whether the i r effects would lead to greater or lesser c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . Those who predicted increased cen t r a l i z a t i on (Laubach & Thompson 1955; Slater 1958; Leav i t t & Whisler 1958; Simon 1965; Lasswell 1971) focused on the enhanced cont ro l of information which a com- puter furnished. Applying Francis 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 cont ro l the machine. Events of the 1960's appear to confirm the i r forecast . 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 technica l l im i t a t i ons inherent to the 1960's gener- at ion 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 ear ly years. Computers were expensive; the i r app l ica t ion was therefore confined to head of f ices where e lec t ron ic data processing departments became c lose ly l inked with senior management (Slater 1958:166). Only a few observers at that time foresaw the p o s s i b i l i t y of decent ra l iz ing e f fec 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 decen- t r a l i z a t i o n of computing f a c i l i t i e s . Although discussed in a p o l i t i c a l context, his ins ights have a d i rec t bearing on publ ic adminis t ra t ion . He ascertains "that a vast system of documentation that r e l i e s on automatic methods i s almost ce r ta in to possess b u i l t - i n biases that affect publ ic po l i cy in the d i r ec t i on of c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . . . " (1971:195). This bias i s not necessari ly detr imental . Effec t ive use of t e l e - communications by global agencies can help to supplant paro- c h i a l nationalisms with a democratic universal ism. There i s a continuing danger, however, that control 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 believed 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 ag i t a t i on , " 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 docu- mentation, i t w i l l be possible to sustain p o l i t i c a l i n i t i a - t ives in the decis ion process of su f f i c i en t in tens i ty to support a publ ic order in 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 his basic premises. On one hand, he asserts that the power of telecommunications media should be di rected to overcome nat ional re t rogression, on the 20 other, the emergence of t o t a l i t a r i a n cont ro l would be pre- vented by invest ing numerous stakeholders with a d i rec t influence in the new communications systems. Inevi tab ly , one of the foremost stakeholders i s the nation s ta te . The question then should be asked, how can a global outlook be achieved without an in te rna t iona l authori ty compelling nations to surrender some of the i r j u r i s d i c t i o n a l r ights? To expect compliance by v i r tue of reason alone i s to be u n r e a l i s t i c a l l y op t imis t i c about the conduct of in terna- t i o n a l r e l a t i o n s . However democratic the intent , a barely d is t inguishable l i n e may exis t between compulsion and the pract ice 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 cen t ra l i zed cont ro l — even for the purest motives, to protect secur i ty and privacy and the l i b e r t y of the i nd iv idua l — i s l i k e l y to be tailor-made for an autocra- t i c or t o t a l i t a r i a n regime. (Those who comfort themselves with the thought ' i t can ' t happen here' should look at the places where i t has happened.)" [ s i c ] (1984:220). 2 This c o n f l i c t , which may be better understood in a phi losophica l rather than an operations research context, i s i m p l i c i t in nearly every assessment of the s o c i a l impact of informatics . 2 The events surrounding Fr iday, October 16, 1970 provide an i l l u s t r a t i o n . Robert Fu l ford , edi tor of Saturday Night, chronic led those troubled times, "In Montreal that f i r s t t e r r i b l e week of the War Measures Ac t , hundreds of Canadians were a r b i t r a r i l y denied the i r r igh t s — the i r r ight to l i b e r t y , the i r r ight to counsel, the i r r ight to know why they were being held in j a i l , the i r r ight to communicate with r e l a t i ve s and fr iends . They were s t r ipped, by an order of the federal cabinet , of a l l personal r igh ts that hundreds of years of h i s to ry had bestowed on them." (1970:11). 21 On a lesser scale , the in te rna l r i v a l r y between an organiza t ion ' s head of f ice and i t s regional d i v i s i o n s pa ra 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 nat ional ism. The r i v a l r y i s consummately one of c e n t r a l i z a - t ion versus decen t ra l i za t ion : of head of f ice cont ro l waged against regional autonomy. On an organizat ional stage, informatics provides an adminis trat ive means of resolving the dispute. Who controls the implementation of informatics and how i t w i l l be used to shape the structure of the orga- n iza t ion are key questions that may be applied to a host of adminis trat ive matters. Perhaps Lasswel l ' s most s ign i f i can t ins igh t , in th i s regard, i s that nonquantitative issues res id ing in the phi losophica l ' and p o l i t i c a l realms may be of greater s o c i a l consequence than the cos t -e f f i c iency concerns of operations research . 3 This view i s shared by Kochen and Deutsch who stress that "The content of p o l i t i c a l decis ion making i s c r i t i c a l l y dependent on what the decis ion maker values." (1980:4). Few adminis trat ive decisions do not include a p o l i t i c a l dimension. Microe lec t ronics has revolutionary impl ica t ions for society (Bylinsky 1981; Perlowski 1981; Ableson & Hammond 1981; Sera f in i & Andrieu 1981). Since 1945, computer gener- ations have superceded one another with increasing r a p i d i t y : valve , t r an s i s t o r , integrated c i r c u i t , large-scale 3 Gordon B. Thompson notes that " . . . the 'basic t ru ths ' of economics change throughout time. The real sources of wealth are p rec i se ly 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 th ings ." (Memo From Mercury. 1979:27). 22 integrated c i r c u i t , very large-scale integrated c i r c u i t , and now f i f t h generation* (Braemer 1984:148). Ove ra l l , the app l i ca t ion rate of integrated c i r c u i t s has been faster than for a l l previous technologies (ILO 1985:148). Ind iv idua l organizat ions, however, have varied in the speed of adop- t i o n . Publ ic 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 informatic effects may be noted in separate organizat ions . The combined resul t of microelec t ronics , however, i s unpredictable in many areas of app l ica t ion (ILO 1985:7). Two aspects of these multifaceted informatics trends are discussed in the fol lowing two sect ions: 1.) the increasing dominance of administrators and professionals in the organizat ion, and 2.) the re la t ionsh ip between computer programing hierarchies and organizat ional hierarchy. 1. Informatics and Administrat ion In 1967, Wilensky predicted, "The gulf between top executives and the information t e chno log i s t s . . . and men whose work i s more programmed... w i l l widen." (1971:282). Subsequent events in Canada (S te r l ing 1985:396) and other t echnolog ica l ly advanced countries substantiate h is * F i f t h generation cha rac t e r i s t i c s include: 1) mul t ip le ins t ruc t ion 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) automatical ly rejects any f a i l i n g computer, yet continues to work, 5) com- bines ' a r t i f i c i a l i n t e l l i g e n c e ' with pa ra l l e l i sm (Parkinson 1985:765). 23 prognosis. Menzies finds that large employment sectors which comprise c l e r i c a l and junior adminis t ra t ive posi t ions in Canada's service indust r ies are increas ingly i so la ted 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 profes- s ional work." (Menzies 1981:39). She reports ongoing "stan- dard iza t ion , fragmentation and separation of occupational and job funct ions." that have followed in the wake of i n fo r - matics (1981:38). The t r a d i t i o n a l job mobi l i ty which held the p o s s i b i l i t y of promotion for c l e rks and secretar ies i s supplanted by complete occupational d i s con t inu i t y . 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 the i r day i s c lose ly organized and the i r p roduc t iv i ty constantly monitored. Soc ia l i s o l a t i o n from the organizat ion accompanies th i s confinement. An a le r t i nd iv idua l in the pre-microprocessor period could amass a large and often unique store of t a c i t knowledge about the organizat ion, derived from handling cor- respondence and conversations with managers. An in tens ive ly networked and programed employment environment offers few opportunit ies to accumulate th i s knowledge (1981). In the head of f ice of an insurance company, which for Menzies t y p i f i e s nat ional trends, between s ix and eight word processor operators in two workstations took care of a l l but two of the two hundred member professional and managerial group. The two senior management exclusions were the only administrators to re ta in personal secretar ies (1981:38). 24 The word processor operators work in i so la ted cub ic l e s . There are no higher pos i t ions to which they may asp i re . Adopting Harrington's view: in the advanced c a p i t a l i s t s o c i - e t ies of la te twentieth century they are, l i k e the poor and ch ron ica l ly unemployed, on the i r way to becoming "superf lu- ous people" (1984:123). The same sh i f t s in organizat ional structure occur in Europe where the Internat ional Labour Organization records that as the effects of microelectronics are experienced, "Intermediate-grade jobs vanish, and the work becomes more and more c l e a r l y divided between 'execut ive ' functions and routine subordinate operations." [ s i c ] (ILO 1985:41). Despite mounting in te rna t iona l evidence that indicates a c lear causal r e la t ionsh ip between computerization and cen- t r a l i z a t i o n , some soc io log i s t s c l i n g to the be l i e f expressed by Horowitz, "It i s dangerous to conceive of pos t indus t r i a l technology as necessar i ly feeding the f i r e s of administra- t i v e domination." (1984:124). Here, Horowitz challenges those who conclude that choice no longer can be exercised, i that events of recent decades are manifestations of an inev- i t ab le movement toward global in tegrat ion where informatics monitors and mediates the a c t i v i t i e s of a l l organizat ions: governmental, non-governmental, and commercial. The study's second object ive i s to describe the impact of computers on adminis t ra tors . The research question: What i s the impact of computers on managerial work? . 25 2. The Relat ionship Between Organizat ional and Computer Programing Hierarchies Simon argues that the structure of computer programs reinforces the h i e r a r ch i ca l composition of those organiza- t ions in which computers function (1965:101). This effect i s believed to ar ise from the sequential method in which computers process ins t ruc t ions . A program i s a set of statements divided 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 in l inea r sequence5 (Conrad 1985:465). The need to input cer ta in types of information at spec i f i c points in the program i s supposed to induce more r i g i d sequencing of information in the organizat ion. 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 rou- t i ne ; therefore, content can be ant ic ipated and methods devised to guide decision-makers. Some of the most important types of information con- fronting an organizat ion, however, i s of an exceptional nature. As Minsky recognizes, there i s "d i spar i ty between the e x p l i c i t bureaucratic regulations that are supposed to handle s i tua t ions in general and the inevi tab le bugs and problems such systems cannot deal w i th . " (1979:415). Refer- ence to ex i s t i ng po l i cy i s of l i t t l e help in formulating 5 Contrast the lock-step nature of l inear processing with the mul t ip le ins t ruc t ion datastream found in p a r a l l e l and f i f t h generation computers (Parkinson 1985:766). When par- a l l e l processing becomes commonplace, soc io log i s t s may v i s u - a l i z e the t y p i c a l human organizat ion as a p a r a l l e l processer. 26 responses to the non-routine. Although computer programs usually reject data for which they were not s p e c i f i c a l l y designed, an organiza t ion ' s survival.may depend upon the capacity of i t s members to recognize the s igni f icance of the singular and rapid ly respond. The claim that there i s a connection between an organiza t ion ' s decision-making routines and the structure of those governing a computer seems to have been abandoned. An explanation for the r e l a t ionsh ip between programing and increasing organizat ional hierarchy may be traced to the a n a l y t i c a l procedure that accompanies the wr i t i ng of a pro- gram. 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 th i s analys is leads to formal izat ion of work rou- t ines . Senior management derives improved means of cont ro l from the formal izat ion process. Despite the tendency of computers to have an overwhelming c e n t r a l i s t impact on orga- n iza t ions , the p o s s i b i l i t y that with careful design they might equally sustain a decentral ized organizat ional s t ruc- ture has received renewed a t t en t ion . D. DECENTRALIZATION AND THE NEW TECHNOLOGY Whether computerization can foster decent ra l iza t ion has received renewed at tent ion by many analysts ( B e l l 1979; Simon 1979; Nora & Mine 1980; Kochen & Deutsch 1980; 6 Systems analys is i s the analysis of the role 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 ing point for system design ( I l l ingwor th 1983:358). 27 Frantz ich 1982; de Sola Pool 1983; Brooke 1984). Generally, t h i s group rejects the hypothesis that an autonomous force, technological determinism, produces c e n t r a l i z a t i o n ; instead, they hold that organizat ional impact resul ts from the way the machine i s used. Three main arguments forwarded by decent ra l i s t s are that: (1) decent ra l iza t ion ipso facto i s des i rab le , (2) some forms of microelect ronics , for instance personal computers, provide an a l te rna t ive to c e n t r a l i z a - t i o n , and (3) marketplace competition offers the organiza- t i o n a l consumer s ign i f i can t technological choice . 1. Ambiguity of Computer-Based Decentral is t Pos i t ion There i s a large degree of ambiquity present in the argument for decentral ized c o n t r o l . Completely independent use of t h i s technology by a subunit at any organizat ional l e v e l grants that unit improved cont ro 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 eve l (Brooke 1984:147). Observations by Frantz ich provide a recent example of the ambiguity (1982). In the opening chapter of h is study on the use of computers in the Congress of the United States of America, Frantz ich states, "Whoever controls the creat ion and dissemination of informa- t ion can control i t s content and impact. To the degree that Congress i s dependent on others for i t s information, Con- gress loses i t s role as a free par t ic ipant in the dec i s ion- making process" (1982:35). Control of computers i s equated with Congressional autonomy. Yet in summarizing h i s 28 f indings , Frantz ich seems reluctant to concede that a s imi la r computer-based information dependency i s found at an in t ra -organ iza t iona l l e v e l among Congressional members. An hypothesis derived from increased Congressional dependence on computer-based information might reasonably predict 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 - t i v e s . For Franzich , proof of c e n t r a l i z i n g forces that resul t from computer use, although self -evident in the dealings of Congress with other agencies and l eve l s of gov- ernment, remains in su f f i c i en t in the in te rna l operations of Congress. (1982:250). There i s an a rb i t r a ry l i m i t to the autonomy which decent ra 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 decent ra l i s t c laim that ownership of appropriate technology would assure autonomy. The use of personal computers was expected to lead to increased auton- omy for organizat ional uni ts 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), contributed to the further decl ine 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 in 1971 (1975:36) leant even greater impetus to reductions in hardware cos ts . Departments and d i v i s i o n s s i t ed at locat ions remote from the i r head of f ices could , for 29 the f i r s t time, afford the comparatively low cost of stand- alone equipment. The d i f fus ion of computer technology to the organiza- t i o n a l periphery was not accompanied by a transfer of power. On the contrary, senior executives u t i l i z e d informatics to consolidate the i r cont ro 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 rec tors of corporate Management Information Systems (MIS) 7 became involved in decisions to acquire personal com- puters, and they now control any plans to connect the machines to mainframes. Their influence accelerates hard- ware and software standardization (Gotlieb 1985:101). The decen t ra l iz ing po ten t ia l of microcomputer acqu i s i t i on at the lowest organizat ional l eve l s i s offset by the increased pro- cessing capacity of cent ra l o f f i ce mainframes. As a 1981 Fortune survey showed, companies which switch from cen t r a l - ized to d i s t r ibu ted data processing often do so to maintain cen t ra l i zed cont ro l over remote branches operating as p ro f i t centres (Scannell 1981:10). Throughout the ear ly 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 7 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 ear ly 1970's, was that systems analysts would determine the information requirements of i nd iv idua l managers in an orga- n i z a t i o n , and would design systems to supply that informa- t ion rout ine ly and/or on demand. Decision support systems form a new c lass of MIS, g iv ing much greater independence in the i r use of computer-based information." ( I l l ingwor th 1983:215). 30 1984; ILO 1985). Where microcomputers appear, computer networks soon fo l low. 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 adminis trat ive facets continues in most public and business organizat ions. This development i s ref lected in the current Internat ional Business Machines Corporation (IBM) marketing strategy in which the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of smaller computers i s expected to raise the demand for main- frames (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 the i r inc lus ion wi th in the MIS department's sphere of inf luence. IBM has a lso extended i t s corporate domain to include a global sat- e l l i t e communication system (Borrus & Zysman 1985:188), the l i nchp in of a wholly integrated and p r iva te ly owned worldwide telecommunications network. This recent event leant further confirmation to a 1983 study for Communica- t ions Canada which contends that IBM is "undergoing a metamorphic change from being a manufacturer to being a vast , immensely sophist icated processing and communications so lu t ion-or iented network." (1983:91). P r iva t e ly owned 8 Local area network: "A communication network l i n k i n g a number of s tat ions in the same ' l o c a l ' area, var ious ly defined as the same b u i l d i n g , a radius of one kilometer, or a s ingle p lant . Local area networks generally provide high-speed (100K bps to 100M bps) data communication ser- vices to d i r e c t l y connected computers." ( I l l ingwor th 1983:203). t 31 in te rna t iona l systems are considered by some c r i t i c s of a decent ra l i s t persuasion to be the an t i thes i s of democratic cont ro 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 nat ional and in t e r - nat ional telecommunication networks. "Freedom i s fostered," he wr i tes , "when the means of communication are dispersed, decentra l ized, and eas i ly ava i l ab l e , as are p r i n t i n g presses or microcomputers. Central cont ro l i s more l i k e l y when the means of communication are concentrated, monopolized, and scarce, as are great ne tworks ."(1983:5) . Although the associat ion of personal computers with autonomy may have been a reasonable expectation during the early 1980's, mar- ket developments have already shi f ted them toward control within a cen t ra l i zed e lec t ronic data processing environment. In no small measure, t h i s move resu l t s from the influence of leading computer manufacturers that make organizat ional integrat ion of personal computers part of the i r marketing strategy. 3. The Market as a Determinant of Organizat ional Impact The market i s proposed as a mechanism for regulat ing the ultimate s o c i a l effects of computerization. Those who hold th i s view summon the market as a ca ta lys t for t r ans la t - ing technological advances d i r e c t l y into publ ic and commer- c i a l benef i t . The numerous mul t iva r i a t e , in te r re la ted and, at times, contradictory forces which drive the a c t i v i t i e s of 32 o r i g i n a l equipment manufacturers and constrain the a c t i v i - t i e s of the i r corporate c l i e n t s (Fishman 1981; F isher , McRie & Mancke 1983) play l i t t l e part in th i s idea l i zed model. According to the l a i s sez fa i re paradigm, buyers are free to choose. Consumer exercise of choice generates new product designs. . In support of th i s c la im, de Sola Pool s tates , "Today, in an era of advanced (and s t i l l advancing) e lec- t ronic theory, i t has become possible to bu i ld v i r t u a l l y any. kind of communication device that one might wish, though at a p r i c e . The market, not technology, sets m o s t . l i m i t s . " [ s i c ] (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 f i n a n c i a l expediency; quite simply, "any change in technology that makes i t cheaper and easier e i ther to cen t ra l i ze or decen- t r a l i z e decisions w i l l t i p the balance in that d i r e c t i o n . " (Simon 1979:216). Cos t -e f f ic iency in Simon's view outweighs a l l other considerat ions. If an enterprise can afford to purchase a spec i f i c product, then th i s act ion i s taken i r r e - spective of outcome. Fluctuat ions in the in tens i ty of cen- t r a l i z a t i o n are explained as responses to sh i f t s in 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 9 Addressing the role of the market as a determinant of qua l i t y in United States t e l e v i s i o n programing, Goodlad wr i tes , "As for th i s socie ty , t e l e v i s i o n may b e . . . the near- est thing we have to a common school . But in pondering the fare offered and the sums of money invested in providing 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). 33 nature of informatics sales wi th in the western economies. In these planned economies (Burns 1974; Galbra i th 1978:402; Walker 1984:100), the informatics market i s dominated by a small number of mul t ina t ional corporations (Archbold & Ver i ty 1985:36). Their predominance allows them to plan for product cycles l a s t ing at least f ive years beyond the research and development per iod . With few exceptions, pro- duct design resul ts so le ly from choices made by equipment manufacturers. The public and most commercial users exer- c ise only an ind i rec t and r e l a t i v e l y modest influence in the design process. As with a l l great firms, these corporations "es tabl i sh pr ices and seek to ensure a demand for what they have to s e l l . " (Galbraith 1978:33). The overwhelming capac- i t y to influence the informatics market i s manifest in the leader, Internat ional Business Machines Corporat ion. The extent of IBM's influence i s indicated 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 do l l a r s represents th i r ty - th ree per- cent of the 132 b i l l i o n - d o l l a r revenue generated by the non- communist world 's leading data processing manufacturers (Archbold 1985:58). IBM has seventy-five percent of the market for mainframe computers and mass-storage disc drives (Economist 1985:58) — a near world monopoly s ince , with t h i s overwhelming share, competing companies are forced to follow IBM spec i f ica t ions (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 ions with head of f ices in the United States. Research and development costs t y p i c a l l y run at between nine and ten per- cent, of revenue (1985:66) . 1 0 Revenue, of course, i s only a rough measure of influence, a corporat ion 's h is tory and cur- rent structure provide a better composite of i t s inf luence. Computers and IBM have grown together. In the popular imagination, as wel l as the reports of analysts who s p e c i a l - ize in the business of informatics , often the two appear inseparable. IBM and contemporary nat ional governments have grown together, leading Foster to declare, "The complex and in t rus ive nature of the modern state would be no more poss 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, including sales personnel, planners, engineers and sc ien- t i s t s . 1 1 The Corporation maintains close re la t ions with senior p o l i t i c i a n s and executives around the world. Previous IBM employees with d is t inguished company records occupy important MIS posts throughout higher education, gov- ernment and industry. The personal re la t ions network con- s i s t i n g of contacts in education, business and government, i s a force without equal. F i n a l l y , corporate data banks containing de ta i led information on the governments and i n s t i t u t i o n s with which IBM deals permit considerable scope 1 0 "In 1981, IBM spent $1,612 b i l l i o n on R&D. Out of every R&D do l l a r spent by the American computer industry, IBM accounted for about forty cents." (Department Of Communica- t ions I982b:82). 1 1 11,000 employees in Canada (Foster 1984:22). 35 to the planning p r o c e s s . 1 2 IBM's control of the informa- t i c s market has seldom been stronger. Foster predicts that wi thin the decade, IBM, or IBM compatible machines, w i l l , hold n ine ty- f ive percent of the world market for mainframes (1984:27). • Even the few corporate cha rac te r i s t i c s surveyed in th i s sketch have been glossed over by those who suppose s i g n i f i - cant choices are permitted the organizat ional purchaser of computer products. Inevi tably , lead times involving research and development, and the considerable sums expended in br inging new microelectronic products on stream, compel major informatics companies to plan ca re fu l ly and ensure a v i r t u a l l y captive market for the i r goods . 1 3 Apart from a few research i n s t i t u t i o n s , and some large mul t ina t ional cor- porations s p e c i a l i z i n g in non-computer production, the parameters of choice are determined by the s e l l e r . The very success of corporate marketing s t rategies in assuring demand may have led to what some c r i t i c s posi t as an overly favour- able view of computer economics. 1 2 Se ra f in i and Andrieu (1981:28) comment, "They (multina- t i o n a l informatics corporations) have also been able on occasion to take advantage of weak in te rna t iona l agreements and in te rna t iona l r i v a l r i e s between countries to evade nat ional l e g i s l a t i o n and pursue independent p o l i c i e s , some- times in c o n f l i c t with the interes ts of the host countr ies . The role of these firms i s p a r t i c u l a r l y important in Canada where a large number of mul t inat ional branches ex is t as a resul t of heavy foreign investment over many years." 1 3 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 wel l be t a l l i e d in terms of tech- nologies not developed because prudent business people found the prospect of competing with IBM too daunting." 36 On an applied l e v e l , the cost of performing of f ice work with computers frequently increases, compared with the cost of o lder , non-computer rout ines . King cautions that for l o c a l governments "Early adoption of advanced appl ica t ions of information technology i s often uneconomical in cost- benefit terms." (1982:25). Frantz ich warns that while com- puters are " . . . t ou ted as a method of saving money, in the long run, computerization involves dramatic personnel and s tar t-up costs , which are followed in quick order by updat- ing cos t s . " (1982:57). Further confirmation in a publ ic service se t t ing comes from Ayers and Ket t inger , who f ind " l i t t l e ev idence . . . that the introduct ion of computers has ac tua l ly reduced costs in government." (1983:565). While labour p roduc t iv i ty can often be shown to have r i s e n , factor p roduc t iv i ty — where unit outputs are compared with a l l input costs including labour, c a p i t a l , energy and f a c i l i t i e s — have climbed in most public service organizat ions . Frequent claims by senior management that an of f ice comput- e 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 scru- t i n y , prove f a l se . Lack of de ta i led f i n a n c i a l information in the publ ic domain prevents a thorough evaluation of com- puter derived cos t -benef i t s . Even i f the performance of establ ished c l e r i c a l routines by computers i s of marginal cos t -benef i t , the i r capacity to perform new types of analy- s i s w i l l l i k e l y j u s t i f y the i r cos t . These new appl ica t ions . f requent ly lead to increased c o n t r o l . 37 The study's t h i r d research objective i s to observe whether computerization i s leading to increased c e n t r a l i z a - t i o n . The research question: Is computerization associated with cen t r a l i za t i on in organizations? E. PLANNING, PROGRAMING, AND BUDGETING SYSTEMS A form of analysis that the B r i t i s h Columbia Min i s t ry of Education finds a t t r ac t ive in achieving improved f inan- c i a l control wi thin the public school organization i s that offered by the Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System (PPBS). 1 " The Min i s t ry introduced the i r version of PPBS in f i s c a l year 1983-84 to manage school d i s t r i c t f inancing. The five-year school d i s t r i c t computer acqu i s i t ion 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 . publ ic school system, an assessment of the impl ica t ions of adminis t ra t ive computeriz- at ion would be incomplete without a discussion of the theory and pract ice 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 analys is functions through programing and budgeting into operations, reporting and con- t r o l . PPBS depends heavi ly on computers (Novick 1973:30; 1 « P P B S i s a lso known as "PPBES, where the ' E ' stands for Evaluat ion; 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 organiza- t i o n a l effects (Hirsch 1967:205; Wildavsky 1969:192, 1975: 328). Expectations that PPBS w i l l resul t in 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 increasing cen t r a l i z a t i on outruns the. c a p a b i l i t i e s of the cen t ra l guidance c l u s t e r . " (1969:113). Mosher notes that "Like most other budgeting reforms, i t s basic effect — perhaps i t s basic though seldom-stated pur- pose — is toward c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of power. . ." (1969:164). While there are competing theories about whether computeriz- at ion leads u l t imate ly to c e n t r a l i z a t i o n or decen t ra l i za - t i o n , no s imi 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 decen t ra l iz ing outcome does not seem ever to have been ser iously considered. Beyond the cent ra l p r i n c i p l e of r a t i o n a l i t y in choosing between al ternate courses of ac t ion , Steiner l i s t s three important d i s t ingu ish ing 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). F i r s t , the structure of PPBS i s end-product or iented; objectives are functional and include a l l cost elements associated with the i r attainment. While short-range decisions continue to be made, emphasis i s placed on the long-range perspect ive. Second, the a n a l y t i c a l process compares al ternate courses of ac t ion , and leads to an assessment of the i r impl ica t ions . The process has various names, including cost-benefi t analy- s i s , cost-effect iveness ana lys i s , systems ana lys i s , and 39 operations research (1967:311). At th i s stage, a l l major costs and benefits are compared. The t h i r d element i s the information system which i s c lo se ly integrated with the f i r s t two functions. It not only aids in the spec i f i ca t i on of possible object ives , but a lso tracks a l l pertinent costs attached to ex i s t ing programs. The information system pro- vides a method of c o n t r o l l i n g expenditures and reporting adminis trat ive progress. Some po l i cy analysts (Royal Commission On F inanc ia l Management And Accountabi l i ty 1979; Crozier 1980) claim that present public administrat ion budgeting and accounting p o l i - c ies 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 adminis t ra t ive problems that have a r i sen , counter that th i s complexity accurately r e f l ec t s our la te 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 te rna t ive is ' c r i p p l i n g d i v i s i o n and admin- i s t r a t i v e secrecy. Issuing a challenge to complex adminis- t r a t i v e p rac t ices , Crozier 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 ind a deep-seated and per fec t ly j u s t i f i e d desire to reform a machine so weighed down by the complexity 1 5 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 nanc i a l information about governments, and other non-commercial organizations i s required." (1979:247) 40 of mutual adjustment that i t i s impossible to run." (1980: 172). This argument i s countered by Wildavsky who maintains that the a t t r ibu te 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 pract ice of PPBS i s an expensive undertaking. Since i t s introduct ion i s usual ly spurred by a l e g i s l a t i v e preoccupation with dwindling f inan- ces, there are in su f f i c i en t resources ava i lab le to ensure success. At least two au tho r i t i e s , Lee and Johnson (1983) believe 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 the i r solvency. They f ind that in v i r t u a l l y a l l cases "the capa- b i l i t y of publ ic administrat ion to meet the complete requirements of systems analysis i s non-existent. The costs of information are so high as to make i t r a t iona l to bê ignorant, to make decisions on the basis of l im i t ed search behaviours and l imi t ed information." (1983:16) . 1 6 1 6 The issue i s complicated by Larkey 's and Smith's f inding (1984:80) that budget o f f i c i a l s and, "Chief executives mis- represent more than the i r publ ic formulations of the budget problem. They also misrepresent the reasons for the formu- l a t i o n s . In the publ ic j u s t i f i c a t i o n s of the i r budget for- mulations, chief executives follow a dominant explanatory strategy: they explain their budget formulations in ways that absolve them of most responsibility (authors' empha- s i s ) . Their basic t a c t i c i s to portray the budget as la rge ly due to factors beyond the i r c o n t r o l . Explanations emphasize bad news above a l l e l s e . . . Any good news pre- sented i s q u a l i f i e d by the bad . . . " (see also D. Gerwin, Budgeting Publ ic Funds: The Decision Process In An Urban School D i s t r i c t . Univers i ty of Wisconsin Press, 1969). 