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

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c. THE ADMINISTRATIVE IMPACT OF COMPUTERS ON THE BRITISH COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM by TREVOR P. GIBBENS B.Ed., The University Of British 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 Administrative, Adult And Higher Education We accept this thesis as conforming -^o the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March 25, 1986 © TREVOR P. GIBBENS, 1986 7 8 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Depart ment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department Of Administrative, Adult And Higher Education THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date: March 25, 1986 ii ABSTRACT This case study analyzes and evaluates the administra tive computer systems in the British Columbia public school organization. Historic and contemporary policy developments are scrutinized. Research sources include interviews with twenty-three educational administrators representing the Ministry of Education, six school districts and five schools. Respondents from educational agencies and the com mercial sector were also interviewed. Research documents range from policy statements and correspondence to financial data and internal studies. Four closely related questions serve as the study's focus: 1.) What are the cost-benefits of computers? 2.) What, is the impact of computers on managerial work? 3-.) Is com puterization associated with centralization in organiza tions? 4.) What is the relationship between organizational objectives and the design of computer systems? After a twenty-five year history involving relatively slow development, computing facilities are undergoing a rapid transition at all levels of the British Columbia public school system. The transition is driven by rapidly advancing technologies, manufacturers' strategies, and poli cies fostered by Cabinet, the public service, and the Ministry of Education. Between 1980 and 1984, a significant expansion in the administrative use of computers occurred throughout the school system. iii The new school district computerization policy, while designed to enhance Ministry control over district finances by supporting a Planning, Programing and Budgeting System (PPBS), is in its implementation, considerably less central ized than many other public service electronic data process ing systems (EDP). The administrators experienced direct and indirect effects of computerization. Direct effects were noted at the lowest rank, where some vice-principals entered and retrieved data on microcomputers. At higher ranks, computer terminals were not observed in the personal offices of administrators. No educational managers senior to that of vice-principal operated a computer in their work. The larg est indirect effect arose from increased central control. As the financial and educational performance of schools and school districts comes under increasing scrutiny with the assistance of large-scale computerized monitoring, adminis trative action at these levels becomes more constrained. Centralization is enhanced by computers. The educa tional organization's current centralization program has t resulted in a degree of control not exercised by the Ministry since the 1950's. The use of computers at all levels of the school system leads to increased control at each of those levels, but the largest increase in control is exerted by the Ministry. Highly computer dependent monitor ing systems, in the form of PPBS, and provincial examina tions and achievement tests, are the chief control vehicles. 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 bility 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 all government data processing facilities, 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. vi ACRONYMS British Columbia Research Council British Columbia Systems Corporation British Columbia School Trustees Association British Columbia Teachers' Federation Basic Operating System Software Commodore Business Machines Comite Consultatif Internationale de Telegraphique et Telephonique CEMCORP Canadian Educational Microprocessor Corporation; CEMCORP International CIPS Canadian Information Processing Society CPF Control Program Facility CPS Characters per second CPU Central processing unit DEC Digital Equipment Corporation DOS-VSE Disk Operating System - Virtual Storage Extended DP ' Data processing EDP Electronic data processing ERIBC Education Research Institute Of British Columbia GCOS General Comprehensive Operating System IBM International Business Machines Corporation IDC International Data Corporation (Canada) Limited ILO International Labour Organization LAN Local area network MAI Management Assistance Incorporated MIS Management information system BCRC BCSC BCSTA BCTF BOSS CBM CCITT vii NCR National Cash Register Of Canada Limited; 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 International Peace Research Institute SNA Systems Network Architecture UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific, And Cultural Organization VAX/VMS Virtual Address Extended/Virtual Memory System VS Virtual Storage viii Table of Contents ABSTRACT . . i i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENT vi ACRONYMS viI. 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 II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 9 A. CENTRALIZATION AND DECENTRALIZATION 10 B. CAUSE AND EFFECT 14 C. COMPUTERS AND CENTRALIZATION 18 1. Informatics and Administration 22 2. The Relationship Between Organizational and Computer Programing Hierarchies 25 D. DECENTRALIZATION AND THE NEW TECHNOLOGY 26 1. Ambiguity of Computer-Based Decentralist Position 27 2. Microcomputer Autonomy Absorbed by Networks 8 3. The Market as a Determinant of Organizational Impact 31 E. PLANNING, PROGRAMING, AND BUDGETING SYSTEMS 37 1. Role in Public Education 41 a. The United States of America 43 b. Canada 46 c. British 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 4 E. THE INTERVIEWS ... 68 1. Interview Schedule 71 2. Respondent's Consent 2 3. Tape Recording 73 4. Transcripts 5 F. 'Interviewer Bias And Respondent Validity .......76 G. SUMMARY 78 IV. RESEARCH FINDINGS 79 A. MINISTRY OF EDUCATION 82 1. Changing Role of EDP 5 2. Computing Expenditures and Cost Analysis ...87 3. Ministry's School District Computer Acquisition Policy 92 4. Management Information Systems 93 5. Repatriation of Electronic Data Processing? 95 6. Computing Facilities in Transition 96 7. Were BCSC's Systems Development Charges Too High? 97 8. Multiple Keyboard Entry of Data 98 x 9. Electronic Transmission of Data 100 10. Summary 101 SCHOOL DISTRICT 102 1. 1969 Plan for Regional Data Processing Centres 102. 1978 School District Computer Needs Report 104 3. Computer Systems in the Research Sample ...108 4. Increased Ministry Control 109 5. Decentralization of District EDP Services .115 6. Capital and Operating Costs 118 7. Software Development 122 8. Processing Capacity Soon Exhausted ..124 9. Flat"Organization 127 10. The 1983 Planning, Programing, and Budget ing System 131 1 1 . Summary 4 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 Retrieval 149 7. Preference for District Office Star Network 152 8. Field Testing 1 54 9. Organizational Conflict • 155 10. Computers and Centralization 156 xi 1 1 . Summary 157 D. BRITISH COLUMBIA SYSTEMS CORPORATION 158 1. Standardization On SNA 160 2. Ministry of Education Included in Centralized Service 162 3. School District Response 164 4. BCSC Prevails 1 64 5. Corporate Control of Microcomputers 165 6. Treasury Board Attempts to Sell BCSC 167 7 . Summary 171 E. RecapitulationV. CONCLUSION "174 A. Conclusions 17l\ Cost-Benefit Analysis 175 2. Managerial Impacts 177 3. Centralizing Effects 179 4. Organizational Objectives And Computer Systems Design 181 B. RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS 183 1. Costs and Cost-Benefits 182. Inter-provincial Cooperation 185 3. Administrative Computers and Educational Diversity 184. Middle Management — Candidates for Computerization? 186 C. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS 181. Ministry Coordination of EDP Purchases ....187 2. Standardize Informatics Components 188 3. Common Operating System 18xi i 4. Use BCSC Communications Network 188 5. Transmit Data Electronically 189 6. Establish a Division of Informatics 190 7. Retain Ownership of Software Developed Under Contract 190 8. Institute Full Informatics Accounting Practices . . . 191 9. Seek Cooperation Between Provincial Ministries of Education 192 D. AFTERWORD 193 GLOSSARY 196 BIBLIOGRAPHY 200 APPENDICES '.233 A. Time Line: Administrative Computers And The British Columbia Public Education System 233 B. 1982 Computer Acquisition Program For School Districts 238 C. Consequences Of Extra-national Capital Outflow — Generated By Informatics Purchases — On Educational Finance 253 D. The British Columbia Ministry Of Health Expert System 256 E. The Informatics System Of The Quebec Ministry Of Education ....257 F. Schedule Of Questions 262 G. Notice Of Consent 268 BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION 9 xi i i TABLES Number Page I United States Expenditures On Public Education And Defense, 1980 - 1985 47 II Interview Respondents By Position And Organizational Level ...69 III B.C. Ministry Of Education Computer Costs Compared With Total Public Education Expenditures, 1977 - 1984 ..89 IV Computer Manufacturers, Models And Operating Systems Represented In The 1984 District Sample ...107 V Standard Equipment For Fourteen Member Consortium Of Small School Districts 111 VI British Columbia School District Central Office Computers By Manufacturer, 1973 - 1 981 113 VII British Columbia School District Central Office Computers By Manufacturer, 1982 - 1985 128 VIII British Columbia Systems Corporation Financial Performance, 1979 - 1984 168 xiv Number FIGURES Page I Major Components Of The Program Accounting And Budgeting System - Fiscal Year 1983/84 — British Columbia Ministry Of Education 51 II Respondents Mean Years Of Experience In Present Position By Organizational Level 65 III Respondents Mean Years Of Educational Employment Experience By Organizational Level 65 xv I. INTRODUCTION A. THE PACE OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE Canada faces a new technological challenge, either rapidly integrate microelectronics, or be integrated within a geopolitical entity that has. Serafini and Andrieu stress the important role which this technology plays: A number of recent studies... reflect the experts' growing belief 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 is accelerating. A good measure of the acceleration rate is the number of computer terminals installed each year in Canada. Over 120,000 ter minals were installed in 1980 (Communications Canada 1983: 13). This figure represents one terminal for every fifty-six white-collar workers.1 The number of terminals installed annually is expected to reach 511,000 by 1987, with a total value of 1.5 billion dollars (1983:13).2 There is a need for rapid technological assimilation in the administration of provincial public school organiza tions. How well the public education system makes the 1 There were 6.7 million white-collar employees in 1980. (Statistics Canada 1980:90). 2 In 1983, the United States ratio was one keyboard for every five white-collar employees. The anticipated 1985 ratio is one in three, with an expectation of one terminal for each employee by the year 2000. (Barna 1985:19). 1 2 transition to a computer intensive administration will affect the system's financial capacity to support a full complement of educational services. Correspondence in 1983 from senior personnel represent ing several provincial ministries of education indicates that Canada's public education organizations have not only adopted separate system designs, but are also at different stages in systems development. Cooperation among ministries in the area appears virtually nonexistent. Some ministries possess fairly advanced electronic information networks; of these, Quebec's is one of the most sophisticated (Appendix E). In' 1982, the Quebec network had 132 online3 school organizations, (definitions for most terms relating to com puters are found in the Glossary. A list of acronyms appears before the Table of Contents) and serviced 250 school districts, making the system one of the largest in the world (Ball 1984:38). The Ministere de l'Education pro duced software for collective use throughout the province (Kirby 1983a). Ontario was moving toward the introduction of a provincial educational administration electronic net work. This province was already well advanced with the design and manufacture of microcomputers for teaching and administrative use (McLean 1983:3). A tendency exists in some Canadian education precincts to develop administrative computerization policies which 3 Online: operation of a functional unit when under the direct control of the computer (Canada 1984:0-2). 3 only superficially consider the hard-won experience of other provinces. For their part, ministries with advanced systems have not made their knowledge of computerization a matter of detailed public disclosure. When each education ministry relies solely on the examination of its past experience and the commercially motivated advice of the business sector * as the foundation of computer policy, provincial indepen dence can deteriorate into retrogressive isolationism. The implementation and operation of ill-conceived administrative informatics5 produces substantial extra costs which arise from undelivered services, restrictive planning horizons, incompatible software and hardware, and duplicated effort among units.. Many.of the problems associated with informatics are neither easily anticipated nor quickly solved. Throughout North America, specialists are in short supply (Denning, Feigenbaum, Gilmore et al 1981). Canada's shortage of experts is especially acute (Oren, Brzozowski, Gilmore et al 1983:24). Faced with this reality, and the scarcity of detailed independent studies of electronic information * This problem is not confined to education ministries. Wills found, "Small and medium-sized Canadian companies (100-500 employees) rely excessively on suppliers (usually agents of foreign owned multinationals) [sic] who have a vested interest in selling particular and perhaps inappro priate products as a source of technical information." (1979:18). 5 Informatics is the study of information and its handling, especially by means of new information technology, such as computers and telecommunications (Medows 1982:90). The term originates with A. I. Mikhailove, a Russian communications theorist (Garfield 1986). 4 systems operated by provincial school organizations, minis tries are often forced to depend on inadequate resources for the planning, implementation and evaluation of informatics. Research of these systems is overdue. This study of the development and impact of administrative informatics in the British Columbia public school system is an initial step toward fulfilling this need. B. BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY Few studies have investigated the computer systems of provincial public education organizations (kindergarten to grade twelve). Academic research has focused mainly on the school (Bird 1983 & 1984; Marshall 1982; Ragsdale 1982; Westrom 1982b; Brown & Reusse 1983; Gatley 1984; Binns & Brown 1985), and to a lesser extent the school district (Anderson 1967; Roney & Perry 1976). A dearth of studies is found at the provincial and state levels.6 As prospective research subjects, schools and school districts constitute more easily managed and comprehended subjects than their parent organization, the provincial ministry of education. The complexity of organizational behaviour increases according to the educational unit's location in the adminis trative hierarchy. At the lowest level, the school inter acts with school board office and the ministry. At the 6 In September, 1985, a search of- the United States elec tronic data bases, Research In Education, and Current Index To Journals In Education, using the descriptors "State Departments of Education and Administration and Computers or Electronic Data Processing" produced only two relevant titles. 5 highest, the ministry of education interacts with schools, school districts, school boards, other ministries, govern ment agencies, cabinet, the legislative assembly, and the federal government. Comprehending the process of computer ization relative to provincial educational governance is especially challenging. Research here, however, has a potentially larger impact, since economies of scale make possible new services and greater cost-benefits.7 C. THE BRITISH COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOL ORGANIZATION The first British Columbia Ministry of Education com puter, when installed in 1961 (Annual Report 1961-62:47), was among less than one thousand computers operating in Canada (Serafini & Andrieu 1981:21). The twenty-f i f'th anniversary of the introduction will be marked in 1986. Over the intervening decades, computers moved from the Ministry's bureaucratic periphery to its administrative core. During the 1960's, computers performed Ministry tasks, such as tabulating provincial examinations, which previously were accomplished by clerks. Today, computers model detailed personnel, financial and demographic data to pre dict changes in a variety of functions, including learning 7 The importance of scale is cited in a 1983 federal report by the Telecommunications Agency on the feasibility of a shared network that will meet public service data transmis sion and messaging requirements. The study found "that the government could benefit from economies of scale if it con solidated data networks in a manner similar to its consoli dation of voice networks." (Communications Canada Annual Report 1983-84, page 86). 6 assessment, teacher supply and demand, and property taxa tion. Assisted by electronically manipulated information, planners guide educational policy. From a solitary location in the Ministry, this equipment by 1983 had dispersed to all school district central offices. Today, the dispersion con tinues as many school offices acquire computing technology for the first time. D. AN OUTLINE OF THE STUDY The thesis assesses the development of computer systems within the British Columbia public school system and their impact on administration. Research methods were derived from the sociological literature on the implementation and effects of computers in commerce and government (Deardon 1966; Mowshowitz 1976; Kraemer & King 1977a; Frantzich 1982; Danzinger et al 1982; de Sola Pool 1983; O'Higgins 1984). The computer has a complex impact on organizations and the people in them. At all application levels, consideration of the interaction of the computer with the surrounding social system is essential (Sheingold, Krane & Endreweit 1983). How this interaction alters over time, as computing activi ties affect the organization, and the organization shapes computing technology, is of central concern to this study. 7 1. Research Questions Administrative policies on electronic data processing in education organizations is influenced by social, economic and political processes in which educational governance takes place. To date, school administrators have largely escaped the operational research activities that have modi fied the work of many of their public service and business counterparts. Changes in these sectors are amplified due to the intensity with which computers have been applied to man agerial work. Four closely related questions arising from the study of computer generated change provide a springboard for the line of inquiry adopted in this study. 1. What are the cost-benefits of computer systems? 2. What is the impact of computers on managerial work? 3. Is computerization associated with centralization in organizations? 4. What is the relationship between organizational objectives and the design of computer systems? 2. Research Design The study is a synthesis of information derived from diverse qualitative and quantitative sources. Main data sources include interviews, correspondence, financial records, and public and private documents. Twenty-eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with educational administrators from the B.C. public school system. Inter view respondents included vice-principals, 8 secretary-treasurers, superintendents, and department direc tors within the Ministry of Education. In each case, verba tim typed transcripts were prepared. Interviews were also undertaken with presidents, managers and marketing represen tatives of software and hardware firms serving the British Columbia educational administration market. 3. Organization of Topics A list of acronyms precedes the Table of Contents. The theory pertaining to the organizational and administrative effects of computers is discussed in Chapter Two. Since the field of informatics is undergoing a succession of rapid changes, the discussion includes references to recent so cial, economic and technical developments. Chapter Three explicates the research methods. Findings are reported in Chapter Four for three organizational levels: Ministry of Education, school district and school. Findings for the British Columbia Systems Corporation (BCSC), a provincially owned Crown corporation which has influenced the development of educational data processing, are also recorded in Chapter Four. This chapter ends with a recapitulation of the find ings. The conclusions are set forth in Chapter Five. Implications for further research and policy recommendations are presented at the end of Chapter Five. A Glossary located at the back of the work includes definitions of important technical terms. Finally, there is an Appendices sect ion. II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE The review begins with.a discussion of centralization and decentralization as organizational concepts. Centrali zation is then examined in relation to computers. Of par ticular relevance is the proposition, now several decades old, that computerization acts as an autonomous element to accelerate centralization. In recent years, attention has shifted from this deterministic view to whether, with care ful design and implementation, computerization will support decentralization. The practicality of this instrumental relationship is discussed in the context of current market ing trends. The postulation of a free market model in computer pro ducts allows the explanation for centralizing effects to be chiefly located in the decisions on equipment design taken by the purchasing organization. In sharp contrast, is the model of the planned economy where the informatics market i an extension of long-range strategies formulated by the world's leading computer manufacturer. According to this model, the centralizing effects found in client organiza tions assist the original equipment manufacturer to.attain long-term corporate goals. Both of these models are reviewed. Observing how computers are used is of overriding con sequence to a determination of their administrative impact. In British Columbia, one of the most significant provincial 10 education applications is to process data for a new budget ing and accounting system. This system is derived from the Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System (PPBS), a cost-benefit methodology which has been attempted with quite limited results by various federal, provincial and local governments. The history of PPBS and the relevance of an operations model to public education is examined. A. CENTRALIZATION AND DECENTRALIZATION Centralization denotes a high concentration of power measured by criteria of weight, scope and domain (de Grazia 1964:81). An administration is centralized to the extent that decisions are made at relatively high levels in the organization (Simon et al 1954:1). The meaning of centrali zation is closely associated with other key organizational concepts, among them control, discipline, autonomy, hierar chy, integration, and coordination. With these words, dis cussion of centralization and decentralization is possible without ever actually mentioning the terms (de Grazia 1964: 81 ). In an absolute sense, centralization and decentraliza tion occupy opposite ends of a continuum. The position which an administrative unit holds along this continuum is gauged by the degree of autonomy that is exercised relative to other parts of the same organization or to other agen cies. At the centralization end, power is concentrated in the organizational apex. At the decentralization end, power 11 is dispersed among subordinates. Rarely do organizations conform to these absolutes. The exercise of authority is in constant flux. On separate issues, and at different times, the power locus shifts. Arriving at a generally agreed upon understanding of these terms is complicated by the historical associations which they hold. Decentralization is commonly advocated as a precondition for the achievement and preservation of a free society (Fesler 1968:371). Among contemporary democra cies, centralization may bear a popular negative connota tion, due to the term's close historical association with the growth of royal absolutism and the rise of the modern oligarchical state (Shepard 1963:308). While acknowledging the importance of these political associations, this study follows the empirical orientation of Kochen and Deutsch (1980:17) who find, "decentralization is not a value in itself. Our key values are quick responsiveness, reliabil ity, adequacy, and quality of the needed or requested ser vice. In this view, a service system will be more efficient with more of these values delivered at a lower cost." Over thirty years have elapsed since the first business application of a computer. Centralization effects concerned observers from the beginning. In January, 1954, a computer was delivered to the Kentucky division of General Electric for accounting and business operations. Two articles pub lished the same year, one by Higgins and Glickauf in March, the second by Osborn in July, reported on the General 1 2 Electric initiative. Each predicted that increased central ization would result. Leavitt's and Whisler's 1958 article Management i n t he 1980' s prophesied that computers would lead to centralization. In time this relationship was accorded the status of an organizational axiom. Two factors make a determination of the degree of cen tralization less simple than might otherwise be the case. Firstly, substantial decisions are often made by adhoc com mittees whose members may be drawn from all levels of the administrative hierarchy (Galbraith 1978:66). Secondly, administrative workload is not necessarily an indication of substantial discretionary power. The attribution of significant decision-making power to a particular individual within a modern organization is in most cases a conventional fiction. Questions beyond the scope of organizational routine are usually determined by committee (Galbraith 1978:66). Decision-making passes down the hierarchy to find the level of relevant expertise. On some issues, representation from the lowest white-collar and blue-collar levels is sought. Those of high formal rank exercise only modest power in this decision-making process, since autonomy is critical to the group's success. For the senior executive, "Coordination... consists in assigning the appropriate talent to committees, intervening on occasion to force a decision, and, as the case may be, announcing the decision or carrying it as information for a yet further decision by a yet higher committee." (1978:66). - 1 3 The declining authority that accompanies the approach of the highest rungs of the promotional ladder is documented by Burns: To be an older man in an industrial concern used to mean that one was more effective and better quali fied... But in the new situation of technical and commercial change, the whole structure of authority implicit in this arrangement is becoming invali dated. It is not merely that chief executives, and even heads of industrial laboratories, confess in interviews that they find it difficult or impossible to grasp vocabulary, or meaning, or implications of the technical information and skills which their juniors possess, and for the sake of which they have been recruited... (1974:164). Decentralization of workload is not identical with decen tralization of administrative power (Fesler 1968). Movement of the work load to geographically or functionally subordi nate units may not provide an opportunity for local authori ties to exert substantial decision-making power. Fesler notes that where work is standardized, "the criteria to guide local decision-making are prescribed so precisely and comprehensively that field officials can only perform the clerical operation of matching the characteristics of each decisional case against detailed rule-book prescriptions." (1968:373). This observation is apposite in a public educa tion setting where the quantity of school level decisions will rise as school-site1 management practices are insti tuted. In Canada, significant structural change is seldom granted to public school principals since social and 1 School-site management is a decision-making arrangement that substantially increases the ability of parents and school personnel to influence school policies. (Garms, Guthrie & Pierce 1978:178) 14 educational legislation, curriculum, student assessment, and planning and budgeting policies combine to tightly routinize their decisions. These effects are stronger during periods of inflation and reduced educational spending. School administrators may easily mistake the increased work load that accompanies a district initiative, nominally touted as school-site management, for an extension of their autonomy. In this circumstance, not only will Fesler's principle on decentralization of workload apply, but the school manager may also experience less independence because the decision rules are more explicit. B. CAUSE AND EFFECT Technology and society simultaneously influence each other as cause and effect. With computers, the interaction occurs across all social dimensions (Sheingold, Krane & Endreweit 1983:414). For the sake of simplifying the analy sis of a complex relationship, most observers take either a cause or an effect stance on whether the form of computer technology determines the degree of organizational centrali zation. Some analysts, the sociologist Daniel Bell for example, have held both views, though at different times. In a 1973 work, Bell's position was that "by enlarging our control over nature, technology has transformed social rela tionships and our ways of looking at the world." (1973:188). Technology can resolve what he considered an axial problem of political systems, "the relation between the desire for 15 popular participation and bureaucracy." (1973:115). By 1979, however, Bell had retreated from his earlier commit ment to technological determinism. He declared, "Technology does not determine social structure; it simply widens all possibilities." (1979:39). The affirmation that choice was still possible came at a time of mounting evidence which indicated a growing centralization of most government and commercial services. Amidst the debate over what would be the ultimate administrative effect of the new microprocessor technology, there emerged a challenge to the very existence of a causal relationship between microprocessors and cen tralization. At least one observer, Simon, has denied the existence of a causal relationship between computers and centraliza tion (Simon 1979:218). Simon claims that the effects of computerization can no longer be described in terms of either centralization or decentralization, because "what is occurring is a profound qualitative change in the decision making process, which is being formalized, made explicit, and subjected to deliberate planning" (1979:222). He does not make clear how these components fundamentally differ from those which lead to centralization. Formalization of decision-making coupled with a strong planning element is at the core of centralization, and usually is accompanied by improved organizational control. A direct connection between technology and centralization, however, is difficult to demonstrate; verification depends on the calibre of 16 existing research. There are few detailed case-studies on the relationship between computerization and centralization. Commonly,, explanations are proposed and conclusions reached on sparse evidence (Mowshowitz 1976). This support often comprises general statements about contemporary events, and references to earlier reports which on close scrutiny lack substantia tion. Where empirical studies into the organizational phenonomenon have been mounted, the research methods are frequently discounted for their lack of rigor. In 1976, Mowshowitz summarized the calibre of research, "The measures developed thus far tend to be crude and do not adequately discriminate between the effects of computers and other characteristics of organizational change." (1976:81). A decade of research has not rectified this situation. In 1985, Gotlieb observed, "The difficulty in assigning numerical values means that quantitative studies of the cen tralization/decentralization issue are rare." (1985:86). Despite the methodological problems that have been only partly resolved, the relationship between computerization and centralization continues to attract the attention of sociologists and other•students of organization. A major stride in the field was achieved by Kochen and Deutsch with their 1980 study of decentralization. Using an operations research methodology, in which mathematical models are devised for complex problems concerning the best allocation of available resources, they unified much of the 17 research into a theoretical framework that may serve as a foundation for further investigation. Formulae are provided from which to calculate optimal levels of decentralization for public service organizations. The degree of precision and the inclusion of considerable detail mark the study as exceptional. The first objective of the research into the adminis trative use of computers in the B.C. public school system is to determine if sufficient means exist to calculate computer optimality. Closely associated with use is the adequacy of the provincial EDP design. The research question: What are the cost-benefits of computer systems? The quest for a methodology that provides a definitive calculation of optimality is tempered with the knowledge that constants are elusive when the technology is in flux. Today's certainties may be tomorrow's dinosaurs. Gotlieb (1985:86) offers a recent evaluation of this problem: Although the subject can be explored, it is not possible so far to apply cost-benefit comparisons in a way that will allow one to conclude exactly what balance between centralized and decentralized systems will achieve the optimum results in a particular situation. The difficulties are compounded because whatever cost estimates can be made are subject to continous revision due to the rapid rate of technological developments in the computer and communications industries." (author's emphasis). The current debate over whether administrative users should purchase either the largest mainframe which they can afford, or the smallest computers consistent with departmental needs and join them together in a network (Economist 1985), 18 illustrates the uncertainty. C. COMPUTERS AND CENTRALIZATION Shortly after computers were applied to public and business administration in the 1950's, organizational theo rists began to speculate on whether their effects would lead to greater or lesser centralization. Those who predicted increased centralization (Laubach & Thompson 1955; Slater 1958; Leavitt & Whisler 1958; Simon 1965; Lasswell 1971) focused on the enhanced control of information which a com puter furnished. Applying Francis Bacon's well-tried dictum, "knowledge is power" (1825:219) to the new computing' phenomenon, these analysts predicted that increased power will accrue to those who control the machine. Events of the 1960's appear to confirm their forecast. Increasing cen tralization 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 technical limitations inherent to the 1960's gener ation of computers meant that there was no practical alter native to centralization during the early years. Computers were expensive; their application was therefore confined to head offices where electronic data processing departments became closely linked with senior management (Slater 1958:166). Only a few observers at that time foresaw the possibility of decentralizing effects. 19 Lasswell was among the earliest to conceive not only the possibility, but the importance of assuring the decen tralization of computing facilities. Although discussed in a political context, his insights have a direct bearing on public administration. He ascertains "that a vast system of documentation that relies on automatic methods is almost certain to possess built-in biases that affect public policy in the direction of centralization..." (1971:195). This bias is not necessarily detrimental. Effective use of tele communications by global agencies can help to supplant paro chial nationalisms with a democratic universalism. There is a continuing danger, however, that control might slip into the hands of a totalitarian regime, leading to monopolism and regimentation. Lasswell believed that this outcome can be avoided if 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 agitation, "if the many pluralistic elements in modern industrial nations seize promptly on modern methods of docu mentation, it will be possible to sustain political initia tives in the decision process of sufficient intensity to support a public order in which power is genuinely shared." (1971:197). Lasswell never satisfactorily resolved a con tradiction between two of his basic premises. On one hand, he asserts that the power of telecommunications media should be directed to overcome national retrogression, on the 20 other, the emergence of totalitarian control would be pre vented by investing numerous stakeholders with a direct influence in the new communications systems. Inevitably, one of the foremost stakeholders is the nation state. The question then should be asked, how can a global outlook be achieved without an international authority compelling nations to surrender some of their jurisdictional rights? To expect compliance by virtue of reason alone is to be unrealistically optimistic about the conduct of interna tional relations. However democratic the intent, a barely distinguishable line may exist between compulsion and the practice of oligarchical realpolitik. As Meek warns, "a system geared to centralized control — even for the purest motives, to protect security and privacy and the liberty of the individual — is likely to be tailor-made for an autocra tic or totalitarian regime. (Those who comfort themselves with the thought 'it can't happen here' should look at the places where it has happened.)" [sic] (1984:220).2 This conflict, which may be better understood in a philosophical rather than an operations research context, is implicit in nearly every assessment of the social impact of informatics. 2 The events surrounding Friday, October 16, 1970 provide an illustration. Robert Fulford, editor of Saturday Night, chronicled those troubled times, "In Montreal that first terrible week of the War Measures Act, hundreds of Canadians were arbitrarily denied their rights — their right to liberty, their right to counsel, their right to know why they were being held in jail, their right to communicate with relatives and friends. They were stripped, by an order of the federal cabinet, of all personal rights that hundreds of years of history had bestowed on them." (1970:11). 