Thursday, 6 April 2017

IT and TR

As the results of the government review into the TR omnishambles are awaited, I was reminded of just how crap the legendary IT is in probation by the following forlorn query on Facebook:-

Anyone else's pc on a go slow?

Always. The moz-proxy error is a nightmare!
It's on a stand still
Last week was worse
Was it? Ours wasn't too bad then
System went down for a few hours and for those who didn't get thrown off the system it was very slow.
They're slow all the time
Today Is painful
I mean more slow than normal
Yes was more of a nightmare than usual!!!!
Ours were grrrr xxxx

We were told yesterday that the new HMPPS is going to sort out the IT. So that's alright then. What they mean is that they will try to make a badly designed and unfit for purpose system functions slightly less badly. Par for the course.

--oo00oo--

The Public Accounts Committee have been utterly scathing, as reported here last September on the Government Computing website:-

PAC: probation service ICT is “inefficient, unreliable and hard to use”

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has warned of the impact poor ICT systems have had on efforts by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to transform probation services.

In 2014, the PAC said it reported on the changes underway to probation services in England and Wales, outlining several risks and challenges. Now, two years on, it has warned that there is still no clear picture of how the new system is performing in important areas of the reforms. In addition, the “failure to deal with ICT problems” coupled with “serious uncertainty over the impact on providers of lower than expected business volumes” have also undermined the pace of change, the parliamentary watchdog said.

In 2012, the MoJ said it would deliver a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ by reforming probation services. Subsequently in June 2014, it split 35 probation trusts into a public sector National Probation Service (NPS) as well as 21 new community rehabilitation companies (CRCs). The NPS advises courts on sentencing all offenders and manages those individuals presenting higher risks of serious harm or with prior history of domestic violence and sexual offences, while CRCs supervise offenders presenting low- and medium-risk of harm.

The CRCs were in public ownership until February 2015 and then transferred to eight mainly private sector providers working under contract to the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

However, the ability of the CRCs to transform their businesses is being undermined by delays in resolving commercial negotiations. The new owners of the CRCs were chosen on the basis that they would invest in and transform these businesses, with promised innovations including new “one-stop” service centres and the use of ICT systems to free up probation staff time to interact more effectively with offenders. But the transformation has been slower than expected due to difficulties connecting the CRCs to ICT systems within NOMS coupled with lower volumes of business than originally estimated.

The PAC went further in its criticism of probation service ICT systems, describing them as “inefficient, unreliable and hard to use.” The report maintained that successful probation services depend on effective joint-working across various partners, supported by “well-functioning ICT systems”.

But it said, “Probation ICT systems have long been unfit for purpose, which hinders collaboration and frustrates staff who already work under pressure. We were told that the nDelius case management system used by NOMS had to be stripped back so it could be operated by CRCs and NPS regions nationwide as a single system. As a result, this reduced the usability of nDelius and NPS staff regularly raise ICT issues with senior leaders in NOMS.

“Improving nDelius is a priority for NOMS and is particularly important for the NPS who will continue to use the system for the foreseeable future.”

“Most CRCs are installing their own case management systems and ICT infrastructure to increase efficiency and productivity. For this to happen, CRCs needed the ministry to provide a “strategic partner gateway” to link NOMS and CRC systems. The ministry initially planned to deliver this gateway in the summer of 2015 but this was delayed by other priorities and subsequently by increased scope. Though the gateway is now in place, the delay has impacted some CRCs’ ability to transform their ICT systems at the pace they had planned. As a result, the ministry has had to pay a total of £23.1m to 17 CRCs.

The PAC concluded, “In a service that relies on successful joint working between multiple partners, it is essential that ICT supports, rather than frustrates, effective and efficient collaboration. This is far from the case for probation.

“Systems are still fragile and precarious, not least the ICT infrastructure and NOMS’ nDelius case management system, which puts added pressure on already hard pressed staff. The nDelius case management system had to be stripped back so it could be operated nationwide and improvements to its usability were deferred. There have also been delays in providing CRCs with a gateway into NOMS ICT systems.