41 The remaining discussion focuses on the publ ic service experience of PPBS by three governments: the United States of America, Canada, and B r i t i s h Columbia. The discussion begins with a general examination of PPBS in publ ic educa- t ion and ends with a summary of the 1983 introduct ion of a PPBS-derived f i nanc i a l and budgeting reform with in the B r i t i s h Columbia public school organizat ion. 1. Role in Public Education Educational administrators have turned to PPBS with the expectation that th i s budgeting system w i l l a s s i s t them in choosing more e f f i c i en t and ef fec t ive p o l i c i e s (van Geel 1973:1). However, education, unl ike a i r c r a f t production (where PPBS was f i r s t app l ied) , i s not transparent to po l i cy -o r i en ted analys is (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 out l ined by Hi r sch : 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 add i t ion , 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 directness of these questions have a u n i - versa l appeal; they concern parents, p o l i t i c i a n s , phi loso- 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 usually neglected in adminis- t 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 applied 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 in which p o l i c i e s a r i s i n g from these questions are assumed to be susceptible to r a t iona l ana lys i s . In t h i s context, the teaching of reading provides a good demonstra- t ion of a PPBS app l i c a t i on . Reading i s a subject which some educational budgeters consider adaptable to a process model. ' Set aside the peren- n i a l debate about whether any s ingle reading education method i s a s t a t i s t i c a l l y s ign i f i can t improvement over the r e s t . 1 7 Assume that for an add i t iona l expenditure of one hundred do 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 operat ional ly reduces the reading po l i cy to a formula where more d o l l a r s , or input, i s t ranslated into better pedagogical techniques, or improved throughput, f i n a l l y producing higher reading scores, or enhanced output. To achieve advances in reading performance, funds must e i ther be diverted from other educa- t i o n a l programs or be obtained from outside the organiza- t i o n . The second a l t e rna t ive requires that costs -of other government services , such as health and defense, be 1 7 Otto, Wolf & Eldridge (1984:799) in a perceptive review of major reading methods f ind that as for resu l t s there i s i s l i t t l e to d i s t i ngu i sh 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 ef fec t ive teaching of reading. The question has an easy answer: put one student and one teacher together and l e t teaching pro- ceed through one-to-one t u to r ing . " 43 accounted for by the same f i nanc i a l system, since to func- t ion according to PPBS p r i n c i p l e s , comparisons can be drawn only with those programs already operating within a process model. To compare educational costs with government service costs a r r ived at through other accounting methods i s to plunge into an a rb i t r a ry world of muddling through, where po l i cy j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s sought a posteriori (Lindblom 1959) . 1 8 The topic of f i nanc i a l reform as i t relates to reading education i s one that w i l l be resumed la te r in the context of the United States, a. 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 applied success- f u l l y to a i r c r a f t production in the Second World War. During post-war reconstruct ion, Ford Motor Company refined the model to automobile manufacture (Halberstam 1969:229). Following ten years of preparatory work by the Rand Corpora- t i o n , PPBS was f i r s t introduced to publ ic administrat ion in 1961 for use in the United States Department of Defense (Schultze 1968:1). Four years l a t e r , President Lyndon Johnson directed 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 ne s of the Defense Model (Schultze 1968:1). These undertakings were r e l a t i v e l y s h o r t - l i v e d . 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). 1 8 C r o z i e r ' s caust ic r e to r t , "The a posteriori r a t i o n a l i t y i s a s t a t i c r a t i o n a l i t y of v ic ious c i r c l e s . " (1980:172). 44 In the summer of 1967, Budget Bureau o f f i c i a l s re luc- t an t l y , but o f f i c i a l l y found "the longer term objectives of PPBS are now unclear to many." 1 9 By September of that year, Wi l l iam Gorham, former Assis tant Secretary, Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and widely acknowledged to be an outstanding p rac t i t i one 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 publ ic education: But we want our ch i ldren to be di f ferent sorts of people. We want them to be capable of d i f ferent sorts of things. We have, in 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 eve l and you ta lk about objectives in terms of educational attainment. Here you move in education f rom. . . fuzzy object ives , . . . t o more concrete, less con t rove r s i a l , more eas i ly 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- get ing, and the acknowledged d i f f i c u l t y of a r r i v i n g at gen- e r a l l y agreed upon program object ives , public education has achieved a surpr i s ing l e v e l of e f f i c i e n c y . Neither program budgeting nor s imi la r cost-benefi t f i s c a l processes f u l l y capture the e f f i c i e n t nature of publ ic education since what a student ac tua l ly learns may be a t t r ibu ted more to per- sonal , parental and community aspi ra t ions than to the 1 9 U .S . Bureau of the Budget. The Work of the Steering Group on Evaluation of the Bureau of the Budget: A Staff Summary, Ju ly 1967, p. 2-11. 2 0 Jo in t Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, Hearings, The Planning, Programming Budgeting System: Progress and Po ten t i a l s , 90th Congress, F i r s t Session, September 1967, page 80 (quoted in Wildavsky 1969:195). 2 1 "A var iable r e l a t ionsh ip between asp i ra t ion and sa t i s f ac - t i o n , or, more s p e c i f i c a l l y , a var iab le perception of oppor- tuni ty costs involved ." (Burns 1974:138). The term was coined by Simon (1958). 45 cen t r a l ly mandated curr iculum. Ref lec t ing on the dis junc- t ions which occur between the formally mandated organiza- t i o n a l goals and those of the diverse publ ics which the American publ ic school serves, Perrow concludes with gentle i rony, "the system of education i s quite e f f i c i e n t for accomplishing many things that many par t ic ipants des i re ; they are just 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 federal , state and l o c a l edu- ca t iona l administrators with f i n a n c i a l and budgetary reform is 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 nat ion ' s schools. On the contrary, resource cutbacks and rea l loca t ions often accompany f i s c a l reform (Hartle 1976:24). The constant a t tent ion demanded by continuing sh i f t s in bureaucratic procedure saps the organization of energy that i s more appropriately expended on improvements in educational services for students. Internal f i nanc i a l reform apparently contributes l i t t l e to winning the important p o l i t i c a l decisions that ensure improved educational opportunit ies for a l l — espec ia l ly the ch i ldren of the poor and disadvantaged. In the United States, these decisions have been los t to m i l i t a r y lobbyis ts (Table I , page47). United States education received 137 b i l l i o n do l l a r s -in 1980, f i f teen b i l l i o n do l l a r s more 46 than the t o t a l spent on defense. Five years la te r the picture had changed. 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 do l l a r s more than the t o t a l federal , state and l o c a l expen- di ture on public education (Table I ) . An important output measure of the diminished United States support for public 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 car r ied out at the Univers i ty 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 caut iously estimates the number of i l l i t - erates " i n terms of U .S . p r in t at the present time" at s ix ty m i l l i o n out of a t o t a l of two hundred and th i r ty - fou r m i l l i o n people (1985:10) . 2 2 The r i s i n g number of i l l i t e r - ates coincides with e i ther the reduction or termination of major s o c i a l and educational programs. Coinc iden ta l ly , the 1985 United States m i l i t a r y expenditure was higher in constant do l l a r s than in any year since 1946 (SIPRI 1985:242). b. Canada The Canadian publ ic administrat ion experience with PPBS follows a pattern s imi la r to the United States. The federal government's f i r s t serious move in the d i r ec t i on of PPBS came in 1966 with the Treasury. Board d i r e c t i v e to a l l y e a r departments requesting submission of a f ive-forecast on what 2 2 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). 47 Table I United States Expenditures On Public Education And Defense: 1980-1985 (In B i l l i o n s of Dol lars ) Publ ic Year Education 1 Defense : 1 980 137.8 122.7 1 981 149.5 142.7 1 982 160.5 213.7 1 983 172.2 239.4 1 9843 152.2" 273.4 1985 153.8 t t 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 States: 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 , In ternat ional Ins t i tu te For Strategic Studies. After a forty percent increase in m i l i t a r y spending over the l as t four years, the Adminis t ra t ion ' s plans are for a further forty percent r i s e in the next f ive f i s c a l - years up to f i s c a l year 1989. (SIPRI 1985:14). Project ions 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 the i r programs (MacDonald 1973:78). There was considerable resistance to operational ana lys i s . Summing up seven years of federal PPBS e f fo r t , MacDonald d id not believe i t possible to "c i t e a c l e a r l y documented instance where a decis ion to undertake program A rather than program B or C was a r r ived at on the basis of analysis a l o n e . . . " (1973:77). The Royal Commission on F inanc ia l Man- agement and Accountab i l i ty , struck in 1976, to examine the accounting methods used by the federal government, in summa- t ion was more d i r e c t : O v e r a l l , the appl ica t ion of PPBS as the cent ra l budgetary tool has met with mixed success. The decis ion was made in 1970 to overlay the system with a new procedure requir ing departments.to submit bud- gets d e t a i l i n g both the l e v e l of ex i s t ing programs (the "A" budget) and the costs required to improve the qua l i ty of serv ice , to extend the programs, or to finance new program and new c a p i t a l projects (the "B" budget). In p rac t i ce , the use of two budgets enhanced the tendency in the budgetary process, car- r i ed over from the pre-PPBS system, to concentrate a t tent ion on requests for new funds, with the resul 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 ex i s t i ng programs seldom come up for serious re-examination. Moreover, i t has proved extremely d i f f i c u l t to es tab l i sh more e x p l i c i t objectives for programs, and to put in place within departments workable systems whereby the e f f i c i ency 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 t imes." (1975:363). 49 c. B r i t i s h Columbia Commencing in the la te seventies, a major program of f i s c a l and budgetary reform was in s t i t u t ed 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 exper 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 in 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 min i s t r i e s - Education was one of the exceptions (Ri t te r & Cutt 1985: 45). In i t s o r i g i n a l form, ZBB requires that budgeters s tar t from a zero base; expenditures wi thin each program are j u s t i f i e d at the beginning of the budget c y c l e . The provin- c i a l government's pract ice of Zero Base Budgeting ca r r i ed s ign i f i can t add i t iona l costs r esu l t ing from extra prepara- t ion time required to meet the new s t ipu la t ions (Ruff 1983:192). When a minis t ry ac tua l ly 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 did 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 introduct ion of excessive d e t a i l . (Ri t te r & Cutt 1985:47) Costs related to negotiat ion are viewed by Lee and Johnson (1983:73) as wasting "valuable administrat ive time by requi r ing the rehashing of o ld issues that had already been resolved." These costs soon forced the replacement of the zero base with an operat ional minimum — an amount below 50 which the budgetary a l l oca t i on would not f a l l . The concept of an operational minimum restored the old incrementalist 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 Min i s t ry of Education replaced a long-establ ished school d i s t r i c t l i ne item accounting and budgeting procedure with a new Program, Budgeting, and Accounting System. Although seldom referred to as PPBS by Min i s t ry o f f i c i a l s , the out l ine in Figure I (page51) demonstrates that a l l major elements are incorporated in the M i n i s t r y ' s model. The genealogy of t h i s budgetary reform i s e x p l i c i t i n the fol lowing 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 lan- ning, programming, budgeting and evaluation system i s at the d i sc re t ion of each school d i s t r i c t . How- ever, the introduct ion of a program accounting and budgeting system on a uniform basis across the prov- ince i s the i n i t i a l , and very valuable step in 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 const i tu tes a ' f u l l ' PPBS system remains moot. Neither a publ ic se rv ice , nor an educational administrat ion has succeeded in introduc- ing a pure PPBS model — one in which every output i s opera- t i o n a l l y related to a resource input . Educational adminis- t ra tors usual ly are s a t i s f i e d with iden t i fy ing a r e l a t i v e l y small number of output measures. For the B .C. Min i s t ry of Education, these measures appear to be c lass s ize and the cost of de l ive r ing each of the programs within 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 Min i s t ry Of Education 1 1 . Information -reports finances and operations -fewer forms f i l l e d less frequently 2. F i s c a l Framework -sets the amount required to provide a basic educational service in each school d i s t r i c t -province establishes service l eve l s (standards) and cost factors -return to 1975-76 service l eve l s by 1985-86 (a) Funct ion: -a group of related 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 related a c t i v i t i e s , including statements descr ibing 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 object ives , programs and a c t i v i t i e s of the public school system -planning tool rather than a cost accounting exercise 4. Funding -funding in the form of p r o v i n c i a l grants w i l l cover at least s ix ty .and as much as n ine ty- f ive percent of approved budget 5. Accounting - fo l lows program budget structure to record expenditures and revenues Sources: 1 Fleming & Anderson (1984) and B.C. Min i s t ry of Education Program Accounting and Budgeting Manual (1983c). 52 f u n c t i o n s . 2 3 Although few o f f i c i a l Min i s t ry statements re la te s tu- dent achievement d i r e c t l y to expenditure, there i s a marked increase in the measurement of pupi l performance. The Min i s t ry introduced p r o v i n c i a l grade twelve examinations and ca r r i ed 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 ( Jeroski , Tolsma & Labercane 1984). Grade twelve examina- t ion resul ts 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 school - leve 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 ef fect ive and purposeful teaching." [ s i c ] (Heinrich 1983:60). Thus an output measure gauges the degree to which teachers comply with the cen t r a l l y mandated curriculum or a n a l y t i c a l model . 2 " Testing f u l f i l l s an important role in the new educa- t i o n a l process model. Assessment scores are made pub l i c , and l o c a l school boards are inst ructed to release examina- t ion resu l t s to the i r const i tuents . In the M i n i s t e r ' s words: With both Grade 12 exams and the reading assessment 2 3 A major objective i s to reduce public school expenditures and increase pupil / teacher ra t ios to 1975-76 leve l s by the 1985-86 f i s c a l year (Fleming & Anderson 1984:36). 2 " Anderson, one of the authors of the f i n a n c i a l and budget- ing system, extensively researched teacher p roduc t iv i ty among inne r -c i ty schools in the southern United States. 53 for Grades 4, 7 and 10, o v e r a l l achievement l eve 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 ind iv idua l school resul ts w i l l not be i d e n t i f i e d . These resu 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 rustees, in consul ta t ion with l o c a l educa- tors , to review the data and provide the l o c a l tax- payer with a summary of student achievement in the d i s t r i c t . (Heinrich 1983:60). The M i n i s t e r ' s c lear aff i rmation of a connection between the resource base or ' l o c a l taxpayer' and the output or 'student achievement' r e f l ec 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 adminis t ra t ive concern with aggregate c lass and school performance on these metrics supports the claim that output measures are being applied more exten- s ive ly 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 contribute to improved educa- t i o n a l performance i s not c l e a r . Resources which could be directed to reducing c lass s ize and introducing expanded educational opportunit ies have been diverted to student assessments and f i nanc i a l monitoring. Assessments demon- strate what has long been known in B r i t i s h Columbia and elsewhere in North America: only s ign i f i can t increases in expenditure in the classroom w i l l bring about improved learning among ch i l d r en . .Reading i s a sa l ien t example. Five years before the f i nanc i a l cutback and reform programs were i n s t i t u t e d , the Min i s t ry acknowledged that "Comprehen- s ive , high qua l i t y reading programs are ava i lab le on only a l im i t ed basis in the secondary schools of B r i t i s h Columbia 54 for a. var ie ty of reasons, including a shortage of trained personnel — a factor which should be amenable to treatment." (Minis t ry of Education 1977b:1). Rather than improve learn- ing opportuni t ies , the 1982 program of f i nanc i a l cutbacks resul ted in higher student/teacher ra t ios and reduced or . el iminated spec ia l educational programs for chi ldren who encounter d i f f i c u l t y learning Eng l i sh . 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 Min i s t ry of Education's greatest success, as with the p r o v i n c i a l government's pract ice of Zero Base Bud- get ing, i s to have "reinforced a res t ra in t and e f f ic iency m e n t a l i t y . . . " (Ruff 1983:192) wi thin the publ ic school orga- n i z a t i o n . 2. PPBS Overview PPBS i s an accounting method which increases cent ra l cont ro l by maximizing the r e l a t ionsh ip between inputs and outputs. The system emerged in a commercial se t t ing where i t was p ro f i t ab ly applied to automobile production. Following ten years of preparatory work by the Rand Corpora- t i o n , program budgeting was introduced to the United States Department of Defense in 1961. This const i tuted the f i r s t app l ica t ion to publ ic adminis t ra t ion . By 1965, a l l United States ' 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 public administrators had a s imi l a r experience with PPBS. Two years after the federal Treasury Board introduced th i s system, incremental methods again p reva i l ed . In B r i t i s h Columbia, Zero-Base Budgeting, a system with a comparable methodology, was introduced in 1979. Within two years, ZBB's guiding p r i n c i p l e , that in each budget cyc le , proponents j u s t i f y a l l program expenditures beyond a zero base, was je t t i soned in favour of incrementalism. Most p rac t i t ione r s and independent researchers concur that PPBS i s i l l - s u i t e d to public adminis t ra t ion . PPBS sac- r i f i c e s p o l i t i c a l for operational r a t i o n a l i t y . The system i s cos t ly to i n s t i t u t e and a shortage of s k i l l e d profession- a l s compounds adminis trat ive acceptance. In publ ic educa- t i o n , where schools must respond to a m u l t i p l i c i t y of com- peting and not infrequently contradictory 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 re la t ionsh ip between organizat ional 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 ionsh ip was c learer when there were fewer computers and they were i n s t a l l e d only in head o f f i c e s . Cen t ra l i za t ion effects remain strong and continue in spi te of new influences, such as that of the microcomputer which offers s i g n i f i c a n t com- puting power to low- leve l adminis t ra tors . Long-term 56 planning s trategies adopted by IBM par t ly explain the recent resurgence of c e n t r a l i z i n g technologies. The organization and administrat ion of a l l aspects of society on a global scale , however, has proceeded unabated for several centur ies . In recent decades, th 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 in te - grated set of interdependencies. Among educational organi- zat ions , computers are indispensible in the progress toward world management. Closely a l l i e d with the inherent capacity of informa- t i c s to favour cen t r a l i za t i on i s the issue of how th i s techology i s applied to perform work. The largest adminis- t r a t ive app l ica t ion of computers in the publ ic 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 cen t ra l i zed f i nanc i a l system, are at tained by l i n k i n g f inan- c i a l inputs with educational outputs, then comparing the performance of adminis trat ive un i t s . I I I . METHODOLOGY This study of the administrat ive impact of computers on the public school system drew on the analysis of interviews and documents. Interview disclosures were compared with each other, and with statements derived from published and unpublished reports . Although some quant i ta t ive data were integrated with th i s information, the methodology remained predominantly that which many contemporary organizat ional theor is 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 methodo- l o g i s t s . In spi te of the more than s ix books and many a r t i - c les on the subject, the term has eluded rigorous d e f i n i - t i o n . Van Maanen notes that q u a l i t a t i v e research has no precise meaning in the s o c i a l sciences (1983:9). 1 For. Wilson, q u a l i t a t i v e research i s synonymous with anthropo- l o g i c a l , phenomenological and ethnographic research (1977: 245). At least one methodologist avoids the problem of def- i n i t i o n en t i r e ly by subsuming these terms under a broad cat- egory and then def ining 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 1 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 in te rpre ta t ive techniques which seek to describe, decode, t r a n s l a t e . . . the meaning, not the frequency, of c e r t a in , more or less na tura l ly occurring phenomena in the s o c i a l wor ld ." (1983:9) t y p i f i e s the lack of p r ec i s ion . 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 inquiry (1981:76). Others, such as Eisner, f ind the term q u a l i t a t i v e misleading, "since a l l empir ical research must of necessity pay at tent ion 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 - c a l l y . This observation's authentic r i n g , however, i s damp- ened by the novel i s t E . L . Doctorow who cautions that wri ters may "compose false documents more v a l i d , more real, .more t ru th fu l than the ' t rue ' documents of the p o l i t i c i a n s or the jou rna l i s t s or the psychologis ts ." (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 igh l igh t s the fundamental question around which a l l discussions about q u a l i t a t i v e and ethnographic research inev i tab ly o r b i t : how i s the research- er, and the researcher 's audience assured of the t ru th of what i s before them? There are no wholly sa t i s fac tory 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 empir ica l research, have a very r e s t r i c t ed appl ica t ion in q u a l i t a t i v e research. Beyond a knowledge of log ic and an i n t e l l i g e n t app l ica t ion of the fac ts , there are no compara- bly powerful tools ava i lab le for tes t ing the accuracy of ethnography's in terpre ta t ive methods. One of the strongest v e r i f i c a t i o n procedures i s t r i angu la t i on , a lso c a l l e d con- vergent 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 angula t ion in an organizat ional se t t ing 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 be l i e f that the resul ts are v a l i d (Jick 1983:136). The process of combining d i f f e r - ent methods can be traced to the mul t ip le operations work of Campbell and Fiske (1959). Although q u a l i t a t i v e researchers cla im t r i angula t ion as the i r own, there i s ample evidence of i t s e a r l i e r app l ica t ion by h i s to r i ans and anthropologis ts . March Bloch ' s Feudal Society (1961) and Ruth Benedict 's The Chrysanthemum And The Sword (1974) are two benchmark studies in the i r respective f i e l d s which re ly heavily on assembling corroborative evidence from a wide var ie ty of sources. That Yvonna L i n c o l n , co-author of Effective Evaluation (Guba & Linco ln 1981), one of the most popular texts on n a t u r a l i s t i c methodology, also studied medieval h is tory provides strong ind i rec t testimony to the epistemological roots of q u a l i t a - t ive research. There i s l i t t l e which dis t inguishes 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 ei ther ethnogra- phy or his tor iography. A l l researchers in these f i e l d s i n - vest selected facts with meaning in a continuing process of moulding facts to in terpre ta t ion and in terpre ta t ion to fac ts . Ethnography's concern with studying l i v i n g cul tures does not necessar i ly 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 d i rec t 60 perception of the present with h is tor iography '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 iscre te observation i s selected from a wide range of poss i - ble events. The ethnographic observation once noted i s cast as an act ion that ex is t s in the past. The recorded observa- t i on i s then subject to the same d i sc r imina t ive process as h i s t o r i c a l fac t . 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 - tor iographic 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 delineate 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 the i r current use, these.two expressions are l i t t l e more than misleading tags for long established'forms of humanist inqu i ry . A. SAMPLING TECHNIQUES The p r i n c i p a l data sources const i tuted interviews with educational administrators who were employed throughout the B. C. publ ic school system. Supplementary sources included po l i cy documents, in te rna l adminis t ra t ive s tudies , f i n a n c i a l and annual reports , as wel l as studies on the app l i ca t ion of e lec t ron ic information technology to the publ ic s e rv i ce 2 and 2 Publ ic service denotes the c o l l e c t i v e instrument whereby things that government i s responsible for , get done. Swainson (1983:119) wr i tes , " r e f l ec t ing current governmental prac t ice in B r i t i s h Columbia, (the term publ ic service) i s used to embrace the departments of government, i t s cen t ra l and specia l agencies, i t s boards, commissions and crown cor- porat ions, and the s taffs of a l l of them." 61 to business management. The administrat ion of the public school system — whether at the school , school d i s t r i c t or minis try l eve l — i s treated as in tegra l" to the publ ic ser- v i c e . For the purpose of report ing the research f indings , and discussing the i r impl ica t ions , 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 in the s t r i c t e s t sense part of the publ ic se rv ice , w i l l be considered separately. Several sources were tapped for information that could be used to assemble a prel iminary model about how computers have affected the modern organiza t ion . These sources included research journal a r t i c l e s , newspaper reports , 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 administra- t ion of the public school organizat ion, there i s a w e l l - developed l i t e r a t u r e on the i r corporate impact, and a smal l , but growing research effor t has begun on the experience of government. Spec ia l ized publ ica t ions on computers, manage- ment science, and information science can provide a good composite of the organizat ional change which the computer has wrought. Correspondence with f ive Canadian educational minis- t r i e s was undertaken before the fieldwork was launched in la te May, 1984. The p r o v i n c i a l experience was va r i ed . Ontario, Manitoba, and Alber ta reported that a small number of d i s t r i c t s transferred data to the Min i s t ry in e lec t ron ic 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 Min i s t ry of Education (Appendix E ) . In 1983, Ontario established the Canadian Educational Microprocessor Corporation (CEMCORP), a government sponsored manufacturing program for educational microcomputers. Although the main purpose was to supply computers for classroom use, an addi- 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 appl ica t ion of computers to adminis t ra t ion, afforded comparisons with the prel iminary research resul ts of the B r i t i s h Columbia inqu i ry . B. PILOT STUDY A p i l o t study was conducted to test the interview meth- ods. The p i l o t was held with a superintendent of a metro- po l i t an school d i s t r i c t . The interview was 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 resu l t s which included discussions with experienced organizat ional researchers, the p i l o t was deemed a success. The interview was completed within the designated time of one hour and the respondent rep l ied in a for thr ight manner to a l l questions. Addi t iona l information or c l a r i f i c a t i o n was provided as requested. At the c lose , the researcher was introduced to two of the d i s t r i c t ' s head of f ice personnel, an ass is tant secretary-treasurer and a curriculum coordinator . In. a pattern that would character- ize some future interviews, an add i t iona l ninety minutes 63 were spent seeking supplementary evidence from them. Exten- sive note-taking replaced the tape recorder for the two sup- plementary interviews. Some ad hoc questions which were prompted by the in t e r - viewees' responses were added to the schedule. The sequence of questions was rearranged with the intent ion of "maximiz- ing the flow of information and maintaining optimum in t e r - personal r e l a t i o n s . . . " (Gorden 1975:406). The prel iminary fo rma l i t i e s , including obtaining consent, were abbreviated. A few questions which apparently had been perceived by the respondent as threatening were rephrased. C. CANDIDATE SELECTION The se lec t ion process began with a knowledge-gathering phase. Limited research funds r e s t r i c t ed the search for candidates to d i s t r i c t s located within the region encom- passed by southern Vancouver Is land, 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 within easy commuting of the researcher 's home and includes f i f teen "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 tory of computer use in 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 ac t ive over recent years in the adminis t ra t ive appl ica t ion of computers. A core group of s ix administrators was selected for i n i t i a l contact. This group included an executive d i rec tor 64 of a research agency, three superintendents of schools, and two senior managers from the Min i s t ry of Education. The sample was constructed to produce immediate input from as many organizat ional l eve l s as poss ib le . An addi t iona 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 ional education associat ions and ind iv idua 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 public school orga-' n iza t ion respondents f u l f i l l e d the fol lowing c r i t e r i a . Interviewees were administrators wi thin the B .C. publ ic 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, ass is tant superintendents, secretary- treasurers, or branch d i rec tors at the Min i s t ry l e v e l . The educational respondents had many years of administrat ive experience in the B .C . school system. Figure II (page1 65) compares the average number of years that various categories of respondent had held the i r current p o s i t i o n . Most had occupied the i r current posting from four to ten years. The average number of years of teaching and administrat ive expe- rience 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 lose ly followed by the Figure II Respondents Mean Years Of Experience In Present Position By Organizational Level Ministry Superintendent Secretary- Treasurer Computer Manager Secondary School Principal School Trustees Association Teachers' Federation [—i—i—i—i—|—i—i—i—i—|—i—i—i—i—| 0 5 10 15 Figure III Respondents Mean Years Of Educational Employment Experience By Organizational Level Ministry Superintendent Secretary- Treasurer Computer Manager Secondary School Principal School Trustees Association Teachers' Federation |—i—i—I—I 1—i—i—i—i—r—i—i—i—i—|—i—i—i—i—i—i—i—i—i—[—i—i—i—i—| 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 66 superintendent category with twenty-six years. These to t a l s demonstrate that the educational respondents drew on a long working acquaintance with the B .C. school system. Administrators belonged to organizat ional uni ts which e i ther maintained in-house computers, contracted the i r com- puter services to p r iva t e ly operated data processing compa- nies or , in the case of the M i n i s t r y , contracted to a Crown corporat ion. Representatives were sought from organiza- t i o n a l uni ts in which ei ther the microcomputer, minicomputer or mainframe predominated. In some instances, the i n t e r - viewees were regarded by computer professionals and the i r peers as ind iv idua l s who had displayed a strong in teres t in the adminis t ra t ive app l ica t ion of computers. Any s ingle school d i s t r i c t was represented by no more than two respondents. This design feature reduced po ten t i a l in te rna l administrat ive c o n f l i c t and increased the range of inputs . Once selected, wri t ten 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 interview, and asked the respondent to i n d i - cate a convenient time. Some l e t t e r s of introduct ion were wri t ten by the research supervisor, others by the author. A follow-up telephone c a l l was made three days after the expected a r r i v a l of the l e t t e r . Later , t h i s routine was changed. Let ters of introduct ion were del ivered 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 exc lus ive ly from the B.C. publ ic school organizat ion. A decis ion was taken early in the fieldwork to widen the sample. An improved understanding of the research questions was bel ieved possible with a broader range of inputs. Widening the sample was accomplished in two steps. In the f i r s t , candidates were added from two c lose ly a l l i e d organi- za t ions : the B .C . School Trustees Associat ion and the B .C . Teachers' Federat ion. In the second step, respondents who had a commercial knowledge of the administrat ive app l ica t ion of computers to the province '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 adminis t ra tors . Interviewees included systems analys ts , software developers, and hardware vendors. Several executives of small companies were also contacted. Discussions with these respondents usually concentrated on spec i f i c questions r e l a t i ng to the i r area of exper t ise . Their cont r ibu t ions , although on occasion not e x p l i c i t l y related to educational adminis t ra t ion, ass is ted in the anal - ys i s of information provided by the public education organi- zat ion respondents. 