IT and Enterprise Architecture in US Public Sector Reform: Issues and Recommendations

IT and Enterprise Architecture in US Public Sector Reform: Issues and Recommendations

Terry F. Buss, Anna Shillabeer, Anna Shillabeer
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1824-4.ch018
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This chapter looks at public sector whole-of-government reform from an Information Technology (IT) focused Enterprise Architecture (EA) perspective. The chapter summarizes reforms undertaken under three US presidents—Clinton, Bush, and Obama—and discusses how they have too frequently failed to meet expectations of policy makers, public servants, the public, and other stakeholders. We find that IT reforms in support of larger public sector reform have been ineffective and unsustainable, although many IT reforms have been successful in a narrower context. EA has suffered as a once promising methodology: it has not become the “silver bullet” in managing the IT and information infrastructure to support reform, knowledge management, and decision making. It was also seen as an important tool for reducing information management silos that successive governments have unsuccessfully tried to reduce. This chapter raises the spectre of endemic barriers to reform that must be overcome if EA and IT reform are to realize their potential, and offers recommendations for overcoming these hurdles in the context of whole-of-government public sector reforms.
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Public Sector Reform Initiatives

Public sector reform undertaken in a whole-of-government framework has featured in the agendas of most presidents over the past 120 years, but it is only in the last 20 or so that reform initiatives have become a high priority and expected to engender massive changes in governance (see Buss & Buss, 2011, for a review). Policy makers understood that they could not accomplish missions, attain policy goals, and deliver quality public services unless government could achieve the four E’s. The public, empowered by unprecedented access to information and greater transparency in government operations, also began to expect much more value in return for the taxes paid or fees charged, and demand more input into, and responsiveness from, political processes affecting their lives. Social media enabled a move towards “people power” as an unavoidable influence on government decision making and processes and provided a unique motivation for reform and a new era of government responsiveness. With perpetual burgeoning budget deficits, out of control long-term debt, and increased demand for public services, government would have to do much more for much less (Balutis, Buss, & Ink, 2011).

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