You are on page 1of 157


Management Information
Comptroller’s Handbook
May 1995r4 dM-MIS
Comptroller of the Currency
Administrator of National Banks
Comptroller's Handbook i Management Information Systems
Information Systems Table of Contents
Introduction 1
Background 1
Risks Associated with MIS 3
Assessing Vulnerability to MIS Risk 4
Achieving Sound MIS 5
MIS Reviews 6
Examination Objectives 9
Examination Procedures 10
Internal Control Questionnaire 17
Purpose 17
MIS Policies or Practices 17
MIS Development 18
User Training and Instructions 19
Communication 20
Audit 20
Conclusion 21
Verification Procedures 22
Comptroller's Handbook 1 Management Information Systems
Information Systems Introduction
A management information system (MIS) is a system or process that provides
the information necessary to manage an organization effectively. MIS and the
information it generates are generally considered essential components of
prudent and reasonable business decisions.
The importance of maintaining a consistent approach to the development,
use, and review of MIS systems within the institution must be an ongoing
concern of both bank management and OCC examiners. MIS should have a
clearly defined framework of guidelines, policies or practices, standards, and
procedures for the organization. These should be followed throughout the
institution in the development, maintenance, and use of all MIS.
MIS is viewed and used at many levels by management. It should be
supportive of the institution's longer term strategic goals and objectives. To
the other extreme it is also those everyday financial accounting systems that
are used to ensure basic control is maintained over financial recordkeeping
Financial accounting systems and subsystems are just one type of institutional
MIS. Financial accounting systems are an important functional element or part
of the total MIS structure. However, they are more narrowly focused on the
internal balancing of an institution's books to the general ledger and other
financial accounting subsystems. For example, accrual adjustments,
reconciling and correcting entries used to reconcile the financial systems to
the general ledger are not always immediately entered into other MIS systems.
Accordingly, although MIS and accounting reconcilement totals for related
listings and activities should be similar, they may not necessarily balance.
An institution's MIS should be designed to achieve the following goals:
• Enhance communication among employees.
• Deliver complex material throughout the institution.
• Provide an objective system for recording and aggregating information.
Management Information Systems 2 Comptroller's Handbook
• Reduce expenses related to labor-intensive manual activities.
• Support the organization's strategic goals and direction.
Because MIS supplies decision makers with facts, it supports and enhances the
overall decision making process. MIS also enhances job performance
throughout an institution. At the most senior levels, it provides the data and
information to help the board and management make strategic decisions. At
other levels, MIS provides the means through which the institution's activities
are monitored and information is distributed to management, employees, and
Effective MIS should ensure the appropriate presentation formats and time
frames required by operations and senior management are met. MIS can be
maintained and developed by either manual or automated systems or a
combination of both. It should always be sufficient to meet an institution's
unique business goals and objectives. The effective deliveries of an
institution's products and services are supported by the MIS. These systems
should be accessible and useable at all appropriate levels of the organization.
MIS is a critical component of the institution's overall risk management
strategy. MIS supports management's ability to perform such reviews. MIS
should be used to recognize, monitor, measure, limit, and manage risks. Risk
management involves four main elements:
• Policies or practices.
• Operational processes.
• Staff and management.
• Feedback devices.
Frequently, operational processes and feedback devices are intertwined and
cannot easily be viewed separately. The most efficient and useable MIS
should be both operational and informational. As such, management can use
MIS to measure performance, manage resources, and help an institution
comply with regulatory requirements. One example of this would be the
managing and reporting of loans to insiders. MIS can also be used by
management to provide feedback on the effectiveness of risk controls.
Controls are developed to support the proper management of risk through
the institution's policies or practices, operational processes, and the
assignment of duties and responsibilities to staff and managers.
Comptroller's Handbook 3 Management Information Systems
Technology advances have increased both the availability and volume of
information management and the directors have available for both planning
and decision making. Correspondingly, technology also increases the
potential for inaccurate reporting and flawed decision making. Because data
can be extracted from many financial and transaction systems, appropriate
control procedures must be set up to ensure that information is correct and
relevant. In addition, since MIS often originates from multiple equipment
platforms including mainframes, minicomputers, and microcomputers, controls
must ensure that systems on smaller computers have processing controls that
are as well defined and as effective as those commonly found on the
traditionally larger mainframe systems.
All institutions must set up a framework of sound fundamental principles that
identify risk, establish controls, and provide for effective MIS review and
monitoring systems throughout the organization. Commonly, an organization
may choose to establish and express these sound principles in writing. The
OCC fully endorses and supports placing these principles in writing to
enhance effective communications throughout the institution. If however,
management follows sound fundamental principles and governs the risk in the
MIS Review area, a written policy is not required by the OCC. If sound
principles are not effectively practiced, the OCC may require management to
establish written MIS policies to formally communicate risk parameters and
controls in this area.
Sound fundamental principles for MIS review include proper internal controls,
operating procedures and safeguards, and audit coverage. These principles
are explained throughout this booklet.
Risks Associated With MIS
Risk reflects the potential, the likelihood, or the expectation of events that
could adversely affect earnings or capital. Management uses MIS to help in
the assessment of risk within an institution. Management decisions based
upon ineffective, inaccurate, or incomplete MIS may increase risk in a number
of areas such as credit quality, liquidity, market/pricing, interest rate, or foreign
currency. A flawed MIS causes operational risks and can adversely affect an
organization's monitoring of its fiduciary, consumer, fair lending, Bank Secrecy
Act, or other compliance-related activities.
Since management requires information to assess and monitor performance at
all levels of the organization, MIS risk can extend to all levels of the
Management Information Systems 4 Comptroller's Handbook
operations. Additionally, poorly programmed or non-secure systems in which
data can be manipulated and/or systems requiring ongoing repairs can easily
disrupt routine work flow and can lead to incorrect decisions or impaired
Assessing Vulnerability To MIS Risk
To function effectively as an interacting, interrelated, and interdependent
feedback tool for management and staff, MIS must be "useable." The five
elements of a useable MIS system are: timeliness, accuracy, consistency,
completeness, and relevance. The usefulness of MIS is hindered whenever
one or more of these elements is compromised.
To simplify prompt decision making, an institution's MIS should be capable of
providing and distributing current information to appropriate users.
Information systems should be designed to expedite reporting of information.
The system should be able to quickly collect and edit data, summarize results,
and be able to adjust and correct errors promptly.
A sound system of automated and manual internal controls must exist
throughout all information systems processing activities. Information should
receive appropriate editing, balancing, and internal control checks. A
comprehensive internal and external audit program should be employed to
ensure the adequacy of internal controls.
To be reliable, data should be processed and compiled consistently and
uniformly. Variations in how data is collected and reported can distort
information and trend analysis. In addition, because data collection and
reporting processes will change over time, management must establish sound
procedures to allow for systems changes. These procedures should be well
defined and documented, clearly communicated to appropriate employees,
and should include an effective monitoring system.
Comptroller's Handbook 5 Management Information Systems
Decision makers need complete and pertinent information in a summarized
form. Reports should be designed to eliminate clutter and voluminous detail,
thereby avoiding "information overload."
Information provided to management must be relevant. Information that is
inappropriate, unnecessary, or too detailed for effective decision making has
no value. MIS must be appropriate to support the management level using it.
The relevance and level of detail provided through MIS systems directly
correlate to what is needed by the board of directors, executive management,
departmental or area mid-level managers, etc. in the performance of their
Achieving Sound MIS
The development of sound MIS is the result of the development and
enforcement of a culture of system ownership. An "owner" is a system user
who knows current customer and constituent needs and also has budget
authority to fund new projects. Building "ownership" promotes pride in
institution processes and helps ensure accountability.
Although MIS does not necessarily reduce expenses, the development of
meaningful systems, and their proper use, will lessen the probability that
erroneous decisions will be made because of inaccurate or untimely
information. Erroneous decisions invariably misallocate and/or waste
resources. This may result in an adverse impact on earnings and/or capital.
MIS which meets the five elements of useability is a critical ingredient to an
institution's short- and long-range planning efforts. To achieve sound MIS, the
organization's planning process should include consideration of MIS needs at
both the tactical and strategic levels. For example, at a tactical level MIS
systems and report output should support the annual operating plan and
budgetary processes. They should also be used in support of the long term
strategic MIS and business planning initiatives. Without the development of
an effective MIS, it is more difficult for management to measure and monitor
the success of new initiatives and the progress of ongoing projects. Two
common examples of this would be the management of mergers and
acquisitions or the continuing development and the introduction of new
products and services.
Management Information Systems 6 Comptroller's Handbook
Management needs to ensure that MIS systems are developed according to a
sound methodology that encompasses the following phases:
• Appropriate analysis of system alternatives, approval points as the
system is developed or acquired, and task organization.
• Program development and negotiation of contracts with equipment and
software vendors.
• Development of user instructions, training, and testing of the system.
• Installation and maintenance of the system.
Management should also consider use of "project management techniques" to
monitor progress as the MIS system is being developed. Internal controls
must be woven into the processes and periodically reviewed by auditors.
Management also should ensure that managers and staff receive initial and
ongoing training in MIS. In addition, user manuals should be available and
provide the following information:
• A brief description of the application or system.
• Input instructions, including collection points and times to send
updated information.
• Balancing and reconciliation procedures.
• A complete listing of output reports, including samples.
Depending on the size and complexity of its MIS system, an institution may
need to use different manuals for different users such as first-level users, unit
managers, and programmers.
MIS Reviews
By its very nature, management information is designed to meet the unique
needs of individual institutions. As a result, MIS requirements will vary
depending on the size and complexity of the operations. For example,
systems suitable for community sized institutions will not necessarily be
adequate for larger institutions. However, basic information needs or
requirements are similar in all financial institutions regardless of size. The
complexity of the operations and/or activities, together with institution size,
point to the need for MIS of varying degrees of complexity to support the
decision-making processes. Examiners should base MIS reviews on an
evaluation of whether the system(s) provide management and directors with
the information necessary to guide operations, support timely decision
Comptroller's Handbook 7 Management Information Systems
making, and help management monitor progress toward reaching institutional
goals and objectives. Although examiners should encourage management to
develop sound information systems, they also should be reasonable in their
expectations about what constitutes suitable MIS.
Examiner MIS reviews are normally focused on a specific area of activity, on a
clearly identifiable departmental or functional basis, or as a part of the activity
being examined within a larger department.
During the examination, the MIS review should occur at both a macro (big
picture) level and also at the micro (functional/product oriented view of the
business) level. The examiner-in-charge of the MIS-review program should
look at the useability and effectiveness of the corporate-wide MIS structure.
The examiner should also collect MIS related observations and information
from the examiners-in-charge of the other areas under review. It would be
very difficult for one examiner to attempt to perform a detailed MIS review for
all of an organization's functional and operational areas of activity. It is
practical and reasonable, however, to have this lead examiner coordinate and
consolidate the MIS reviews from the other examination areas. The MIS
related feedback received from other area examiners provides important and
practical input to the MIS review examiner. The consolidation, coordination,
and analysis of this MIS feedback can be used to reach supportable macrolevel
conclusions and recommendations for corporate-wide MIS activities.
MIS reviews in the functional or product review areas generally should be
performed by an examiner who is considered to be a subject matter expert
(SME) in the area of activities or operations that are being supported by the
MIS systems or processes under review. The SME must have a thorough and
complete understanding of the baseline "business" supported by the MIS
system(s) under review. A solid understanding of the business is fundamental
to the completion of a meaningful MIS review. The decision regarding the
overall quality and effectiveness of MIS generally should be made by the SME
for the area under review. The SME for each area where MIS is under review
must subsequently communicate MIS related findings, conclusions, and
opinions to the examiner charged with the responsibility for the complete MIS
review work program at that examination. This is clearly a collaborative effort
among area SMEs and the examiner charged with the responsibility for this
area of review.
The examiner coordinating the overall MIS review program should be a
commercial examiner with broad experience and understanding which
Management Information Systems 8 Comptroller's Handbook
covers many areas of organizational operations and activity. Alternatively, a
bank information systems (BIS) examiner could serve in this capacity. BIS
examiners should be consulted whenever there are questions, issues, or
concerns surrounding the use of information systems (IS) or electronic data
processing (EDP) technology or the effectiveness of MIS-related internal
controls in any automated area of the organization's activities.
When performing MIS reviews, examiners should use the guidelines in this
booklet to determine if management has:
• Identified the institution's specific information requirements. Examiners
can focus on specific information needs related to issues such as asset
quality, interest rate risk, regulatory reporting, and compliance. If
possible, the MIS review should be concurrent with examinations of the
commercial, consumer, fiduciary, and BIS activities. This would
enhance interaction and communication among examiners.
• Established effective reporting mechanisms to guide decisions. This
process includes reviewing controls that ensure that information is
reliable, timely, accurate, and confidential.
Comptroller's Handbook 9 Management Information Systems
Information Systems Examination Objectives
1. To determine examination procedures necessary to achieve stated
objectives. (Note: BIS examiner support of commercial staff should be
considered to enhance the depth of coverage for the MIS review if there
are known MIS issues or deficiencies which represent an undue level of
risk and/or if MIS activities are particularly complex or sophisticated.)
2. To determine if MIS policies or practices, processes, objectives, and
internal controls are adequate.
3. To evaluate whether MIS applications provide users with timely,
accurate, consistent, complete, and relevant information.
4. To assess the types and level of risk associated with MIS and the quality
of controls over those risks.
5. To determine whether MIS applications and enhancements to existing
systems adequately support corporate goals.
6. To determine if MIS is being developed in compliance with an
approved corporate MIS policy or practice statement.
7. To determine if management is committed to providing the resources
needed to develop the required MIS.
8. To determine if officers are operating according to established
9. To evaluate the scope and adequacy of audit activities.
10. To initiate corrective action when policies or practices, processes,
objectives, or internal controls are deficient.
11. To determine if any additional work is needed to fulfill the examination
strategy of the institution.
Management Information Systems 10 Comptroller's Handbook
Information Systems Examination Procedures
1. Obtain the following documents:
G Examination Report and related management responses.
G Supervisory Monitoring System (SMS) comments.
G MIS-related workpapers.
G MIS-related audit/compliance reviews.
G Institution's formal MIS policies and practices
G Board/MIS Committee-related minutes.
G Organization charts detailing MIS responsibility.
2. Review previous MIS review-related examination findings. Review
management's response to those findings.
• Discuss with OCC examiners their perception of both the
usefulness and applicability of the five MIS elements applicable
to MIS systems that have been reviewed or are pending review.
• Request copies of any reports which discuss either MIS
deficiencies or strengths from the SME examiners.
• Determine the significance of deficiencies and set priorities for
follow-up investigations.
3. Request and review copies of recent reports prepared by internal or
external auditors of targeted MIS area(s). Determine the following:
• The significance of MIS problems disclosed.
• Recommendations provided for resolving MIS deficiencies.
• Management's responses and whether corrective actions have
been initiated and/or completed.
• Audit follow-up activities.
4. Review the Supervisory Strategy in the Supervisory Monitoring System
and Scope Memorandum issued by the examiner-in-charge (EIC).
5. Review reports for the MIS target area(s). Determine any material
changes involving the usefulness of information and the five MIS
Comptroller's Handbook 11 Management Information Systems
• Timeliness.
• Accuracy.
• Consistency.
• Completeness.
• Relevance.
6. Review MIS-related policies or practices and processes. Pay special
attention to any changes since the previous review.
7. Review the Internal Control Questionnaire (ICQ) and determine which
questions and/or sections should be used to support the examination's
MIS review.
8. Based on the performance of the previous steps, and discussions with
the EIC and other appropriate supervisors, determine the scope of the
examination and set the objectives.
Select from among the following examination procedures those steps
are necessary to meet the objectives. Examinations may not require all of
the steps.
9. In conjunction with the EIC, identify each of the functional or productrelated
areas to be reviewed at this examination. Once the scope of
the MIS review has been determined:
• Provide copies of the MIS objectives, ICQs, and examination
procedures to the SME examiner(s). Highlight those areas of MIS
review that need to be addressed during the review.
• The MIS review examiner will aggregate these observations,
conclusions, and recommendations for each of the functional
areas addressed and incorporate them (as appropriate) into the
final MIS Review conclusions.
• If there are issues, observations, conclusions or
recommendations related to operational or technology aspects
of the institution's MIS, the commercial examiner should
coordinate these with the BIS examiner or BIS manager if the BIS
examiner is not already involved in the MIS review process.
Management Information Systems 12 Comptroller's Handbook
10. For the selected sample of MIS system(s) and as appropriate to support
the defined scope, obtain:
G User manual.
G User training manual/instructions.
G Project plan and related workpapers.
G Sample of MIS Output Reports.
G MIS project development/enhancement workpapers.
11. As examination procedures are performed, test for compliance with
established policies or practices and processes, and the existence of
appropriate internal control measures. Refer to the Internal Control
Questionnaire as needed.
12. Identify any area with inadequate supervision and/or undue risk.
Discuss with the EIC the need to perform verification procedures. As
required, perform appropriate verification procedures.
13. Select and review samples of ongoing executive reports for the
targeted MIS area(s). Determine whether:
• The source of the information collected originates from the
expected business area.
• Users of the information are the appropriate employees or
managers within that area of activity.
• The reports are ultimately distributed to the appropriate users.
• The flow of these MIS information/reports is consistent with the
responsibilities reflected on the area's official organization chart.
14. Determine the degree to which management and the staff in an area
under review use MIS adequately and can support that the MIS being
used is appropriate and effective. Perform the following steps:
• Discuss the five MIS elements with a senior manager(s) of the
respective business unit.
• Repeat this work step with an employee of the business unit who
has experience with the MIS system. (Note: This task is designed
to determine if significant differences regarding the adequacy of
the MIS exist among management and/or staff.)
• Based on management's self-assessment of the useability of its
Comptroller's Handbook 13 Management Information Systems
MIS, identify any planned activities to enhance, modify, or
expand these systems.
15. Review minutes of the board of directors or committee(s) representing
the MIS target area(s) for a relevant time period.
• Determine any areas where the "packet" of information does not
seem to meet the five required elements of MIS.
• Identify MIS issues for follow up.
16. Request a copy of the development plan for significant MIS-related
projects. Examples could include executive information packets, credit
approval and take-out commitments, and funds management systems.
• Review MIS project objectives and determine if they address
reported MIS weaknesses and meet business unit plans.
• Review the project management technique used by management
and determine the status of important MIS projects.
• Sample a significant MIS project(s) and determine whether it
follows an approved and implemented development
methodology that encompass the following phases:
) Analysis of system alternatives, organization of tasks, and
approval of phases by system users/owners.
) Program development and negotiation of contracts for
equipment and software vendors.
) Development of user instructions and system testing
) Installation and maintenance of the system.
17. Select a system and request copies of relevant user instructions.
Determine whether the guidelines are meaningful, easy to understand,
and current.
18. Determine whether user manuals provide adequate guidelines in the
following areas:
• Complete description of the system.
• Input instructions, including collection points and times to
sendupdated information.
Management Information Systems 14 Comptroller's Handbook
• Balancing/reconciliation instructions.
• Full listing of output reports, including sample formats.
19. Obtain from the user manuals or the appropriate manager a work flow
showing data from the point-of-entry, through user processes, to final
product. The purpose of this task is to review how information is
identified, gathered, merged, manipulated, and presented. (Depending
on the organization's sophistication and system size, examiners may
have to develop this work flow themselves.)
• Discuss the area's MIS process with a representative sample of
users and determine if they know where the data is coming from,
where it is going, and how it gets there. A complete
understanding would suggest the interviewees both use and
understand the MIS system(s) supporting them.
• Identify and note the points where adjustments to data occur.
• Identify the department staff who are responsible for the MISrelated
input data and reports; i.e., obtain a list of users, ad hoc
software report writers, and the programmers involved.
Compare this information with the material acquired in the
immediately preceding item.
• Determine if preparation and reconciliation processes are
sufficient to reasonably ensure integrity of information.
• Determine if data adjustments are adequately documented.
• Determine the effectiveness of ad hoc report-writing capabilities
by reviewing the software vendor's user manual for data
• Through observation and interview determine useability,
commonality, simplicity, and effectiveness of MIS reports
supporting the decision-making process for that area of activity.
20. Review the lines of communication within the institution and determine
the effectiveness of MIS in the following areas:
• Communication paths linking executives, appropriate users, and
information systems employees.
• The flow of communication throughout the organization.
• The documentation of which underlying MIS process supports
the area's management.
Comptroller's Handbook 15 Management Information Systems
21. Determine the adequacy of MIS training including whether:
• Training needs are properly identified and prioritized.
• Training is organized in a formal classroom setting, is on-the-job,
or is a combination of both approaches.
• Training manuals or other material besides the user manual exist.
• The training material adequately covers relevant and current
• Training material is distributed to the appropriate employees.
22. Determine whether established procedures are sufficient to ensure the
proper testing of system developments or enhancements.
23. Review whether final versions of software enhancements are installed
in a controlled environment that promotes integrity of information.
24 Determine if authorized processes are followed as data is acquired,
merged, manipulated, and up-loaded from subsystems.
25. Determine if the organization has had recent merger and/or acquisition
activity. If it has, determine how management at the senior and
departmental levels ensure that the resulting MIS supports and includes
the five MIS elements mentioned previously. If mergers and
acquisitions are frequent, determine whether:
• Appropriate policies or practices and procedures have been
developed to support such activity from an integrated MIS
• The consolidation of MIS systems in a merger still meets the
requirements of a quality MIS system.
26. Review the results of your work, summarize your findings and initial
conclusions, and discuss issues with an appropriate officer(s):
• How well risks are controlled.
• Identify significant control deficiencies.
• Recommend action to remove deficiencies.
• Obtain management's corrective commitments and firm time
Management Information Systems 16 Comptroller's Handbook
27. Prepare a memorandum of your conclusions and supporting findings.
Identify suggested OCC follow-up actions.
28. After a full discussion with the EIC prepare a memorandum and
document work programs to facilitate future examinations.
Comptroller's Handbook 17 Management Information Systems
Information Systems Internal Control Questionnaire
The following questionnaire is provided as a tool to assist examiners in the
assessment, review, and documentation of the quality of the bank's MISrelated
internal controls, policies, practices, and procedures. However,
because the nature and scope of MIS among banks, not all of the questions
will be relevant in every bank. Similarly, a negative answer to a particular
question does not necessarily indicate a weakness in the bank's MIS or
surrounding internal controls if other equally effective or alternate controls are
in place or there are other circumstances that mitigate the risk. Where
appropriate, documentation may include narrative descriptions, flowcharts,
copies of forms used, and substantiation through observation or testing.
Examiners should use their own judgement in deciding which internal control
questions are relevant for a particular bank and whether a negative response
to any particular question should be considered a matter of supervisory
MIS Policies or Practices
Yes No
1. Has management developed and maintained a current
MIS policy or practice?
2. Does the policy or practice provide guidance in the
following areas:
• The definition, purpose, and fundamental
components of MIS?
• How to achieve effective two-way
communication between management and
employees and specific avenues to maintain such
• Processes for initiating, developing, and
completing MIS enhancements?
• Guidelines for installing MIS enhancements in a
controlled change environment?
Management Information Systems 18 Comptroller's Handbook
Yes No
• Procedures for acquiring, merging, manipulating,
and up-loading data to other systems?
• Guidance for delineating the need for
internal/external audit coverage and testing?
3. Is the policy or practice reviewed and updated
4. Is the policy or practice distributed to appropriate
5. Does the policy or practice incorporate or require:
• User approval for each phase?
• Installation of MIS enhancements in a controlled
change environment?
• Employees to follow policy or practice and
processes as data is acquired, merged,
manipulated, and up-loaded to other systems?
• Employees to be sufficiently trained for new
systems and subsequent enhancements?
MIS Development
6. Does the internal planning process consider and
incorporate the importance of MIS at both the strategic
and tactical level?
• Are longer term strategic goals (beyond 2 years)
supported by the development of appropriate
• Are shorter term tactical goals over the
immediate one-to-two year period regularly and
appropriately reviewed and monitored by
Comptroller's Handbook 19 Management Information Systems
Yes No
7. Do project objectives address reported MIS weaknesses
and meet business unit requirements?
8. Does management have a process for monitoring
project schedules?
9. Does management use a project management
technique to monitor MIS development schedules?
10. Does the organization use a consistent and
standardized approach or a structured methodology for
developing MIS projects?
11. Does the methodology encompass the following
• Analysis of the concept, organization of tasks,
completions of phases, and approvals?
• Development of the program and contracting for
equipment and software?
• Development of user manuals and testing of the
• Post-review of the system and future
maintenance of it?
User Training and Instructions
12. Is the user manual for the MIS system(s) meaningful,
easy to understand, and current?
13. Do user manual requirements include the following
• A brief description of the application or system?
• Input instructions, including collection points and
times to send updated information?
• Balancing/reconciliation instructions?
Management Information Systems 20 Comptroller's Handbook
Yes No
• A full listing of output reports, including samples?
14. Does management encourage communication lines to
meet the following objectives:
• To effectively link executives, other appropriate
users, and information systems employees?
• To ensure effective two-way communication
between management and employees?
• To document the MIS process?
15. Has the MIS target area(s) been internally or externally
audited in the past two years?
• If it has, review the scope of the audit, the
findings, and management's response(s) to that
• If it hasn't, interview audit management to
determine what their plans regarding an audit
review of the MIS system are.
Comptroller's Handbook 21 Management Information Systems
Yes No
16. Can this information be considered adequate for
evaluating internal control of MIS activities? This
question presumes that there are no additional
significant internal auditing procedures, accounting
controls, administrative controls, or other circumstances
that impair any controls or mitigate any weaknesses
noted above. (Note: Explain negative answers briefly,
and indicate conclusions as to their effect on specific
examination or verification procedures.)
17. Based on a composite evaluation, evidenced by
answers to the previous questions, internal control is
considered to be _________ (good, medium, or bad).
Management Information Systems 22 Comptroller's Handbook
Information Systems Verification Procedures
1. Using an appropriate sampling technique, select an additional MIS
project(s) from the organization's development plan.
• Review project objectives and determine if they address reported
MIS weaknesses and meet business unit plans.
• Determine whether the MIS projects follow an approved and
implemented development methodology that encompass the
following phases:
) Analysis of system alternatives, organization of tasks, and
approval of phases by system users/owners.
) Program development and contracts for equipment and
software vendors.
) Development of user instructions and testing the system
) Installation and maintenance of the system.
2. Using the expanded sample, check copies of relevant user instructions.
Verify whether the guidelines are meaningful, easy to understand, and
3. Test whether user manuals provide adequate guidelines in the following
• Complete description of the system.
• Input instructions, including collection points and times to send
updated information.
• Reconciliation instructions.
• Full listing of output reports, including sample formats.
4. Obtain work flows from the user manuals or managers showing data
from the point-of-entry, through user processes, to final product.
• Test the processes with users to determine if they know where
the data is coming from, where it is going, and how it gets there.
• Identify the points in which data adjustments occur.
Comptroller's Handbook 23 Management Information Systems
• Identify the individuals accountable for contributing to data and
reports. Compare information with the material acquired in the
step immediately preceding this step.
• Test the preparation and reconciliation processes to verify the
integrity of information.
• Determine if data adjustments are adequately documented.
5. Expand the sample by interviewing additional managers and
experienced unit employees to determine their perceptions of MIS.
• Discuss MIS principles of timeliness, accuracy, consistency,
completeness, and relevancy.
• Determine if the employees hold any significant perceptions that
the MIS is ineffective.
6. If available, obtain samples of important recurring executive reports for
the targeted MIS area(s). Test the following areas to determine if:
• Information originates from the expected source business area.
• Users of the information are the employees one would expect
and the data is being used for correct purposes.
• Distribution of the reports ultimately is supplied to all appropriate
7. Review a sample of audit workpapers relating to reports that disclosed
material MIS weaknesses.
• Review documents to determine if auditors tested MIS activities
against policies or practices and processes.
• Test to determine if documented findings support the audit scope
and report comments.