68 E. THE INTERVIEWS During the study's planning stage, one hour was desig- nated for each formal interview. In p rac t i ce , 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 adminis t ra tor ' s support s t a f f . The number of personnel interviewed from the p r o v i n c i a l publ ic 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 pos i t ion and orga- n i za t i ona l l e v e l . An addi t iona l seven interviews were con- ducted with representatives of four c lose ly related profes- s iona l organizat ions, the B.C. School Trustees Assoc ia t ion , the B .C . Teachers' Federation, the B.C. Research Counci l , and the Educational Research Ins t i tu te of B r i t i s h Columbia. F i n a l l y , ten representatives from hardware and software com- panies were interviewed. Personnel interviewed in these categories ei ther designed educational administrat ion com- puter programs, acted as advisors to school d i s t r i c t s or served as research consultants to senior l eve l s of govern- ment. Their professional knowledge extended beyond B r i t i s h Columbia to include Canada and the United States . Table II provides a de ta i led 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 4 Assistant Superintendent 1 Secretary-Treasurer 2 Assistant Secretary-Treasurer 1 Computer Services Manager 1 Computer Coordinator 1 Coordinator Audiovisual Services 1 subtotal 11 3. Schools Principal, Elementary 1 Principal, Junior Secondary 1 Principal, Junior/Senior Secondary 2 Principal, Senior Secondary 3 Vice-principal, Senior Secondary 2 subtotal 9 4. B.C. School Trustees Association Administrator 1 subtotal 1 cont'd. .: . 5. B .C. Teachers' Federation Bargaining and Professional Development 2 Computer Services 2 subtotal 4 6 . Research In s t i t u t i ons Administrator 2 subtotal 2 7 . Software Companies Manager1 2 Systems Analyst/Programer 1 1 Marketing Representative 1 3 subtotal 6 8. Computer Companies Marketing Representative 1 3 subtotal 3 Total Respondents 38 Note: 1 wri t t en summary of interview only 71 1. Interview Schedule Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each par t ic ipant according to an interview schedule. This f a c i l - i t a tes comparisons between interviews (Abrahamson 1983:338). Indiv idual respondents were not required to answer each question, and the sequencing of questions var ied 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 devel- oped impromptu questions which more f u l l y explored th 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 pa r t ly s c r i p t i ng the i n t e r l o c u t o r ' s role while a l lowing su f f i c i en t f l e x i b i l i t y to determine the timing of a pa r t i cu l a r ques- t i o n , meant that the interviewer could more read i ly adapt to the respondent's i nd iv idua l s ty le and experience. As interviewing progressed, the schedule of questions was revised to re f lec t the improved understanding of the research impl ica t ions . With experience,, the schedules better ant ic ipa ted the type of cont r ibut ion that a respon- dent could make by v i r tue of the respondent's pos i t ion and adminis trat ive experience. The rev i s ion process, together with the production of schedules t a i l o r e d to pa r t i cu l a r adminis trat ive pos i t ions resul ted in the further d i f f e r e n t i - a t ion of questions. 72 Two administrators asked for a l i s t of questions to be submitted three weeks in advance of the interview. Their request was granted. To the researcher 's surpr ise , 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 related to the questions, the respondent soon began to re lax . This technique proved more productive than the pre- paration of short, wri t ten answers and th i s experience points to the inherent r e s t r i c t i o n s of the survey quest ionnaire. 2. Respondent's Consent At the in te rv iew's commencement, a summary of the respondent's r ights and the condit ions of the interview was submitted for signing (see Consent Form, Appendix G) . Among the important assurances were the r ight to decline to answer spec i f i c questions, and to withdraw from the '-interview at any time. Any questions concerning procedure were answered to the sa t i s f ac t ion of the respondent. After signing the form, a copy was retained by the respondent and the in t e r - viewer. Conf iden t i a l i t y of the disclosures and anonymity of the sources were ensured. Conf iden t i a l i t y was achieved by not re fer r ing l a te r to any matter d isc losed during an interview in a manner which 73 could be considered a breach of t r u s t . Anonymity was secured by not iden t i fy ing the respondent ei ther during the taping session or subsequently in the typed t r ansc r ip t s . Where references were made in t h i s study to content which might have revealed ei ther the iden t i ty of the respondent, or the respondent's associates , the references are designed to conceal that iden t i ty and maintain the i n t eg r i t y of the reference. The study's methodology here, as elsewhere, i s designed to comply with the s t ipu la t ions of the Univers i ty 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 recorder 's b u i l t - i n e l ec t ro s t a t i c microphones faced in opposite d i rec t ions and were designed to capture the speech of both discussants. Recording equipment preparation was simply a matter of plug- ging the machine into a convenient power receptacle and per- forming a sound t es 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 add i t iona l t h i r t y minutes of blank tape remained for interviews which took longer. Disclosures of a more important nature seemed to occur with greater fequency 74 toward the end of the one hour per iod . Had the flow of con- versat ion been interrupted by a cassette change, the in for - mation would probably have been l o s t . The choice of t h i s tape format also contributed to the ef fec t ive 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 audia l t r ansc r ip - t ion of the interview. The interviewer was re l i eved of laborious note taking. Comprehensive note taking 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 tent ion to content and the formulation of follow-up questions. With a tape recorder, the interviewer was able to con- centrate on es tab l i sh ing a close rapport with the respon- dent. Attent ion could focus on the content of the verbal communication, i t s f i d e l i t y with the speaker's k ines thet ics and proxemics (Downs 1980:68), and i t s accord with the in terv iewer ' s understanding of the subject. A swift evalua- t ion of the respondent's answers could be made before pro- ceeding to the next question. Occasional b r i e f notes ei ther h ighl ighted the in terv iewer ' s evaluations or i d e n t i f i e d a subject for a follow-up quest ion. Later , the recording would allow the interviewer "to hear h i s own verbal tech- niques and detect possible biasing e f fec t s . " (Gorden 1975: 474). The presence of the tape recorder did not appear to i n h i b i t interviewee responses. The apparent neu t r a l i t y of the recording device may be a product of increasing s o c i a l acceptance of various recording techniques. 75 4. Transcripts A verbatim t ranscr ip t was typewritten for each recorded interview. There were approximately 670 typed double-spaced pages of t ranscribed mate r ia l . Neither t ranscr ip t s nor notes were presented to the respondents for confirmation, since th i s procedure would slow the evaluat ion. In addi- t i o n , there was concern that respondents would a l e r t other administrators to the content of the questions, thereby reducing the l e v e l of spontaneity. On several occasions during analys is of the wri t ten t r ansc r ip t s , however, con f i r - mation was sought on a pa r t i cu l a r point from ei ther the respondent or from other sources in the respondent's organi- za t iona l un i t . More rapid and more complete analysis of the material was possible with typed t r ansc r ip t s than with the o r i g i n a l audio recording. When the t ranscr iber was uncertain about pa r t i cu l a r words or phrases, the tape counter number was included in the typewritten copy. Later , the researcher returned to these areas and i d e n t i f i e d the missing passage. The t ranscr ip 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 ranscr ip t s as the analys is proceeded. Information divulged in the in te r - views was checked for in te rna l consistency, and consistency with the d isc losures of other respondents. The researcher 's responses to the. testimony were noted in the margins. 76 Summaries of key points were made for quick future refer- ence. A coding system was devised to ident i fy the page locat ions of spec i f i c content used in reporting research f indings . While in progress, the job of accurately t rans- c r i b i n g twenty-seven interviews hardly seemed warranted. As the analys is of the research question matured, however, the e a r l i e r effor t was j u s t i f i e d . Had a wri t ten summary been subst i tuted for the tape recording/typed t ranscr ip t method, much valuable material 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 ac t i c i s quick, but i t tends to confirm precon- ceived notions, since the resul ts are mediated "by the f ie ldworker ' s own standards of relevance as to what i s and what i s not worthy of observat ion." (Van Maanen 1983:51). A verbatim t ranscr ip t preserves many subt le t ies which await discovery and elaborat ion 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 te r incorporated into the study. A schedule of questions was followed (Appendix F ) . Verbatim typed t ranscr ip t s reduced spurious and subjective judgements of what t ranspired in the in terview. Since the complete interview was recorded, content analys is could proceed over the eighteen-month period of thes is preparat ion. 77 Information which might have been dismissed as i r re levant 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 igni f icance was recognized. Ident i fying interviewer bias was part of the review process that accompanied the completion of each interview. Appropriate changes were made to the schedule of questions and to the in terv iewer ' 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 th i s type contributed to improved r e l i a b i l i t y . Disclosures were compared with those of administrators at other organizat ional l eve l s and with those of respondents from outside agencies. Agreement between many respondents may indicate a higher degree of r e l i a b i l i t y . However, due consideration was given in the content analys is to the recognit ion that overwhelming agree- ment 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 ru th . Where poss ib le , interview disclosures were checked against wri t ten documents, such as studies, f i n a n c i a l reports , po l i cy statements, and minutes of meetings. Requests for wri t ten r ep l i e s to questions were sent to respondents on the assumption that administrators take great in teres t in the accuracy of signed statements. Comparing the interviewees' r ep l i e s with the findings of research in a l l i e d f i e l d s ass is ted with a determination of r e l i a b i l i t y . Most research findings in the study are supported with ref- erences to the i r source: publ ic or pr ivate reports , personal correspondence or respondent d i sc losures . .78 G. SUMMARY Qua l i t a t i ve research i s rooted in a long t r a d i t i o n of humanist i nqu i ry . I t s methods are not fundamentally d i f f e r - ent from historiography or anthropology. In the pursuit of an improved understanding of s o c i a l phenomena, a s imi l a r process of analys is and in terpre ta t ion i s shared by a l l three. As with quant i ta t ive research, a set of data or facts may be invested with r a d i c a l l y di f ferent 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 ed app l ica t ion in q u a l i t a t i v e stud- i e s . C l a r i t y and the revela t ion 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 is tory of administra- t i ve computing in the B r i t i s h Columbia publ ic education system, two major trends have occurred. F i r s t , computer appl ica t ions within the Min i s t ry move from a labour replace- ment role in which ex i s t i ng c l e r i c a l routines are automated, to a planning mode in which informatics a ss i s t s p o l i c y - makers. In the second trend, computer use diffuses from the organizat ional apex to a l l school d i s t r i c t s and many schools. The effect of computers on administrat ion i s pervasive. Their capacity to manipulate large quant i t ies of data i s the backbone of the Min i s t ry of Educat ion ' s 1 current c e n t r a l i z a - t ion program which embraces budgeting, and curriculum and learning evaluat ion. Without these too 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 app l ica t ions , the parameters of i,. l o c a l administrat ive act ion were redefined, and school and school d i s t r i c t autonomy eroded. The same administrat ive pract ices that led in 1961 to the i n s t a l l a t i o n by the Min i s t ry of Education of an antiquated computer, to be replaced only a year l a te r by 1 The Department of Education was proclaimed the Min i s t ry 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 Min i s t ry of Education. 79 80 equipment already nearing obsolesence, have pers is ted into the 1980's. 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 econo- mies of scale and l i m i t d i g i t a l communication. At the same time that the Min i s t ry exerts increasing cont ro l over the whole education organizat ion, with the recording and moni- tor ing assistance of computers, the Min i s t ry seems reluctant to f i rmly coordinate school and d i s t r i c t data processing. D i s t r i c t s have long res i s ted cen t r a l i z a t i on and stan- dardizat ion of the i r computing systems. A la te 1960's study, and one a decade la te r recommended that the Min i s t ry 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 . Min i s t ry of Education 1979). In the absence of firm Min i s t ry resolve, however, school d i s t r i c t po l i cy 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 tered 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 impor- tant cadre of Min i s t ry of Education computer professionals was dispersed. Confronted by the controversy that attended the BCSC s tar t -up, Min i s t ry o f f i c i a l s seemed less favourably disposed to the implementation of p r o v i n c i a l processing standards. A chain of events in the early 1980's once again focused Min i s t ry a t tent ion on d i s t r i c t computers. In response to publ ic service f i n a n c i a l reforms and f i s c a l 81 res t ra in t measures spearheaded by the Min i s t ry of Finance, the education minis try 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 process- ing capaci ty . Introduction of PPBS was therefore preceded by the 1982 announcement of a four-year computer expansion and replacement project . Schools and school d i s t r i c t s are represented by many adminis t ra t ive un i t s . 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). 2 Among these un i t s , considerable va r i a t i on ex i s t s in the manufacturing o r i g i n of hardware and software compos- ing the data processing systems. Each administrat ive ' en t i ty wi thin the research sample of s ix schools, and s ix school d i s t r i c t s 3 has a d i s t i n c t cons te l l a t ion of manufacturer's equipment (Table IV) . Although Min is t ry experience with computers accumulated over twenty-five consecutive years, de ta i led information on the topic i s scarce." The M i n i s t r y ' s e lec t ronic data pro- cessing systems were implemented in r e l a t i ve obscur i ty ; l eg - 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. 2 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). 3 Were the d i s t r i c t s represented by the school - l eve l sample added, there would be a t o t a l of eight d i s t r i c t s in the sample. " Dr. C. B. Conway, the leading figure in the ear ly years, i s deceased. If he kept a d a i l y journa l , none appears to have survived. Min i s t ry of Education papers from th i s period have yet to be released to the P rov inc i a l Archives . 82 Rarely do Min i s t ry Annual Reports f ind the subject worthy of comment. Research findings are reported in three sect ions: 1. Min i s t ry of Education 2. 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 isc losed in a fourth sec t ion . The recap i tu la t ion in te - grates the research findings in summary form. Since the events which compose the story form a complex whole, a time l i n e i s included in 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. Min i s t ry of Education. This simple machine was the focus of a short-term study on i t s app l i ca t ion to test scor- ing . The machine e l e c t r i c a l l y detected g r a p h i t e - f i l i e d answer spaces (Minis t ry of Education Annual Report 1964-65: 53). According to Dr. C l i f f o r d B. Conway,5 the f i r s t Director 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 hand-scorers . . . " (1947-48:130). Machine scoring cost approximately two cents per sub-test , while hand-scoring was 5 Conway probably saw th i s machine in operation while serv- ing in the Canadian Army under General Brock Chisholm during World War II (Annual Report 1973-74:D12). He acknowledged the important influence his experience with the army M-Test played in administering the marking of p r o v i n c i a l tests and matr icula t ion examinations. 83 valued at four cents. The Annual Report indicates that the cost-benefi t of the computer was amply demonstrated, but a large number of small errors resul ted in test scores which . were too low,.soon foreing the p ro jec t ' s c ance l l a t i on . Fourteen years elapsed before the introduct ion of an e lec t ron ic computer. In the immediate post World War II era, the province '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 tests and junior matr icula t ion examinations kept pace, manual marking and tabulat ing meth- ods proved slower and more c o s t l y . The add i t iona l expenses incurred in serv ic ing high enrolments probably contributed subs tan t i a l ly to j u s t i f y i n g the costs of an in-house com- puter to Treasury Board. Treasury kept a t ight hold on gov- ernment data processing (Ri t te r & Cutt 1985). The M i n i s t r y ' s i n i t i a l commitment to e lec t ronic 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 matr icula t ion examination scores." (Annual Report 1962-63:47). Education was probably the f i r s t Min i s t ry in 6 The IBM 650 main memory ranged from 10,000 to 20,000 decimal d i g i t s (Fisher , 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 isplay terminal . The machine rented for between $3,000 and $4,000 U.S. when- f i r s t released in 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 sk . 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. 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 did the Finance computerize the i r accounting system (Ri t te r & Cutt 1985:13). At the time of Min i s t ry implementation, the seven-year old 650 technology already had been rendered obsolete by IBM's 1960 introduct ion of the 1400 system (Fisher , McKie & Mancke 1983:52). Two replacements for the 650 system, the IBM 1620 computer and 1403 pr in te r were i n s t a l l e d in 19637 , as the Min i s t ry prepared for "the tremendous upsurge in matr icula t ion candidates expected in 1964 and 1965" (Annual Report 1962-63:47). The 1620 computer was a second genera- t ion machine with a magnetic core storage capacity of 20,000 alphameric d i g i t s (IBM 1963:2). The accompanying 1403 high- speed chain p r in te 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 (Fisher , McKie & Mancke 1983:53). Rewriting the old 650 computer programs for the 1620 took two years (Minis t ry Annual Report 1963-64:53), an i n d i - cat ion that the decis ion to abandon the 650 hardware was made only a few months after i n s t a l l a t i o n . After 1963, com- puters assumed an increasingly cent ra l pos i t ion within Min i s t ry operations. 7 The IBM 360 ser ies was announced on A p r i l 7, 1964 (Fisher , McKie & Mancke 1983:139), proof that rapid technological obsolescence was as germane then as i t i s today. 85 1. Changing Role of EDP As computers underwent an expanded organizat ional ro l e , the administrat ive a t t i tude toward them changed. This change was c lose ly l inked to how they accomplished Min i s t ry goals . Two h i s t o r i c stages are d i s c e r n i b l e . During the f i r s t , l a s t ing from 1960 to 1974, many c l e r i c a l procedures are automated. Computers replaced people. Some of the remaining non-automated c l e r i c a l routines are modified to accommodate e lec t ronic data processing. Adminis t ra t ive observations at t h i s time stressed the labour replacement aspect of computers; demands for increased automation c i t e po ten t ia l e f f i c i enc i e s and cost-benefi ts (1961-62:47). A summary of computer appl ica t ions published in the M i n i s t r y ' s 1961-62 Annual Report conveys a pronounced in t e r - est in the i r labour replacement p o t e n t i a l . The Min i s t ry computer marked and tabulated achievement test and examina- t ion r e su l t s . 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 prel iminary punching operations and the whole procedure i s mechanized. (1961-62:48) This concern with computing e f f i c i ency continues through 1965, when a comparative study of two photoelect r ic scorers i s reported. The t r a n s i t i o n from labour replacement to wholly new appl ica t ions 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 project ion" of enrolment (Annual Report 1966-67:58). 8 Since the program i s designed to handle new data inputs, the project ions can be revised as add i t iona l data are c o l l e c t e d . The effects of changes to c lass s i z e , course offerings and teacher graduation were a lso modeled. This program i s probably the f i r s t to d i r e c t l y inform Min i s t ry policy-making. 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 also undertake assignments never before required by the M i n i s t r y . They become close adjuncts to the planning process (1974-75:15). Their e f f i - ciency i s usual ly assumed, and adminis trat ive statements about costs which dominate the f i r s t stage, give way to con- s iderat ions about how best to respond to growing s t a t i s t i c a l demands that or ig inate wi th in e i ther the Min i s t ry or outside agencies (1974-75:16). Observations from th i s period point to the complexity of data requirements as large-scale assessments of the public 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 su f f i c i en t f l e x i - 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 apt ly characterizes the 8 According to Glen Foster of BCRC, preliminary work began in 1966 with the operat ional model del ivered in la te 1968 (interview March, 1986). 87 change as one that went "from 'what i s or what was' towards 'what w i l l be i f . ' " [ s i c ] (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 in the previous twenty-five" (1973-74:14). The Branch was divided into three: Learning Assessment, Information, and Data Services . Each new branch used EDP heav i ly . 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 enterpr ise ." (1975-76:31). In 1976, a com- puter was introduced to the Publ ica t ion Services Branch to manage the purchasing and d i s t r i b u t i o n of textbooks to the province 's schools (1976-77:32). 2. Computing Expenditures and Cost Analysis According to respondents, a commonly-held expectation of the conversion of c l e r i c a l procedures to e lec t ronic rou- t ines i s that they w i l l be performed for e i ther the same or less cost . F inanc ia l information therefore provides an important measure for gauging the adminis t ra t ive impact of computers. Detai led f i nanc i a l analys is of computer impacts on the B .C . publ ic school system was thwarted by the scar- c i t y of r e l i a b l e information. Changes in organizat ional structure and accounting pract ice reduced the usefulness of 88 the small amount of f i nanc 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 min i s t r i e s to p u b l i c l y d i sc lose computer and computer consultancy costs , Publ ic Accounts report annual Min i s t ry of Education increases in expenditure on e lec t ronic data processing (Table I I I , page 89). Excluding the 1977-78 d i sc losure , which represents only a port ion 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 do 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 consul t ing exceeded 1.3 m i l l i o n do l l a r s during the seven-year period 1978-79 to 1984-85. While in the same per iod, the M i n i s t r y ' s annual average expenditure on publ ic 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 ava i l ab l e , production of a r e l i a b l e lon - g i tud ina l comparison between computer and adminis t ra t ive costs i s not poss ib le . For several years, the M i n i s t r y ' s f i nanc i a l statements published in the Public Accounts include an adminis trat ive category var ious ly reported under 'Admin i s t r a t i on , ' ' M i n i s t r y Se rv i ce s , ' 'Management Operat ions, ' 'Educational Finance, ' and more recently iden- t i f i e d as 'Management Operations. ' I r respect ive of changing t i t l e s , t h i s category does not represent the cost of admin- i 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 in te rna l 89 Table I II B.C. Min i s t ry of Education Computer Costs Compared With Total Public Education Expenditures 1974-19841 (nearest 1,000 do l l a r s ) Computer Percentage F i s c a l & Systems Total BCSC Pr ice Year Consulting Min i s t ry Reduction 2 1974-75 391,236,000 1975-76 479,117,000 1976-77 ,578,824,000 1977-78 232,000 3 627,851,000 1978-79 1,016,000 680,776,000 - 1979-80 1,298,000 673,073,000 1 0 1980-81 1,386,000 788,538,000 7 1981-82 1,357,000 896,897,000 7 1982-83 1,479,000" 984,829,000 1983-84 1,653,000" 1,033,841,000 1984-85 1,516,000" 1,065,122,000 5 Notes: 1 Sources: Publ ic Accounts of B r i t i s h Columbia, and BCSC Annual Reports 2 Pr ice reduction in percentage over previous year 3 Figure represents only part of the 1977-78 t o t a l . No entr ies appear in e a r l i e r edi t ions of the Publ ic Accounts. " Supplied by Min i s t ry of Finance 5 B r i t i s h Columbia Estimates for f i s c a l year ending March 31, 1984, page 61 90 minis t ry and external school objectives (correspondence, 1985). Another change which reduces comparabili ty is that since 1982, in order to conform more c lose ly with the needs of Treasury Board, the emphasis in budget preparation has been on the assembly of information at the program rather than the operational level . (R i t t e r & Cutt 1985:47). Votes are no longer d i s t r i bu ted on an expenditure basis ; now they are a l located to program object ives . Administrat ive and data processing costs are charged to each program within the Min i s t ry and are not itemized in the Publ ic Accounts. Were the B .C. publ ic school system's adminis trat ive and computing costs ava i lab le to the researcher for f i s c a l years 1982—1985 — which they are not — the i r s igni f icance would be subject to broad in te rp re ta t ion . Ef fec t ive A p r i l 1, 1981, the Comptroller General a l te red the method of accounting from a cash to an accrual bas is . A d d i t i o n a l l y , there have been three reorganizations of the Min i s t ry of Education: in 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 trans- ferred to the new Min i s t ry of U n i v e r s i t i e s , Science and Communications, followed by two in te rna l reorganizations in 1982-83 and 1985-86. BCSC service 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 f o l - lowing two years (BCSC 1979-80:4; 1980-81:5; 1981-82:6). These reductions apply to a large proportion of Min i s t ry data processing expenditures, and are interpreted in th i s 91 analys is as product iv i ty gains. Although outside agencies such as BCRC and the Education Research Ins t i tu te of B r i t i s h Columbia (ERIBC) 9 received some data processing contracts , BCSC's strategy was to increase control 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 Findings, D. B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporat ion). By f i s c a l 1981-82, th i s corporate objective was la rge ly achieved (BCSC 1981-82:12). F i s c a l 1981-82 also marked the beginning of an o f f i c i a l four-year program of f i nanc i a l cutbacks to the publ ic ser- v i c e , referred to as f i s c a l r e s t ra in t ( B r i t i s h Columbia 1983a) . 1 0 This s o c i a l aus ter i ty program, according to some respondents, had reduced the effectiveness of publ ic educa- t i o n . Total P r o v i n c i a l Government expenditures continued to cl imb, but in f l a t iona ry effects reduced the actual purchas- ing power. The Min i s t ry 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 se rv ic ing costs and compares estimates to actual expenditures. The system has been implemented in a l l m in i s t r i e s which have s ign i f i can t c a p i t a l budgets. (Ri t t e r & Cutt 1985:50) 9 ERIBC i s a non-profit education research agency located in Vancouver, B r i t i s h Columbia. 1 0 The f i s c a l r es t ra in t program was announced on February 18, 1982, although key l e g i s l a t i o n such as the Public Sector Restraint Act and the Education (Interim) Finance Amendment Act was not proclaimed u n t i l October 26, 1 983. 92 Production of th i s program heralded the growing influence of microcomputers in the public se rv ice , and the r e l a t i v e decl ine in the importance of highly cen t ra l ized f a c i l i t i e s in a growing number of app l i ca t i ons . On August 31, 1983, the Minis te r of Finance announced that the P r o v i n c i a l Government would seek a pr ivate purchaser for the Corpora- t i on (BCSC 1983-84:18, Danylchuk l983b:A3). This decis ion was eventually reversed, but BCSC, which had made a heavy commitment to mainframe processing, experienced a major reorganization (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 implemented in a l l min is - t r i e s (BCSC-84:6). 3. M i n i s t r y ' s School D i s t r i c t Computer Acqu i s i t i on Po l i cy The B .C . Min i s t ry of Education has not yet developed comprehensive c r i t e r i a for the acqu i s i t i on of adminis t ra t ive computers, nor i s development of such a po l i cy imminent. Apart from some general guidel ines on computer cost-sharing between Min i s t ry and school d i s t r i c t , and an out l ine of the approval procedure, the M i n i s t r y ' s involvement i s minimal (Appendix B ) . In p rac t i ce , choice of hardware and software vendor rests mainly with the d i s t r i c t , a s t r i k i n g deviat ion from the cen t ra l i zed procedure regarding heavi ly computer- dependent p o l i c i e s , such as finance and the measurement of student achievement. The ske l e t a l s t ipu la t ions regarding computer se lec t ion are an anomally in a cen t ra l educational 93 management accustomed to e f f i c iency and cos t - cu t t i ng . The less than f u l l y coordinated dr ive toward improved computer- i za t i on at the school d i s t r i c t l e v e l produced s ign i f i c an t add i t iona l costs and some organizat ional d i scon t inu i ty (see Research Findings, B. School D i s t r i c t ) . 4 . Management Information Systems The proposi t ion that the current Management Information System (MIS) i s c lose ly 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 Min i s t ry adminis t rator : 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 inanc ia l Management System (FMS). For th i s respondent, as with many others, the term F inanc ia l Management System i s synonymous with PPBS. The new MIS emerged from the Office and Data Technology Branch, to become broadly based within the M i n i s t r y . He offered the fol lowing summary: I t ' s a determination of what c r i t i c a l data elements are needed by th i s Min i s t ry to run i t s new F inanc i a l Management System.. . 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 in Planning, Programing, and Budgeting Systems i s who has access to the Management Information System. Information that i s accessed only by Min i s t ry 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 the i r po l i cy i n i t i a t i v e s . Information accessed by lower organizat ional l eve l s tends e i ther to neutra l ize the c e n t r a l i z a t i o n forces, or move the 94 organizat ion toward decen t r a l i za t ion . If i nd iv idua l school boards can make de ta i led comparisons of the i r operations with the f i nanc 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 forceful budget arguments. Budget a l loca t ions derived from information co l l ec ted 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 th i s study, the Min i s t e r of Education dismissed two school boards for sub- mi t t ing budgets which exceeded p r o v i n c i a l gu ide l ines . The Vancouver School Board was dismissed on May 5, 1985 and the Cowichan Lake School Board on May 13, 1985. Elec t ions to replace the appointed trustees were held in both d i s t r i c t s on January 30, 1986. The Min i s t ry respondent encapsulated the matter in 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 analys is be retained by the Min i s t ry with only selected b i t s going to the f i e ld? Embedded in th i s response i s a t a c i t acknowledgment that the Min i s t ry d id not possess the resources to analyze the increasing amounts of PPBS generated data that was flowing from the school d i s t r i c t s . The capacity of the Min i s t ry to analyze the increasing amounts of PPBS generated data was in 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 igh ty - s i x , and seemed to be r i s i n g . Deputy minis ters had i d e n t i f i e d forty add i t iona l 95 output reports they wished to have produced. An interde- partmental committee was draf t ing a set of MIS recommenda- t i ons . These output reports would compare d i f ferent parts of the MIS, for instance, enrolment, budgeting, examination r e su 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 Informa- t ion System would resul t in reduced operating cos ts , a Min i s t ry informant gave th i s rep ly : I don't think (MIS) was an economy measure by any means — in fact , in the short term I think they are going to be spending, from my observations, more money on systems development, as th i s system i s put in place, and that the. long-term e f f i c iency or do 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 , in terms of each function and the amount the d i s t r i c t s budget wi th in each funct ion. Some d i s t r i c t s are already producing the i r own budget analys is with microcomputers (Kelk 1985:B1). 5. Repatr ia t ion of E lec t ron ic Data Processing? The unsuccessful attempt to s e l l BCSC coincided with the M i n i s t r y ' s 1983-84 reintroduct ion of compulsory grade twelve p r o v i n c i a l examinations for students entering post- secondary technica l and academic i n s t i t u t i o n s ( Je rosk i , Tolsma & Labercane 1984:2). During the previous nine years, only those secondary school students who pursued scholar- ships wrote p r o v i n c i a l examinations (Minis t ry Annual Report 1972-73:E29). F i n a l standing of most students was 96 determined by the i r school . The increased costs associated with h i r i n g add i t iona l c l e r i c a l personnel to mark and tabulate p r o v i n c i a l examina- t ions and tes ts , 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 fol lowing 1960, considerable effor t was expended on improving the appl ica t ion programs used to generate computations for exam- inations and tes 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 ion with an uncertain future, and by funding cutbacks that made returning to an in-house system in feas ib l e , the Min i s t ry contracted the work to E R I B C . 