Importance of Computers in Government

Not only are governments big consumers of technology, but they help to develop it as well. As you will see in chapter 8, "The Internet" the U.S. government played a key role in developing the Internet. Similarly, NASA has been involved in the development of computer technologies of all sorts.
Today, computers play a crucial part in nearly every government agency:
» Population. The U.S. Census Bureau was one of the first organizations to use computer technology, recruiting mechanical computers known as "difference engines" to assist in tallying the American population in the early 20th century.
» Taxes. Can you imagine trying to calculate American's tax bills without the help of computers? Neither could the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, the IRS now encourages taxpayers to file their tax returns online, via the Internet.
» Military. Some of the world's most sophisticated computer technology has been developed primarily for use by the military. In fact, some of the earliest digital computers were created for such purposes as calculating the trajectory of missiles. Today, from payroll management to weapons control, the armed forces use the widest array of computer hardware and software imaginable. (see Fig. 1)
computer technology for use by the military
Fig. 1: computer technology for use by the military.
» Police. When it comes to stocking their crime-fighting arsenals, many police forces consider computers to be just as important as guns and ammunition. Today's police cruisers are equipped with laptop computers and wireless Internet connections that enable officers to search for information on criminals, crime scenes, procedures, and other kinds of information.

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