Information System
Resource Tool
Behavioral Health Providers
August 14, 2006 Edition
© 2006, Behavioral Health Collaborative Solutions
This tool was jointly funded by the Illinois Division of
Mental Health and the Connecticut Department of Mental
Health and Addiction Services to aid providers in those
states with gaining information system capacities.
About the Authors
BHCS is a collaboration of four national behavioral
healthcare consulting firms, offering the combined talents
of clinical, operational, and financial professionals with
over fifteen years experience. Nationally known and
respected, BHCS member consultants have worked in all 50
states to assist providers, state/county/local authorities,
and managed care entities with adapting to and managing in
an ever-changing behavioral healthcare environment.
BHCS member consultants focus on operational practicalities
and have an unflagging commitment to implementing solutions
that work in the real world of day-to-day service delivery.
With a complimentary client portfolio of authorities and
providers, BHCS member consultants appreciate the interests
and challenges faced by the entire behavioral health
funding, management, and delivery system.
For more information about selecting and implementing
management information systems, please visit our website:
Management Information System Resource Tool
For Behavioral Health Providers
The Management Information System Resource Tool is intended to be a starting
for organizations that are researching software applications with the intent of
a new system or upgrading an existing system. It is designed to provide a list of
software products used by behavioral health organizations that are known to the
authors, a list of the functions that should be considered in purchasing a software
product, and limited information about the functionality of each software product
included in the list. The Tool is not intended to be a fully comprehensive listing of
software available to the behavioral healthcare industry and their functions, nor is
it an
endorsement (either positive or negative) of any of the products listed.
When embarking on the process of looking for a software “system/application”, it
important to understand and be able to define exactly what “system”
requirements or
functions are needed for your organization. Often behavioral health organizations
unique programs and services, and have funding/data requirements that may tax
the best software. Below are some basic guidelines to think about as your
begins the process of looking for a software application.
Size Matters:
The size and complexity of your organization will have a direct impact, both on
what you
actually need and what you have to spend on a software application. Smaller
organizations with only a few users (or programs) can limit implementation and
infrastructure costs because they can operate with a few personal computers on a
small network. As an organization grows in size and complexity, more staff
need access to the software and also need software with greater functionality to
their job duties. This requires much more information system infrastructure, more
complex networking, communications between different sites, and processing
power to
allow multi-user scalability.
The budget ranges below are general guidelines for the types of software and their
range of functionality that would be most appropriate for organizations of the
budget size. In general, 1-4% of the organization’s annual budget is a good
guideline for
the initial purchase price; therefore the range for a $10 million organization to
spending is $100,000 to $400,000, or $10,000 to $40,000 per million. Conversely,
organizations should not buy software that is priced well below these general
guidelines, or they risk purchasing an application that will not provide the
necessary to address the complexity of their organization. Organizations that are
to one end of the budget range may wish to move up or down in the recommended
software, depending upon anticipated growth and other factors.
A note of caution: while it may sound optimal to move quickly to an integrated
record, most organization’s first priority for software should be to manage billing,
scheduling and staff productivity effectively. Organizations without much
system experience may be best served by implementing billing and scheduling
first, with
any clinical record modules implemented in a subsequent phase.
Management Information System Resource Tool
For Behavioral Health Providers
1. Budget Less than $3 million. If your organization operates on an annual
budget of less than $3 million, you most likely will be looking at a “canned”
practice management software application that requires relatively lower
cost and resources to implement basic billing with a few additional
features. These applications give you basic functionality for very specific
needs such as scheduling, basic client information (enough to bill), service
recording and billing, consumer statements, and maybe some basic
reports. These typically provide no business/financial functionality,
(general ledger, payroll, etc.) These would need to be purchased
2. Budget of $3 – 7 million. An organization of this size may need additional
functionality above what a practice management package can offer. These
additional items could be more detailed enrollment or assessment
information about the consumer, data required by state payers to earn
grants or contracts, accounts receivable management, and electronic
medical record/treatment planning capabilities. Again, business/finance
software would most likely need to be purchased separately.
3. Budget Over $7 million. Any organization operating in the behavioral
healthcare field with an annual budget of $7 million or more is large and
must take a more holistic approach to their management information
system needs. A large behavioral healthcare organization must have
sound software applications implemented to deal with all the functions
required for day-to-day operations. This would include the ability to
respond to and deal with external data requirements and reporting, and
the ability to produce internal management reporting to provide the
necessary information for managing the organization. These system
applications would not only provide the functions listed above, but also
provide tools to allow an organization to obtain an electronic medical
record, provide dynamic system warnings when problems occur, provide
alerts indicating when action is required, etc. As a larger organization,
having a fully functional and integrated management information system is
the key to your success or failure in the future.
Some organizations consider buying “the best of breed” for each functional area,
then trying to link this data together in some fashion. This usually tends to be very
expensive, and consumes more staff resources than might be necessary if a fully
comprehensive software package was used. This approach does give the
the best in each functional area, and with the right staffing resources, this can
work well
for the organization. Most behavioral healthcare organizations have limited
and often cannot afford the staffing to properly manage, maintain and provide
training to
staff for multiple software applications.
Management Information System Resource Tool
For Behavioral Health Providers
When purchasing a fully comprehensive package, organizations need to consider
functionality they are or are not willing to give up in each area in order to achieve
integration of all their organizational processes.
Cost is always a major consideration. Once you have identified the scope of
functionality your organization needs, you can begin to look at what different
have to offer. Many of the practice management software applications that offer a
narrow scope of functionality can be purchased “off the shelf” for a minimum
investment. Obviously, the larger your organization, and the more functionality the
organization desires, the larger the investment becomes. It is very important to
understand how each vendor prices their product. Several vendors price their
applications in pieces or “modules” such as: Clinical Module, Financial Module,
Resource Module, etc. Other vendors may give you a “total price” for all the
they offer, which may or may not be exactly comparable to another vendor. Other
vendors will offer a price based on the number of users the organization is
planning on
using their system, and their “system” may or may not have all the features of
vendor’s product.
Implementation Resources.
Organizations should also understand that reducing costs for appropriate
implementation planning and staff training on the new system will limit the
of the system, create a poor return on the investment made in purchasing the
and ultimately, may cause disaster. Horror stories about poorly functioning
systems can
often be traced to poorly planned and resourced implementations. Most reputable
software vendors are very clear that part of the cost of the software includes
and assistance with implementation. It is very difficult for any organization, large
small, to use a product “out of the box” without training and thoughtful
Budgeting for implementation assistance from a consultant with experience in
behavioral healthcare and information technologies may be important for success
for all
sized organizations: from those larger organizations with high complexity to small
organizations without internal information technology staff. Consultation should be
to assist with planning, training, process flow and implementation.
Information and Functions
The list of functions below represents the type of information that can be captured
tracked in a system along with functionality of the software. This list is intended to
provide the range of possible data and functions that may be available in software
products to assist organizations with comparing products with their needs and
resources. This list explains the categories included on the Product Grid.
• Client data
o Client billing data—client information required to submit electronic or
paper claims, such as name, address, identifying number, etc.
Management Information System Resource Tool
For Behavioral Health Providers
o Client clinical data—includes information from an integrated clinical
component of the product, such as assessment scores, treatment plan
goals, or outcome data
o Other client data—includes fields for information that may be required or
customized for submission to state payers for enrollment into publiclyfunded
services. Examples include Federal Block grant data, family size,
and income level.
• Scheduling—includes ability to electronically schedule multiple clinicians
o Link schedule to billing—includes an automated link between the
schedule and billing once a service is confirmed.
• Authorization tracking—includes the ability to enter the number of units or
services authorized and usage against those authorized units. Users should
investigate the functionality within this area depending upon the needs of their
environment. For example, if a payer authorizes 40 hours of therapy, the ability of
the software to track and count down remaining service hours for purposes of
monitoring usage of that authorization will vary between products.
• Billing—will generate a paper or HIPAA compliant electronic claim for
professional services (837P). If an 837I is needed by the user for census-based
services, that functionality is not included in the grid and should be researched by
the user.
• Accounts Receivable (A/R) Management
o Tracking Aging of Unpaid Services
o Tracking Reasons for Denials
o Aged Receivable Report by Payer Source
• Reporting
o Basic—includes a “canned” set of reports
o Report writer—includes a feature that allows users to design some
customized reports
• Medical record—includes an integrated medical record component. If a product
provides links to other software, such as Microsoft Word, for medical record
activities, that functionality is not included in this grid.
o Assessment—includes a clinical assessment with some tailoring to the
agency’s requirements
Management Information System Resource Tool
For Behavioral Health Providers
o Treatment plan—includes a treatment plan with some tailoring to the
individual agency’s requirements
o Progress/encounter notes—includes the capacity for staff to enter
progress or encounter notes after a service has been delivered
• Compliance—three of the most common basic compliance issues associated
with billing are listed below along with potential system features that can help to
address the compliance issues. These features require a product that integrates
medical record and billing functions.
o Expired treatment plan—produces a report and/or prevents billing when
a treatment plan has expired
o Service on treatment plan—prevents billing a service that is not included
on a treatment plan
o Progress note present—prevents billing for a service if the progress note
has not been entered and “signed” by the clinician
• Financial
o General ledger
o Payroll
o Accounts Payable
o Financial Reporting
• Estimated costs—includes costs for initial purchase and annual licensing or
maintenance costs. Does not include hardware or network costs.
• Number of users—indicates the maximum appropriate number of users. This
information is not included in the grid, but should be researched by the user
based on the nature of the product and operating environment. Vendors may be
optimistic about the number of possible users along with the hardware needs and
resulting speed of the system.
The Product Grid
The grid on the following page lists what information and/or functions are available
each product based on the knowledge of the authors at the time of this publication
may include representations from vendors of these products. Each
area on the grid should be researched specifically by potential purchasers to
accuracy at the time of purchase.
Management Information System Resource Tool
For Behavioral Health Providers
The grid is divided into two groups to indicate the nature of the software and its
corresponding cost. Group A represents larger, enterprise-wide application
with primary markets of behavioral healthcare and human service organizations.
majority of these vendors have a long history in the field and offer full functionality
across a broad spectrum of states, programs and services. Several include full
integration with complete business functionality while others focus on clinical
delivery, requiring the additional purchase of business software. Generally, this
would be the target for medium to larger organizations because of the broader
capabilities and higher cost. These systems require a large investment that
starts at $100,000 and can exceed $150,000 to $200,000. It is also important to
remember that additional investments are required for hardware and
equipment to implement these applications throughout the entire organization.
offer “web-based” ASP (Application Service Provider) versions of their product.
can greatly reduce equipment and infrastructure costs for the organization. Many
vendors offer financing and leasing options to reduce the “upfront” cash
Vendors listed in Group B are a collection of offerings referred to as “Practice
Management” products or software. These are developed with very specific
and can be purchased off-the-shelf. Because these applications are intended to be
“canned”, and are less expensive, they do not have flexibility for any
customization for
your organization’s specific needs. Many are based on a medical practice office-
environment adapted for behavioral healthcare. These products can range from an
application designed to run on a single personal computer (single user mode) to a
scalable application that can be networked and utilized by multiple users. For
those that
claim to be multi-user, the optimal number of users should be researched as a part
the purchase decision since many products may function poorly with a large
number of
users. Some of these products focus on a very specific function like billing and
have no
other capabilities. A number of these products are offered as a web-based ASP
that only requires a personal computer and a reliable high-speed Internet
Providers should be clear that the products in Group B are designed to meet
needs, and not intended to address the multiple information system needs of an
organization with a wide range of programs and services.
Information contained in the grid was obtained based on vendor-supplied
and the authors do not warrant the accuracy of specific items on the grid. The grid
intended to offer general information about the systems, and functionality of each
system should be researched and confirmed prior to purchase.
Management Information System Resource Tool
for Behavioral Health Providers
Client Auth. A/R Basic State TX EMR Fin.
Data Tracking Mgnt. Reports Reports Plans
Group A
Anasazi Software, Inc. Individualized Pricing X X X X X X X X X
X Comprehensive Behavioral Health Application
Askesis Development Group
(PsychConsult) Individualized Pricing X X X X X X X X X
Comprehensive Clincial Operations
Defran Systems, Inc. (Evolv CS) Individualized Pricing X X X X X Web-
Based, Human Service Application
Harmony Information Systems,
Inc. Individualized Pricing X X X X X X X X X
Web-Based, Comprehensive Behavioral Health
Health Care Software, Inc. (HCS) Individualized Pricing X X X X
Web-Based ASP, Client Server, Comprehensive
BH App.
Lavender & Wyatt Systems, Inc.
(Essentia) Individualized Pricing X X X X X X X X X X
Comprehensive/Fully Integrated Enterprise
Netsmart Technologies, Inc.
(CSM- CMHC) Individualized Pricing X X X X X X X X X X Comprehensive
Behavioral Health Application
NextGen Individualized Pricing X X X X X X X X X Comprehensive
Medical Service Application
Qualifacts Systems, Inc. Individualized Pricing X X X X X X X X X
Web-Based, ASP Only
Sequest Technologies, Inc.
(TIER) Individualized Pricing X X X X X X "Clinical Records System"
The Echo Group Individualized Pricing X X X X X X X X X
Comprehensive Enterprise Application
UNI/CARE Systems, Inc. Individualized Pricing X X X X X X X X X
Comprehensive Behavioral Health Application
Group B
CIS (Kenneth Young/IL Only) $50,000 to $60,000 X X X X X X X Plus Monthly Fee
$1,000 - $2,000
Civerex - Civer Psych $1,700 per user X X X X X
ClaimTrak Systems, Inc. $50,000 X X X X X X X X
Client Server & ASP Options, Can Purchase
Psych Advantage (Compulink) $3,500 to $6,500/5 user X X
X X X X X X X Practice Management Package- Scalable
Core Solutions, Inc. (Web Care
3.0) $36,000 for 20 users X X X X X
Web Based Application & ASP, Focus on SA and
Easy Billing System $2,148 to $7,334 X X X X X Billing
Application Only
Esteam $60,000+ X X X X X X X X
Web-Based:Internally Hosted, Agencies > 8
Million Budget
EZ Claim <$1,000 X X X Billing Application Only
Foothold Technology, Inc.
(AWARDS) $1,100 to $2,200/Mo X X X X X X X X
ASP Only, One Time Set-Up Fee $7,500 Plus
Monthly Fee
Handel Information Technologies
(RiteTrack) $52,500 to $195,000 X X X X X X X X Comprehesive
Human Services Product
Hill Associates Health Mngt.
Systems $30,000 for 3 Users X X X X X X X X Additional Users:
$1,500 per Work Station
Intergy Practice Individualized Pricing X X X X X X X X
PM: Priced by Provider Drs. $12,500, Others
$1,000 Each
Inventive Software Solutions Not available X X X X X Focus
on Custom Design and Development
Kaleidacare $400/mo for 50 users X X X X X
ASP Only, Focus on Care Management, Set-up
Fee $3,500
LYTECS $5,000 to $20,000 X X X X X Small Medical
Practice Software
Med Ware $2,500 X X X X
Practice Management App./Small Practice, not
MedAssist $4,800 single user X X X X X X
Practice Management Application: $6,400 up to
99 users
Medez (Integrated Software
Solutions) $10,000 for 5 users X X X X X Have Behavioral Health
Specific Product
NDC Medisoft $1,074 to $7,798 X X X X Medical
Practice Management Application
Misys Healthcare Systems
$15,000/Initial Single
Provider X X X X X X
Practice Mgnt. Application: Individual Pricing
Single Provider
Company Web Address Price Range Schedule Billing
Management Information System Resource Tool
for Behavioral Health Providers
Client Auth. A/R Basic State TX EMR Fin.
Company Web Address Price Range Data Schedule Tracking Billing Mgnt.
Reports Reports Plans Comments/Characteristics
MS* Health Software $11,495 to $69,995 X X X X X X X X Client
Server Based, Only Behavioral Health
Payerpath, Inc. $49/per Mo/Per Provider X X X
Web-Based ASP Clearinghouse with Billing &
Claims Mgnt.
Practice Management
$12,000 to $14,000 for
10 users X X X X X X X X Michigan Only:Larger users (CMH: $125,000)
PsyTech Solutions, Inc.
25-50 Users/$2,000-
$3,000/Mo X X X X X Web-Based ASP or Installed on your Own Server
Raintree Systems, Inc. Not available X X X X X X X
Web-Based, ASP or Installed on your Own
ScerIS, Inc. $4,000 to 100,000 X X X X
EMR: Document Management:Pricing on
concurrent users
Shrink Rapt $635 to $1,035 X X X X X Small Therapists Practice
SOS Software (Synergistic Office
Solutions) $2,963 to $32,105 X X X X X X X Medical Practice
Management Application
$7,000 for single
provider X X X X X X X X
Practice Management App.: $3,000 per Service
Provider FTE
The CIMS Group, Inc.
$499 to $1,200 per user
per year X X X X X X X X X Comprehesive Behavioral Health Solution
Teresa Pickering (IL) $12,000 to $21,000 X X X X Illinois Application
Auth. Tracking--Authorization tracking
A/R Mgnt--Accounts Receivable Management
TX Plans--Treatment Plans
EMR--Electronic Medical Record
Fin--Financial records, general ledger, etc.
10Project Management Information System (P2)
The Project Management Information System (P2) provides a standard tool for
Program/Project Managers (PMs) to facilitate project planning, execution, and
management in accordance with the Project Management Business Process
(PMBP). The ERDC Information Technology Laboratory is responsible for its
operation, maintenan
Version 3, currently under development by the ERDC Information Technology
Laboratory, will enhance and upgrade the software while significantly reducing the
annual maintenance costs. Version 3 focuses on reducing the technical complexity
of the system and providing consistent informatioIt will simplify the user interface
by minimizing software restrictions, removing underutilized software products, and
eliminating performance bottlenecks. In addition, it will improve information
retrieval by creating a common authoritative data souand will apply industry best
practices to the integration of P2 data
The P2 system uses Oracle Primavera Project Management software and
softwareextensions built in-house to satisfy the project management and
ersion 3 will

