Possible Use of Computers and Data Processing Equipment
International Non-governmental Organizations
- / -
Revised version of a note presented to a meeting (Brussels,
1968) of the Federation of International Associations Established in Belgium
(Brussels, 1968); the present English version is extracted from a detailed report
in 1968 on the data processing problems of the Union
of International Associations
at that time (Version
The report is divided into five sections:
a) precedents in the use of computer techniques by non-profit organizations
b) note on typesetting by computer
c) note on research and storage of information by NGOs
d) note on use of a service bureau
e) use of computers by NGOs
Precedents in the use of computer techniques by non-profit
No references could befound to the use of computers by international non-profit
non-governmental organizations.A computer has been installed byat least
two intergovernmental organizations, mainly to keep track ofdocument production
in their fields. The two organizations are the Pood and Agriculture Organization
'of the United Nations in Rome (see FAO and Euratom in Mons, Belgium.
These organizations operate on a scalewhich makes comparison relatively useless
in examining the problems of theUIA.
Three recent references were found to the use of computers by national non-profit
organizations. The U.S.A. AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department Data Center
offers computer services to member unions. The computer has been used for
gathering and sorting information on labour contracts,analysing companies-and
mergers to provide datafor negotiations, as well as processing of membership
and subscription lists. Individual unions in the U.S.A. are also reported
to be making independent use of computers, including the communications workers,
the United Auto Workers, the letter carriers, railroad trainmen, carpenters,
typographical workers. For example, the U.S.A. national trade union called
the International Association of Machinists is reported to have installed
a $ 1.5 millioncomputer in 1952 and has increasingly been able to
upgrade the effectiveness of its union operations by adapting the computer
to more difficult tasks. Prior to installation of the computer, union membership
lists were 18 months in arrears. With a total of 950,000 members and what
amounted to 100 percent annual turnover, it was then impossible to maintain
effective contact through the headquarters office. Currently, 80,000 monthly
changes in membership are processed within two days of receipt of the information,
which enables the union to maintain contact 'by issuing a weekly newsletter.
(see Adams, Alan, Ml)
The article, although it demonstratesthat computers have been,used, effect-
ively for membership societies does not illustrate whether computer ser- vices
could be adapted to the UIA scale of operations.
The second reference was to a U.S.A trade association called the Refrigertion
Service Engineers Society. This organization with a membership of 23,000,monthly
journal mailing, subscriptionlist maintenance, statistics (training courseattendance,
insurance, etc.), reports that it decided to lease classical data processing
equipment (tabulator, cardpunch, sorter, collator). The decision was made
to lease the equipment rather than use a service bureau because although
the actual coat of service bureau operations was somewhat less than leasing,
it was considered that for long. range requirements, the cost of increased
use of. the service bureau would, then far outweigh the possibleinitial savings.
A study of personnel in- volved with the new system revealedthat there would
not be as much reduction using the service bureau as there would in using
leased equipment. After one year of operation the conclusion is that the equipment
does not necessarily reduce costs. The labour costs plus the lease and operating
costs are approximately equal to the former total labour costs. (see Stafford,Willis,
Note on typesetting by computer
The bulk of commercial printing work depends on typesetting, that is the arrangement
of type characters from which the final printed version is produced directly
impression (letterpress), or indirectly by photo-lithography. The
bulk of typesetting is done mechanically by an operator at a keyboard similar
to that of a typewriter. The depression of a key initiates a process which results
in the production of a piece of metal type. Although machines which produce
the type directly on the operationof the keyboard are used (especially by news-
papers), it is more usual to separate, the keyboard from the type casting machine
-- the means of communication being punched paper tape.