1 1 6. Computing F a c i l i t i e s in Trans i t ion 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 eve l s of the B .C. publ ic school system. To some extent th i s t r a n s i - t ion i s driven by technological change. Hardware manufac- turers are marketing smaller , yet more powerful computers that can be i n s t a l l e d in school of f ices without construct ing specia l e l e c t r i f i e d and a i r conditioned machine rooms. Software manufacturers market proprietary products that allow school administrators to perform many functions on 1 1 ERIBCs i n i t i a l management of the examination contract caused serious delays in the release of marks to students (Times-Colonist l984b:A-4). Some professional schools at B.C. un ive r s i t i e s refused admission to students who had maintained f i r s t c lass averages, because data processing delays meant that the Min i s t ry could not send t ranscr ip t s before the app l ica t ion deadlines expired. (1984a:B-11). 97 stand-alone personal computers that previously were confined to r e l a t i v e l y expensive minicomputers. Private sector, school and school d i s t r i c t respondents recognized that the advent of smal l , inexpensive microcomputers and powerful software sui table for a var ie ty of school-based tasks had resul ted in growing demands for computers by school adminis- t ra tors {see Research Findings, C. School) . 7 . Were BCSC's Systems Development Charges Too High? According to one Min i s t ry 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 Corporat ion'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 in property tax to the f i s c a l framework. Development of th i s mainframe computer program was not approved; instead, the Min i s t ry purchased two Apple microcomputers. The Min is t ry administrator com- pared the mainframe and microcomputer development expenses: . . . da t a processing costs were estimated to be a quarter of a m i l l i o n do l l a r s to get the system in place. We did i t with two Apples for f ive 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 wel l under one hundred thou- sand d o l l a r s . I t does many jobs besides f i s c a l framework. The equipment, inc luding software, i s more l i k e l y / t o have to ta led less than f if ty-thousand d o l l a r s . Each personal computer had a hard d i sk , a p r in te r and some of f - the-she l f software. As the respondent stated, there i s the add i t iona 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 describing the exact nature of the task to sys- tems analysts and programers were expected to consume a large port ion of the t o t a l . These refinements meant addi- t i o n a l development costs and postponements in use; outcomes that were avoided with proprietary software where u t i l i z a - t ion c lose ly followed basic mastery. Although the respondent asserted that BCSC personnel costs were "very, very expens ive . . . " and const i tu te the largest expenditure when dealing with the Corporation, he also affirmed that the i r mainframe rates were low, so that "we can ' t co s t - j u s t i f y the purchase of our own equipment." The al leged p r i c i n g structure may have been associated with Corporate attempts to slow the advance of microcomputer appl ica t ions wi thin the publ ic service {see Research Findings , D. B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation, 5. Corporate Control of Microcomputers). 8. Mul t i p l e Keyboard Entry of Data Min i s t ry and d i s t r i c t respondents concurred that t rans- 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 pract ice requires d i s t r i c t s to enter and process the data on the i r computers. Selected summary data from printouts are manu- a l l y t ranscribed by c l e r i c a l personnel to forms for Min i s t ry 99 of Education u s e . 1 2 A Min i s t ry respondent stressed: We re ly and w i l l continue to re ly on the school d i s t r i c t of f ice to aggregate much of the data that comes from almost thir ty-thousand teacher returns. When the completed forms a r r ive at the M i n i s t r y , the in for - 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 large-scale operat ional data trans- fers follow th i s procedure. After repeated effor ts to streamline MIS and reduce the number of forms — a process dating at least to 1977 — the Min i s t ry again i s heavily bur- dened with paper. More than 120,000 forms were processed by keyboard during the 1982-83 f i s c a l year, with approximately hal f entered manually during October to December (Annual Report, 1982-83:57). 1 3 Second sh i f t s were required. Undoubtedly, the new F inanc 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 reamlining: 1.) school d i s t r i c t computers do not conform to a s ingle operating system standard and, 2.) software appl ica t ions are not wri t ten in a s ingle programing language. Despite the 1982 minis t ry d i r e c t i v e requir ing 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 on of mutually exclusive operating systems and compilers continued (Table I V ) . P r o v i n c i a l operating and app l ica t ion 1 2 Contrast t h i s labour- intensive method with e lec t ronic 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 ) . 1 3 This figure excludes the processing of Min i s t ry forms by the B .C. Research Council and ERIBC for the Min i s t ry of Education. 100 system standards f a c i l i t a t e data exchange. D i g i t a l t rans- mission of data would reduce costs associated with the manual processing of forms, and repet i t ious data entry. Each l e v e l of summation reduces the data 's po ten t ia l s e n s i t i v i t y to small-scale var ia t ions in operational per- formance. An objective of the M i n i s t r y ' s planning, program- ing, and budgeting system i s to ident i fy 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 accessible 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 in school and school d i s t r i c t organi- zat ion . The p r o v i n c i a l capacity to assess learning 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 nanc i a l performance. 9. E lec t ron ic Transmission of Data Limited data transmission between the Min i s t ry and outside agencies was noted. The Min i s t ry current ly 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 Federa t ion . 1 " The 1976-77 Min i s t ry of Education Annual Report states that data tapes are also sent to the federal Department of Education in the United States of America. Data i s not sent between the Min i s t ry and school d i s - t r i c t s in e lec t ronic form and, of course, no f a c i l i t y i s in place for accessing data bases at e i ther of these 1 " Respondents representing S t a t i s t i c s Canada and BCTF complained in 1984 of unusual delays in receiving th i s data. 101 organizat ional l e v e l s . A Min i s t ry respondent indicated that systems compat ib i l i ty was once again under considerat ion: We are looking forward to, and beginning to consider, the p o s s i b i l i t y of e lec t ronic transmis- s ion , and we are beginning to invest igate the poss i - b i l i t y of compat ib i l i ty 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 public education organization has considered th i s important aspect of i t s computer serv ices . Studies emphasizing computer compat ib i l - i t y were published as early as 1968 (Howe and Totheroh 1969). 10. Summary Computers continue to replace people in the performance of routine Min i s t ry work, but increas ing ly , new types of work are found for these machines. They are having a major impact on po l i cy development. The strongest example of th i s impact i s the Program and Budgeting System f inanc i a l reform. The M i n i s t r y ' s PPBS was developed with microcomputers. Today, the Min i s t ry 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 de ta i led f i nanc i a l information on data process- ing expenditures, which was accessible to the researcher, prevented a cost-benefi t analysis of the i r impact. A sharp boundary was noted in the use of computers by administrators and c l e r k s . Senior managers were not using computers in 102 the i r work. Their data entry needs were met by c le rks and spec ia l i zed 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 administrat ive tasks. Most of t h i s growth took place during the past f ive years. The expansion of e lec t ron ic data pro- cessing to a l l l eve l s of the B .C. publ ic 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 . D i s t r i c t dec i - sions in many instances took precedence over p r o v i n c i a l data processing standards and objec t ives . The foster ing of e lec- t ronic communication l i n k s and data exchanges using ex i s t i ng 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 object ive of the 1982 Min i s t ry of Education computer p o l i c y . 1. 1969 Plan for Regional Data Processing Centres As early 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 lec- t ronic 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 lec t ronic data processing equipment or service (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 th i s amount spent by metropolitan Vancouver school boards (BCSTA 1969:1). One year l a te 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 expendi- ture of $300,000. To contain these costs, BCSTA recommended that the Min i s t ry immediately es tab l i sh regional educational data processing centres (1969:1). Each centre would service 100,000 students (Howe & Totheroh 1969:21). A major study completed in 1968 by the Educational Research Ins t i tu te of B r i t i s h Columbia issued th i s warning: If a regional 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 equip- ment, expand ex i s t ing EDP f a c i l i t i e s , or contract for serv ices . This w i l l lead to a d i v e r s i t y of sys- tems and dupl ica t ion of hardware with the resultant sky-rocketing of cos ts . (Howe & Totheroh 1969:1) To avoid a one m i l l i o n do l l a r program development cost (1969:4), the study recommended adoption of the C a l i f o r n i a student and personnel service system. I f the C a l i f o r n i a system were not adopted, the authors urged that $500,000 should immediately be reserved for comprehensive system development over the next f ive years (1969:4). This e s t i - mate d id not include operating costs . 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 professional personnel records (1969:8). The report d id not consider computer loca t ion a prime factor in the development of B r i t i s h Columbia's regional EDP centres. Cen t r a l i z a t i on , however, would reduce the d i s p a r i - t i e s that might develop i f several agencies and mul t ip le d i s t r i c t s were to develop the i r own systems (1969:2). The 1 04 plan would be achieved within a two-year hor izon. The education finance formula and the accounting prac- t i ce s of the time m i l i t a t e d against the emergence of regional data centres. Therefore, immediate Min i s t ry of Education intervent ion was required (1969:5). The proposed role for the Min i s t ry included po l i cy development — to ensure a "common computer language" consistent with Min i s t ry 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 service centre had already been implemented in Quebec (Appendix E) , and regional education processing centres, after seven years of analysis and design, were operating successful ly in C a l i f o r n i a (Howe & Totheroh 1969:4), no act ion 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 in the review commit- tee included the Min i s t ry of Education, and the d i s t r i c t s of Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta and New Westminster. At the i r request, the d i s t r i c t s of West Vancouver, North Vancouver and Richmond were excluded. The study determined that in the areas of personnel /payro l l , purchasing/stores, aud io -v i sua l , general accounting and student serv ices , establ ished procedures warranted standardized hardware and 105 software (Minis t ry of Education 1979:12). The report found that two proposals merited further study. The f i r s t .sought a cen t ra l i zed service patterned on the regional data centres plan of a decade e a r l i e r . Each centre would be operated by f ive data processing employees. Short-term contracts would be issued for spec i f i c systems development. The report concluded sparingly that a cen 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 ibu ted data processing centres. An agency under jo in 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 app l i ca t ions . A l l equip- ment, operating systems and programs were to be standard- i zed . Concern was expressed in the report that i n t e r - d i s t r i c t disagreement over cen t ra l i zed hardware, and the po ten t ia l domination of the system by the largest d i s t r i c t s made the cen t r a l i z a t i on option less a t t r ac t ive than decent ra l iza t ion where "agreement on common separate hardware seemed a r e l a - t i ve p o s s i b i l i t y . . , . " (1979:8). The 1978 study stopped short of descr ibing how the EDP project should be managed. Although the need for a new agency was recognized, no resolut ion was offered for what could prove a serious operational c o n f l i c t : how would the agency have su f f i c i en t power to impose standardization (1979:6) and yet remain under the d i s t r i c t s ' cont ro l (1979:7)? The obvious so lu t i on , to invoke Min i s t ry 106 author i ty , ran counter to the intent ion to make the agency answerable so le ly to member d i s t r i c t s . The fact that there was Min i s t ry representation on the planning committee ren- ders the apparent f a i l u r e to resolve th i s fundamental con- f l i c t less exp l i cab le . 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 publ ic service disfunct ions that accompanied reorganization of p r o v i n c i a l government EDP under the 1977 System Act (see Research Findings, D. B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporat ion). 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 Min i s t ry presence. Where the e a r l i e r report produced a plan and a timetable for achieving regional educational data cen- t res , the 1979 report i s s i l e n t . Ci rcula ted to a l l p rov in- c i a l d i s t r i c t s as a discussion 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 in 1981 for the B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t computerization project , a trend toward an integrated informatic approach had been evident for almost a decade in some Canadian publ ic education j u r i s d i c t i o n s (Appendix E ) . While elsewhere education min i s t r i e s were intent on ei ther introducing or expanding computer networks, B r i t i s h Columbia reproduced much of the o ld technological d i s junc t ion that had characterized 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 los t for in tegra t ing these d i s t r i bu t ed data processing systems. Table IV Computer Manufacturers, Models, and Operating Systems Represented in the 1984 D i s t r i c t Sample Operating Manufacturer Model System1 1. D i g i t a l Equipment Corporat ion 2. Honeywell 3. IBM 4. IBM 5. Management Assistance Incorporated VAX 11/750 VAX/VMS Level Six +DPS 6 GCOS 38 CPF 4331 Group 2 DOS-VSE Four 400 BOSS Note: 1VAX/VMS, GCOS operating systems incorporate the Standard Network Archi tecture X.25 p ro toco l . Refer to Acronyms for f u l l name of operating system. 108 3. Computer Systems in the Research Sample Of the f ive manufacturers and over s ix models to receive Min i s t ry funding approval since f i s c a l year 1982-83 (Minis t ry and school d i s t r i c t correspondence), f ive manufac- turers and f ive models were represented in t h i s study's s ix d i s t r i c t sample. Table IV l i s t s the computer manufacturers, models and operating systems included in the research sample. Not one of the s ix computer models had an operating system f u l l y compatible with the others. Program procure- ment and development were usual ly managed on a d i s t r i c t by d i s t r i c t bas is . Only two d i s t r i c t s in the s ix 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 freely exchanged programs and shared in updates and the development of new app l i ca t ions . Adminis t ra t ive respondents acknowledged the savings which t h i s pract ice gained. Although the two d i s t r i c t s belonged to a loose consortium of s ix B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t s which owned Management Assis tant Basic Four business computers, the i r appl ica t ions development was independent of the other four. Respondents from the two d i s t r i c t s stressed that differences in the s ize and complexity of school d i s t r i c t operations precluded the i r larger p a r t i c i p a t i o n in the consortium. Although such d i f - ferences may have applied to the smaller In te r io 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. The three annual budgets were a lso s imi la r in s i z e . D i s t r i c t demographics and 109 administrat ions do not appear to be remarkably d i f f e ren t . 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. 1 5 4 . Increased Min i s t ry Control The 1982 School D i s t r i c t Administrat ive Computer Program marked a new stage of increased Min i s t ry involvement in d i s t r i c t e lec t ronic data processing. Previous ly , 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 d i s t r i c t computer purchases would receive p r io r approval by the Min i s t ry of Education, Treasury Board and the B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation (Minis t ry of Education 1981; correspondence). 1 6 The p o l i c y ' s wording i s e x p l i c i t : School Boards contemplating acqu i s i t i on of informa- t ion systems technology for which the Min i s t ry w i l l cost-share are required by both Treasury Board Di rec t ive 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 Corpora- t ion w i l l evaluate Information Systems Plans and equipment requests per ta ining to the acqu i s i t i on and/or operation of information systems technology, and based upon the review, w i l l make recommendations to the Min i s t ry for systems support. (Minis t ry of Education I982a:3). This clause ensures that school d i s t r i c t computer 1 5 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 ab l i sh close systems develop- ment 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 lear determination of cause requires fur-- ther research. 1 6 Refer to Appendix B for the 1981 B r i t i s h Columbia Min i s t ry of Education p o l i c y on school d i s t r i c t computers. 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 po l i cy was shaped by an advisory committee convened in f i s c a l year 1981-82. Superintendents, secretary- treasurers, and administrators from several Min i s t ry of Education Branches and the B.C. Systems Corporation were represented. Following the May, 1982 implementation, a . steering committee of s imi la r composition coordinated the introduction of new computer systems for eighteen months. Administrat ive 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 po l i cy remained in effect for four years with only minor changes made in 1983 to the cost-sharing formula. The B .C . Systems Corporation subsequently distanced i t s e l f from the p o l i c y ' s formulation and app l i c a t i on . In a personal l e t t e r to the author wri t ten in ear ly 1985, a senior Corporate executive emphasized, "The po l i cy and pro- gram is not BCSC's but remains so l e ly that of the Min i s t ry of Educa t ion . . . " The computer p o l i c y , however, was produced by the Min i s t ry in consultat ion with school d i s t r i c t repre- sentatives and the B .C. Systems Corporation; furthermore, i t s t ipu la tes that the program w i l l conform to government p o l i - c ies on computer a c q u i s i t i o n . Given th 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 ions 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. ) DEC PDP 11/23+ with 512 KB memory 2. ) RSTS-E Operating System 3. ) 2 - RL02 10 MB Hared D i s k s 2 4. ) 2 - VT 101 Terminals 3 5. ) 1 - LA100 240CPS Pr in te rs 6. ) SRB Internat ional Limited software appl ica t ions Note: 1A11 hardware manufactured by DEC 2 School D i s t r i c t #21 has a 32 MB disk drive 3Time sharing up to eight terminals f u l l y compatible with each other. In most cases, t h i s objective was not r e a l i z e d . Operating systems and app l i ca - t ion programing languages are d iverse . Corporate insis tence that r e s p o n s i b i l i t y l i e s with the Min i s t ry alone seems a t a c i t recognit ion that po l i cy implementation f e l l short of expectat ion. BCSC's greatest influence in the realm of standardiza- t ion was achieved as a planning consultant for the small school d i s t r i c t computer project . 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 re ta in consultants . D i g i t a l E lec t ron ic Corporation PDP 11/23+ microcomputers were selected (Table V ) . SRB Internat ional supplied the 1 12 app l i ca t ions . A l l hardware and software was purchased c o l - l e c t i v e l y . This purchasing pract ice was so successful that the Min i s t ry of Education declared: 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 obtain, through c o l l e c t i v e planning, a computerized system cost ing subs tan t ia l ly less than any that could be achieved through ind iv idua l effor t p r e v i - ously . (Annual Report 1982-83:56) Standardized appl ica t ions 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 close involvement with the small d i s t r i c t consortium (personal correspondence, 1985) i s an exception; Corporate expert ise and objectives do not appear to be ref lec ted in most d i s t r i c t i n s t a l l a t i o n s . BCSC col laborated with Min i s t ry personnel on the formu- l a t i o n of new computer standards for school d i s t r i c t s (cor- respondence, 1985). These new requirements were introduced in 1982. An immediate effect of increased BCSC and Min i s t ry involvement can be traced by comparing Table VI with Table V I I . During 1981, one year before the introduct ion of the acqu i s i t i on p o l i c y , sixteen computers representing seven separate manufacturers and seven operating systems were pur- chased. By 1984, three years after in t roduct ion , 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 in 1 7 A small minori ty of d i s t r i c t s i n s t a l l e d the i r computers in the year fol lowing Min i s t ry funding approval (correspondence, February, 1985). Table VI British Columbia School District Central Office Computers By Manufacturer 1973 — 1981 Total by Manufacturer Models Year Purchased and Quantity Manufacturer '73 '74 '75 '76 '77 '78 '79 •80 '81 Burroughs 2 1 1 2 C.B.M. 1 1 1 Data General 1 1 1 D.E.C. 5 1 1 3 5 General Automation 1 1 1 Honeywell 2 1 9 10 M.A.I. 4 1 1 1 1 4 Milacron 5 5 3 2 1 11 Mohawk 1 1 1 N.C.R 2 1 1 2 TOTAL 24 1 1 1 2 2 5 4 6 16 38 1 14 th i s post-1982 po l i cy per iod, the three manufacturers' oper- at ing systems were incompatible. IBM's stronger standing in 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 in i t s spec ia l i zed appl ica t ions language. " Some programs are Canadian var ia t ions of U.S . produced programs, while others are completely developed in 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 hor izonta l e lec t ron ic network integrat ion 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 publ ic education organiza t ion . This r e s t r i c t i o n was generally recognized by Min i s t ry and d i s t r i c t respondents. A secretary-treasurer concluded: Networking is just not f eas ib le . You look at an operation somewhere and i t s got a whole investment in a pa r t i cu l a r DEC, or a pa r t i cu la r whatever— IBM, I don't know, and then t ry to shuffle those back into 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 into such a project . Along with the loss of networking, vanishes the p o s s i b i l i t y of shared administrat ive databases and expert systems. The rapid expansion in school d i s t r i c t e lec t ronic mail subscrip- t ions that developed p a r a l l e l to the computerization project indicates that a need ex 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 service for d i s t r i c t adminis t ra t ion, f i n a l l y relented (Heinrich 1985:10). A simply designed l ega l opinion database i s already offered by the B r i t i s h Columbia School Trustees Assoc ia t ion , but access i s l i m i t e d to BCSTA 1 1 5 members. Access also involves subscript ion and fee-for-use charges by Envoy. 5. Decentra l iza t ion 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 ix 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 compati- ble with the d i s t r i c t ' s cent ra l o f f i ce computer. A trend began in -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 cent ra l o f f i ce 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 in the research sample were maintaining the i r networked data processing serv ices , and two other d i s t r i c t s 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 display terminal , keyboard, and pr in ter connected by telephone l i n e to a mainframe. Batch services are supplied to the schools by e i ther a company or the d i s t r i c t ' s data service department. Cent ra l ly located high- speed pr in te rs produce most reports . Slow-speed pr in te rs s i tuated in 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 cen t ra l o f f i c e . T y p i c a l l y , a courier de l ivers school data entry jobs to the EDP centre for batch processing. The completed work i s 1 1 6 returned to the school within two days (respondents). S p e c i a l i s t data entry c le rks are employed to handle input. With c le rks concentrated at a cent ra l l oca t ion , work sched- ules can be adjusted to changes in input loads. At times of high input, temporary employees are hired and.extra sh i f t s arranged. There is 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 ingle key- board allows only one person at a time to enter data. School l e v e l completion of data entry for student records may take one to two weeks each term. 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 week- ends to complete the process (see Research Findings , C. School, 5. Indirect Labour Costs) . In recent years, several pr ivate companies have pro- duced microcomputer programs for school and student manage- ment. For at least one company which had supplied computer services 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 rewri t ing the 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 dec i - sion to offer the school management package in t h i s form received added stimulus from the commercial success of the 1 1V HARTS 1 8 Apple 11+ microcomputer program for school adminis- t r a t i o n . The HARTS program is presently designed for schools which enrol up to 1,500 students (correspondence, March, 1986). Columbia's mainframe had served schools with enrolments of more than 3,000 (respondent). Recent studies of the adminis trat ive use of microcom- puters in B r i t i s h Columbia schools recorded the enthusiasm many school managers display 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 cont ro l a technology previously thought remote and i n f l e x i b l e . Only one of the s ix p r i n c i p a l s interviewed, expressed a strong preference for a cent ra l data processing serv ice . He stressed that a cen t ra l i zed network of school terminals sup- ported a range of services that could not be offered by a s o l i t a r y school-based microcomputer. Some of the computing services cur rent ly ava i lab le to schools in h is d i s t r i c t included audio-v isua l booking, l i b r a r y c i r c u l a t i o n and s tu- dent records t ransfer . Transfer of student records i s deemed espec ia l ly important, given the degree of family m o b i l i t y . De l ive r ing records by m a i l , to a r r ive at the i r des t inat ion 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 ived before the student; counsellors were then able to 1 8 HARTS and Columbia have head off ices in Vancouver, B r i t i s h Columbia 118 make informed judgements. 6. Cap i ta l and Operating Costs Obtaining a clear figure for computing expenditures at the d i s t r i c t l eve l does not appear possible at t h i s time. Publ ic access to school d i s t r i c t accounts i s r e s t r i c t ed to b r ie f annual f i nanc i a l statements. Of the summaries exam- ined, none contained items r e l a t ing to e lec t ron ic data pro- cess ing. Although a l l p r o v i n c i a l min i s t r i e s were directed by the Min i s t ry of Finance in 1977 to include computer and computer consul t ing costs as a separate item in the i r annual submission to Public Accoun t s , 1 9 the Min i s t ry of- Education did not s i m i l a r l y ins t ruct school d i s t r i c t s to pub l i c l y report computer cos ts . D i s t r i c t s apparently are not required to regular ly submit de ta i led accounts of the i r computer operating expen- ses to the M i n i s t r y . Current pract ice i s to d i s t r i bu t e these costs among ind iv idua l educational program expendi- tures, for example, l ega l and xerography expenses (respon- dents, BCTF I984a:31). The ( Minis t ry , however, may have the means to extract 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 Min i s t ry 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 administrat ion (correspondence, September, 1984). No p r o v i n c i a l procedure 1 9 In f i s c a l year 1982-83, Treasury Board abandoned the pract ice of including computing expenses as a l i n e item in the Public Accounts. 1 1 9 ex i s t s for evaluating d i s t r i c t hardware and software. These po l i cy lacunae arose after the M i n i s t r y ' s hard-won exper i - ence of the 1960's and early 1970's was dispersed in 1978 along with i t s computer s p e c i a l i s t s . On average, the Min i s t ry has committed over one m i l l i o n do l l a r s toward d i s t r i c t computer acqu i s i t i on for each of the four years commencing in 1982. A s imi la r l e v e l of expendi- ture w i l l probably be required as machines are r e t i r ed within the f ive-year replacement cycle noted by several respondents . 2 0 The long-term p r o v i n c i a l t rend, demon- strated by comparing the systems acquired in the 1982 pro- gram with those previously catalogued by the Min i s t ry (Minis t ry 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 . If past behaviour i s an ind ica t ion of future performance, then a subs tan t i a l ly larger f i n a n c i a l commitment than the estimated one half of one percent of the t o t a l p r o v i n c i a l expenditure current ly spent on data processing c a p i t a l and operating costs w i l l be required. With no cen t ra l ized agency in 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 professional advice from other areas of the P r o v i n c i a l Government, provis ion of an informed planning leadership that seeks to optimize informatics cost-benefi ts w i l l be 2 0 An analys is of the 1981 B r i t i s h Columbia School D i s t r i c t Computer Systems Catalogue (Minis t ry of Education, 1982b) and subsequent acqu is i t ions confirmed that on average these computers are replaced every f ive-years . 120 d i f f i c u l t . The 1981 computer acqu i s i t i on po l i cy states that d i s - t r i c t computer plans should allow eight do l l a r s per pup i l on average for set-up charges, and four do l l a r s for operating costs (Minis t ry 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 province 's 1982 f u l l - time equivalent enrolment of 507,955 students (Minis t ry 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 project , w i l l t o t a l in excess of 4 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s . This formula, how- ever, was soon increased. An information c i r c u l a r t i t l e d School District Administrative Computers 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 pup i l for core appl ica t ions on a cost per appl ica t ion b a s i s . . . " The revised formula brought the t o t a l possible 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 operat- ing 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 i d e n t i f i e d . Some respondents indicate that the 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 quite 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 loca l ly- funded. But i t i s frozen by the M i n i s t r y , and so i t has l im i t ed us to somewhere in the v i c i n i t y of one hundred to one hundred and fif ty-thousand do l l a r s for new equipment t o t a l l y . 121 As res t ra in t measures are relaxed the desire for expanded and improved computer f a c i l i t i e s may t ransla te into larger school d i s t r i c t out lays . Estimates of computer system expenditures supplied by school d i s t r i c t administrators var ied on a one-shot basis from one-hundred and thir ty-thousand 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 in his d i s t r i c t were considerably higher. His j u s t i f i c a t i o n for these costs i s contained in the fo l lowing: As you can imagine, we've spent a f a i r b i t of— s ix or seven hundred thousand do l l a r s on computers. But i f one could appreciate that in a matter of a year and a ha l f , when we went i n t e rna l l y with our pay ro l l system, our bank charges went down twenty-thousand do l l a r s a year, but, more importantly, we went from six 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 administrat ion system and the pay ro l l app l i ca t ion , that system was paid for in two years. Even al lowing for d i s t r i b u t i o n of these costs over several years and the e l iminat ion of some external service expendi- tures, the t o t a l seems high. 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 ice causes a r ea l loca t ion 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 ibuted among a l l users of the commercial operation are now borne so le ly by the d i s t r i c t . The cost of an in-house system may be considerably higher than leasing online or 1 22 batch services from a data processing company. By f i s c a l year 1983-84, the Min i s t ry 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 publ ic service Information Systems Plans were to include a f ive-year cost comparison of in-house and service 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 roles in developing and p i l o t i n g new adminis- t r a t i ve programs for the i r respective computer consor t i a . Each contracted the i r systems analys is and program develop- ment to separate companies. According to a d i s t r i c t respon- dent, the work was supported by a specia l Min i s t ry 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 heavi ly in the production of a program that processed data for the new p rov inc i a l Program, Budgeting, and Accounting System. Software development was contracted to a Vancouver company. A secretary-treasurer who had par t ic ipa ted c lose ly in the software production process d isc losed that although the o r i g i n a l request for proposal contained c l e a r l y defined objec t ives , a de ta i led descr ip t ion could not be prepared in advance. Some system components remained poorly defined u n t i l the program was f i e l d tes ted. 