Maximize consistent information

Increase workforce productivity

Improve system response times a

Enhance system maintainability

Provide Return-on-Investment within 3 years

Mary Ballard, CEERD-IS-S, 601-634-
Dr. Elaine Hulitt, CEERD-IS-S

• Employers seeking more comprehensive
SHMS information, especially those with a
safety and health professional on staff, can
work with OSHA’s Voluntary Protection
html and/or benefit from OSHA’s “SHMS
Take Advantage of Free
OSHA Assistance
Compliance Assistance Specialists are available
in every OSHA Area Office to help you.
Find the one in your local area:
You may also contact your state’s OSHA Onsite
Consultation program for free, expert
The States that operate OSHA-approved
State plans can also provide assistance;
some have specific requirements for SHMS:
OSHA’s “$afety Pays” program is an interactive
expert system to assist employers in estimating
the costs of occupational injuries
and illnesses and the impact on a company’s
Critical Elements of an
Effective SHMS
The critical elements of an effective SHMS
are: management commitment and employee
involvement; worksite analysis; hazard prevention
and control; training for employees,
supervisors and managers. (See the reverse
of this fact sheet for a checklist of action items
for every SHMS component.)
OSHA Resources to Assist
Employers with SHMS
• Small and medium-sized employers can
benefit from OSHA’s “Small Business
Handbook” which contains specific information
about SHMS:
• OSHA’s “Compliance Assistance Quick
Start” Web page is another online
resource providing SHMS information:
• OSHA’s “Hazard Awareness Advisor” is
an online tool to assist in identifying and
correcting safety and health workplace
EffectiveWorkplace Safety and
Health Management Systems
Every day, workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities cause
immeasurable pain
and suffering to employees and their families. Recent estimates indicate
workplace injuries and illnesses cost our nation’s businesses $170 billion
year in wasteful and often preventable expenses.
Effective Safety and Health Management Systems (SHMS) have proven to
be a
decisive factor in reducing the extent and severity of work-related
injuries and
illnesses. SHMS will result in reduced injury-related costs.These savings,
properly administered, will exceed the cost of a workplace SHMS.
This is one in a series of informational fact sheets highlighting OSHA
programs, policies or
standards. It does not impose any new compliance requirements. For a
comprehensive list of
compliance requirements of OSHA standards or regulations, refer to Title
29 of the Code of Federal
Regulations. This information will be made available to sensory impaired
individuals upon request.
The voice phone is (202) 693-1999; teletypewriter (TTY) number: (877)
U.S. Department of Labor
(800) 321-OSHA
Formore complete information:
DEA 3/2008
Safety and Health
Management Systems
Management Commitment and
Employee Involvement
_ Develop and communicate a safety and
health policy to all employees.
_ Demonstrate management commitment by
instilling accountability for safety and health,
obeying safety rules and reviewing accident
_ Conduct regular safety and health meetings
involving employees, managers and supervisors.
_ Assign responsible person(s) to coordinate
safety and health activities.
_ Integrate safety and health into business
practices (e.g., purchases, contracts, design
and development).
_ Involve employees in safety and healthrelated
activities (e.g., self-inspections, accident
investigations and developing safe
_ Recognize employees for safe and healthful
work practices.
Worksite Analysis
_ Evaluate all workplace activities and processes
for hazards.
_ Reevaluate workplace activities when there are
changes in:
_ Processes _ Materials _ Machinery
_ Conduct on-site inspections, identify hazards
and take corrective actions.
_ Provide a hazard reporting system for employees
to report unsafe and unhealthful conditions.
_ Investigate all accidents and near misses to
determine their root causes.
Hazard Prevention and Control
_ Eliminate and control workplace hazards (e.g.,
engineering controls, workstation design and
work practices).
_ Establish a preventive maintenance program.
_ Keep employees informed of safety and health
activities and conditions.
_ Plan for emergencies (e.g., create an evacuation
plan, train employees and conduct fire
_ Record and analyze occupational injuries and
Training for Employees, Supervisors
and Managers
_ Provide training on specific safe work practices
before an employee begins work.
_ Provide additional training for new work
processes and when accidents and near
misses occur.
_ Provide refresher training on a routine basis.
(NOTE: OSHA regulations do not require employers
to have a SHMS. Thus, the items on this checklist
are strictly voluntary with the exception of
construction industry employers.)

SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems
A Better Management Information System Is Needed to Promote Information
Sharing, Effective Planning, and Coordination of Afghanistan Reconstruction
July 30, 2009
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page i
July 30, 2009
The Honorable Karl W. Eikenberry U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan
General David Petraeus, USA Commander, U.S. Central Command
General Stanley A. McChrystal Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan and
International Security Assistance Forces
Alonzo L. Fulgham Acting Administrator U.S. Agency for International Development
General Richard P. Formica Commanding General, Combined Security Transition
Command – Afghanistan
Colonel Michael McCormick Commander, Afghanistan Engineering District U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers
This report examines the use of management information systems at key U.S.
agencies and commands to track and report on reconstruction activities in
Afghanistan. Several agencies and commands—the State Department, U.S.
Embassy Kabul; the U.S. Agency for International Development; U.S. Central
Command; U.S. Forces –Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command –
Afghanistan; and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Afghanistan Engineer District—
serve a key role in the implementation of U.S.-funded reconstruction, security, and
development programs in Afghanistan. Based on SIGAR’s findings, we concluded
that an integrated management information system for all U.S. reconstruction
activities in Afghanistan would provide essential information for decision-makers
and stakeholders to better plan, coordinate, monitor, and report on U.S. activities.
We are recommending that the U.S. civilian agencies and military commands work
together toward developing an interagency information management system for
Afghanistan reconstruction.
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page ii
A summary of our report is on page iii. The audit was conducted by the Office of
the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction under the authority
of Public Law 110-181, and the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended. When
preparing the final report, we considered written comments from the U.S. Agency
for International Development, U.S. Central Command, and the Combined Security
Transition Command - Afghanistan on a draft of this report. Copies of their
comments are included in appendices II-IV of this report. In addition, we also
considered informal comments received from the U.S. Embassy Kabul.
John Brummet
Assistant Inspector General for Audits Office of the Special Inspector General for
Afghanistan Reconstruction
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page iii
The U.S. Government has appropriated about $38 billion to fund reconstruction
and development activities in Afghanistan since 2001. This report examines the
use of management information systems by U.S. agencies and commands to track
and report on reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and the extent to which these
systems are integrated. We conducted our review from March to June 2009 in
Kabul, Afghanistan where we obtained information from documents and interviews
with U.S. officials, from the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International
Development, and the Department of Defense. Our work was conducted in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
What SIGAR Reviewed
Key U.S. agencies and commands in Afghanistan have management information
systems for collecting data on their reconstruction activities, but there is no single
management information system that provides complete and accurate information
of all completed, underway, and planned reconstruction activities. While these U.S.
entities indicated they utilize fairly mature and established management
information systems for financial and accounting purposes, the availability and use
of management information systems for project management varied significantly
and provided little opportunity for sharing information without considerable effort.
Sharing of reconstruction information between agencies and commands typically
occurs through periodic meetings and manually intensive processes involving
spreadsheets, presentations, and other ad hoc reports. An integrated management
information system that provides a common operating picture of all U.S.
reconstruction activities in Afghanistan would provide essential information for the
decision-makers to better plan, coordinate, monitor, and report on U.S. activities.
Without an effective management information system or other means to provide a
complete view of reconstruction efforts undertaken by the various U.S. entities
operating in Afghanistan, there is an increased chance of duplication of efforts,
conflicting ventures, and overall wasted resources. Senior representatives from the
key agencies and commands we met with agreed that there would be a benefit in
having visibility into the projects undertaken by other entities. In June 2009, at the
direction of the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, the U.S. Agency
for International Development completed a study assessing the feasibility of a joint
information management system for reconstruction activities. A more formal, fully-
coordinated effort among key U.S. Government implementing entities is now
needed to jointly assess current information systems and develop the
requirements for an integrated management information solution.
What SIGAR Found
To provide a complete view of U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, SIGAR
recommends that U.S. civilian agencies and military commands work together
toward developing an integrated management information system, or comparable
integrated information solution, for Afghanistan reconstruction activities that
provides a common operating picture of reconstruction programs and projects. The
U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Central Command, and the
Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan generally concurred with the
report’s recommendations. They also cautioned that the development of an
integrated management information system would be a challenging effort, raising
various issues that should be discussed and considered in the implementation of
these recommendations. Similar comments regarding the recommendations and
challenges were expressed by the U.S. Coordinating Director for Development and
Economic Assistance at the U.S. Embassy Kabul.
What SIGAR Recommends
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page iv
Objectives and Scope 1
Background 1
U.S. Management Information Systems for Afghanistan Reconstruction 3 are Not
Integrated Across U.S. Agencies and Commands
Conclusions 7
Recommendations 7
Comments 8
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology 9
Appendix II: Comments from the U.S. Agency for International Development 10
Appendix III: Comments from the U.S. Central Command 12
Appendix IV: Comments from the Combined Security Transition Command –
Afghanistan 15
Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan
Integrated Civil-Military Action Group
International Security Assistance Force
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction
U.S. Agency for International Development
U.S. Forces–Afghanistan
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 1
A Better Management Information System Is Needed to Promote
Information Sharing, Effective Planning, and Coordination of Afghanistan
Reconstruction Activities
This report examines the use of management information systems by key U.S.
agencies and commands to track and report on reconstruction activities in
Afghanistan and the extent to which these systems are integrated. We obtained
information from documents and interviews with key U.S. Government agencies
and commands responsible for reconstruction and development efforts in
Afghanistan, including the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for
International Development at the U.S. Embassy Kabul; U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and
its subordinate commands, the Combined Security Transition Command-
Afghanistan and the Combined Joint Task Force-101; and the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers’ Afghanistan Engineer District.1
Specifically, we reviewed the management information systems used by each of
these entities to collect and track information and to report on their reconstruction
efforts. We did not evaluate the accuracy or completeness of data in those
systems. We conducted work in Kabul, Afghanistan, from March to July 2009. We
conducted this performance audit in accordance with generally accepted
government auditing standards.
Since 2001, the United States has appropriated about $38 billion in support of
reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.2
To execute these strategies, a complex coalition of international support is
involved in bringing assistance and aid to the people of Afghanistan and the
Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF), a North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led coalition of 42
contributing countries, operates under the authority of the United Nations Security
Council. ISAF is organized into five Regional Commands, which include the 26
provincial reconstruction teams responsible for reconstruction activities at the
provincial level. In addition to the international support coordinated by ISAF, a
number of U.S. agencies and commands play a key role in the implementation of
U.S.-funded reconstruction activities in Afghanistan. In addition, the international
community has pledged $25 billion in support of reconstruction efforts. Recent
statements by leadership of the U.S. Government and the governments of its
international partners have indicated plans to increase the level of financial and
military support for Afghanistan over the coming years. Providing the strategic
framework for the on-going efforts in Afghanistan are the Afghanistan National
Development Strategy and the new U.S. Government strategy for Afghanistan and
Pakistan. Both strategies demand robust oversight for the entire reconstruction
1In June 2009, the 82nd Airborne Division assumed command of the Combined
Joint Task Force from the 101st Airborne Division.
2This amount includes funds appropriated in the 2009 Supplemental
Appropriations for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Pandemic Flu (P.L. 111-32).
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 2
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul is the principal authority for all Department of State and
other U.S. agency activities in Afghanistan. The U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) is the key agency for implementing many of the
reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan. In addition, the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers’ Afghanistan Engineer District provides engineering support to
reconstruction efforts for the Departments of Defense and State, and for USAID.
In October 2008, the U.S. Central Command established U.S. Forces–Afghanistan
(USFOR-A) to consolidate U.S. military forces operating in Afghanistan under one
unified command. USFOR-A and its sub-commands—the Combined Joint Task
Force-Afghanistan and the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan
(CSTC-A) —provide support to ISAF. The Combined Joint Task Force 101 is the
command authority responsible for the 12 U.S.-led provincial reconstruction teams
in Afghanistan. CSTC-A is responsible for managing the training and equipment
programs for the Afghan National Security Force. In addition, training support for
the Afghan National Police is provided, in coordination with CSTC-A, by the
Department of State’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau.
Accurate and timely information helps decision-makers to plan, coordinate,
monitor, and report on activities and, if necessary, take appropriate corrective
actions. While the key agencies and commands indicate that they utilize fairly
mature and well-established management information systems for financial and
accounting purposes, the availability and use of these systems for project
management varied significantly and provided little opportunity for sharing
information without considerable effort. Information shared between U.S. agencies
and commands conducting reconstruction activities is typically done using periodic
meetings and manually intensive processes that include spreadsheets,
presentations, and other ad hoc reports. An integrated management information
system that provides a common operating picture of reconstruction efforts by all
entities in Afghanistan would provide useful information to decision-makers so that
they can better plan and coordinate the total effort.3 Currently there is no single
management information system available to provide a common operating picture
across all reconstruction agencies and commands of past, present, and future
reconstruction efforts. As a result, without an effective management information
system or other means to provide a cross-organizational view of reconstruction
efforts undertaken by the various agencies and commands operating in
Afghanistan, there is an increased chance of duplication of efforts, conflicting
ventures, and overall wasted resources. Senior representatives from key U.S.
agencies and commands told us that there would be a benefit in having more
visibility into the reconstruction activities undertaken by other U.S. entities in
Afghanistan. In June 2009, at the direction of the National Security Councils
Deputies Committee, USAID completed a study that assessed available
opportunities to create a joint system for information sharing of Afghanistan
reconstruction activities.
Generally, there are two types of information systems used to track and report on
reconstruction efforts: financial data systems and project tracking systems. Table 1
provides a summary of the most prominent management information systems
used by five key U.S. agencies and commands, or sub-
Multiple Management Information Systems Used in U.S. Reconstruction
3We use the term “common operating picture” to refer to the entire Afghanistan
reconstruction program across all U.S. agencies and commands to include their
past, present, and planned future projects and programs.
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 3
commands, responsible for reconstruction activities in Afghanistan. According to
U.S. government officials, none of the financial or project information managed by
the reconstruction entities listed in the table below is shared directly with any of
the other entities in a systematic way. Further, the systems listed in table 1 are of
varying complexity and capability and therefore present an added challenge for
any information solution that would integrate financial and project tracking data.
Table 1: Management Information Systems Used by U.S. Government
Agencies and Commands for Reconstruction Activities in Afghanistan
U.S. Agency or Command
Financial Data Systems
Project Tracking Systems
U.S. Agency for International Development
Worldwide Financial Management System
Ariba Acquisition Management Systems
Infrastructure Project Management and Reporting Database
Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
Resource Management Tool
Standard Financial System
Presentation slides
U.S. Forces - Afghanistan and Combined Joint Task Force
Standard Financial System
Combined Information Data Network Exchange
Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan
Standard Financial System
Presentation slides
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Afghanistan Engineer District
Corps of Engineers Financial Management System
Resident Management System
Promise (P2) application system
Source: USAID, Department of State, USFOR-A, CSTC-A, U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers’ Afghanistan Engineer District.
The financial data systems used to manage financial information on reconstruction
projects and activities in Afghanistan vary by agency or command from fairly
mature and well established systems to locally collected and consolidated
systems. For example, the financial data systems used by USAID, USFOR-A and its
sub-commands, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Afghanistan Engineer
District, are integrated throughout their respective departments, allowing for
centralized fiscal and budgetary tracking and reporting processes with data input
coordinated between the authorized field units up through the higher agency or
command levels. In another example, financial data for reconstruction activities
under the Combined Joint Task Force-101 are collected and input into the system
at the provincial reconstruction team level using a local resource management tool
and then subsequently rolled up and included in the Standard Financial System of
the Department of Defense.
The project tracking systems we reviewed in Afghanistan were generally
structured to meet the immediate local requirements rather than a department-
level requirement for program information.
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 4
These systems varied from integrated organizational systems4
USAID officials stated that they have developed some independent databases such
as GeoBase and the Infrastructure Project Management and Reporting Database
for project tracking. However, neither database links directly to other data sources.
Project data is collected and recorded at the field level using a local data collection
tool, such as a spreadsheet. This data is often manually rolled up and/or merged
with other agency data and sometimes included in one of the independent
databases. As this data is passed from one source to the next, there is a risk that
the integrity of the data could be compromised. USAID officials acknowledged the
potential risk of introducing data integrity and accuracy errors. In addition, these
officials stated that USAID has an effort underway to develop a new management
information system intended to better integrate financial and project data and
minimize the manual manipulation of the data once recorded. to independently
managed databases, to spreadsheets and presentation slides. For example, the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Afghanistan Engineer District uses an integrated
organizational system. According to officials from the Afghanistan Engineer
District, their project tracking system interfaces with their financial management
system, allowing for accounting and project data to be shared and verified
between the two systems. This interface between the two systems minimizes the
risk associated with entering data multiple times and potentially introducing data
integrity and accuracy errors. The integration of the financial and project
information allows decision-makers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its
Afghanistan Engineer District to obtain timely and complete information, allowing
them to assess project progress and, when necessary, implement corrective
actions, according to these officials.
Management Information Systems Lack Integration Across U.S. Agencies
and Commands
To effectively plan, coordinate, monitor, and report on U.S. reconstruction and
development activities in Afghanistan, agencies and commands need a system for
sharing and integrating information from existing systems with varying complexity,
and this needs to be done in a consistent and timely way. The officials we met with
from the key reconstruction agencies and commands indicated they did not have a
management information system in place that provides a common operating
picture across all U.S. Government activities. Senior U.S. Government officials we
interviewed expressed an interest in having access to a management information
system that could provide a common operating picture. They cited numerous
benefits such a system could provide. These include:
• enhancing unity of effort,
• minimizing duplication of effort,
• identifying areas saturated with a particular form of assistance and others that
have not received adequate attention,
• providing better coordination and oversight capability,
• providing a comprehensive historical record to mitigate the effects of personnel
and unit rotations, and
• providing the capability for more thorough data analysis of efforts.
4An integrated organizational system is one that directly links data from multiple
information systems.
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 5
In addition, U.S. officials we interviewed noted that time provided to support a new
management information system would be offset by the value added of such a
system and time saved in no longer having to manually generate reports or
acquire external data from other commands. However, these officials also
expressed concern that data for a new system should have a focused purpose and
not be collected just for the sake of collecting data. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul
established the Integrated Civil-Military Action Group (ICMAG) in November 2008
with the intention that this group would better align actions of U.S. Government
civilian and military agencies in support of an integrated counter-insurgency
USAID has taken some steps towards the development of an integrated
management information system. According to USAID officials, in late 2008, the
National Security Council’s Deputies Committee identified a need for a
development tracking database in Afghanistan. In January 2009, USAID provided
an initial report and recommended further study to assess the feasibility of a Joint
Management Information System, which was approved by the National Security
Council’s Deputies Committee. USAID awarded a contract for the assessment and
the contractor conducted the assessment from February to April 2009.
Representatives from the ICMAG stated that having a management information
system that provides a common operating picture across all U.S. Government
reconstruction agencies and commands would be a valuable tool.
6 The contractor delivered the final report on the results to USAID in June 2009.7
While this assessment was a good step toward developing an integrated
management information system, SIGAR noted, in discussions with USAID, several
potential weaknesses in the study. For example, the assessment excluded CSTC-A
and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Afghanistan Engineer District in the feasibility
assessment, although the two entities together are responsible for over $20 billion
in reconstruction activities. Furthermore, the assessment proposed reliance on the
ICMAG for unified data management and control responsibilities, although
discussions SIGAR had with ICMAG officials indicated they did not have the
technical expertise to do this. In addition, the assessment proposed the
establishment of a Unified Change Control Management Board to review or
approve any change recommendation for the joint management information
system, but did not suggest membership or participation in the Board by CSTC-A or
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ Afghanistan Engineer District. In June 2009, USAID
officials stated that any future actions regarding the development or establishment
of a Joint Management Information System were pending discussion with the U.S.
Ambassador to Afghanistan. The assessment included recommendations for a
development strategy, design requirements, and change management control that
could be used as a basis for a broader coordinated effort to develop a robust
system to share information on reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
Further efforts to develop a system to provide a common operating picture should
consider lessons learned government-wide and in Iraq. The U.S. Congress and
Office of Management and Budget have
5The Executive Working Group is comprised of the Deputy Chief of Mission,
USFOR-A Deputy Commanding General, USFOR-A Military Advisor to the
Ambassador, USAID Mission Director, Regional Command East Deputy
Commanding General for Support, CSTC-A Deputy Commanding General for
Programs, and Regional Command South Deputy Commanding General for
6USAID awarded the contract task order to the contractor using an existing
7Joint Management Information System Assessment Final Report, June 2009.
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 6
identified the importance of information technology management controls for U.S.
In November 2003, the U.S. Congress passed P.L. 108-106, the Emergency
Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense and for the Reconstruction of Iraq
and Afghanistan. The Act established reporting and monitoring requirements on
the implementing agencies in Iraq and appropriated $50 million to fund a solution
for meeting these requirements in Iraq, which led to the development of the Iraq
Reconstruction Management System. In Afghanistan, the National Security
Council’s Deputies Committee identified the need for a common development
tracking database which led to the USAID joint management information system
assessment report. Additionally, U.S. Government officials we met with in
Afghanistan acknowledged the benefits of an integrated management information
system. Specifically, the Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance on
integrated information technology modernization planning. While the overall
information technology guidance does not specifically address multi-agency
contingency operations such as those in Afghanistan or Iraq, legislative and
executive action indicate the importance of utilizing basic principles for promoting
better efficiency, effectiveness, and oversight in multi-agency operations.
In Iraq, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has reviewed the
management information systems used by U.S. agencies in Iraq and identified
several issues that needed to be considered in a revision of the Iraq Reconstruction
Management System.9
• Organizational Accountability: Executive level leadership is necessary to provide
long-term leadership and strategic guidance, resources management, and, issue
resolution of coordinating working group. These issues included:
• Data Quality: System designs must ensure data integrity, consistency, accuracy,
and completeness. Designs should be scalable and flexible to allow for emerging
• Funding and Other Resource Responsibility: Identifying funding and resource
requirements and sources for developing, operation and support, and maintaining
the system are necessary for budgetary planning.
• Transferring Information to the Host Government: If data is to be transferred to
the host government, design considerations should be made regarding what data
will be transferred and how it will be delivered. A formal agreement defining the
expected format of the data and the transfer process should be made with the host
government and reviewed periodically.
840 U.S.C. 11311-11313 and see OMB, Management of Federal Information
Resources, Circular A-130 (Washington, D.C., Nov. 28, 2000).
9SIGIR has issued four reports on the management of information for
reconstruction programs and activities in Iraq: Issues Related to the Use of the $50
Million Appropriation to Support the Management and Reporting of the Iraq Relief
and Reconstruction Fund (SIGIR-05-026, January 2006); Management of Iraq Relief
and Reconstruction Fund Program: The Evolution of the Iraq Reconstruction
Management System (SIGIR-06-001, April 2006); Review of Data Entry and General
Controls in the Collecting and Reporting of the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund
(SIGIR-06-003, April 28, 2006); and, Comprehensive Plan Needed to Guide the
Future of the Iraq Reconstruction Management System (SIGIR-08-021, July 2008).
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 7
The U.S. Government along with its international partners has made large
investments in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan over the last
eight years and the number of civilian and military stakeholders involved requires
significant coordinating efforts. Funding and personnel support is likely to increase
in the near term, resulting in additional reconstruction and development projects
for Afghanistan. However, U.S. Government leadership and stakeholders do not
share a common management information system to plan, coordinate, monitor,
and report on reconstruction activities in an accurate, timely, and integrated way.
The U.S. Government needs to develop an appropriate means to share integrated
information in a timely manner across all U.S. Government stakeholders and
decision-makers to effectively manage the assistance provided to the Government
and people of Afghanistan. An integrated management information system, or
comparable integrated information solution, for all U.S. Government implementing
agencies and commands in Afghanistan, would provide essential information to
decision-makers to assist in their planning and coordination of activities supporting
the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan. Any solution for the integration of reconstruction
information must account for the different methodologies for collecting data by the
various agencies and commands. Senior officials from the key U.S. agencies and
commands responsible for reconstruction agreed that having a system that
generates a common operating picture would enhance their initiatives and provide
additional benefits of accountability and transparency for project funds. USAID has
taken the first steps towards the development of an integrated management
information system. Additional effort, coordinated among key U.S. Government
reconstruction implementers, is now needed to jointly assess current information
systems and develop the requirements for an integrated management information
system or comparable integrated information solution.
The development of an integrated management information system will require
the participation and coordination of multiple agencies and commands. Therefore,
we are addressing the three recommendations below to each of the key agencies
and commands, so that they, together, will commit to developing an integrated
information solution.
• To provide a common operating picture of U.S. reconstruction programs and
projects in Afghanistan, SIGAR recommends that the Secretary of State, Secretary
of Defense, and the Acting Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International
Development (in coordination with the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and the
Commanding General, U.S. Central Command) work together to jointly develop an
integrated management information system, or comparable integrated information
solution, for Afghanistan reconstruction activities.
• SIGAR also recommends that the reconstruction stakeholders appoint an
executive agent to coordinate the overall interagency development and
implementation of an integrated management information system or comparable
integrated information solution, including responsibilities for progress and issue
• SIGAR recommends that the executive agent, once appointed, should work with
stakeholder entities to, at a minimum, determine interagency requirements for an
integrated management information system or comparable integrated information
solution that takes into account the
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 8
various systems and methods currently used to collect reconstruction data;
develop a plan to ensure that data integrity, consistency, accuracy, and
completeness are taken into consideration in any system development; and
identify funding and resource requirements to implement the development and
sustainment of the system.
USAID, U.S. Central Command, and CSTC-A provided written comments on a draft
of this report, which are included in appendixes II-IV. We also received comments
from the State Department that stated that the Coordinating Director for
Development and Economic Assistance at the U.S. Embassy Kabul concurred that
the development of an integrated management information system is a laudable
objective, but that it would be difficult to realize. USAID also provided technical
comments which we incorporated in this report, as appropriate.
USAID, U.S. Central Command, and CSTC-A generally concurred with the report’s
recommendations. USAID stated that an integrated management information
system is needed, but it would be time-consuming to establish such a system
considering the constraints of the operating environment. USAID discussed steps
taken to meet specific information requirements and standards and said it will
continue to work with other agencies to determine what system or systems would
best enable the sharing of information for decision-making. U.S. Central Command
partially concurred with our recommendations and suggested the consideration of
existing systems or systems under development as a possible solution. The
Command also suggested that sharing reconstruction data with non-governmental
organizations working in Afghanistan would provide transparency to the
international community and reduce duplication of efforts. In addition, U.S. Central
Command stated that the term “common operating picture” is used to refer to a
specific program and therefore suggested alternative wording. We have noted in
this report that we are using the term common operating picture to refer to the
entire Afghanistan reconstruction program across all U.S. agencies and commands
to include their past, present, and planned future projects and programs. CSTC-A
concurred with our recommendations and stated that it will support their
implementation. CSTC-A also suggested that U.S. Central Command serve as the
executive agent to implement policies that will address the findings and
recommendations identified in the report.
We acknowledge that the development of an integrated information management
system, or comparable integrated information solution, for all U.S. agencies and
commands in Afghanistan presents challenges and will need to account for the
different methodologies used for collecting data by the various agencies and
commands. However, we believe that an integrated information solution is
essential to providing information in a timely manner to all U.S. Government
stakeholders and decision-makers to effectively manage the assistance provided
to the Government and people of Afghanistan; enhance their initiatives; and
provide additional benefits of accountability and transparency for project funds.
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 9
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology
We examined management information systems and how they are used by U.S.
government agencies and commands to plan, execute, monitor, and report on
reconstruction in Afghanistan and the extent to which these systems are
integrated to provide a complete operating picture of reconstruction activities.
During our audit we met with key U.S. Government agencies and commands
conducting reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan. We reviewed
and discussed the various management information systems—financial and project
—used to track and report on reconstruction activities and projects. We did not
evaluate the accuracy or completeness of those management information
We conducted our audit from March to July 2009, in Kabul, Afghanistan. We
conducted our work at the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Agency for International
Development, U.S. Forces–Afghanistan and its sub-commands, the Combined
Security Transition Command–Afghanistan and the Combined Joint Task Force 101,
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Afghanistan Engineer District where we
reviewed documents and interviewed officials responsible for operations,
management, and reporting of reconstruction information. We also interviewed
officials at the International Security Assistance Force to discuss their collection,
management, and reporting of reconstruction information.
We conducted this performance audit in accordance with generally accepted
government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform
the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis
for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe the
evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions
based on our audit objectives. The audit was conducted by the Office of the Special
Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction under the authority of Public Law
110-181, and the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended.
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 10
Appendix II: Comments the U.S. Agency for International Development
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 11
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 12
Appendix III: Comments from the U.S. Central Command
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 13
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 14
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 15
Appendix IV: Comments from the Combined Security Transition Command
– Afghanistan
SIGAR Audit-09-3 Management Information Systems Page 16
(This report was conducted under the audit project code SIGAR-001A)
SIGAR’s Mission The mission of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan
Reconstruction is to enhance oversight of programs for the reconstruction of
Afghanistan by conducting independent and objective audits, inspections, and
investigations on the use of taxpayer dollars and related funds. SIGAR works to
provide accurate and balanced information, evaluations, analysis, and
recommendations to help the U.S. Congress, U.S. agencies, and other decision-
makers to make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions to:
• improve effectiveness of the overall reconstruction strategy and its component
• improve management and accountability over funds administered by U.S. and
Afghan agencies and their contractors;
• improve contracting and contract management processes;
• prevent fraud, waste, and abuse; and
• advance U.S. interests in reconstructing Afghanistan.
Obtaining Copies of SIGAR To obtain copies of SIGAR documents at no cost, go
Reports and Testimonies SIGAR’s Web site ( SIGAR posts all
reports, testimonies, and correspondence on its Web site.
To Report Fraud, Waste, and To help prevent fraud, waste, and abuse by
Abuse in Afghanistan allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, and
Reconstruction Programs reprisal contact SIGAR’s hotline:
• Web:
• Email:
• Phone Afghanistan: +93 (0) 700-10-7300
• Phone DSN Afghanistan 318-237-2575
• Phone International: +1-866-329-8893
• Phone DSN International: 312-664-0378
• U.S. fax: +1-703-604-0983
Public Affairs Public Affairs Officer
• Phone: 703-602-8742
• Email:
• Mail: SIGAR Public Affairs 400 Army Navy Drive Arlington, VA 22202