More recently photocomposing machines have been introduced which assemble the
characters on film for reproduction by photography. Although these offer
the promise of increased speed of composition, the keyboard ope- ationis broadly
similar to that for hot metal composition. 'A printed page is expected to
consist of justified lines, that is lines of equal length to give a straight
margin at the right and the left. In normal typesetting the decisionwhere
to break the line, and if hyphenation is unavoidable, the word, is made by
the keyboard oper- ator. This is a skilled, time-consuming job, and requires
a thorough understanding of typography and house style. An operator's time
is therefore a significant factor in publication costs. One of the things
the computer can do is to relieve the keyboard operator of the need to make
these decisions, and hence speed up his work and increase productivity. All
the hyphenating and justifying is done for him. Two other main advantages
stem from computer composition. Where the printed matteris to be in the form
of tabulated information, such as bibliographies, directories or dalendars,which
may have to be brought up to data at frequent intervals, the preparation of
the copy can be closely linked with the computer. Insertions and additions
can be easily made for each successive edition of the publication.
The remaining point is that computer composition makes possible thestorage
of texts on magnetic tape. Complete publications can be stored in compact
form, without the inconvenience, wear, and cost of keeping type standing from
edition toedition. The texts can be run through. the computer at any time
to produce the necessary instructions for the copy to be set in type of a
different size, style, orformat, withoutthe texts having to be reset manually
on the keyboard.
An additional advantage in the production of indexes to bibliographics, directories
or calendars, is that the storedtext can be sorted by computer and then printed
ina different order. A two-part directory of representatives of organizations
and of organizations with their re- presentatives, can be produced by preparing
only the more complex half of the text manually. This is then sorted and
edited to produce the other part (see Exhibit 20). In some cases it is possible
for the com-puter to examine individual entries, such as bibliographical references, and
pick out the words to be included in the index.
Typical system and procedure
Exhibit 21 is an outline flowchart illustrating a multi-pass system withcorrection
but without page make-up facilities. The passes are:
Keyboarding of manuscript (if a typed version was obtained at thesame
time the resultwould be as in Exhibit 22), input to computer system via
paper tape containing unjustified text and format control messages. (The
head of the tape carries indications on the factors such as type style and
spacing limits, that are not generally alteredduring the course of a job,
see Exhibit 22. During the first run on the computer, tables describing
the required type face, are loaded from a library tape. By reference to
thesetables, text is composed into lines, justified and hyphoniated as -
necessary, and written to magnetic tape. Simultaneously, a proof print
is produced on the line printer (see Exhibit 23).
After the proof has been read (Exhibit 23), corrections are punched into
paper tape. Corrections may include not only alterations to the text tut
also amendments to the jobspecification and format control messages. During
the second run on the computer, these corrections are in- corporated into
the text file produced ty the first run. At the same time, the revised text
is again composed into lines and written to magnetic tape, and a second
proof is taken. This correction run may be repeated as many times as are
necessary to obtain an error- free output tape. The relationship between
the contents of the original main tape, the corrections tape, and the corrected
main tape is shown in Exhibit 19a.
A further run (not shown in the Exhitit) is used to break up the text
into pages and add page headings and numbers. Indexing could be performed
at this stage. A page proof is provided.
The final run translates the text from computer code into the par- ticular
code used ty the film setting machine or the hot metal caster. The text
is then punched out onto paper tape for input to either of these machines.
The proof printout is all in capitals, with about ten basic symbols to show
shifts and other typographical changes. Each line is identified with a number.
These points are made clear in Exhibit 24. The punched corrections identify
the line in which the correction is to be made and would look the same as
in Exhibit 22, if typewritten simultaneously.
Summary of advantages
composition costs are reduced because
text can be typed ty less skilled (therefore less expensive) personnel
justification and hyphenation decisions are performed ty computer
composition can be optimized saving 5% space per page
additions or modifications to text in the form ofbibliographies or reference
works can be made easily
reference works in two parts (e.g. list of persons within organ- izations;
list of persons cross-referenced to organizations) can be prepared by composing
one part only and then sorting the data automatically
text can be stored in a compact form at low cost
text is always ready for print and does not wear as with cast metal
proof reading is reduced
considerable flexibility in printing only selected portions of the
stored text for different publications
ties in with invoicing, rappels, administrative operations
text can be analysed to prepare indexes automatically.
