Week 9 Reading Summary (HK)
Pang, M.-S. (2017). Politics and information technology investments in the U.S. federal government in 2003-2016. Information Systems Research, 28(1), 33-45.
Government information technologies (IT) are often plagued by obsolete legacy systems that are expensive to maintain. These systems are often left in place due to a variety of factors including risk adverse employees, lack of IT commitment/consensus across governing parties, and the sheer volume of difficulties associated with replacing or upgrading IT systems so large in scope that are continually in use. Furthermore, there is a wide variation in IT systems and spending across various agencies and bureaus. To further understanding of factors that influence IT spend, Pang (2017) draws from a range of political science, public administration, and information system literature to develop a theoretical understanding to a previously overlooked phenomenon.
Pang hypothesizes that a federal agency’s capacity-building IT investments are associated with (i) legislative approval for the chief executive, (ii) government dividedness, and (iii) ideological characteristics of the agency. A generalized estimating equation analysis, an approach widely employed for estimating panels with a fractional dependent variable, was conducted on panel dataset of 135 federal agencies and bureaus between 2003 and 2016. Results indicated that the there is a significant, positive relationship between the senate’s confirmation of the chief executive and the agency’s IT investments. Also, there is significant support for the notion that federal agencies are less likely to invest in new IT development under a divided government. Finally, there is significant support for the fact that ideologically moderate federal agencies invest more in development, modernization, and enhancement IT spending. These findings indicate that national politics significantly impact IT investments; investment is dependent on securing compelling policy mandates and political legitimacy from Congress. Therefore, it is proposed that Congress pay more attention to and provide more support for IT investments to ensure the IT infrastructure supports the federal government’s goal to be more agile, flexible, and efficient.