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Systems Analysis in Government Operations

By Guy Black


Non-defense Federal government departments and agencies are in the second year of program development and budgetary review in the context of a program packaging structure, in which activities with related objectives are grouped in common packages for analytical and budgetary purposes. One advantage in this approach is that activities can then be cost-benefit traded relative to a simplified objective structure. Where activities are complex and interrelated, it is particularly useful to develop a system concept as the framework for analysis. This paper seeks to introduce the concepts and methodology of systems analysis as applied to non-defense government operations. It places systems analysis in the context of an overall systems approach intended to develop and implement the best possible system configuration. A broad overview is presented of the problems of objectives, model building, quantification of system parameters, ambiguities in concepts of benefit, cost, and optimization. The organizational problem of integrating system analysis and program packaging concepts is discussed, particularly for an agency characterized by bottom up planning, extensive and detailed routine budgeting, including comments on control of suboptimization of systems analytical capability directly supporting top management and supporting analytical capability throughout the organization.

DOI identifier: 10.1287/mnsc.14.2.B41
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