Summary of uses
Principal applications currently feasible are the prearation of reference
works published at regular intervals giving upated, information, e.g. directories,
encyclopaedias, membership directries, abstracts and indexes, telephone directories,
bibliographies. The stored text can be used for surveys with considerable
advantage sincethey can be made rapidly and the data base can be easily kept
up to date.
A few figures
paper tape original read by computer at 500 - 1000 characters/sec: processing
at 4,000 characters/sec.
computer produces proofs at 1,000 lines/min
alphabetic index of 20,000 entries prepared in-hours rather than weeks.
final page formation in hours rather than in weeks (approximately 30
sec per page).
It is difficult to give an indication of costs except for a definite problem.
In the case of the UIA problem, offers from printers using the classical method
and one using computer typesetting indicated that the latter was cheaper thantwo
offers by printers using conventional methods. This did not take into account
the advantages arising from the ability to produce specialized publications,
The future of computer typesetting
The future in computer typesetting terms is full of conjecture. Machines
producing images by means of cathode ray tubes are coming off the drawing
board and on to the market, and appear to be capable of setting type of an
acceptable qualityat much higher speed; electron beam microfilm printers producing
at the rate of 90,000 characters a second are being discussed; the development
of ultra high speed magnetic drum printers producing a printing image directly
from the computer core and running at. speeds in excess of the newspaper rotary
could indicate the elimination of typesetting as a separate process altogether.
Note on research and storage of information by NGOs
Computers and punched card equipment offer considerable flexibility in the
storage of information for use in subsequent surveys.
Advantages of using computers
compact form in which information is stored
- codes on punched cards (350,000 characters in 40 x 20 x 9 cm)
- information on magnetic tape (1,000,000 - 20,000,000 characters on
information on magnetic disk (about 5,000,000 - 8,000,000 characters
- speed at which the stored informationscan be processed
- punched cards at 1,300 characters per second
- magnetic tape at up to 120,000 characters per second
- disks at about 260,000 characters per second
- complexity and flexibility of processing options which can be chosen
speed at which information, possibly in a different order, on different
tapes and/or disks can be combined
What sort of research can usefully be done on computers?
There are two principal types of research uses:
information is collected and processed once for a single study
information is collected and updated for studies at regular intervals
or in answer to questions
The most useful applications for computer processing are where:
there is a very large volume of information to be checked through, e.g.
10,000 meetings with different characteristics to be evaluated
the volume of information may be much smaller in some cases when the
number of calculations to be performed is very great
Summary of procedures for such computer-aided research
decide very clearly inadvance what questions must be answered by the
produce a schedule so that each possible question can be answered by
specifying one unique code or combination of codes. The schedule should
correspond to the physical imitations of an 80 column card. Into each column
one of approximately 64 characters (0 - 9 and A - Z, etc.) can
be punched, so that there is a maximum of 80 characters per punched card.
Any combination of these characters can of course be chosen.
examine each item on which the survey is being conducted and fill out
one schedule for each according to the codes that have been allocated to
describe each variation. The schedule is known as the punch instruction
send the collection of schedules to a service bureau where the codes
will be punched into 80 column cards on the basis of the schedule design,
so that there is one card punched per schedule filled out
the cards can now be treated using classical equipment to sort then mechanically
into significant groups counting the groups as thisis done. The sort
would be done on the basis of one or more of the codes (holes) on the punched
alternatively, for more complex surveys, calculations can be performed
whilst the cards are being processed on a computer, e.g. the statictical
significance of the data, can be determined, percentages, etc. The results
will be supplied in printed form
if a computer is used, the information on the cards car. be stored on
magnetic tape for later use, in answer to questions relating to the codes
Example of the use of computers for surveys
Data available in typed form at the UAI on 2,500 international organizations
and the international meetings held over the past 5 years .(approx. 2,000
meetings per year) was analysed using punched card equipment. One card was
used to describe the organization. A form schedule was filled out for each
organization and another for each, meeting, each was used to prepare a punched
card. The study resulted in the preparation of approximately 6,000 punched
cards. The cards contained such details as : date of foundation, number of
memers, budget range, geographical location, meeting periodicity, etc. Using
these details and combining them in significant ways an extensive study of
the development of international congresses as they affected the planned construction
of a congress centre in Paris was effected.
