Harry Fletcher, NAPO assistant general secretary, said, "Our experience of probation-service IT over the last seven years has been
disastrous. We hope that the Home Office has learnt the lessons of the past and will continue to consult with users."
The two-and-a-half-year contract, which begins on 1 January 2002, will cover support and maintenance of the probation service's IT infrastructure, desktops and the controversial Crams case management system.
Earlier this year the National Audit Office (NAO) criticised the Home Office over the state of the probation service's IT. Auditors found mismanagement and said that the Crams system was difficult to use and incapable of keeping pace with changing business needs.
Whitehall sources confirm that a new contract to replace Crams is expected in 2003 or 2004.
The interim deal with Integris is designed to help resolve long-standing problems in the probation service's information systems strategy. Officials have confirmed that another deal will be negotiated in the future to take the service's IT strategy through to 2010.
A spokesperson for the National Probation Service said, "This deal puts the probation service on a firm footing and builds on the work that has been done to remedy gaps identified by the NAO."