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 devel- opment) contract because the costs are so open. You can describe object ives , but, in a s i tua t ion where new demands are being made, where the system i s in flux and something comes down that looks f a i r l y s m a l l . . . When you think of i t in terms of program- ing, of changing the system round, and what your hardware can do — the cost can skyrocket. Control of development costs was complicated by the involve- ment of two organizat ional l eve l s of the publ ic school system: Min i s t ry and school d i s t r i c t . The Program, Budget- ing , and Accounting System was a l tered as problems were encountered after i t s in t roduct ion . Further computer pro- gram modifications were required to meet these a l t e r a t i o n s . Programing errors contributed to delays in implementation. Debugging 2 1 was a process of successive refinements achieved through the in terac t ion of users, systems analysts and pro- gramers. In the f i r s t of the two program development cases just c i t e d , the Min i s t ry and the d i s t r i c t requested several pro- gram changes 2 2 to accommodate accounting and budgeting system rev i s ions . Program development expenses, including hardware costs , were estimated by the respondent to exceed $130,000. The cost apparently was not recouped by the d i s - t r i c t . Once the project was complete, neither the d i s t r i c t nor the Min i s t ry seems to have assumed ownership in order to 2 1 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 implementa- t ion errors — or bugs — from a program or system ( I l l ingwor th 1983:99). 2 2 Neither the number nor the extent of these program changes were d i sc losed . 124 d i s t r ibu te the program free-of-charge, as the fol lowing extract from the 1982 Min i s t ry of Education computer acqui- s i t i o n po l i cy s t i pu la t e s : A l l software acquired under Min i s t ry 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 Min i s t ry 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 th i s software freely ava i lab le 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 . (Minis t ry of Education I982a:2) This clause mandates the securing of jo in t software owner- ship 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 po l i cy does not address what . should occur when the company retains copyright after devel- opment costs have been met by the d i s t r i c t and/or the Mini s t ry . In t h i s instance, the company retained cont ro l and sold s l i g h t l y customized copies to the remaining seventeen con- sortium members. Considering that development costs had already been f u l l y absorbed, the pr ices reported to have been charged for these copies seem very high. 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 the i r computers between eight and eighteen months after i n s t a l l a t i o n . 2 3 As part of the i r replacement programs, several had ei ther changed 2 3 One commercial sector respondent claimed that a competing software company, in the process of wr i t ing an accounting app l i ca t i on , had exhausted the capacity of a newly i n t r o - duced computer model widely represented among the province 's d i s t r i c t s . 125 models or upgraded the i r systems to meet add i t iona l process- ing demands, but th 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 in ter face . Employee f rus t ra t ion attended the slow input/output response. The superintendent's surprise with t h i s unan t i c i - pated resul t i s evident in the fol lowing excerpt: There i s some concern about the capacity of the thing (computer). . . the response time of the th ing . And therefore there has been some reluctance to expand. I f ind th i s absolutely inc red ib l e , that we wouldn't know the capacity of one of these things before we-bought i t . The intensive use of the machine for text processing appears to be a major contr ibut ing fac tor . Approval for add i t iona l requests for text processing terminals was pending r e v a l u a - t ion of the cent ra l o f f i ce system. The superintendent wanted to f i l l these requests, but the Min i s t ry 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 in f l a t ed claims of software and hardware sales representat ives. The commercial objective i s to achieve a firm sales commitment. Once i n s t a l l e d , they an t ic ipa te that on-si te under capacity prob- lems w i l l be solved by improving the ex i s t i ng system. Upgrading represents a captive market, for i t i s un l ike ly that school d i s t r i c t s , having recently made a large c a p i t a l out lay, w i l l be in a f i n a n c i a l pos i t ion to replace the e x i s t i n g unit with a compet i tor ' s . Most school d i s t r i c t s determine the i r computer needs with the a id of e i ther fu l l - t ime employees or consultants . Some respondents argued 126 that the Min i s t ry of Education should provide th i s guidance. A superintendent commented: I t ' s a shame that (the Min i s t ry ) d idn ' t provide assistance in terms of developing guidelines — which from the point of view of an administrator are pret ty wel l impossible to do much about — for deter- mining the best machine for a system such as t h i s . . . you can ' t depend upon the industry because they are not very objec t ive . Another school d i s t r i c t pioneered the development of an appl ica t ion for the new program accounting system, only to f ind that subsequent accounting revis ions and program improvements led to a series of modifications which soon exhausted the capacity of the cen t ra l processor in the i r Honeywell Level 5. Use of hard disk space exceeded optimal performance, slowing the input/output speed. A t h i r d d i s - t r i c t found that demands associated with program changes outstripped the capacity of i t s MAI Basic 4. In th i s case, computer replacement and system upgrading was being consid- ered. The three machines i d e n t i f i e d in the preceding discus- sion - MAI Basic Four, Honeywell Level 5, and DEC VAX 11/750 — were i n s t a l l e d in 1982. By the Spring of 1984, each was overloaded. According to the school d i s t r i c t informants, improvements to app l ica t ions , increases in user demand for ex i s t i ng app l i ca t ions , and the development of new app l i ca - t ions led to unanticipated heavy processing loads. A weak planning procedure resulted in the se lec t ion of computers with processing capaci t ies which could not meet a two-year 127 hor i z o n . 2 " An analys is of computer purchases over the l as t four years reveals the fol lowing trends. Of the f i f ty-one d i s - t r i c t s which received Min i s t ry funding, between 1982 and 1985 i n c l u s i v e , to acquire adminis t ra t ive computers, twenty- one purchased replacements for e x i s t i n g equipment. The average working l i f e of the equipment was f ive years, a figure consistent with current i n d u s t r i a l and publ ic service expectations. An ant ic ipa ted f ive-year 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 ive years (Minis t ry 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 edu- ca t iona l c a p i t a l and an opportunity to p r eva i l over previous po l i cy inadequacies. 9. F la t Organization A s ingle superintendent asserted that/compared to urban d i s t r i c t s with s imi l a r enrolments, there were r e l a - t i v e l y few cent ra l o f f i ce administrators in his d i s t r i c t . He described the organizat ional structure as f l a t . School l e v e l adminis trat ive functions were con t ro l led d i r e c t l y rather than through several intermediary management l e v e l s . 2 " This school d i s t r i c t predicament i s a publ ic sector exam- ple of W i l l s ' f inding that "Small and medium-sized Canadian companies r e ly excessively on s u p p l i e r s . . . who have a vested interest in s e l l i n g pa r t i cu l a r and perhaps inappropriate product as a source of technical information." (Wi l l s 1979:18). Table VII B r i t i s h Columbia School D i s t r i c t Central O f f i c e Computers By Manufacturer 1982 — 1985 1 Manufacturer Models Year Purchased and Quantity^ Total by Manufacturer Burroughs Data General DEC PDP 11/23+ DEC VAX/11 Honeywell IBM System 36-5362 IBM System 38 MAI '82 3 1 1 2 '83 '84 13 12 •85- 4 1 3 4 1 1 18 3 20 5 1 4 TOTAL 26 12 53 Notes: ^derived from correspondence and interviews ^ f i s c a l year i n which Ministry granted funding approval — not ne c e s s a r i l y the year i n which computer was purchased ^data for f i s c a l year ending March 31, 1985 complete to February 1, 1985 1 29 The adminis trat ive s t ructure , however, had evolved la rge ly before h is d i s t r i c t ' s 1980 int roduct ion of in-house comput- ers . Despite th 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 wel l as the d i s t r i c t ' s predominantly white middle c lass demography, which represent s ign i f i can t causes, the superintendent maintained that computers had reduced the need for cent ra l o f f i ce administrators and c l e r - i c a l s t a f f . The v a l i d i t y of the superintendent's claim was not appraised. His views are recorded here since they may serve as a po ten t ia 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 the i r EDP requirements to pr ivate agencies with remote computing f a c i l i t i e s (Minis t ry of Education 1982b; correspondence). Datatech Systems Limited was the most prominent s ingle vendor, c lose ly followed by the chartered banks. Some d i s t r i c t s were connected v ia terminal to com- puters at remote loca t ions . 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) and none contracted data processing to pr ivate agenc i e s . 2 5 The expanded use of e lec t ron ic data processing appeared to meet various p r a c t i c a l adminis t ra t ive needs. In the case of word processing, p roduc t iv i ty was reported to have increased. More work i s being accomplished with e i ther a 2 5 To the best of the author 's knowledge. In some d i s - t r i c t s , psychological and achievement tes t ing may represent a l im i t ed exception. 1 30 very smal l , or no increase in employee complements. The t o t a l number of administrators and c l e r i c a l support staff was reported by Min i s t ry and d i s t r i c t respondents to be f a l l i n g . The decline i s commonly a t t r ibu ted to dec l in ing 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 organizat ional gaps which ar i se . through the Min i s t ry of Education sponsored f i nanc 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 res t ra in ing the introduct ion of administra- t i ve computers had served one of the d i s t r i c t s under study w e l l . While neighbouring d i s t r i c t s forged ahead with com- pu te r i za t ion , t h i s d i s t r i c t waited. The d i s t r i c t ' s secretary-treasurer re l i shed the success of th i s strategy: We did 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 online budget— and including the hardware, the software, and the consul t ing , the overtime hours — for e igh ty- f ive thousand bucks. That i s just phenomenal for a s ix ty m i l l i o n do l l a r operation. The other d i s t r i c t s experienced long learning curves in mas- ter ing and re f in ing the i r hardware and software. Some encountered f a i l u r e . 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 consultant . According to the secretary-treasurer , many p i t f a l l s were avoided. 131 10. The 1983 Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System Several secretary-treasurers i d e n t i f i e d the 1983 Min i s t ry of Education f i n a n c i a l reform as a Planning, Pro- graming and Budgeting System. Most objected to PPBS, pro- nouncing i t la rgely i r re levant 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 nanc i a l performance, thereby f a c i l i t a t i n g reductions in educational expenditure. A l l secretary-treasurers and some superintendents believed that the system was unworkable. A secretary-treasurer observed: They (the Min i s t ry ) be l i eve , 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 bel ieve that the production of stream quant i t ies of data i s going to allow them to do that . The generation of f i nanc 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 ana lys i s . Min i s t ry 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 analys is in the more f i n a n c i a l l y robust p re - res t ra in t period preceding 1982. The number of Min i s t ry personnel, however, was dec l in ing at the same time that new types of PPBS generated information was flowing in increasing quantity into the M i n i s t r y . Two outcomes were predic ted: 1.) e i ther the information would be ignored, or 2.) management would foun- der in an inchoate sea of data. The same secretary- 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 ions have been, with the tremendous amount of 1 32 information tha 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 th i s in Planning, Programing and Budgeting Systems and have modified them extensively or have scratched them. Min i s t ry 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 also experiencing d i f f i c u l t y in der iv ing meaning from the new reporting system. During the time taken to f u l l y ass imi la te the information, i t became outmoded and i r r e l evan t . Another secretary-treasurer spoke fo r th r igh t ly about his experience with the d i s t r i c t ' s f i n a n c i a l repor t ing: Our management cont ro l reports , 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 were . . . Because there were only twenty pages of computer pr in tout , we got an excel lent 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 ind iv idua 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 ass imila ted the f i r s t set of reports , 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 th i s study and those senior public servants studied by R i t t e r and Cutt (1985) acknowledged a problem which Min i s t ry of Education managerial respondents seemed unwi l l ing to address — large quant i t ies of data make PPBS unworkable. According to some d i s t r i c t respondents, r i g i d 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 nanc i a l a l l o c a t i o n s . D i s t r i c t resources cannot sustain the increased a n a l y t i c a l and input functions required of PPBS. R ig id deadlines leave managers no option than to report or pe r i sh . The danger i m p l i c i t in 1 33 t h i s choice i s contained in a b r ie f commentary del ivered 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 less valuable for comparative purposes, or for the o r i g i n a l purpose. It compromises the i n t eg r i t y of the f i s c a l framework. A s i tua t ion 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 structure may have been one of the least expected resul ts when Min i s t ry p lan- ners introduced PPBS. F inanc ia l reporting which once had been meaningful to a l l l eve l s of the education organizat ion was replaced by a procedure where budgeting formulas changed to meet new exigencies . D i s t r i c t o f f i c i a l s viewed PPBS ch ie f ly as a cen t ra l i zed means to achieve f i nanc 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 Wel l , the f i s c a l framework i s simply a PPBS model, i n s t i t u t ed in B r i t i s h Columbia a decade after i t was introduced in many other places . But inside that f i s c a l framework, which i s nothing but accounting procedure t i ed to program, inside that were the so ld ie rs of r e s t r a i n t . There was general recognit ion that PPBS resul ted in increased c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . Another secretary-treasurer 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 decent ra l iza t ion of decision-making, I bel ieve the opposite has happened and i s happening r ight 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 adminis trat ive tasks. Most of th i s growth took place during the past f ive years. The extension of e lec t ron ic data pro- cessing to a l l l eve l s of the B .C . publ ic 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 . D i s t r i c t decisions in many instances took precedence over p r o v i n c i a l data processing standards and objec t ives . The foster ing of e lec t ronic communication l i n k s and data exchanges using . ex i s t i ng 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 Min i s t ry of Education computer p o l i c y , was not acted upon. After four years and an estimated s ix m i l l i o n do l l a r s spent by the Min i s t ry a l o n e , 2 6 the d i s t r i c t systems remain la rge ly i so la ted from communication and data processing trends sweeping the commercial and public sectors . Nonetheless, demand i s increasing among adminis trat ive uni ts for improved d i g i t a l communication and online 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 res is ted the cen t r a l i za t i on of the i r e lec t ronic data pro- cessing f a c i l i t i e s . Even the quite l imi t ed regional cen- t r a l i z a t i o n proposal of 1969 was not favoured. The 1982 2 6 Based on the revised 1983 c a p i t a l cost sharing formula. For a more de ta i led d iscuss ion , refer to section 6. Cap i ta l and Operating Systems under the School D i s t r i c t research f indings . 1 35 computerization project was r ea l i zed for the most part along a decentral ized 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 va t e ly operated e lec t ron ic mail system. The ex i s t i ng school d i s t r i c t computer systems do not appear to have been integrated into the e lec t ronic mail se rv ice . Hardware and software purchases by ind iv idua l d i s t r i c t s have led to increased c a p i t a l cos ts . A lack of cent ra l coordina- t ion has led 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 rov inc i a l software development po l i cy apparently are being ignored. C. SCHOOL Many school administrators are acquir ing useful knowl- edge as they experience the v i c i s s i t u d e s of rapid change in computer technology. As some expectations remain unful- 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 app l i ca t ions . The pace of learning i s rap id . 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 adminis t ra t ive microcomputers were introduced into B r i t i s h Columbia schools: Three years ago (1981), I don't think there were very many people around in our f i e l d that knew what they were looking for . 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 i t s 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 tests of per- sonal computer hardware and software (respondents d i s c l o - sures) . 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 organiza- t i o n a l cost c i r cu l a t e s formally and informally among schools in a school d i s t r i c t . Apparently there i s no prescribed method of communicating th i s knowledge to schools in other d i s t r i c t s . T r i a l and error technological adaptation seems the ru l e , with ind iv idua l schools often repeating the successes and f a i l u re s of neighbouring d i s t r i c t s . The pace of change contributes to managerial uncertainty. Improved software, more powerful hardware and new informatics ser- vices tempt managers to solve o ld problems with new pro- ducts. These items are often unproven in the commercial and publ ic sectors and have had l i t t l e , i f any, previous a p p l i - cat ion at the school l e v e l . In the absence of a p r o v i n c i a l or nat ional tes t ing f a c i l i t y to coordinate and report f i e l d t r i a l s , the school manager may be unsure of the best pur- chasing strategy. A powerful organizat ional 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 pos- sess the equipment may be perceived by the i r colleagues as d i l a t o r y . Contemporary administrators function in a society that places a high value on applying technical solut ions to s o c i a l and economic problems. Another strong influence i s that an adminis t ra tor ' s close associat ion with the i n t r o - duction of new microprocessor technology may enhance an upwardly mobile career. 2. Types of Computer Services On a d i s t r i c t basis , schools had the largest va r i a t ion in computer serv ices . The two main categories were the stand-alone microcomputer and the cen t ra l i zed data process- ing serv ice . Centra l ized 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 categories , school-based microcomputers varied widely. Some d i s t r i c t s , according to several respondents, s t ipula ted a standard model and manu- facturer for a l l school adminis t ra t ive systems. Others allowed schools considerable l a t i tude in machine se l ec t ion , a po l i cy that had led to the i n s t a l l a t i o n of several incom- pa t ib le 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 in the cent ra l o f f i c e . One d i s - t r i c t contracted with a pr ivate company. Although in th i s case, some batch jobs were sent v i a courier for entry at the 1 38 company o f f i c e , most data was entered through a school key- board by a fu l l - t ime 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 courier for entry. Most school administrators expressed general sa t i s fac - t ion with the i r EDP systems. One administrator was search- ing for a microcomputer One-Write 2 7 accounting program for general o f f i ce bookkeeping. Another p r i n c i p a l had purchased a microcomputer on a Vancouver company's assurance that an of f - the-she l f inventory program could be modified for s tu- dent scheduling. The program did not meet expectations. He had previously encountered s imi l a r problems with a privately-owned computer service which offered batch student scheduling. During three years of contract ing with th i s company, programing errors were encountered. The scheduling algorithm d id not respond to the school 's needs. With dead- l i ne s looming, the p r i n c i p a l resorted on several occasions to penc i l and paper solut ions for in t rac table computer scheduling problems. 3. Student Management Microcomputer Programs Two Vancouver companies, Columbia Computing Services Limited and Harts Systems Limi ted , promote microcomputer- based 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 2 7 One-Write i s a proprie tary accounting package which since t h i s interview has been released in microcomputer form. 139 •programs. In 1984, when most of the interviews for the study were conducted, the Harts program processed records for a maximum of about 1,000 students. This maximum was increased u n t i l in 1986 some United States schools were pro- cessing records for over 1,500 students (correspondence, March, 1986). Harts runs on an Apple 11+ which has a 48K C P U . 2 8 The Apple 11+ uses the DOS operating system. The current pr ice for the complete Harts I I I i s approximately four thousand do l l a r s (correspondence, March 11, 1986). The annual l icence in subsequent years i s s ix hundred d o l l a r s . In 1984, Columbia converted i t s mainframe student man- agement program containing approximately 200,000 l i ne 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 sk . I t handled records for up to 2,000 students (respondent). Today the largest format of th i s program runs on a PC AT with a 20 megabyte hard d i sk . The current software pr ice for the 20 megabyte version i s approximately s ix thousand d o l l a r s , with a one thousand do l l a r annual service fee (Company respondent). The program i s presently supporting a maximum of 3,500 students in a C a l i f o r n i a secondary school app l i ca t i on . In 1968, Columbia began supplying batch services to B r i t i s h Columbia secondary schools. By 1980, an online 2 8 Central processing unit (CPU): The ari thmetic and log ic unit (ALU) and the cont ro 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 bu ted and autonomous, the spec i f i ca t ion of the CPU has become less s i g n i f i c a n t . ( I l l ingwor th 1983:52). 140 capacity was added. Within two years of the 1982 Harts in t roduct ion , Columbia released i t s own personal computer vers ion, withdrawing the o r i g i n a l batch and online services (Company respondent). Microcomputer-based programs s u f f i - c i e n t l y robust to handle the largest senior•secondary enro l - ment are p a r t i c u l a r l y a t t r ac t ive to school adminis trators . They return f u l l cont ro l over marks, scheduling and at ten- 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 imetabling and sched- ul ing had in f l a t ed somewhat, and i t was cost ing them f i f teen hundred to two thousand do l l a r s a run. And i t s tarted to look pretty good to buy a microcom- puter for that amount of money, and buy a program for i t , and pay off the cost in less than a year for the school . And you could run i t as many times as you wanted, and you d idn ' t have to pay for each run. The microcomputer system gave administrators improved con- t r o l over scheduling. P r i n c i p a l s could ask "What i f ? " ques- t ions without incur r ing thousand do l l a r expenditures. There were many ind i r ec t costs , 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 ransfers maintenance and operating costs to the school . For Harts and Columbia, an annual ser- v ice fee follows the program acqu i s i t i on charge. The fee includes system updates and an unl imited number of questions r e l a t ing to software operation. Columbia alone offers a t o l l - f r e e telephone number. Hardware costs including 141 computer, p r i n t e r , hard disk drive and, in some instances a tape drive and o p t i c a l mark reader, may t o t a l over twenty- thousand 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 acqu is i t ions i s a r e l i a b l e guide, schools may on average expect to replace the i r hard- ware once every f ive years (see Research Findings , B. School D i s t r i c t 8. Processing Capacity Soon Exhausted). Respons ib i l i ty for the operational f a i l u r e of new microcomputer programs i s not c l e a r . Is system fa i l u r e due to a faul t of the operator, hardware, or software? Administrators tend i n i t i a l l y to a t t r ibu te operating prob- lems to the software because they recognize that the pro- grams 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 es tab l i sh ing 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 se rv ic ing the p i l o t project very wel l because they want to guarantee i t s success. But I am not sure what happens when t h a t . . . expires . 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 spons ib i l - i t y in that . Their response i s : "Wel 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 th i s equipment. Current ly , software support by the two vendors appears sat- i s fac tory since the respondents did not c i t e any problems. Administrators t a c i t l y acknowledged that some errors w i l l be encountered due to program immaturity. School managers gen- e r a l l y pa r t i c ipa te a c t i v e l y in program debugging, advising 142 programers by telephone of the problems encountered. When school-based personal computer costs , for example system secur i ty , data a rch iv ing , data entry and annual ser- vice and maintenance are t o t a l l e d , personal computers may prove more expensive than ei ther the cen t ra l i zed batch or online options. The only area where microcomputers appear to have a c lear advantage i s in the immediacy of response. Delays which ar i se from backlogs associated with c y c l i c a l overloads and cent ra l system fa i lu res are usual ly not encountered in the microcomputer environment. 5. Indirect Labour Costs Hidden labour costs are recognized by school managers as a s ign i f i can t factor in operating administrat ive micro- computers. Depending on the school, 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, counsel lors , c l e r k s , and students. Many of these costs do not appear to be captured by ei ther school -s i te bookkeeping or the p rov inc i a l organiza t ion ' 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 rede- fined to encompass school-based computer tasks, these changes appear to be only infrequently ref lec ted in o f f i c i a l job descr ip t ions . 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 outside. Mind you, there 's time here with counsellors and c l e r i c a l s taff plugging in and putt ing a l l the stuff into the 1 43 computer, but the cost th ing , turn-around time and also the expertise that the (microcomputer program- ing) 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 add i t iona l time r ight 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 school 's personal com- puter, but a lso 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 exc lus ive ly adminis t ra t ive or ien ta t ion of the v i c e - p r i n c i - p a l . In the midst of r e s t r a in t , some l o c a l purchasing d i s - c re t ion remains. P r inc ipa l s and v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s indicate that avenues ex i s t for obtaining computer products which do not involve d i s t r i c t of f ice approval . 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 in t h i s case, we got i t in the school for— I t ' s being used for Career Choice (a student counseling pro- j e c t ) , w e l l , i t s being used for the timetable sort of th ing . We've got a dual purpose th ing . On the tape recorded t r ansc r ip t , the p r i n c i p a l ' s voice and phrasing convey uncertainty. He had unwit t ingly stumbled on a subject which from his vantage may have been better ignored. The microcomputer was acquired for the benefit of students who sought career counse l l ing , but was reassigned to recording student attendance. Since attendance for the school ' s approximately one thousand students i s taken every per iod, there i s only a slender opportunity for students to 144 access the machine for career counseling. With only one exception, a shortage of data entry per- sonnel was observed. F inanc ia l cutbacks had reduced the school of f ice s taff in the sample by as much as f i f t y per- cent, according to some respondents. In some cases, o f f i ce workers belonged to the Canadian Union of Publ ic Employees (CUPE). School administrators seemed aware that CUPE i s in the vanguard of those Canadian organizations responding to the employment effects of microprocessors. One strategy for overcoming employee reluctance, e l i c i t e d from school mana- gers, i s for the administrator to introduce the machines gradual ly , while never i n s i s t i n g on the i r use. This s t r a t - egy was out l ined 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 consid- erable anxiety about what t h i s would do to the sten- ographic workpool. There were union c o n t r a c t s . . . People f e l t , I th ink, somewhat threatened. So, ac tua l ly using word processing in administrat ion in of f ices i s something that has come very, very s lowly. Secretaries and c le rks in 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 off ice s taff had operated these machines, they demanded word processors for the i r own use, but strongly res i s ted job reassignment to data entry s ta tus . 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 in the i r own o f f i c e . With only a s ingle 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 school 's adminis t ra t ive microcomputer although he had operated a PC in h is home. P r i n c i p a l s r e l i e d on c l e r i c a l s taf f , junior administrators and counselors to produce computer-based reports and perform data entry work. Some administrators noted the important role computer generated student attendance, performance and counseling reports played in br ie f ing ' parents. The demands of data processing seldom resul t in a new school - leve l employment category. Most EDP tasks are absorbed within ex i s t ing categories , apparently without any necessity to change job desc r ip t ions . T y p i c a l l y , school s taff already carry a heavier work load due to reductions in o f f ice personnel performed wi th in the mandate of public sector r e s t r a i n t . C l e r i c a l s taff time was f u l l y committed, in some cases even overextended. Under these s trai tened circumstances, data entry tasks are assigned to v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s , counsellors and teachers. One senior secondary p r i n c i p a l expanded favourably on his 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 in computers, and so he has taken upon himself , with the help of the counsel lors , to r e a l l y s tar 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 d o l l a r i t e m . . . V i c e - p r i n c i p a l s had a d i f ferent perspective on the i r new assignments. They objected strongly to what one p r i n c i p a l c a l l e d , "donkey-work." To meet scheduling and report ing 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 his com- puter r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s : In the junior high, I used to sit-down and key-in d a i l y attendance. Now, i s that what an administra- 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 ship , and saying, "Wel l , you paint the side of the hold , 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 in on Saturday and Sunday to do i t . I mean, i f you f ind out how many times I 've opened up th i s school on a Saturday or Sunday in the l as t three months to work on the time- table 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 his f ru s t r a t ion . His asser t ion that computer-related r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s repre- sent a misappl icat ion of resources are c red ib le , but he seems to have authored his own problem. Confronted with publ ic sector r e s t r a in t , and the high p r o b a b i l i l t y of e i ther being made redundant or reassigned to a fu l l - t ime teaching p o s i t i o n , computer involvement presented an opportunity to consolidate h is hold on the v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s h i p . There was wide recognit ion that microcomputer data entry costs were absorbed in ways which diverted resources from o f f i c i a l l y approved budget categories . With cen t r a l l y operated systems, accounting for the actual operating costs i s s impler, since these are included in the contract p r i c e . A senior secondary p r i n c i p a l . ref lected: We 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 inser t a l l that information into the computer. We l l , now we're doing i t in the bui ld ing here. Someone has to 147 do i t in the b u i l d i n g . And I bet you, you know, i f you looked around in d i f ferent schools, you might f ind 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 taff are not t r a i n e d . . . Nevertheless, you're taking money away from something e l s e . . . I t takes a f a i r amount, and when tha t ' s happening other things aren ' 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 yp i s t to enter course and student data each term. Enrolment in th i s school was approximately 950. The v i c e - p r i n c i p a l commented: If you want to put in there (timetable program) eight courses for each student, there i s a week's work for one typ i s t working eight hours a day (at) data entry. Several school managers agreed that considerable time would be saved i f student records were entered into a computer data base in grade one, to accompany the student through junior and senior secondary school . One respondent surmised that since the appearance of microcomputer attendance programs, teachers were required to perform less 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 in the registers— ( i t ' s ) sh i f t i ng now to the secretary. So we have to look at i t . Which i s more economical? Most of a teacher 's time i s absorbed in reading the r o l l and noting absentees, manual tasks which are s t i l l required by a computer attendance program. The amount of time saved, i f any, i s probably quite smal l . 