21 On a lesser scale, the internal rivalry between an organization's head office and its regional divisions paral lels the political conflict between universalism and nationalism. The rivalry is consummately one of centraliza tion versus decentralization: of head office control waged against regional autonomy. On an organizational stage, informatics provides an administrative means of resolving the dispute. Who controls the implementation of informatics and how it will be used to shape the structure of the orga nization are key questions that may be applied to a host of administrative matters. Perhaps Lasswell's most significant insight, in this regard, is that nonquantitative issues residing in the philosophical'and political realms may be of greater social consequence than the cost-efficiency concerns of operations research.3 This view is shared by Kochen and Deutsch who stress that "The content of political decision making is critically dependent on what the decision maker values." (1980:4). Few administrative decisions do not include a political dimension. Microelectronics has revolutionary implications for society (Bylinsky 1981; Perlowski 1981; Ableson & Hammond 1981; Serafini & Andrieu 1981). Since 1945, computer gener ations have superceded one another with increasing rapidity: valve, transistor, integrated circuit, large-scale 3 Gordon B. Thompson notes that "...the 'basic truths' of economics change throughout time. The real sources of wealth are precisely those activities that we perceive as being worthwhile, particularly where some labour gain can be incorporated. Were it otherwise, we would organize to change things." (Memo From Mercury. 1979:27). 22 integrated circuit, very large-scale integrated circuit, and now fifth generation* (Braemer 1984:148). Overall, the application rate of integrated circuits has been faster than for all previous technologies (ILO 1985:148). Individual organizations, however, have varied in the speed of adop tion. Public school systems, as with the adoption of older technologies have been relatively slow (Oettinger 1969; Boyer 1983:186). Different informatic effects may be noted in separate organizations. The combined result of microelectronics, however, is unpredictable in many areas of application (ILO 1985:7). Two aspects of these multifaceted informatics trends are discussed in the following two sections: 1.) the increasing dominance of administrators and professionals in the organization, and 2.) the relationship between computer programing hierarchies and organizational hierarchy. 1. Informatics and Administration In 1967, Wilensky predicted, "The gulf between top executives and the information technologists... and men whose work is more programmed... will widen." (1971:282). Subsequent events in Canada (Sterling 1985:396) and other technologically advanced countries substantiate his * Fifth generation characteristics include: 1) multiple instruction datastream, 2) does not need to know how many computers are in the system, 3) can double in performance, if the number of computers is doubled, 4) automatically rejects any failing computer, yet continues to work, 5) com bines 'artificial intelligence' with parallelism (Parkinson 1985:765). 23 prognosis. Menzies finds that large employment sectors which comprise clerical and junior administrative positions in Canada's service industries are increasingly isolated from management. There is "a widening skills gap between what is considered clerical and what is considered profes sional work." (Menzies 1981:39). She reports ongoing "stan dardization, fragmentation and separation of occupational and job functions." that have followed in the wake of infor matics (1981:38). The traditional job mobility which held the possibility of promotion for clerks and secretaries is supplanted by complete occupational discontinuity. Word processor operators and data entry/retrieval personnel are often confined to workstations where their day is closely organized and their productivity constantly monitored. Social isolation from the organization accompanies this confinement. An alert individual in the pre-microprocessor period could amass a large and often unique store of tacit knowledge about the organization, derived from handling cor respondence and conversations with managers. An intensively networked and programed employment environment offers few opportunities to accumulate this knowledge (1981). In the head office of an insurance company, which for Menzies typifies national trends, between six and eight word processor operators in two workstations took care of all but two of the two hundred member professional and managerial group. The two senior management exclusions were the only administrators to retain personal secretaries (1981:38). 24 The word processor operators work in isolated cubicles. There are no higher positions to which they may aspire. Adopting Harrington's view: in the advanced capitalist soci eties of late twentieth century they are, like the poor and chronically unemployed, on their way to becoming "superflu ous people" (1984:123). The same shifts in organizational structure occur in Europe where the International Labour Organization records that as the effects of microelectronics are experienced, "Intermediate-grade jobs vanish, and the work becomes more and more clearly divided between 'executive' functions and routine subordinate operations." [sic] (ILO 1985:41). Despite mounting international evidence that indicates a clear causal relationship between computerization and cen tralization, some sociologists cling to the belief expressed by Horowitz, "It is dangerous to conceive of postindustrial technology as necessarily feeding the fires of administra tive 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 itable movement toward global integration where informatics monitors and mediates the activities of all organizations: governmental, non-governmental, and commercial. The study's second objective is to describe the impact of computers on administrators. The research question: What is the impact of computers on managerial work? . 25 2. The Relationship Between Organizational  and Computer Programing Hierarchies Simon argues that the structure of computer programs reinforces the hierarchical composition of those organiza tions in which computers function (1965:101). This effect is believed to arise from the sequential method in which computers process instructions. A program is a set of statements divided into routines and subroutines each of which, in a computer designed according to von Neumann prin ciples, is processed in linear sequence5 (Conrad 1985:465). The need to input certain types of information at specific points in the program is supposed to induce more rigid sequencing of information in the organization. This propo sition derives from the assumption that information to which a typical organization responds is for the most part rou tine; therefore, content can be anticipated and methods devised to guide decision-makers. Some of the most important types of information con fronting an organization, however, is of an exceptional nature. As Minsky recognizes, there is "disparity between the explicit bureaucratic regulations that are supposed to handle situations in general and the inevitable bugs and problems such systems cannot deal with." (1979:415). Refer ence to existing policy is of little help in formulating 5 Contrast the lock-step nature of linear processing with the multiple instruction datastream found in parallel and fifth generation computers (Parkinson 1985:766). When par allel processing becomes commonplace, sociologists may visu alize the typical human organization as a parallel processer. 26 responses to the non-routine. Although computer programs usually reject data for which they were not specifically designed, an organization's survival.may depend upon the capacity of its members to recognize the significance of the singular and rapidly respond. The claim that there is a connection between an organization's decision-making routines and the structure of those governing a computer seems to have been abandoned. An explanation for the relationship between programing and increasing organizational hierarchy may be traced to the analytical procedure that accompanies the writing of a pro gram. Rules governing work procedures become better under stood during the systems analysis6 that precedes the pro gram, and this analysis leads to formalization of work rou tines. Senior management derives improved means of control from the formalization process. Despite the tendency of computers to have an overwhelming centralist impact on orga nizations, the possibility that with careful design they might equally sustain a decentralized organizational struc ture has received renewed attention. D. DECENTRALIZATION AND THE NEW TECHNOLOGY Whether computerization can foster decentralization has received renewed attention by many analysts (Bell 1979; Simon 1979; Nora & Mine 1980; Kochen & Deutsch 1980; 6 Systems analysis is the analysis of the role of a proposed system and the identification of a set of requirements that the system should meet, and thus the starting point for system design (Illingworth 1983:358). 27 Frantzich 1982; de Sola Pool 1983; Brooke 1984). Generally, this group rejects the hypothesis that an autonomous force, technological determinism, produces centralization; instead, they hold that organizational impact results from the way the machine is used. Three main arguments forwarded by decentralists are that: (1) decentralization ipso facto is desirable, (2) some forms of microelectronics, for instance personal computers, provide an alternative to centraliza tion, and (3) marketplace competition offers the organiza tional consumer significant technological choice. 1. Ambiguity of Computer-Based Decentralist Position There is a large degree of ambiquity present in the argument for decentralized control. Completely independent use of this technology by a subunit at any organizational level grants that unit improved control over its immediate environment, thereby leading to increased centralization at that level (Brooke 1984:147). Observations by Frantzich provide a recent example of the ambiguity (1982). In the opening chapter of his study on the use of computers in the Congress of the United States of America, Frantzich states, "Whoever controls the creation and dissemination of informa tion can control its content and impact. To the degree that Congress is dependent on others for its information, Con gress loses its role as a free participant in the decision making process" (1982:35). Control of computers is equated with Congressional autonomy. Yet in summarizing his 28 findings, Frantzich seems reluctant to concede that a similar computer-based information dependency is found at an intra-organizational level 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 restricts the breadth of new legislative initia tives. For Franzich, proof of centralizing forces that result from computer use, although self-evident in the dealings of Congress with other agencies and levels of gov ernment, remains insufficient in the internal operations of Congress. (1982:250). There is an arbitrary limit to the autonomy which decentralists are prepared to grant. 2. Microcomputer Autonomy Absorbed by Networks The appearance of microcomputers seemed for a while to lend substance to the decentralist claim that ownership of appropriate technology would assure autonomy. The use of personal computers was expected to lead to increased auton omy for organizational units such as schools. The first commercial production of a minicomputer by Digital Equipment Corporation in 1963 (Vacroux 1975:32), contributed to the further decline of data processing costs which continued to the present. Similarly, the initial manufacture of a micro computer in 1971 (1975:36) leant even greater impetus to reductions in hardware costs. Departments and divisions sited at locations remote from their head offices could, for 29 the first time, afford the comparatively low cost of stand alone equipment. The diffusion of computer technology to the organiza tional periphery was not accompanied by a transfer of power. On the contrary, senior executives utilized informatics to consolidate their control (Scannell 1981). Until approxi mately 1982, corporate command over personal computers was virtually non-existent (Pantages 1985:24). Following 1982, the directors 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 decentralizing potential of microcomputer acquisition at the lowest organizational levels is offset by the increased pro cessing capacity of central office mainframes. As a 1981 Fortune survey showed, companies which switch from central ized to distributed data processing often do so to maintain centralized control over remote branches operating as profit centres (Scannell 1981:10). Throughout the early 1980's all aspects of work have been evermore tightly integrated through the medium of these machines (Menzies 1981; Perrow 7 Management Information System: "An information system whose prime purpose is to supply information to management. The initial concept of MIS, commonplace in the 1960's and early 1970's, was that systems analysts would determine the information requirements of individual managers in an orga nization, and would design systems to supply that informa tion routinely and/or on demand. Decision support systems form a new class of MIS, giving much greater independence in their use of computer-based information." (Illingworth 1983:215). 30 1984; ILO 1985). Where microcomputers appear, computer networks soon follow. Local area networks (LAN)8 frequently relegate microcomputers to the status of workstations capable of some stand-alone processing. Extending computer networks to encompass all administrative facets continues in most public and business organizations. This development is reflected in the current International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) marketing strategy in which the proliferation of smaller computers is expected to raise the demand for main frames (Economist 1985:68). During recent years, IBM has promoted the expansion of local area networks and, as was the case with personal computers, supported their inclusion within the MIS department's sphere of influence. IBM has also extended its corporate domain to include a global sat ellite communication system (Borrus & Zysman 1985:188), the linchpin of a wholly integrated and privately owned worldwide telecommunications network. This recent event leant further confirmation to a 1983 study for Communica tions Canada which contends that IBM is "undergoing a metamorphic change from being a manufacturer to being a vast, immensely sophisticated processing and communications solution-oriented network." (1983:91). Privately owned 8 Local area network: "A communication network linking a number of stations in the same 'local' area, variously defined as the same building, a radius of one kilometer, or a single plant. Local area networks generally provide high-speed (100K bps to 100M bps) data communication ser vices to directly connected computers." (Illingworth 1983:203). t 31 international systems are considered by some critics of a decentralist persuasion to be the antithesis of democratic control (de Sola Pool 1983). A strong distinction is drawn by de Sola Pool between microcomputer use, and the ownership of national and inter national telecommunication networks. "Freedom is fostered," he writes, "when the means of communication are dispersed, decentralized, and easily available, as are printing presses or microcomputers. Central control is more likely when the means of communication are concentrated, monopolized, and scarce, as are great networks."(1983:5). Although the association of personal computers with autonomy may have been a reasonable expectation during the early 1980's, mar ket developments have already shifted them toward control within a centralized electronic data processing environment. In no small measure, this move results from the influence of leading computer manufacturers that make organizational integration of personal computers part of their marketing strategy. 3. The Market as a Determinant of Organizational Impact The market is proposed as a mechanism for regulating the ultimate social effects of computerization. Those who hold this view summon the market as a catalyst for translat ing technological advances directly into public and commer cial benefit. The numerous multivariate, interrelated and, at times, contradictory forces which drive the activities of 32 original equipment manufacturers and constrain the activi ties of their corporate clients (Fishman 1981; Fisher, McRie & Mancke 1983) play little part in this idealized model. According to the laissez faire paradigm, buyers are free to choose. Consumer exercise of choice generates new product designs.. In support of this claim, de Sola Pool states, "Today, in an era of advanced (and still advancing) elec tronic theory, it has become possible to build virtually any. kind of communication device that one might wish, though at a price. The market, not technology, sets most.limits." [sic] (1983:6).9 The connection between computerization and centralization is reduced to a matter of financial expediency; quite simply, "any change in technology that makes it cheaper and easier either to centralize or decen tralize decisions will tip the balance in that direction." (Simon 1979:216). Cost-efficiency in Simon's view outweighs all other considerations. If an enterprise can afford to purchase a specific product, then this action is taken irre spective of outcome. Fluctuations in the intensity of cen tralization are explained as responses to shifts in the affordability of new technology. The simplified 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 quality in United States television programing, Goodlad writes, "As for this society, television may be... the near est thing we have to a common school. But in pondering the fare offered and the sums of money invested in providing it, one easily.becomes despondent. Free competition among the major networks has not provided much to enlighten the mind or free the human spirit." (1983:342). 33 nature of informatics sales within the western economies. In these planned economies (Burns 1974; Galbraith 1978:402; Walker 1984:100), the informatics market is dominated by a small number of multinational corporations (Archbold & Verity 1985:36). Their predominance allows them to plan for product cycles lasting at least five years beyond the research and development period. With few exceptions, pro duct design results solely from choices made by equipment manufacturers. The public and most commercial users exer cise only an indirect and relatively modest influence in the design process. As with all great firms, these corporations "establish prices and seek to ensure a demand for what they have to sell." (Galbraith 1978:33). The overwhelming capac ity to influence the informatics market is manifest in the leader, International Business Machines Corporation. The extent of IBM's influence is indicated by its 1984 fiscal performance. IBM's total 1984 data processing reve nues of 44.29 billion dollars represents thirty-three per cent of the 132 billion-dollar 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 since, with this overwhelming share, competing companies are forced to follow IBM specifications (Fisher et al 1981:58). Mainframe sales alone reached twelve billion dollars in 1984, accounting for one-half of IBM's net 6.6 billion-dollar earnings (Economist 34 1985:65). These sales place it at the top of all corpora tions with head offices in the United States. Research and development costs typically run at between nine and ten per cent, of revenue (1985:66).10 Revenue, of course, is only a rough measure of influence, a corporation's history and cur rent structure provide a better composite of its influence. Computers and IBM have grown together. In the popular imagination, as well as the reports of analysts who special ize in the business of informatics, often the two appear inseparable. IBM and contemporary national governments have grown together, leading Foster to declare, "The complex and intrusive nature of the modern state would be no more possi ble without computers than would a flight to the moon." (1984:28). Behind IBM stands a corps of 400,000 employees, including sales personnel, planners, engineers and scien tists.11 The Corporation maintains close relations with senior politicians and executives around the world. Previous IBM employees with distinguished company records occupy important MIS posts throughout higher education, gov ernment and industry. The personal relations network con sisting of contacts in education, business and government, is a force without equal. Finally, corporate data banks containing detailed information on the governments and institutions with which IBM deals permit considerable scope 10 "In 1981, IBM spent $1,612 billion on R&D. Out of every R&D dollar spent by the American computer industry, IBM accounted for about forty cents." (Department Of Communica tions I982b:82). 11 11,000 employees in Canada (Foster 1984:22). 35 to the planning process.12 IBM's control of the informa tics market has seldom been stronger. Foster predicts that within the decade, IBM, or IBM compatible machines, will, hold ninety-five percent of the world market for mainframes (1984:27). • Even the few corporate characteristics surveyed in this sketch have been glossed over by those who suppose signifi cant choices are permitted the organizational purchaser of computer products. Inevitably, lead times involving research and development, and the considerable sums expended in bringing new microelectronic products on stream, compel major informatics companies to plan carefully and ensure a virtually captive market for their goods.13 Apart from a few research institutions, and some large multinational cor porations specializing in non-computer production, the parameters of choice are determined by the seller. The very success of corporate marketing strategies in assuring demand may have led to what some critics posit as an overly favour able view of computer economics. 12 Serafini and Andrieu (1981:28) comment, "They (multina tional informatics corporations) have also been able on occasion to take advantage of weak international agreements and international rivalries between countries to evade national legislation and pursue independent policies, some times in conflict with the interests of the host countries. The role of these firms is particularly important in Canada where a large number of multinational branches exist as a result of heavy foreign investment over many years." 13 Barna (1985:19) implores, "Waiting another four years before reexamining IBM's market power may be too late. The bill that is rendered may well be tallied in terms of tech nologies not developed because prudent business people found the prospect of competing with IBM too daunting." 36 On an applied level, the cost of performing office work with computers frequently increases, compared with the cost of older, non-computer routines. King cautions that for local governments "Early adoption of advanced applications of information technology is often uneconomical in cost-benefit terms." (1982:25). Frantzich warns that while com puters are "...touted as a method of saving money, in the long run, computerization involves dramatic personnel and start-up costs, which are followed in quick order by updat ing costs." (1982:57). Further confirmation in a public service setting comes from Ayers and Kettinger, who find "little evidence... that the introduction of computers has actually reduced costs in government." (1983:565). While labour productivity can often be shown to have risen, factor productivity — where unit outputs are compared with all input costs including labour, capital, energy and facilities — have climbed in most public service organizations. Frequent claims by senior management that an office comput erization project is cost-efficient, may upon close scru tiny, prove false. Lack of detailed financial information in the public domain prevents a thorough evaluation of com puter derived cost-benefits. Even if the performance of established clerical routines by computers is of marginal cost-benefit, their capacity to perform new types of analy sis will likely justify their cost. These new applications .frequently lead to increased control. 37 The study's third research objective is to observe whether computerization is leading to increased centraliza tion. The research question: Is computerization associated with centralization in organizations? E. PLANNING, PROGRAMING, AND BUDGETING SYSTEMS A form of analysis that the British Columbia Ministry of Education finds attractive in achieving improved finan cial control within the public school organization is that offered by the Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System (PPBS).1" The Ministry introduced their version of PPBS in fiscal year 1983-84 to manage school district financing. The five-year school district computer acquisition program, begun in 1982, met the increased data processing demands of the Ministry's new program, budgeting and accounting system. Hence, in the context of the B.C. public school system, an assessment of the implications of administrative computeriz ation would be incomplete without a discussion of the theory and practice of the Planning, Programing and Budgeting i. System. Conceptually, PPBS is a totally integrated process that extends from the planning and analysis functions through programing and budgeting into operations, reporting and con trol. PPBS depends heavily on computers (Novick 1973:30; 1« PPBS is also known as "PPBES, where the 'E' stands for Evaluation; EPPBS where the 'E' represents Education; ERMS or Educational Resource Management System; and the Resource Allocation Decision System RADS," among other designations. (Knezevich 1981:2). 38 Brackett et al 1983:44) and is centralizing in its organiza tional effects (Hirsch 1967:205; Wildavsky 1969:192, 1975: 328). Expectations that PPBS will result in increased cen tralization are supported by Gross and Mosher in separate assessments. Gross observes that PPBS budgeting reforms are necessitated "whenever increasing centralization outruns the. capabilities of the central guidance cluster." (1969:113). Mosher notes that "Like most other budgeting reforms, its basic effect — perhaps its basic though seldom-stated pur pose — is toward centralization of power..." (1969:164). While there are competing theories about whether computeriz ation leads ultimately to centralization or decentraliza tion, no similar debate frequents the PPBS literature. The possibility of a decentralizing outcome does not seem ever to have been seriously considered. Beyond the central principle of rationality in choosing between alternate courses of action, Steiner lists three important distinguishing features of program budgeting: structural, analytical and informational (1967:310). First, the structure of PPBS is end-product oriented; objectives are functional and include all cost elements associated with their attainment. While short-range decisions continue to be made, emphasis is placed on the long-range perspective. Second, the analytical process compares alternate courses of action, and leads to an assessment of their implications. The process has various names, including cost-benefit analy sis, cost-effectiveness analysis, systems analysis, and 39 operations research (1967:311). At this stage, all major costs and benefits are compared. The third element is the information system which is closely integrated with the first two functions. It not only aids in the specification of possible objectives, but also tracks all pertinent costs attached to existing programs. The information system pro vides a method of controlling expenditures and reporting administrative progress. Some policy analysts (Royal Commission On Financial Management And Accountability 1979; Crozier 1980) claim that present public administration budgeting and accounting poli cies are labyrinthine,15 and therefore overdue for reform. Other analysts (Lindblom 1968; Wildavsky 1975, 1979), while not denying the serious administrative problems that have arisen, counter that this complexity accurately reflects our late Twentieth Century knowledge of the world, and that incremental budgeting wins support for government policies where the only alternative is' crippling division and admin istrative secrecy. Issuing a challenge to complex adminis trative practices, 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 find a deep-seated and perfectly justified desire to reform a machine so weighed down by the complexity 15 The Commission found that the, "hodge-podge of accounting methods used in assembling the financial statements of the Government of Canada... defeats the... principle purposes for which financial information about governments, and other non-commercial organizations is required." (1979:247) 40 of mutual adjustment that it is impossible to run." (1980: 172). This argument is countered by Wildavsky who maintains that the attribute of complexity, that is, "The incremental, fragmented, nonprogrammatic, and sequential procedures of the present budgetary process help to win agreement and reduce the burden of calculation." (1975:329). When performed properly the practice of PPBS is an expensive undertaking. Since its introduction is usually spurred by a legislative preoccupation with dwindling finan ces, there are insufficient resources available to ensure success. At least two authorities, Lee and Johnson (1983) believe that the the implementation of PPBS is beyond the financial resources of most governments, no matter their solvency. They find that in virtually all cases "the capa bility of public administration to meet the complete requirements of systems analysis is non-existent. The costs of information are so high as to make it rational to be^ ignorant, to make decisions on the basis of limited search behaviours and limited information." (1983:16).16 16 The issue is complicated by Larkey's and Smith's finding (1984:80) that budget officials and, "Chief executives mis represent more than their public formulations of the budget problem. They also misrepresent the reasons for the formu lations. In the public justifications of their 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 sis). Their basic tactic is to portray the budget as largely due to factors beyond their control. Explanations emphasize bad news above all else... Any good news pre sented is qualified by the bad..." (see also D. Gerwin, Budgeting Public Funds: The Decision Process In An Urban School District. University of Wisconsin Press, 1969). 41 The remaining discussion focuses on the public service experience of PPBS by three governments: the United States of America, Canada, and British Columbia. The discussion begins with a general examination of PPBS in public educa tion and ends with a summary of the 1983 introduction of a PPBS-derived financial and budgeting reform within the British Columbia public school organization. 1. Role in Public Education Educational administrators have turned to PPBS with the expectation that this budgeting system will assist them in choosing more efficient and effective policies (van Geel 1973:1). However, education, unlike aircraft production (where PPBS was first applied), is not transparent to policy-oriented analysis (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 outlined by Hirsch: What knowledge and skills should be developed; when, where, how, and by whom and for whom? 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 training, and in what facilities? In addition, there is the issue of who should pay for the education, [sic] (1967: 181 ) . The simplicity and directness of these questions have a uni versal appeal; they concern parents, politicians, philoso phers and educational specialists alike. The unwary may seek facile answers where two millenia of our best minds have perceived a challenge without end. 42 Fundamental questions are usually neglected in adminis trative debates about budget allocation. When program bud geting is applied to educational policy, the administrator typically commits the organization to an a priori mode of reasoning in which policies arising from these questions are assumed to be susceptible to rational analysis. In this context, the teaching of reading provides a good demonstra tion of a PPBS application. Reading is a subject which some educational budgeters consider adaptable to a process model.' Set aside the peren nial debate about whether any single reading education method is a statistically significant improvement over the rest.17 Assume that for an additional expenditure of one hundred dollars per pupil, reading scores will improve by a known amount. The PPBS process model operationally reduces the reading policy to a formula where more dollars, or input, is translated into better pedagogical techniques, or improved throughput, finally producing higher reading scores, or enhanced output. To achieve advances in reading performance, funds must either be diverted from other educa tional programs or be obtained from outside the organiza tion. The second alternative requires that costs -of other government services, such as health and defense, be 17 Otto, Wolf & Eldridge (1984:799) in a perceptive review of major reading methods find that as for results there is is little to distinguish them, "Now, with some of the major historical trends identified, consider again the question of how best to organize students and teachers for the effective teaching of reading. The question has an easy answer: put one student and one teacher together and let teaching pro ceed through one-to-one tutoring." 43 accounted for by the same financial system, since to func-tion according to PPBS principles, comparisons can be drawn only with those programs already operating within a process model. To compare educational costs with government service costs arrived at through other accounting methods is to plunge into an arbitrary world of muddling through, where policy justification is sought a posteriori (Lindblom 1959).18 The topic of financial reform as it relates to reading education is one that will be resumed later in the context of the United States, a. The United States of America PPBS emerged from an industrial planning and accounting model which the United States of America applied success fully to aircraft production in the Second World War. During post-war reconstruction, Ford Motor Company refined the model to automobile manufacture (Halberstam 1969:229). Following ten years of preparatory work by the Rand Corpora tion, PPBS was first introduced to public administration in 1961 for use in the United States Department of Defense (Schultze 1968:1). Four years later, President Lyndon Johnson directed all federal departments and ma jor*civilian agencies to adopt PPBS along the lines of the Defense Model (Schultze 1968:1). These undertakings were relatively short-lived. The federal government, first to introduce program budgeting, was first to abandon it (Schick 1973: 147). 18 Crozier's caustic retort, "The a posteriori rationality is a static rationality of vicious circles." (1980:172). 44 In the summer of 1967, Budget Bureau officials reluc tantly, but officially found "the longer term objectives of PPBS are now unclear to many."19 By September of that year, William Gorham, former Assistant Secretary, Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and widely acknowledged to be an outstanding practitioner of program budgeting, testified on the problematic nature of achieving a consensus on program objectives for public education: But we want our children to be different sorts of people. We want them to be capable of different sorts of things. We have, in other words a plural ity of opinions about what we want our schools to turn out. So you drop down a level and you talk about objectives in terms of educational attainment. Here you move in education from... fuzzy objectives, more concrete, less controversial, more easily to get agreed upon objectives... [sic].20 Despite the satisficing21 character of incremental bud geting, and the acknowledged difficulty of arriving at gen erally agreed upon program objectives, public education has achieved a surprising level of efficiency. Neither program budgeting nor similar cost-benefit fiscal processes fully capture the efficient nature of public education since what a student actually learns may be attributed more to per sonal, parental and community aspirations than to the 19 U.S. Bureau of the Budget. The Work of the Steering Group on Evaluation of the Bureau of the Budget: A Staff Summary, July 1967, p. 2-11. 20 Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, Hearings, The Planning, Programming Budgeting System: Progress and Potentials, 90th Congress, First Session, September 1967, page 80 (quoted in Wildavsky 1969:195). 21 "A variable relationship between aspiration and satisfac tion, or, more specifically, a variable perception of oppor tunity costs involved." (Burns 1974:138). The term was coined by Simon (1958). 45 centrally mandated curriculum. Reflecting on the disjunc tions which occur between the formally mandated organiza tional goals and those of the diverse publics which the American public school serves, Perrow concludes with gentle irony, "the system of education is quite efficient for accomplishing many things that many participants desire; they are just not what the school district or the federal government, which supplies the money, had in mind." (1984: 91). The preoccupation of many federal, state and local edu cational administrators with financial and budgetary reform is a triumph of process over content. There is no evidence to show that these procedures have placed more teachers, more books and improved educational facilities in the nation's schools. On the contrary, resource cutbacks and reallocations often accompany fiscal reform (Hartle 1976:24). The constant attention demanded by continuing shifts in bureaucratic procedure saps the organization of energy that is more appropriately expended on improvements in educational services for students. Internal financial reform apparently contributes little to winning the important political decisions that ensure improved educational opportunities for all — especially the children of the poor and disadvantaged. In the United States, these decisions have been lost to military lobbyists (Table I, page47). United States education received 137 billion dollars -in 1980, fifteen billion dollars more 46 than the total spent on defense. Five years later the picture had changed. Defense spending in 1985 was 299 billion dollars, almost one hundred and forty-six billion dollars more than the total federal, state and local expen diture on public education (Table I). An important output measure of the diminished United States support for public education is gauged from the rising level of illiteracy. The Adult Performance Level (APL), a study carried out at the University of Texas, placed United States illiteracy at thirty percent (Kozol 1985:9). After considering several sources on United States illiteracy, Kozol cautiously estimates the number of illit erates "in terms of U.S. print at the present time" at sixty million out of a total of two hundred and thirty-four million people (1985:10).22 The rising number of illiter ates coincides with either the reduction or termination of major social and educational programs. Coincidentally, the 1985 United States military expenditure was higher in constant dollars than in any year since 1946 (SIPRI 1985:242). b. Canada The Canadian public administration experience with PPBS follows a pattern similar to the United States. The federal government's first serious move in the direction of PPBS came in 1966 with the Treasury. Board directive to all year departments requesting submission of a five-forecast on what 22 UNESCO reports the 1979 U.S.A. illiteracy level 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 Billions of Dollars) Public Year Education1 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 153.8tt 299.0 Notes: 1 2 Preschool to Grade 12 — includes local, state and federal spending. Statistical Abstract Of The United States: 1985 (105th edition), U.S. Bureau Of The Census, 1 984. The Military Balance. 