“The ministry has paid £23m compensation to CRCs as a result. It is crucial that nDelius, the gateway and wider ICT systems are fully functional as soon as possible otherwise NOMS risk further demoralising essential staff and delaying planned service transformation.”

The PAC recommended that NOMS should “without delay” meet its commitments to improve the usability of nDelius and to implement a fully functional and reliable link between NOMS and CRC systems by the end of 2016.

PAC chair Meg Hillier said: 

"There is a real danger the Ministry of Justice has bitten off more than it can chew. It set out with some fervour a programme of reforms not just to rehabilitation but also to the courts and prison systems. Ambition is one thing but, as our committee continues to document across government, delivering positive results for taxpayers and society in general is quite another. Reintegrating offenders with the community is vitally important yet the quality of arrangements to support this is patchy. There is also a continued failure to provide hard-pressed probation staff with adequate computer systems. None of this paints a picture of probation working effectively towards the goal of reduced reoffending. The ministry must not allow other projects to distract it from the task at hand during what is a critical stage of rehabilitation reform and we urge it to act on the recommendations set out in our report."
--oo00oo--

According to this published in December 2016 on the same Government Computing website, the MoJ are not much closer to fixing things:- 

Sopra Steria awarded transitional two year probation ICT services deal

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has awarded a two year outsourcing contract to Sopra Steria that will provide the probation service with ICT functions and support ahead of a delayed move to a ministry-wide common technology infrastructure.

As part of the outsourcing agreement, which is valued at up to £53.8m depending on how long it is required, the company will provide IT services including auditing, testing, programming and consultancy for hardware and software among a number of other functions.

The scope of the contract will relate to supporting probation services in England and Wales before they transition to the common ICT infrastructure intended to be introduced by the MoJ. However, an exact timeline for the proposed switchover has not been provided at present.

“The intention is for some, if not all, of the services to end before the expiry of the term; in which case, the actual cost of this contract may be lower that the estimated amount,” said the contract award notice.

In January, the MoJ awarded Sopra Steria a limited contract extension of up to 12 months in length to provide the probation services with Offender Management National Infrastructure (OMNI) systems as a result of delays to the availability of the ministry’s common ICT infrastructure. OMNI, like the rest of MoJ's ICT estate, was due to be replaced by a combination of contracts under the broad Future IT sourcing (FITS) programme.

By February, a review of FITS saw the MoJ announcing an intention to opt against awarding the second lot of an Application Maintenance & Support (AMS) services contract for the Prisons and Probation Service.

"Following a review of the Future IT Sourcing (FITS) programme, we have decided not to proceed in awarding this contract,” a spokesperson for the MoJ confirmed at the time.

In the intervening months, both the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have raised concerns about the effectiveness of IT use and planning with regard to the probation service. The spending watchdog warned in September that poor ICT systems were hampering MoJ efforts to transform probation services, urging a need for particular improvement of case management systems.

PAC chair Meg Hillier also raised concerns that the MoJ had been overambitious with planned reforms to rehabilitation services as well as the courts and prison systems.

“Reintegrating offenders with the community is vitally important yet the quality of arrangements to support this is patchy. There is also a continued failure to provide hard-pressed probation staff with adequate computer systems. None of this paints a picture of probation working effectively towards the goal of reduced reoffending."

33 comments:

  1. Readers & posters on this blog, the taxpayers funding the UK government, have made attempts at unravelling the cost of the failed & failing probation IT for some time, but without success:

    "Thank you for your email dated 10 June 2014, in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):

    Can you please tell me the costs of IT provision by Steria for probation services (i.e. for probation areas, probation trusts and for noms itself) in the financial years 2006/7, 2007/8, 2008/9, 2009/10, 2012/13 and 2013/14?

    Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

    Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying. I can confirm that the department holds information that you have asked for, but in this case we will not be providing it to you as it is exempt from disclosure."

    CRAMS, Delius, nDelius, OMNI, Lotus Notes, OASys, eOASys, p-NOMIS, c-NOMIS, ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Disclosing this would not be in the interest of secrecy . Secrecy is in the interest of government

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    2. What a joke.Exempt from disclosure my ass. IT is getting worse day by day. Today I spent around ten demoralizing minutes trying to print a document.

