A survey of local government computerization -- conducted last summer -- was released by The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and Public Technology Inc. (PTI).
The survey covered a wide range of issues, including types of computers used, numbers of computers owned by the jurisdictions, applications used, the impact of technology on the organization, and whether the jurisdiction has an IT strategic plan.
The results, when compared with the 1993 survey, show an increased role for technology in local government, and some areas in need of attention.
The average number of IBM compatible computers per responding local government has almost doubled, from 40.1 to 75.7 between 1993 and 1995. The average number of mainframes is essentially the same as the 1993 survey, at 1.4 per local government. The average number of minicomputers has increased slightly from 1.6 in 1993 to two per local government in 1995. The average number of laptop computers per local government is 8.1. The 1993 survey did not request information on the number of laptop computers, but 31.2 percent of respondents in 1995 indicated that they would purchase the same number or more laptops in the next year.
The majority of IBM compatible personal computers are 486-based, at 56 percent of respondents, while 386-based personal computers make up 37.9 percent of the installed base. Twelve percent are Pentium-based machines.
Apple Macintosh computers owned by local government respondents have increased from 11.5 percent in 1993 to 16.6 percent in 1995. However, the percentage of respondents that plan to purchase Macintosh has decreased from 19.4 percent to 6.3 percent.
The percentage of local governments that have CD-ROM players has almost doubled, from 32.8 percent in 1993 to 60.5 percent in 1995. The average number of CD-ROM players per local government is 6.1. Local government MIS directors, department heads and line employees are more likely to have CD-ROM drives on their computers than elected officials or the city or county manager.
The percentage of respondents that are migrating from minicomputers and mainframes to personal computers is dropping slightly. In 1993, 14.1 percent of respondents had abandoned minicomputers or mainframes in favor of PCs. In 1995, that figure increased to 17.1 percent. When asked whether the local government was considering abandoning any of its minicomputers or mainframes in favor of PCs over the next two years, 18.4 percent said yes in 1993, while that figure dropped to 16.3 percent in 1995.
Networking has grown in local governments as it has in other market segments. In 1995, 62.7 percent of local government respondents have a local area network, compared to 48.1 percent in 1993. The percentage of PCs connected to the LAN has increased only slightly; from 59.8 percent in 1993 to 63.2 percent in 1995.
ONLINE SERVICES/CITIZEN ACCESS
The number of local governments using online services has increased dramatically since 26 percent of resondents indicated use in 1993. In 1995, 44.7 percent were using online services. Of those that do not currently use them, 56.5 percent plan to start within the next two years.
Of those local governments who plan to make information available online within the next two years, almost 69 percent plan to use the Internet as the delivery mechanism.
The most popular online service for local government respondents is CompuServe, with 36.2 percent. (ICMA, PTI and the National League of Cities currently have a private forum on CompuServe.) America OnLine is the second most popular service, used by 20.8 percent of respondents. Prodigy is third, with 16.8 percent.
The Internet is available to 48.9 percent of respondents, but only 8.7 percent have a World Wide Web site for their local government. Local government respondents that have some type of online service or bulletin board that citizens can access is 32.6 percent.
Information included in local government bulletin boards
or online services include the following:
* Council meetings 70.4%
* Parks and recreation information 59.3%
* Employment information 50%
* Permit information 46.3%
* RFPs 37.1%
Electronic mail and electronic citizen access are growing. Currently, 18.8 percent of