Using similar techniques a national NGO in the U.K. recently questioned its
members to discover what preferences they had for the subjects to be discussed
at their forthcoming congress. The questionnaire was used as a punch instruction
document, cards were punched and analysed as above. The organization was
thus ableto balance its congress program to satisfy the maximum number of
members most of the time.
The uses of these techniques to analyse a follow developments in the speciality
of each NGO should now be reasonably clear, e.g. statistics on health figures
in different countries, development and manipulation of education statistics,
storing and retrieving bibliographical information, etc.
It is very difficult to produce a cost estimate without details of the work
to be done. Each case has to be judged on its merits.
The cost of treating information in this way. can be broken down into the
following groups : design of schedule/punc instruction document, filling
out the document for each item of the group to be analysed, punching the details
onto punched cards, processing of the punched cards, analysis of results.
The main costs are the manual work of filling out thedocument onthe basis
of each item. An advantage is that using automatic techniques, no creative
thinking needs to be done when the form is filled out - the work need not
be done by an expert. The expert'stime is confined to designing the schedule
and commenting on the results. The processing cost on classical equipment
is very low (3CO FB/hour maximum). On computer equipment the processing would
be completed very rapidly under normal circumstances and the important cost
would be designing the computer program to produce the desired results.
Note on the use of a service bureau
A service bureau is a means of making expensive equipment available to those
organizations requiring the sophistication of the equipment but who only need
if for a few hours a day or month. There are a number of different types of
service bureau. They may be classified firstly by the type of work they do
and the equipment they possess:
secretarial,administrative, accounting bureau
punched card, classical equipment bureau
computer service bureau
The last two may further be classified according to the nature of the organization
operating the bureau and the purpose for which it is operated:
Advantages of using a service bureau
computer manufacturing companies general possess a service bureau at
their national or regional head offices to assist clients to install their
own computers, to test programs and act as a sales aid.
some manufacturing companies possess acomputer which is speci- fically
used for commercial service bureau work and is not intended primarily as
an aid to sales.
commercial service bureau organisations exist which hire a computer from
a manufacturingcompany but are otherwise completely independent of the
occasionally commercial or semi-commercial organizations group together
and form a service bureau for their own internal use. It is possible to
join such groups which are run on anon-profit basis.
many commercial companies have computers which are not fullyused. It
is occasionally possible to arrange with them to perform a certain amount
of work on a contract basis. . This usually is cheaper than going through
a commercial service bureau.
occasionally universities and scientific research institutes have computers
which are not fully used. It is possible to arrange with them to perform
a certain amount of work on a contract basis.
no investment in expensive equipment which quickly becomes outdated
no responsibility for machine maintenance
no need to have computer experts on the staff at the NGO
only use and pay for the time required to process the data
data can be delivered to the service bureau on normal typed documents.
Transfer of the information to punched cards, etc. is all done by the bureau.
The final results are returned to the NGO.
How would an NGO make use of a service bureau
a) Initial analysis and file creation
it is vital in data processing to be able to define clearly what it is
hoped to achieve by using more sophisticated methods. To do this, it is
useful to discuss the problem with an expert from one or more of the service
bureaux, or from an independent company of consultants
once the problem has been defined, a set of instructions can be written
(a 'program' for the computer) and tested to deal with all the requirements
and exceptions of a particular prob lem. If the problem is complex, several
programs may be re quired.
in order to deal with the data on a computer and at computer speeds,
information currently in a typed form on cards or docuents must first be
converted to punched cards from which the computer can convert it to tape.
In other words, most card files must be converted to magnetic tape files.
once thisstage is reached, processing can be done on a regular daily
or monthly basis.
b) Regular processing
information coming to the NGO each day which needs processing, e.g. changes
of address or invoices, etc. is dealt with, under the new system very quickly.