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 las t resor t , students are drafted to complete com- puter related tasks . A department coordinator reported that h is 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 dut ies . The respondent recounted: I had my computer science and computer clubs type-up or pr intout a computer card for every student in the school , and that was eleven hundred at that time. Despite the voluntary commitment made by teacher and s tu- dents the attendance program f a i l e d . Some teachers strongly objected to computerized attendance records. The coordina- tor summarized the events which led to the p ro jec t ' s abandonment: And I made another presentation to the s ta f f , and we had a couple of dry runs with i t . And there was such a lack of cooperation among the s taff — 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 mut i la t ion of the computer cards, because of (the) i n a b i l i t y to fol low, maybe, f ive simple ins t ruc t ions on how to send the cards down to the o f f i c e . Two issues are presented in t h i s account. F i r s t i s the question of the appropriateness of students volunteering the i r time from the i r ex t racur r i cu la r studies to perform c l e r i c a l work usual ly done by employees. Second i s the problem of teacher resistance to computerized attendance. School managers have contributed to the debugging and improvement of microcomputer school administrat ion programs 1 49 developed by Harts, Columbia and other companies. During the twelve- to twenty-four months of operation fol lowing the i r in t roduct ion , these programs require considerable user feedback. One company targeted several B r i t i s h Columbia schools for tes t ing before launching i t s product on the marketplace. According to three respondents, including a representative of the company, these schools were not com- pensated for the contr ibut ion the i r s taff and administrators made toward program improvement. Non-monetary motivations, however, may make the voluntary effor t a sa t i s fy ing one for school adminis t ra tors . A senior secondary v i c e - p r i n c i p a l spoke glowingly of h is involvement: I think there are a number of administrators , perhaps myself and four others, who gave them a lo t of good suggestions, and they have incorporated a lo t of these into the i r timetable (program).. . So (product name deleted) has r e a l l y improved grea t ly . Sa t i s fac t ion at having completed a job wel l motivated t h i s adminis t rator . Close involvement in a project outside the bureaucratic routine i s welcomed as a challenge in which latent ta lents can be exercised. 6 . Data Re t r i eva l Many junior 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 disks were loaded before a student 's yearly attendance was gener- ated. Slow da ta - re t r i eva l n u l l i f i e d the machine's advan- tages. A department manager reca l l ed a conversation he had 1 50 with a p r i n c i p a l on th i s subject: He indicated that the things they l i k e d about Harts were the nearness of the information. It was r ight there at the i r finger t i p s . What they d idn ' t l i k e i s 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 da i l y basis was mentioned by several school administra- to r s . Copies of the attendance data base were pr inted regu- l a r l y on paper (hard copies ) . 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 th i s a rch iva l quest ion: When you start-out with Harts , you end-up with four d i ske t tes , but when the year f in i shes , you end-up with about twenty-two floppy d i s k s . . . I mean, I run four backups on a da 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 par t ly solved or completely eliminated as new products are introduced. Harts and Columbia continue to improve the i r products, e spec ia l ly in processing speed. Hard disk pr ices have f a l l en considerably over the las t three years. Columbia's microcomputer school management program depends p r imar i ly on hard disk storage. Mass market d i g i t a l tape d r ives , announced by manufacturers, but not yet de l ivered , w i l l probably end the labour- intensive handling of floppy d i sk s . Important problems remain: c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , secur i ty of student records, and the danger that students w i l l become irrevocably typecast by education and s o c i a l systems which 151 increas ingly store and manipulate large quant i t ies of per- sonal information. Several school administrators proposed that computer-based records accompany students from kinder- garten through senior secondary. As a consequence, the burden of data entry at each l e v e l would be e l iminated. Other dimensions could benefit the student. Medical knowl- edge (one microcomputer program records health problems) could improve student learning and ass i s t with health emer- g e n c i e s . 2 9 An unambiguous synopsis of student in teres ts and learning p r o f i l e s would a id the teacher-student r e l a - t ionsh ip , assuming that classes are smal l , and the teacher has time to consult the data base. Given the recent B r i t i s h Columbia trend toward larger c lass s i z e , most teachers have less time to u t i l i z e such a po t en t i a l l y valuable resource. No administrators 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 period, he came to accept the 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 repor t ing . I can ' t say the parents (had strong objec t ions) . You get one or two parents who sort of, who comment. But with the computer report ing 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 in the handwritten form, i f they so wish. Computerized report cards are here to stay. Missing i s e v i - dence that th i s new technology i s being f u l l y exploi ted in 2 9 During a student management program demonstration, a sales representative c l e a r l y implied that a database demo- graphic category would be used by some United States schools to iden t i fy students by race. 152 the service of students and parents. Current computer-based reporting of student progress ex is t s within the ' ten words or less comment per subject ' constraint inher i ted from pre- ceding manual reporting procedures. Supported by a text processing program s imi l a r to that establ ished in 1968 by the Prime M i n i s t e r ' s Off ice to answer mail (Westell 1970: 329) and improved over the years, computerized student report cards could convey substant ia l add i t iona l information regarding ind iv idua l student progress. Several p r i nc ipa l s d isc losed that the use of computers for i n d i v i d u a l l y addressed mass mailings to parents con t r ib - uted to improved community r e l a t i ons . P r io r to microcomput- ers , 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 feasible for most schools. No community r e l a - t ions 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 ingle exception was noted to the preference school managers expressed for school-based microcomputer perform- ance of data processing tasks . This p r i n c i p a l ' s twenty-year managerial career in education and his long involvement with adminis trat ive computers make his remarks worthy of e labora t ion . Strong sa t i s f ac t ion was expressed with the d i s t r i c t ' s online and batch processing computer se rv ice . The cen t ra l i zed data entry service i s e spec ia l ly advanta- geous because i t s features are not duplicated in a 153 microcomputer processing environment. Centra l ized data pro- cessing enabled the most cos t -e f fec t ive use of labour. Addi t iona l personnel were hired on short notice and extra sh i f t s i n s t i t u t ed to meet c y c l i c a l peaks in data-entry demands. During these peaks, data was dispatched by courier and resul ts returned the fol lowing day. At best, a large secondary school can afford only a single data-entry employee, indeed, only one senior secondary school in the sample ac tua l ly employed a fu l l - t ime terminal operator. In periods of heavy demand, such as student grade repor t ing, deadlines may not be met in a school-based microcomputer environment. Keeping the keypunch operator productively, employed during periods of low demand poses an add i t iona l problem. This p r i n c i p a l favoured a star network 3 0 with school- based terminals . He had par t i c ipa ted in the d i s t r i c t ' s , f i r s t adminis trat ive foray into computer appl ica t ions 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 adminis trat ive 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 wr i t ing the time- table program); the l o c a l people thought that i t was simply another bookkeeping process. And we found out in short order that they were in a h e l l of a mess. And they sent two of the i r heavy-duty people 3 0 A star network topology consis ts of a s ingle hub node with various terminal nodes connected to the hub. The te r - minal nodes do not interconnect d i r e c t l y ( I l l ingwor th 1983:240). 1 54 in to cleanup the i r reputation and the problem. This concern for the success of i t s app l ica t ions , i r respec- t i ve of customer s i z e , contributed to IBM's reputation as a highly responsive corporat ion. In turn, t h i s responsiveness helps to es tab l i sh 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 involv ing 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 the i r microcomputers, but none of the schools v i s i t e d had pa r t i c ipa ted 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 the i r d i s t r i c t s . One of the largest 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 cons is t ing of secondary school p r i n - c i p a l s coordinated f i e l d tes t ing of personal computers and software. Several schools conducted ro ta t ing t r i a l s . Their assessments were for in te rna l use and did not appear to be made widely ava i lab le to other d i s t r i c t s . Some elementary schools were also conducting f i e l d t r i a l s . To an extent, 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 experiences of some school adminis t ra tors . One p r i n c i p a l described the a c q u i s i - t ion of a computer and program which proved to be a f inan- c i a l l o s s . The software, o r i g i n a l l y designed for warehouse inventory, never functioned properly despite repeated modi- f i ca t ions by the Vancouver vendor. The decis ion to purchase an untr ied 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 acqu is i t ions by school a d m i n i s t r a t o r s . 3 1 9. Organizational Conf l i c t As fresh appl ica t ions are found for student data, the education organization may stray onto a l i en t e r r i t o r y . An . example of th 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 sc losure , a p r i n c i p a l , during the course of extract ing information from the student database, revealed that a group of h is 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 descr ip t ion of the succeeding events: One of them (pr inc ipa l s ) ac tua l ly caused a minor controversy with the Health Department because th i s person put the pup i l health records on the system and then did a search and pu l led out a l l the students who had never been screened for eye examin- a t ions . 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 intruding in her area. But to the p r i n c i p a l ' s point of view, th i s was sort of dead information on 3 1 The problem of overly enthusias t ic administrators con t in - ues. An advertisement was placed by the Prince Rupert School D i s t r i c t (#52) for "programs for the Macintosh micro- computer on the fol lowing subjects: School D i s t r i c t Operating Budgets, Teacher Personnel Data." (BCSTA 1984:2). The advertisement appeared only s ix months after the Macintosh was introduced; general business appl ica t ions were rare . By November, 1985 the d i s t r i c t had not located a s ingle adminis trat ive programing app l ica t ion su i tab le 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. 156 paper cards, and what i t d id was suddenly, by just poking around on the computer, th i s was p u l l i n g out information in new and unusual ways. . . which gave him a di f ferent perspective on his 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 extracted. Enter a few simple ins t ruc t ions , wait only a few minutes while the machine re t r ieves and pr in t s the information, and one has a l i s t which would have taken several hours to produce — hours not ea s i ly found in a school experiencing staff and teacher cut- backs. 10. Computers and Cen t ra l i za t ion Although some school administrators said that school- based accounting procedures remained e s sen t i a l l y unchanged by the Min i s t ry of Education's f i n a n c i a l reform, most thought that the school -system had become more cen t r a l i z ed . Some addressed the connection between computers and cen t r a l - i za t ion at the school d i s t r i c t l e v e l . A junior secondary school p r i n c i p a l phrased the issue: The computer i s only the machine that does the actual work, so that i s no problem. In fact , I think i f we can save a lo t of paper work going across my desk, tha t ' s great. It i s the decisions behind the computer that bother me. He explained that these decisions focused on achieving f i n a n c i a l cutbacks and increasing Min i s t ry c o n t r o l . Another junior secondary p r i n c i p a l delineated the problem: I think i f they can work that ( d i s t r i c t computer compat ib i l i ty with the Min i s t ry ) through, they have the computer system, they have a l l the d i s t r i c t s 1 5 7 working the same way, and i t w i l l a l l flow back and for th . That i s cont ro l to a great extent, and there i s no doubt about i t that I think the whole system is set up to be computerized and heavily con t ro l l ed . 1 1 . Summary The public school system appears to be incurr ing large add i t iona l costs as student management programs, previously run on a fee-for-service bas is , are now leased and operated on school-based microcomputers. Many costs associated with these microcomputers, for instance data entry and informa- t ion r e t r i e v a l , seem not to be captured by ei ther e x i s t i n g school -s i te or province-wide accounting prac t ices . U n t i l 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 resul 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 the i r managerial roles had been s i g n i f i c a n t l y changed by computers. They rout inely per- formed data entry and r e t r i e v a l tasks, occasional ly on an overtime bas i s . The v i c e - p r i n c i p a l s strongly objected to t h i s c l e r i c a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . No administrators were found to have computers in the 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 wi thin the Min i s t ry of Education was the p r o v i n c i a l government's decis ion to cen t r a l i ze e lec t ron ic 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 nanc i a l and expenditure management of informa- t ion systems i s the function of the Treasury Board. The System Act es tab l i sh ing 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 authori ty 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 min i s t r i e s and most Crown corporations (Turnbull 1979:4). The decis ion to consolidate was preceded by a 1976 con- f i d e n t i a l study of government e lec t ronic data processing, including the Min i s t ry of Education, prepared for Cabinet by the management consul t ing firm of Woods Gordon. The report warned that were min i s t r i e s allowed to "continue bu i ld ing in-house computer empires, manpower savings that might resul t from of f ice automation could be swallowed by programs intended to take up the slack" (Globe & Mai l 1984:BC1). Premier Wil l iam R. Bennett re i te ra ted th i s view in an October, 1976 address, " a l l computing resources of s taff and equipment have been uncoordinated and scattered throughout 159 many departments... t h i s approach has resulted in many prob- lems re la ted to top - l eve 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 io r to 1977, there were seven p r o v i n c i a l government computer centres which together followed three mutually exclusive technologial d i rec t ions (BCSC 1980-81:4). The Min i s t ry 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 Internat ional Business Machines Corporation (BCSC 1980-81: 12). According to BCSC, each systems archi tecture required a separate technical support s ta f f , a factor which led to s i g n i f i c a n t l y increased costs , while l i m i t i n g p roduc t iv i ty 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 VSI, the Corpora- t ion chose V S . 3 2 The Woods Gordon consultants were also concerned that i nd iv idua l M i n i s t r i e s would entrap them- selves, thereby reducing the i r a b i l i t y to combine and in te - grate computer appl ica t ions (BCSC 1980-81:5). With rapid accessing of shared databanks a primary object ive of govern- ment and commerce, e lec t ronic communication among p r o v i n c i a l m i n i s t r i e s , and between min i s t r i e s and non-governmental agencies received renewed importance. 3 3 3 2 V i r t u a l Storage i s an access method sui table for f i l e s with sequential or r e l a t i ve organization on direct -s torage devices. 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 ca lcula ted v i r t u a l address ( I l l ingwor th 1983:387). 3 3 According to Wil l iam McMinn, p r i n c i p a l author of the 1976 Woods Gordon report , "a cen t ra l computer f a c i l i t y would hold annual increases in data processing costs to ten percent, 160 1. Standardization On SNA By 1982, BCSC at considerable cost had converted a l l three systems archi tectures 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 the i r operating system. The Corporation ant ic ipated that competition would resul t in these products being del ivered ei ther at less cost or with a better design than those of a manufacturer which did not have plug-compatible competition (1980-81:11). In p rac t i ce , contracts for mainframes and most disk dr ives were l e t without competitive bidding. IBM has been the main rec ip ient of these three- to-f ive-year contracts (BCSC 1982- 8 3 : 1 2 ) . 3 5 The objective of a s ingle archi tecture was at tained in la te 1981 (1979-80:6). IBM's successful de facto in te rna t iona l standard in computer communications networks — the Systems Network Archi tecture (SNA) — was of considerable consequence to a Corporation confronted with the complexit ies of rapid ly i n s t a l l i n g and supporting a data processing network that would unite government and publ ic agencies across the prov- ince (BCSC 1981-82:13). SNA i s the descr ip t ion of the 3 3 ( c o n t ' d ) versus the twenty to t h i r t y percent increase exper ienced. . . between 1972-75." (Globe & Mai l 1984:BC1). 3 * Conversion of Honeywell 6066 appl ica t ions took 268 people who logged in excess of 100,000 hours (BCSC 1981-82:12). The Minis te r of Finance estimated the cost to be s ix m i l l i o n d o l l a r s (Hansard I981b:4737). 3 5 BCSC purchases of IBM 3081D and IBM 3081K processors are examples. 161 l o g i c a l s t ructure, formats, protocols , and operational sequences for t ransmit t ing information units through, and c o n t r o l l i n g the configurat ion and operation of networks (IBM 1985:58). This interface i s the foundation of IBM's uni f ied teleprocessing strategy (Rutledge 1981:2). Open Systems Interconnect (OSI), a seven layered refer- ence model designed by Internat ional Standards Organizat ion, 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 ing . In 1985, under the d i r ec t i on 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 Sc i en t i s t 1985:34). Computer users w i l l have to look elsewhere for software t ransfer , such as e lec t ron ic mail from OSI to SNA networks (1985:34). The more f u l l y a computer can pa r t i c ipa te in an IBM data net- work, the more valuable i t i s to users and vendors (Veri ty 1985:93). SNA was announced in 1974 and network services based on the SNA CCITT X.25 packet network standard f i r s t appeared in 1977 (Rutledge 1981:27) . 3 6 By June 1979, differences in CCITT X.25 implementation had resulted 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 reun i f i ca t ion of X.25 was achieved by 1982, continuing changes to complex SNA protocols make the s h i f t i n g shape of th i s interface para- mount in the planning of large data processing agencies such 3 6 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 ro toco l . 162 as BCSC and the B r i t i s h Columbia public school system. A version of the Min i s t ry of Education po l i cy c i r cu la t ed in 1983 refers s p e c i f i c a l l y to the role of the SNA/SDLC proto- co l in the p r o v i n c i a l government's communication network (Minis t ry 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 compo- nents, using telecommunication l i n k s (IBM 1985:12). On SDLC a number of messages flow in one d i r ec t ion before receiving a response, thereby increasing the data ca r r i ed on a l i n k . 2. Min i s t ry of Education Included in Centra l ized Service Short ly after the 1977 proclamation of the System Act, r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for Min i s t ry of Education computer s taff was transferred to BCSC. Min i s t ry programers and analysts were relocated to pos i t ions outside the public se rv ice . The transfer produced many months of user service problems. Deputy Min i s t e r of Education, Dr. Walter Hardwick, was among the f i r s t publ ic servants to openly express reservations about the Corporation: "the idea of consol idat ing operations might be sound, but the problems of bureaucracy always seem to develop when the p o l i c i e s are ca r r i ed out." (Danylchuk 1979:9). His comments ref lec ted a widely held publ ic ser- vice view. Other publ ic servants, anonymously conveying the i r c r i t i c i s m s to the news media, c i t e d high rate s t ructures , slow terminal response time, los t data and lengthy processor downtime. In 1977, a committee of deputy ministers 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 informally to lend an author i ta t ive voice to the growing d i sa f fec t ion with cen t ra l i zed data pro- cess ing. The Min i s t ry of Education may have been an i n d i - rect pa r t i c ipan t . On October 31, 1979, at the request of Evan Wolfe, Minis ter of Finance, the committee was formally establ ished as the Users Review Committee (Hansard 1981c: 6093), and la ter integrated into the Corporation. A year e a r l i e r , on October 15, 1978, the Initial Report of the Inter-ministerial Committee on the Electronic Data Processing Services was submitted in t h i r d draf t , again at the request of the Minis te r (Hansard I979a:329). The report recommends: 1. The minister be given authori ty to e f f ec t i ve ly con- t r o l the systems and e lec t ron ic data programming functions required to de l iver the i r se rv ices . 2. Each minis t ry be given the capab i l i t y and authori ty for se lec t ing computer service best sui ted to i t s needs. 3. To improve communications, to reduce learning time and errors and to improve the serv ice , i t i s essen- t i a l that a minimum number of maintenance program- mers be permanently ava i lab le to the m i n i s t r i e s . At the moment they only ex i s t within the Systems Corpo- r a t i on . The development and operation of a good EDP system i s dependent upon EDP s taf f , which under- stands and associates with the goals of user minis- t r i e s . 4. The i n t e r m i n i s t e r i a l committee on data processing be the vehic le whereby a l l min i s t r i e s can exert the necessary l e v e l of influence upon decisions which affect them. (Hansard I979a:330) Cabinet d id not act on these recommendations. Implementing 164 them would have returned cont ro l to the m i n i s t r i e s , revers- ing the already wel l advanced consol idat ion 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 exclusion from the System Act (Hansard 1977:4582). Coquitlam School Board motioned that the Minis te r of Education be asked to have: School D i s t r i c t s removed from the provis ions of B i l l 44 - Systems Act , thereby al lowing Boards the opportunity to f ind economies in providing data processing serv ices . [ s i c ] (Coquitlam 1977:8) Nanaimo pet i t ioned the Minis te r of Finance for the r ight to continue the i r EDP service contract with a l o c a l c red i t union. The Minis te 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 services that they employ. We merely want to be able to vet the i r plans from time to t ime." (Hansard 1977:4583). The Minis te r a lso indicated that several boards had requests before the systems group to use the i r terminals and services (1977: 4584). 4. BCSC Preva i l s By 1980, BCSC managers prevai led over many of the s tar t-up problems. For several years, costs to c l i e n t s had decl ined, f a l l i n g by ten percent in 1980 (Table I I I ) . User access time and processing speed had improved. A 1980 Pr ice Waterhouse Associates study confirmed that the strategy of 165 combining in-house systems development with sub-contracting some software work to pr ivate companies had resulted in rates to c l i e n t s below those charged by private data pro- cessing companies (BCSC 1980-81:6; Kesselman 1984:14). The de l ivery of an executive management information system 3 7 to the Min i s t ry of Health for use by the Minis te r and his p lan- ning department was proof that BCSC could produce a software app l i ca t ion of considerable complexity (Appendix D). At present, the data processing configuration which BCSC supplies to the Min i s t ry of Education includes online and batch processing of a time-shared computer located at a remote Corporat ion-control led s i t e . Access to the computer i s achieved v ia s ix ministry-based data entry terminals " (Minis t ry Annual Report 1982-83:57). There i s online ed i t - ing and batch transmission to master f i l e s on the BCSC host. 5. Corporate Control of Microcomputers Since 1977, Min i s t ry of Education computer expenditures have been c lose ly monitored under a government-wide po l i cy 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 Cor- poration (Minis t ry respondent). I t appears that in the founding years of the Corporation one of the primary objec- t ives of t h i s po l i cy was to r e s t r i c t microcomputer use. 3 7 An automated advisory system composed of management rules which specify actions that can be taken i f cer ta in condi- t ions occur. 166 Publ ic servants were thus compelled to u t i l i z e the cen t r a l - ized computing se rv ice . To avoid th i s cons t ra in t , some min- i s t r i e s were reported to have modified the i r word processors by adding memory boards that made them capable of running of f - the-she l f f i n a n c i a l , s t a t i s t i c a l and spread sheet pro- grams (Danylchuk l983a:B7). For accounting purposes, spare parts were recorded as addit ions to of f ice inventories (l983a:B7). In order to control the r i s i n g use of microcom- puters, BCSC attempted in 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 ear ly as 1981, the Corporation recognized the larger role 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 nanc i a l success of the mainframe operation. BCSC was committed to using mainframes for as many appl ica t ions as poss ib le . Over the short-term, microcomputers could not be con t ro l led to the same extent. Indeed, some administra- t i v e respondents at the Min i s t ry l e v e l avowed that personal computers could not be cen t r a l ly con t ro l l ed under any circumstance. During f i s c a l year 1982-83, Treasury Board po l i cy was changed to permit min i s t r i e s to purchase personal computers i f the i r use achieved economies out l ined in the Public Sector Restraint Act - in short, i f they reduced the number of employees (Minis t ry respondent). By 1984, approval for personal computers and word processors appeared rout ine. 167 F&t only large purchases, d id Treasury Board require a formal business case: M i n i s t r i e s must make a submission to the Treasury .Board for any systems acquis i t ions or development expenditure which exceeds $100,000 and th is submis- sion must be accompanied by a business case showing costs and benefits over f ive years. Each submission i s analyzed by Treasury Board Staff within the Min i s t ry of Finance. The determination of whether a computer appl ica t ion should be run on a mainframe, mini or micro computer i s based upon the related 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 act ion coincided with the second year of f i nanc i a l res t ra in t and the reintroduct ion of compulsory p r o v i n c i a l examinations for a l l grade twelve s tu- dents. BCSC with 1983 revenues of over s ix ty- four m i l l i o n p o 3 e do 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 prec ip i ta ted Cabinet 's decis ion to unload the Corporation. F i r s t , revenue only modestly exceeded expenses (Table V I I I ) . But in four years, revenues in the form of d i rec 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 forty m i l l i o n d o l l a r s to the . sum of seventy-five m i l l i o n d o l - l a r s in 1984. This rapid escala t ion in t o t a l processing and development charges not only contradicted the government's 1976 predic t ion that cen t ra l i zed data processing would hold 168 Table VIII B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation F inanc ia l Performance 1979—19841 ( in do l l a r s ) Year 2 Revenue Expenses Net Income 1979 29,115,000 26,886,000 2,229,000 1980 40,173,000 39,936,000 237,000 1981 49,103,000 47,581,000 1,522,000 1982 57,928,000 55,252,000 2,676,000 1983 64,984,000 64,964,000 20,000 1984 75,586,000 77,238,000 (1,417,000) 3 1985 72,689,000 73,722,000 (1,427,000) 3 Notes: 1 Source: B r i t i s h Columbia Systems Corporation Annual Reports 2 Year ending March 31 3 D e f i c i t 169 annual increases to approximately ten percent, but a lso came at a time of p r o v i n c i a l revenue sho r t f a l l s and mounting f i s c a l r e s t r a in t . Second, the Deputy Minis te r of Finance had cancelled the Corporat ion 's development of "a comprehen- sive integrated government-wide network of f i n a n c i a l sys- tems." f inding that i t was too complex and cos t ly (Ri t te r & Cutt 1985:73). Two years of systems development effort and several m i l l i o n d o l l a r s were funnelled into the project . Th i rd , considerable latent opposition to BCSC remained within public service ranks — a s i tua t ion not assuaged by BCSC's pre-1982 attempts to r e s t r i c t microcomputer use. Fourth, the decision to pursue markets wi th in untapped sec- tors of the public se rv ice , such as school d i s t r i c t s (Globe & Mai l 1984), swelled the number of d isgrunt led users with a po t en t i a l l y vocal p o l i t i c a l opposi t ion: boards of school t rustees . The proposed sale created considerable uncertainty for most of the Corporat ion'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 Corporat ion's 540 employees, 350 personnel reorganized them- selves 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 assets . Opposition to the sale was widespread among the province 's business sector; most commercial software devel- opers believed that pr ivate acqu i s i t ion by a s ingle company. 170 would lead to the i r exclusion from luc ra t ive program and systems analys is contracts (Danylchuk l983b:A3). For the years 1980 to 1982 i n c l u s i v e , annual spending in the commer- c i a l sector averaged ten m i l l i o n do l l a r s (BCSC 1980-81:6 & 1981-82:1). The software developers' revised pos i t ion departed from the 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 fe r s . Ownership of most assets such as bu i ld ings , hardware and software remained with the BCSC. The federal government had a d i rec t in teres t in the Corporat ion 's s u r v i v a l ; th i r ty-seven m i l l i o n do l l a r s was loaned to BCSC from the Canada Pension Plan to finance con- s t ruc t ion of a new headquarters (Kenneth B e l l 1983:17). In the reorganization which followed, some systems analysts and programers were stationed with min i s t r i e s on a semi- permanent bas i s . The number and value of system development contracts l e t to the pr ivate sector was expected to increase to f i f teen m i l l i o n do 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 publ ic 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 ix employees. The work s ta t ions are supported by two mainframes and t h i r t y medium- sized computers from four d i f ferent manufacturers (1985:4). 171 With the p r o v i n c i a l government's strong rel iance on systems technology, the future of cen t ra l i zed 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 su l t s , an improved communications system, a means of t racking system development costs , and the guidance of spe- c i a l i s t s are indispensable to a large public service organi- za t ion . As BCSC experience continues to accumulate, knowl- edge about system development i s ava i lab le to a l l government o f f i c e s . Corporate re la t ionships with the p r o v i n c i a l public school organization and the Min i s t ry of Education have been mixed. The removal of Min i s t ry 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 . Recapi tulat ion The computer's capacity to store and manipulate large quant i t ies of information catalyzes many changes current ly sweeping Canadian soc ie ty . Computer appl ica t ions to the management of B r i t i s h Columbia's publ ic school system repre- sent a small but s ign i f i can t cont r ibut ion to th i s nat ional t rend. Beginning in 1961 when the Min i s t ry 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, cen- t r a l i z a t i o n has been the most s ign i f i can t adminis t ra t ive impact. Although in 1982 the school d i s t r i c t s prevai led in a long-standing c o n f l i c t with the Min i s t ry over who deter- mines the type of computer i n s t a l l a t i o n , the Min i s t ry retained the r ight to specify the i r p r i n c i p a l use. The aim of the 1982-84 implementation of data process- ing for the Planning Programing, and Budgeting System — the largest computerized project undertaken by the Min i s t ry — was to a t t a in firm cen t ra l ized cont ro l over expenditures. This objective was achieved. There followed a decl ine in school board autonomy and, for a l l administrators subordi- nate 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 i n i t i a - t i ve . Few senior and middle management administrators have had the i r work d i r e c t l y affected by computers. Only at the most junior ranks do administrators regular ly operate a com- puter. Data and word processing for the majority of educa- t i o n a l managers i s performed by c le rks and secre ta r ies . The 1982 B r i t i s h Columbia school d i s t r i c t computer pro- ject resul ted in one of the most opera t ional ly r e s t r i c t e d systems of i t s s ize in Canada. Simple, s ingle theme expla- nations are e lu s ive . Other p r o v i n c i a l educational au thor i - t i e s , for instance Quebec's, had many years of success expe- rience 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. Min i s t ry adopt a strong formative role in EDP p o l i c i e s . 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 lec t ron ic networks and d i g i t a l com- munications was evident in not only the Canadian private sector, but a lso 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 least a decade, i n su f f i c i en t expert ise has h in - dered Min i s t ry po l icy on informatics development. In con- t r a s t , by 1984 at least four B .C . school d i s t r i c t s employed fu l l - t ime computer managers who had ei ther systems analysis or programing backgounds. In recent years the Min i s t ry had no permanent employee with s imi l a r experience — u n t i l 1984 when BCSC stationed personnel in each min i s t ry . Addi t iona l explanations for the po l i cy resu 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 publ ic se rv ice , 2) f i s c a l r es t ra in t which plunged those responsible for Min i s t ry computer po l i cy into a dec l in ing zero sum game 3 8 of cutback management, 3.) inter-agency r i v a l r y over data processing that p i t t ed school d i s t r i c t s , the Min i s t ry and BCSC against each other arid, not l eas t , 4.) lobbying by computer and software companies which led to the implementa- t ion of a fragmented master p lan . 