This paper focuses on how citizens' interests are dealt with and mediated by means of computer technology. It examines the distribution of computing resources to different government activities and, indirectly, to different client groups. It asks to what extent the patterns of computer use reflect stable patterns of choice favoring some uses over others and, therefore, some client groups over others. Two political perspectives on the patterns of choice are considered: managerial rationalism and reinforcement politics. To the extent that managerial rationalism characterizes computing decisions, we would expect to see computing distributed in favor of these government activities that provide direct services to citizens, and that actually expand, rather than contract, the array of choices available to citizens. In contrast, to the extent that reinforcement politics characterizes computing decisions, we would expect to see computing used in support of routine administrative activities, basic local government services, bureaucratic control over government departments and agencies, and social control over the recipients of social services such as welfare, health, and recreation. To examine which of these perspectives best characterizes computing in public organizations, we examine the portfolios of investment in computer based applications, using data collected from over 700 city and county governments in the United States. First, we look at the extent to which computing is applied to different local government functions. This examination suggests that computing tends to reinforce the traditional emphases of local governments toward
Kling, Rob and Kraemer, Kenneth L., "The Political Character of Computing Developments: Citizens' interests and Government Services" (1981). ICIS 1981 Proceedings. 6.