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Possible Use of Computers and Data Processing Equipment by International Non-governmental Organizations


Possible Use of Computers and Data Processing Equipment by International Non-governmental Organizations
Note on typesetting by computer
Note on research and storage of information by NGOs
Note on the use of a service bureau
Use of computers by NGOs

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Revised version of a note presented to a meeting (Brussels, 1968) of the Federation of International Associations Established in Belgium (Brussels, 1968); the present English version is extracted from a detailed report in 1968 on the data processing problems of the Union of International Associations at that time (Version française)

Precedents in the use of computer techniques by non-profit organizations

No references could befound to the use of computers by international non-profit non-governmental organizations.A computer has been installed byat least two intergovernmental organizations, mainly to keep track ofdocument production in their fields. The two organizations are the Pood and Agriculture Organization 'of the United Nations in Rome (see FAO and Euratom in Mons, Belgium. These organizations operate on a scalewhich makes comparison relatively useless in examining the problems of theUIA.

Three recent references were found to the use of computers by national non-profit organizations. The U.S.A. AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department Data Center offers computer services to member unions. The computer has been used for gathering and sorting information on labour contracts,analysing companies-and mergers to provide datafor negotiations, as well as processing of membership and subscription lists. Individual unions in the U.S.A. are also reported to be making independent use of computers, including the communications workers, the United Auto Workers, the letter carriers, railroad trainmen, carpenters, typographical workers. For example, the U.S.A. national trade union called the International Association of Machinists is reported to have installed a $ 1.5 millioncomputer in 1952 and has increasingly been able to upgrade the effectiveness of its union operations by adapting the computer to more difficult tasks. Prior to installation of the computer, union membership lists were 18 months in arrears. With a total of 950,000 members and what amounted to 100 percent annual turnover, it was then impossible to maintain effective contact through the headquarters office. Currently, 80,000 monthly changes in membership are processed within two days of receipt of the information, which enables the union to maintain contact 'by issuing a weekly newsletter. (see Adams, Alan, Ml)

The article, although it demonstratesthat computers have been,used, effect- ively for membership societies does not illustrate whether computer ser- vices could be adapted to the UIA scale of operations.

The second reference was to a U.S.A trade association called the Refrigertion Service Engineers Society. This organization with a membership of 23,000,monthly journal mailing, subscriptionlist maintenance, statistics (training courseattendance, insurance, etc.), reports that it decided to lease classical data processing equipment (tabulator, cardpunch, sorter, collator). The decision was made to lease the equipment rather than use a service bureau because although the actual coat of service bureau operations was somewhat less than leasing, it was considered that for long. range requirements, the cost of increased use of. the service bureau would, then far outweigh the possibleinitial savings. A study of personnel in- volved with the new system revealedthat there would not be as much reduction using the service bureau as there would in using leased equipment. After one year of operation the conclusion is that the equipment does not necessarily reduce costs. The labour costs plus the lease and operating costs are approximately equal to the former total labour costs. (see Stafford,Willis, M15)

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