Skip to Content

Top of Form

Subscribe to E-mail Updates:
Bottom of Form
A to Z Index | Site Map | FAQs | About BLS | Contact Us

Top of Form
Bottom of Form
• Home
• Subject Areas

• Databases & Tables

• Publications

• Economic Releases

What's New | Release Calendar

○ Occupational Outlook Handbook

○ Management

○ Professional

○ Service

○ Sales

○ Administrative

○ Farming

○ Construction
○ Installation
○ Production

○ Transportation

○ Armed Forces

○ Monthly Labor Review

○ Current Issue

○ Index

○ Archive

○ Compensation and Working Conditions

○ Compensation

○ Safety and Health

○ Collective Bargaining

○ Occupational Outlook Quarterly

○ Current Issue

○ Index

○ Archive

○ TED: The Editor's Desk
○ Current Article
○ Archive
○ Career Guide to Industries
○ Natural resources, construction, and utilities
○ Manufacturing
○ Trade
○ Transportation
○ Information
○ Financial activities
○ Professional and business services
○ Education and health services
○ Leisure and hospitality
○ Government and advocacy, grantmaking, and civic organizations
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
• OOH Home (PDF)
• Index Computer and Information Systems Managers
• OVERVIEW OF THE • Nature of the Work

2008-18 PROJECTIONS • Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
• Management • Employment

○ Management • Job Outlook

○ Business and • Projections
financial • Earnings
• Wages
• Professional
• Related Occupations
○ Computer and
• Sources of Additional Information
Significant Points
○ Architects,
surveyors, and
○ Engineers
• Employment is expected to grow faster than the
average for all occupations.
○ Drafters and
engineering • A bachelor's degree in a computer-related field
technicians usually is required for management positions,
although employers often prefer a graduate degree,
○ Life scientists
especially an MBA with technology as a core
○ Physical scientists component.
○ Social scientists • Many managers possess advanced technical
and related knowledge gained from working in a computer
○ Science occupation.
technicians • Job prospects should be excellent.
○ Community and Nature of the Work About this section
social services
In the modern workplace, it is imperative that
○ Legal Information Technology (IT) works both effectively and
○ Education, reliably. Computer and information systems managers
training, library, play a vital role in the implementation and
and museum administration of technology within their organizations.
○ Art and design They plan, coordinate, and direct research on the
computer-related activities of firms. In consultation with
○ Entertainers and
other managers, they help determine the goals of an
performers, sports
organization and then implement technology to meet
and related
those goals. They oversee all technical aspect of an
○ Media and organization, such as software development, network
communication- security, and Internet operations.
Computer and information systems managers direct the
○ Health diagnosing work of other IT professionals, such as computer
and treating software engineers and computer programmers,
○ Health computer systems analysts, and computer support
technologists and specialists (information on these occupations can be
technicians found elsewhere in the Handbook). They plan and
○ Other professional coordinate activities such as installing and upgrading
and related hardware and software, programming and systems
occupations design, the implementation of computer networks, and
• Service the development of Internet and intranet sites. They are
○ Healthcare
increasingly involved with the upkeep, maintenance,
support and security of networks. They analyze the computer
and information needs of their organizations from an
○ Protective service
operational and strategic perspective and determine
○ Food preparation immediate and long-range personnel and equipment
and serving requirements. They assign and review the work of their
related subordinates and stay abreast of the latest technology
○ Building and to ensure that the organization remains competitive.
grounds cleaning Computer and information systems managers can have
and maintenance additional duties, depending on their role within an
○ Personal care and organization. Chief technology officers (CTOs),for
service example, evaluate the newest and most innovative
○ Other service technologies and determine how these can help their
occupations organizations. They develop technical standards, deploy
technology, and supervise workers who deal with the
• Sales
daily information technology issues of the firm. When a
○ Sales occupations
useful new tool has been identified, the CTO determines
○ Other sales and one or more possible implementation strategies,
related including cost-benefit and return on investment
occupations analyses, and presents those strategies to top
• Administrative management, such as the chief information officer
○ Financial clerks (CIO). (Chief information officers are covered in a
○ Information and
separate Handbook section on top executives.)
record clerks Management information systems (MIS) directors or
○ Material recording,
information technology (IT) directors manage computing
scheduling, resources for their organizations. They often work under
dispatching and the chief information officer and plan and direct the
distributing work of subordinate information technology employees.
These managers ensure the availability, continuity, and
○ Miscellaneous
security of data and information technology services in
office and their organizations. In this capacity, they oversee a
administrative variety of technical departments, develop and monitor
support performance standards, and implement new projects.
IT project managers develop requirements, budgets,
○ Other office and
and schedules for their firm’s information technology
administrative projects. They coordinate such projects from
support development through implementation, working with
• Farming their organization’s IT workers, as well as clients,
○ Farming, fishing, vendors, and consultants. These managers are
and forestry increasingly involved in projects that upgrade the
occupations information security of an organization.
○ Other farming, Work environment. Computer and information systems
fishing, and managers generally work in clean, comfortable offices.
forestry Long hours are common, and some may have to work
occupations evenings and weekends to meet deadlines or solve
• Construction unexpected problems; in 2008, about 25 percent
worked more than 50 hours per week. Some computer
• Installation
and information systems managers may experience
○ Electrical and
considerable pressure in meeting technical goals with
electronic short deadlines or tight budgets. As networks continue
equipment to expand and more work is done remotely, computer
mechanics, and information systems managers have to
installers and communicate with and oversee offsite employees using
repairers laptops, e-mail, and the Internet.
○ Vehicle and
Injuries in this occupation are uncommon, but like other
mobile equipment workers who spend considerable time using computers,
mechanics, computer and information systems managers are
installers, and susceptible to eyestrain, back discomfort, and hand and
repairers wrist problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
○ Miscellaneous
maintenance, and Computer and information systems managers oversee a
repair occupations variety of workers, including systems analysts, support
○ Other installation,
specialists, and software engineers.
maintenance, and Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
repair About this section
• Production Computer and information systems managers generally
○ Assemblers and have technical expertise from working in a computer
fabricators occupation, as well as an understanding of business and
○ Food processing management principles. A strong educational
background and experience in a variety of technical
○ Metal workers and
fields is needed.
plastic workers
Education and training. A bachelor's degree in a
○ Printing
computer-related field usually is required for
○ Textile, apparel,
management positions, although employers often prefer
and furnishings a graduate degree, especially an MBA with technology
○ Woodworkers as a core component. Common majors for
○ Plant and system undergraduate degrees are computer science,
operators information science, or management information
systems (MIS).
○ Miscellaneous
production A bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field
occupations generally takes 4 years to complete, and includes
courses in computer science, computer programming,
○ Other production
computer engineering, mathematics, and statistics.
Most also include general education courses such as
• Transportation English and communications. MIS programs usually are
○ Air transportation part of the business school or college, and contain

○ Motor vehicle courses such as finance, marketing, accounting, and
operators management, as well as systems design, networking,
○ Rail transportation
database management, and systems security.
○ Water MBA programs usually require 2 years of study beyond
transportation the undergraduate degree, and, like undergraduate
business programs, include courses on finance,
○ Material moving
marketing, accounting, and management, as well as
database management, electronic business, and
• Armed Forces systems management and design.
• Special Features A few computer and information systems managers
○ Sources of Career attain their positions with only an associate or trade
Information school degree, but they must have sufficient experience
○ Finding and and must have acquired additional skills on the job. To
Applying for Jobs aid their professional advancement, many managers
and Evaluating with an associate degree eventually earn a bachelor's or
Offers master's degree while working.
○ Occupational Certification and other qualifications. Computer and
Information information systems managers need a broad range of
Included in the skills. Employers look for individuals who can
Handbook demonstrate an understanding of the specific software
or technology used on the job. Generally, this
○ Data for
knowledge is gained through years of experience
Occupations Not
working with that particular product. Another way to
Covered in Detail
demonstrate this trait is with professional certification.
○ Assumptions and
Although not required for most computer and
Methods Used in information system management positions, certification
Preparing demonstrates an area of expertise, and can increase an
Employment applicant’s chances of employment. These high-level
Projections certifications are often product-specific, and are
○ Occupational generally administered by software or hardware
Information companies rather than independent organizations.
Network Coverage Computer and information systems managers also need
○ Acknowledgement a thorough understanding of business practices.
s Because information technology is a central component
of many organizations, these workers often must make
○ Important Note
important business decisions. Consequently, many firms
○ Additional seek managers with a background in business
Information About management, consulting, or sales. These workers also
the 2008-18 must possess good leadership and communication skills,
Projections as one of their main duties is to assign work and
Top of Form monitor employee performance. They also must be able
http://w w w .bls.g
to explain technical subjects to people without technical
SEARCH OOH expertise, such as clients or managers of other
Bottom of Form Advancement. Computer and information systems
• RELATED LINKS: managers may advance to progressively higher
leadership positions in an information technology
department. A project manager, for instance, might be
• HOW TO ORDER A promoted to the chief technology officer position and
COPY then to chief information officer. On occasion, some may
• TEACHER'S GUIDE become managers in non-technical areas such as
marketing, human resources, or sales because in high
technology firms an understanding of technical issues is
helpful in those areas.
Employment About this section
Computer and information systems managers held
about 293,000 jobs in 2008. About 16 percent worked in
the computer systems design and related services
• OOH FAQS industry. This industry provides IT services on a contract
• ADDITIONAL LINKS: basis, including custom computer programming
services; computer systems design and integration
services; and computer facilities management services.
Other large employers include insurance and financial
• CAREER ARTICLES firms, government agencies, business management
FROM THE OOQ organizations, and manufacturers.
• EMPLOYMENT Job Outlook About this section
Faster than average employment growth is expected,
and job prospects should be excellent.
Employment change. Employment of computer and
information systems managers is expected to grow 17
percent over the 2008-18 decade, which is faster than
the average for all occupations. New applications of
technology in the workplace will continue to drive
demand for workers, fueling the need for more
managers. To remain competitive, firms will continue to
install sophisticated computer networks and set up
more complex intranets and websites. They will need to
adopt the most efficient software and systems and
troubleshoot problems when they occur. Computer and
information systems managers will be needed to
oversee these functions.
Because so much business is carried out over computer
networks, security will continue to be an important issue
for businesses and other organizations, and will lead to
strong growth for computer managers. Firms will
increasingly hire security experts to fill key leadership
roles in their information technology departments
because the integrity of their computing environments
is of utmost importance.
The growth of computer and information systems
managers should be closely related to the growth of the
occupations they supervise. For information on these
occupations, see the Handbook sections on computer
software engineers and computer programmers;
computer systems analysts; computer network,
systems, and database administrators; computer
scientists; and computer support specialists.
Among computer and information systems managers,
job growth is expected to be the fastest in computer
systems design establishments; software publishing
firms; data processing and hosting companies;
management, scientific, and technical consulting
services; and healthcare organizations. Increased
consolidation of IT services may reduce growth to some
extent in other industries.
Job prospects. Prospects for qualified computer and
information systems managers should be excellent.
Workers with specialized technical knowledge and
strong communications and business skills, as well as
those with an MBA with a concentration in information
systems, will have the best prospects. Job openings will
be the result of employment growth and the need to
replace workers who transfer to other occupations or
leave the labor force.
Projections Data About this section
Projections data from the National Employment Matrix
Number ce
Compute 11- 293,000 342,500 49,50 17 [PD [XL
Projections data from the National Employment Matrix
Number ce
r and
on 302
0 F] S]
systems 1
NOTE: Data in this table are rounded. See the
discussion of the employment projections table in the
Handbook introductory chapter on Occupational
Information Included in the Handbook.
Earnings About this section
Wages of computer and information systems managers
vary by specialty and level of responsibility. Median
annual wages of these managers in May 2008 were
$112,210. The middle 50 percent earned between
$88,240 and $141,890. Median annual wages in the
industries employing the largest numbers of computer
and information systems managers in May 2008 were as
Software publishers
Computer systems design and
related services
Management of companies and
Depository credit intermediation 113,380
Insurance carriers 109,810
In addition to salaries, computer and information
systems managers, especially those at higher levels,
often receive employment-related benefits, such as
expense accounts, stock option plans, and bonuses.

