local governments have an electronic mail address, while 38.9 percent of individual staff have individual electronic mail addresses.
Although many state term contracts for computer equipment allow local governments to buy from the contract, a majority never or rarely do so. Only 5.6 percent of respondents always buy from state contracts, while 42.9 percent never use state contracts.
State and local governments have used the federal GSA schedule in the past when making purchases for federally funded programs, or have used GSA as a negotiating point for their own contracts. However, a proposal to allow state and local governments to use the federal GSA schedule is stalled in Congress, and 69.8 percent of local governments reported they never use it.
Average annual spending on information technology among survey respondents is $537,123. Of that amount, 28 percent is spent on hardware, 60 percent is spent on personnel, and 12 percent on software.
Vendors are the primary sources of information about new technology with 51 percent using them as the primary source of information. Trade publications ran a distant second, with 15.9 percent of respondents using them to learn about new technology.
Technology planning remains a low priority for local governments with only 13.1 percent indicating that they have a long-range technology plan, the same percentage that had such a plan in 1993.
The survey also showed that privacy, censorship, universal access and the education of citizens and staff on the information highway are important issues to survey respondents.
The survey also queried managers on their interest in future applications and technologies. Kiosks are currently used by 4.8 percent of local governments, and more than 21 percent are considering kiosk applications for their jurisdiction. Another area of future growth is video arraignment of crime suspects. Currently, 7.5 percent of respondents are using this technology, while 20.7 percent are considering implementing it.
Use of CD-ROM as a storage vehicle is another area of interest to local government managers. Survey results show that 27.3 percent of respondents are currently using it and another 65 percent are considering how the technology might be applied to their jurisdiction.
In conclusion, it is clear that technology issues command more attention from local government managers. While technology improves and costs decrease, more personal computers are finding their way to desktops. The capabilities of those desktops are increasing. The most dramatic increases occur in the use of online services to obtain and distribute government information.
The results of this survey, coupled with the emphasis on technology at the recent ICMA conference in September, demonstrates that local government managers are well aware of the benefits and risks of technology and the need to keep their communities plugged into the information superhighway.
Milford H. Sprecher is vice president of State and Local Government Services, Federal Sources Inc. Haywood Talcove is director of research for ICMA, and Dale Bowen is a business manager for PTI.
For additional information on the ICMA/PTI technology survey, contact Woody Talcove at 202/962-3589