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Overload!: How Too Much Information is Hazardous to Your Organization by Jonathan B. Spira

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CHAPTER 18

GOVERNMENT INFORMATION OVERLOAD

If a little knowledge is dangerous – where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?

—Thomas Huxley

There were 23,911,691 government employees in the United States (including uniformed military, federal, state, and local governments) as of 2010. Of this number, almost 12 million are knowledge workers, making government knowledge workers the largest single such contingent in the United States, which has a total of 78.6 million knowledge workers.

In many respects, these government knowledge workers are no different from their peers in the private sector. They receive an average of 93 e-mail messages per day, lose around 25 percent of their day to Information Overload, and spend only five percent of their time in thought and reflection.

A survey of government and education workers conducted by Xerox and Harris Interactive found that 58 percent of those surveyed reported spending nearly half of their average workday filing, deleting, or sorting paper or digital information. Analysis by Basex found the cost to taxpayers of spending over half the day managing information is approximately $31 billion in the aggregate.

The same survey also found that 38 percent of government and education workers said that they had to redo reports or other work as a result of not finding the correct information. Twenty-four percent said they later discovered they had used the wrong information in preparing their work, and 37 percent agreed that their ...

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