For the latest wage information:
The above wage data are from the Occupational
Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless
otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and
local earnings data, visit the following pages:
 computer and information systems managers
Related Occupations About this section
Other occupations that manage workers, deal with
information technology, or make business or technical
decisions include:
Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations,
and sales managers
Computer network, systems, and database
Computer scientists
Computer software engineers and computer
Computer support specialists
Computer systems analysts
Engineering and natural sciences managers
Financial managers
Top executives
Sources of Additional Information About this

Links to non-BLS Internet sites are provided for your
convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
Additional information on a career in information
technology is available from the following organizations:
• Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2 Penn
Plaza, Suite 701, New York, NY 10121-0701.
• Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Computer Society, Headquarters Office, 2001 L St.
NW., Suite 700 Washington, DC 20036-4910.
• National Workforce Center for Emerging
Technologies, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE., Bellevue,
WA 98007. Internet:
• University of Washington Computer Science and
Engineering Department, AC101 Paul G. Allen
Center, Box 352350, 185 Stevens Way, Seattle, WA
98195-2350. Internet:
• National Center for Women and Information
Technology, University of Colorado, Campus Box
322 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0322. Internet:
O*NET-SOC Code CoverageAbout this section
Get more information from O*NET—the
Occupational Information Network:
O*NET provides comprehensive information on key
characteristics of workers and occupations. For
information on a specific occupation, select the
appropriate link below. For more information on O*NET,
visit their homepage.

• Computer and Information Systems Managers (11-

Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S.
Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,
2010-11 Edition, Computer and Information Systems
Managers, on the Internet at (visited August 01,

Last Modified Date: December 17, 2009
Tools Calculators Help Info
• Areas at a Glance • Inflation • Help & • What's New

• Industries at a • Location Tutorials • Careers @ BLS
Glance Quotient • A to Z Index • Find It! DOL
• Economic News • Injury And • FAQs • Join our Mailing
Releases Illness • Glossary Lists
• Databases & • About BLS • Linking & Copyright
Tables Information
• Contact Us
• Maps

Freedom of Information Act | Privacy & Security Statement | Disclaimers |
Customer Survey | Important Web Site Notices
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment
Projections, PSB Suite 2135, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE Washington, DC 20212-
0001 | Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 | Contact OCO

Stephen B. Harsh
Department of Agricultural Economics
Michigan State University
Management information systems encompass a broad and complex topic. To make
this topic more manageable, boundaries will be defined. First, because of the vast
number of activities relating to management information systems, a total review is
not possible. Those discussed here is only a partial sampling of activities, reflecting
the author's viewpoint of the more common and interesting developments.
Likewise where there were multiple effects in a similar area of development, only
selected ones will be used to illustrate concepts. This is not to imply one effort is
more important than another. Also, the main focus of this paper will be on
information systems for use at the farm level and to some lesser extent systems
used to support researchers addressing farm level problems (e.g., simulation or
optimization models, geographic information systems, etc.) and those used to
support agribusiness firms that supply goods and services to agricultural producers
and the supply chain beyond the production phase.

