No Guarantee


The main argument for licensing computer professionals by state regulatory boards appears to be that such a procedure would protect the public from poor or malicious systems design.

Yet there is no proof - either in history or in the present proposals for licensing - that such a result would occur.

The proponents of licensing - mainly the Sosiety of Certified Data Processors - compare the proposal with the regulations governing doctors, lawyers and certified public accountants (CPA), with heaviest empbasis on the CPA analogy.

But the regulations on each of these groups have not prevented abuses.

Some licensed yet still unsurupulous doctors perform unneeded operations on patients for large fees. State licensing has done little to stop this practice and it appears that self-regulation often ends up to be more selfserving than public service.

The number of lawyers caught up in the net of Watergate should be a reminder that licensing and state-administered examinations do not instill morality in a noble profession.

And finally, the record of CPAs in uncovering such things as illegal corporate camping contributions has been notably blank. The CPAs signed - yes, certified company reports that made no mention of such contributions and it took concerted political and reportorial digging to uncover them.

This is not to say that all dictors perform unneeded operations, that all lawyers are guilty of Watergatetype abuses or that all companies mislead their CPAs.

But it does indicate the existence of licensing has not prevented abuses in these fields and there is no evidence that licensing in the DP field would be any different.

The sponsor of the licensing idea, therefore, should find some new justifications for their proposals if they want to sell them to a wide range of people in the computer community.

To date, however, they have advanced few other arguments for the proposal, relying solely on the need for the public to be proteced from unethical systems.

Unfortunately for tbat argument, people are people, whether licensed or not. Some will be unethical no matter what type of examinations they have passed and some will be unethical no matter how many codes of ethics they have read and signel. Licensing will have little effect on unethical behavior and may serve just to assuage the egos of some in the computer community who are adept at taking tests, rather than protect the public.

At the same time, such a scheine could serve to hold back innovatize solutions to system and progrimming problems, particulary if the personnel who are licensed do not have to prove tbat their knowledge is up-to-date on a regular basis.

DP people should put the idea of DP psofessionalism behind them and work to serve more effectively the companies and institutions in which they find themselves.

Instead of being a "DP professional", programming and sytems people in banking, for example, should be banking professionals, using their DP talents to make banking more effective and to serve the needs of the banking public better. Of course, the example could be repeated for every industry and category. Let's forget the games and politics of societies and other selfinterest groups and get on with serving the public responsibly and efficiently.

Aus Computerworld vom 12. Febr. 75