All matters of routine have been transferred to the computer, only creative
decisions need to be taken bythe personnel; with an invoice for example,
it might perhaps only be necessary to indicate the members or client's number,
code number of the publication he ordered and the discount to which he is
entitled. This information would be punched onto a card at the service bureau
(it could be punched onto the card in the NGO offices if there were sufficient
to justify the hire of the equipment) together with all other similar changes
during the month (say).
the monthly processing would then be done during half an hours computer
time each month and the printed invoices would then be returned to the NGO,
together with monthly account details.
work which is usually more essential to furthering the objectives of
Use of computers by NGOs
Routine problems of NGOs
Every NGO has to face thefollowing routine administrative problems on a regular
addressing letters, envelopes, mailings; etc.
membership fee reminders
maintaining membership lists
congress organization (due payments, invoicing, maintaining list of participants)
production of labels for packages ordered
invoices for publications ordered
different discounts, currencies, number of copies, tax, layout,
monthly and annual accounts
membership statistics, etc.
For an international NGO this problem is made more difficult because of the
need to work in several languages.
What methods are possible for routine operations?
manual system of addressing and preparing, invoices
manual system of addressograph plates and manual preparation of invoices
electrical system of addressograph plates and accounting machines
punched card system for addressing and invoicing (mecanografie classique).
punched cardinput to tape/disk computers for invoicing and addressing
In each case, it is important to determine to what extent the equipment should
be owned, hired or used via a service bureau.
Reasons for considering new methods
most NGOs are concerned with spending the funds-they have at their disposal
as effectively as possible. It is regrettably necessary to devote a certain
portion of these funds to general expenses required to maintain the organization
in working order. If it is possible to reduce the funds expended in this
way or alternatively make it possible for personelto spend less time on
the routine operations and more on developing the activities of the organization,
then the organizational effectiveness can be increased.
it isimportant to consider new methods to discover whether existing
routine activities can be done more efficiently and whetherfunds, personnel
ana equipment can be reallocated in a manner which will inrease the amount
of 'real' activity thus avoiding what might be termed hidden waste,
it is most important to get away from the practice in some organiations
where the Secretary-General himself has to check over the routine operations.
He must be freed to advance the work of the organiation in general.
Main problems of NGOs with respect to computers
lack of knowledge as to how to go about determiningwhether their operations
lend themselves to an economic computer solution.
anxiety and doubt about the costs of computer processing
confidence in and satisfaction with classicalsemi-manual methods
sensitivity on the question of dealing with routine problems in a manner
which smacks of commercial and profit-making attitudes, per- haps leading
to a loss of the special NGO quality
concern that control or understanding of the organization will pass into
the hands of 'experts' who have not got the aims of the organi zation at
concern that specialised and expensive staff will be necessary within
confusion caused by the peculiar jargon favoured by computer experts
- ignorance of the fact that initial consultation with computer experts
is a free service.
Why have Computer Companies and Commercial Service Bureaux not attempted
to contact NGOs?
Many of the above problems also exist within commercial organizations and
have been successfully dealt with by computer companies. The reason that NGOs
have not been approached are:
the lack of awareness of the existence of international organisations
the general impression, shared by business and government, that non-
profit organisations are not efficiency orientated and therefore not interested
in techniques of increasing their efficiency and effectveness
the general impression that non-profit organizations are not suffic-
iently highly organized to have adata processing problem
the fear that the. low budgets of NGOs imply that they cannot allocate
extensive funds to the solution of their problems
the low volume of 'semi-commercial' or routine information handled
lack of approaches by NGOs which would make computer companies
aware of the NGO market (in addition NGOs are perhaps not sufficiently clearly
defined as a class or organizations)
computer companies, but not service bureaux, are. usually more
inter ested in hiring a whole machine rather than partial use of a machine.
What steps can be taken by NGOs and whom should they contact?