Secondly, there are several frameworks that can be used to define and describe
management information systems. More than one will be used to discuss
important concepts. Because more than one is used, it indicates the difficult of
capturing the key concepts of what is a management information system. Indeed,
what is viewed as an effective and useful management information system is one
environment may not be of use or value in another.
Lastly, the historical perspective of management information systems cannot be
ignored. This perspective gives a sense of how these systems have evolved, been
refined and adapted as new technologies have emerged, and how changing
economic conditions and other factors have influenced the use of information
Before discussing management information systems, some time-tested concepts
should be reviewed. Davis offers a commonly used concept in his distinction
between data and information. Davis defines data as raw facts, figures, objects,
etc. Information is used to make decisions. To transform data into information,
processing is needed and it must be done while considering the context of a
decision. We are often awash in data but lacking good information. However, the
success achieved in supplying information to decision makers is highly variable.
Barabba, expands this concept by also adding inference, knowledge and wisdom in
his modification of Haechel's hierarchy which places wisdom at the highest level
and data at the lowest. As one moves up the hierarchy, the value is increased and
volume decreased. Thus, as one acquires knowledge and wisdom the decision
making process is refined. Management information systems attempt to address
all levels of Haechel's hierarchy as well as converting
data into information for the decision maker. As both Barabba and Haechel argue,
however, just supplying more data and information may actually be making the
decision making process more difficult. Emphasis should be placed on increasing
the value of information by moving up Haechel's hierarchy.
Another important concept from Davis and Olsen is the value if information. They
note that “in general, the value of information is the value of the change in
decision behavior caused by the information, less the cost of the information.” This
statement implies that information is normally not a free good. Furthermore, if it
does not change decisions to the better, it may have no value. Many assume that
investing in a “better” management information system is a sound economic
decision. Since it is possible that the better system may not change decisions or
the cost of implementing the better system is high to the actual realized benefits,
it could be a bad investment. Also, since before the investment is made, it is hard
to predict the benefits and costs of the better system, the investment should be
viewed as one with risk associated with it.
Another approach for describing information systems is that proposed by Harsh
and colleagues. They define information as one of four types and all these types
are important component of a management information system. Furthermore, the
various types build upon and interact with each other. A common starting level is
Descriptive information. (See Figure 1). This
1 Figure 1 – Types of Information
information portrays the “what is” condition of a business, and it describes the
state of the business at a specified point in time. Descriptive information is very
important to the business manager, because without it, many problems would not
be identified. Descriptive information includes a variety of types of information
including financial results, production records, test results, product marketing, and
maintenance records.
Descriptive information can also be used as inputs to secure other needed types of
information. For example, “what is” information is needed for supplying restraints
in analyzing farm adjustment alternatives. It can also be used to identify problems
other than the “what is” condition. Descriptive information is necessary but not
completely sufficient in identifying and addressing farm management problems.
The second type of information is diagnostic information, This information portrays
this “what is wrong” condition, where “what is wrong” is measured as the disparity
between “what is” and “what ought to be.” This assessment of how things are
versus how they should be (a fact-value conflict) is probably our most common
management problem. Diagnostic information has two major uses. It can first be
used to define problems that develop in the business. Are production levels too
low? Is the rate earned on investment too low? These types of question cannot be
answered with descriptive information alone (such as with financial and production
records). A manager may often be well supplied with facts about his business, yet
be unable to recognize this type of problem. The manager must provide norms or
standards which, when compared with the facts for a particular business, will
reveal an area of concern. Once a problem has been identified, a manager may
choose an appropriate course of action for dealing with the problem (including
doing nothing). Corrective measures may be taken so as to better achieve the
manager’s goals. Several pitfalls are involved for managers in obtaining diagnostic
information. Adequate, reliable, descriptive information must be available along
with appropriate norms or standards for particular business situations. Information
is inadequate for problem solving if it does not fully describe both “what is” and
“what ought to be.”
As description is concerned with “what is” and diagnostics with ”what is wrong,”
prediction is concerned with “what if...?” Predictive information is generated from
an analysis of possible future events and is exceedingly valuable with “desirable”
outcomes. With predictive information, one either defines problems or avoids
problems in advance. Prediction also assists in analysis. When a problem is
recognized, a manager will analyze the situation and specify at least one
alternative (including doing nothing) to deal with it. Predictive information is
needed by managers to reduce the risk and uncertainty concerning technology,
prices, climate, institutions, and human relationships affecting the business. Such
information is vital in formulating production plans and examining related financial
impacts. Predictive information takes many forms. What are the expected prices
next year? What yields are anticipated? How much capital will be required to
upgrade production technologies? What would be the difference in expected
returns in switching from a livestock farm to a cropping farm? Management has
long used various budgeting techniques, simulation models, and other tools to
evaluate expected changes in the business.
Without detracting from the importance of problem identification and analysis in
management, the crux of management tasks is decision making. For every
problem a manager faces, there is a “right” course of action. However, the
rightness of a decision can seldom, if ever, be measured in absolute terms. The
choice is conditionally right, depending upon a farm manager’s knowledge,
assumptions, and conditions he wishes to impose on the decision. Prescriptive
information is directed toward answering the “what should be done” question.
Provision of this information requires the utilization of the predictive information.
Predictive information by itself is not adequate for decision making. An evaluation
of the predicted outcomes together with the goals and values of the manger
provides that basis for making a decision. For example, suppose that a manager is
considering a new changing marketing alternative. The new alternative being
considered has higher “predicted” returns but also has higher risks and requires
more management monitoring. The decision as to whether to change plans
depends upon the managers evaluation of the worth of additional income versus
the commitment of additional time and higher risk. Thus, the goals and values of a
farm manager will ultimately enter into any decision.
The importance of management information systems to improve decision making
has long been understood by farm management economists. Financial and
production records have long been used by these economists as an instrument to
measure and evaluate the success of a farm business. However, when computer
technology became more widely available in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there
was an increased enthusiasm for information systems to enhance management
decision processes. At an IBM hosted conference, Ackerman, a respected farm
management economist, stated that:
“The advances that have taken place in calculating equipment and methods make
it possible to determine the relationship between ultimate yields, time of harvest
and climatic conditions during the growing season. Relationship between the
perspective and actual yields and changing prices can be established. With such
information at hand the farmer should be in a position to make a decision on his
prediction with a high degree of certainty at mid-season regarding his yield and
income at harvest time.”
This statement, made in 1963, reflects the optimism that prevailed with respect to
information systems. Even though there was much enthusiasm related to these
early systems they basically concentrated on accounting activities and production
records. Examples include the TelFarm electronic accounting system at Michigan
State University and DHIA for dairy operations. These early systems relieved on
large mainframe computers with the data being sent to a central processing center
and the reports send back to the cooperating businesses. To put these early efforts
into a management information system framework, the one proposed by Alder
(House,ed.) is useful. (See Figure 2). They would be defined as data oriented
systems with
2 Figure 2 – Types of Information Systems
limited data analysis capabilities beyond calculating typical ratios (e.g., return on
assets, milk per cow, etc.).
By the mid 1960s it became clear that the accounting systems were fairly effective
in supplying descriptive and diagnostic information but they lacked the capacity to
provide predictive and prescriptive information. Thus, a new approach was needed
– a method of doing forward planning or a management information system that
was more model oriented. Simulation models for improving management skills and
testing system interaction were developed. As an example, Kuhlmann, Giessen
University, developed a very robust and comprehensive whole farm simulation
model (SIMPLAN) that executed on a mainframe computer. This model was based
on systems modeling methods that could be used to analyze different production
strategies of the farm business. To be used by managers, however, they often
demanded that the model developer work closely with them in using the model.
Another important activity during this period was the “Top-Farmer Workshops”
developed by Purdue University. They used a workshop setting to run large linear-
programming models on mainframe computers (optimization models) to help crop
producers find more efficient and effective ways to operate their business.
As mainframe timeshare computers emerged in the mid-1960's, I became possible
to remotely access the computer with a terminal and execute software. Systems
such TelPlan developed by Michigan State University made it possible for
agricultural producers to run a farm related computer decision aids. Since this
machine was shared by many users, the cost for executing an
agriculturally related decision aid was relatively inexpensive and cost effective.
These decision aids included optimization models (e.g., least cost animal rations)
budgeting and simulation models, and other types of decision aids. These decision
aids could be accessed by agricultural advisor with remote computer terminals
(e.g., Teletype machine or a touch-tone telephone). These advisors used these
computer models at the farm or at their own office to provide advice to farm
These were exciting times with many people becoming involved in the
development, testing, refining, and implementation of information systems for
agriculture. Computer technology continued to advance at a rapid pace, new
communication systems were evolving and the application of this technology to
agriculture was very encouraging. Because of the rapid changes occurring, there
were international conferences held where much of the knowledge learned in
developing these systems was shared. One of the first of these was held in
Germany in the mid-1980s.
It was also clear from these early efforts that the data oriented systems where not
closely linked to the model oriented systems. Information for the data oriented
systems often did not match the data needed for the model oriented systems. For
example, a cash-flow projection model was not able to directly use financial data
contained in the accounting system. In most cases, the data had to be manually
extracted from the accounting system and re-entered into the planning model.
This was both a time consuming and error prone process.
Because of the lack of integration capabilities of various systems, they were devoid
of many of the desirable characteristics of an evolving concept describes as
decision support systems (DSS). These systems are also known as Executive
Support Systems, and Management Support System, and Process Oriented
Information Systems . The decision support system proposed by Sprague and
Watson (House, ed.) Has as its major components a database, a modelbase, a
database/modelbase management system and a user interface (see Figure 3). The
database has information related to financial transactions, production information,
marketing records, the resource base, research data, weather data and so forth. It
includes data internally generated by the business (e.g., financial transactions and
production data) and external data (e.g., market prices). These data are stored in a
common structure such that it is easily accessible by other database packages as
well as the modelbase.
The modelbase component of the system has decision models that relate to
operational, tactical and strategic decisions. In addition, the modelbase is able to
link models together in order to solve larger and more complex problems,
particularly semi-structured problems. The database/modelbase management
system is the bridge between database and modelbase components. It has the
ability to extract data from the database and pass it to the modelbase and vice
versa. The user interface, one of the more critical features of the system, is used
to assist the decision maker in making more efficient and effective use of the
system. Lastly, for these systems to be effective in supporting management
decision, the decision maker must have the
3 Figure 3 – Decision Support System
skills and knowledge on how to correctly use these systems to address the unique
problem situation at hand.
Several follow-up international conferences were held to reflect these new
advances in management information systems. The first of these conferences
focused on decision support systems was held in Germany. This conference
discussed the virtues of these systems and the approach used to support
decisions. Several prototype systems being developed for agriculture were
presented. From these presentations, it was clear that the decision support
systems approach had many advantages but the implementation in agriculture
was going to be somewhat involved and complex because of the diversity of
agricultural production systems. Nevertheless, there was much optimism for the
development of such systems.
A couple of years later, another conference was held in Germany that focused on
knowledge-based systems with a major emphasis on expert systems and to a
lesser extent optimum control methods and simulation models. Using Alter’s
scheme to describe information systems, for the
most part these would be described as suggestion models. It was interesting to
note that the prototype knowledge-based systems for the most part did not utilize
the concepts of decisions support systems which was the focus of the earlier
conference. Perhaps this was related to the fact that many of the applications were
The international conference that followed in France focused on the low adaption
rate of management information systems. This was a topic of much discussion but
there were few conclusions reached except the systems with the highest adaption
rate were mainly data-oriented ones (e.g., accounting systems, field record
systems, anaimal production and health records, etc.) which provide mainly
descriptive and diagnostic information.
The international conferences that followed had varying themes. One of the major
themes was precision agriculture with several conferences held. These
conferences extolled the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in
conjunction with geographic positioning systems (GPS) to record and display data
regarding cropping operations (e.g., yields obtained) and to control production
inputs (e.g., fertilizer levels). Other conference addressed the use of information
systems to more tightly control agriculture production such as those developed for
greenhouse businesses.
To briefly summarize the historical developments, there have been significant
efforts devoted to improving the management information systems from the early
computerized activities forty years earlier. The decision aids available have grown
in number and they are more sophisticated. There has been some movement
toward integration of the data oriented systems and the model oriented systems.
An examination of our current usage of management information systems,
however, suggests that we have not nearly harnessed the potential of the design
concepts contained modern management information systems.
The current status of management information systems is remains dynamic.
Several adoption surveys and personal experiences lead to some interesting
observations. These observations will be reviewed in the context of a decision
support system as defined by Spraque and Watson.
On-Farm Information Systems -- Computer Hardware
The percentage of farms owning a computer continues to grow. Most commercial
farms now own a computer and have access to the Internet, many with high speed
connections. Most of the computers are of recent vintage with large data storage
and memory capacity. It is safe to state that the hardware is not the bottleneck
with respect to management information systems.
On-Farm Database and Modelbase Applications
The decision support system literature stressed that the database and modelbase
remain separate entities. They should be bridged by the database/modelbase
management system. In examining much of the software developed for on-farm
usage, it appears that most of it does not currently employ this design concept.
Indeed most of the software is a stand-alone product with the database an integral
part of the modelbase. However, some packages have the ability to export and
import data, allowing for the sharing of data across the various packages, but
these data sharing features are usually rather narrow in scope and flexibility.
The most common software packages used by agricultural producers are data
oriented with the most common being one designed for financial accounting.
Accounting packages explicitly designed for agricultural businesses and general
business accounting packages are used for keeping the financial records. Because
of their rather low cost relative to the agricultural specific packages, the general
purpose packages are growing in market share. These financial accounting
systems are used beyond completing tax documents. They are also important for
providing information to creditors and for planning and control.
Production management also accounts for a significant proportion of computer
usage. There are many software packages available that address livestock
problems. Some are database programs to keep track of animal related data
and/or feed inventories. There are models to address operational and tactical
decisions such as ration balancing, culling decisions, alternative replacements
options, etc.
However, many livestock producers also use off-farm production records
processing such as using the DHIA service bureau for processing dairy records.
These service bureaus provide a downloading feature so the data can be moved to
the on-farm computer.
For cropping operations, there are similarities in software availability. Database
systems are available for keeping track of information on fields and sub-fields,
particularly fertilizers and pesticides applied, varieties planted and yields achieved.
Though there is increasing interest in geographic information systems by
agricultural producers, the main usage is for yield monitoring and mapping. This
approach is used to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative management
practices employed in the production of the crop (e.g., comparison of varieties,
seeding rates, pest control measures, tillage systems, etc.) and to identify field
problems (e.g., soil compaction, drainage problems, etc.). This yield monitoring
approach is finding the greatest acceptance and this may be in part because the
yield monitoring and mapping systems are common option on grain harvesting
equipment. One of the real concerns with using yield monitoring and mapping
systems relates to the issue of arriving at the correct inference of what causes the
variation in yields noted. The potential layers of data (e.g., pH, precious crops
grown, soil structure, planting date, nutrients applied, variety grown, pesticides
used, rainfall, etc.) has been suggested to exceed 100. To be able to handle the
large number of
data layers in an effective manner would suggest a full-feature geographic
information system (GIS) might be needed. However, few agricultural producers
have access to a full-feature GIS and/or training to utilize these systems, and there
are substantial costs related to capturing and storing various data layers.
Nevertheless, the more obvious observations originating from these systems (e.g.,
such as poor drainage and soil compaction) have resulted in sound investments
being made in corrective measures.
To a limited extent, some agricultural producers are starting to make use of
remote sensing data to identify problems related to the growing crop such as an
outbreak of a disease. Those using remote sensing feel they are able to more
quickly identify the problems and take corrective action, minimizing the damage
Precision agriculture applied to the animal industries is on a different scale.
Information systems are playing a major role on the integrated mega-farms. When
using information systems to carefully track genetic performance, balance rations,
monitor health problems, facilities scheduling, control the housing environment
and so forth, it is generally acknowledged that it is possible to achieve a fairly
significant reduction in cost per unit of output (10-15%) over that of more
traditional, smaller farming operations. These are proprietary information systems
and the information from these systems are used to gain a strategic competitive
Lastly, the general purpose spreadsheet is the most common software used for
planning purposes. Some of these applications are very sophisticated and address
complex problems.
User Interface
The user interface has improved in greatly in quality. Most agricultural software
now uses the windowing environment. This environment makes it easier for the
user to use and access data and information, and to move data from one
application to another or to link applications. However, this still remains a user-
initiated task and in some cases can be complex. Also most of the data contained
in the software package is unique to that package and not easily shared with other
software packages. Thus, from a DSS viewpoint there are still significant
The Decision Maker
An often overlooked component of a decision support system is the decision
maker. Prior surveys suggest that the primary user of the on-farm computer
system is the farm operator. Operators that are younger and college educated
were much more likely to routinely use the computer. Also large farms were more
likely to utilize a computer in their farming operation. It is also observed that there
is a fair amount of “learning cost” related to use of on-farm information systems.
These cost can be large enough to hinder the adoption of management information
There is increased interest and excitement about the role external information
systems available to agricultural producers, particularly Internet and satellite data
transmission systems. Each of these technologies is a vast resource of data which
can be used to enhance the various levels (e.g., information, intelligence,
knowledge, wisdom) of Haechel's Hierarchy for an individual or organization.
Another information source is the outside advisor. As the complexity and breadth
of the farm level decision process has increased, the use of consultants and
advisors has grown. This is particularly true of the larger farming operations.
The growth in Internet is phenomenal. The growth in its use by agricultural
producers is also phenomenal. Email is a common communication tool used by
agricultural business. The same is true for the world-wide-web (WWW). They made
extensive use of the web to find information that fit their unique requirement. Even
though they find it a major source of information for their operation, it takes good
skills to locate the information desired. One of the common complaints is the
amount of time it takes to utilize the Internet effectively and the lack of depth of
information. One of the critical questions relates to how effective Internet is in
addressing the higher levels of Haechel's hierarchy.
Other Internet resources available to agriculture include sites for downloading
agricultural software. Much of the economic data compiled by the government is
now available on-line. Lastly, in some cases it is being used as a marketing tool for
products produced by the business.
Satellite Data Transmission Systems
The satellite data transmission systems are widely used by producers. These
systems are passive data acquisition systems from the user's viewpoint. Data is
continuously broadcast to the leased data terminal from a satellite. The data is
automatically stored in the data terminal and can be accessed by a menuing
process. These systems provide current data/information on a number of topics.
Amounts and types of data/information received depends upon the options
purchased. The basic subsystem provides for the latest market prices and news,
weather maps (e.g., rainfall, jet streams, severe weather, crop soil moisture index,
soil temperature, air temperature, etc.), government reports on market
developments, long- and short-term weather forecasts, political developments that
pertain to agriculture, and product information. Premium service options add even
more features.
Outside Advisors
Several recent studies suggest that use of outside advisory services by farmers to
enhance and supplement their on-farm information systems was fairly prevalent.
The tax preparer is the
advisory most commonly used. Other important sources of information include the
local Extension agents, veterinary consultants, accountants, crop/pest
management consultants, and livestock management advisors (e.g., a nutritionist).
The outside advisors utilize many different software packages to help provide
advice to producers. FINPAK developed by the University of Minnesota is an
example of a software package widely used by outside advisors with farmers. This
financial analysis and related projection package helps evaluate the financial
process being made by the farm and compares alternative future business options.
This package (an accounting type model) is widely used in the U.S.
Predicting the future is not an exact science. But with the structural changes
occurring in agriculture today, the management problems are significantly
different from the problems of yesterday. Earlier emphasis in information systems
was on improving production management decisions. Today, major issues that are
commonly faced in management relate to financial, human resource, and
marketing management. These management areas and their importance are
identified in the strategic management workshops I have conducted with
agricultural producers. Thus, managers will have less time to address production
issues because more time and effort are being focused in the other management
areas. This will have an impact on information systems to address production
Addressing Structured Decisions
In the future information systems to address production management will likely be
of five general types: 1) software for systems analysis, 2) theory testing, software
for teaching purposes, 3) software for advisors, 4) software for use by producers,
and 5) software to control and monitor the supply chain.
Software for systems analysis and theory testing will be developed with the
primary objective of defining the structure and studying the dynamics and
interaction of the various system components. Its main use is in research. These
models are fairly complex and often have robust data requirements. Their
utilization often depends upon availability of the developers to run the model or
assist in the use of the model. This software is very useful in testing various
hypotheses regarding system dynamics (e.g., would supplemental irrigation in the
early growth stages greatly affect yields?)
These models play a vital role in generating a better understanding of the overall
system and can give valuable insight on how to manage the system. They are also
useful in identifying areas for further research. The results from these models are
communicated in various ways (e.g., journal articles, trade journals, and advisory
service publications and conferences) and these
communicated results are often used by producers to adjust production practices.
However, direct use by producers to evaluate their own unique situations is not
common with these models. There are several reasons for this limited use
including a poor user interface or lacking the data to drive the model. Also, it is
generally unlikely that transformation of a model of this nature into one that is to
be used by the producers will be successful.
Software developed for teaching purposes is likely to continue. Sometimes these
software packages are referred to as simulation games. Because these models
teach concepts and principles, they are often a simplification of reality. They tend
to use the case analysis approach, making it difficult to use the model to analyze
various options and alternatives utilizing actual business data. The models are
often used in an interactive mode (e.g., in a classroom or workshop environment)
where knowledge is gained by testing “what if” questions, then observing the
results. These models can be very powerful teaching tools, but are rarely used to
analyze actual business situations. Producers often lose interest in using this
software because it is too simplistic, takes too much time and effort to extract
knowledge for better decision-making, or it does not adequately reflect the reality
of the business.
Software for advisors is a class of software that is used by agricultural advisors
(e.g., Extension staff, consultants, and agribusiness firms) to assist producers in
making decisions. The advisor is a necessary intermediary, because the software
could demand a thorough understanding of a difficult set of concepts (e.g., long
range planning) or it may be rather demanding of the user’s time and effort (e.g., a
large amount of data has to be collected, entered and analyzed), or the time and
effort to become proficient in the use of the model is considered excessive. This
type of software will grow in importance as the use of outside consultants and
advisory services by agricultural businesses grows. These outside advisors and
consulting services will increasingly use many different software packages to help
provide advice to the producer. The package they use depends upon their area of
specialization. For instance, those that are offering production advise may use one
of several production decision aid models.
Advisors also serve as an intermediary to extracting information from Internet
(external data). They often subscribe to threaded discussion groups. They use
these groups for posting problems and receiving back suggested solutions. They
also learn from the exchange of ideas between others using the system. Also,
advisors more readily see the merit of using a software program designed for
systems analysis for enhancing their personal knowledge and skills and solving
problems for their clients. This is particularly true if the software has a good user
Software for use by producers is and will continue to be some of the most
demanding software to develop. As indicated earlier, a large amount of software
has been written, but much of it has fallen short of expected usage rate. One
reason is the decision makers have found the software fails to address their
problems. The software must be fairly easy to utilize, and the producer expects it
to provide information that has a perceived value greater than the cost of attaining
that information.
Software being used by producers can be grouped into two subcategories. The first
subcategory is used to process transaction data and meet regulatory
requirements. These are the software applications most used by the actual
businesses. They must keep accounting, personnel and crop production records
(e.g., pesticides used) because of government regulation. They also use software
to reduce the time, effort and cost of processing the transaction records. This is
why payroll packages, and shipping and billing systems are commonly employed
on these operations. This usage will continue to grow in importance.
The other subcategory of software is used for management purposes. This
currently accounts for a lesser portion of the computer usage. A large growth in
this usage of this software is unlikely. The time and effort to master this software is
major commitment. Since management time is being diverted to areas other than
production management, they will have less and less time to become proficient in
the use of this software. Thus, very thorough and sophisticated systems (e.g., the
SAP software system) currently being employed by large companies are not likely
to be common on farm businesses because of their complexity and cost.
Software for process control is used to control and automate many of the
structured-operational decisions of the business enterprises, such as controlling
temperature, light, irrigation and fertility in greenhouses. These models are
generally of a closed-loop optimal control design. The process control models are
generally knowledge based systems and have been developed using knowledge
from many sources including the systems analysis models discussed earlier. The
use of process control systems will grow in importance and acceptance. This
acceptance implies that the managers have confidence in the models and that
they improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the business. These models also
free them to concentrate on more complex decisions.
Software to control and monitor the supply chain will greatly grow in importance.
The will be many factors driving this grow including concerns about food safely,
country of origin labeling, organic foods, foods to meet special dietary
requirements, and concerns about product liability suits. In will likely become
commonplace that a food item purchased by the consumer at the retail level will
have attached its entire history, including identity preservation and traceability,
included with the purchase. The new advances in RFID chips and the requirements
by certain major retailers to label all products with these chips will impact
agricultural businesses including those engaged in producing farm products. The
system imposed upon the entire supply chain will likely be designed by the
retailers and the entire chain will need to adjust to the defined information
structure. To adapt to the defined information structure may mean a major
restructuring of the information system currently being used by the business with
substantial costs associated with the conversion.
Addressing Ill-Structured and Unstructured Decisions
To address the management areas related to human resources, finances, and
marketing, suggest information systems that can address ill-structured or
unstructured problems. Some would state that we are in the process of moving
from the “old economy” to “new economy.” With this
paradigm shift, among the changes is a movement from resource based to idea
based wealth creation, from a stable comparative advantage to a dynamic one,
from investment in physical assets to investment in human capital, from protected
to open markets, from subsidies to encouragement to adapt, from hierarchal
organizations to strategies alliances and partnerships. In addition agriculture will
move from commodity markets to product markets and it will become more
environmentally friendly, concerned with food safety, and quality and supply
If this transition from the “old economy” to the “new economy” occurs for
agriculture, then the information systems of the past will not be adequate for the
future. They will need to be much broader and more comprehensive than the
current systems. The future systems must:
• address the larger scope of financial management rather than financial record
keeping, tax reporting, and analysis;
• help define marketing strategies and alliances;
• help identify potential niche markets rather than supplying data on current
commodity market trends;
• support the creation of new ideas;
• nurture the growth of knowledge since this will become a major source of wealth
• deal with the many dimensions and complexity of human resource management;
• signal needed production changes in an overall system of supply chain
• assist in negotiating contractual arrangements;
• help the producer adopt to an economic climate that has more risk and
uncertainty because of less government intervention in markets;
• provide the capacity to track the identify of a product from its genetics to the
• assist in producing a product that meets customer desires rather than the
production of a commodity.
Developing farm-level information systems to fulfill these needs will be a major
challenge. It will take a major rethinking with regard to the role of management
information systems. It will involve more than enhancing hardware,
communications infrastructure, and software components of the information
system. An equally important consideration will be the analytical skills, knowledge,
wisdom, and interests of the agricultural decision maker.
The information system of the future will need to concentrate more on the upper
levels of Haechel's hierarchy -- knowledge and wisdom. As Honaka and Hirotaka
observe, knowledge has two forms, tacit (subjective) and explicit (objective). Tacit
knowledge is gained from experiences and practice, whereas explicit knowledge is
based more on theory and rationality. As decision makers address problems, they
convert knowledge between the two forms. An information system that focuses
only on one form will have shortcomings. The information system of the future
must have both forms of knowledge, and encourage the conversion of knowledge
between the forms as a continuous process. Only by this process will the
manager's knowledge base grow in size and function.
Information systems of the past have tended to concentrate on explicit knowledge
(e.g., linear programming to balance a ration) and, to lesser extent tacit
knowledge. Many of the problems of the future will involve tacit knowledge. The
challenge will be designing information systems that will allow for an easier and
more effective means of sharing tacit knowledge. The Internet will no doubt play a
key role in meeting this challenge. Perhaps a system for documenting experiences
(e.g., structured case studies) can be used to enhance the sharing of tacit
Agriculture has a long and proud past history in applying information systems
including farming operations. Although there have been significant strides forward
in improving the decision making of farm managers there are still areas for
improvement. The decisions of the future will be different from those of the past.
There will be no quick and easy solutions on how to design the farm information
system of the future. Indeed, each farm business will likely have its own unique
system that has been tailored to meet the special informational requirement of the
farm business and address the needs of the entire supply chain. Those that are
able to build and effectively utilize the farm information systems of the future will
have a strategic advantage over their competitors.
Barabba, V.P. (1991). “Through a Glass Less Darkly,” Journal of the American
Statistical Association, Vol. 86, No. 413, pp. 1-8.
Harsh, Stephen B., L. J. Connor, and G. D. Schwab. (1981). Managing The Farm
Business. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
House, William C. (1983). Decision Support Systems – A Data-Based, Model-
Oriented User-Developed Discipline. Petrocelli Books, Inc. New York, NY.
IBM Agricultural Symposium (1963). Endicott, New York, September 23-26.
Integrated Decision Support Systems in Agriculture - Successful Practical
Applications. (1990) Papers from International DLG - Congress for Computer
Technology held in Frankfurt, Germany on May 27-30.
Keller, Gerhard and Thomas Teufel. (1998). SAP R/3 Process-Oriented
Implementation. Addison Wesley Longman, New York, NY.
Knowledge Based Systems in Agriculture - Prospects for Application. (1988) Papers
from International DLG - Congress for Computer Technology held in Frankfurt,
Germany on June 19-22.
Microelectronics in Agriculture - Facts and Trends. (1986) Papers from International
DLG - Congress for Computer Technology held in Hanover, Germany on May 4-7,
Nonaka, I. and H. Takeuchi. (1995). The Knowledge-Creating Company: How
Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation, Oxford University
Sullivan, Laurie (2004). “Heavyweight Retailer Looks Inward to Stay Innovative in
Business Technology.” InformationWeek, 27 September 2004.
Prof. Stephen B. Harsh is Professor and Distinguished Faculty Member at
Michigan State University in the Department of Agricultural Economics. He
received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska and graduate
degrees from Cornell University. He has been a Visiting Professor at the University
of Naples, Italy and Justus-Liebig University, Giessen Germany. His research
interests are in the areas of production economics, information systems for
management support, economics of alternative energy systems, human resources
management, and strategic and operations management. He teaches courses in
operations management and quantitative methods. He also has an Extension
appointment that allows him to closely work with agricultural advisors and farming
and agribusiness firms. He has published widely with more than 250 publications
including a book and several chapters in books. He is the recipient of several
national and international awards for his efforts in the area of information systems
and he has lectured widely on this topic.

