The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the adoption, uses, and impacts of information technology (IT), including electronic government, among local governments in the United States1. In the 1950s, these governments began to adopt IT for a variety of purposes and functions, and they continue to do so today. Since at least the mid 1970s, a small, but prolific group of scholars has conducted a large body of research on various aspects of IT and local government.2 It is from that research and my own studies into this subject that I have based this chapter (regarding e-government, see also, Norris, 2006). Given the constraint of space, this chapter can only highlight aspects of this important topic. Readers who wish to delve more deeply into the subject of information technology and local government may wish to avail themselves of the works found in the bibliography as well as references from other, related works which can be found through those works.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Information technology (IT): computers hardware, and associated software, processes, and procedures, etc.
Impacts: The consequences or results produced by the adoption and utilization of IT and e-government.
Electronic Government (e-Government): E-government is the electronic provision of governmental information and services 24 hours per day, seven days per week (Holden, Norris & Fletcher, 2003).
Moore’s Law: Computers improve in terms of speed, processing, storage capacity, user friendliness and more, and do so while costs decrease.
Mainframes: Large scale computers characteristic of computing the 1950s through the 1980s.
Minicomputers: Smaller, less costly and easier to use versions of mainframes, invented by DEC in 1965 and characteristic of computing in smaller organizations from the 1970s into the 1990s.
Adoption: The act by a local government (or other unit or organization) to acquire and implement a new technology, process or system. In this chapter, the concern is with adoption of information technology and e-government.
Personal Computers (PCs): The smallest, most easy to use and least expensive computers, invented in the late 1970s by companies like Apple Computer, Inc., and made commercially available in the early 1980s (initially primarily by IBM) and characteristic of computing in nearly all organizations today.