IT outsource deal key for Probation

The Probation Service is preparing a large outsourcing project in an effort to improve its poor technology track record.

The Probation Service is preparing a large outsourcing project in an effort to improve its poor technology track record.

Problems with its Crams case management system and poor network performance led to threats of industrial action by Probation Service staff in 2002.

In 2001, a National Audit Office report described Crams as outdated and difficult to use. In September 2003, an interim review by the Inspectorate of Probation reported that there were still problems with the system.

The Home Office is seeking a private sector partner as part of its Steps2 contract, which will be in place in 2005.

Prospective suppliers have been asked to propose a new IT infrastructure for the Probation Service. It currently uses a thin-client infrastructure based on Citrix and Windows.

Steps2 will replace an existing £50m contract with systems integrator Steria, which was signed in 2001. The interim deal covers management and support of Probation Service IT and Crams.

The Probation Service's future outsourcer will assume responsibility for Crams and the development of its replacement, Salsa.

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