Public Sector Management Information Systems

Richard Heeks


Management information systems (MIS) are fundamental for public sector organisations seeking to support the work of managers. Yet they are often ignored in the rush to focus on 'sexier' applications. This paper aims to redress the balance by providing a detailed analysis of public sector MIS. It firstly locates MIS within the broader management monitoring and control systems that they support. Understanding the broader systems and the relationship to public sector inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes is essential to understanding MIS. The paper details the different types of reports that MIS produce, and uses this as the basis for an MIS model and a description of the decision-making benefits that computerised MIS can bring. Finally, the paper describes generic public sector MIS that address internal government transactions, public administration/regulation, and public service delivery. Real-world examples of all types are provided from the US, UK, Africa, and Asia.

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Educator's guide

Synopsis questions

  1. What are monitoring and control systems? What are management information systems? What is the relationship between the two? [part A]
  2. What information does a management information system produce in its reports? What benefits can this information bring to managers? Are there any additional benefits from computerising the MIS? [part B]
  3. What types of MIS are used in the public sector? [part C]

Development questions

  1. Provide one further example of inputs, processes, outputs, and outcomes from an organisational system.
  2. Are there particular problems in measuring outputs and outcomes of public sector organisational systems?
  3. What would be the pros and cons of automated decision making?
  4. Can you suggest any drawbacks of MIS computerisation?
  5. Do information systems have to involve information technology? Justify your answer with evidence and examples.
  6. If you are familiar with a public sector organisation:
  • a developing country software company
  • a developing country government