Public Administration ETDs

Publication Date



Computers are an essential tool in modern research and development, and are counted among the most significant technological developments of this century. The science agencies of the Federal Government are by far the largest users, and account for nearly three-fourths of the computers in government. The total cost of computer activities in the government is approximately $2.125 billion annually. Considering this vast expenditure and the important role of computers to research and development activity, two key questions are raised.

How does the government manage and control its computer activities?

Can computer installations in research and development activities be managed in a standard or similar way:

To answer the first question, actions taken in the government to gain control over the rapidly growing computer expansion are reviewed and analyzed. In the early 1960's, both the Congress and Executive Branch personnel viewed the increasing expenditures on computers with alarm. In 1965, Public Law 89-306 was enacted, and the President issued a strong directive to all departments and agencies concerning the effective use of computers at the least possible cost. To focus on how government agencies reacted to this new policy, the Air Force and NASA are chosen as case examples. The actions of these organizations to manage and control their large computer invest­ments are compared, and conclusions are drawn.

In considering the second question, computer laboratories in a field installation of NASA and the Air Force, respectively, are examined as to the type of work per­formed, management issues, and policies applied in their solution. Comparisons are made between the field agency computer laboratories and conclusions drawn concerning the similarities and differences. Finally, it is concluded that the management of computer installations in different science agencies is quite dissimilar and that no one set of policies, rules, or guidelines can be claimed as superior to others. Rather, the challenge is how to effectively use the sophisticated computer hardware that has been developed, and at the same time keep costs within reasonable bounds.

Degree Name

Public Administration

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Public Administration

First Committee Member (Chair)

Albert H. Rosenthal

Second Committee Member

John M. Hunger

Third Committee Member

Nicholas L. Henry



Document Type