1979-1980 to 1984-85 inclusive, International Institute For Strategic Studies. After a forty percent increase in military spending over the last four years, the Administration's plans are for a further forty percent rise in the next five fiscal - years up to fiscal year 1989. (SIPRI 1985:14). Projections of Educational Statistics To 1990-91, Volume I. National Centre For Educational Statistics, 1 982. 48 each considered to be their programs (MacDonald 1973:78). There was considerable resistance to operational analysis. Summing up seven years of federal PPBS effort, MacDonald did not believe it possible to "cite a clearly documented instance where a decision to undertake program A rather than program B or C was arrived at on the basis of analysis alone..." (1973:77). The Royal Commission on Financial Man agement and Accountability, struck in 1976, to examine the accounting methods used by the federal government, in summa tion was more direct: Overall, the application of PPBS as the central budgetary tool has met with mixed success. The decision was made in 1970 to overlay the system with a new procedure requiring submit bud gets detailing both the level of existing programs (the "A" budget) and the costs required to improve the quality of service, to extend the programs, or to finance new program and new capital projects (the "B" budget). In practice, the use of two budgets enhanced the tendency in the budgetary process, car ried over from the pre-PPBS system, to concentrate attention on requests for new funds, with the result that there is a more limited review of the "A" budget, if at all, and existing programs seldom come up for serious re-examination. Moreover, it has proved extremely difficult to establish more explicit objectives for programs, and to put in place within departments workable systems whereby the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs are measured. (1977:23). This passage lends official Canadian credence to Wildavsky's unequivocal statement that "PPBS has failed everywhere and at all times." (1975:363). 49 c. British Columbia Commencing in the late seventies, a major program of fiscal and budgetary reform was instituted by the British Columbia government. The province selected zero base bud geting (ZBB) as its reform model. ZBB which is an experi ment to see if a PPBS-type mechanism will work (Wildavsky 1975:276), was introduced to the Ministries of Forests and the Attorney General in fiscal year 1979-80. By the 1981-82 budget cycle, ZBB was implemented in all but four ministries - Education was one of the exceptions (Ritter & Cutt 1985: 45). In its original form, ZBB requires that budgeters start from a zero base; expenditures within each program are justified at the beginning of the budget cycle. The provin cial government's practice of Zero Base Budgeting carried significant additional costs resulting from extra prepara tion time required to meet the new stipulations (Ruff 1983:192). When a ministry actually met the stipulations, Treasury Board could not conduct a complete review: The Treasury Board did not have the capacity to utilize all the information generated by ZBB. The decision-making process was not being served by the introduction of excessive detail. (Ritter & Cutt 1985:47) Costs related to negotiation are viewed by Lee and Johnson (1983:73) as wasting "valuable administrative time by requiring the rehashing of old issues that had already been resolved." These costs soon forced the replacement of the zero base with an operational minimum — an amount below 50 which the budgetary allocation would not fall. The concept of an operational minimum restored the old incrementalist maxim, where what is spent this year is the best measure of what will be spent in the next. In fiscal year 1983-84, the British Columbia Ministry of Education replaced a long-established school district line item accounting and budgeting procedure with a new Program, Budgeting, and Accounting System. Although seldom referred to as PPBS by Ministry officials, the outline in Figure I (page51) demonstrates that all major elements are incorporated in the Ministry's model. The genealogy of this budgetary reform is explicit in the following excerpt from the Ministry's Program Accounting and Budgeting Manual: The development and implementation of a full plan ning, programming, budgeting and evaluation system is at the discretion of each school district. How ever, the introduction of a program accounting and budgeting system on a uniform basis across the prov ince is the initial, and very valuable step in developing a more comprehensive district planning system. (1983C:1.5) This statement implies that the Ministry's reform model is incomplete; however, the definition of what constitutes a 'full' PPBS system remains moot. Neither a public service, nor an educational administration has succeeded in introduc ing a pure PPBS model — one in which every output is opera tionally related to a resource input. Educational adminis trators usually are satisfied with identifying a relatively small number of output measures. For the B.C. Ministry of Education, these measures appear to be class size and the cost of delivering each of the programs within the nine 51 Figure I Major Components Of The Program Accounting And Budgeting System - Fiscal Year 1983-84 British Columbia Ministry Of Education1 1 . Information -reports finances and operations -fewer forms filled less frequently 2. Fiscal Framework -sets the amount required to provide a basic educational service in each school district -province establishes service levels (standards) and cost factors -return to 1975-76 service levels by 1985-86 (a) Function: -a group of related programs representing the highest level of educational activities -total of nine functions in 1984 (b) Program: -a set of related activities, including statements describing content, objects and resources 3. Budgeting -boards project revenues and expenditures by educational activities -financial expression of objectives, programs and activities of the public school system -planning tool rather than a cost accounting exercise 4. Funding -funding in the form of provincial grants will cover at least sixty.and as much as ninety-five percent of approved budget 5. Accounting -follows program budget structure to record expenditures and revenues Sources: 1 Fleming & Anderson (1984) and B.C. Ministry of Education Program Accounting and Budgeting Manual (1983c). 52 functions.23 Although few official Ministry statements relate stu dent achievement directly to expenditure, there is a marked increase in the measurement of pupil performance. The Ministry introduced provincial grade twelve examinations and carried out the third provincial reading assessment for grades four, seven and ten in the 1983-84 school year (Jeroski, Tolsma & Labercane 1984). Grade twelve examina tion results contributed toward fifty percent of a student's graduating mark. The 1984 reading assessment was the first to provide school-level measurements (1984:2). The provincial examinations replaced those set by local teachers at the school and school district level. Their primary aim is to "...encourage teaching to the curriculum and promote more effective and purposeful teaching." [sic] (Heinrich 1983:60). Thus an output measure gauges the degree to which teachers comply with the centrally mandated curriculum or analytical model.2" Testing fulfills an important role in the new educa tional process model. Assessment scores are made public, and local school boards are instructed to release examina tion results to their constituents. In the Minister's words: With both Grade 12 exams and the reading assessment 23 A major objective is to reduce public school expenditures and increase pupil/teacher ratios to 1975-76 levels by the 1985-86 fiscal year (Fleming & Anderson 1984:36). 2" Anderson, one of the authors of the financial and budget ing system, extensively researched teacher productivity among inner-city schools in the southern United States. 53 for Grades 4, 7 and 10, overall achievement levels for the province will be made public. District or individual school results will not be identified. These results will be forwarded to the district superintendent of schools. I shall expect boards of school trustees, in consultation with local educa tors, to review the data and provide the local tax payer with a summary of student achievement in the district. (Heinrich 1983:60). The Minister's clear affirmation of a connection between the resource base or 'local taxpayer' and the output or 'student achievement' reflects the very nature of the Ministry's new Program, Budgeting and Accounting System. Increasing school and school district administrative concern with aggregate class and school performance on these metrics supports the claim that output measures are being applied more exten sively than is at first apparent from the Ministry's new accounting procedures. How these output measures contribute to improved educa tional performance is not clear. Resources which could be directed to reducing class size and introducing expanded educational opportunities have been diverted to student assessments and financial monitoring. Assessments demon strate what has long been known in British Columbia and elsewhere in North America: only significant increases in expenditure in the classroom will bring about improved learning among children. .Reading is a salient example. Five years before the financial cutback and reform programs were instituted, the Ministry acknowledged that "Comprehen sive, high quality reading programs are available on only a limited basis in the secondary schools of British Columbia 54 for a. variety of reasons, including a shortage of trained personnel — a factor which should be amenable to treatment." (Ministry of Education 1977b:1). Rather than improve learn ing opportunities, the 1982 program of financial cutbacks resulted in higher student/teacher ratios and reduced or . eliminated special educational programs for children who encounter difficulty learning English. Whether the Ministry's PPBS-type budgeting reform will succeed where virtually all others have failed is debatable. Perhaps the Ministry of Education's greatest success, as with the provincial government's practice of Zero Base Bud geting, is to have "reinforced a restraint and efficiency mentality..." (Ruff 1983:192) within the public school orga nization. 2. PPBS Overview PPBS is an accounting method which increases central control by maximizing the relationship between inputs and outputs. The system emerged in a commercial setting where it was profitably applied to automobile production. Following ten years of preparatory work by the Rand Corpora tion, program budgeting was introduced to the United States Department of Defense in 1961. This constituted the first application to public administration. By 1965, all United States' federal government departments and agencies were required to adopt PPBS. Despite considerable official com mitment, only a few years passed before the United States 55 government abandoned program budgeting. Canada's public administrators had a similar experience with PPBS. Two years after the federal Treasury Board introduced this system, incremental methods again prevailed. In British Columbia, Zero-Base Budgeting, a system with a comparable methodology, was introduced in 1979. Within two years, ZBB's guiding principle, that in each budget cycle, proponents justify all program expenditures beyond a zero base, was jettisoned in favour of incrementalism. Most practitioners and independent researchers concur that PPBS is ill-suited to public administration. PPBS sac rifices political for operational rationality. The system is costly to institute and a shortage of skilled profession als compounds administrative acceptance. In public educa tion, where schools must respond to a multiplicity of com peting and not infrequently contradictory goals, PPBS is particularly problematic. This leads to the fourth research question: What is the relationship between organizational objectives and the design of computer systems? F. SUMMARY OF THE LITERATURE REVIEW Computers facilitate centralization. This relationship was clearer when there were fewer computers and they were installed only in head offices. Centralization effects remain strong and continue in spite of new influences, such as that of the microcomputer which offers significant com puting power to low-level administrators. Long-term 56 planning strategies adopted by IBM partly explain the recent resurgence of centralizing technologies. The organization and administration of all aspects of society on a global scale, however, has proceeded unabated for several centuries. In recent decades, this process has accelerated. There are profound political and environmental reasons for administering the Earth and its peoples as a highly inte grated set of interdependencies. Among educational organi zations, computers are indispensible in the progress toward world management. Closely allied with the inherent capacity of informa tics to favour centralization is the issue of how this techology is applied to perform work. The largest adminis trative application of computers in the public education system of British Columbia was undertaken to meet the requirements of a new planning and budgeting system. Cost reductions and increased efficiency, the twin aims of this centralized financial system, are attained by linking finan cial inputs with educational outputs, then comparing the performance of administrative units. III. METHODOLOGY This study of the administrative 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 quantitative data were integrated with this information, the methodology remained predominantly that which many contemporary organizational theorists refer to as qualitative research (Van Maanen 1983). During the past decade, the term qualitative research has gained wide parlance among educational research methodo-logists. In spite of the more than six books and many arti cles on the subject, the term has eluded rigorous defini tion. Van Maanen notes that qualitative research has no precise meaning in the social sciences (1983:9).1 For. Wilson, qualitative research is synonymous with anthropo logical, phenomenological and ethnographic research (1977: 245). At least one methodologist avoids the problem of def inition entirely by subsuming these terms under a broad cat egory and then defining it. Guba chooses this route when he categorizes ethnography along with qualitative research as a 1 Van Maanen's definition of qualitative as a "term covering an array of interpretative techniques which seek to describe, decode, translate... the meaning, not the frequency, of certain, more or less naturally occurring phenomena in the social world." (1983:9) typifies the lack of precision. 57 58 "naturalistic research paradigm," insisting, moreover, that naturalistic research is not a method at all, but a paradigm for inquiry (1981:76). Others, such as Eisner, find the term qualitative misleading, "since all empirical research must of necessity pay attention to qualities..." (1981:5). He believes that the main distinction lies between what is studied in a scientific mode, and what is studied artisti cally. This observation's authentic ring, however, is damp ened by the novelist E.L. Doctorow who cautions that writers may "compose false documents more valid, more real,.more truthful than the 'true' documents of the politicians or the journalists or the psychologists." (1977:232). Doctorow's fictional perspective implicitly highlights the fundamental question around which all discussions about qualitative and ethnographic research inevitably orbit: how is the research er, and the researcher's audience assured of the truth of what is before them? There are no wholly satisfactory answers. Tests of reliability and validity, the keys to judging the accuracy of empirical research, have a very restricted application in qualitative research. Beyond a knowledge of logic and an intelligent application of the facts, there are no compara bly powerful tools available for testing the accuracy of ethnography's interpretative methods. One of the strongest verification procedures is triangulation, also called con vergent validation, where agreement is sought between the products of two or more methods of collecting evidence 59 (Abrahamson 1983; Miles 1984). An example of triangulation in an organizational setting is where the interview disclo sures of pharmaceutical executives are confirmed by World Health Organization statistics. Such correspondence between two research techniques enhances the belief that the results are valid (Jick 1983:136). The process of combining differ ent methods can be traced to the multiple operations work of Campbell and Fiske (1959). Although qualitative researchers claim triangulation as their own, there is ample evidence of its earlier application by historians and anthropologists. March Bloch's Feudal Society (1961) and Ruth Benedict's The Chrysanthemum And The Sword (1974) are two benchmark studies in their respective fields which rely heavily on assembling corroborative evidence from a wide variety of sources. That Yvonna Lincoln, co-author of Effective Evaluation (Guba & Lincoln 1981), one of the most popular texts on naturalistic methodology, also studied medieval history provides strong indirect testimony to the epistemological roots of qualita tive research. There is little which distinguishes the core methods of qualitative and naturalistic research from either ethnogra phy or historiography. All researchers in these fields in vest selected facts with meaning in a continuing process of moulding facts to interpretation and interpretation to facts. Ethnography's concern with studying living cultures does not necessarily lead to a differentiation of its research methodology. Compare ethnography's direct 60 perception of the present with historiography's use of vari ous types of recorded information. In both disciplines, a discrete observation is selected from a wide range of possi ble events. The ethnographic observation once noted is cast as an action that exists in the past. The recorded observa tion is then subject to the same discriminative process as historical fact. An event which ethnography describes usu ally cannot be reproduced. For all practical purposes, the methods of qualitative, naturalistic, ethnographic, and his-toriographic endeavour are fundamentally the same. That is why a definition that would clearly delineate qualitative and naturalistic research from ethnography has not been made. In their current use, these.two expressions are little more than misleading tags for long established'forms of humanist inquiry. A. SAMPLING TECHNIQUES The principal data sources constituted interviews with educational administrators who were employed throughout the B. C. public school system. Supplementary sources included policy documents, internal administrative studies, financial and annual reports, as well as studies on the application of electronic information technology to the public service2 and 2 Public service denotes the collective instrument whereby things that government is responsible for, get done. Swainson (1983:119) writes, "reflecting current governmental practice in British Columbia, (the term public service) is used to embrace the departments of government, its central and special agencies, its boards, commissions and crown cor porations, and the staffs of all of them." 61 to business management. The administration of the public school system — whether at the school, school district or ministry level — is treated as integral"to the public ser vice. For the purpose of reporting the research findings, and discussing their implications, the British Columbia Systems Corporation (BCSC) although a provincially owned Crown corporation and therefore in the strictest sense part of the public service, will be considered separately. Several sources were tapped for information that could be used to assemble a preliminary model about how computers have affected the modern organization. These sources included research journal articles, newspaper reports, and correspondence. Although to date relatively little has been published about the impact of computers on the administra tion of the public school organization, there is a well-developed literature on their corporate impact, and a small, but growing research effort has begun on the experience of government. Specialized publications on computers, manage ment science, and information science can provide a good composite of the organizational change which the computer has wrought. Correspondence with five Canadian educational minis tries was undertaken before the fieldwork was launched in late May, 1984. The provincial experience was varied. Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta reported that a small number of districts transferred data to the Ministry in electronic form. Quebec had developed a province-wide computer network 62 linking more than two hundred and fifty school districts with the Ministry 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 tional objective was to apply some of these machines to school management. Knowledge about how other provincial jurisdictions addressed the application of computers to administration, afforded comparisons with the preliminary research results of the British Columbia inquiry. B. PILOT STUDY A pilot study was conducted to test the interview meth ods. The pilot was held with a superintendent of a metro politan school district. The interview was semi-structured, and followed a flexible schedule of questions. After close assessment of the trial results which included discussions with experienced organizational researchers, the pilot was deemed a success. The interview was completed within the designated time of one hour and the respondent replied in a forthright manner to all questions. Additional information or clarification was provided as requested. At the close, the researcher was introduced to two of the district's head office personnel, an assistant secretary-treasurer and a curriculum coordinator. In. a pattern that would character ize some future interviews, an additional 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 inter viewees' responses were added to the schedule. The sequence of questions was rearranged with the intention of "maximiz ing the flow of information and maintaining optimum inter personal relations..." (Gorden 1975:406). The preliminary formalities, including obtaining consent, were abbreviated. A few questions which apparently had been perceived by the respondent as threatening were rephrased. C. CANDIDATE SELECTION The selection process began with a knowledge-gathering phase. Limited research funds restricted the search for candidates to districts located within the region encom passed by southern Vancouver Island, the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and the Lower Fraser Valley. This conurbation is within easy commuting of the researcher's home and includes fifteen "school districts. Districts with the longest history of computer use in British Columbia are to be found here; indeed, some were selected for the research sample. Input was sought from schools and school districts which had been particularly active over recent years in the administrative application of computers. A core group of six administrators was selected for initial contact. This group included an executive director 64 of a research agency, three superintendents of schools, and two senior managers from the Ministry of Education. The sample was constructed to produce immediate input from as many organizational levels as possible. An additional twenty-six respondents were identified from document searches and references provided by the initial six-member target group. Discussions with representatives of profes sional education associations and individuals outside the educational system enhanced the knowledge gathering phase. D. CANDIDATE PROFILES The profiles of the initial set of public school orga-' nization respondents fulfilled the following criteria. Interviewees were administrators within the B.C. public school system who functioned as principals, vice-principals, superintendents, assistant superintendents, secretary-treasurers, or branch directors at the Ministry level. The educational respondents had many years of administrative experience in the B.C. school system. Figure II (page1 65) compares the average number of years that various categories of respondent had held their current position. Most had occupied their current posting from four to ten years. The average number of years of teaching and administrative expe rience by respondent category is reported in Figure III. With accumulated experience averaging twenty-eight years, the secondary school principals between them had served the longest time in the system, closely 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 totals demonstrate that the educational respondents drew on a long working acquaintance with the B.C. school system. Administrators belonged to organizational units which either maintained in-house computers, contracted their com puter services to privately operated data processing compa nies or, in the case of the Ministry, contracted to a Crown corporation. Representatives were sought from organiza tional units in which either the microcomputer, minicomputer or mainframe predominated. In some instances, the inter viewees were regarded by computer professionals and their peers as individuals who had displayed a strong interest in the administrative application of computers. Any single school district was represented by no more than two respondents. This design feature reduced potential internal administrative conflict and increased the range of inputs. Once selected, written contact was initiated solic iting the candidate's participation. The introductory letter briefly stated the purpose of the research, the nature of the interview, and asked the respondent to indi cate a convenient time. Some letters of introduction were written by the research supervisor, others by the author. A follow-up telephone call was made three days after the expected arrival of the letter. Later, this routine was changed. Letters of introduction were delivered by hand to expedite securing an appointment. 67 The initial plan called for respondents to be selected exclusively from the B.C. public school organization. A decision was taken early in the fieldwork to widen the sample. An improved understanding of the research questions was believed possible with a broader range of inputs. Widening the sample was accomplished in two steps. In the first, candidates were added from two closely allied organi zations: the B.C. School Trustees Association and the B.C. Teachers' Federation. In the second step, respondents who had a commercial knowledge of the administrative application of computers to the province's school system were solicited from software and hardware companies. The profiles of the non-educational respondents were more diverse both in career and geographical dimensions than those of educational administrators. Interviewees included systems analysts, software developers, and hardware vendors. Several executives of small companies were also contacted. Discussions with these respondents usually concentrated on specific questions relating to their area of expertise. Their contributions, although on occasion not explicitly related to educational administration, assisted in the anal ysis of information provided by the public education organi zation respondents. 68 E. THE INTERVIEWS During the study's planning stage, one hour was desig nated for each formal interview. In practice, 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 administrator's support staff. The number of personnel interviewed from the provincial public school organization totalled twenty-two. Table II (page 69) pro vides a list of interview respondents by position and orga nizational level. An additional seven interviews were con ducted with representatives of four closely related profes sional organizations, the B.C. School Trustees Association, the B.C. Teachers' Federation, the B.C. Research Council, and the Educational Research Institute of British Columbia. Finally, ten representatives from hardware and software com panies were interviewed. Personnel interviewed in these categories either designed educational administration com puter programs, acted as advisors to school districts or served as research consultants to senior levels of govern ment. Their professional knowledge extended beyond British Columbia to include Canada and the United States. Table II provides a detailed breakdown of respondents by organization and position. The total time spent questioning respondents exceeded fifty 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 ManagerComputer CoordinatorCoordinator 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 Secondarysubtotal 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 Institutions Administrator 2 subtotal 2 7. Software Companies Manager1 2 Systems Analyst/Programer1 1 Marketing Representative1 3 subtotal 6 8. Computer Companies Marketing Representative1 3 subtotal 3 Total Respondents 38 Note: 1written summary of interview only 71 1. Interview Schedule Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant according to an interview schedule. This facil itates comparisons between interviews (Abrahamson 1983:338). Individual respondents were not required to answer each question, and the sequencing of questions varied with each interview. If the participant's answers demonstrated excep tional knowledge in an area deemed likely to enhance the study, the interviewer departed from the schedule and devel oped impromptu questions which more fully explored this expert knowledge. In those instances where a respondent strayed onto less productive ground, citing a scheduled question sharpened the focus. The strategy of partly scripting the interlocutor's role while allowing sufficient flexibility to determine the timing of a particular ques tion, meant that the interviewer could more readily adapt to the respondent's individual style and experience. As interviewing progressed, the schedule of questions was revised to reflect the improved understanding of the research implications. With experience,, the schedules better anticipated the type of contribution that a respon dent could make by virtue of the respondent's position and administrative experience. The revision process, together with the production of schedules tailored to particular administrative positions resulted in the further differenti ation of questions. 72 Two administrators asked for a list of questions to be submitted three weeks in advance of the interview. Their request was granted. To the researcher's surprise, on com mencing the interview the respondent began to read from a prepared list of short answers. This arrangement was stilted; although the accuracy of the information was good, the depth and breadth of the answers were very limited. When the interviewer engaged the respondent in conversation related to the questions, the respondent soon began to relax. This technique proved more productive than the pre paration of short, written answers and this experience points to the inherent restrictions of the survey questionnaire. 2. Respondent's Consent At the interview's commencement, a summary of the respondent's rights and the conditions of the interview was submitted for signing (see Consent Form, Appendix G). Among the important assurances were the right to decline to answer specific questions, and to withdraw from the '-interview at any time. Any questions concerning procedure were answered to the satisfaction of the respondent. After signing the form, a copy was retained by the respondent and the inter viewer. Confidentiality of the disclosures and anonymity of the sources were ensured. Confidentiality was achieved by not referring later to any matter disclosed during an interview in a manner which 73 could be considered a breach of trust. Anonymity was secured by not identifying the respondent either during the taping session or subsequently in the typed transcripts. Where references were made in this study to content which might have revealed either the identity of the respondent, or the respondent's associates, the references are designed to conceal that identity and maintain the integrity of the reference. The study's methodology here, as elsewhere, is designed to comply with the stipulations of the University of British 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 built-in electrostatic microphones faced in opposite directions 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 test. Setup was kept to approximately three minutes, a time which allowed maximum use of those few instances where the administrator strictly adhered to the one hour limit. A ninety-minute cassette tape was selected because this format reduced cassette handling to one change per hour. An additional thirty 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 period. Had the flow of con versation been interrupted by a cassette change, the infor mation would probably have been lost. The choice of this tape format also contributed to the effective utilization of the time allotted. Tape recording provided an accurate audial transcrip tion of the interview. The interviewer was relieved of laborious note taking. Comprehensive note taking would have been impossible, when combined with other responsibilities, such as attention to content and the formulation of follow-up questions. With a tape recorder, the interviewer was able to con centrate on establishing a close rapport with the respon dent. Attention could focus on the content of the verbal communication, its fidelity with the speaker's kinesthetics and proxemics (Downs 1980:68), and its accord with the interviewer's understanding of the subject. A swift evalua tion of the respondent's answers could be made before pro ceeding to the next question. Occasional brief notes either highlighted the interviewer's evaluations or identified a subject for a follow-up question. Later, the recording would allow the interviewer "to hear his own verbal tech niques and detect possible biasing effects." (Gorden 1975: 474). The presence of the tape recorder did not appear to inhibit interviewee responses. The apparent neutrality of the recording device may be a product of increasing social acceptance of various recording techniques. 75 4. Transcripts A verbatim transcript was typewritten for each recorded interview. There were approximately 670 typed double-spaced pages of transcribed material. Neither transcripts nor notes were presented to the respondents for confirmation, since this procedure would slow the evaluation. In addi tion, there was concern that respondents would alert other administrators to the content of the questions, thereby reducing the level of spontaneity. On several occasions during analysis of the written transcripts, however, confir mation was sought on a particular point from either the respondent or from other sources in the respondent's organi zational unit. More rapid and more complete analysis of the material was possible with typed transcripts than with the original audio recording. When the transcriber was uncertain about particular words or phrases, the tape counter number was included in the typewritten copy. Later, the researcher returned to these areas and identified the missing passage. The transcript 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 transcripts as the analysis proceeded. Information divulged in the inter views was checked for internal consistency, and consistency with the disclosures 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 identify the page locations of specific content used in reporting research findings. While in progress, the job of accurately trans cribing twenty-seven interviews hardly seemed warranted. As the analysis of the research question matured, however, the earlier effort was justified. Had a written summary been substituted for the tape recording/typed transcript method, much valuable material would have been irretrievably lost. The summary approach to recording interviews prematurely reduces the richness of the data. The tactic is quick, but it tends to confirm precon ceived notions, since the results are mediated "by the fieldworker's own standards of relevance as to what is and what is not worthy of observation." (Van Maanen 1983:51). A verbatim transcript preserves many subtleties which await discovery and elaboration when the interviews are compared. F. Interviewer Bias And Respondent Validity Various means were invoked to reduce the possibility of interviewer bias and to assure the validity of the disclo sures which were later incorporated into the study. A schedule of questions was followed (Appendix F). Verbatim typed transcripts reduced spurious and subjective judgements of what transpired in the interview. Since the complete interview was recorded, content analysis could proceed over the eighteen-month period of thesis preparation. 77 Information which might have been dismissed as irrelevant in the initial phases of the project was not lost, but remained until its significance was recognized. Identifying 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 interviewer's style. The relatively large number of respondents in a study of this type contributed to improved reliability. Disclosures were compared with those of administrators at other organizational levels and with those of respondents from outside agencies. Agreement between many respondents may indicate a higher degree of reliability. However, due consideration was given in the content analysis to the recognition that overwhelming agree ment does not of itself assure credibility: a minority of one may be the solitary bearer of the truth. Where possible, interview disclosures were checked against written documents, such as studies, financial reports, policy statements, and minutes of meetings. Requests for written replies to questions were sent to respondents on the assumption that administrators take great interest in the accuracy of signed statements. Comparing the interviewees' replies with the findings of research in allied fields assisted with a determination of reliability. Most research findings in the study are supported with ref erences to their source: public or private reports, personal correspondence or respondent disclosures. .78 G. SUMMARY Qualitative research is rooted in a long tradition of humanist inquiry. Its methods are not fundamentally differ ent from historiography or anthropology. In the pursuit of an improved understanding of social phenomena, a similar process of analysis and interpretation is shared by all three. As with quantitative research, a set of data or facts may be invested with radically different meanings. Tests of reliability and validity, keystones of scientific method, have a restricted application in qualitative stud ies. Clarity and the revelation of sources are the chief guarantees of reliability. IV. RESEARCH FINDINGS Throughout the twenty-five year history of administra tive computing in the British Columbia public education system, two major trends have occurred. First, computer applications within the Ministry move from a labour replace ment role in which existing clerical routines are automated, to a planning mode in which informatics assists policy makers. In the second trend, computer use diffuses from the organizational apex to all school districts and many schools. The effect of computers on administration is pervasive. Their capacity to manipulate large quantities of data is the backbone of the Ministry of Education's1 current centraliza tion program which embraces budgeting, and curriculum and learning evaluation. Without these tools, the planning, implementation and monitoring of several major policies introduced since 1982 would be prohibitively expensive. As a consequence of computer applications, the parameters of i,. local administrative action were redefined, and school and school district autonomy eroded. The same administrative practices that led in 1961 to the installation by the Ministry of Education of an antiquated computer, to be replaced only a year later by 1 The Department of Education was proclaimed the Ministry of Education on October, 1977 (British Columbia 1977:551). This body is referred to throughout this study as the Ministry of Education. 