Interoperable interagency systems

Similar to costs, organizations also consider and assess the risks associated with participative ventures. Risks refer to the perceived risks of participation in information sharing with state agencies. There are certain risks of information sharing, primarily due to making the information collected by an agency available to outsiders. One concern is that agencies want to have full control over the data collected and sharing might result in openness to public scrutiny, and invite external evaluation or criticism.

Other agencies can question the accuracy or validity of the shared information and can challenge the image of the responsible agency. Political interference can also threaten the policy-making power of the agencies. Another risk associated with interagency information sharing involves the misinterpretation or misuse of shared information. Information collected by an agency might be highly sensitive. Sharing this information might result in problems related to privacy rights of individuals (Dawes 1996, Landsbergen and Wolken 2001, Rocheleau 1997).

information sharing can exacerbate matters, as it presents its own set of security risks, which require comprehensive safeguards. If the interagency connections are not secured, information sharing can easily invite unauthorized access and misuse of information. Compatibility Compatibility refers to the degree to which participation in information sharing with state agencies is perceived as being consistent with existing information systems, tasks, and the current needs and objectives of the local agency. Different types of compatibility can be identified.

Technological compatibility refers to the compatibility of the information technologies required for participation in information sharing with the existing applications and information systems. Tornatzky and Fleischer (1990) state that the fit of the available technology with the organization’s current technology plays an important role in technology adoption decisions. Landsbergen and Wolken (2001) surveyed public sector managers to discover the most important IS issues, finding that the integration of technologies was the most important issue of concern.

91% of the respondents stated that the integration of data processing, office automation technologies and telecommunication networks is required to prevent the incompatibility of technologies. The incompatibility of the hardware, software and telecommunication networks negatively affected participation in interagency information sharing (Dawes 1996). Organizational compatibility refers to the compatibility of the changes introduced by information sharing with existing operating practices, functioning, culture, and current objectives. Organizational compatibility can be thought of as the organizational fit of the system introduced.

It also includes the system’s impact on the employees’ attitudes regarding change, convenience of change, power shifts etc. Participation in information sharing might require changes in the existing operating practices and tasks; and might introduce new ways of completing work. The incompatibility of the new systems with existing work procedures decreases the likelihood of adoption (Premkumar and Ramamurthy 1995). Compatibility of an innovation with the existing value and belief systems and past experiences or with the previously adopted ideas of the potential adopters can also facilitate or inhibit its adoption.

Past experiences of the potential adopters with similar innovations can lead to both positive and negative outcomes. Landsbergen and Wolken (2001) state that lack of an experience base, institutional memory, and awareness of sharing opportunities present an important organizational barrier to successful, interoperable interagency systems. Accumulated experience at the organizational level in terms of having a history of working together with other agencies, similar project experience, and prior innovations are among the important factors that affect an agency’s absorptive capacity in terms of acquiring new ideas and systems.