The Role of ICA in the World of Digital Processing Throughout Our Conference History
Although Digital Processing or computing is a relatively young industry The International Council for Information Technology in Government Administration (ICA) is to celebrate its 50th Golden Anniversary Annual Conference in Medellin, Colombia during November 2016. Rarely, if ever, has any organisation given so much support and guidance for so many years to so many senior officials within any environment.
It is generally accepted that ENIAC was the first general purpose computer (1946) although in fact it was only used for what might be termed as military purposes. The first time-critical business application computer was designed and built by J. Lyons & Co., a company better known for its Corner House Tea shops in the UK. In 1951 the LEO I computer became operational and ran the world's first regular routine business office tasks. The company went on to form the LEO Computers Ltd in 1954 then its LEOII computers were installed in many British companies including Ford, British Oxygen and the 'clerical factory' of the Ministry of Pensions & National Insurance at Newcastle in 1958 where it ran the payroll for over 6000 staff. In 1961 the same site installed the largest computer in Europe, the EMIDEC 2400 with the then unheard of 16KB of store, shortly doubled to 32KB, to run the Graduated Pensions payments for the whole of the UK. Over the next few years most large organisations throughout the world in both the public and private sectors bought computers for their large scale administrative needs but there was little coordination in the selection and procurement process and procurement was usually only for a single task; payroll, record keeping and the like.
It was in this environment, back in 1967, that a number of Government officials decided upon an unofficial meeting of data processing authorities in federal administrations. This meeting of minds led to a more formal meeting in Edinburgh in 1968 when the participants decided in favour of institutionalising these contacts among central governmental data processing authorities on an annual basis. It started as a kind of informal forum, without creating an official organisation. This was the beginning of ICA. At its second conference ICA established its international study groups to examine topics of joint interest between annual conferences. These twin activities are to this day the main processes by which ICA fulfills its objectives.
For nearly 50 years ICA has maintained and realised its aims and objectives in what remains the most volatile of environments in terms of both technical and social evolution. From the single task computer of the 60’s to the Digital Environment of the 21st Century ICA remains the impartial and informal organisation of cumulative wisdom and expertise. Its success is due in part to its (arguably) unique role in that it has no political or commercial business interests and works outside geographical boundaries and other constraints.
3rd ICA Conference:
“Formulation ADP policy, organisational structure, ADP in economic and social planning”
Was the fledgling profession of ‘computing’ on a course out of control? Two areas of concern needed immediate action. On one hand there was the development of standards for punch cards, punch tape, magnetic tapes and languages. While on the other, there was strong suspicion concerning binary/octal/hexadecimal methodologies which were questioned in regards to privacy and protection of information. A widespread fear of what was termed as the “1984 syndrome” was putting up resistance to new technological breakthroughs.
26-29 January, 1970
10th ICA Conference:
“ADP in government – achievements and prospects”
The apparent “sea change” or quantum leap in the process of administrative systems was acknowledged. First strategic review of ICA ‘Quo Vadis’ was published.
The Hague, The Netherlands
28-30 September, 1976
18th ICA Conference:
“Policies and strategies for information processing in government”
Personal Computers (PCs) begin to have a strong impact on government processing tasks. On a side note, the “1984 syndrome” turned out to be a bit different for ICA during this conference. The organization was left without a leader and for causes outside of ICA’s control. Dissolution was avoided through unity and creation of Editor/Treasurer post for secretarial support.
23-26 October, 1984
25th ICA Anniversary Conference:
“The economics of IT in government – are the benefits real?”
The foundations for system projects calling for abolition of current budgeting and accounting procedures including ROI get challenged. This called for an IT constitution and commitment to OS architectures.
28 Oct.-1 Nov., 1991
29th ICA Conference:
“Getting the most from IT”
Major Strategic Review led to formalisation and introduction of Technology into all ICA Procedures presenting an innovative ICA into 21st Century. The identification of a future crisis to be known as the Millennium Bug was recognised for the first time.
22-27 October, 1995
36th ICA Conference - Singapore :
“Innovating and Transforming Government through Information Technology”
The emergence of E-Government along with citizens’ needs for access to information became the major topic for the next decade and to this day. Technical milestones include the evolution and rise of Social Networks, mobile technologies, BYOD, Cloud, etc. while the need to integrate the public sector with business and citizens’ demands brought in the limelight service delivery, security, cross-platform delivery, and the major factor-user satisfaction.
22-24 October, 2002
50th ICA Golden Anniversary Conference:
“Digital Government: Designing for the citizen experience”
Tailoring digital government to improve citizen experience. The role of the CIO in this leading digital transformation is ever evolving. A look at tools and methodologies to bring forth solutions and experiences that will make citizen digital engagement not just an aspiration but a reality.
13-16 November, 2016