79 80 equipment already nearing obsolesence, have persisted into the 1980's. Recently installed school district computers run on mutually incompatible software which restrict econo mies of scale and limit digital communication. At the same time that the Ministry exerts increasing control over the whole education organization, with the recording and moni toring assistance of computers, the Ministry seems reluctant to firmly coordinate school and district data processing. Districts have long resisted centralization and stan dardization of their computing systems. A late 1960's study, and one a decade later recommended that the Ministry rationalize district EDP (Howe & Totherow 1969; B.C. Ministry of Education 1979). In the absence of firm Ministry resolve, however, school district policy on data processing evolved without reference to provincial needs. The course of provincial government computing altered sharply with the 1977 founding of the British Columbia Systems Corporation. Following transfer of data processing responsibilities to the new Corporation, a small but impor tant cadre of Ministry of Education computer professionals was dispersed. Confronted by the controversy that attended the BCSC start-up, Ministry officials seemed less favourably disposed to the implementation of provincial processing standards. A chain of events in the early 1980's once again focused Ministry attention on district computers. In response to public service financial reforms and fiscal 81 restraint measures spearheaded by the Ministry of Finance, the education ministry devised a new Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System. PPBS complexity required that most school districts acquire computers with an enlarged process ing capacity. Introduction of PPBS was therefore preceded by the 1982 announcement of a four-year computer expansion and replacement project. Schools and school districts are represented by many administrative units. In 1984 there were seventy-five school districts and 1,712 schools (Statistics Canada 1985a).2 Among these units, considerable variation exists in the manufacturing origin of hardware and software compos ing the data processing systems. Each administrative' entity within the research sample of six schools, and six school districts3 has a distinct constellation of manufacturer's equipment (Table IV). Although Ministry experience with computers accumulated over twenty-five consecutive years, detailed information on the topic is scarce." The Ministry's electronic data pro cessing systems were implemented in relative obscurity; leg islative debates and news media coverage do not record the historic junctures as they have for the Systems Corporation. 2 In 1985-86 there were seventy-five districts and 1,692 schools (Statistics Canada 1985b). 3 Were the districts represented by the school-level sample added, there would be a total of eight districts in the sample. " Dr. C. B. Conway, the leading figure in the early years, is deceased. If he kept a daily journal, none appears to have survived. Ministry of Education papers from this period have yet to be released to the Provincial Archives. 82 Rarely do Ministry Annual Reports find the subject worthy of comment. Research findings are reported in three sections: 1. Ministry of Education 2. School District 3. School. Findings for the British Columbia Systems Corporation are disclosed in a fourth section. The recapitulation inte grates the research findings in summary form. Since the events which compose the story form a complex whole, a time line is included in Appendix A as a convenient guide. A. MINISTRY OF EDUCATION The year 1947 marked the first time an electrically powered computing device was directly utilized by the B. C. Ministry of Education. This simple machine was the focus of a short-term study on its application to test scor ing. The machine electrically detected graphite-filied answer spaces (Ministry of Education Annual Report 1964-65: 53). According to Dr. Clifford B. Conway,5 the first Director of the Division 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 this 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 provincial tests and matriculation examinations. 83 valued at four cents. The Annual Report indicates that the cost-benefit of the computer was amply demonstrated, but a large number of small errors resulted in test scores which . were too low,.soon foreing the project's cancellation. Fourteen years elapsed before the introduction of an electronic computer. In the immediate post World War II era, the province's educational system expanded rapidly. 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 matriculation examinations kept pace, manual marking and tabulating meth ods proved slower and more costly. The additional expenses incurred in servicing high enrolments probably contributed substantially to justifying the costs of an in-house com puter to Treasury Board. Treasury kept a tight hold on gov ernment data processing (Ritter & Cutt 1985). The Ministry's initial commitment to electronic data processing came in 1961 with the installation of an IBM 6506 to accomplish "partial mechanization of the handling of 63,000 matriculation examination scores." (Annual Report 1962-63:47). Education was probably the first Ministry in 6 The IBM 650 main memory ranged from 10,000 to 20,000 decimal digits (Fisher, McKie & Mancke 1983:17). It was a smaller version of IBM's first computer (1983:15). Data was entered by keypunch cards read at a speed of 250 cards per minute. There was no visual display terminal. The machine rented for between $3,000 and $4,000 U.S. when- first released in 1954 (1983:17). In November 1985, the IBM AT personal computer had a 16 bit processor, 512 K RAM and a 20 megabyte hard disk. The package included keyboard, visual monitor and a DOS operating system — retailing for under $10,000 Canadian. 84 the Provincial Government to operate an in-house computer; only in fiscal year 1963-64 did the Finance computerize their accounting system (Ritter & Cutt 1985:13). At the time of Ministry implementation, the seven-year old 650 technology already had been rendered obsolete by IBM's 1960 introduction of the 1400 system (Fisher, McKie & Mancke 1983:52). Two replacements for the 650 system, the IBM 1620 computer and 1403 printer were installed in 19637 , as the Ministry prepared for "the tremendous upsurge in matriculation candidates expected in 1964 and 1965" (Annual Report 1962-63:47). The 1620 computer was a second genera tion machine with a magnetic core storage capacity of 20,000 alphameric digits (IBM 1963:2). The accompanying 1403 high speed chain printer operated at 600 numeric data lines per minute, a considerable improvement over the 150 line rate for earlier models (Fisher, McKie & Mancke 1983:53). Rewriting the old 650 computer programs for the 1620 took two years (Ministry Annual Report 1963-64:53), an indi cation that the decision to abandon the 650 hardware was made only a few months after installation. After 1963, com puters assumed an increasingly central position within Ministry operations. 7 The IBM 360 series was announced on April 7, 1964 (Fisher, McKie & Mancke 1983:139), proof that rapid technological obsolescence was as germane then as it is today. 85 1. Changing Role of EDP As computers underwent an expanded organizational role, the administrative attitude toward them changed. This change was closely linked to how they accomplished Ministry goals. Two historic stages are discernible. During the first, lasting from 1960 to 1974, many clerical procedures are automated. Computers replaced people. Some of the remaining non-automated clerical routines are modified to accommodate electronic data processing. Administrative observations at this time stressed the labour replacement aspect of computers; demands for increased automation cite potential efficiencies and cost-benefits (1961-62:47). A summary of computer applications published in the Ministry's 1961-62 Annual Report conveys a pronounced inter est in their labour replacement potential. The Ministry computer marked and tabulated achievement test and examina tion results. Eight automated clerical steps are listed, ranging from hand identification of papers to conversion of raw to scaled scores. A strong plea is made for the instal lation of in-house keypunch machines: i The maximum benefit of automation will only become evident when machines are installed in the Department of Education for preliminary punching operations and the whole procedure is mechanized. (1961-62:48) This concern with computing efficiency continues through 1965, when a comparative study of two photoelectric scorers is reported. The transition from labour replacement to wholly new applications begins in 1966 when the British 86 Columbia Research Council (BCRC) produces an IBM 360 program for the "mathematical projection" of enrolment (Annual Report 1966-67:58).8 Since the program is designed to handle new data inputs, the projections can be revised as additional data are collected. The effects of changes to class size, course offerings and teacher graduation were also modeled. This program is probably the first to directly inform Ministry policy-making. During the second historical stage, beginning in 1974 and continuing to the present, computers not only continue to automate clerical work, they also undertake assignments never before required by the Ministry. They become close adjuncts to the planning process (1974-75:15). Their effi ciency is usually assumed, and administrative statements about costs which dominate the first stage, give way to con siderations about how best to respond to growing statistical demands that originate within either the Ministry or outside agencies (1974-75:16). Observations from this 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 archivist. Multi-purpose data banks are devised with sufficient flexi bility to handle existing statistical requirements and those in the future whose exact nature is not yet known (1980-81: 69). The Data Operations Branch aptly characterizes the 8 According to Glen Foster of BCRC, preliminary work began in 1966 with the operational model delivered in late 1968 (interview March, 1986). 87 change as one that went "from 'what is or what was' towards 'what will be if.'" [sic] (1980-81:69). In fiscal year 1973-74 the Research and Standards Branch, responding to rising statistical 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 heavily. Some of the processing load was removed when school assessments of student achievement replaced provincial examinations. Data Services began work on a new management information system (MIS) "to assist the Department in the management of the whole education enterprise." (1975-76:31). In 1976, a com puter was introduced to the Publication Services Branch to manage the purchasing and distribution 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 clerical procedures to electronic rou tines is that they will be performed for either the same or less cost. Financial information therefore provides an important measure for gauging the administrative impact of computers. Detailed financial analysis of computer impacts on the B.C. public school system was thwarted by the scar city of reliable information. Changes in organizational structure and accounting practice reduced the usefulness of 88 the small amount of financial data available. Between 1977 and 1982, a period when Treasury Board required all ministries to publicly disclose computer and computer consultancy costs, Public Accounts report annual Ministry of Education increases in expenditure on electronic data processing (Table III, page 89). Excluding the 1977-78 disclosure, which represents only a portion of the amount spent on EDP that year, figures range from a 1978-79 low of approximately one million dollars to a 1983-84 high of approximately 1.6 million dollars. The average annual expenditure on computers and system consulting exceeded 1.3 million dollars during the seven-year period 1978-79 to 1984-85. While in the same period, the Ministry's annual average expenditure on public education (kindergarten to grade twelve) was 964.4 million dollars. Given the data available, production of a reliable lon gitudinal comparison between computer and administrative costs is not possible. For several years, the Ministry's financial statements published in the Public Accounts include an administrative category variously reported under 'Administration,' 'Ministry Services,' 'Management Operations,' 'Educational Finance,' and more recently iden tified as 'Management Operations.' Irrespective of changing titles, this category does not represent the cost of admin istering the Ministry; rather it is the combined expenditure of Management Operations and Educational Finance Branches (correspondence, 1985). These branches support internal 89 Table III B.C. Ministry of Education Computer Costs Compared With Total Public Education Expenditures 1974-19841 (nearest 1,000 dollars) Computer Percentage Fiscal & Systems Total BCSC Price Year Consulting Ministry Reduction2 1974-75 391,236,000 1975-76 479,117,000 1976-77 ,578,824,000 1977-78 232,0003 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" 1,065,122,0005 Notes: 1 Sources: Public Accounts of British Columbia, and BCSC Annual Reports 2 Price reduction in percentage over previous year 3 Figure represents only part of the 1977-78 total. No entries appear in earlier editions of the Public Accounts. " Supplied by Ministry of Finance 5 British Columbia Estimates for fiscal year ending March 31, 1984, page 61 90 ministry and external school objectives (correspondence, 1985). Another change which reduces comparability is that since 1982, in order to conform more closely 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. (Ritter & Cutt 1985:47). Votes are no longer distributed on an expenditure basis; now they are allocated to program objectives. Administrative and data processing costs are charged to each program within the Ministry and are not itemized in the Public Accounts. Were the B.C. public school system's administrative and computing costs available to the researcher for fiscal years 1982—1985 — which they are not — their significance would be subject to broad interpretation. Effective April 1, 1981, the Comptroller General altered the method of accounting from a cash to an accrual basis. Additionally, there have been three reorganizations of the Ministry of Education: in 1980-81, when responsibility for universities was trans ferred to the new Ministry of Universities, Science and Communications, followed by two internal reorganizations in 1982-83 and 1985-86. BCSC service charges fell by ten percent for the 1979-80 fiscal year, and seven percent for each of the fol lowing two years (BCSC 1979-80:4; 1980-81:5; 1981-82:6). These reductions apply to a large proportion of Ministry data processing expenditures, and are interpreted in this 91 analysis as productivity gains. Although outside agencies such as BCRC and the Education Research Institute of British Columbia (ERIBC)9 received some data processing contracts, BCSC's strategy was to increase control until virtually all government process ing development was channelled through the Corporation (see Research Findings, D. British Columbia Systems Corporation). By fiscal 1981-82, this corporate objective was largely achieved (BCSC 1981-82:12). Fiscal 1981-82 also marked the beginning of an official four-year program of financial cutbacks to the public ser vice, referred to as fiscal restraint (British Columbia 1983a).10 This social austerity program, according to some respondents, had reduced the effectiveness of public educa tion. Total Provincial Government expenditures continued to climb, but inflationary effects reduced the actual purchas ing power. The Ministry benefited from the production of a capital budgeting program which ran on a micromputer: In September 1982 work began on the development of a microcomputer support system for capital budgeting to replace the existing inadequate computer system. The new system provides estimates of debt servicing costs and compares estimates to actual expenditures. The system has been implemented in all ministries which have significant capital budgets. (Ritter & Cutt 1985:50) 9 ERIBC is a non-profit education research agency located in Vancouver, British Columbia. 10 The fiscal restraint program was announced on February 18, 1982, although key legislation such as the Public Sector Restraint Act and the Education (Interim) Finance Amendment Act was not proclaimed until October 26, 1 983. 92 Production of this program heralded the growing influence of microcomputers in the public service, and the relative decline in the importance of highly centralized facilities in a growing number of applications. On August 31, 1983, the Minister of Finance announced that the Provincial Government would seek a private purchaser for the Corpora tion (BCSC 1983-84:18, Danylchuk l983b:A3). This decision 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 client premises and staffed by BCSC personnel•was implemented in all minis tries (BCSC-84:6). 3. Ministry's School District Computer Acquisition Policy The B.C. Ministry of Education has not yet developed comprehensive criteria for the acquisition of administrative computers, nor is development of such a policy imminent. Apart from some general guidelines on computer cost-sharing between Ministry and school district, and an outline of the approval procedure, the Ministry's involvement is minimal (Appendix B). In practice, choice of hardware and software vendor rests mainly with the district, a striking deviation from the centralized procedure regarding heavily computer-dependent policies, such as finance and the measurement of student achievement. The skeletal stipulations regarding computer selection are an anomally in a central educational 93 management accustomed to efficiency and cost-cutting. The less than fully coordinated drive toward improved computer ization at the school district level produced significant additional costs and some organizational discontinuity (see Research Findings, B. School District). 4. Management Information Systems The proposition that the current Management Information System (MIS) is closely integrated with and subsumed by the financial management of provincial education was confirmed during an interview with a senior Ministry administrator: The MIS is but one component of a new system of managing education in the province... that we are calling the new Financial Management System (FMS). For this respondent, as with many others, the term Financial Management System is synonymous with PPBS. The new MIS emerged from the Office and Data Technology Branch, to become broadly based within the Ministry. He offered the following summary: It's a determination of what critical data elements are needed by this Ministry to run its new Financial Management System... and it's the output records which are being generated by the Ministry. One of the key issues in Planning, Programing, and Budgeting Systems is who has access to the Management Information System. Information that is accessed only by Ministry ana lysts contributes to centralization. The data will be used by senior management to support their policy initiatives. Information accessed by lower organizational levels tends either to neutralize the centralization forces, or move the 94 organization toward decentralization. If individual school boards can make detailed comparisons of their operations with the financial performance of other districts, then they will be capable of more forceful budget arguments. Budget allocations derived from information collected by the MIS are a major source of conflict between some school boards and the Ministry. During this study, the Minister of Education dismissed two school boards for sub mitting budgets which exceeded provincial guidelines. The Vancouver School Board was dismissed on May 5, 1985 and the Cowichan Lake School Board on May 13, 1985. Elections to replace the appointed trustees were held in both districts on January 30, 1986. The Ministry respondent encapsulated the matter in these terms: Is all the information that we collect going to be analyzed, and (are) these analyses to be fowarded back to the field, or will the information analysis be retained by the Ministry with only selected bits going to the field? Embedded in this response is a tacit acknowledgment that the Ministry did not possess the resources to analyze the increasing amounts of PPBS generated data that was flowing from the school districts. The capacity of the Ministry 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 total required of school districts stood at one hundred and eighty-six, and seemed to be rising. Deputy ministers had identified forty additional 95 output reports they wished to have produced. An interde partmental committee was drafting a set of MIS recommenda tions. These output reports would compare different parts of the MIS, for instance, enrolment, budgeting, examination results, and budgets produced by the school district against what is generated by the fiscal framework. When asked whether he thought the Management Informa tion System would result in reduced operating costs, a Ministry informant gave this reply: 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 this system is put in place, and that the. long-term efficiency or dollar saving is a decade or more down the road. A microcomputer is used to analyze the fiscal framework for the seventy-five school districts, in terms of each function and the amount the districts budget within each function. Some districts are already producing their own budget analysis with microcomputers (Kelk 1985:B1). 5. Repatriation of Electronic Data Processing? The unsuccessful attempt to sell BCSC coincided with the Ministry's 1983-84 reintroduction of compulsory grade twelve provincial examinations for students entering post-secondary technical and academic institutions (Jeroski, Tolsma & Labercane 1984:2). During the previous nine years, only those secondary school students who pursued scholar ships wrote provincial examinations (Ministry Annual Report 1972-73:E29). Final standing of most students was 96 determined by their school. The increased costs associated with hiring additional clerical personnel to mark and tabulate provincial examina tions and tests, had provided the initial incentive for the first computer installation in 1960. In the years following 1960, considerable effort was expended on improving the application programs used to generate computations for exam inations and tests, however, neither the programs nor the hardware to run them appear to have survived BCSC's 1977-78 assumption of EDP responsibility. Confronted by a Corpora tion with an uncertain future, and by funding cutbacks that made returning to an in-house system infeasible, the Ministry contracted the work to ERIBC.11 6. Computing Facilities in Transition Computing facilities are in transition at all levels of the B.C. public school system. To some extent this transi tion is driven by technological change. Hardware manufac turers are marketing smaller, yet more powerful computers that can be installed in school offices without constructing special electrified and air conditioned machine rooms. Software manufacturers market proprietary products that allow school administrators to perform many functions on 11 ERIBCs initial 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. universities refused admission to students who had maintained first class averages, because data processing delays meant that the Ministry could not send transcripts before the application deadlines expired. (1984a:B-11). 97 stand-alone personal computers that previously were confined to relatively expensive minicomputers. Private sector, school and school district respondents recognized that the advent of small, inexpensive microcomputers and powerful software suitable for a variety of school-based tasks had resulted in growing demands for computers by school adminis trators {see Research Findings, C. School). 7. Were BCSC's Systems Development Charges Too High? According to one Ministry of Education respondent, BCSC's development costs for a statistical modeling program designed to run on the Corporation's mainframe was estimated at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The model would have projected the effects of changes in property tax to the fiscal framework. Development of this mainframe computer program was not approved; instead, the Ministry purchased two Apple microcomputers. The Ministry administrator com pared the mainframe and microcomputer development expenses: processing costs were estimated to be a quarter of a million dollars to get the system in place. We did it with two Apples for five thousand dollars — we now have three IBM PC's... the total layout for equipment is well under one hundred thou sand dollars. It does many jobs besides fiscal framework. The equipment, including software, is more likely/to have totaled less than fifty-thousand dollars. Each personal computer had a hard disk, a printer and some off-the-shelf software. As the respondent stated, there is the additional benefit of using the in-house systems for other purposes. 98 The BCSC estimate is 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 portion of the total. These refinements meant addi tional development costs and postponements in use; outcomes that were avoided with proprietary software where utiliza tion closely followed basic mastery. Although the respondent asserted that BCSC personnel costs were "very, very expensive..." and constitute the largest expenditure when dealing with the Corporation, he also affirmed that their mainframe rates were low, so that "we can't cost-justify the purchase of our own equipment." The alleged pricing structure may have been associated with Corporate attempts to slow the advance of microcomputer applications within the public service {see Research Findings, D. British Columbia Systems Corporation, 5. Corporate Control of Microcomputers). 8. Multiple Keyboard Entry of Data Ministry and district respondents concurred that trans fer of data on schools operations would be more efficient were it accomplished electronically. Current practice requires districts to enter and process the data on their computers. Selected summary data from printouts are manu ally transcribed by clerical personnel to forms for Ministry 99 of Education use.12 A Ministry respondent stressed: We rely and will continue to rely on the school district office to aggregate much of the data that comes from almost thirty-thousand teacher returns. When the completed forms arrive at the Ministry, the infor mation is once again manually keyed into a computer. Nearly all district-to-Ministry large-scale operational data trans fers follow this procedure. After repeated efforts to streamline MIS and reduce the number of forms — a process dating at least to 1977 — the Ministry again is heavily bur dened with paper. More than 120,000 forms were processed by keyboard during the 1982-83 fiscal year, with approximately half entered manually during October to December (Annual Report, 1982-83:57).13 Second shifts were required. Undoubtedly, the new Financial Management System has brought further proliferation. Two impediments prevent procedural streamlining: 1.) school district computers do not conform to a single operating system standard and, 2.) software applications are not written in a single programing language. Despite the 1982 ministry directive requiring all dis trict purchases to meet BCSC approval (Appendix B), acquisi tion of mutually exclusive operating systems and compilers continued (Table IV). Provincial operating and application 12 Contrast this labour-intensive method with electronic data transmission procedures already common in other Canadian provincial education systems, Manitoba and Quebec for example (Appendix E). 13 This figure excludes the processing of Ministry forms by the B.C. Research Council and ERIBC for the Ministry of Education. 100 system standards facilitate data exchange. Digital trans mission of data would reduce costs associated with the manual processing of forms, and repetitious data entry. Each level of summation reduces the data's potential sensitivity to small-scale variations in operational per formance. An objective of the Ministry's planning, program ing, and budgeting system is to identify efficiencies. Were school district financial databases accessible to the Ministry, planners could devise policies which respond better to differences in school and school district organi zation . The provincial capacity to assess learning on a class room, school and school district level, has not been extended financial performance. 9. Electronic Transmission of Data Limited data transmission between the Ministry and outside agencies was noted. The Ministry currently sends magnetic tapes containing statistical information to Statistics Canada and the British Columbia Teachers Federation.1" The 1976-77 Ministry of Education Annual Report states that data tapes are also sent to the federal Department of Education in the United States of America. Data is not sent between the Ministry and school dis tricts in electronic form and, of course, no facility is in place for accessing data bases at either of these 1" Respondents representing Statistics Canada and BCTF complained in 1984 of unusual delays in receiving this data. 101 organizational levels. A Ministry respondent indicated that systems compatibility was once again under consideration: We are looking forward to, and beginning to consider, the possibility of electronic transmis sion, and we are beginning to investigate the possi bility of compatibility of school district systems and our systems. This is not the first time that B.C.'s public education organization has considered this important aspect of its computer services. Studies emphasizing computer compatibil ity were published as early as 1968 (Howe and Totheroh 1969). 10. Summary Computers continue to replace people in the performance of routine Ministry work, but increasingly, new types of work are found for these machines. They are having a major impact on policy development. The strongest example of this impact is the Program and Budgeting System financial reform. The Ministry's PPBS was developed with microcomputers. Today, the Ministry compares school district budgets on a microcomputer. Increasing Management Information System reporting demands required of school districts seem to be negating previous reductions in the number of forms. Lack of detailed financial information on data process ing expenditures, which was accessible to the researcher, prevented a cost-benefit analysis of their impact. A sharp boundary was noted in the use of computers by administrators and clerks. Senior managers were not using computers in 102 their work. Their data entry needs were met by clerks and specialized personnel. B. SCHOOL DISTRICT In a period spanning over two decades, computers were adopted by all seventy-five British Columbia school dis tricts, and a growing number of schools, to perform routine administrative tasks. Most of this growth took place during the past five years. The expansion of electronic data pro cessing to all levels of the B.C. public school system occurred with minimal Ministerial direction. District deci sions in many instances took precedence over provincial data processing standards and objectives. The fostering of elec tronic communication links and data exchanges using existing provincial facilities was not an explicit objective of the 1982 Ministry of Education computer policy. 1. 1969 Plan for Regional Data Processing Centres As early as 1968, British Columbia school boards expressed serious concern with the rising costs of elec tronic data processing (BCSTA 1969). A survey that year showed that eighteen school districts already used some form of electronic data processing equipment or service (Howe & Totheroh 1969). District EDP costs for the province were estimated to be $225,000, with over $175,000 of this amount spent by metropolitan Vancouver school boards (BCSTA 1969:1). One year later the number of districts using EDP 1 03 had climbed to twenty-eight for an estimated total expendi ture of $300,000. To contain these costs, BCSTA recommended that the Ministry immediately establish 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 Institute of British Columbia issued this warning: If a regional centre is not developed, then many of the districts will acquire data processing equip ment, expand existing EDP facilities, or contract for services. This will lead to a diversity of sys tems and duplication of hardware with the resultant sky-rocketing of costs. (Howe & Totheroh 1969:1) To avoid a one million dollar program development cost (1969:4), the study recommended adoption of the California student and personnel service system. If the California system were not adopted, the authors urged that $500,000 should immediately be reserved for comprehensive system development over the next five years (1969:4). This esti mate did not include operating costs. Demonstration of an integrated school district management system was expected in California during the 1969-70 fiscal year. This program processed various business functions, classified personnel, and professional personnel records (1969:8). The report did not consider computer location a prime factor in the development of British Columbia's regional EDP centres. Centralization, however, would reduce the dispari ties that might develop if several agencies and multiple districts were to develop their own systems (1969:2). The 1 04 plan would be achieved within a two-year horizon. The education finance formula and the accounting prac tices of the time militated against the emergence of regional data centres. Therefore, immediate Ministry of Education intervention was required (1969:5). The proposed role for the Ministry included policy development — to ensure a "common computer language" consistent with Ministry needs. The British Columbia School Trustees' plan called for establishment of two regional centres in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Although a provincial 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 successfully in California (Howe & Totheroh 1969:4), no action was taken by the British Columbia Ministry. 1 2. 1978 School District Computer Needs Report In 1978, lower mainland school districts were again the focus of a computer needs study undertaken on this occasion by the Ministry. Those participating in the review commit tee included the Ministry of Education, and the districts of Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta and New Westminster. At their request, the districts of West Vancouver, North Vancouver and Richmond were excluded. The study determined that in the areas of personnel/payroll, purchasing/stores, audio-visual, general accounting and student services, established procedures warranted standardized hardware and 105 software (Ministry of Education 1979:12). The report found that two proposals merited further study. The first .sought a centralized service patterned on the regional data centres plan of a decade earlier. Each centre would be operated by five data processing employees. Short-term contracts would be issued for specific systems development. The report concluded sparingly that a central ized system "appeared to present some cost-benefit..." (1979:5). The second proposal called for distributed data processing centres. An agency under joint -control of par ticipating districts (1979:7) would coordinate equipment purchases and collectively develop applications. All equip ment, operating systems and programs were to be standard ized. Concern was expressed in the report that inter-district disagreement over centralized hardware, and the potential domination of the system by the largest districts made the centralization option less attractive than decentralization where "agreement on common separate hardware seemed a rela tive possibility..,." (1979:8). The 1978 study stopped short of describing how the EDP project should be managed. Although the need for a new agency was recognized, no resolution was offered for what could prove a serious operational conflict: how would the agency have sufficient power to impose standardization (1979:6) and yet remain under the districts' control (1979:7)? The obvious solution, to invoke Ministry 106 authority, ran counter to the intention to make the agency answerable solely to member districts. The fact that there was Ministry representation on the planning committee ren ders the apparent failure to resolve this fundamental con flict less explicable. The Ministry's weak advocacy of cen tralization may be traced to the public service disfunctions that accompanied reorganization of provincial government EDP under the 1977 System Act (see Research Findings, D. British Columbia Systems Corporation). In sum, the report retreats from the BCSTA call, made ten years earlier, for a strong Ministry presence. Where the earlier report produced a plan and a timetable for achieving regional educational data cen tres, the 1979 report is silent. Circulated to all provin cial districts as a discussion paper, the report became the foundation for formulating policy on the 1982 school dis trict computer project. When planning began in 1981 for the British Columbia school district computerization project, a trend toward an integrated informatic approach had been evident for almost a decade in some Canadian public education jurisdictions (Appendix E). While elsewhere education ministries were intent on either introducing or expanding computer networks, British Columbia reproduced much of the old technological disjunction that had characterized its pre-1982 school dis trict computer systems (Table VI and Table VII). A new opportunity was lost for integrating these distributed data processing systems. Table IV Computer Manufacturers, Models, and Operating Systems Represented in the 1984 District Sample Operating Manufacturer Model System1 1. Digital 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 Architecture X.25 protocol. Refer to Acronyms for full name of operating system. 