Raoul Freeman: Easy Access
Raoul Freeman, professor and chair, Information Systems and Operations Management, presented “Economics of E-Government” at the International Conference of the National Business and Economics Society in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in March. His article, “IT Management Issue in Digital Government,” will appear in the Encyclopedia of Digital Government (Hershey, PA: Idea Group Reference Publishing, 2006) in July. Freeman describes the fiscal advantages of e-government, which provides the ability for citizens to use services and find forms available online 24/7.
“You can get a lot of things done via computer that you used to have to do at offices downtown,” he says. “The ISC has encouraged the County to do more, and evaluated the effectiveness of these applications. You can see the monetary savings that are engendered by such practice, and how quickly an investment in an electronic application pays for itself.”
Freeman serves as chairman of the Information Systems Commission (ISC) of Los Angeles County, which provides counsel to the County's information technology activities, with an annual budget in excess of $700 million. Over the last 12 years as ISC Chair, he has been involved with projects ranging from overseeing large scale system development projects to reviewing the planning of a new telecommunications network. The agenda of the commission includes E-Government Services; Enterprise Resource Reporting Systems; and Los Angeles Eligibility Automated Determination; Evaluation and Reporting System (LEADER), which is a 10,000 work station welfare system. Freeman describes the impact that his experiences working with the ISC have on his teaching.
“This work allows me to discuss real-world problems of magnitude in the classroom,” he says. “I have been able to show how some of the concepts that I teach in my Systems Development course are used in multi-million dollar projects. I can take issues that arise with the Commission and show my students how these problems are tackled in real life. It makes the classroom a real and living environment, showing what you’re teaching isn’t rote learning out of textbooks.”
Freeman, who earned his Ph.D. in industrial economics and operations research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, served as assistant superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District for seven years prior to his arrival at Dominguez Hills in 1984, and was the founding president of Systems Applications Inc., a computer information systems business in the 1970s. Having turned his expertise into education, he describes his teaching career as satisfying.
“[Our department] has been able to do a lot, assist students to obtain good jobs, train them with theoretical knowledge, and embellish that with practical tips on how to operate in the corporate environment,” he says. “If you’re off in a theoretical cloud, you can’t bring to the students all they really need to know in order to be successful. You don’t want them learning exclusively on the job. There has to be some of that, but if they know what they’re doing, they really have an advantage over the other people coming in from purely a theoretical background.”