________ _
___ ____ ___
_____ ____ _______
Reference Model for an
Open Archival Information
System (OAIS)
CCSDS 650.0-B-1
Fall 2006
Class Thursday: 6:55-9:35 p.m. Room CCB 104
Instructor Dr. Rajiv Sabherwal
University of Missouri System
Curators’ Professor
Phone 314-516-6490
Thursday 4:00-6:00 p.m., & by
Office CCB 206
E-mail URL
“Information technology is very important to our strategy. These days we
can’t work without it.” (Shengman Zhang, Managing Director of the
World Bank).
Motivation for the Course
The impact and usefulness of information systems
(IS’s) have risen dramatically in the last
two decades. Information technology (IT) is
found everywhere, in the form of iPods, cell
phones, laptops, desktops, servers, printers, and
so on. This proliferation of IT has been accompanied
by increase in graphical user-interfaces,
rapid decline in cost/benefit ratios, and the development
of the Internet (with its use for disseminating
and retrieving information, electronic
mail, electronic commerce, etc.). IT plays
an important role in a variety of areas, including
customer service, market research, financial
management, product innovation, manufacturing,
knowledge management, and so on. Indeed,
the very success or failure of the organization
often depends on how well it manages its IS
resources. However, the greater options and
technological uncertainty also make it difficult
to manage, and best utilize, information systems
and technologies.
Course Objectives
Designed for individuals who need to understand
the role and potential contribution of IT
within organizations, this course should help
you in making decisions about IT utilization in
your roles as a user of information systems or as
an IS professional. Please note that our focus is
not on IT itself, but rather on its business applications.
The course focuses on the interface between
organizations (and their various facets,
such as structures, strategies, and people) and
information systems. Specific objectives include
learning about: the roles of emerging information
technologies in contemporary organizations;
strategic use of IT; IT impacts on individuals,
organizations, etc.; and the processes
involved in IS management.
You should be able to integrate various and disparate
material (cases, project, textbook, and
lectures) into a coherent "big picture". To this
end, this course will encourage you to think,
argue logically, and apply the concepts and
knowledge to real-life situations. Overall, your
learning in the course will be facilitated
Case preparation – by students, individually and
in groups, as well as by the instructor
Classroom instruction – through lectures, overheads,
Collaboration -- among groups of students
working together on cases and the project
Management Information Systems (IS 5800)
Management Information Systems, Fall 2006, Dr. Sabherwal
Fall 2006
Competition -- across groups, often by encouraging
them to take opposing positions on cases
Conversations -- between students and instructor
and among students, both inside and outside
the class
Creativity -- in presentations of group projects
and also in providing insights during case discussions
Reading Materials
The course will not use a textbook. However, it
might be a good idea for at least some students
(especially those without any prior information
systems coursework or experience) to use a book
to understand some of the fundamentals and
terminology of information systems. Any recent
(preferably 2004 or later) book on information
systems, which may be obtained through the
library, friends, or a bookstore should be sufficient.
Three examples are given below:
Essentials of Business Information Systems (7th
Edition) (Hardcover), by Jane P. Laudon, Kenneth
C. Laudon, Prentice Hall, 7th edition
(April 3, 2006), ISBN: 0132277816.
Management Information Systems (10th Edition)
(Paperback), by Raymond McLeod, George
Schell, Prentice Hall; 10th edition (April 26,
2006), ISBN: 0131889184.
Management Information Systems (Hardcover),
by Gerald V Post, McGraw-Hill/Irwin; 4
edition (February 4, 2005), ISBN: 0072947799.
Instead of using a textbook, the course will use a
set of readings and cases, which are given below.
Of these, the underlined cases/article will need
to be purchased through Harvard Business
School Publishing (the procedure for which I
will describe in an e-mail to the students),
whereas the rest can be obtained as PDF files
through UMSL’s online library (ABI/INFORM).
1. Evolving From Information to Insight. 2005.
G. Ferguson, S. Mathur, B. Shah. MIT Sloan
Management Review. Winter 2005. Vol. 46, Iss.
2; pp. 51-58.
2. Automated Decision Making Comes of Age,
2005. Davenport, T.H., and J.G. Harris, MIT
Sloan Management Review, Summer, Vol 46,
Iss. 4; pp. 83-89.
3. Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration.
2006. A.P. McAfee. MIT Sloan
Management Review. Spring 2006. Vol. 47, Iss.
3; pp. 21-28.
4. Learning From the Internet Giants. 2004.
L.M Weiss, M.M Capozzi, L. Prusak. MIT
Sloan Management Review. Summer 2004.
Vol. 45, Iss. 4; pp. 79-84.
5. The End of Corporate Computing. 2005.
Nicholas G. Carr. MIT Sloan Management
Review. Spring. Vol. 46, Iss. 3; pp. 67-73.
6. David L Margulius. 2005. Nick Carr Backpedals
... Just a Bit. InfoWorld. Dec 5. Vol. 27, Iss.
49; p. 30.
7. Detours in the path toward strategic information
systems alignment. 2001. R. Hirschheim,
R. Sabherwal. California Management Review.
Fall 2001. Vol. 44, Iss. 1; pp. 87-109.
8. Technology and Human Vulnerability, HBR
Article, September, 2003, Reprint R0309B.
9. RFID enhances visitors' museum experience
at the Exploratorium, 2005. S. Hsi, H. Fait.
Communications of the ACM. Sep 2005. Vol.
48, Iss. 9; pp. 60-65.
10.Privacy in the Global E-Village. 2004. G.J.
Pottie. Communications of the ACM. Feb. Vol.
47, Iss. 2; pp. 21-23.
11.Who’s reading your office e-mail? Is that legal?
2006. C.M DePree Jr, R.K Jude. Strategic
Finance. Apr 2006. Vol. 87, Iss. 10; pp. 44-47.
12.Proven Practices for Effectively Offshoring
IT Work. J.W. Rottman, M.C. Lacity. 2006.
Management Information Systems (IS 5800)
Management Information Systems, Fall 2006, Dr. Sabherwal
Fall 2006
MIT Sloan Management Review. Spring 2006.
Vol. 47, Iss. 3; pp. 56-63.
13.The role of trust in outsourced IS development
projects. 1999. R.
Sabherwal. Communications of the ACM.
Feb. Vol. 42, Iss. 2; pp. 80-86.
14.Open-source software development. 2003.
Georg von Krogh. MIT Sloan Management
Review. Spring. Vol. 44, Iss. 3; pp. 14-18.
1. Wyndham International: Fostering High-
Touch with High-Tech, Product #: 9-803-
2. Pharmacy Service Improvement at CVS (A).
Product#: 9-606-015
3. Ford Argentina: Transforming a Global Industry
in a Local Market, Product #: 9-803-
4. “Real-time Business Intelligence: Best Practices
at Continental Airlines,” by H. Watson,
B.H. Wixom, J.A. Hoffer, R. Anderson-
Lehman, and A.M. Reynolds. Information
Systems Management, Winter 2006, pp. 7-18.
5. Enterprise IT at Cisco. Product #: 9-605-
6. Pfizer's Virtual CIO (Abridged). Product #:
7. Cathay Pacific: Doing More with Less. Product#:
8. Novell: Open Source Software Strategy Product#:
9. A Blogger in their Midst, HBR Case Study,
September 2003 (Reprint R0309A)
10.Wikis at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein:
(A). Product#: 9-606-074.
Expectations of Performance
You are expected to prepare for, attend, and
contribute to, the classes on a regular basis. 20%
of the course grade is based on class contribution.
Another forum for you to demonstrate your
knowledge of information systems will be available
through three exams (best two will be considered),
which account for 50% of the course
grade. Finally, you will learn through a group
project. Working in a group of 3 to 5 students,
you will examine an organization's IT’s, IS’s, and
their management, as described later. Each
group will prepare a case and two proposals,
and present the proposals in class at the end of
the semester.
Thus, your grade will be calculated as follows:
Class Contribution = 20%
Exams (best 2 of 3 @ 25% each = 50%
Group Project = 30%
(Case = 15%; two proposals = 8%;
presentation = 5%; peer evaluation = 2%)
Grading Policy
Letter grades will not be assigned to individual
components of the course. Only points (numeric
scores) will be assigned. These scores will be
added at the end of the course. The exact cutoff
points for final grades will depend on the point
distribution. But the following is a rough guide:
Points percentage Letter grade
> 90 A-, A
80 - 89.9 B-, B, B+
70 - 79.9 C-, C, C+
55 - 69.9 D-, D, D+
< 55 F
Class Contributions (20%)
We will all need to read each case or reading
before we talk about it in class. In preparing
each case, please carefully consider the "case
questions." The questions for the cases will be
posted on MyGateway.
Management Information Systems (IS 5800)
Management Information Systems, Fall 2006, Dr. Sabherwal
Fall 2006
You are expected to help all of us by contributing
to the discussions in class. The class discussions
should be conducted in a friendly fashion,
although we may have occasional disagreements
and debates. I will keep track of your contributions
in each class.
Of course, if you have prepared the material but
do not come to class, the rest of us will be deprived
of the opportunity to benefit from your
insights. Therefore, attendance will be taken in
every class, and a penalty of 0.50 point will be
applied for every class missed excluding ONE
"free" absences.
Exams (50%)
There will be three exams. Your best two exam
scores will be considered.
Each exam will be open-book and open-notes
(but closed friends). Each exam will be of 2-1/2
hour duration. Each exam will include FOUR
essay questions, of which you will be expected
to answer any THREE.
All exams will be cumulative. Therefore, exam 2
will cover more material than exam 1, and exam
3 will cover more material than both exams 1
and 2.
Group Project (30%)
Student groups of 3 to 5 will study one organization’s
use and management of IT. The information
about this organization's IT use and
management should be obtained through a
combination of means, including: personal or
phone interviews with the organization's employees;
articles/cases from Wall Street Journal,
Fortune, Business Week, Information Week,
CIO, Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management
Review, etc.; and the worldwide web. If
you cannot interview any executive from the
organization, either personally or by phone, you
should obtain a greater variety of published
information so that you can form reliable and
rich conclusions. The instructor will hold any
information you provide in the report in the
the report is used for other purpose, the presentation
will be such as to make it impossible for
the readers to identify the specific firm or individuals.
Based on the above information, each group will
present its findings in three documents and one
in-class presentation. The three documents
include a case, and two proposals (an application
proposal and a process proposal).
The case (worth 15% of the course grade) should
be similar in style to the cases discussed in
class. It should be 8 to 10 single-spaced pages,
excluding appendices (Tables, Figures, etc.), and
should include the following:
Executive Summary 5%
General background of the organization
A summary of the functions of key
info. systems
Description of the IS department
Description of the structures and
processes for managing IS’s
Detailed description of one major
information system
Conclusion (Including recommendations
& links to literature)
Appendices 5%
Management Information Systems (IS 5800)
Management Information Systems, Fall 2006, Dr. Sabherwal
Fall 2006
1. Executive Summary (5%) should summarize
the rest of the report in 1 or 2 pages. It should
point the key points of the report so that an
executive who is too busy to read the entire report
can get an excellent idea of the report just
by reading the executive summary.
2. General Background of the Organization (5%):
(a) The business the organization is in,
(b) The size of the organization (in terms of
number of employees and annual sales),
(c) Its organization structure, and
(d) Its main competitors.
3. A summary of the functions of info. systems
(10%). This section should briefly summarize
the functions performed by the various information
systems within the organization. This section
could benefit from a Table that concisely
gives a list of the major benefits for each of
these information systems.
4. The IS Department (10%), including information
(a) The number of employees in the IS department,
(b) The structure of the IS department,
(c) The working style within the IS department
(i.e., how formal or informal it is), and
(d) The placement of the IS department in the
overall organization structure (i.e., who does the
head of the IS department report to?).
5. Description of the structures and processes
for managing IS’s (30%). This section should
describe how the organization manages information
systems and technologies. Questions
such as the following should be answered in this
section: How does the organization plan for the
various information systems it would be developing?
Which individuals and departments are
involved in the IS planning process? How does
it decide how much resources would be allocated
to each system? How does it usually develop
systems (e.g., in-house or outsourced?)
Who evaluates information systems? How are
they typically evaluated? Who are the main individuals
and committees involved in IS management?
6. Detailed description of one major information
system (20%): Select the one most important
information system for this organization, and
describe it in detail. This section should address
questions such as the following: Who are the
main users of the system? What are the key inputs
and outputs for the system? What benefits
does the system provide to various users? When
was it developed, and by whom? How much has
the system changed over the years, and in what
7. Conclusion (15%). To conclude the report, the
above sections should be used to comment on
(a) the nature of the overall IS management
process and the organization’s information systems;
and (b) the future direction you (based on
interviews, etc.) foresee for the organization's IT
use and management. In drawing these conclusions,
you should draw upon the concepts and
cases covered in this course.
8. Appendices (5%). The required appendices
include: (a) indicators of the organization’s size
(annual sales & no. of employees); (b) a chart for
the overall organization structure; (c) a chart for
the structure of the IS department; (d) a list of
the individual interviewed for the projects, including
their names and titles, and the date and
approximate duration of each interview; and (e)
a list of all the articles referred in the report.
Management Information Systems (IS 5800)
Management Information Systems, Fall 2006, Dr. Sabherwal
Fall 2006
TWO detailed proposals, which are each worth
4% of the course grade, should be submitted.
Each proposal should be 2 to 3 pages long
(single-spaced), excluding appendices (Figures,
Tables, etc.).
One proposal (application proposal) should focus
on a new IT application. This proposal
should state: (a) description of the proposed
application; (b) how you would go about developing
it; (c) the expected benefits; (d) the expected
costs; (e) why do you believe that the
benefits outweigh the costs.
The second proposal (process proposal) should
focus on improvement in IS management. In
this proposal, you should describe (a) the problems
in the current IS management, focusing on
one specific process (e.g., planning, development,
hardware acquisition, IS evaluation), (b)
the proposed improvement (which should not
be a laundry list of several minor changes, but a
substantially different approach -- think “process
reengineering”; and (c) the costs and benefits
of the proposed approach to IS management.
In both these proposals, you may borrow
ideas from the cases discussed in class, but creativity
(as long as not so wild as to be indefensible)
will also be considered very important.
Group Presentation (5%): Each group will present
in class its proposals about (a) the new IT
application and (b) the new IS management
process. Each presentation is expected to last
about 10 minutes (plus Q&A), although the exact
time available will depend on the number of
groups. The presentation will concentrate on
the two proposals, providing the information
described above. In addition, to help the other
students in following the proposal, each group
will present a brief summary (one or two overheads)
of the key information about the organization,
its industry, and its current information
Peer evaluations (2%): All members should contribute
to the group effort. To increase the likelihood
that this happens, 2 points in the course
will be based on peer evaluation by group
members. For this evaluation, each student will
allocate 100 points among the OTHER members
of his/her group, and submit these peer
evaluations in a closed envelope along with the
group’s final assignment. If a student does not
submit peer evaluations, it will be assumed that
(s)he believes that the other group members
contributed equally.
Each group is expected to submit a one-page
project idea identifying the organization, the
nature of its IS’s, your reasons for selecting this
organization. and possible sources of information.
The approval of the project idea by the
Instructor will avoid duplication and ensure
proper focus. This project idea should be submitted
early in the semester so that it can be
approved latest by 9/21
If anyone has a health condition or disability,
which may require accommodations in order to
effectively participate in this class, please contact
the Disability Access Services Office in 144
Millennium Student Center at 516-6554. Information
about the disability will be regarded as
No plagiarism! You may not copy directly from
sources unless you indent the text and put it in
quotes. This should be limited to a few sentences
of specific quotations. You must rephrase
sources, and only draw ideas from explicitly
cited references. Any student who copies directly
from the web or printed sources will be
turned over to Academic Affairs.
Management Information Systems (IS 5800)
Management Information Systems, Fall 2006, Dr. Sabherwal
Fall 2006
Contacting Me
You can meet me during my office hours or set
up an appointment.
You can contact me via e-mail. Please include
IS 5800 as the first part of the subject of your email
messages. If you are attaching files, they
must be in Microsoft Office, ASCII (text), PDF,
or iWork formats, and should be carefully
checked for virus. I will most likely reply to
your e-mail messages within 24 hours.
You can call me at 516-6490. Again, I will try to
reply to voice messages within 24 hours. But email
is much better.
Finally, in case of an emergency, please send me
an e-mail message with the subject as "EMERGENCY
… IS 5800" and I will reply to it as soon
as I see the message.
Instructor Bio
I am a Curators’ Professor for the University of
Missouri System, the Emery C. Turner Professor
of Information Systems at University of Missouri,
St. Louis, and Director of the Ph.D. Program
in Business Administration (with information
systems emphasis). I am the Departmental
Editor (information technology) for IEEE Transactions
on Engineering Management, and serve
on the editorial boards for Information Systems
Research, Journal of MIS, and Journal of AIS. I
recently completed a 3-year term as a Senior
Editor of MIS Quarterly.
My research focuses on knowledge management,
information systems strategy, and social
aspects of systems development. It has been
published in journals such as Information Systems
Research, MIS Quarterly, California Management
Review, Communications of the ACM,
and Organization Science. Some of my research
has been funded by the Advanced Practices
Council of the Society for Information Management.
I have conducted detailed case studies at a variety
of leading organizations, including NASA
Kennedy Space Center, Ryder System Inc., Burger
King, Microsoft, Miami Dade County, and
Tata Consultancy Services. I have spoken frequently
to academic and business audiences in
United States, Canada, Norway, Finland, and
India, and have taught executive or companybased
courses on Project Management, Global
Electronic Commerce, and Organizational Information
Management Information Systems (IS 5800)
Management Information Systems, Fall 2006, Dr. Sabherwal
Fall 2006
Date Topic Articles Cases
8/24 Introductions Syllabus
8/31 IT’s and decisions Evolving From Information to Insight Wyndham
9/7 IT’s and work processes
Initial Project Idea
Automated Decision Making … Pharmacy Service ... at
9/14 Communication & Internet
Enterprise 2.0 Ford Argentina
9/21 Knowledge management and
business intelligence
Approval of Project Idea
Learning From the Internet Giants Continental Airlines
9/28 Exam 1
10/5 Outsourcing IT Proven Practices for Effectively Offshoring
...; The role of trust in outsourced
Cathay Pacific …
10/12 Open source development Open-source software development Novell …
10/19 Strategic Management of IT Detours in the path toward strategic
information systems alignment.
Pfizer's Virtual CIO
10/26 Exam 2
11/2 Organizational impacts of IT The End of Corporate Computing;
Nick Carr Backpedals
Enterprise IT at Cisco
11/9 Social impacts of IT ... #1 Privacy in Global E-Village;
Who’s reading your office e-mail …
Blogger in their Midst
11/16 Social impacts of IT ... #2 Technology and Human Vulnerability;
RFID enhances visitors' …
Wikis at Dresdner
Kleinwort Wasserstein:
11/30 Conclusions, Recap, Presentations
12/7 Presentations + Cases/Proposals
12/14 Exam 3
Management Information Systems (IS 5800)
Management Information Systems, Fall 2006, Dr. Sabherwal