MPs urge MoJ to put ICT at heart of business strategy

New approach to ICT will help Ministry of Justice get more for less spend, says select committee

The House of Commons’ justice committee has called on the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to make ICT an integral part of its business strategy so that it knows where to target improvements.

In a report on the MoJ’s budget and structure, the committee says that at a time when funds are scarce, it is essential that the ministry can get the greatest benefit for minimum cost.

It also recommends that it appoints a programme management leader for any future ICT projects, who will follow individual project from inception to implementation and be the senior responsible owner.

One of the main achievements of the transforming justice programme has been the establishment of shared services centres, where corporate services are provided across the MoJ according to the committee.

It urges the ministry to promote its shared service centres to other government departments, in order to gain additional income.

Last year the MoJ signed a contract with Savvis to develop a shared services platform for finance, HR and payroll. It is waiting for that to be fully operational.

Chris Pennell, principal analyst at Kable, said: “The MoJ is in a transitional phase as it moves from its current shared services operations to a new model.

“It will need to ensure that the project remains on track and on budget, which is going to be challenging.”

As a result of the organisational complexity of the core department and its agencies, the MoJ has a wide number of ICT systems. In 2010-11 its budget for technology totalled £590m.

In evidence to the committee, the Law Society pointed to a long history of underinvestment in court ICT. It said that it was difficult to evaluate the MoJ’s use of IT because of the complex history of its IT, inheritance of legacy systems and the changing landscape of government ICT overall.

The report says that the MoJ is aware that it needs to introduce new ways of working to help reduce its overall budget by 23% by 2014-15.

It told the committee that over the next 3–5 years it intends to further reduce “run and maintain” ICT costs by more than £100m by replacing or renewing all major ICT contracts under its Future ICT Sourcing programme.

“In procuring by service tower we will standardise services across MoJ, making them much more economic,” the ministry said.

Pennell said: “There have been several critical reports recently from the National Audit Office about the MoJ’s case management systems, which pointed to a need for further investment.

“In addition, there is a lack of overall interoperability which needs to be addressed if these systems are to support the department in its drive to reduce budgets.”

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