IT Strategy in the Criminal Justice System

This report is for the attention of the Lord Chancellors Department (LCD) in relation to the IT strategy implemented in the Criminal Justice System, the LIBRA project. The project was originally initiated on the grounds that the existing manual computer systems for the Magistrate Courts was labour intensive, non cost effective, slow, complex and at times inaccurate due to human error. As a consequence court 'casework' records had been delayed in transit, causing court hearings to be delayed, postponed or even sometimes abandoned due to irregularities in procedure resulting from documents being lost in transit.

(Appendix A: Diagram 1) The need was apparent that a new efficient IT infrastructure and strategy was required to meet the organisations demands of electronically exchanging information such as 'casework' records between the Magistrate's Courts of England and Wales. The result of the initial analysis of the unreliable existing system meant that in 1997 the LIBRA project was scheduled for development with Private Funding Initiative (PFI) funding. The system was intended to serve as "a national automated electronic case working and administration system to serve all of the magistrate's courts in England and Wales".

Objectives The objectives of this report are based around the analysis of the current LIBRA project and resulting in recommendations being made as well as an alternative solution to be designed in response to a successful major change made by the LCD department. The following stages have been taken from the LIBRA project case study and will be referred to in all of the analysis techniques used in this section of the report. 1. In 1997, the LCD initiated the LIBRA project to develop a national automated electronic case working and administration system to serve all of the Magistrates Court's in England and Wales

2. The project was seen by the New Labour government as a way of using private investors to finance public infrastructure projects. The government started the PFI in order to gather such finance. 3. The LIBRA project contract was awarded to ICL (later Fujitsu) for i?? 183m. PFI were responsible for awarding the contractors. 4. Due to a disagreement with the LCD over delays and spiraling costs, the project came to a halt. 5. Talks continued until 23rd July 2002. The LCD ended the Fujitsu contract for the entire LIBRA project. The project was sectioned into three parts.

Fujitsu were allowed to keep the first section of the project, which involved the development and supply of office automation hardware and software and a national network. They charged $49 million more than the original contract. The second section of the project was the supply of off-the-shelf case working software; the third section involved integrating the software into the existing IT systems run by the magistrate courts and the other criminal justice agencies. The choice of contractors to carry out the work on these sections was not yet decided as of September 2002.

Because of the sectioning, discrepancies arose with the IT staff who where expecting to work for Fujitsu Services with the LIBRA contract. Until the second and third section is contracted IT staff will be still unsure about their future. 6. Two new court buildings were erected in Worcester and Kidderminster. These were seen by many as "pathfinder projects" to test that these new buildings would successfully link up to the LIBRA project. It was at this time that problems linking the IT strategy to the physical implementation were first noticed. 7.

The PFI used inappropriate contractors such as Rentokil (best known for their pest control business) who charged i?? 550 for network sockets when at most electrical stores these sockets retailed at around i?? 120. However Rentokil argued that they followed LDC specifications. 8. A study was carried out showing that three times the workstation points was needed. 9. Additional fibre-optic data cables were installed by the original contractors, Fujitsu. Fujitsu's survey of the completed Kidderminster building suggested that extra cabling and power points were needed to bring the building up to LIBRA standards.

Comparison with Earls (1989) Nine Factors Using Earls (1989) nine factors (see Appendix A) to show that IS/IT in the LIBRA project is a strategic issue. "IT is a high-expenditure activity" The SG illustrates the strategic route of which the LIBRA project took in terms of LIBRA's dependence of IT against the strategic impact on the business. The first major stage (1), was the initialisation of the project, the strategic impact on the organization is low at this point because the system is useful but has low business potential.

The dependency is also low because the new system may improve operations, but not essential. As money was invested (2) into the project through the PFI we see a slight change as the project moves more towards the strategic quadrant of the grid. The decision to contract ICL (3) to implement the entire project was a critical decision although later became the first fault as we shall soon discover. Next (4) because of the LCD announced changes to the specification disagreements arose and consequently and the things changed drastically for the worse.

This disagreement caused the IT caused the project to come to a halt. Looking at the SG for this stage we see that the strategic impact on the project was high as this was a critical decision however it had not change in operations hence the dependency level becoming lower. The final decision (5) from the disagreement was paramount in the continuation of the project, however it came at a cost and caused problems with the human resources management, as IT staff where without work.

This moves this stage into the strategic quadrant, however this decision will prove to be a fault in the long term, but this shall be discussed later. The decision (6) to test the feasibility of the system in newly built courts buildings illustrated the first major problems in the LIBRA project. However this decision was a very strategic one but should have been thought about earlier on in the LIBRA project. The SG illustrates how this stage is both critical impact and IT dependency wise because with testing the IT infrastructure would fall apart in the real world, and consequently did.

Stage 7 was a consequence of the PFI's involvement in the choice of contractors. As this stage is a consequence and not a decision we cannot plot this on the SG. The decision (8) to carry out a study proved vital to the continuation of the project. It was a result of this study which showed that there were major discrepancies between LCD and contractors over the project specifications. This decision was therefore placed quite high strategically and the impact on the project was also high.

The survey carried out by Fujitsu (9) was very high impact strategically as this paved the way for all of the new and existing court buildings specifications for cabling and infrastructure. It can also be said that the survey was high dependency upon the project. The Index Matrix The index matrix shown above is split into three sections or zones. Zone 1 represents the Stand-alone or support applications, Zone 2 is DP or 'factory' applications and Zone 3 is Strategic applications Justification of the plotted points on The Index Matrix

The Index Matrix illustrates the benefits of each decision set out in the stages discussed earlier. The Matrix should be used to improve the categories and to 'spread' the benefits from IS/IT as widely as possible throughout the organization. The index matrix shows both the benefits and the beneficiaries of an IT development. The first IT development (1) was the decision to start the LIBRA project. This was a Functional Improvement because it was the right thing to do and applied to the functioning of the divisions within the organization.

The second stage (2) was placed on the matrix in the Service Enhancement cell because the PFI funding was beneficial to the whole organization and was effective in the way that it was doing the right thing for the LIBRA project. Awarding ICL the contract (3) was placed in the Organisational Integration cell because the PFI believed they were doing the right thing by involving a company such as ICL in the project. The decision would be of benefit to the whole organization.