Probation Service none the wiser

A year after the National Audit Office highlighted the problems in the Probation Service's IT strategy, the organisation...

A year after the National Audit Office highlighted the problems in the Probation Service's IT strategy, the organisation continues to be dogged by poor project management, according to a leaked report.

Leslie Willcocks of Warwick University, author of the report, expressed concern that the service had signed an IT upgrade contract "without nailing down exactly the scope and cost of the technology upgrade that Integris [the supplier] seems now to be embarked on defining".

The report, commissioned by the Probation Boards Association, also raises questions about the management of the service's contract with its technology partner Integris to upgrade its IT systems under a two-and-a-half year deal signed last year.

The upgrade contract is for initial implementation of the Standard Technical Environment for Probation Services . This covers support and maintenance of the IT infrastructure, desktops and case management system.

But the IT will need effective project management if the contract is to succeed, Willcocks said.

"I am far from convinced that the Probation Service has made an adequate commitment to building project management as an organisational, as opposed to just an IT function," he added

A Home Office spokesman said, "This is a missed opportunity given Willcocks' knowledge of IT management issues." The report is based on old information that has already been well aired, he added.

Integris formerly owned by the service's long-term IT supplier, Bull, was recently taken over by systems integrator Steria.

Last week a report by the Commons' Public Accounts Committee said there were faults with the tendering process and project management of the National Probation Service's contract for a nationwide information system.

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