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  2. From NAO/Home Office report 26 April 2001, following HMI Probation damning inspection of IT systems. Sound familiar?

    "By the end of March 2001 the NPSISS computer network covered 49 out of the 54 local probation services. From 1 April 2001 there is a new National Probation Service with 42 local areas of which 38 have access to the NPSISS network. Given that the network was introduced into autonomous and locally managed services, this was a notable achievement. The infrastructure has led to improved communication within and between probation services. Links with the Home Office and the systems of other criminal justice agencies have yet to be made.
    - The CRAMS case management system was introduced in 39 out of the 54 probation services, and is used substantially by 16 of these, representing only 20 per cent of the probation service budget. CRAMS has proved difficult to use, and its development, overseen by the Home Office, did not keep pace in all respects with changing business requirements. As a result of the limitations with CRAMS the Home Office has suspended its further development except for essential maintenance of the software.
    - The full economic cost of the NPSISS infrastructure, support and CRAMS is expected to be at least £118 million by the end of 2001, which would be 70 per cent at constant prices above the expenditure forecast in the Home Office s original business case for the same time period. The enabling agreement with Bull is largely open ended, with additional expenditure commitments being made as and when required. Poor specification of expected outputs, weaknesses in service monitoring and inadequate control by the Home Office over the issue of purchase orders contributed to the higher than expected cost of the programme. Since early 2000, the Home Office has held back its pursuit of IT development work because of concerns as to whether new purchase orders under its enabling agreement with Bull would meet European public procurement requirements.
    - The introduction of a national infrastructure and case management system was always likely to present a significant management challenge. However, the Home Office s programme management team suffered from a lack of continuity in its leadership and was not fully resourced to deal with the scale of the issues facing it. In its first seven years, for example, the programme team had seven programme directors. In terms of day to day project management, we found that responsibilities were not always clear, and that communication between the Home Office and the services was not always effective. The Home Office has already recognised some of these issues and the Information and Technology Group for the new National Probation Service is planned to have a complement of around 50 staff compared to the previous effective complement of 12.5."

    So in 2001 the crap IT system was already 70% over its estimated budget...

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    Replies
    1. Given what we know about IT then, the risk of massively privatising and fragmenting Probation Services was, along with many other reasoned arguments, bloody stupid.

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    2. Another long day as a barista. Link to the Home Office document is:

      https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2001/04/0001401.pdf

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  3. Yes, it has been on go slow in the south west all week! We still can't print anything either and e mails come back undelivered! Absolute crap!

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    Replies
    1. Victim Units have been given a new I.T systems Victim Contact Management System VCMS and it is the most primitive, non automated, unreliable system I have ever seen. Development was halted after the first issue and there has been nothing since. It is a work management tool and its likely intention is to reduce staff before VLUs are disposed of elsewhere. My 3 year old daughter's Leap Pad is more sophisticated and I'm not joking. This lack of investment, on top of countless others results in frustration and low morale in loyal staff who become ill, go off sick and wish they were old enough to retire having given life time careers for many, to escape the punitive regime staff endure at the hands of the new Civil Service employer that is the NPS.

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  4. I have had this in a Direct & confidential message but do not know of its veracity: -

    "Hi. I'm told announment on Probation reform has been put back. Apparently CRCs are not happy with all T&Cs - 20 hours ago".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not happy? Get out then you private profiteers

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    2. Some times they can't get out. It says a lot about the state of outsourcing when you can't even sell your contract to another dodgy company.

      https://www.buzzfeed.com/emilydugan/g4s-is-trying-to-sell-a-youth-prison-but-cant-find-anyone?utm_term=.rvEJJB7xB#.ilOrr8dN8

      'Getafix

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    3. Any more information on this, what are they not happy about?

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  5. Can private companies pull out before autumn or do they have to stay till at least autumn?

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  6. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/05/cabinet-ministers-call-prime-minister-strip-liz-truss-lord-chancellor/

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  7. The IT systems - Well you can't polish a turd, but they'll try!

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  8. Working links is great! I love working for them. No idea why there are so many negative comments. They gave me a job even though I have loads of convictions! They don't know about them of course because I have false name and forged some documents. No one else would employ me but working links did. You should stop complaining and get on with it like I have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're five days late...

