Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO), said, "This is an encouraging development but it is crucial that the CPS, to avoid repeating previous Home Office IT debacles, should employ civil service IT specialists to oversee the implementation of the case management system."
In recent years the Home Office has suffered several serious IT failures, including those at the Passport Agency, the Probation Service and the National Immigration Service.
Under the terms of the 10-year contract, Logica will provide an outsourced service supporting the desktop environment, existing IT infrastructure and back-office functions.
Logica will also develop the new case management system, which is due to be completed by the end of 2003, across all the 42 CPS areas. Development work on an earlier, much-criticised, case management system was halted in 1998.
Fletcher, however, urged the CPS to liaise closely with users over the development of the system. He said, "It is absolutely crucial that it is IT specialists, not civil servants, that run the scheme and that user focus groups should be referred to at all times."
The criminal justice system has suffered from poor base-level IT for the past 10 years, he added.
In October 2001 a review by Sir Robin Auld recommended the dismantling of the Ibis system which links the six main IT systems used by criminal justice agencies. The review followed a report from the Public Accounts Committee in August 2000, which found that IT in the criminal justice system is being developed "from a very low base".
Logica, however, plans to draw on expertise gained while constructing case management systems for other government agencies, such as schools inspectorate Ofsted, in its work with the CPS.
Ros Allen, director of Logica's government division, said, "Over the past five years we have gained considerable experience in building mission-critical case management systems."
The company has recently won a series of public sector contracts, including a £13m SAP implementation at Haringey council in North London, and a contract to advise the e-envoy on smartcard strategies.