3 8 A zero sum game i s one in which the cumulative winnings equal the cumulative losses . I t can be argued that when cutback management i s applied to soc i a l programs, losses usual ly exceed winnings, i r respec t ive of s t rategy. V. CONCLUSION Four main conclusions are discussed with reference to the research findings and the work of other inves t iga tors . Aspects of the study that warrant further inves t iga t ion are surveyed under Research Implications. Nine po l i cy recommen- dations are included in Pol i cy Recommendations A. Conclusions In the i r app l ica t ion of computers to management, sys- tems analysts rep l ica te spec i f i c organizat ional components. The process of program design and hardware configurat ion resul ts in a remarkably v e r s a t i l e too l for understanding organizat ions. Otherwise hard to perceive managerial strengths and weaknesses may be exposed when wr i t ing soft- ware. Knowledge of a pa r t i cu la r app l ica t ion can revea l , as in th i s study, the in te rna l workings of an organizat ion and i t s in teract ions with the p o l i t i c a l and economic environ- ment. The language of computer appl ica t ions in many respects i s the language of organizat ional behaviour. The extent of the i r correspondence i s revealed in the number of key expressions common to both, among them, program, system, operations, and management information system. Conclusions are considered under four headings: cost- benefit ana lys i s , managerial impacts, c e n t r a l i z i n g ef fec ts , 174 175 and organizat ional objectives and computer systems design. 1. Cost-Benefit Analysis The objective of assessing computer cost-benefi ts in terms of administrat ion was not r e a l i z e d . Comparability and r e l i a b i l i t y of the l imi t ed f i nanc i a l information ava i lab le i s uncertain. Detai led records of the costs of i n s t a l l i n g and operating administrat ive computers throughout the B .C . public school system do not appear to be maintained by the M i n i s t r y . Some records are too rudimentary, others non- exis tent ; for example, the Min i s t ry does not keep an inven- tory of microcomputers used in school adminis t ra t ion . When a growing proportion of the educational budget i s d i rected to c a p i t a l and operating costs associated with data processing, f a i l u r e to maintain de ta i led accounts seems implausible . The exercise of informed EDP choice can be achieved only when expenditures are l inked to performance. U n t i l a l inkage between the two i s es tabl ished, the organi- zat ion w i l l remain excessively dependent on vendors for guidance on product performance — a s i tua t ion strongly faulted by W i l l s (1979) in h is study of the Canadian pr ivate sector . None of the opt imal i ty ca lcu la t ions offered by Kochen and Deutsch (1980:17) on responsiveness, r e l i a b i l i t y and adequacy can be applied without s o l i d f i nanc 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-benefi t ca lcu la t ions when the technology i s 176 sh i f t i ng at an unprecedented rate, de ta i led knowledge of past experience remains one of the best bases for po l i cy assessment and planning. I d e n t i f i c a t i o n of costs provides an avenue for ef fec t - ing savings, e spec ia l ly in the current climate of f i s c a l r e s t r a i n t . The M i n i s t r y ' s cos t ly decis ion to ignore the i r own po l i cy 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 pract ices been followed. This po l i cy directed that software developed under contract was to remain within Min i s t ry j u r i s d i c t i o n . The M i n i s t r y , however, appears not to have taken possession of a major piece of f i nanc i a l software that was developed for the p r o v i n c i a l school organization 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- pliance been sought, the software would have been d i s t r i b - uted e i ther free or for a nominal fee once the f u l l develop- ment costs were met. Instead, each add i t iona l purchaser seems to have been b i l l e d an amount considerably in excess of the minor i nd iv idua l customizing that was made. Ignoring th i s po l i cy d i r e c t i v e may have resul ted 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 im i l a r state of a f f a i r s ex i s t s with regard to the area l i c ens ing of proprietary software. Although no Min i s t ry or school d i s t r i c t po l i cy yet ex i s t s , there are large benefits to be gained. P r o v i n c i a l l i cens ing 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 costs . As the 1 77 s i tua t ion stands, schools and d i s t r i c t s purchase administra- t ive computer programs i n d i v i d u a l l y , causing the organiza- t ion to c o l l e c t i v e l y pay far in excess of f a i r market value. Gaining control over computer system costs i s d i f f i c u l t (Gotl ieb 1985). U n t i l de ta i led accounts are kept, Ayer ' s and Ke t t inger ' s contention that there i s l i t t l e evidence that the introduct ion of computers has ac tua l ly 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 in the i r work routines, although ind i rec t effects have led to a more constrained management. None of the personal adminis t ra t ive of f ices 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 adminis t ra t ive rank, operated a computer regu la r ly ; a l l superordinates avoided any d i rec t involvement. Adminis t ra t ive data and word pro- cessing requirements were usual ly performed by stenographers or secre ta r ies . This s i tua t ion departs from the case stud- ies in the Canadian pr ivate sector c i t ed by Menzies (1981) where v i r t u a l l y a l l senior and middle management have com- puter terminals which they use for analyses, report prepara- t i o n , .and the transmission and receipt of wri t ten communica- t i ons . 178 The delay in in s t a l l i ng - terminals in the educational manager's of f ice 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 enthusiast ic on the computer ' s 'potent ia l to improve adminis t ra t ion, the i r in te r - est waned when personal use of th i s equipment was consid- ered. Rapid expansion of e lec t ron ic mail service to the school d i s t r i c t s may change the i r reluctance. In terms of time and accuracy, there are economic advantages to delegate a secretary to t ranscribe l e t t e r s and reports, and for the manager to revise prel iminary drafts on a word processing te rminal . Menzies' observations regarding "s tandar izat ion, frag- mentation, and separation of occupations and job functions" (1981:38) among c l e r i c a l workers and lower adminis t ra t ive ranks has a p a r a l l e l in B r i t i s h Columbia education. For a l l managers, the ind i rec t effects of computerization are sub- s t a n t i a l . Executives at the apex have increased the i r con- t r o l . The remainder have experienced a diminution in power. Their performance i s more c lo se ly monitored than before. The operat ional vehic le for recording input i s the Program- ing and Budgeting System, while the main output monitors are p r o v i n c i a l examinations and student achievement t es t s . To these devices are added the r e s t r i c t i o n s of cen t ra l i zed edu- cat ion 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 in the i r quest for adminis t ra t ive r e i f i c a t i o n . The drive for cent ra l 179 contro l encounters opposing forces o r ig ina t ing with the diverse communities which B r i t i s h Columbia public schools serve. Local administrators respond to l o c a l needs which may c o n f l i c t with the cen t ra l i zed mandate. The boundaries between the cont ro l exerted by a minis t ry and that of the community sh i f t con t inua l ly . An administrator can take refuge from c e n t r a l i z i n g prescr ip t ions in the t r a n s i t i o n a l region between l o c a l needs and minis t ry mandate. 3 . Cen t r a l i z ing Effects When applied to the administrat ion of public education organizations (kindergarten to grade twelve), computers have c e n t r a l i z i n g e f fec ts . Notwithstanding the absence of a cadre of computer experts stationed within the M i n i s t r y , and the independence most school d i s t r i c t s exh ib i t when deter- mining the i r software and hardware requirements, two factors that d i f f e ren t i a t e the d i s t r i bu ted data processing systems of the B r i t i s h Columbia public school organization from others of s imi l a r s i z e , th i s conclusion i s supported by the fol lowing observations. Computers are used mainly to pro- cess data for the PPBS f i nanc i a l reform adopted by the Min i s t ry to improve cont ro l of expenditures and planning. Subsidiary appl ica t ions include the evaluation of student learn ing , project ion of teacher supply and demand, and c a l - cu la t ion of taxation y i e l d s . Each of these appl ica t ions 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 cont ro l over input and throughput processes, which resul ts in 180 decreased l o c a l autonomy. Increased cen t r a l i za t i on a r i s i n g from computerization supports the predict ions of Laubach and Thompson (1955), and Lasswell (1971). The M i n i s t r y ' s documentation system pos- sesses biases that drive po l i cy 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 learning assessments and gradua- t ion examinations have produced greater c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . Lasswel l ' s assert ion that access to data and computer- based simulations assure democratic outcomes, although pos- tula ted in terms of nat ional government, may also apply to public sector organizat ions. In the context of the B r i t i s h Columbia public 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 operational information of other un i t s . The re la t ionsh ip postulated by Lasswell i s therefore indeterminate. None of the findings uphold de Sola Pool ' s expectation that acqu i s i t i on of personal computers by subordinate orga- n i za t i ona l uni ts 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 lose ly monitor the administrat ive use of school computers. Some have already i n s t i t u t ed standardization p o l i c i e s for schools, while others ant ic ipate introducing them. Most schools apply the i r computers to bookkeeping and student management. Although computer use may lead to improved ser- vices and c o s t - e f f i c i e n c i e s , i t i s un l ike ly they w i l l lead to greater autonomy, given the recent increase in 181 l e g i s l a t i o n and p o l i c i e s that constrain l o c a l administrat ive i n i t i a t i v e . S imi la r forces function at the school and school d i s - t r i c t l e v e l . The use of microcomputers and minicomputers leads to increased cont ro l of these uni ts by administrators at these l e v e l s , but the computer-dependent cont ro l achieved by the Min i s t ry i s greater. 4. Organizat ional 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 rule that c e n t r a l i z a t i o n leads to s tandardizat ion. Elsewhere, leading informatic companies have encouraged standardizat ion since the 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 res i s ted standardization for two dec- ades. Although BCSC rapid ly standardized p r o v i n c i a l govern- ment data processing in the la te 1970's, for the most part school d i s t r i c t s thwarted Corporate and Min i s t ry attempts to unify the i r data systems. Honeywell remains the major hardware supplier and Datatech, act ing as Honeywell 's representat ive, the main software vendor. Before the introduct ion of the 1982 d i s - t r i c t computer project , Datatech, using Honeywell equipment, had secured the largest market share of school d i s t r i c t onl ine and batch se rv ices . Datatech's sales and lobbying 182 campaign assured i t s preeminence in the new p ro j ec t . 1 The h i s t o r i c a l predominance of a s ingle computer com- pany in part confirms the observations of Fishman (1981) and Fisher et a l (1983) on the emergence of a dominant informa- t i c s corporat ion. In the B r i t i s h Columbia case, cont ro l i s exerted by Honeywell, not IBM. The recent success of competitors' products among sophist icated computer users leaves undecided the question whether un i f i c a t i on of d i s - t r i c t computers w i l l involve Honeywell spec i f i ca t i ons . Future consol idat ion plans must consider the prevalence of IBM Personal Computer spec i f i ca t ions among schools and d i s - t r i c t s , and BCSC mainframe processor and networking stan- dards. Demand for improved cost-benefi ts and more services w i l l propel school d i s t r i c t computer systems toward f u l l compat ib i l i ty with the M i n i s t r y ' s mainframe computing f a c i l - i t y . To some extent, Lasswel l ' s ins ight that p o l i t i c a l issues often precede quant i ta t ive cos t -e f f i c iency concerns i s upheld by these f indings . In B r i t i s h Columbia, publ ic service computerization became an intensely p o l i t i c a l and h igh -p ro f i l e issue. Cabinet 's reputation seemed c lose ly t i ed to the success of cen t ra l i zed computing p o l i c i e s . 2 1 Honeywell was frozen out of the B .C . publ ic service data processing market when BCSC selected IBM processors. The fate of Honeywell equipment received repeated a t tent ion in the l eg i s l a tu r e and news media. Some respondents conjectured that h igh - l eve l p o l i t i c a l intervent ion assured a major role for Datatech in the 1982 computer project . 2 By removing computer experts from the Min i s t ry 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 nh ib i t ed the emergence of strong EDP 1 83 Lobbying and an unusually high degree of p o l i t i c a l involve- ment was present throughout the early years of BCSC. Got l ieb (1985:101) notes that MIS departments favour standardized hardware and software. The absence of a strong Min i s t ry of Education MIS d i v i s i o n coincided with system fragmentation. B. RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS Research w i l l reveal how publ ic education, an inher- ently conservative organizat ion, responds to a technology which i s r a d i c a l l y changing the society in which public schooling takes place. Despite i t s importance, the area i s l a rge ly uncharted. Analys is of the research findings gath- ered for th i s study suggest several p o t e n t i a l l y rewarding d i rec t ions for research. l . Costs and Cost-Benefi ts What are the costs and cost-benefi ts of adminis trat ive computer iza t ion? Es tab l i sh ing the costs and cost-benefi ts of administra- t i ve computers i s c r i t i c a l to e f fec t ive planning. Re la t ive ly l i t t l e f i n a n c i a l information seems to be gener- ated by the Min i s t ry 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 operations. 2 (con t 'd ) c e n t r a l i z a t i o n forces wi th in the school system. 184 Of perhaps greater concern are the economic effects computerization has on the nat ion. Educational organiza- t ions ex is t in a web of s o c i a l and economic interdependen- c e s . Assessed in terms of immediate organizat ional objec- t i v e s , senior management's decis ion to respond to f a l l i n g revenues by introducing a computerized Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System may be des i rab le . Decisions to imple- ment these computer-dependent e f f i c i e n c i e s and cost reduc- t ions , however, may p rec ip i t a te a further cycle of decl ine in f i s c a l support from outside the immediate organiza t ion . Unlike lumber and concrete, examples of materials manu- factured in Canada, and common ingredients in school con- s t ruc t ion , computers and increas ingly the i r software are la rge ly imported. 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 imulat ion — c a p i t a l expenditure on schools — decreases in effect when the goods purchased reduce employ- ment. 3 Educational expenditure on domestic manufactures contributes to a robust r e s i d e n t i a l and commercial tax base which in turn supports larger educational expenditures. When a s i gn i f i c an t port ion of the educational do l l a r i s d i rec ted outside Canada in a quest for microprocessor e f f i - c i enc i e s , then compensatory mechanisms w i l l have to be introduced to overcome dec l in ing educational revenues (see Appendix C ) . 3 The author recognizes that computer sales are an employ- ment source, but problems a r i s i n g from Canada's h i s t o r i c role as an entrepot economy are espec ia l ly acute in the area of informat ics . 185 2 . I n t e r -p rov inc ia 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 in which operat ional uniformity between Min i s t ry and d i s t r i c t computers has yet to be a t ta ined, d i s - cussion of i n t e rp rov inc 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 related e lec t ronic endeavour, educational t e l e v i s i o n . P rov inc i a l min i s t r i e s of education are as capa- ble as the private sector of producing i n s t r u c t i o n a l , f inan- c i a l and managerial software with nat ional relevance and marketing p o t e n t i a l . • 3 . Administrat ive Computers and Educational D ive r s i t y How can computer systems be designed to support educa- t i o n a l d ive r s i t y? 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 inanc ia l cutbacks associated with PPBS and related computer i n i t i a t i v e s at the d i s t r i c t and Min i s t ry l e v e l have reduced the range of educational exper 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 cost . The design of computerized management systems re f l ec 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 applied to the management of education may be as important as the i r 186 app l ica t ion 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 adminis trat ive posi t ions good candidates for computerization? In th i s study, d i rec t managerial impact was observed only at the lowest rung. Following the pattern achieved in the commercial and public sectors , further d i rec t incursions may be expected among middle management and executive ranks. The extent and rate at which managers, in p r o v i n c i a l public education organizations integrate computers into the i r work routines i s of considerable in te res t . W i l l the present adminis t ra t ive resis tance, apparently derived from managers associa t ing computer use with c l e r i c a l work, pers i s t? Educational administrators are also l i k e l y to r e s i s t a pro- cess that under the guise of e f f i c iency has led other orga- niza t ions to vigorously apply operations research techniques to middle management. The consequences are an erosion of personal freedom and a climate where supervisors themselves are c lose ly supervised. '-• C. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS In the years ahead, publ ic school organizations w i l l follow publ ic and pr ivate sector i n i t i a t i v e s in introducing computer systems to ass i s t in the non-f inancia l aspects of adminis t ra t ion . A f i r s t step w i l l be the provis ion 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 re la ted to school management. Such a database w i l l include commentaries and l ega l opinions of relevance to l i n e managers." A second step w i l l be the creat ion of an expert system designed to guide school and school d i s t r i c t administrators through the increas ingly complex maze of fed- e 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 the i r d a i l y rout ines . The expert system w i l l also be designed for use by the Minis te r and senior advisors . A number of recommendations ar i se from the process of comparing the B r i t i s h Columbia publ ic school po l i cy on adminis t ra t ive computers with the data processing pract ices followed in pr ivate and public j u r i s d i c t i o n s . The fol lowing synopsis of the most prominent recommendations re la tes spec- i f i c a l l y to B r i t i s h Columbia, but may also apply to other j u r i s d i c t i o n s . These recommendations can serve as departure points for further research. 1. Min i s t ry Coordination of EDP Purchases Coordinate purchases at the Min i s t ry l e v e l of computers and software for the ent i re organizat ion. Pr ice 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 the 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 Associat ion has already placed the i r l ega l opinions concerning current d i s - t r i c t mananagement questions in an e lec t ronic f i l e which i s accessed by school d i s t r i c t subscribers through a p r i va t e ly operated e lec t ron ic mail system. 188 Purchasing Commission after consul tat ion with BCSC and the M i n i s t r y . 2 . Standardize Informatics Components Standardize operating systems, appl ica t ions and computers. Develop modular programs for school and school d i s t r i c t adminis t ra t ion . Standardization maximizes po ten t ia l cos t -benef i t s . Communication v ia a p rov inc i a l publ ic 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 f i nanc i a l burden. 3 . Common Operating System Make school microcomputers, d i s t r i c t minicomputers and mainframes, and the Min i s t ry mainframe run on a common operating system. The objec t ive , as in item two, i s to improve communica- t ions , reduce costs and increase f l e x i b i l i t y . 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 lec t ronic network with nodes in most major p r o v i n c i a l centres. Although users pay for long-distance telephone connections to the nodes, 189 downline access i s without charge. More sophis t icated mes- saging appears to be possible with the BCSC network than with the commercial Envoy e lec t ronic mail se rv ice . The number of school and school d i s t r i c t subscribers to Envoy continues to grow — resu l t ing in considerable equipment redundancy for the education 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 nanc 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 sk , and high speed data transmission. In the fa l lou t of f i nanc i a l reform, the types and quan- t 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 taff manually t ransfer ing data processing resul t s to prescribed Min i s t ry forms, followed by hand sor t ing and data re-entry v i a .Ministry terminals . These procedures are wasteful; better to fully-modernize information handling by introducing e lec t ronic data trans- 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 informa- t i o n . 5 5 An ind ica t ion that the Min i s t ry i s moving in t h i s d i r ec - 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 in 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 ng to senior secondary gradua- t i o n . 1 90 6. Es tab l i sh a D iv i s ion of Informatics The Min i s t ry w i l l e s t ab l i sh a d i v i s i o n responsible for systems ana lys i s , programs, and coordination of the ent i re p r o v i n c i a l adminis trat ive informatics system. A common element unites Canadian public school organi- zations that possess advanced EDP systems: strong cent ra l departments manage adminis t ra t ive informatics. Circumspect Min i s t ry d i r ec t ion in t h i s rap id ly changing f i e l d i s not possible without employing a group of fu l l - t ime experts . Short-term employment contracts and poorly informed committ- ees have led to many EDP problems. An MIS branch w i l l comprise capable programers and sys- tems analys ts . The branch w i l l oversee on-si te tes t ing of hardware and software at the school and school d i s t r i c t l e v e l . 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 ed here. 7. Retain Ownership of Software Developed Under Contract Ownership and d i s t r i b u t i o n r ights to be retained by the Min i s t ry for program development contracted to pr ivate com- panies. P r o v i n c i a l l icences w i l l be sought for proprietary software. Again, cost reduction i s a prime object ive . 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 act ion appears to have departed from t h i s d i r e c t i v e . Were the Min i s t ry to re ta in ownership, software could be exchanged 191 with other provinces. Steps should be taken to l icense popular of f - the-she l f software for school and d i s t r i c t administrat ion on a provin- c i a l bas is . 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 pr ivate companies; they allow the rec ip ient to make a designated number of copies for d i s t r i b u t i o n throughout the organiza- t i o n . 8. Ins t i tu te F u l l Informatics Accounting Pract ices Ins t i tu te accounting pract ices that support cost- benefit and cos t -e f f i c iency analyses of informatics . Policy-making i s severely handicapped by in su f f i c i en t f i nanc i a l information on the r e l a t i ve cost of equipping and operating various computer options. This information w i l l be l inked with performance data obtained from deta i led f i e l d t r i a l s as suggested in recommendation s ix (page 189). This information could also serve the federal government when nat ional p o l i c i e s are evolved to address the re la t ionsh ip between public service informatics and the weakening Canadian economy. The f i n a n c i a l impl icat ions for education of a shrinking domestic tax base coupled with a substant ia l extra-nat ional c a p i t a l outflow a r i s i n g from hardware and software purchases i s discussed in 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 min i s t r i e s to develop hardware, and modular computer programs. P r iva t e ly packaged programs, such as those for book- keeping and inventory, are popular in the B r i t i s h Columbia school system. No s ign i f i c an t obstacles block p r o v i n c i a l m in i s t r i e s from j o i n t l y producing administrat ive software packages. 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 nat ional centre could be customized by ind iv idua l p r o v i n c i a l m i n i s t r i e s . The high cost of wr i t i ng 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 appl ica t ion system incompat ib i l - i t y between provinces hinders the extent of current in te r - p r o v i n c i a l cooperation, but with complete hardware replace- ment occurring every f ive years, the r e a l i z a t i o n of in te r - p r o v i n c i a l computer standards for educational administrat ion i s a reasonable expectat ion. 1 93 D. AFTERWORD Any consideration of the appl ica t ion of computers to the administrat ion of a publ ic school system should consider the 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 do l l a r s are spent each year on the acqu i s i t i on and operation of administrat ive computers wi thin the school system. Does th i s expenditure improve educa- t i o n a l outcomes in the classroom? If the annual cost , including salary and benefit pack- age, of employing a recently graduated secondary school teacher i s approximately th i r ty - th ree thousand d o l l a r s , 6 then th i r ty - th ree teachers could be hired for each one m i l l i o n d o l l a r s current ly spent on adminis trat ive computers. Some may argue that were a decis ion made to d i rec t these funds from administrat ion toward the classroom, only a r e l a - t i v e l y small number of students would benef i t . Although the ove ra l l change may be smal 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 indicate that administra- t ive computers have improved the educational experience of young people. On the contrary, the recent expansion of com- puter use in B r i t i s h Columbia i s c lo se ly associated with educational cutbacks, narrower course and curriculum offer ings , larger c lass s i ze s , and reductions in the number of classroom teachers. These events have brought educa- t i o n a l impoverishment. 6 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) 194 Certa in ly some aspects of student learning are more c lose ly tracked, and educational expenditures are monitored in greater d e t a i l , but measurement alone does not lead to educational improvement. Placing 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 , are cent ra l components of any plan to improve learn ing . The formula i s simple and e f fec t ive . Good education costs ; better education costs more. When the state educates large numbers of col lege and univer- s i t y graduates to deny them, on graduation, productive roles in the education of school students, one must ask: To what end do we measure? To what ends do we educate? The appl ica t ion of computers to publ ic school adminis- t r a t i on i s part of a larger s o c i a l revolut ion in which com- puters and associated i n d u s t r i a l processes continue to disemploy ever more people. Sa lar ied and wage re la ted jobs have, in the past, provided a means to red i s t r ibu te s o c i a l resources. As these labour employment mechanisms are made redundant, other means of resource d i s t r i b u t i o n must be implemented to foster soc i a l v i t a l i t y . Learning and the education of others present opportunit ies for a l l to share in our c u l t u r a l and mater ia l her i tage. 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 igour . The recent B r i t i s h Columbia scenario, in which the very machines that have the po ten t ia l to enrich learning "are used 195 instead to reduce educational opportunity, must surely rank as one of the less productive appl ica t ions poss ib le . The r i s i n g importance of computers throughout the global community should herald substant ia l increases in publ ic school expenditure; increases that w i l l be d i rected toward improving classroom condit ions and reducing c lass s i z e . 1 96 GLOSSARY1 batch O r i g i n a l l y , a method of organizing work for a com- puter system, designed to reduce overheads by grouping together s imi la r jobs. The jobs were c o l - lected into batches, each batch requir ing a pa r t i cu - 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 the i r data presented to the jobs. The term has also come to be applied to the back- ground processing of jobs not requir ing intervent ion by the user, which takes place on many multiaccess systems. central processing unit The ar i thmetic and log ic unit (ALU) and the cont ro l unit (CU) and sometimes, but not always, the primary memory. As the functions in a computing system have become more autonomous, the spec i f i ca t ion of the CPU has become less s i g n i f i - cant. cost-benefit analysis A determination of the re la t ionsh ip between cost and benefit in choosing between a l t e r - native courses of ac t ion . 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 soc io log i s t may adopt a d i f ferent view or consider quite di f ferent factors in the accounting. The usual case i s that costs are i d e n t i f i e d r ead i ly , but that benefits are more in t rac table because there are important ones which are intangible or unquantif iable . In s i tua t ions where service centres are not operated as p ro f i t or cost centres, as happens in the publ ic sector , even determining costs can present problems, because of accounting and budgeting rules 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 nex t . 2 data entry The process in which an operator uses a key- board 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 in te r re la ted data values of such a nature that they might be represented as a number 1 The Glossary draws extensively on the Dictionary Of Computing by Va le r i e I l l i ngwor th , Edward L . Glaser and I . C. Pyle , 1983. 2 Extract from The Economi cs Of Computers by Calv in Go t l i eb , 1985, page 124. 197 of f i l e s but not a s ingle 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 ingle connected structure or integrated temporarily for each in te r roga t ion . distributed data processing The organization of processing to be ca r r i ed out on a d i s t r ibu ted system. Each process i s free to process l o c a l data and make l o c a l dec is ions . The processes exchange information with each other over a data communication network to pro- cess data or to read decisions that affect mul t ip le processes. electronic data processing Refers ei ther to a c lass of computer appl ica t ions or to a function within the organizat ion. Data processing appl ica t ions may be characterized as those that store and process large quant i t ies of data on. a routine bas is , in order to be able to produce information that i s required. electronic mail Messages sent from one user of a computer system to one or more rec ip ients (or the conveyance of such messages), the computer system being used to hold and transport messages. Sender and receivers need not be online at the same time, or even on the same computer to communicate. E lec t ron ic mail i s an important component of an of f ice automation system. floppy disk A magnetic information storage medium cons 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 within a s t i f f envelope, the inside of which i s coated with a cleaning mate r ia l . The envelope has a r a d i a l s lo t — or two s lo t s for a double-sided floppy disk — through which the read/write heads of a floppy-disk dr ive can contact the d i sk . A hole in the envelope and disk i s provided so that a photosensor may be used to generate an index pulse once per revolut ion s i g n a l . hard disk A magnetic recording medium cons is t ing of an aluminum substrate coated or plated — usual ly on both sides — with a magnetic mate r ia l . informatics The study of information and i t s handling, espec ia l ly by means of new information technology, including computers and' telecommunications. The expression a lso designates a system, as in ' informa- t i c s system.' A. I . Mikhai love , a Russian communi- cations theor i s t , or ig inated the term (Garf ie ld 1986). local area network A high-speed communication network 198 l i n k i n g a number of s ta t ions in the same ' l o c a l ' area, var ious ly defined as the same b u i l d i n g , a radius of one ki lometer , or a s ingle p lan t . mainframe General ly, the combination of cent ra 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 lur red . management information system An information system whose prime purpose i s to supply information to manage- ment. memory A device or medium that can retain information for subsequent r e t r i e v a l . The term i s synonymous with storage and store, although i t i s most frequently used for re fer r ing to the in te rna l storage of a com- puter that can be d i r e c t l y addressed by operating ins t ruc t ions . microcomputer A computer system that u t i l i z e s a micropro- cessor as i t s cen t ra l cont ro l and ar i thmetic e l e - ment. As'microprocessors become s t i l l more powerful and peripheral devices become more cos t - e f f ec t ive , 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 lu r , i f not disappear. microprocessor A semiconductor ch ip , or chip set, that implements the cen t ra l processor of a computer. Microprocessors consis t of, at minimum, an ari thmetic and log ic unit and a cont ro l un i t . network In communications, a rather loosely defined term applied to a system that consis ts of terminals , nodes and interconnection media that can include l ines or trunks, s a t e l l i t e s , microwave, medium- and long-wave radio , e tc . In general, a network i s a c o l l e c t i o n of resources used to e s t ab l i sh and switch communication paths between i t s terminals . online Connected to the system and usable. operating system The set of software products that j o i n t l y controls 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 in te - grated computer dependent process that extends from the planning and analys is functions through program- ing and budgeting into operations, report ing and c o n t r o l . processor A computer, usual ly /of ten the cent ra l processor. 