      And far too easy to spot this April Fool - everyone knows Working Links don't give people jobs!

      Delete
  9. i'm with Interserve and despite an awful shaky few months, things are much better - calls to the helpdesk are picked up in a reasonable time and the person that picks the phone up is generally the one that can solve your query.

    I'm fed up of some of the CRC bashing that has been going on of late. I appreciate I can only speak from personal experience but Interchange Managers (SPOs) are all approachable and fair - i have worked with a few of them over the years and i've not heard any complaints. The only problem i could say is they can be very difficult to get hold of with queries so now and again you're left floundering and putting things on the backburner that really could do with answering.

    Local courts have loosened the shackles of rejecting breach reports - so long as the memo's ok they are happy to ring up for clarification although they do insist you re-send the memo with clarifications rather than just reject.
    Workloads are very high - too high when you need to be breaching, referring, answering phonecalls etc etc and that's definitely something that needs addressing.

    So, all in all it's okish from where i'm standing and I'm sorry for those in CRCs where there experience is not as positive as mine.

    By the way Interserve - can you look at casemanagers salary scale - it should start on £23,500 at the very least.

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    Replies
    1. ahh poor fool, lulled in, these companies have to make a profit, they are in no shape or form doing that, they will cut and cut and squeeze and squeeze.

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    2. Anon 20:07 I don't know which interswere CRC you are with but from where I stand "it is all that bad". Peoples health suffering as a result of them pushing targets, service users not getting any service, not that bad really, NOT.

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  10. I too work for interswerve CGM and would love to know what area 20:07 works in - I agree in the fact that " most " but not all IM's are approachable however quite afew now have no case manager experience ?? as they've been shafted into the role from being programme managers.
    We received an email today highlighting the fact that NPS will no longer be " loosening the shackles " and will be rejecting breaches for whatever reason probably only known to them - numerous colleagues of mine have already experienced breach rejections / failures due to no fault of their own but reasons that the gatekeeping NPS team decided without liasing with said case manager.
    The PSC's regularly get so many things wrong making life very difficult - the majority of staff I speak with feel that their job now entails more administrative duties due to the new model.
    Case loads are far to high ( people have 60 - 100 cases ) resulting in most staff being unable to prioritise as everything's a priority - it's a horrible feeling juggling plates like this knowing at some point your going to drop a few ( which could result in an SFO ) - Staff I know ( I've been around quite a long time ) experienced ones at that have dropped like flies due to stress levels of holding so many cases ( hearing a name and thinking who the halls that , please tell me they're not on my case load ).
    I am heartened however that someone out their in Interswerve land is not doing too bad - may your joy continue.

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  11. Just the word 'Interserve' makes my flesh crawl. 'Purple Futures' was bad enough, but Interserve have now abandoned even any pretence of leading a 'partnership'. They plainly don't give a fuck about Shelter still taking our money and yet barely even bothering even to pretend to provide a meaningful 'Through the Gate' service, no one knows who 3SC are or what the fuck they even claim to do, P3 operate a criteria whereby they only provide support to clients who can demonstrate that they don't need it and otherwise it's just Interserve Interserve Interserve all the way. Better still , despite their transparent efforts to deprofessionalise our service they seem to have some bizarre notion that we might somehow respect their filthy money grubbing organisation and in some way be pleased or even proud to be a part of their 'Interserve family'. Their efforts to try and make us believe that they are our 'friend' or that they could give a damn about the people work with truly make me want to vomit. do they really not understand that as a workforce we have nothing but contempt for them and for everything they stand for? Fuck Interserve.

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    1. Working links are worse !