108 3. Computer Systems in the Research Sample Of the five manufacturers and over six models to receive Ministry funding approval since fiscal year 1982-83 (Ministry and school district correspondence), five manufac turers and five models were represented in this study's six district sample. Table IV lists the computer manufacturers, models and operating systems included in the research sample. Not one of the six computer models had an operating system fully compatible with the others. Program procure ment and development were usually managed on a district by district basis. Only two districts in the six district sample had identical models and operating systems. These districts freely exchanged programs and shared in updates and the development of new applications. Administrative respondents acknowledged the savings which this practice gained. Although the two districts belonged to a loose consortium of six British Columbia school districts which owned Management Assistant Basic Four business computers, their applications development was independent of the other four. Respondents from the two districts stressed that differences in the size and complexity of school district operations precluded their larger participation in the consortium. Although such dif ferences may have applied to the smaller Interior district members, a third metropolitan district has a comparable number of students and teachers. The three annual budgets were also similar in size. District demographics and 109 administrations do not appear to be remarkably different. Regional political differences may have impeded greater cooperation with the third metropolitan district on systems development.15 4. Increased Ministry Control The 1982 School District Administrative Computer Program marked a new stage of increased Ministry involvement in district electronic data processing. Previously, the choice of computer model and manufacture was exercised mainly by the districts. Under the new policy,.all district computer purchases would receive prior approval by the Ministry of Education, Treasury Board and the British Columbia Systems Corporation (Ministry of Education 1981; correspondence).16 The policy's wording is explicit: School Boards contemplating acquisition of informa tion 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... British Columbia Systems Corpora tion will evaluate Information Systems Plans and equipment requests pertaining to the acquisition and/or operation of information systems technology, and based upon the review, will make recommendations to the Ministry for systems support. (Ministry of Education I982a:3). This clause ensures that school district computer 15 The district respondents were not explicit about the reasons for the failure to establish close systems develop ment ties with the third metropolitan district. The author suggests that political differences are at the root of this conflict, but a clear determination of cause requires fur--ther research. 16 Refer to Appendix B for the 1981 British Columbia Ministry of Education policy on school district computers. 110 installations are compatible with the information systems strategy of the Provincial Government (1982a:3). The policy was shaped by an advisory committee convened in fiscal year 1981-82. Superintendents, secretary-treasurers, and administrators from several Ministry of Education Branches and the B.C. Systems Corporation were represented. Following the May, 1982 implementation, a . steering committee of similar composition coordinated the introduction of new computer systems for eighteen months. Administrative responsibility for the program was eventually absorbed by the Schools and Management Operations Branches (correspondence, March, 1985). The 1982 policy 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 itself from the policy's formulation and application. In a personal letter to the author written in early 1985, a senior Corporate executive emphasized, "The policy and pro gram is not BCSC's but remains solely that of the Ministry of Education..." The computer policy, however, was produced by the Ministry in consultation with school district repre sentatives and the B.C. Systems Corporation; furthermore, it stipulates that the program will conform to government poli cies on computer acquisition. Given this directive, an important expectation of BCSC's evaluation procedures would have been that the seventy-five school district installa tions comply with Provincial Government standards and were 111 Table V Standard Equipment for Fourteen Member Consortium of Small School Districts1 1. ) DEC PDP 11/23+ with 512 KB memory 2. ) RSTS-E Operating System 3. ) 2 - RL02 10 MB Hared Disks2 4. ) 2 - VT 101 Terminals3 5. ) 1 - LA100 240CPS Printers 6. ) SRB International Limited software applications Note: 1A11 hardware manufactured by DEC 2School District #21 has a 32 MB disk drive 3Time sharing up to eight terminals fully compatible with each other. In most cases, this objective was not realized. Operating systems and applica tion programing languages are diverse. Corporate insistence that responsibility lies with the Ministry alone seems a tacit recognition that policy implementation fell short of expectation. BCSC's greatest influence in the realm of standardiza tion was achieved as a planning consultant for the small school district computer project. The consortium was formed from fourteen of the smallest school boards which were financially unable to retain consultants. Digital Electronic Corporation PDP 11/23+ microcomputers were selected (Table V). SRB International supplied the 1 12 applications. All hardware and software was purchased col lectively. This purchasing practice was so successful that the Ministry of Education declared: The program included the formation of a consortium of small school districts, which, with the assis tance of personnel from the division, was able to obtain, through collective planning, a computerized system costing substantially less than any that could be achieved through individual effort previ ously . (Annual Report 1982-83:56) Standardized applications and operating systems among the fourteen districts will facilitate the exchange of data and the use of the computers for communication, if such is required by the Ministry. BCSC's close involvement with the small district consortium (personal correspondence, 1985) is an exception; Corporate expertise and objectives do not appear to be reflected in most district installations. BCSC collaborated with Ministry personnel on the formu lation of new computer standards for school districts (cor respondence, 1985). These new requirements were introduced in 1982. An immediate effect of increased BCSC and Ministry involvement can be traced by comparing Table VI with Table VII. During 1981, one year before the introduction of the acquisition policy, sixteen computers representing seven separate manufacturers and seven operating systems were pur chased. By 1984, three years after introduction, the total number of manufacturers was halved: twenty-six computers representing three manufacturers were acquired.17 Even in 17 A small minority of districts installed their computers in the year following Ministry 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 this post-1982 policy period, the three manufacturers' oper ating systems were incompatible. IBM's stronger standing in the final year of the program may presage a greater future presence. Each operating system requires separate programs writ ten in its specialized applications language. " Some programs are Canadian variations of U.S. produced programs, while others are completely developed in British Columbia. Due to these system disparities, vertical and horizontal electronic network integration is virtually non-existent throughout most of the British Columbia public education organization. This restriction was generally recognized by Ministry and district respondents. A secretary-treasurer concluded: Networking is just not feasible. You look at an operation somewhere and its got a whole investment in a particular DEC, or a particular whatever— IBM, I don't know, and then try to shuffle those back into some sort of network. I have difficulty imagining the amount of energy that would have to go into such a project. Along with the loss of networking, vanishes the possibility of shared administrative databases and expert systems. The rapid expansion in school district electronic mail subscrip tions that developed parallel to the computerization project indicates that a need exists for these systems (BCSTA 1984b: 5 & 1985:2). The Ministry, refusing at first to subscribe to the Envoy service for district administration, finally relented (Heinrich 1985:10). A simply designed legal opinion database is already offered by the British Columbia School Trustees Association, but access is limited to BCSTA 1 1 5 members. Access also involves subscription and fee-for-use charges by Envoy. 5. Decentralization of District EDP Services Two districts were identified in the study's six dis trict sample as having implemented strong standardization policies on school purchases of administrative computers. With only one exception, these policies do not specify that school installations of personal computers must be compati ble with the district's central office computer. A trend began in -1981 in those few school districts which had serviced schools from a computer located at a remote commercial or central office site to move the data processing facilities to the schools. However, two school districts in the research sample were maintaining their networked data processing services, and two other districts had plans to introduce networked services when finances allowed. Networked equipment at the secondary school level includes a visual display terminal, keyboard, and printer connected by telephone line to a mainframe. Batch services are supplied to the schools by either a company or the district's data service department. Centrally located high speed printers produce most reports. Slow-speed printers situated in some schools allow limited local output. Most data entry and output is performed at the central office. Typically, a courier delivers school data entry jobs to the EDP centre for batch processing. The completed work is 1 1 6 returned to the school within two days (respondents). Specialist data entry clerks are employed to handle input. With clerks concentrated at a central location, work sched ules can be adjusted to changes in input loads. At times of high input, temporary employees are hired and.extra shifts arranged. There is appreciably less flexibility when data input is wholly confined to school microcomputers. A single key board allows only one person at a time to enter data. School level completion of data entry for student records may take one to two weeks each term. Some vice-principals 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 private 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 clients expanded to the point where by 1983 an acceptable turn-around time between data entry and data processing could no longer be guaranteed in all cases. Columbia Computing Services Limited responded to the overload problem by rewriting their mainframe program for the DOS operating system used on IBM the PC XT and PC AT computers. According to some respondents, Columbia's deci sion to offer the school management package in this form received added stimulus from the commercial success of the 1 1V HARTS18 Apple 11+ microcomputer program for school adminis tration. 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 administrative use of microcom puters in British Columbia schools recorded the enthusiasm many school managers display for these machines (Sale 1982; Binns 1983; Gatley 1984). Indeed, several administrators interviewed for this study remarked that the microcomputer led to more responsive data processing. Most school admin istrative respondents assert that they control a technology previously thought remote and inflexible. Only one of the six principals interviewed, expressed a strong preference for a central data processing service. He stressed that a centralized network of school terminals sup ported a range of services that could not be offered by a solitary school-based microcomputer. Some of the computing services currently available to schools in his district included audio-visual booking, library circulation and stu dent records transfer. Transfer of student records is deemed especially important, given the degree of family mobility. Delivering records by mail, to arrive at their destination up to one week after the student, no longer was acceptable. When transferred electronically, records often arrived before the student; counsellors were then able to 18 HARTS and Columbia have head offices in Vancouver, British Columbia 118 make informed judgements. 6. Capital and Operating Costs Obtaining a clear figure for computing expenditures at the district level does not appear possible at this time. Public access to school district accounts is restricted to brief annual financial statements. Of the summaries exam ined, none contained items relating to electronic data pro cessing. Although all provincial ministries were directed by the Ministry of Finance in 1977 to include computer and computer consulting costs as a separate item in their annual submission to Public Accounts,19 the Ministry of- Education did not similarly instruct school districts to publicly report computer costs. Districts apparently are not required to regularly submit detailed accounts of their computer operating expen ses to the Ministry. Current practice is to distribute these costs among individual educational program expendi tures, for example, legal and xerography expenses (respon dents, BCTF I984a:31). The(Ministry, however, may have the means to extract computer costs from the annual district financial submissions. The British Columbia Ministry of Education does not keep records of the microcomputers which are acquired by the districts for school administration (correspondence, September, 1984). No provincial procedure 19 In fiscal year 1982-83, Treasury Board abandoned the practice of including computing expenses as a line item in the Public Accounts. 1 1 9 exists for evaluating district hardware and software. These policy lacunae arose after the Ministry's hard-won experi ence of the 1960's and early 1970's was dispersed in 1978 along with its computer specialists. On average, the Ministry has committed over one million dollars toward district computer acquisition for each of the four years commencing in 1982. A similar level of expendi ture will probably be required as machines are retired within the five-year replacement cycle noted by several respondents.20 The long-term provincial trend, demon strated by comparing the systems acquired in the 1982 pro gram with those previously catalogued by the Ministry (Ministry of Education, 1982b), is to larger and more complex in-house computer systems. Greater processing power and program complexity come at an increased price. If past behaviour is an indication of future performance, then a substantially larger financial commitment than the estimated one half of one percent of the total provincial expenditure currently spent on data processing capital and operating costs will be required. With no centralized agency in place to make continuing assessments of school and school district computers, and an apparent reluctance to maximize the use of professional advice from other areas of the Provincial Government, provision of an informed planning leadership that seeks to optimize informatics cost-benefits will be 20 An analysis of the 1981 British Columbia School District Computer Systems Catalogue (Ministry of Education, 1982b) and subsequent acquisitions confirmed that on average these computers are replaced every five-years. 120 difficult. The 1981 computer acquisition policy states that dis trict computer plans should allow eight dollars per pupil on average for set-up charges, and four dollars for operating costs (Ministry of Education I982a:3). When the original capital allowance is multiplied by the province's 1982 full-time equivalent enrolment of 507,955 students (Ministry of Education 1984:122), the Ministry's capitalization share, over the four-year life expectancy of the project, will total in excess of 4 million dollars. This formula, how ever, was soon increased. An information circular titled School District Administrative Computers dated March 14, 1983 announced that shared capital funding will be increased "to a maximum of $12.40 per pupil for core applications on a cost per application basis..." The revised formula brought the total possible four-year provincial expenditure to approximately 6.3 million dollars. Using the 1982 formula and enrolment, the Ministry's total annual share for operat ing expenses exceeds 2 million dollars. The allowable school district share of capital and operating costs was not identified. Some respondents indicate that their school boards would spend more on computerization if they were released from fiscal restraint. With respect to local expenditures on computerization, a superintendent commented: Our Board would be quite willing to spend far more money to get computer hardware because that is totally locally-funded. But it is frozen by the Ministry, and so it has limited us to somewhere in the vicinity of one hundred to one hundred and fifty-thousand dollars for new equipment totally. 121 As restraint measures are relaxed the desire for expanded and improved computer facilities may translate into larger school district outlays. Estimates of computer system expenditures supplied by school district administrators varied on a one-shot basis from one-hundred and thirty-thousand dollars, to two-hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. One superintendent, whose district was not the largest surveyed, claimed that computer expenditures in his district were considerably higher. His justification for these costs is contained in the following: As you can imagine, we've spent a fair bit of— six or seven hundred thousand dollars on computers. But if one could appreciate that in a matter of a year and a half, when we went internally with our payroll system, our bank charges went down twenty-thousand dollars a year, but, more importantly, we went from six people in the payroll department, plus a supervisor, to two clerks. That is a payback between the student administration system and the payroll application, that system was paid for in two years. Even allowing for distribution of these costs over several years and the elimination of some external service expendi tures, the total seems high. Transfer of EDP responsibilities from outside agencies to the school district office causes a reallocation of some charges. The acquisition, maintenance, and operating costs associated with data processing systems which were once dis tributed among all users of the commercial operation are now borne solely by the district. 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 fiscal year 1983-84, the Ministry of Finance responded to these long-range operating differentials by insisting that all public service Information Systems Plans were to include a five-year cost comparison of in-house and service centre data processing (correspondence, 1985). 7. Software Development Two districts represented in the sample had recently played leading roles in developing and piloting new adminis trative programs for their respective computer consortia. Each contracted their systems analysis and program develop ment to separate companies. According to a district respon dent, the work was supported by a special Ministry of Education grant. One of the two school districts belonged to an eighteen member consortium. This district, invested heavily in the production of a program that processed data for the new provincial Program, Budgeting, and Accounting System. Software development was contracted to a Vancouver company. A secretary-treasurer who had participated closely in the software production process disclosed that although the original request for proposal contained clearly defined objectives, a detailed description could not be prepared in advance. Some system components remained poorly defined until the program was field tested. Furthermore, many improvements occurred to users only after program 1 23 development was underway. • A superintendent from another school district concurred: It's virtually impossible to sign a (systems devel opment) contract because the costs are so open. You can describe objectives, but, in a situation where new demands are being made, where the system is in flux and something comes down that looks fairly small... When you think of it 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 organizational levels of the public school system: Ministry and school district. The Program, Budget ing, and Accounting System was altered as problems were encountered after its introduction. Further computer pro gram modifications were required to meet these alterations. Programing errors contributed to delays in implementation. Debugging21 was a process of successive refinements achieved through the interaction of users, systems analysts and pro-gramers. In the first of the two program development cases just cited, the Ministry and the district requested several pro gram changes22 to accommodate accounting and budgeting system revisions. Program development expenses, including hardware costs, were estimated by the respondent to exceed $130,000. The cost apparently was not recouped by the dis trict. Once the project was complete, neither the district nor the Ministry seems to have assumed ownership in order to 21 The identification and removal of localized implementa tion errors — or bugs — from a program or system (Illingworth 1983:99). 22 Neither the number nor the extent of these program changes were disclosed. 124 distribute the program free-of-charge, as the following extract from the 1982 Ministry of Education computer acqui sition policy stipulates: 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. (Ministry of Education I982a:2) This clause mandates the securing of joint software owner ship and implicitly prevents the use of software as a school district revenue source. The policy does not address what . should occur when the company retains copyright after devel opment costs have been met by the district and/or the Mini stry. In this instance, the company retained control and sold slightly customized copies to the remaining seventeen con sortium members. Considering that development costs had already been fully absorbed, the prices reported to have been charged for these copies seem very high. 8. Processing Capacity Soon Exhausted With two exceptions, all districts in the sample exhausted the processing power of their computers between eight and eighteen months after installation.23 As part of their replacement programs, several had either changed 23 One commercial sector respondent claimed that a competing software company, in the process of writing an accounting application, had exhausted the capacity of a newly intro duced computer model widely represented among the province's districts. 125 models or upgraded their systems to meet additional process ing demands, but this expanded capacity was soon expended. One district had connected the recommended maximum of forty terminals to a DEC VAX 11/750 using a bus interface. Employee frustration attended the slow input/output response. The superintendent's surprise with this unantici pated result is evident in the following excerpt: There is some concern about the capacity of the thing (computer)... the response time of the thing. And therefore there has been some reluctance to expand. I find this absolutely incredible, that we wouldn't know the capacity of one of these things before we-bought it. The intensive use of the machine for text processing appears to be a major contributing factor. Approval for additional requests for text processing terminals was pending revalua tion of the central office system. The superintendent wanted to fill these requests, but the Ministry prevented the allocation of more district resources to this area. Several respondents referred to the inflated claims of software and hardware sales representatives. The commercial objective is to achieve a firm sales commitment. Once installed, they anticipate that on-site under capacity prob lems will be solved by improving the existing system. Upgrading represents a captive market, for it is unlikely that school districts, having recently made a large capital outlay, will be in a financial position to replace the existing unit with a competitor's. Most school districts determine their computer needs with the aid of either full-time employees or consultants. Some respondents argued 126 that the Ministry of Education should provide this guidance. A superintendent commented: It's a shame that (the Ministry) didn't provide assistance in terms of developing guidelines — which from the point of view of an administrator are pretty well impossible to do much about — for deter mining the best machine for a system such as this... you can't depend upon the industry because they are not very objective. Another school district pioneered the development of an application for the new program accounting system, only to find that subsequent accounting revisions and program improvements led to a series of modifications which soon exhausted the capacity of the central processor in their Honeywell Level 5. Use of hard disk space exceeded optimal performance, slowing the input/output speed. A third dis trict found that demands associated with program changes outstripped the capacity of its MAI Basic 4. In this case, computer replacement and system upgrading was being consid ered. The three machines identified in the preceding discus sion - MAI Basic Four, Honeywell Level 5, and DEC VAX 11/750 — were installed in 1982. By the Spring of 1984, each was overloaded. According to the school district informants, improvements to applications, increases in user demand for existing applications, and the development of new applica tions led to unanticipated heavy processing loads. A weak planning procedure resulted in the selection of computers with processing capacities which could not meet a two-year 127 hor izon.2" An analysis of computer purchases over the last four years reveals the following trends. Of the fifty-one dis tricts which received Ministry funding, between 1982 and 1985 inclusive, to acquire administrative computers, twenty-one purchased replacements for existing equipment. The average working life of the equipment was five years, a figure consistent with current industrial and public service expectations. An anticipated five-year expectancy was cited by each district respondent. The average age of the current stock of pre-1982 hardware is approximately five years (Ministry of Education 1982b; correspondence). Machine replacement for the twenty-two districts for the period 1985 to 1988 represents a considerable commitment of future edu cational capital and an opportunity to prevail over previous policy inadequacies. 9. Flat Organization A single superintendent asserted that/compared to urban districts with similar enrolments, there were rela tively few central office administrators in his district. He described the organizational structure as flat. School level administrative functions were controlled directly rather than through several intermediary management levels. 2" This school district predicament is a public sector exam ple of Wills' finding that "Small and medium-sized Canadian companies rely excessively on suppliers... who have a vested interest in selling particular and perhaps inappropriate product as a source of technical information." (Wills 1979:18). Table VII British Columbia School District Central Office Computers By Manufacturer 1982 — 19851 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 ^fiscal year in which Ministry granted funding approval — not necessarily the year in which computer was purchased ^data for fiscal year ending March 31, 1985 complete to February 1, 1985 1 29 The administrative structure, however, had evolved largely before his district's 1980 introduction of in-house comput ers. Despite this observation, and the unusually young cohort of teachers, compared with other districts in the researach sample, as well as the district's predominantly white middle class demography, which represent significant causes, the superintendent maintained that computers had reduced the need for central office administrators and cler ical staff. The validity of the superintendent's claim was not appraised. His views are recorded here since they may serve as a potential subject of enquiry for other research ers. In April, 1982, approximately thirty school districts contracted their EDP requirements to private agencies with remote computing facilities (Ministry of Education 1982b; correspondence). Datatech Systems Limited was the most prominent single vendor, closely followed by the chartered banks. Some districts were connected via terminal to com puters at remote locations. As of February, 1985, all dis tricts had in-house computer facilities (correspondence) and none contracted data processing to private agencies.25 The expanded use of electronic data processing appeared to meet various practical administrative needs. In the case of word processing, productivity was reported to have increased. More work is being accomplished with either a 25 To the best of the author's knowledge. In some dis tricts, psychological and achievement testing may represent a limited exception. 1 30 very small, or no increase in employee complements. The total number of administrators and clerical support staff was reported by Ministry and district respondents to be falling. The decline is commonly attributed to declining enrolment and lowered educational funding rather than to the impact of computers. There can be little doubt, however, that computers are filling organizational gaps which arise . through the Ministry of Education sponsored financial cut back program of employee termination and attrition. A tactic of restraining the introduction of administra tive computers had served one of the districts under study well. While neighbouring districts forged ahead with com puterization, this district waited. The district's secretary-treasurer relished the success of this strategy: We did our whole computerization from (a) computer manual plus this payroll that we had done by the Royal Bank off the premises. We converted all that and got a whole accounting system of online budget— and including the hardware, the software, and the consulting, the overtime hours — for eighty-five thousand bucks. That is just phenomenal for a sixty million dollar operation. The other districts experienced long learning curves in mas tering and refining their hardware and software. Some encountered failure. Shrewd administrators from the holdout district analyzed these events with the assistance of a pri vate consultant. According to the secretary-treasurer, many pitfalls were avoided. 131 10. The 1983 Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System Several secretary-treasurers identified the 1983 Ministry of Education financial reform as a Planning, Pro graming and Budgeting System. Most objected to PPBS, pro nouncing it largely irrelevant to provincial educational needs. PPBS is viewed as a means of comparing school dis trict financial performance, thereby facilitating reductions in educational expenditure. All secretary-treasurers and some superintendents believed that the system was unworkable. A secretary-treasurer observed: They (the Ministry) believe, by the fiscal framework — which is really a modified Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System — they will be able to get a handle on it (comparing school district financial performance). I don't believe that the production of stream quantities of data is going to allow them to do that. The generation of financial information, although tedious and time consuming, was relatively easy compared with its analysis. Ministry level accountants and planners probably would have encountered difficulties with data analysis in the more financially robust pre-restraint period preceding 1982. The number of Ministry personnel, however, was declining at the same time that new types of PPBS generated information was flowing in increasing quantity into the Ministry. Two outcomes were predicted: 1.) either the information would be ignored, or 2.) management would foun der in an inchoate sea of data. The same secretary-treasurer commented on the latter: I think they will be overcome, as other jurisdic tions have been, with the tremendous amount of 1 32 information that's going to be flown back at them. I think other jurisdictions have found this in Planning, Programing and Budgeting Systems and have modified them extensively or have scratched them. Ministry officials were not the only ones who might succumb to a data deluge. School district administrators were also experiencing difficulty in deriving meaning from the new reporting system. During the time taken to fully assimilate the information, it became outmoded and irrelevant. Another secretary-treasurer spoke forthrightly about his experience with the district's financial reporting: Our management control reports, for example, at one time a person in a couple of hours could get a fairly good grasp on what the financial plans of the district were... Because there were only twenty pages of computer printout, we got an excellent handle on it very quickly. Now we are running for the fiscal framework, a hundred and fifty pages. One individual can no longer get a grasp on that unless he spent his full time monitoring reports, because by the time one assimilated the first set of reports, that month would be out of the way, and the second set would be on the desk. The school district officials interviewed for this study and those senior public servants studied by Ritter and Cutt (1985) acknowledged a problem which Ministry of Education managerial respondents seemed unwilling to address — large quantities of data make PPBS unworkable. According to some district respondents, rigid adherence to the fiscal framework would obscure rather than clarify the basis for deciding financial allocations. District resources cannot sustain the increased analytical and input functions required of PPBS. Rigid deadlines leave managers no option than to report or perish. The danger implicit in 1 33 this choice is contained in a brief commentary delivered by a superintendent: So what it (reporting procedure) really does is encourage expedient behaviour which renders the data less valuable for comparative purposes, or for the original purpose. It compromises the integrity of the fiscal framework. A situation where middle management questions the content validity of the new financial reporting structure may have been one of the least expected results when Ministry plan ners introduced PPBS. Financial reporting which once had been meaningful to all levels of the education organization was replaced by a procedure where budgeting formulas changed to meet new exigencies. District officials viewed PPBS chiefly as a centralized means to achieve financial cutbacks rather than as a means to improve educational performance. A superintendent referred to the fiscal framework's hidden agenda: o Well, the fiscal framework is simply a PPBS model, instituted in British Columbia a decade after it was introduced in many other places. But inside that fiscal framework, which is nothing but accounting procedure tied to program, inside that were the soldiers of restraint. There was general recognition that PPBS resulted in increased centralization. Another secretary-treasurer sum marized the debate: Although there are some people who would plead for the new fiscal framework, that it involves the decentralization of decision-making, I believe the opposite has happened and is happening right now. Most of the school district respondents similarly assessed the Ministry's financial reform measures. 134 11. Summary In a period spanning more than two decades, computers were adopted by all seventy-five British Columbia school districts and a growing number of schools to perform routine administrative tasks. Most of this growth took place during the past five years. The extension of electronic data pro cessing to all levels of the B.C. public school system occurred with a minimum of Ministerial direction. District decisions in many instances took precedence over provincial data processing standards and objectives. The fostering of electronic communication links and data exchanges using . existing provincial facilities, an implied objective of the 1982 Ministry of Education computer policy, was not acted upon. After four years and an estimated six million dollars spent by the Ministry alone,26 the district systems remain largely isolated from communication and data processing trends sweeping the commercial and public sectors. Nonetheless, demand is increasing among administrative units for improved digital communication and online database access. Historically, school districts in British Columbia have resisted the centralization of their electronic data pro cessing facilities. Even the quite limited regional cen tralization proposal of 1969 was not favoured. The 1982 26 Based on the revised 1983 capital cost sharing formula. For a more detailed discussion, refer to section 6. Capital and Operating Systems under the School District research findings. 1 35 computerization project was realized for the most part along a decentralized schema. Fully standardized computer systems would have allowed these systems to- be fully integrated in the BCSC provincial digital communications network. Instead, parallel computer communications are contracted to Envoy, a privately operated electronic mail system. The existing school district computer systems do not appear to have been integrated into the electronic mail service. Hardware and software purchases by individual districts have led to increased capital costs. A lack of central coordina tion has led to school districts unnecessarily repeating the experience of other districts. Some aspects of provincial software development policy apparently are being ignored. C. SCHOOL Many school administrators are acquiring useful knowl edge as they experience the vicissitudes of rapid change in computer technology. As some expectations remain unful filled and new problems arise, alert managers become more adept at implementing microcomputer applications. The pace of learning is rapid. In 1984, a senior secondary school principal offered this perspective on the speed with which administrative microcomputers were introduced into British Columbia schools: Three years ago (1981), I don't think there were very many people around in our field that knew what they were looking for. This was the year in which Harts Systems Limited a field 136 trial in a second Greater Vancouver•school district of its Apple 11+ microcomputer program for student management. Since then, some districts have appointed a committee of school administrators to evaluate the field tests of per sonal computer hardware and software (respondents disclo 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 tional cost circulates formally and informally among schools in a school district. Apparently there is no prescribed method of communicating this knowledge to schools in other districts. Trial and error technological adaptation seems the rule, with individual schools often repeating the successes and failures of neighbouring districts. The pace of change contributes to managerial uncertainty. Improved software, more powerful hardware and new informatics ser vices tempt managers to solve old problems with new pro ducts. These items are often unproven in the commercial and public sectors and have had little, if any, previous appli cation at the school level. In the absence of a provincial or national testing facility to coordinate and report field trials, the school manager may be unsure of the best pur chasing strategy. A powerful organizational dynamic influences the deci 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 their colleagues as dilatory. Contemporary administrators function in a society that places a high value on applying technical solutions to social and economic problems. Another strong influence is that an administrator's close association with the intro duction of new microprocessor technology may enhance an upwardly mobile career. 