199 systems analys is Is the analysis of the role of a proposed system and the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of a set of require- ments that the system should meet. 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Conway i s the f i r s t Director D i v i s i o n abandons e l e c t r i c machine scoring of tests 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 matr icula t ion examinations. Probably first in-house com- puter in the British Columbia Government IBM 1620 computer replaces IBM 650. Two years required to rewrite 650 programs Vancouver School D i s t r i c t uses UBC mainframe to schedule secondary school classes Department of "Finance (Minis t ry 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 Min i s t ry non-scholarship examina- t ions are e n t i r e l y objective to f a c i l i t a t e computerized scoring Examination sca l ing on the IBM 360-30 Vancouver School D i s t r i c t i s f i r s t in province to i n s t a l l an adminis t ra t ive computer Report commissioned by Educational Research Ins t i tu te 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 lec t ronic data processing equipment or service Event Columbia Computer Systems Limited introduces a cen t ra l i zed computer batch service for course scheduling and student marks B .C . School Trustees Associat ion presents br ie f to Minis te r urging immediate act ion on regional educational data processing cen- t res , July 11; no act ion taken by Min i s t ry 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 in June Research and Standards Branch divided into three branches: Learning Assessment, Information, and Educational Data Services B.C. Research Counc i l ' s f i r s t formal computer run of Teacher Demand And Supply Model Dr. Conway, Director of Research and Standards r e t i r e s , December 31 Data Services Branch begins work on new Management Information System Min i s t ry develops computerized c a p a b i l i t y for ext rac t ing specia l reports from data bases U.S . Nat ional Centre for Education S t a t i s t i c s requests data from Min i s t ry Woods Gordon report on B.C. government data processing recommends c e n t r a l i z a t i o n Min i s t ry releases Program for a Financial and Administrative Information System, March Apple Corpora t ion . se l l s f i r s t microcomputer, June System Act proclaimed, September 1, e s t ab l i sh - ing B .C . Systems Corporation (BCSC) Event BCSC consolidates a l l e lec t ronic data process- ing for seventeen min i s t r i e s and most Crown corporations, March 31 Min i s t ry of Education loses independent EDP c a p a b i l i t y — computer professionals dispersed I n t e r - m i n i s t e r i a l Committee on Elec t ron ic Data Processing Services reports to Minis te r of Finance, October Educational Data Services Branch provides an interface between the Min i s t ry and BCSC, government, and non-government agencies Respons ib i l i ty for Un ive r s i t i e s moved to separate min i s t ry , 1979-80 Lower Mai nl and School District Computer Needs Report recommends standardization of equip- ment, operating system and app l i ca t ions ; no act ion taken Min i s t ry c o l l e c t s 50,000 essen t ia l documents each year Three years of r ad i ca l change to the f i n a n c i a l administrat ion of the p r o v i n c i a l government commences, 1980-1983 School boards wri te to government expressing opposit ion to proposed Financial Administration Act Minis t ry sponsors p i l o t project — 100 microcom- puters for classroom use; cost $200,000 Price Waterhouse completes favourable study of B.C. Systems Corporation Min i s t ry of Finance terminates BCSC development of comprehensive and integrated government- wide network of f i n a n c i a l systems — c i t i n g complexity and cost Financial Administration Act proclaimed, July 24 IBM 8100 d i s t r i bu t ed minicomputer system i n s t a l l e d in Publ ica t ion Services Branch IBM introduces Personal Computer, August 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 Min i s t ry announces School D i s t r i c t Administra- t ion Computer Program, May Min i s t ry implements sixteen IBM Personal Computers for adminis trat ive 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 in a l l min i s t r i e s BCSC completes s ingle mainframe archi tecture 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 microcom- puters BCSC converts Honeywell appl ica t ions to IBM archi tec ture ; 268 people log in excess of 100,000 hours; cost 5.6 m i l l i o n do l l a r s Min i s t ry of Education introduces new F i s c a l Framework and Program Budgeting System, July Government offers B .C. Systems Corporation for sale , August 31 Education (Interim) Finance Amendment Act proclaimed, October 26; transfers taxing and budgeting authori ty from d i s t r i c t s to Min i s t ry Public Sector Restraint Act proclaimed October 26; permits termination of public sector employees to reduce the s ize and complexity of operations Event P r o v i n c i a l examinations reinstated after nine- year h ia tus . EDP support for examinations contracted to ERIBC Government re t racts BCSC sale of fer , 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 lass scheduling, marks report ing, and student demographics; t h i s program han- dles up to 3,000 students using a PC AT. Conclusion of four-year school d i s t r i c t adminis trat ive computer project Minis te r of Education dismisses Vancouver School Trustees on May 5, and Cowichan Lake School Trustees on May 13, for non-compli- ance with M i n i s t r y ' s budget guidelines IBM consolidates control of micro- , m i n i - , mainframe computer market and global commu- nicat ions Last run of BCRC Teacher Demand and Supply Model; th i s computer program i s shelved pending Min i s t ry of Education funding for redesign as an in te rac t ive model Japan announces commercial production of one megabyte chip and s ign i f i c an t breakthroughs in F i f t h Generation Project School trustee e lec t ions c a l l e d by Minis te 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 ant ic ipated by December 31, 1986 Revisions ant ic ipated to Min i s t ry 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 Ins t i tu te of Technology enters t h i r d year Appendix B COMPUTER ACQUISITION PROGRAM FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS TABLE OF CONTENTS 238 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 infor- mation systems technology to service the administrative and edu- cational requirements of British Columbia school districts. 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 pro- cessing 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 faci l i t ies 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 init ial 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 cost- sharing arrangements will be owned jointly by the Ministry of Education and the local school district . Districts will make this software freely available to any other school district , 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 »erommendatir>ns to thp Ministry for systems support. 3. The Ministry will establish a Computer Review Committee including representation from school districts , B.C.S.C. , and the Ministry. This Committee will review all 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 district size. For 1982, the overall provincial average for ini t ia 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 district 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 Facilities 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 district . 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 all 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 ists 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, facil it ies and miscellaneous operating costs for each year of the plan should be stated (see example on page 8 . This section should also state al 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 activities, 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 instal- lation dates and system life span. 4.5 EQUIPMENT̂ 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 district 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 ski l l levels will probably change when you acquire computerized systems. Plans for the hiring, re- assignment and re-training of staff should be included in this section. 4 - 8 ^CILITIESREQUIREMENTS During the l i fe of the plan you will probably require some major or minor renovations to your faci l i t ies 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 by the B.C. Systems Corporation and the Computer Review Committee and approved in principle, constitute a commitment by the Ministry to share the capital costs of computer equipment acquisition. The specific amount of funding to be shared by the Ministry is determined by an equipment request submission to the Ministry. 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 if there has been a significant change to the plan. This document should contain all 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. Benefits/Costs Worksheet Current 19_ New Change Current 19_ New Change Current L9_ New Change Salaries - Established Temporary Professional/Consultative Services Staff Training Facili t ies 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 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 19 8 2 J F M A M J J A S O N D 19 8 3 J F M A M J A S 248 l i p B U D G E T A N D / NEWFIFVlSED C H A P S E C PAGE'S 25.1 — 1 Province of British Columbia A D M I N I S T R A T I V E P O L I C Y ISSUE OArfc 1-Dec-81 EFFECTIVE DATE 1-Dec-81 / " C H A P T E R 25. BRITISH COLUMBIA SYSTEMS CORPORATION SECTION 1. INTRODUCTION AUTHORITY RESPONSIBLE AGENCY Treasury Board Treasury Board Staff 25.1 INTRODUCTION This policy on British Columbia Systems Corporation data processing services docu- ments 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. Province of British Columbia B U D G E T A N D ADMINISTRATIVE P O L I C Y 249 NEV/ DEVISED CHAP SEC P A G E * \ 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 Corpora- tion 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 the commitment of funds. During the fiscal year, ministries must prepare Treasury Board submissions for services considered to be deviations from budget as indicated in section 25.1.1 or for services which could not be fully documented in time for the annual budget submission. Deputy ministers must ensure that these submissions have proper documentation attached. Documentation for the pre-approval budget process, and for a Teasury Board submis- sion must include the final recommendation of the British Columbia Systems Corporation. Province ol British Columbia B U D G E T A N D A D M I N I S T R A T I V E P O L I C Y Nr.V. R E V I S E D I S 3 U C D A T E 1-Dec-81 Z 3 U C H A P S E C PAGE^ 25.1—3 E F F E C T I V E DATE 1-Dec-81 f C H A P T E R 25. BRITISH COLUMBIA SYSTEMS CORPORATION SECTION 1. INTRODUCTION AUTHORITY Treasury Board RFSPONSiSLE AGENCY Treasury Board Staff The British Columbia Systems Corporation and the ministries should carry out joint, periodic reviews on a cyclical basis. Each major, ongoing production application must be reviewed at least once every three years to assess the application's continuing necessity. Ministries must prepare material for the determination of the economic performance of Development and/or Operation and Maintenance projects in excess of $100,000. During the 1982/83 budget preparation process, detailed procedures for applying the business case criteria will be issued by the Deputy Secretary, Treasury Board. Any of the applicable business case criteria including return on investment methodology, issue of re-investment of savings within the ministry, and other acceptable criteria for assessment of intangible benefits may be employed. Ministries shall carry out follow-up reviews to monitor actual results versus the busi- ness case projection. Ministries may be required to submit business cases for Develop- ment and/or Operation and Maintenance projects in excess of $100,000 and for projects that exceed the allowable variances as defined in section 25.1.1. Disagreements between ministries and the British Columbia Systems Corporation concerning budgeting for data processing services, funding or Treasury Board submis- sions may be referred to Treasury Board for review and adjudication. 251 APPENDIX B PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS STRATEGY The British Columbia Systems Corporation (B.C.S.C.) has established a technological information systems strategy on behalf of the Provincial Government. This strategy promotes the adoption by Government and government entities of a single computer system architecture based upon IBM compatibility. It is important to emphasize that the strategy espouses IBM compatibility and not IBM products per se. This strategy ensures the availability of the maximum number of functional alternatives while at the same time providing for overall consistency of technological directions. At present a major component of the technological strategy is compatibility with the IBM network architecture - Systems Network Architecture (SNA). The Network information pamphlet which follows provides details. 252 BCSC SHARED NETWORK B.C. Government Ministries are decentralizing their operations, as well as moving to online computer systems. This necessitates access to BCSC central processing services from a variety of terminals located in government offices throughout the province. In the past, different terminal types each re- quired their own unique data transmission lines to a host computer. The cost was prohibitive for most B.C. locations. The BCSC Shared Network i s based on a standardized data communications protocol, Synchronous Data Link Control (SDLC), being adopted by several terminal manufacturers. This permits the consolidation of transmission lines at s p e c i f i c points (called Regional Network Centres or RNC's) and the shared use of trunk lines from the RNC to the host computer. The choice of location for an RNC i s primarily dependant on the geo- graphic distribution of online terminals. Locations have been planned to ac- commodate the forecasted requirements of several c i t i e s and their surrounding l o c a l i t i e s . Effective 01 October 1981 RNC sites were established in Victoria, Vancouver, Prince George, Kamloops and Kelowna. Additional locations w i l l be added as required and j u s t i f i e d . Terminals which use the .Shared Network for delivery of BCSC host processing services w i l l r e a l i z e significant savings i n data communications costs. Clients w i l l only be charged for their connection to the nearest RNC. Hence, for most large centres i n the province, network costs w i l l not be de- pendent on the distanct to V i c t o r i a . To be e l i g i b l e for connection to the BCSC shared network the following c r i t e r i a apply: a) The end terminal device must be used for accessing a BCSC main- frame processing service (e.g., IMS, TSO, MVS/JES2), b) The end terminal device (or controller) must communicate using the IBM SDLC protocol and be a network supported device. Under the second c r i t e r i a , only two devices qualify at present - IBM 3270 and 8100. However, the Corporation has commitments from other suppliers to qualify; namely the NTS 435/445 Distributed Data Entry systems, NTS-76/DATA100 remote batch terminals plus our q u a l i f i e d word processing vendors. In addition, to ex- tend the advantages of this shared network to ASCII asynchronous terminals (e.g. DECwriters), BCSC has i n s t a l l e d "protocol convertors" at each RNC. This w i l l allow these keyboard terminals access to the shared network via a l o c a l d i a l number (300/1200 bps) at the RNC location. 253 Appendix C Consequences Of Extra-national Capital Outflow Generated By Informatics Purchases On Educational Finance Increased c a p i t a l expenditures within the public educa- t ion system i s one of several h i s t o r i c a l l y r e l i a b l e mecha- nisms by which the B r i t i s h Columbia Government has sustained economic growth. Products used for ei ther constructing or re-equipping schools and school board of f ices were usually purchased from Canadian, i f not from B r i t i s h Columbia manu- facturers . The cycle of r i s i n g c a p i t a l expenditures stimu- la ted l o c a l commerce. Increased employment and a stronger commercial balance sheet produced'a more robust tax base which could be tapped to finance greater public expenditures — including education. The key element of th i s economic strategy i s the pur- chase of domestically manufactured goods, including lumber, telephones and e lec t ronic equipment. For the f i r s t time, however, a major c a p i t a l funding project i n i t i a t e d by the - i, B.C. public school system — the school d i s t r i c t administra- t ive computer acqu i s i t i on project - resulted in the channel- ing of substant ia l funds to foreign manufacturers. Most computer hardware and a growing proportion of software used in adminis t ra t ive appl ica t ions in the school system i s manu- factured in e i ther Japan or the United States. The increasing loss of c a p i t a l to the p r o v i n c i a l and nat ional economies i n d i r e c t l y threatens the f i nanc i a l 254 v i a b i l i t y of the education system. As f inanc i a l support for publ ic education dec l ines , in part a"result of a de te r iora t - ing economy and a dec l in ing tax base, an in te rna l adminis- t r a t i v e drive for e f f ic iency and f i nanc i a l cutbacks has emerged. To achieve cost reductions, the Min i s t ry of Education has introduced a large-scale computerization pro- gram. However, the v i a b i l i t y of the p rov inc i a l economy, on which a large proportion of future educational revenue depends, has as a consequence been further eroded. Teachers and support s taff who become unemployed may ei ther no longer pay taxes or contribute less through taxa- t ion to support the school system. S i m i l a r l y , businesses that depend in part on the province 's regular c a p i t a l inputs for f i nanc i a l growth, encounter hard times when publ ic expenditures are di rected increas ing ly , beyond p r o v i n c i a l and nat ional boundaries. Thus a seemingly innocuous in te rna l adminis t ra t ive decis ion to improve e f f ic iency may have a deleter ious effect on the p o l i t i c a l and economic system in which the organiza- t ion functions and upon which i t depends. 1 The attainment of increased e f f ic iency may i n d i r e c t l y reduce the long-term success of the organizat ion, as a cascade of events takes place beyond the immediate adminis trat ive environment. The Ontario Min i s t ry of Education computer strategy attempts to counter the loss of c a p i t a l funds to the provin- c i a l economy. The Min i s t ry i s supporting the development of 1 The long-term impact upon students may be manifested as learning d e f i c i t s . 255 a p r o v i n c i a l l y designed and manufactured personal computer that can function as an adminis t ra t ive support computer. Ontario has entered into a computer production agreement with the Canadian Educational Microprocessor Corporation (CEMCORP) . 2 2 CEMCORP has commenced production of a th i r ty- two b i t machine designed according to Ontario Min i s t ry of Education spec i f i ca t i ons . 256 Appendix D The B r i t i s h Columbia Min i s t ry Of Health Expert System The B.C. Min i s t ry of Heal th 's Executive Management Information System (EMIS) i s probably the f i r s t e lec t ronic support system of i t s kind within a Canadian p r o v i n c i a l gov- ernment context (BCSC 1981-82:29). EMIS was designed in 1981 for the B .C . Min i s t ry of Health by the B .C. Systems Corporation and provides h igh- l eve l summaries of a large data base maintained by the M i n i s t r y . Executive summaries range from f i n a n c i a l forecasts and operational performance to status reports on health claims and hosp i ta l grants. These topics are re t r ieved on menu driven video display te r - minals. The M i n i s t e r , Deputy Minis te r and other senior administrators have desk top terminals through which they can access in one minute what previously took two weeks (BCSC 1981-82:29). The rapid response time of EMIS makes i t an important adminis trat ive a id for the decision-making process on health care p o l i c y . The Minis te r appears to have been the f i r s t in the B r i t i s h Columbia cabinet to i n s t a l l a computer in h is o f f i c e . 257 Appendix E The Informatics System Of The Quebec Min i s t ry Of Education The Quebec Min i s t ry of Education has achieved a wel l organized and cen t ra l ly d i rected administrat ive response to the e lec t ronic data processing needs of the province 's edu- ca t iona l organizat ion. Quebec's educational administrat ion informatics system i s one of largest and most complex of i t s kind in the world (Kirby 1983:1). C l ien t s include schools, school d i s t r i c t s , and teacher and school trustee organiza- t i ons . The M i n i s t r y ' s f i r s t computer network was establ ished in 1968 to serve the Min i s t ry of Education and twenty school d i s t r i c t s ( B a l l 1 984:38)'. By redesigning the o r i g i n a l highly cen t ra l i zed network and including some advanced tech- nology, the Min i s t ry has produced a contemporary informatics system that responds wel l to l o c a l demands, but at the same time sustains the M i n i s t r y ' s role as the f i n a l authori ty on computer p o l i c y . P o l i t i c a l and commercial considerations prompted Quebec to make an early commitment to a computer-based information system. Predominantly French speaking, but surrounded by an Engl ish speaking majority, the Quebec government had a strong mandate to guarantee the province 's c u l t u r a l h e r i - tage. Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, the p r o v i n c i a l school system underwent adminis t ra t ive changes that favoured increased state cont ro l (Behiels 1985:149-174). The 258 establishment of a cen t ra l i zed p r o v i n c i a l computer network enhanced the process of adminis t ra t ive conso l ida t ion . The Quebec Min i s t ry of Education's commitment to computerization was also prompted by the f a i l u r e of pr ivate software firms to enter th i s spec ia l i zed market. Since the market was too small to a t t rac t pr ivate f irms, d i rec t government involve- ment was required. A star archi tecture was selected for the o r i g i n a l 1968 network comprising twenty terminals connected to a s ingle cent ra l processor. A l l terminals were dependent on the M i n i s t r y ' s host for data storage and computing power. By 1975, a second Ministry-based mainframe was added to service an add i t iona l fo r ty - f ive d i s t r i c t s ( B a l l 1984:38), but the star topology remained e s sen t i a l l y unchanged. A 1977 project ion of future demands showed that at the accelera t ing rate of hook-ups, the mainframe eventually would have to support more than two thousand adminis trat ive terminals (Kirby 1983:1). Since the mainframe's capacity would also have to accommodate c y c l i c a l user peaks corre- sponding with province-wide student reporting and course scheduling deadlines, such a system would be under u t i l i z e d during much of the year. The main node of the 1982 bus r ing network i s an IBM 3081 mainframe i n s t a l l e d in the of f ices of the Quebec Min i s t ry of Education ( B a l l 1984:38). Today, stand-alone Burroughs computers are in many d i s t r i c t s and some of the larger schools, but each machine i s integrated into the 259 p r o v i n c i a l network. An IBM 3081 handles the appl ica t ions that require massive computing power, such as student sched- u l ing and p a y r o l l . In early 1982, the mainframe served a t o t a l of one hundred and th i r ty- two online school organiza- t ions ( B a l l 1984:38). Dis t r ibu ted nodes included terminals as wel l as minicomputers and personal computers selected from the Burroughs B1855 and B1985 se r i e s . In 1983, these nodes were located in fo r ty - f ive school d i s t r i c t s (1984). D i s t r i c t data processing was frequently independent of the M i n i s t r y . The Quebec Min i s t ry of Education has developed a com- puter network based on a bus-ring design that services more than two hundred and f i f t y school d i s t r i c t s . Most d i s t r i b - uted computers and the i r peripherals conform to a Burroughs standard network a rch i tec ture . Standardization helps to ensure that data and software can be readi ly exchanged between organizat ional un i t s . The network design i s f l e x i - b l e . Large school d i s t r i c t s with specia l data processing requirements can modify Min i s t ry software. Terminals are also located in some of the larger Quebec schools, with enrolments of 2,500 students or more. The inc lus ion of school terminals adds a tree topology as a subset of the bus r ing network design. Since 1982, there have been increasing demands for school-based personal com- puters which are being met by the school d i s t r i c t s . A l l schools connected to the M i n i s t r y ' s informatics system are part of a large in te rac t ive student management system. When 260 a student transfers to another school in the same d i s t r i c t , or to a school in a di f ferent d i s t r i c t , the student 's dosier containing health counseling, achievement, and attendance records can be transferred e l e c t r o n i c a l l y . A separate d i v i s i o n of the M i n i s t r y , the Direction des Services Informat i ques aux Reseaux, i s responsible for c o l - l e c t i v e software development (Quebec 1983c). Software i s d i s t r ibu ted v ia the computer network to a l l school d i s - t r i c t s . In October 1984-, Chambly School D i s t r i c t located in Longueuil , Quebec had an enrolment of 20,500 students and an operating budget'of 106 m i l l i o n d o l l a r s . 1 Over one m i l l i o n d o l l a r s , approximately one percent of the budget, was chan- nel led toward adminis t ra t ive informat ics . D i s t r i c t of f ices were served by one Burroughs B1985 with two megabytes of memory and a B1990-DP with two megabytes of memory. A large secondary school with 2,500 students was awaiting i n s t a l l a - t ion of a B25 minicomputer. Chambly school d i s t r i c t had e igh ty-s ix terminals , twenty-one remote p r in te r s and twenty adminis trat ive micro- computers d i s t r ibu ted among i t s schools. A l l school-based terminals were l inked to the d i s t r i c t v i a a star network. Some adminis trat ive microcomputers were connected to l o c a l area networks. E lec t ron ic mail was sent over the system between: 1.) schools and the d i s t r i c t o f f i c e , 2.) the d i s - t r i c t and other d i s t r i c t s , and 3.) the d i s t r i c t and the 1 Information for the Chambly School D i s t r i c t i s drawn from October 18, 1984 personal correspondence. 261 M i n i s t r y . E lec t ron ic mail could not be sent between one d i s t r i c t and the schools of another d i s t r i c t . The Min i s t ry of Education has the capab i l i t y to e lec- t r o n i c a l l y access a l l of Chambly's databases, but such access i s not allowed. Student grades and other records are transmitted from the schools to the d i s t r i c t head o f f i c e . By exert ing a strong influence over the design and implementation of e lec t ronic data processing, the Quebec Min i s t ry of Education has assured that the M i n i s t r y ' s i n fo r - mation system i s compatible with computer i n s t a l l a t i o n s at a l l organizat ional l e v e l s . Operating expenses have been kept r e l a t i v e l y low. Software development and updating costs have been minimized. This new e lec t ronic information network combines the best features of c e n t r a l i z a t i o n , for example, standardized hardware and software, with the best of decen t ra l i za t ion , such as adap tab i l i ty to l o c a l needs and fast terminal response time. 262 Appendix F Schedule Of Questions ( l i s t was modified fol lowing the f i r s t interview) A. Preamble 1.) Univers i ty po l i cy requires that I ask the fo l lowing: "Have you read and understood the consent form?" B. Personal History Here are a few questions which deal with your personal involvement in education: 1. ) How long have you been employed in the publ ic school system? 2. ) Would you break th i s period down into components involving that of teacher, p r i n c i p a l superintendent, e tc .? 3. ) How long have you held your present pos i t ion? C. Computer History The remainder of the interview w i l l focus on four areas: 1. ) f i n a n c i a l impl ica t ions 2. ) c en t r a l i za t i on /decen t r a l i za t i on issues 3. ) employment re la t ions 4. ) general impact. Unless otherwise spec i f i ed , my questions on computers imply an adminis trat ive context. However, i f you wish to extend your answer to include some educational aspects of computers such as CAI and CAL, please do so. D. System History 1.) How long has th i s d i s t r i c t used ei ther a computer or a computing company for adminis trat ive purposes? 263 2. ) How has computer use changed over time? 3. ) What i s the age of the current system? 4. ) What i s the manufacture and model number of th i s system? 5. ) Does the D i s t r i c t own or lease the hardware? 6. ) Does the head of f ice have a separate word processor? 7. ) Do any of the schools have word processors for adminis trat ive use? 8. ) How many terminals are there? 9. ) What kind of networking exis t s? E. How Is The System Used? 1. ) How i s the system used? 2. ) Ana lys i s : Finance, P roduc t iv i ty , School and Teacher Achievement? 3. ) Monitoring 4. ) Word Processing — separate system 6. ) Data processing 7. ) Finance 8. ) P r in t ing /pub l i sh ing 9. ) Conferencing-communication 10. ) Planning 11. ) How many school p r i n c i p a l s are using micros for adminis t ra t ive purposes? 12. ) What are the plans for the future? F. Operating Costs 1.) What are the c a p i t a l and operating costs of your adminis t ra t ive computer system? 264 2. ) Does the d i s t r i c t : (a) own, (b) lease, (c) contract-out? 3. ) Are there p r o v i n i c i a l funds designated for computer acqu i s i t i on and development? 4. ) Have ove ra l l reductions in p r o v i n c i a l support to public education affected the acqu i s i t i on or development of the computer system? 5. ) How was the software acquired? 6. ) Was the software custom designed, or of f - the-shel f and adapted? 7. ) Do you know of any other d i s t r i c t s who use the same hardware/software? 8. ) Is there a combination of minis and micros? 9. ) Can the system be accessed through d i s t r ibu ted terminals i . e . network? 10. ) How many terminals in the (a) head o f f i c e , (b) schools, (c) other? 11. ) Does the D i s t r i c t belong to B .C . Telephone's e lec t ron ic mail service (Envoy)? 12. ) Are there any plans for subscribing to Envoy? 13. ) What i s your view of the role of e lec t ron ic mail? 14. ) How have Min i s t ry p o l i c i e s affected the development of your computer system? 15. ) What were the c a p i t a l costs of the system? 16. ) What are the operating costs? 17. ) Does the Province make funds avai lable? 18. ) Development costs? 265 G. Personal Experience 1. ) What has been your experience with computers? 2. ) Do you have a terminal (micro) in your off ice? 3. ) Who does the word processing? 4. ) How has e lec t ronic information technology changed your role as an administrator? 5. ) Control vs . c o n t r o l l e d . Freedom to exercise judgement? 6. ) Horizontal vs . V e r t i c a l communication? 7. ) Do you intend to obtain a terminal or micro? H. Employment I . ) How has e lec t ron ic information technology (EIT) changed the nature of employment? 2. ) Layoffs , terminations? How many achieved? How many anticipated? 3. ) Old pos i t i ons / o ld job descr ipt ions vs . New p o s i t i o n s / new r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s ? 4. ) Are changes in the nature of employment ant icipated? 5. ) Loss of s k i l l s ? 6. ) Quali ty of working l i f e ? 7. ) Educational o r ig ins of new/old personnel? 8. ) Promotion? 9. ) Part time or reduced work week? I . Cen t ra l i za t ion And Decentra l iza t ion 1.) Has power shif ted within the p rov inc i a l education organization? 266 2. ) During the time that you have been employed in B .C. education, has the organizat ion moved toward ei ther greater cen t r a l i za t i on or decentra l iza t ion? 3. ) At what l e v e l has th i s trend had the greatest impact? 4. ) W i l l the trend continue? How? 5. ) During the las t year, there were instances of the Min i s t ry going d i r e c t l y to p r i n c i p a l s for information that was once obtained through D i s t r i c t Of f ices . Have you heard of th i s pract ice? Why i s i t necessary? Has t h i s happened to your d i s t r i c t ? 6. ) What i s the optimal l e v e l of decen t r a l i za t ion / decentra l iza ion for the B .C. public education system? 7. ) Does the optimal l eve l vary with the organizat ional l e v e l , i . e . school d i s t r i c t , minis try? 8. ) How have computers and other forms of e lec t ronic information technology affected the c e n t r a l i z a t i o n / decen t ra l iza t ion process? 9. ) Is there something i n t r i n s i c to th i s new information technology which drives c e n t r a l i z a t i o n / decent ra l iza t ion? 10. ) How could computers be used to support the optimal l e v e l of c en t r a l i z a t i on or decent ra l iza t ion that you desire? 11. ) Does the type of computer (main, min i , micro) make a difference? 12. ) What about software? 13. ) And networking? 267 14. ) Which of the fol lowing organizat ional models represents the greatest degree of decen t ra l i za t ion : the community school or school-based management? 15. ) How does the degree of cen t r a l i z a t i on /decen t r a l i z a t i on compare with other provinces, and the United States? 15.) What w i l l the future bring? J . Assistance With Research Design 1. ) Are there some people in your head of f ice or your d i s t r i c t who w i l l help with t h i s project? 2. ) Do you have an adminis trat ive computer co-ordinator? 3. ) Are there some reports , books, a r t i c l e s which you would recommend? 4. ) Would you recommend some administrators — ei ther at the school , d i s t r i c t , or Min i s t ry l e v e l — who would be w i l l i n g to help? 268 Notice of Consent Pr o j e c t T i t l e : I n vestigator: P r i n c i p a l Investigator: D e s c r i p t i o n : Conditions: A d m i n i s t r a t i v e Perceptions Of The E f f e c t s Of E l e c t r o n i c Information Technology On Educational Administration Trevor Gibbens Dr. Daniel Brown This p r o j e c t w i l l i n v e s t i g a t e the use of e l e c t r o n i c information technology and i t s e f f e c t s on the adminis- t r a t i o n of primary and secondary education through a s e r i e s of interviews with p r o f e s s i o n a l administrators. The study i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l l m e n t of a Master of A r t s . 1. My p a r t i c i p a t i o n i s voluntary. 2. I have the r i g h t to withdraw at any time. My withdrawal w i l l not be p r e j u d i c i a l . 3. I may refuse to answer with impunity. 4. This interview i s c o n f i d e n t i a l . 5. My anonymity i s ensured. Records w i l l not i d e n t i f y the respondent. 6. Duration of the interview w i l l be one hour. 7. My i n q u i r i e s concerning the research procedures w i l l be answered by the i n v e s t i g a t o r . 8. I have received a copy of the consent form in c l u d i n g attachments. 9. This interview w i l l be tape recorded. I understand the conditions of the interview which have been explained to signature date

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