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    2. Seeing Interswerves " Ingenuity at work " signs on everything makes me feel incensed !!!!! Through the gate staff don't even have access to NDelius so have no bloody idea who they need to contact , hence " we " are told that we have to make contact with TTG staff in whatever prison with ALL our custody cases , which yet again is a massive task , also part of Interswerves Appraisal objectives !!!!!!
      As part of Interswerves model we're supposed to have a " directory of ( local ) services " run by 3SC which is not fit for purpose but supposedly we use them for RAR days as they are " supposed " to be services that are locally commissioned by PS3 to provide CRC's services ( really ???? ) - one service on there is " phone FRANK " again REALLY !!!!! I'm sure courts would love to hear that we completed RAR days by phoning FRANK !!!! - I totally agree with you 22:32 that make me ill , however what makes me feel worse are the management that were previously Probation officers that have sold their soul's to Intetswerve and now appear to have no sign of professional not personal integrity

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    3. Well said interswerve are a deplorable company but always try to hide behind a made up image that they actually care. Do they seriously think that we are unable to see through their greedy bullshit. I wish they would F off and take their daft interchange model with them, they could try using it on their cleaning contracts.

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    4. Here's the thing with PF/Interserve. MCRC now has such a terrible reputation with crown court judges, district judges and lay Magistrates. It really is bubbling under the surface. Directors, or ACOs in old money, have been called to account by the recorder and district judges for such poor quality of cases not being managed. They are rapidly loosing confidence.. So the bemused directors cobble together a very telling email to staff outlining the 'reputational damage' this is causing and people need to sort this out as a matter of absolute importance. Essentially waving a big stick. They, bless their poor corperate souls, fail miserably in recognising that the IT is so poor, the new PSOs are not trained, those poor sods have re located from admin, accommodation and HQ posts that were got rid of during the great run down of Trusts are now holding 70-80 cases with the most half arsed on the job training , no idea about OASys sentence plans, RMPs, breach reports, evidence to support breaches, when to breach, HDC, ROTL etc etc etc.... Then, surprise surprise, these people leave in droves, and the cases left behind are by any standard in an absolute mess. The good old boys and gels who now hold nice fancy titles like Interchange Director are literally clueless..... completely out of their collective depths. The so called DOS (Directory of Services) to support RAR activity..... well it is merely just a poor quality spreadsheet that is at best described as embarrassing and at worst... well its just criminal. So what do you do when you are handed another dozen or so re allocated cases that on inspection really does turn your blood cold? You draw a line under the past management and move forward. Sod reputational damage if it is in a unrecoverable mess then send it back from whence it came saying not in my name... or return it to court in your name but having to expose the mess.. This is left at PSO/PO level to sort with that great management default phase ringing in your ears "Just do your best".... leadership at its very best... Yvonne T, if you happen to read this blog, I know you or at the very least your bright young things do... either hand back the keys or come down to the coal face and turn over some stones and see for yourself..

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  12. 20:07 !!!!!! Is that you Yvonne ( Thomas ) or is it Ian (Mulholland ) ?? far too much Interserve management speak or is their new exec Debbie what's her face from Sodexho trying a little PR - I rest my case your honour !!!!

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  13. http://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/holiday-let-plans-for-former-home-of-probation-service-1-8478400

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    1. Plans have been submitted to convert the former Alnwick offices of the probation service into self-contained holiday accommodation. The applicant, Mrs Georghiou, has lodged a change of use application for 27 Bondgate Without to make it a holiday let. There would be no external changes made and only minor internal alterations. As previously reported, the property, formerly the home of Northumbria CRC (Community Rehabilitation Company), was put up for sale last August. At that time, the company said that it was looking to move away from its current premises, but intended to keep a presence in Alnwick.

      In a statement to the Gazette, Northumbria CRC director, Dave Gardiner, added: “This move is part of our new estates strategy to offer a more welcoming, open-plan environment to support our rehabilitation work.” The premises, which was marketed by GVA, has since been sold and the change of use application was submitted last month. This week, a spokesman said: “Northumbria CRC is currently negotiating new premises in Alnwick town centre and will be maintaining an active presence within the town. We hope the premises will be fully operational soon. “In the meantime, we have a range of interim arrangements in place operating within the community and also from our other offices within the county of Northumberland.”

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  14. Looks like Liz Truss is in the firing line again.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/06/new-blow-justice-secretary-liz-truss-mps-say-scrap-plans-prison/

    'Getafix

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  15. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/07/bereaved-families-bring-case-against-government-over-prisoner-suicides

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  16. Prison officer has throat slashed by prisoner.

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/39517326

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