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Need for a World Management Information Network

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Need for a World Management Information Network
1. Introduction
2. Current situation
3. Scope of management problem
4. Interaction between UN and non-UN networks
5. Problems currently treated on an ad hoc basis
7. Implications of the distinction between documentation and management information
8. Economical solution to the global management information problem
9. Advantages of a network file organization
10. Implementation
11. Conclusion

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Summary: This note has been prepared in order to stress the need for further attention to one aspect of the plans currently under discussion within the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies, particularly through the Enlarged Committee for Programme and Coordination, to improve global development strategy and coordination. These have taken the form of investigations of ways to improve the operation of individual agencies and their coordination.

This note suggests that agencies face an information and coordination problem which is an integral part of that of other international and national organizations and that the only effective long term solution is one based on an assessment of the management information requirements of all organizations in the face of global problems. An economical solution using a central computer is discussed.


Contents:

0. Summary of argument
1. Introduction
2. Current situation
3. Scope of management problem
4. Interaction between UN and non-UN Networks
5. Problems currently treated on an ad hoc basis
*** Lack of information on organizations
*** Lack of integrated information on organizations and programmes
6. Implications of the distinction between management techniques and administrative techniques
7. Implications of the distinction between documentation and management information
8. Economical solution to the global management information problem
9. Advantage of a network file organization
10. Implementation
11. Conclusion


0. Summary of argument

1. The UN problems of global programme coordination and strategy are an integral part of similar problems in other types of organization with the same programme objectives as the UN.

2. The UN recognizes its dependence on these organizations.

3. Current plans to solve the UN problems aim at a UN inter-agency solution only, with an emphasis on the exchange of coded or microfilmed documentary material as the key to coordination.

4. The resultant high-volume flow of information will not facilitate the task of the programme decision-maker since the system will not be designed to pin-point communication gaps or areas of need. The system will not assist the non-UN organizations on which the UN depends.

5. The emphasis on the increased flow of documents is due to the lack of distinction between management information and programme administration documents. Critical management information is diluted by the mass of documentary material.

6. The discussions on the use of computers emphasize either administrative uses, document exchange or indexing, or statistical research. None of these systems take full advantage of the computer as a management tool.

7. Information on the existence, location and programme activities of organizations within the world system is either non-existent or poorly distributed (because of the cost) and therefore only available after a complex series of search operations.

8. Information on currently active bodies and programmes is critical to adequate global programme coordination and planning, analysis of needs, fund allocation, programme evaluation, programme implementation, and document distribution. The difficulty in obtaining such information hinders organized reaction by all types of organization and department to new and overlapping problem areas.

9. An information system is described which could act both as a contact list for normal administrative purposes and also as a powerful management tool, for the UN agencies and for non-UN bodies. The use of the system by non-UN organizations would in itself improve programme coordination. The system does not appear to require finance or computer hardware which is not already available or planned, nor does it appear to conflict with any detailed existing proposals. The proposed system does however represent a change of emphasis towards an integration of isolated parts of the present static information system in a dynamic computer environment. The design requirements of an integrated system should be used as guidelines if current policies will only permit the use of agency-focussed information systems for the present.


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