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This case study concerns a system that generated a contentious U.S. State Department report on global terrorism. For over 20 years, the Department produced and published an annual, nonclassified, retrospective Patterns of Global Terrorism report. However, the report for 2003, published on April 29, 2004 was criticized as an attempt to misrepresent data for political advantage. This case is based on official documents, transcripts, and news articles available on the Internet in mid-July 2004. It summarizes the way the situation unfolded and provides a glimpse at how people tried to figure out what happened and how to explain what happened. Although this case occurred in a highly charged political environment, it involves many information system and organizational issues that are important in building and maintaining information systems, especially those that require categorization, coding, consolidation, and interpretation of data regarding customers, employees, sales and service activities, and the surrounding environment.


Originally published in Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 14(4), 2004, pp. 76-92.

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