The Information-Seeking Behavior of Local Government Officials
AbstractThis research assesses the information-seeking behav ior of top-level municipal and county government officials. Data were obtained through a 1989 mail questionnaire sent to 200 local officials serving in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern Califor nia. One hundred and fifty-six officials returned usable question naires, resulting in a 78% response rate. The survey explored eight attitudes of policy-makers toward gathering information: kinds of information needed, preferred sources, barriers to accessing infor mation, use and usefulness of professional reading materials, receptiveness of public affairs organizations, satisfaction with amount of information, time spent in information-gathering, and the role of office computers. Findings are that high-ranking local officials spend significant work time engaged in information-related tasks, are generally satisfied with their results, are pessimistic about the professional literature yet optimistic about public interest organiza tions as information providers, and undervalue external library- based resources and computer-assisted information services. Sug gested improvements in the delivery of information to local decision- makers focus on the development of electronic "expert systems" and the need for an information-literate local bureaucracy.