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Digital Era Governance: IT corporations, the state and e-government

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Patrick Dunleavy|, Helen Margetts, Simon Bastow and Jane Tinkler
Oxford University Press (November 2006)

Government information systems are big business (costing over one per cent of GDP a year). They are critical to all aspects of public policy and governmental operations. Governments spend billions on them - for instance, the UK alone commits £14 billion a year to public sector IT operations.

Yet governments do not generally develop or run their own systems, instead relying on private sector computer services providers to run large, long-run contracts to provide IT. Some of the biggest companies in the world (IBM, EDS, Lockheed Martin, etc) have made this a core market. The book shows how governments in some countries (the USA, Canada and Netherlands) have maintained much more effective policies than others (in the UK, Japan and Australia). It shows how public managers need to retain and develop their own IT expertise and to carefully maintain well-contested markets if they are to deliver value for money in their dealings with the very powerful global IT industry.

This book describes how a critical aspect of the modern state is managed, or in some cases mismanaged. It will be vital reading for public managers, IT professionals, and business executives alike, as well as for students of modern government, business, and information studies.

  • Professor Patrick Dunleavy is based in the Department of Government at LSE
  • Professor Helen Margetts is at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
  • Simon Bastow is a senior research fellow at the LSE Public Policy Group
  • Jane Tinkler is a researcher at the LSE Public Policy Group

Purchase this book from the publisher|

Press cuttings

Political Studies Review (3 September 2007)
As a work of both theory and empirical analysis, the book deserves the highest possible plaudits. The volume of primary research that has gone into its production is almost breathtaking, especially when you consider the novelty of the research design.
Click here for a PDF of the full review.|

Lords Hansard text for 21 June 2007
Lord De Mauley:
In a book published last year called Digital Era Governance by, among others, Patrick Dunleavy, who is professor of political science and public policy at the LSE, Britain consistently comes bottom of a table of seven nations selected for examination in all aspects of management of government IT projects. Yet, according to a 2004 estimate quoted in the book, the United Kingdom was undertaking up to a quarter of all government IT capital spending across the entire Continent, apparently in an effort to portray the Government as hyper-modernist. So we are the worst at it, yet we persist in throwing the most money at it.

The Guardian
Everyone's a winner in the government IT blame game (30 Nov 06)
This article about government IT reviews to 'an important new book' Digital Era Governance, by Professor Patrick Dunleavy, Simon Bastow and Jane Tinkler, LSE and Professor Helen Margetts, Oxford.