For those NGOs which are interested in exploring the possibility of elec-
tronic data processing, any of the following organizations can be of assistance:
the different types of service bureau mentioned earlier, which would
each be interested in discussing individualproblems with a view to their
solution on the equipment they have available
independent programming service bureau which has no equipment but which
will analyse the problem and prepare programs for use on the most suitable
the UIA is planning to prepare a program specifically designed for the
problems of NGOs and which could be used independently by such NGOs, or
with the UIA in a 'pool' [This would lower the processing costs for the
pool as a whole)
independent computer/management consultant firms will investigate the
problem for the benefit of individual NGOs
An example: the solution envisaged for the routine problems of the UIA
The UAI is faced with most of the problems listed above. They are presently
dealt with using a manual addressograph machine and the preparation of invoices,
reminders, etc by hand.
In a commercial organization it is quite probable that these individual problems
would be grouped together into several major operations (for each of which
a 'program' would be prepared). Each operation would be dealt with separately,
one after the other. This means preparing expensive indiidual programs and
then setting the machine up for each different operation. This is a most expensive
way of using a machine and is only justified when a large amount of time spent
in processing relative to the amount of time spent in setting up the machine.
In an effort to avoid the high initial cost of a preparing a number of programs,
and the regular supplementary cost of setting up the machine for each job,
it was decided to adopt a radical and somewhat unconventional solution.
The solution is to do all addressing (publicity, magazine wrappers, etc.)
and all invoicing (including reminders, monthly accounts, etc.) in one operation.
These operations would be performed once a month on a service bureau computer
possibly with the aid of equipment mecanografie classique.
Functions performed by the semi-commercial processing solution
magazine wrapper labels (monthly)
bibliographical list wrappers (monthly)
Yearbook supplement wrappers (quarterly) -advertising campaign mailings
subscription renewal reminders (annual)
information request for calendar of meetings (annual)
information request for Yearbook (every 2 years)
change of address duplicates for internal use
invoices with the following features (wherenecessary):
special comments (to save a separate letter)
total of invoice in words (for a few official departments)
any number of copies
any number of items per invoice
invoice payment reminders to members or customers
totalling unpaid invoices
indicating amounts paid
indicating for which items 1st, 2nd, or 3rd reminders sent
membership fee reminders
congress fee payment
for appropriate groups of items ordered on the invoice
indicating to dispatch department the contents of package by code
total invoice by number and amount (monthly).
total payments by number and amount (monthly)
total unpaid invoices by number and amount, indicating period -
over which the amounts have been due (l, 2, 3months)
total postal costs by group (publications, magazine, advertising)
total sales of main groups of publications
total discounts given for major groups of publications
facility for count or analysis of address file according to any
group of customer codes
facility for producing an up to date membership list
Example of use of correction paper tape (Exhibit 19a)
Example of use of computer typesetting in the composition of a two-part
directory (Exhibit 20)
Typical flowsheet of the computer typesetting process (Exhibit 21)
Example of typed equivalent of paper tape during computer tyepsetting
The sequence of characters and shift indications shown in the block below
is exactly as it would appear on the typewriter which was also being used
to produce the paper tape The string of characters is shown after conversion
into readable text in Exhibit 23.
The specification for the job is as follows:
Job number: ICT/1/67
Job title: Specimen job
Fount: P001, 10 set, 10 point on 11
Measure: 22 ems
Space limits: 8,18,24
Since these differ in every case from the standard job specification stored
in the Run 1 master program a complete specification is punched at the head
of the input tape:
(The symbol t represents the format shift code)
The job specification is immediately followed by the text punched into paper
tape and ending with an EJ code. The punching conventions depend on the type of keyboard in use,
but after translation into Commer Code the complete input string is as follows:
Certain punching errors have occurred, and are marked on the proof print
produced on Run 1. One error however, does not appear on the proof. In line
4 the sequence 'PREDtsPRODUCTION' indicates that the operator made a conscious
error and corrected it by using the word kill function. The unwanted characters
are deleted from the text.
Examples of second proofs as supplied from the UIA printer in the computer
typesetting process (Exhibit 23)
Example of the selection of shift and format keys present on the printout
supplied by the computer (Exhibit 24)
The text in the proof below explains the symbols used.
Possible layout of general invoice / statement of account document to
be produced by computer (Exhibit 32)