2. Types of Computer Services On a district basis, schools had the largest variation in computer services. The two main categories were the stand-alone microcomputer and the centralized data process ing service. Centralized data processing services included two divisions: 1.) district managed, and 2.) commercially managed. Within the two main categories, school-based microcomputers varied widely. Some districts, according to several respondents, stipulated a standard model and manu facturer for all school administrative systems. Others allowed schools considerable latitude in machine selection, a policy that had led to the installation of several incom patible operating systems. At the service level, each of two districts in the research sample had a network of school terminals connected to a minicomputer located in the central office. One dis trict contracted with a private company. Although in this case, some batch jobs were sent via courier for entry at the 1 38 company office, most data was entered through a school key board by a full-time data entry employee. In the district managed network, according to district and school informants, all data was transported by courier for entry. Most school administrators expressed general satisfac tion with their EDP systems. One administrator was search ing for a microcomputer One-Write27 accounting program for general office bookkeeping. Another principal had purchased a microcomputer on a Vancouver company's assurance that an off-the-shelf inventory program could be modified for stu dent scheduling. The program did not meet expectations. He had previously encountered similar problems with a privately-owned computer service which offered batch student scheduling. During three years of contracting with this company, programing errors were encountered. The scheduling algorithm did not respond to the school's needs. With dead lines looming, the principal resorted on several occasions to pencil and paper solutions for intractable computer scheduling problems. 3. Student Management Microcomputer Programs Two Vancouver companies, Columbia Computing Services Limited and Harts Systems Limited, promote microcomputer-based school management programs throughout British Columbia and North America. Student attendance, marks reporting and student scheduling comprise three main elements of these 27 One-Write is a proprietary accounting package which since this 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 until 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 CPU.28 The Apple 11+ uses the DOS operating system. The current price for the complete Harts III is approximately four thousand dollars (correspondence, March 11, 1986). The annual licence in subsequent years is six hundred dollars. In 1984, Columbia converted its mainframe student man agement program containing approximately 200,000 lines 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 disk. It handled records for up to 2,000 students (respondent). Today the largest format of this program runs on a PC AT with a 20 megabyte hard disk. The current software price for the 20 megabyte version is approximately six thousand dollars, with a one thousand dollar annual service fee (Company respondent). The program is presently supporting a maximum of 3,500 students in a California secondary school application. In 1968, Columbia began supplying batch services to British Columbia secondary schools. By 1980, an online 28 Central processing unit (CPU): The arithmetic and logic unit (ALU) and the control unit (CU) and sometimes, but not always, the primary memory. As the functions in- a computing system have become more distributed and autonomous, the specification of the CPU has become less significant. (Illingworth 1983:52). 140 capacity was added. Within two years of the 1982 Harts introduction, Columbia released its own personal computer version, withdrawing the original batch and online services (Company respondent). Microcomputer-based programs suffi ciently robust to handle the largest senior•secondary enrol ment are particularly attractive to school administrators. They return full control over marks, scheduling and atten dance to the principal. Comparing the mainframe and micro computer programs, a respondent stated: The bill for running outside timetabling and sched uling had inflated somewhat, and it was costing them fifteen hundred to two thousand dollars a run. And it started to look pretty good to buy a microcom puter for that amount of money, and buy a program for it, and pay off the cost in less than a year for the school. And you could run it as many times as you wanted, and you didn't have to pay for each run. The microcomputer system gave administrators improved con trol over scheduling. Principals could ask "What if?" ques tions without incurring thousand dollar expenditures. There were many indirect costs, however, which added significantly to overall computer expenditures. i, 4. Transfer of Costs Moving from a remote data processing service to an in-house personal computer, transfers maintenance and operating costs to the school. For Harts and Columbia, an annual ser vice fee follows the program acquisition charge. The fee includes system updates and an unlimited number of questions relating to software operation. Columbia alone offers a toll-free telephone number. Hardware costs including 141 computer, printer, hard disk drive and, in some instances a tape drive and optical mark reader, may total over twenty-thousand dollars. Although many school administrators regard these as one-time expenditures, if the recent example of school district computer acquisitions is a reliable guide, schools may on average expect to replace their hard ware once every five years (see Research Findings, B. School District 8. Processing Capacity Soon Exhausted). Responsibility for the operational failure of new microcomputer programs is not clear. Is system failure due to a fault of the operator, hardware, or software? Administrators tend initially to attribute operating prob lems to the software because they recognize that the pro grams are often relatively young and unproven. While addressing the difficulty which schools had in establishing responsibility, a senior secondary vice-principal commented: They are obviously servicing the pilot project very well because they want to guarantee its success. But I am not sure what happens when that... expires. The concern I have already is, for example, if there is a hardware failure, Columbia has no responsibil ity in that. Their response is: "Well, phone wherever you bought it." The person's (hardware representative) typical response will be: "It sounds to me like it's a programing flaw..." So you end up with the school being individually responsible for maintaining this equipment. Currently, software support by the two vendors appears sat isfactory since the respondents did not cite any problems. Administrators tacitly acknowledged that some errors will be encountered due to program immaturity. School managers gen erally participate actively in program debugging, advising 142 programers by telephone of the problems encountered. When school-based personal computer costs, for example system security, data archiving, data entry and annual ser vice and maintenance are totalled, personal computers may prove more expensive than either the centralized batch or online options. The only area where microcomputers appear to have a clear advantage is in the immediacy of response. Delays which arise from backlogs associated with cyclical overloads and central system failures are usually not encountered in the microcomputer environment. 5. Indirect Labour Costs Hidden labour costs are recognized by school managers as a significant factor in operating administrative micro computers. Depending on the school, data entry and retrieval tasks are assigned to vice-principals, teachers, counsellors, clerks, and students. Many of these costs do not appear to be captured by either school-site bookkeeping or the provincial organization's new budgeting system. Although job responsibilities are often arbitrarily rede fined to encompass school-based computer tasks, these changes appear to be only infrequently reflected in official job descriptions. Comparing the labour charges of commer cial batch contracts with those of microcomputer processing, a senior secondary school principal remarked: The costs (of microcomputers) are less. There was a bit of a cost thing there, going outside. Mind you, there's time here with counsellors and clerical staff plugging in and putting all the stuff into the 1 43 computer, but the cost thing, turn-around time and also the expertise that the (microcomputer program ing) companies do not have. So we really, other than the time factor that we're adding, you know, bags of— a fair amount of additional time right now. But in the long run, I think it's going to be better all the way round. Some vice-principals found themselves assigned not only the responsibility of maintaining the school's personal com puter, but also performing the task of keyboard data entry. These new responsibilities departed significantly from the exclusively administrative orientation of the vice-princi pal. In the midst of restraint, some local purchasing dis cretion remains. Principals and vice-principals indicate that avenues exist for obtaining computer products which do not involve district office approval. A senior secondary principal 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 all. Some schools have had to go and buy the hardware, but in this case, we got it in the school for— It's being used for Career Choice (a student counseling pro ject), well, its being used for the timetable sort of thing. We've got a dual purpose thing. On the tape recorded transcript, the principal's voice and phrasing convey uncertainty. He had unwittingly 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 counselling, but was reassigned to recording student attendance. Since attendance for the school's approximately one thousand students is taken every period, there is 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. Financial cutbacks had reduced the school office staff in the sample by as much as fifty per cent, according to some respondents. In some cases, office workers belonged to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). School administrators seemed aware that CUPE is in the vanguard of those Canadian organizations responding to the employment effects of microprocessors. One strategy for overcoming employee reluctance, elicited from school mana gers, is for the administrator to introduce the machines gradually, while never insisting on their use. This strat egy was outlined by a senior secondary school principal: When word processing first came... there was consid erable anxiety about what this would do to the sten ographic workpool. There were union contracts... People felt, I think, somewhat threatened. So, actually using word processing in administration in offices is something that has come very, very slowly. Secretaries and clerks in the target districts for the study were slowly adopting word processors. Only two principals cited labour contracts as obstructions to the implementation of microprocessor technology. According to some respon dents, once office staff had operated these machines, they demanded word processors for their own use, but strongly resisted job reassignment to data entry status. None, of the principals interviewed had a computer ter minal or a personal computer in their own office. With only a single exception, all denied knowing how to operate a 145 computer. The exception, a principal, said that he had never used the school's administrative microcomputer although he had operated a PC in his home. Principals relied on clerical staff, 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 briefing' parents. The demands of data processing seldom result in a new school-level employment category. Most EDP tasks are absorbed within existing categories, apparently without any necessity to change job descriptions. Typically, school staff already carry a heavier work load due to reductions in office personnel performed within the mandate of public sector restraint. Clerical staff time was fully committed, in some cases even overextended. Under these straitened circumstances, data entry tasks are assigned to vice-principals, counsellors and teachers. One senior secondary principal expanded favourably on his vice-principal's new chores: The vice-principal is a first-class expert in computers, and so he has taken upon himself, with the help of the counsellors, to really start from square one and put the timetable together. It's an Apple, and they are making it all happen. We bought the Harts system which is a thirty-six hundred dollar item... Vice-principals had a different perspective on their new assignments. They objected strongly to what one principal called, "donkey-work." To meet scheduling and reporting 1 46 deadlines, some vice-principals worked overtime. A senior secondary vice-principal complained bitterly about his com puter responsibilities: In the junior high, I used to sit-down and key-in daily attendance. Now, is that what an administra tor of a school should be doing? Is that my job function? It's almost like asking the captain of the ship, and saying, "Well, you paint the side of the hold, fellah." I mean, that is not in my opinion where we're at, but sometimes, because of your posi tion, you're the one who can come in on Saturday and Sunday to do it. I mean, if you find out how many times I've opened up this school on a Saturday or Sunday in the last three months to work on the time table because the work is not being done by our, clerical help. This administrator spoke at length about his frustration. His assertion that computer-related responsibilities repre sent a misapplication of resources are credible, but he seems to have authored his own problem. Confronted with public sector restraint, and the high probabililty of either being made redundant or reassigned to a full-time teaching position, computer involvement presented an opportunity to consolidate his hold on the vice-principalship. There was wide recognition that microcomputer data entry costs were absorbed in ways which diverted resources from officially approved budget categories. With centrally operated systems, accounting for the actual operating costs is simpler, since these are included in the contract price. A senior secondary principal .reflected: Well, someone at Columbia, or it was in California, or wherever, Cogito, wherever it was done— Someone was paid there, which we were paying for to insert all that information into the computer. Well, now we're doing it in the building here. Someone has to 147 do it in the building. And I bet you, you know, if you looked around in different schools, you might find anywhere from the vice-principals to timetable committees, to department heads, to counsellors... You know, many of the people in the clerical staff are not trained... Nevertheless, you're taking money away from something else... It takes a fair amount, and when that's happening other things aren't being done. A senior secondary school vice-principal estimated that it took forty hours for a skilled typist to enter course and student data each term. Enrolment in this school was approximately 950. The vice-principal commented: If you want to put in there (timetable program) eight courses for each student, there is a week's work for one typist working eight hours a day (at) data entry. Several school managers agreed that considerable time would be saved if 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 clerical work. The school district department manager noted: -i. What is happening there (schools) is you've got a shift; instead of the teachers' time filling in the registers— (it's) shifting now to the secretary. So we have to look at it. Which is more economical? Most of a teacher's time is absorbed in reading the roll and noting absentees, manual tasks which are still required by a computer attendance program. The amount of time saved, if any, is probably quite small. As a soon to be cited example of teacher resistance to computerized attendance will 148 demonstrate, some teachers remain unconvinced of its labour-saving potential. As a last resort, students are drafted to complete com puter related tasks. A department coordinator reported that his computer science clubs had laboured on an attendance project. The clubs typed computer cards for each student and completed other clerical duties. The respondent recounted: I had my computer science and computer clubs type-up or printout 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 stu dents the attendance program failed. Some teachers strongly objected to computerized attendance records. The coordina tor summarized the events which led to the project's abandonment: And I made another presentation to the staff, and we had a couple of dry runs with it. And there was such a lack of cooperation among the staff — and its people make the system run even if the computer is being used — that I gave up on it, after several dry runs, because of mutilation of the computer cards, because of (the) inability to follow, maybe, five simple instructions on how to send the cards down to the office. Two issues are presented in this account. First is the question of the appropriateness of students volunteering their time from their extracurricular studies to perform clerical work usually done by employees. Second is the problem of teacher resistance to computerized attendance. School managers have contributed to the debugging and improvement of microcomputer school administration programs 1 49 developed by Harts, Columbia and other companies. During the twelve- to twenty-four months of operation following their introduction, these programs require considerable user feedback. One company targeted several British Columbia schools for testing before launching its product on the marketplace. According to three respondents, including a representative of the company, these schools were not com pensated for the contribution their staff and administrators made toward program improvement. Non-monetary motivations, however, may make the voluntary effort a satisfying one for school administrators. A senior secondary vice-principal spoke glowingly of his involvement: I think there are a number of administrators, perhaps myself and four others, who gave them a lot of good suggestions, and they have incorporated a lot of these into their timetable (program)... So (product name deleted) has really improved greatly. Satisfaction at having completed a job well motivated this administrator. Close involvement in a project outside the bureaucratic routine is welcomed as a challenge in which latent talents can be exercised. 6. Data Retrieval Many junior secondary schools which use Apple 11+ microcomputers to record student attendance have found data retrieval time-consuming. In one case, twenty floppy disks were loaded before a student's yearly attendance was gener ated. Slow data-retrieval nullified the machine's advan tages. A department manager recalled a conversation he had 1 50 with a principal on this subject: He indicated that the things they liked about Harts were the nearness of the information. It was right there at their finger tips. What they didn't like is the slow processing speed, and the disk handling is ridiculous. Slow processing speed, frequent disk handling, and the need to support each floppy disk with several floppy disk copies on a daily basis was mentioned by several school administra tors. Copies of the attendance data base were printed regu larly on paper (hard copies). Some vice-principals stored backup floppy disks at home to reduce the chance of data loss through fire, theft and tampering. A senior secondary school vice-principal addressed this archival question: When you start-out with Harts, you end-up with four diskettes, but when the year finishes, you end-up with about twenty-two floppy disks... I mean, I run four backups on a daily system. So the most I would lose is a day's documentation. Some of these problems will be partly solved or completely eliminated as new products are introduced. Harts and Columbia continue to improve their products, especially in processing speed. Hard disk prices have fallen considerably over the last three years. Columbia's microcomputer school management program depends primarily on hard disk storage. Mass market digital tape drives, announced by manufacturers, but not yet delivered, will probably end the labour-intensive handling of floppy disks. Important problems remain: confidentiality, security of student records, and the danger that students will become irrevocably typecast by education and social systems which 151 increasingly store and manipulate large quantities 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 level would be eliminated. Other dimensions could benefit the student. Medical knowl edge (one microcomputer program records health problems) could improve student learning and assist with health emer gencies.29 An unambiguous synopsis of student interests and learning profiles would aid the teacher-student rela tionship, assuming that classes are small, and the teacher has time to consult the data base. Given the recent British Columbia trend toward larger class size, most teachers have less time to utilize such a potentially valuable resource. No administrators objected to computerized preparation of student report cards. One senior secondary principal initially opposed them, but over a five-to-six year period, he came to accept their efficiency; he observed: No, I had strong, in the other schools, anyway, strong objections to computer reporting. I can't say the parents (had strong objections). You get one or two parents who sort of, who comment. But with the computer reporting you can always have— your hundred and twenty-ninth comment can be, "See comment." And so you can always leave it out for somebody to do something in the handwritten form, if they so wish. Computerized report cards are here to stay. Missing is evi dence that this new technology is being fully exploited in 29 During a student management program demonstration, a sales representative clearly implied that a database demo graphic category would be used by some United States schools to identify students by race. 152 the service of students and parents. Current computer-based reporting of student progress exists within the 'ten words or less comment per subject' constraint inherited from pre ceding manual reporting procedures. Supported by a text processing program similar to that established in 1968 by the Prime Minister's Office to answer mail (Westell 1970: 329) and improved over the years, computerized student report cards could convey substantial additional information regarding individual student progress. Several principals disclosed that the use of computers for individually addressed mass mailings to parents contrib uted to improved community relations. Prior to microcomput ers, distributing personally addressed letters was not financially feasible for most schools. No community rela tions problems were cited regarding computer preparation of student reports. 7. Preference for District Office Star Network A single exception was noted to the preference school managers expressed for school-based microcomputer perform ance of data processing tasks. This principal's twenty-year managerial career in education and his long involvement with administrative computers make his remarks worthy of elaboration. Strong satisfaction was expressed with the district's online and batch processing computer service. The centralized data entry service is especially advanta geous because its features are not duplicated in a 153 microcomputer processing environment. Centralized data pro cessing enabled the most cost-effective use of labour. Additional personnel were hired on short notice and extra shifts instituted to meet cyclical peaks in data-entry demands. During these peaks, data was dispatched by courier and results returned the following day. At best, a large secondary school can afford only a single data-entry employee, indeed, only one senior secondary school in the sample actually employed a full-time terminal operator. In periods of heavy demand, such as student grade reporting, deadlines may not be met in a school-based microcomputer environment. Keeping the keypunch operator productively, employed during periods of low demand poses an additional problem. This principal favoured a star network30 with school-based terminals. He had participated in the district's, first administrative foray into computer applications in the mid-1960's when it was. the first in British Columbia to apply computers to administrative tasks. The senior second ary school principal's experience served as an historical precursor to the contemporary microcomputer experience of other principals: IBM wouldn't listen to us (about writing the time table program); the local people thought that it was simply another bookkeeping process. And we found out in short order that they were in a hell of a mess. And they sent two of their heavy-duty people 30 A star network topology consists of a single hub node with various terminal nodes connected to the hub. The ter minal nodes do not interconnect directly (Illingworth 1983:240). 1 54 in to cleanup their reputation and the problem. This concern for the success of its applications, irrespec tive of customer size, contributed to IBM's reputation as a highly responsive corporation. In turn, this responsiveness helps to establish a higher standard of reliability for business activities involving all aspects of the computer marketplace. 8. Field Testing Most districts field tested their microcomputers, but none of the schools visited had participated in the trials. Some principals referred to field trials underway in their districts. One of the largest districts was particularly advanced. A committee consisting of secondary school prin cipals coordinated field testing of personal computers and software. Several schools conducted rotating trials. Their assessments were for internal use and did not appear to be made widely available to other districts. Some elementary schools were also conducting field trials. To an extent, the conduct of field trials was a school district response to the unfortunate experiences of some school administrators. One principal described the acquisi tion of a computer and program which proved to be a finan cial loss. The software, originally designed for warehouse inventory, never functioned properly despite repeated modi fications by the Vancouver vendor. The decision to purchase an untried program was taken at the principal's initiative. 155 Since this failure, the district has tightly coordinated microcomputer acquisitions by school administrators.31 9. Organizational Conflict As fresh applications are found for student data, the education organization may stray onto alien territory. An . example of this conflict was uncovered during this study. School and school district organizations had clashed with the city Health Department. According to the district official's disclosure, a principal, during the course of extracting information from the student database, revealed that a group of his students required eye examinations. This list was dispatched to the health authorities. Here is the school district department manager's description of the succeeding events: One of them (principals) actually caused a minor controversy with the Health Department because this person put the pupil health records on the system and then did a search and pulled out all the students who had never been screened for eye examin ations. 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 responsibility, the principal shouldn't be intruding in her area. But to the principal's point of view, this was sort of dead information on 31 The problem of overly enthusiastic administrators contin ues. An advertisement was placed by the Prince Rupert School District (#52) for "programs for the Macintosh micro computer on the following subjects: School District Operating Budgets, Teacher Personnel Data." (BCSTA 1984:2). The advertisement appeared only six months after the Macintosh was introduced; general business applications were rare. By November, 1985 the district had not located a single administrative programing application suitable for school districts. At last report, the 256K RAM machine was being used as a word processor. 156 paper cards, and what it did was suddenly, by just poking around on the computer, this was pulling out information in new and unusual ways... which gave him a different perspective on his students. A manual examination of the cards would have produced the same information. What is new, however, is the speed with which the relevant data was extracted. Enter a few simple instructions, wait only a few minutes while the machine retrieves and prints the information, and one has a list which would have taken several hours to produce — hours not easily found in a school experiencing staff and teacher cut backs. 10. Computers and Centralization Although some school administrators said that school-based accounting procedures remained essentially unchanged by the Ministry of Education's financial reform, most thought that the school -system had become more centralized. Some addressed the connection between computers and central ization at the school district level. A junior secondary school principal phrased the issue: The computer is only the machine that does the actual work, so that is no problem. In fact, I think if we can save a lot of paper work going across my desk, that's great. It is the decisions behind the computer that bother me. He explained that these decisions focused on achieving financial cutbacks and increasing Ministry control. Another junior secondary principal delineated the problem: I think if they can work that (district computer compatibility with the Ministry) through, they have the computer system, they have all the districts 1 57 working the same way, and it will all flow back and forth. That is control to a great extent, and there is no doubt about it that I think the whole system is set up to be computerized and heavily controlled. 11. Summary The public school system appears to be incurring large additional costs as student management programs, previously run on a fee-for-service basis, are now leased and operated on school-based microcomputers. Many costs associated with these microcomputers, for instance data entry and informa tion retrieval, seem not to be captured by either existing school-site or province-wide accounting practices. Until those costs are fully tallied, the service and financial benefits of district computer networks connecting schools cannot be compared with those of stand-alone microcomputers. Some districts are conducting field trials, but there are no means for distributing results to schools throughout the province. Principals often delegated EDP tasks to vice-principals, counselors, teachers and clerks. Several vice-principals reported that their managerial roles had been significantly changed by computers. They routinely per formed data entry and retrieval tasks, occasionally on an overtime basis. The vice-principals strongly objected to this clerical responsibility. No administrators were found to have computers in their personal offices. 158 D. BRITISH COLUMBIA SYSTEMS CORPORATION One of the strongest influences on the development of computer services within the Ministry of Education was the provincial government's decision to centralize electronic data processing under the aegis of the British Columbia Systems Corporation (BCSC). The Corporation coordinates information activities thoughout the provincial government, while the financial and expenditure management of informa tion systems is the function of the Treasury Board. The System Act establishing the Corporation was proclaimed on September 1, 1977 (British Columbia 1978). Colleges and boards of school trustees came under the data processing authority of BCSC. By March 31, 1978, the Corporation had consolidated all financial and other data processing work for seventeen ministries and most Crown corporations (Turnbull 1979:4). The decision to consolidate was preceded by a 1976 con fidential study of government electronic data processing, including the Ministry of Education, prepared for Cabinet by the management consulting firm of Woods Gordon. The report warned that were ministries allowed to "continue building in-house computer empires, manpower savings that might result from office automation could be swallowed by programs intended to take up the slack" (Globe & Mail 1984:BC1). Premier William R. Bennett reiterated this view in an October, 1976 address, "all computing resources of staff and equipment have been uncoordinated and scattered throughout 159 many departments... this approach has resulted in many prob lems related to top-level neglect, lack of policy, and lack of equipment and qualified staff." (Leiren 1976:76). Prior to 1977, there were seven provincial government computer centres which together followed three mutually exclusive technologial directions (BCSC 1980-81:4). The Ministry 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 International Business Machines Corporation (BCSC 1980-81: 12). According to BCSC, each systems architecture required a separate technical support staff, a factor which led to significantly increased costs, while limiting productivity improvements and personnel utilization. Of the two IBM access systems, Virtual Storage (VS) and VSI, the Corpora tion chose VS.32 The Woods Gordon consultants were also concerned that individual Ministries would entrap them selves, thereby reducing their ability to combine and inte grate computer applications (BCSC 1980-81:5). With rapid accessing of shared databanks a primary objective of govern ment and commerce, electronic communication among provincial ministries, and between ministries and non-governmental agencies received renewed importance.33 32 Virtual Storage is an access method suitable for files with sequential or relative organization on direct-storage devices. The whole file is mapped into virtual memory so that records can be accessed at random using a calculated virtual address (Illingworth 1983:387). 33 According to William McMinn, principal author of the 1976 Woods Gordon report, "a central computer facility would hold annual increases in data processing costs to ten percent, 160 1. Standardization On SNA By 1982, BCSC at considerable cost had converted all three systems architectures 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 their operating system. The Corporation anticipated that competition would result in these products being delivered either at less cost or with a better design than those of a manufacturer which did not have plug-compatible competition (1980-81:11). In practice, contracts for mainframes and most disk drives were let without competitive bidding. IBM has been the main recipient of these three-to-five-year contracts (BCSC 1982-83:12).35 The objective of a single architecture was attained in late 1981 (1979-80:6). IBM's successful de facto international standard in computer communications networks — the Systems Network Architecture (SNA) — was of considerable consequence to a Corporation confronted with the complexities of rapidly installing and supporting a data processing network that would unite government and public agencies across the prov ince (BCSC 1981-82:13). SNA is the description of the 33(cont'd) versus the twenty to thirty percent increase experienced... between 1972-75." (Globe & Mail 1984:BC1). 3 * Conversion of Honeywell 6066 applications took 268 people who logged in excess of 100,000 hours (BCSC 1981-82:12). The Minister of Finance estimated the cost to be six million dollars (Hansard I981b:4737). 35 BCSC purchases of IBM 3081D and IBM 3081K processors are examples. 161 logical structure, formats, protocols, and operational sequences for transmitting information units through, and controlling the configuration and operation of networks (IBM 1985:58). This interface is the foundation of IBM's unified teleprocessing strategy (Rutledge 1981:2). Open Systems Interconnect (OSI), a seven layered refer ence model designed by International Standards Organization, is SNA's major competitor. OSI connects dissimilar systems, while SNA is the basis for a coherent product offering. In 1985, under the direction of the European Parliament, IBM produced two pieces of software that provide limited bridges between SNA and OSI (New Scientist 1985:34). Computer users will have to look elsewhere for software transfer, such as electronic mail from OSI to SNA networks (1985:34). The more fully a computer can participate in an IBM data net work, the more valuable it is to users and vendors (Verity 1985:93). SNA was announced in 1974 and network services based on the SNA CCITT X.25 packet network standard first appeared in 1977 (Rutledge 1981:27).36 By June 1979, differences in CCITT X.25 implementation had resulted in increased cost and had retarded the availability of equipment to support packet networks (1981:34). Although reunification of X.25 was achieved by 1982, continuing changes to complex SNA protocols make the shifting shape of this interface para mount in the planning of large data processing agencies such 36 All school district minis and mainframes in the research sample complied with the CCITT X.25 protocol. 162 as BCSC and the British Columbia public school system. A version of the Ministry of Education policy circulated in 1983 refers specifically to the role of the SNA/SDLC proto col in the provincial government's communication network (Ministry of Education 1983b:14). Synchronous Data Link Control (SDLC) is a discipline for connecting network compo nents, using telecommunication links (IBM 1985:12). On SDLC a number of messages flow in one direction before receiving a response, thereby increasing the data carried on a link. 2. Ministry of Education Included in Centralized Service Shortly after the 1977 proclamation of the System Act, responsibility for Ministry of Education computer staff was transferred to BCSC. Ministry programers and analysts were relocated to positions outside the public service. The transfer produced many months of user service problems. Deputy Minister of Education, Dr. Walter Hardwick, was among the first public servants to openly express reservations about the Corporation: "the idea of consolidating operations might be sound, but the problems of bureaucracy always seem to develop when the policies are carried out." (Danylchuk 1979:9). His comments reflected a widely held public ser vice view. Other public servants, anonymously conveying their criticisms to the news media, cited high rate structures, slow terminal response time, lost data and lengthy processor downtime. In 1977, a committee of deputy ministers drawn 1 63 from the Ministries of Finance, Human Resources, Health, Forests,and Environment, the major data processing consumers, began to meet informally to lend an authoritative voice to the growing disaffection with centralized data pro cessing. The Ministry of Education may have been an indi rect participant. On October 31, 1979, at the request of Evan Wolfe, Minister of Finance, the committee was formally established as the Users Review Committee (Hansard 1981c: 6093), and later integrated into the Corporation. A year earlier, on October 15, 1978, the Initial Report of the Inter-ministerial Committee on the Electronic Data Processing Services was submitted in third draft, again at the request of the Minister (Hansard I979a:329). The report recommends: 1. The minister be given authority to effectively con trol the systems and electronic data programming functions required to deliver their services. 