Exploring issues of accountability in design of ICT for public services

Document type: Conference Papers
Peer reviewed: Yes
Author(s): Sara Eriksén, Yvonne Dittrich
Title: Exploring issues of accountability in design of ICT for public services
Conference name: EASST - European Association for the study of Science and Technology
Year: 2002
City: York, UK
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: Department of Human Work Science and Media Technology, Department of Software Engineering and Computer Science (Institutionen för arbetsvetenskap och medieteknik, Institutionen för programvaruteknik och datavetenskap)
Dept. of Human Work Science and Media Techn., S-372 25 Ronneby, Dept. of Software Engineering and Computer Science S-372 25 Ronneby
+46 455 38 50 00
http://www.iar.bth.se/; http://www.bth.se/eng/ipd/
Authors e-mail: sara.eriksen@bth.se
Language: English
Abstract: In the inter-disciplinary research and development project Design of IT in Use; supportive technologies for citizens? services (DitA), we are studying the use, design and continual support and development of computer support for public administration and information services offered by one-stop shops. Our main focus is on the ongoing integration of such systems with public electronic information systems, and on new developments and design to meet the increasing complexity and diversity of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies). One of the aims of our research is to participate in developing new forms for citizens' access to public services via Internet. The DitA-project is funded by the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems, VINNOVA,
During our ethnographic field studies of work practices in public service one-stop shops, we have observed how closely interwoven people?s on-going choices of action and use of technology are with issues of accountability. This, in turn, has lead us to question whether the importance of considering and supporting accountability issues and needs is perhaps underestimated in the design and development of ICT.
Even when designers deliberately focus on use- and action-oriented concepts such as usability and actability, it doesn?t necessarily follow that accountability surfaces as an explicit issue for design. When it does, it is often narrowed down to questions of human-computer interface design, and focused on system accountability versus the user (form and content of feedback information, etc). However, accountability issues, when explored in specific use contexts, are closely linked to social and organizational issues on a number of different levels. Accountability itself, when focused through the prism of people in action, becomes multifarious and ambiguous, begging further exploration of context and involved relationships. In the DitA project, we have deliberately attempted to focus on the concept of accountability in action and how it can be supported and mediated by the design of ICT infrastructures.
Subject: Human Work Science\Computer Supported Cooperative Work
Software Engineering\General
Keywords: Accountability, design-in-use, ICT for public services