2. Each ministry be given the capability and authority for selecting computer service best suited to its needs. 3. To improve communications, to reduce learning time and errors and to improve the service, it is essen tial that a minimum number of maintenance program mers be permanently available to the ministries. At the moment they only exist within the Systems Corpo ration. The development and operation of a good EDP system is dependent upon EDP staff, which under stands and associates with the goals of user minis tries . 4. The interministerial committee on data processing be the vehicle whereby all ministries can exert the necessary level of influence upon decisions which affect them. (Hansard I979a:330) Cabinet did not act on these recommendations. Implementing 164 them would have returned control to the ministries, revers ing the already well advanced consolidation process. 3. School District Response School district 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 Minister of Education be asked to have: School Districts removed from the provisions of Bill 44 - Systems Act, thereby allowing Boards the opportunity to find economies in providing data processing services. [sic] (Coquitlam 1977:8) Nanaimo petitioned the Minister of Finance for the right to continue their EDP service contract with a local credit union. The Minister of Finance assured the districts that they "are still going to be able to use the current services that they employ. We merely want to be able to vet their plans from time to time." (Hansard 1977:4583). The Minister also indicated that several boards had requests before the systems group to use their terminals and services (1977: 4584). 4. BCSC Prevails By 1980, BCSC managers prevailed over many of the start-up problems. For several years, costs to clients had declined, falling by ten percent in 1980 (Table III). User access time and processing speed had improved. A 1980 Price Waterhouse Associates study confirmed that the strategy of 165 combining in-house systems development with sub-contracting some software work to private companies had resulted in rates to clients below those charged by private data pro cessing companies (BCSC 1980-81:6; Kesselman 1984:14). The delivery of an executive management information system37 to the Ministry of Health for use by the Minister and his plan ning department was proof that BCSC could produce a software application of considerable complexity (Appendix D). At present, the data processing configuration which BCSC supplies to the Ministry of Education includes online and batch processing of a time-shared computer located at a remote Corporation-controlled site. Access to the computer is achieved via six ministry-based data entry terminals " (Ministry Annual Report 1982-83:57). There is online edit ing and batch transmission to master files on the BCSC host. 5. Corporate Control of Microcomputers Since 1977, Ministry of Education computer expenditures have been closely monitored under a government-wide policy initiated by Treasury to ensure that computer purchases comply with BCSC policy. All microcomputer purchases, excepting word processors, were channelled through the Cor poration (Ministry respondent). It appears that in the founding years of the Corporation one of the primary objec tives of this policy was to restrict microcomputer use. 37 An automated advisory system composed of management rules which specify actions that can be taken if certain condi tions occur. 166 Public servants were thus compelled to utilize the central ized computing service. To avoid this constraint, some min istries were reported to have modified their word processors by adding memory boards that made them capable of running off-the-shelf financial, statistical and spread sheet pro grams (Danylchuk l983a:B7). For accounting purposes, spare parts were recorded as additions to office inventories (l983a:B7). In order to control the rising use of microcom puters, BCSC attempted in 1983 to gain jurisdiction over word processor requisitions. However, as early 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 financial success of the mainframe operation. BCSC was committed to using mainframes for as many applications as possible. Over the short-term, microcomputers could not be controlled to the same extent. Indeed, some administra tive respondents at the Ministry level avowed that personal computers could not be centrally controlled under any circumstance. During fiscal year 1982-83, Treasury Board policy was changed to permit ministries to purchase personal computers if their use achieved economies outlined in the Public Sector Restraint Act - in short, if they reduced the number of employees (Ministry respondent). By 1984, approval for personal computers and word processors appeared routine. 167 F&t only large purchases, did Treasury Board require a formal business case: Ministries must make a submission to the Treasury .Board for any systems acquisitions or development expenditure which exceeds $100,000 and this submis sion must be accompanied by a business case showing costs and benefits over five years. Each submission is analyzed by Treasury Board Staff within the Ministry of Finance. The determination of whether a computer application should be run on a mainframe, mini or micro computer is based upon the related costs and benefits contained in the business case. (correspondence, December, 1984) 6. Treasury Board Attempts to Sell BCSC On August 31st 1983, the Government of British Columbia abruptly announced that the B.C. Systems Corporation was for sale (BCSC 1983-84:18). This action coincided with the second year of financial restraint and the reintroduction of compulsory provincial examinations for all grade twelve stu dents. BCSC with 1983 revenues of over sixty-four million po3e dollars (Table VIII/168) was the third largest EDP agency in Canada (Kesselman 1984:14). Several developments may have precipitated Cabinet's decision to unload the Corporation. First, revenue only modestly exceeded expenses (Table VIII). But in four years, revenues in the form of direct charges to the provincial government had almost doubled from the '1980 total of forty million dollars to the . sum of seventy-five million dol lars in 1984. This rapid escalation in total processing and development charges not only contradicted the government's 1976 prediction that centralized data processing would hold 168 Table VIII British Columbia Systems Corporation Financial Performance 1979—19841 (in dollars) Year2 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: British Columbia Systems Corporation Annual Reports 2 Year ending March 31 3 Deficit 169 annual increases to approximately ten percent, but also came at a time of provincial revenue shortfalls and mounting fiscal restraint. Second, the Deputy Minister of Finance had cancelled the Corporation's development of "a comprehen sive integrated government-wide network of financial sys tems." finding that it was too complex and costly (Ritter & Cutt 1985:73). Two years of systems development effort and several million dollars were funnelled into the project. Third, considerable latent opposition to BCSC remained within public service ranks — a situation not assuaged by BCSC's pre-1982 attempts to restrict microcomputer use. Fourth, the decision to pursue markets within untapped sec tors of the public service, such as school districts (Globe & Mail 1984), swelled the number of disgruntled users with a potentially vocal political opposition: boards of school trustees. The proposed sale created considerable uncertainty for most of the Corporation's employees. Some activities were disrupted to the point of paralysis. For many line workers termination of employment seemed imminent. Of the Corporation'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 private acquisition by a single company. 170 would lead to their exclusion from lucrative program and systems analysis contracts (Danylchuk l983b:A3). For the years 1980 to 1982 inclusive, annual spending in the commer cial sector averaged ten million dollars (BCSC 1980-81:6 & 1981-82:1). The software developers' revised position departed from their initial 1977 condemnation of the govern ment for centralizing data processing (Vancouver Sun 1977: 44; Boyle 1978:D8). After soliciting bids for seven months, the provincial government rejected all offers. Ownership of most assets such as buildings, hardware and software remained with the BCSC. The federal government had a direct interest in the Corporation's survival; thirty-seven million dollars was loaned to BCSC from the Canada Pension Plan to finance con struction of a new headquarters (Kenneth Bell 1983:17). In the reorganization which followed, some systems analysts and programers were stationed with ministries on a semi permanent basis. The number and value of system development contracts let to the private sector was expected to increase to fifteen million dollars (Danylchuck I984a:7). Despite a first-time 1984 loss of 1.4 million dollars, BCSC remained undaunted. The 6,000 workstations on networks serving British Columbia's 35,000 public servants were growing by fifty percent each year (Greer 1985:4). This represents a ratio of one workstation for every six employees. The work stations are supported by two mainframes and thirty medium-sized computers from four different manufacturers (1985:4). 171 With the provincial government's strong reliance on systems technology, the future of centralized data processing is assured. 7. Summary The British Columbia Systems Corporation guided the provincial government through a demanding rationalization of its informatics system. The process was costly, but the results, an improved communications system, a means of tracking system development costs, and the guidance of spe cialists are indispensable to a large public service organi zation. As BCSC experience continues to accumulate, knowl edge about system development is available to all government offices. Corporate relationships with the provincial public school organization and the Ministry of Education have been mixed. The removal of Ministry expertise was not compen sated by a vigorous BCSC involvement in product assessment and development of informatics standards for schools and school districts. E. Recapitulation The computer's capacity to store and manipulate large quantities of information catalyzes many changes currently sweeping Canadian society. Computer applications to the management of British Columbia's public school system repre sent a small but significant contribution to this national trend. Beginning in 1961 when the Ministry of Education 172 acquired its first computer and continuing to 1985 when all school districts and many schools had acquired them, cen tralization has been the most significant administrative impact. Although in 1982 the school districts prevailed in a long-standing conflict with the Ministry over who deter mines the type of computer installation, the Ministry retained the right to specify their principal 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 Ministry — was to attain firm centralized control over expenditures. This objective was achieved. There followed a decline in school board autonomy and, for all administrators subordi nate to the Ministry, more restrictions on personal initia tive . Few senior and middle management administrators have had their work directly affected by computers. Only at the most junior ranks do administrators regularly operate a com puter. Data and word processing for the majority of educa tional managers is performed by clerks and secretaries. The 1982 British Columbia school district computer pro ject resulted in one of the most operationally restricted systems of its size in Canada. Simple, single theme expla nations are elusive. Other provincial educational authori ties, for instance Quebec's, had many years of success expe rience with standardized computers and centrally developed software. Two major reports in as many decades recommended 173 that the B.C. Ministry adopt a strong formative role in EDP policies. During the planning stage of the 1982 district policy, an emphasis on electronic networks and digital com munications was evident in not only the Canadian private sector, but also the British Columbia Systems Corporation, the provincial government's data processing agency. For at least a decade, insufficient expertise has hin dered Ministry policy on informatics development. In con trast, by 1984 at least four B.C. school districts employed full-time computer managers who had either systems analysis or programing backgounds. In recent years the Ministry had no permanent employee with similar experience — until 1984 when BCSC stationed personnel in each ministry. Additional explanations for the policy results reside in: 1) the polit ically charged subject data processing became for the public service, 2) fiscal restraint which plunged those responsible for Ministry computer policy into a declining zero sum game38 of cutback management, 3.) inter-agency rivalry over data processing that pitted school districts, the Ministry and BCSC against each other arid, not least, 4.) lobbying by computer and software companies which led to the implementa tion of a fragmented master plan. 38 A zero sum game is one in which the cumulative winnings equal the cumulative losses. It can be argued that when cutback management is applied to social programs, losses usually exceed winnings, irrespective of strategy. V. CONCLUSION Four main conclusions are discussed with reference to the research findings and the work of other investigators. Aspects of the study that warrant further investigation are surveyed under Research Implications. Nine policy recommen dations are included in Pol i cy Recommendations A. Conclusions In their application of computers to management, sys tems analysts replicate specific organizational components. The process of program design and hardware configuration results in a remarkably versatile tool for understanding organizations. Otherwise hard to perceive managerial strengths and weaknesses may be exposed when writing soft ware. Knowledge of a particular application can reveal, as in this study, the internal workings of an organization and its interactions with the political and economic environ ment. The language of computer applications in many respects is the language of organizational behaviour. The extent of their correspondence is 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 analysis, managerial impacts, centralizing effects, 174 175 and organizational objectives and computer systems design. 1. Cost-Benefit Analysis The objective of assessing computer cost-benefits in terms of administration was not realized. Comparability and reliability of the limited financial information available is uncertain. Detailed records of the costs of installing and operating administrative computers throughout the B.C. public school system do not appear to be maintained by the Ministry. Some records are too rudimentary, others non existent; for example, the Ministry does not keep an inven tory of microcomputers used in school administration. When a growing proportion of the educational budget is directed to capital and operating costs associated with data processing, failure to maintain detailed accounts seems implausible. The exercise of informed EDP choice can be achieved only when expenditures are linked to performance. Until a linkage between the two is established, the organi zation will remain excessively dependent on vendors for guidance on product performance — a situation strongly faulted by Wills (1979) in his study of the Canadian private sector. None of the optimality calculations offered by Kochen and Deutsch (1980:17) on responsiveness, reliability and adequacy can be applied without solid financial information. Despite Gotlieb's qualifications (1985) regarding the relia bility of cost-benefit calculations when the technology is 176 shifting at an unprecedented rate, detailed knowledge of past experience remains one of the best bases for policy assessment and planning. Identification of costs provides an avenue for effect ing savings, especially in the current climate of fiscal restraint. The Ministry's costly decision to ignore their own policy directive on the development of district software probably would not have occurred had rigorous accounting practices been followed. This policy directed that software developed under contract was to remain within Ministry jurisdiction. The Ministry, however, appears not to have taken possession of a major piece of financial software that was developed for the provincial school organization and subsequently installed in many districts. Had company com pliance been sought, the software would have been distrib uted either free or for a nominal fee once the full develop ment costs were met. Instead, each additional purchaser seems to have been billed an amount considerably in excess of the minor individual customizing that was made. Ignoring this policy directive may have resulted in the school system collectively paying for the program several times over. A similar state of affairs exists with regard to the area licensing of proprietary software. Although no Ministry or school district policy yet exists, there are large benefits to be gained. Provincial licensing agree ments with companies for microcomputer and minicomputer software would significantly reduce EDP costs. As the 1 77 situation stands, schools and districts purchase administra tive computer programs individually, causing the organiza tion to collectively pay far in excess of fair market value. Gaining control over computer system costs is difficult (Gotlieb 1985). Until detailed accounts are kept, Ayer's and Kettinger's contention that there is little evidence that the introduction of computers has actually reduced costs in government (1983:565) will remain untested. 2. Managerial Impacts Most educational administrators have yet to directly experience the effects of computerization in their work routines, although indirect effects have led to a more constrained management. None of the personal administrative offices surveyed was equipped with a terminal or microcomputer. Only a few vice-principals, who occupy the lowest administrative rank, operated a computer regularly; all superordinates avoided any direct involvement. Administrative data and word pro cessing requirements were usually performed by stenographers or secretaries. This situation departs from the case stud ies in the Canadian private sector cited by Menzies (1981) where virtually all senior and middle management have com puter terminals which they use for analyses, report prepara tion, .and the transmission and receipt of written communica tions. 178 The delay in installing- terminals in the educational manager's office may be an artifact of the school system's historical resistance to change (Boyer 1983). Although at all levels, educational managers waxed enthusiastic on the computer's'potential to improve administration, their inter est waned when personal use of this equipment was consid ered. Rapid expansion of electronic mail service to the school districts may change their reluctance. In terms of time and accuracy, there are economic advantages to delegate a secretary to transcribe letters and reports, and for the manager to revise preliminary drafts on a word processing terminal. Menzies' observations regarding "standarization, frag mentation, and separation of occupations and job functions" (1981:38) among clerical workers and lower administrative ranks has a parallel in British Columbia education. For all managers, the indirect effects of computerization are sub stantial. Executives at the apex have increased their con trol. The remainder have experienced a diminution in power. Their performance is more closely monitored than before. The operational vehicle for recording input is the Program ing and Budgeting System, while the main output monitors are provincial examinations and student achievement tests. To these devices are added the restrictions of centralized edu cation policy, and education and social legislation. Bureaucracies can overextend themselves in their quest for administrative reification. The drive for central 179 control encounters opposing forces originating with the diverse communities which British Columbia public schools serve. Local administrators respond to local needs which may conflict with the centralized mandate. The boundaries between the control exerted by a ministry and that of the community shift continually. An administrator can take refuge from centralizing prescriptions in the transitional region between local needs and ministry mandate. 3. Centralizing Effects When applied to the administration of public education organizations (kindergarten to grade twelve), computers have centralizing effects. Notwithstanding the absence of a cadre of computer experts stationed within the Ministry, and the independence most school districts exhibit when deter mining their software and hardware requirements, two factors that differentiate the distributed data processing systems of the British Columbia public school organization from others of similar size, this conclusion is supported by the following observations. Computers are used mainly to pro cess data for the PPBS financial reform adopted by the Ministry to improve control of expenditures and planning. Subsidiary applications include the evaluation of student learning, projection of teacher supply and demand, and cal culation of taxation yields. Each of these applications significantly increases the Ministry's operational control over input and throughput processes, which results in 180 decreased local autonomy. Increased centralization arising from computerization supports the predictions of Laubach and Thompson (1955), and Lasswell (1971). The Ministry's documentation system pos sesses biases that drive policy toward centralization. Increased input, throughput and output measurement in the form of budgeting, student learning assessments and gradua tion examinations have produced greater centralization. Lasswell's assertion that access to data and computer-based simulations assure democratic outcomes, although pos tulated in terms of national government, may also apply to public sector organizations. In the context of the British Columbia public school system, schools and school districts have limited access to the operational information of other units. The relationship postulated by Lasswell is therefore indeterminate. None of the findings uphold de Sola Pool's expectation that acquisition of personal computers by subordinate orga nizational units leads to increased autonomy (1983). Conversely, many British Columbia school districts closely monitor the administrative use of school computers. Some have already instituted standardization policies for schools, while others anticipate introducing them. Most schools apply their computers to bookkeeping and student management. Although computer use may lead to improved ser vices and cost-efficiencies, it is unlikely they will lead to greater autonomy, given the recent increase in 181 legislation and policies that constrain local administrative initiative. Similar forces function at the school and school dis trict level. The use of microcomputers and minicomputers leads to increased control of these units by administrators at these levels, but the computer-dependent control achieved by the Ministry is greater. 4. Organizational Objectives And Computer Systems Design The multiplicity of manufacturers represented among British Columbia school district computers departs from the general rule that centralization leads to standardization. Elsewhere, leading informatic companies have encouraged standardization since their market share is enlarged and the likelihood of future sales improved. British Columbia school districts have resisted standardization for two dec ades. Although BCSC rapidly standardized provincial govern ment data processing in the late 1970's, for the most part school districts thwarted Corporate and Ministry attempts to unify their data systems. Honeywell remains the major hardware supplier and Datatech, acting as Honeywell's representative, the main software vendor. Before the introduction of the 1982 dis trict computer project, Datatech, using Honeywell equipment, had secured the largest market share of school district online and batch services. Datatech's sales and lobbying 182 campaign assured its preeminence in the new project.1 The historical predominance of a single computer com pany in part confirms the observations of Fishman (1981) and Fisher et al (1983) on the emergence of a dominant informa tics corporation. In the British Columbia case, control is exerted by Honeywell, not IBM. The recent success of competitors' products among sophisticated computer users leaves undecided the question whether unification of dis trict computers will involve Honeywell specifications. Future consolidation plans must consider the prevalence of IBM Personal Computer specifications among schools and dis tricts, and BCSC mainframe processor and networking stan dards. Demand for improved cost-benefits and more services will propel school district computer systems toward full compatibility with the Ministry's mainframe computing facil ity . To some extent, Lasswell's insight that political issues often precede quantitative cost-efficiency concerns is upheld by these findings. In British Columbia, public service computerization became an intensely political and high-profile issue. Cabinet's reputation seemed closely tied to the success of centralized computing policies.2 1 Honeywell was frozen out of the B.C. public service data processing market when BCSC selected IBM processors. The fate of Honeywell equipment received repeated attention in the legislature and news media. Some respondents conjectured that high-level political intervention assured a major role for Datatech in the 1982 computer project. 2 By removing computer experts from the Ministry of Education, the centralization of government data processing facilities inhibited the emergence of strong EDP 1 83 Lobbying and an unusually high degree of political involve ment was present throughout the early years of BCSC. Gotlieb (1985:101) notes that MIS departments favour standardized hardware and software. The absence of a strong Ministry of Education MIS division coincided with system fragmentation. B. RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS Research will reveal how public education, an inher ently conservative organization, responds to a technology which is radically changing the society in which public schooling takes place. Despite its importance, the area is largely uncharted. Analysis of the research findings gath ered for this study suggest several potentially rewarding directions for research. l. Costs and Cost-Benefits What are the costs and cost-benefits of administrative computer izat ion? Establishing the costs and cost-benefits of administra tive computers is critical to effective planning. Relatively little financial information seems to be gener ated by the Ministry for a data processing system that is itself designed to produce increased financial knowledge about provincial operations. 2(cont'd) centralization forces within the school system. 184 Of perhaps greater concern are the economic effects computerization has on the nation. Educational organiza tions exist in a web of social and economic interdependen ces. Assessed in terms of immediate organizational objec tives, senior management's decision to respond to falling revenues by introducing a computerized Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System may be desirable. Decisions to imple ment these computer-dependent efficiencies and cost reduc tions, however, may precipitate a further cycle of decline in fiscal support from outside the immediate organization. Unlike lumber and concrete, examples of materials manu factured in Canada, and common ingredients in school con struction, computers and increasingly their software are largely imported. An historically reliable source of eco nomic stimulation — capital expenditure on schools — decreases in effect when the goods purchased reduce employ ment.3 Educational expenditure on domestic manufactures contributes to a robust residential and commercial tax base which in turn supports larger educational expenditures. When a significant portion of the educational dollar is directed outside Canada in a quest for microprocessor effi ciencies, then compensatory mechanisms will have to be introduced to overcome declining educational revenues (see Appendix C). 3 The author recognizes that computer sales are an employ ment source, but problems arising from Canada's historic role as an entrepot economy are especially acute in the area of informatics. 185 2. Inter-provincial Cooperation Is.inter-provincial cooperation on the development of advanced computer systems warranted? For a province in which operational uniformity between Ministry and district computers has yet to be attained, dis cussion of interprovincial cooperation may seem premature. The first signs of interprovincial cooperation have already appeared in a related electronic endeavour, educational television. Provincial ministries of education are as capa ble as the private sector of producing instructional, finan cial and managerial software with national relevance and marketing potential. • 3. Administrative Computers and Educational Diversity How can computer systems be designed to support educa tional diversity? The British Columbia school district computerization project was designed to support a Planning, Programing, and Budgeting System. Financial cutbacks associated with PPBS and related computer initiatives at the district and Ministry level have reduced the range of educational experi ence. However, computer programs can be designed with the capacity to manage increased educational diversity with little if any increase in cost. The design of computerized management systems reflects the political and cultural assumptions of management. How. computers are applied to the management of education may be as important as their 186 application to instruction. 4. Middle Management — Candidates for Computerization? Are school and school district administrative positions good candidates for computerization? In this study, direct managerial impact was observed only at the lowest rung. Following the pattern achieved in the commercial and public sectors, further direct incursions may be expected among middle management and executive ranks. The extent and rate at which managers, in provincial public education organizations integrate computers into their work routines is of considerable interest. Will the present administrative resistance, apparently derived from managers associating computer use with clerical work, persist? Educational administrators are also likely to resist a pro cess that under the guise of efficiency has led other orga nizations to vigorously apply operations research techniques to middle management. The consequences are an erosion of personal freedom and a climate where supervisors themselves are closely supervised. '-• C. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS In the years ahead, public school organizations will follow public and private sector initiatives in introducing computer systems to assist in the non-financial aspects of administration. A first step will be the provision of an online data base containing provincial policies and 187 legislation related to school management. Such a database will include commentaries and legal opinions of relevance to line managers." A second step will be the creation of an expert system designed to guide school and school district administrators through the increasingly complex maze of fed eral and provincial legislation impinging on their daily routines. The expert system will also be designed for use by the Minister and senior advisors. A number of recommendations arise from the process of comparing the British Columbia public school policy on administrative computers with the data processing practices followed in private and public jurisdictions. The following synopsis of the most prominent recommendations relates spec ifically to British Columbia, but may also apply to other jurisdictions. These recommendations can serve as departure points for further research. 1. Ministry Coordination of EDP Purchases Coordinate purchases at the Ministry level of computers and software for the entire organization. Price leverage is reduced when seventy-five school dis tricts and many more schools individually purchase their EDP equipment. Data processing equipment for schools and school districts should be purchased through the British Columbia " The British Columbia School Trustees Association has already placed their legal opinions concerning current dis trict mananagement questions in an electronic file which is accessed by school district subscribers through a privately operated electronic mail system. 188 Purchasing Commission after consultation with BCSC and the Ministry. 2. Standardize Informatics Components Standardize operating systems, applications and computers. Develop modular programs for school and school district administration. Standardization maximizes potential cost-benefits. Communication via a provincial public school network is facilitated when there are common terminals and processors. Standardization will justify the high cost of preparing an expert system and other data bases by distributing the financial burden. 3. Common Operating System Make school microcomputers, district minicomputers and mainframes, and the Ministry mainframe run on a common operating system. The objective, as in item two, is to improve communica tions, reduce costs and increase flexibility. 4. Use BCSC Communications Network Use the provincial communications network operated by the British Columbia Systems Corporation. BCSC has an advanced, high-speed electronic network with nodes in most major provincial centres. Although users pay for long-distance telephone connections to the nodes, 189 downline access is without charge. More sophisticated mes saging appears to be possible with the BCSC network than with the commercial Envoy electronic mail service. The number of school and school district subscribers to Envoy continues to grow — resulting in considerable equipment redundancy for the education system. 5. Transmit Data Electronically Move statistical and financial records electronically through the medium of magnetic tape, floppy disk, and high speed data transmission. In the fallout of financial reform, the types and quan tity of manually prepare forms seem to have climbed. Much time is consumed by district staff manually transfering data processing results to prescribed Ministry forms, followed by hand sorting and data re-entry via .Ministry terminals. These procedures are wasteful; better to fully-modernize information handling by introducing electronic data trans mission for all vital financial and statistical informa tion.5 5 An indication that the Ministry is moving in this direc tion is exemplified by by the field trial to be conducted by BCRC and the Vancouver School District in June, 1986 which will involve the exchange of magnetic tapes. The tapes will contain student data relating to senior secondary gradua tion. 1 90 6. Establish a Division of Informatics The Ministry will establish a division responsible for systems analysis, programs, and coordination of the entire provincial administrative informatics system. A common element unites Canadian public school organi zations that possess advanced EDP systems: strong central departments manage administrative informatics. Circumspect Ministry direction in this rapidly changing field is not possible without employing a group of full-time experts. Short-term employment contracts and poorly informed committ ees have led to many EDP problems. An MIS branch will comprise capable programers and sys tems analysts. The branch will oversee on-site testing of hardware and software at the school and school district level. Its mandate will include the realization of the recommendations cited here. 7. Retain Ownership of Software Developed Under Contract Ownership and distribution rights to be retained by the Ministry for program development contracted to private com panies. Provincial licences will be sought for proprietary software. Again, cost reduction is a prime objective. The status of software ownership developed under contract is addressed in the Ministry's 1982 computer policy. Subsequent action appears to have departed from this directive. Were the Ministry to retain ownership, software could be exchanged 191 with other provinces. Steps should be taken to license popular off-the-shelf software for school and district administration on a provin cial basis. Licensing agreements for educational software have already been concluded by the Ministry's Provincial Educational Media Centre. Licences are popular with private companies; they allow the recipient to make a designated number of copies for distribution throughout the organiza tion. 8. Institute Full Informatics Accounting Practices Institute accounting practices that support cost-benefit and cost-efficiency analyses of informatics. Policy-making is severely handicapped by insufficient financial information on the relative cost of equipping and operating various computer options. This information will be linked with performance data obtained from detailed field trials as suggested in recommendation six (page 189). This information could also serve the federal government when national policies are evolved to address the relationship between public service informatics and the weakening Canadian economy. The financial implications for education of a shrinking domestic tax base coupled with a substantial extra-national capital outflow arising from hardware and software purchases is discussed in Appendix C. 1 92 9. Seek Cooperation Between Provincial Ministries of  Education . Cooperate with other education ministries to develop hardware, and modular computer programs. Privately packaged programs, such as those for book keeping and inventory, are popular in the British Columbia school system. No significant obstacles block provincial ministries from jointly producing administrative software packages. Many mainframe-, minicomputer-, and microcomputer-based student management, financial, and accounting programs sold to British Columbia school dis tricts are slightly modified versions of products distrib uted across Canada and the United States. Modular software jointly produced at a national centre could be customized by individual provincial ministries. The high cost of writing complex programs, particularly expert systems, provides a strong incentive for cooperative development. Operating and application system incompatibil ity between provinces hinders the extent of current inter-provincial cooperation, but with complete hardware replace ment occurring every five years, the realization of inter-provincial computer standards for educational administration is a reasonable expectation. 1 93 D. AFTERWORD Any consideration of the application of computers to the administration of a public school system should consider their effect on the education of young people. In British Columbia, several million dollars are spent each year on the acquisition and operation of administrative computers within the school system. Does this expenditure improve educa tional outcomes in the classroom? If the annual cost, including salary and benefit pack age, of employing a recently graduated secondary school teacher is approximately thirty-three thousand dollars,6 then thirty-three teachers could be hired for each one million dollars currently spent on administrative computers. Some may argue that were a decision made to direct these funds from administration toward the classroom, only a rela tively small number of students would benefit. Although the overall change may be small, for those students directly affected the impact would be significant. There is little evidence to indicate that administra tive computers have improved the educational experience of young people. On the contrary, the recent expansion of com puter use in British Columbia is closely associated with educational cutbacks, narrower course and curriculum offerings, larger class sizes, and reductions in the number of classroom teachers. These events have brought educa tional impoverishment. 6 based on Statistics Canada and British Columbia Teachers' Federation respondents; Statistics Canada 1985b; BCTF 1984b) 194 Certainly some aspects of student learning are more closely tracked, and educational expenditures are monitored in greater detail, 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 facilities, are central components of any plan to improve learning. The formula is simple and effective. Good education costs; better education costs more. When the state educates large numbers of college and univer sity 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 application of computers to public school adminis tration is part of a larger social revolution in which com puters and associated industrial processes continue to disemploy ever more people. Salaried and wage related jobs have, in the past, provided a means to redistribute social resources. As these labour employment mechanisms are made redundant, other means of resource distribution must be implemented to foster social vitality. Learning and the education of others present opportunities for all to share in our cultural and material heritage. These endeavours provide some of the most important means of distributing wealth and assuring social vigour. The recent British Columbia scenario, in which the very machines that have the potential to enrich learning "are used 195 instead to reduce educational opportunity, must surely rank as one of the less productive applications possible. The rising importance of computers throughout the global community should herald substantial increases in public school expenditure; increases that will be directed toward improving classroom conditions and reducing class size. 1 96 GLOSSARY1 batch Originally, a method of organizing work for a com puter system, designed to reduce overheads by grouping together similar jobs. The jobs were col lected into batches, each batch requiring a particu lar 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 their data presented to the jobs. The term has also come to be applied to the back ground processing of jobs not requiring intervention by the user, which takes place on many multiaccess systems. central processing unit The arithmetic and logic unit (ALU) and the control unit (CU) and sometimes, but not always, the primary memory. As the functions in a computing system have become more autonomous, the specification of the CPU has become less signifi cant. cost-benefit analysis A determination of the relationship between cost and benefit in choosing between alter native courses of action. A management scientist, a political scientist or a sociologist may adopt a different view or consider quite different factors in the accounting. The usual case is that costs are identified readily, but that benefits are more intractable because there are important ones which are intangible or unquantifiable. In situations where service centres are not operated as profit or cost centres, as happens in the public sector, even determining costs can present problems, because of accounting and budgeting rules which do not allow amortization of capital equipment or carryover of funds from one fiscal period to the next.2 data entry The process in which an operator uses a key board or other device to input data directly into a system. database A collection of interrelated 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 Valerie Illingworth, Edward L. Glaser and I. C. Pyle, 1983. 2 Extract from The Economi cs Of Computers by Calvin Gotlieb, 1985, page 124. 197 of files but not a single file. Depending upon the nature of the database management system, these files may be integrated permanently into a single connected structure or integrated temporarily for each interrogation. distributed data processing The organization of processing to be carried out on a distributed system. Each process is free to process local data and make local decisions. The processes exchange information with each other over a data communication network to pro cess data or to read decisions that affect multiple processes. electronic data processing Refers either to a class of computer applications or to a function within the organization. Data processing applications may be characterized as those that store and process large quantities of data on. a routine basis, in order to be able to produce information that is required. electronic mail Messages sent from one user of a computer system to one or more recipients (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. Electronic mail is an important component of an office automation system. floppy disk A magnetic information storage medium consist ing of a circular polyester substrate coated on one or both sides with magnetic oxide and enclosed within a stiff envelope, the inside of which is coated with a cleaning material. The envelope has a radial slot — or two slots for a double-sided floppy disk — through which the read/write heads of a floppy-disk drive can contact the disk. A hole in the envelope and disk is provided so that a photosensor may be used to generate an index pulse once per revolution signal. hard disk A magnetic recording medium consisting of an aluminum substrate coated or plated — usually on both sides — with a magnetic material. informatics The study of information and its handling, especially by means of new information technology, including computers and' telecommunications. The expression also designates a system, as in 'informa tics system.' A. I. Mikhailove, a Russian communi cations theorist, originated the term (Garfield 1986). local area network A high-speed communication network 198 linking a number of stations in the same 'local' area, variously defined as the same building, a radius of one kilometer, or a single plant. mainframe Generally, the combination of central processor and primary memory of a computer system. Any large computer system. The distinction between mainframe and minicomputer is becoming blurred. management information system An information system whose prime purpose is to supply information to manage ment. memory A device or medium that can retain information for subsequent retrieval. The term is synonymous with storage and store, although it is most frequently used for referring to the internal storage of a com puter that can be directly addressed by operating instructions. microcomputer A computer system that utilizes a micropro cessor as its central control and arithmetic ele ment. As'microprocessors become still more powerful and peripheral devices become more cost-effective, microcomputers will continue to encroach on the •domain of minicomputers and the distinction between them will blur, if not disappear. microprocessor A semiconductor chip, or chip set, that implements the central processor of a computer. Microprocessors consist of, at minimum, an arithmetic and logic unit and a control unit. network In communications, a rather loosely defined term applied to a system that consists of terminals, nodes and interconnection media that can include lines or trunks, satellites, microwave, medium- and long-wave radio, etc. In general, a network is a collection of resources used to establish and switch communication paths between its terminals. online Connected to the system and usable. operating system The set of software products that jointly controls the system resources and the processes using these resources on a computer system. planning, programing, and budgeting system A totally inte grated computer dependent process that extends from the planning and analysis functions through program ing and budgeting into operations, reporting and control. processor A computer, usually/often the central processor. 199 systems analysis Is the analysis of the role of a proposed system and the identification of a set of require ments that the system should meet. 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Van Maanen, John, James M. Dabbs, Jr. & Robert R. Faulkner. (1982). Varieties Of Qualitative Research. Beverly Hills: Sage. Verity, John. (1985). The Shifting Shape Of SNA. Datamation. New York: Technical Publishing, Vol. 31, No. 22, Nov. 15, 93-98. Vidal, Gore. (1984). Lincoln. .New York: Random House. Volkart, Carol & Peter Comparelli. (1985). Delta: No Penalty Warning. Vancouver Sun. Vancouver: Southam, February 22, Al. Walker, Alan. (1984). Social Planning: A Strategy For Socialist Welfare. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Webb, L. Dean & Van D. Mueller (eds). (1984). Managing Limited Resources: New Demands On Public School Management. Fifth American Yearbook Of The American Educational Finance Association, Cambridge: Ballinger Publishing. Weber, Robert Philip. (1985). Basic Content Analysis. Beverly Hills: Sage University Papers, 1-93. Weiss, Ulrich. (1983). Banking Services—New Technologies, New Approaches. Siemens Review. Berlin: Siemens Aktiengesellschaft, Vol. L, Nov.-Dec. 7, 2-7. Weizenbaum, Joseph. (1976). Computer Power And Human Reason: From Judgement To Calculation. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman. . (1984). Another View From MIT. Byte: The Small Systems Journal. Peterborough: McGraw-Hill, Vol. 9, No. 6, June, 225. Westell, Anthony. (1970). Trudeau - New Style PM, Power And Politics. Politics: Canada. 3rd ed, (ed) Paul W. Fox, Toronto: McGraw-Hill, 326-328. Westrom, Marvin. (1982a). Microcomputers In School Administration. The Canadian School Executive. Edmonton: University Of Alberta, Vol. 2, No. 1, May, 8-10. -. (1982b). H Is For "Heuristic": HARTS. The McGill Journal Of Education. Montreal: McGill University, Vol. 18, No. 3, Fall, 244-252. 232 Wiederhold, Gio. (1983). Modeling Databases. Information Sciences: An International Journal. New York: Elsevier, Vol. 29, No. 23, 115-126. Wildavsky, Aaron. (1969). Rescuing Policy Analysis From PPBS. Public Administration Review. 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Smart User Interfaces For The Distributed Information Environment. IEEE 1983 Eascon. New York: Institute Of Electrical And Electronic Engineers, 377-385. Wilson, Stephen. (1977). The Use Of Ethnographic Technique. Review Of Educational Research. Washington: American Association Of Educational Research, Vol. 47, No. 1, Winter, 245-265. Young, T. R. (1983). Who Works At Workstations? Datamation. New York: Technical Publishing, Vol. 29, No. 4, April, 169-174. Zuboff, Shoshana. (1982). New Worlds Of Computer-Mediated Work. Harvard Business Review. Cambridge: Harvard University, Vol. 60, No. 5, Sept.-Oct., 145-152. Appendix A Time Line Administrative Computers And The British Columbia Public Education System Event Ministry creates Division of Tests, Standards and Research — Dr. Clifford B. Conway is the first Director Division abandons electric machine scoring of tests after trials Hand scoring of 31,480 examination papers Division's in-house IBM 650 computer "partially mechanizes" scoring of 63,000 matriculation 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 District uses UBC mainframe to schedule secondary school classes Department of "Finance (Ministry of Finance) computerizes accounting system B.C. Research Council completes preliminary work on an IBM 360 program which forecasts school enrolment All regular Ministry non-scholarship examina tions are entirely objective to facilitate computerized scoring Examination scaling on the IBM 360-30 Vancouver School District is first in province to install an administrative computer Report commissioned by Educational Research Institute recommends Regional Educational Data Processing Centres. At year end, eighteen school districts use some form of electronic data processing equipment or service Event Columbia Computer Systems Limited introduces a centralized computer batch service for course scheduling and student marks B.C. School Trustees Association presents brief to Minister urging immediate action on regional educational data processing cen tres, July 11; no action taken by Ministry First use of BCRC student enrolment computer model Regular grade twelve provincial examinations end in June Research and Standards Branch divided into three branches: Learning Assessment, Information, and Educational Data Services B.C. Research Council's first formal computer run of Teacher Demand And Supply Model Dr. Conway, Director of Research and Standards retires, December 31 Data Services Branch begins work on new Management Information System Ministry develops computerized capability for extracting special reports from data bases U.S. National Centre for Education Statistics requests data from Ministry Woods Gordon report on B.C. government data processing recommends centralization Ministry releases Program for a Financial and Administrative Information System, March Apple Corporation.sells first microcomputer, June System Act proclaimed, September 1, establish ing B.C. Systems Corporation (BCSC) Event BCSC consolidates all electronic data process ing for seventeen ministries and most Crown corporations, March 31 Ministry of Education loses independent EDP capability — computer professionals dispersed Inter-ministerial Committee on Electronic Data Processing Services reports to Minister of Finance, October Educational Data Services Branch provides an interface between the Ministry and BCSC, government, and non-government agencies Responsibility for Universities moved to separate ministry, 1979-80 Lower Mai nl and School District Computer Needs Report recommends standardization of equip ment, operating system and applications; no action taken Ministry collects 50,000 essential documents each year Three years of radical change to the financial administration of the provincial government commences, 1980-1983 School boards write to government expressing opposition to proposed Financial Administration Act Ministry sponsors pilot project — 100 microcom puters for classroom use; cost $200,000 Price Waterhouse completes favourable study of B.C. Systems Corporation Ministry of Finance terminates BCSC development of comprehensive and integrated government-wide network of financial systems — citing complexity and cost Financial Administration Act proclaimed, July 24 IBM 8100 distributed minicomputer system installed in Publication Services Branch IBM introduces Personal Computer, August Event Harts Systems Limited offers student management program for Apple 11+ microcomputer B.C. Government's Fiscal Restraint Program begins, March 31 Ministry announces School District Administra tion Computer Program, May Ministry implements sixteen IBM Personal Computers for administrative purposes during 1982-83 fiscal year Treasury Board develops microcomputer support system for capital budgeting for use in all ministries BCSC completes single mainframe architecture BCSC installs province-wide data communications network (SNA/SDLC); regional centres link Prince George, Kelowna, Nelson, Kamloops, Vancouver and Victoria; some centres equipped with minicomputers BCSC provides courses and support for microcom puters BCSC converts Honeywell applications to IBM architecture; 268 people log in excess of 100,000 hours; cost 5.6 million dollars Ministry of Education introduces new Fiscal 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 authority from districts to Ministry Public Sector Restraint Act proclaimed October 26; permits termination of public sector employees to reduce the size and complexity of operations Event Provincial examinations reinstated after nine-year hiatus. EDP support for examinations contracted to ERIBC Government retracts BCSC sale offer, April 14; Corporation reorganized Columbia Computing Systems Limited introduces personal computer version (PC XT) of its student management program, February; includes class scheduling, marks reporting, and student demographics; this program han dles up to 3,000 students using a PC AT. Conclusion of four-year school district administrative computer project Minister of Education dismisses Vancouver School Trustees on May 5, and Cowichan Lake School Trustees on May 13, for non-compli ance with Ministry's budget guidelines IBM consolidates control of micro-, mini-, mainframe computer market and global commu nications Last run of BCRC Teacher Demand and Supply Model; this computer program is shelved pending Ministry of Education funding for redesign as an interactive model Japan announces commercial production of one megabyte chip and significant breakthroughs in Fifth Generation Project School trustee elections called by Minister of Education for Vancouver and Cowichan Lake School Districts, January 30, 1986 Education (Interim) Finance Amendment Act, repeal anticipated by December 31, 1986 Revisions anticipated to Ministry of Education fiscal management system Vancouver School District conducts trial of sending data tapes to BCRC for production of graduation certificates Project Athena at Massachusetts Institute of Technology enters third year Appendix B COMPUTER ACQUISITION PROGRAM FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS TABLE OF CONTENTS 238 Page 1. Introduction 1 2. Program Policies3. 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 facilities 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 initial 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 initial 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 lists 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, facilities and miscellaneous operating costs for each year of the plan should be stated (see example on page 8 . This section should also state all 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 EQUIPMENT^REQUIREMENTS This section should highlight the type of equipment you anticipate acquiring. You should indicate the relationship of this equipment to your information systems objectives. If old equipment is being replaced, you should indicate disposal plans. 244 4.6 §OFTWARE_REQUIREMENTS This section should indicate each software system you anticipate installing. The relationship of this software to the information systems objectives should be indicated. You should also indicate whether the software is to be developed in-house or acquired from alternative sources. The Ministry of Education encourages districts to pursue cooperative software acquisition among districts with compatible hardware. Current listings of 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 skill 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 life of the plan you will probably require some major or minor renovations to your facilities 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 Facilities Modifications Office FurTiiture/Eguipment Materials and Supplies Hardware Rental/Purchase Software Development/Purchase Hardware Maintenance Software Maintenance Other Expenditures Total Expenditures Other intangible costs/benefits to ON INFORMATION SYSTEMS PLAN SCHEDULE SCHOOL DISTRICT 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 JF M A M JJASOND 19 8 3 JFMAMJAS 248 lip BUDGET AND / NEWFIFVlSED CHAP SEC PAGE'S 25.1 — 1 Province of British Columbia ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY ISSUE OArfc 1-Dec-81 EFFECTIVE DATE 1-Dec-81 /" CHAPTER 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 BUDGET AND ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY 249 NEV/ DEVISED CHAP SEC PAGE*\ 25.1—2 ISSUE OATF EFFECTIVE DATE 1-Dec-81 1-Dec-81 /" CHAPTER 25. BRITISH COLUMBIA SYSTEMS CORPORATION SECTION 1. INTRODUCTION AUTHORITY RESPONSIBLE AGENCY Treasury Board Treasury Board Staff Prior Treasury Board approval may be obtained by. • a Treasury Board submission (see section 5.2), or • the pre-approval process, which requires full documentation in annual budget submissions together with a notification that pre-approval is being sought, (see section 5.2) Data processing services include the provision of dedicated hardware and software in addition to the regular systems and processing services. Ministries are encouraged to negotiate fixed-price contracts for Specification, Design and Development phases, if any one phase exceeds $40,000. The Systems 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 BUDGET AND ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY Nr.V. REVISED IS3UC DATE 1-Dec-81 Z3U  CHAP SEC PAGE^ 25.1—3 EFFECTIVE DATE 1-Dec-81 f CHAPTER 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 is 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 specific 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 is primarily dependant on the geo graphic distribution of online terminals. Locations have been planned to ac commodate the forecasted requirements of several cities and their surrounding localities. Effective 01 October 1981 RNC sites were established in Victoria, Vancouver, Prince George, Kamloops and Kelowna. Additional locations will be added as required and justified. Terminals which use the .Shared Network for delivery of BCSC host processing services will realize significant savings in data communications costs. Clients will only be charged for their connection to the nearest RNC. Hence, for most large centres in the province, network costs will not be de pendent on the distanct to Victoria. To be eligible for connection to the BCSC shared network the following criteria 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 criteria, 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 qualified word processing vendors. In addition, to ex tend the advantages of this shared network to ASCII asynchronous terminals (e.g. DECwriters), BCSC has installed "protocol convertors" at each RNC. This will allow these keyboard terminals access to the shared network via a local dial 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 capital expenditures within the public educa tion system is one of several historically reliable mecha nisms by which the British Columbia Government has sustained economic growth. Products used for either constructing or re-equipping schools and school board offices were usually purchased from Canadian, if not from British Columbia manu facturers. The cycle of rising capital expenditures stimu lated local 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 this economic strategy is the pur chase of domestically manufactured goods, including lumber, telephones and electronic equipment. For the first time, however, a major capital funding project initiated by the -i, B.C. public school system — the school district administra tive computer acquisition project - resulted in the channel ing of substantial funds to foreign manufacturers. Most computer hardware and a growing proportion of software used in administrative applications in the school system is manu factured in either Japan or the United States. The increasing loss of capital to the provincial and national economies indirectly threatens the financial 254 viability of the education system. As financial support for public education declines, in part a"result of a deteriorat ing economy and a declining tax base, an internal adminis trative drive for efficiency and financial cutbacks has emerged. To achieve cost reductions, the Ministry of Education has introduced a large-scale computerization pro gram. However, the viability of the provincial economy, on which a large proportion of future educational revenue depends, has as a consequence been further eroded. Teachers and support staff who become unemployed may either no longer pay taxes or contribute less through taxa tion to support the school system. Similarly, businesses that depend in part on the province's regular capital inputs for financial growth, encounter hard times when public expenditures are directed increasingly, beyond provincial and national boundaries. Thus a seemingly innocuous internal administrative decision to improve efficiency may have a deleterious effect on the political and economic system in which the organiza tion functions and upon which it depends.1 The attainment of increased efficiency may indirectly reduce the long-term success of the organization, as a cascade of events takes place beyond the immediate administrative environment. The Ontario Ministry of Education computer strategy attempts to counter the loss of capital funds to the provin cial economy. The Ministry is supporting the development of 1 The long-term impact upon students may be manifested as learning deficits. 255 a provincially designed and manufactured personal computer that can function as an administrative 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 thirty-two bit machine designed according to Ontario Ministry of Education specifications. 256 Appendix D The British Columbia Ministry Of Health Expert System The B.C. Ministry of Health's Executive Management Information System (EMIS) is probably the first electronic support system of its kind within a Canadian provincial gov ernment context (BCSC 1981-82:29). EMIS was designed in 1981 for the B.C. Ministry of Health by the B.C. Systems Corporation and provides high-level summaries of a large data base maintained by the Ministry. Executive summaries range from financial forecasts and operational performance to status reports on health claims and hospital grants. These topics are retrieved on menu driven video display ter minals. The Minister, Deputy Minister 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 it an important administrative aid for the decision-making process on health care policy. The Minister appears to have been the first in the British Columbia cabinet to install a computer in his office. 257 Appendix E The Informatics System Of The Quebec Ministry Of Education The Quebec Ministry of Education has achieved a well organized and centrally directed administrative response to the electronic data processing needs of the province's edu cational organization. Quebec's educational administration informatics system is one of largest and most complex of its kind in the world (Kirby 1983:1). Clients include schools, school districts, and teacher and school trustee organiza tions. The Ministry's first computer network was established in 1968 to serve the Ministry of Education and twenty school districts (Ball 1 984:38)'. By redesigning the original highly centralized network and including some advanced tech nology, the Ministry has produced a contemporary informatics system that responds well to local demands, but at the same time sustains the Ministry's role as the final authority on computer policy. Political and commercial considerations prompted Quebec to make an early commitment to a computer-based information system. Predominantly French speaking, but surrounded by an English speaking majority, the Quebec government had a strong mandate to guarantee the province's cultural heri tage. Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, the provincial school system underwent administrative changes that favoured increased state control (Behiels 1985:149-174). The 258 establishment of a centralized provincial computer network enhanced the process of administrative consolidation. The Quebec Ministry of Education's commitment to computerization was also prompted by the failure of private software firms to enter this specialized market. Since the market was too small to attract private firms, direct government involve ment was required. A star architecture was selected for the original 1968 network comprising twenty terminals connected to a single central processor. All terminals were dependent on the Ministry's host for data storage and computing power. By 1975, a second Ministry-based mainframe was added to service an additional forty-five districts (Ball 1984:38), but the star topology remained essentially unchanged. A 1977 projection of future demands showed that at the accelerating rate of hook-ups, the mainframe eventually would have to support more than two thousand administrative terminals (Kirby 1983:1). Since the mainframe's capacity would also have to accommodate cyclical user peaks corre sponding with province-wide student reporting and course scheduling deadlines, such a system would be under utilized during much of the year. The main node of the 1982 bus ring network is an IBM 3081 mainframe installed in the offices of the Quebec Ministry of Education (Ball 1984:38). Today, stand-alone Burroughs computers are in many districts and some of the larger schools, but each machine is integrated into the 259 provincial network. An IBM 3081 handles the applications that require massive computing power, such as student sched uling and payroll. In early 1982, the mainframe served a total of one hundred and thirty-two online school organiza tions (Ball 1984:38). Distributed nodes included terminals as well as minicomputers and personal computers selected from the Burroughs B1855 and B1985 series. In 1983, these nodes were located in forty-five school districts (1984). District data processing was frequently independent of the Ministry. The Quebec Ministry of Education has developed a com puter network based on a bus-ring design that services more than two hundred and fifty school districts. Most distrib uted computers and their peripherals conform to a Burroughs standard network architecture. Standardization helps to ensure that data and software can be readily exchanged between organizational units. The network design is flexi ble. Large school districts with special data processing requirements can modify Ministry software. Terminals are also located in some of the larger Quebec schools, with enrolments of 2,500 students or more. The inclusion of school terminals adds a tree topology as a subset of the bus ring network design. Since 1982, there have been increasing demands for school-based personal com puters which are being met by the school districts. All schools connected to the Ministry's informatics system are part of a large interactive student management system. When 260 a student transfers to another school in the same district, or to a school in a different district, the student's dosier containing health counseling, achievement, and attendance records can be transferred electronically. A separate division of the Ministry, the Direction des Services Informat i ques aux Reseaux, is responsible for col lective software development (Quebec 1983c). Software is distributed via the computer network to all school dis tricts. In October 1984-, Chambly School District located in Longueuil, Quebec had an enrolment of 20,500 students and an operating budget'of 106 million dollars.1 Over one million dollars, approximately one percent of the budget, was chan nelled toward administrative informatics. District offices 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 installa tion of a B25 minicomputer. Chambly school district had eighty-six terminals, twenty-one remote printers and twenty administrative micro computers distributed among its schools. All school-based terminals were linked to the district via a star network. Some administrative microcomputers were connected to local area networks. Electronic mail was sent over the system between: 1.) schools and the district office, 2.) the dis trict and other districts, and 3.) the district and the 1 Information for the Chambly School District is drawn from October 18, 1984 personal correspondence. 261 Ministry. Electronic mail could not be sent between one district and the schools of another district. The Ministry of Education has the capability to elec tronically access all of Chambly's databases, but such access is not allowed. Student grades and other records are transmitted from the schools to the district head office. By exerting a strong influence over the design and implementation of electronic data processing, the Quebec Ministry of Education has assured that the Ministry's infor mation system is compatible with computer installations at all organizational levels. Operating expenses have been kept relatively low. Software development and updating costs have been minimized. This new electronic information network combines the best features of centralization, for example, standardized hardware and software, with the best of decentralization, such as adaptability to local needs and fast terminal response time. 262 Appendix F Schedule Of Questions (list was modified following the first interview) A. Preamble 1.) University policy requires that I ask the following: "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 public school system? 2. ) Would you break this period down into components involving that of teacher, principal superintendent, etc.? 3. ) How long have you held your present position? C. Computer History The remainder of the interview will focus on four areas: 1. ) financial implications 2. ) centralization/decentralization issues 3. ) employment relations 4. ) general impact. Unless otherwise specified, my questions on computers imply an administrative context. However, if 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 this district used either a computer or a computing company for administrative purposes? 263 2. ) How has computer use changed over time? 3. ) What is the age of the current system? 4. ) What is the manufacture and model number of this system? 5. ) Does the District own or lease the hardware? 6. ) Does the head office have a separate word processor? 7. ) Do any of the schools have word processors for administrative use? 8. ) How many terminals are there? 9. ) What kind of networking exists? E. How Is The System Used? 1. ) How is the system used? 2. ) Analysis: Finance, Productivity, School and Teacher Achievement? 3. ) Monitoring 4. ) Word Processing — separate system 6. ) Data processing 7. ) Finance 8. ) Printing/publishing 9. ) Conferencing-communication 10. ) Planning 11. ) How many school principals are using micros for administrative purposes? 12. ) What are the plans for the future? F. Operating Costs 1.) What are the capital and operating costs of your administrative computer system? 264 2. ) Does the district: (a) own, (b) lease, (c) contract-out? 3. ) Are there provinicial funds designated for computer acquisition and development? 4. ) Have overall reductions in provincial support to public education affected the acquisition or development of the computer system? 5. ) How was the software acquired? 6. ) Was the software custom designed, or off-the-shelf and adapted? 7. ) Do you know of any other districts who use the same hardware/software? 8. ) Is there a combination of minis and micros? 9. ) Can the system be accessed through distributed terminals i.e. network? 10. ) How many terminals in the (a) head office, (b) schools, (c) other? 11. ) Does the District belong to B.C. Telephone's electronic mail service (Envoy)? 12. ) Are there any plans for subscribing to Envoy? 13. ) What is your view of the role of electronic mail? 14. ) How have Ministry policies affected the development of your computer system? 15. ) What were the capital costs of the system? 16. ) What are the operating costs? 17. ) Does the Province make funds available? 18. ) Development costs? 265 G. Personal Experience 1. ) What has been your experience with computers? 2. ) Do you have a terminal (micro) in your office? 3. ) Who does the word processing? 4. ) How has electronic information technology changed your role as an administrator? 5. ) Control vs. controlled. Freedom to exercise judgement? 6. ) Horizontal vs. Vertical communication? 7. ) Do you intend to obtain a terminal or micro? H. Employment I. ) How has electronic information technology (EIT) changed the nature of employment? 2. ) Layoffs, terminations? How many achieved? How many anticipated? 3. ) Old positions/ old job descriptions vs. New positions/ new responsibilities? 4. ) Are changes in the nature of employment anticipated? 5. ) Loss of skills? 6. ) Quality of working life? 7. ) Educational origins of new/old personnel? 8. ) Promotion? 9. ) Part time or reduced work week? I. Centralization And Decentralization 1.) Has power shifted within the provincial education organization? 266 2. ) During the time that you have been employed in B.C. education, has the organization moved toward either greater centralization or decentralization? 3. ) At what level has this trend had the greatest impact? 4. ) Will the trend continue? How? 5. ) During the last year, there were instances of the Ministry going directly to principals for information that was once obtained through District Offices. Have you heard of this practice? Why is it necessary? Has this happened to your district? 6. ) What is the optimal level of decentralization/ decentralizaion for the B.C. public education system? 7. ) Does the optimal level vary with the organizational level, i.e. school district, ministry? 8. ) How have computers and other forms of electronic information technology affected the centralization/ decentralization process? 9. ) Is there something intrinsic to this new information technology which drives centralization/ decentralization? 10. ) How could computers be used to support the optimal level of centralization or decentralization that you desire? 11. ) Does the type of computer (main, mini, micro) make a difference? 12. ) What about software? 13. ) And networking? 267 14. ) Which of the following organizational models represents the greatest degree of decentralization: the community school or school-based management? 15. ) How does the degree of centralization/decentralization compare with other provinces, and the United States? 15.) What will the future bring? J. Assistance With Research Design 1. ) Are there some people in your head office or your district who will help with this project? 2. ) Do you have an administrative computer co-ordinator? 3. ) Are there some reports, books, articles which you would recommend? 4. ) Would you recommend some administrators — either at the school, district, or Ministry level — who would be willing to help? 268 Notice of Consent Project Title: Investigator: Principal Investigator: Description: Conditions: Administrative Perceptions Of The Effects Of Electronic  Information Technology On Educational Administration Trevor Gibbens Dr. Daniel Brown This project will investigate the use of electronic information technology and its effects on the adminis tration of primary and secondary education through a series of interviews with professional administrators. The study is in partial fulfillment of a Master of Arts. 1. My participation is voluntary. 2. I have the right to withdraw at any time. My withdrawal will not be prejudicial. 3. I may refuse to answer with impunity. 4. This interview is confidential. 5. My anonymity is ensured. Records will not identify the respondent. 6. Duration of the interview will be one hour. 7. My inquiries concerning the research procedures will be answered by the investigator. 8. I have received a copy of the consent form including attachments. 9. This interview will be tape recorded. I understand the conditions of the interview which have been explained to signature date 


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