GOAL: The department's technology based operations and business processes, as measured by reduction in data retrieval and response time, will operate below the baseline level of 1.5 seconds, on average, in 1997.
[NOTE: See Appendix 7, Department of Corrections Agency Strategic Plan (ASP) 1998-2003 for description of the integration of information technology relative to critical issues in the ASP.]
Depth of Technology Developed:
The department has emerged as a leader in the correctional technology field. Four other states: Washington, Arizona, North Carolina and Arkansas, have used Florida's OBIS System as the model on which to base their own customized versions.
Department as a recruiting pool:
Although some progress has been made, department salaries in the technology field continue to compare unfavorably with those of other state agencies, and staff turnover is high.
Dispersion of sites:
The department operates approximately 300 sites. Implementation of any single automation project among the appropriate sites is expensive due to the large number of sites and the need for standardization and training.
For a department of this size, the technology function is drastically understaffed statewide.
Additional opportunities to share with other states and criminal justice agencies would yield benefits. Prospects for sharing information with the public are more limited because of privacy issues.
Use of consultants:
Consultants can help in many projects to expand and extend technology, from the extension of automated banking into Community Correctional Centers or installation of LANs in the Regions, to overcoming the operational and access problems inherent in the imaging of documents in such form that the department can use them to reduce file space and response time.
Use of the Internet:
Opportunities exist to access best practice information and/or innovative processes via controlled access to the Internet. This can enhance productivity and provide greater opportunities for enhanced internal and external communications as well as provide access to a wide variety of information. In addition, the Internet presents opportunities for presenting and sharing information with a worldwide audience at a minimal cost.
The possibility exists for a system disablement, inaccessibility of information or distortion of information, either due to natural occurrences or intentional acts of techno-terrorism.
Given the size and scope of the Department of Corrections, information technology becomes "mission critical" and requires a viable, highly dependable technical capability.
The efficient and appropriate use of technology impacts the primary priority issue of public safety. This is because accurate, timely processing of offender release dates, revocation rates and disciplinary records is necessary for informed policy decisions to be made. The department is charged by statute to collect statutory and court ordered costs and restitution from offenders under supervision and incarcerated. The department is also required by statute to notify victims and law enforcement authorities when an offender is released from prison. Additionally, the Department is charged by statute with providing the Parole Commission with a shared offender information system, programming and systems analysis support. Thus, both the Secretary of the department and the Chair of the Parole Commission depend on the department's technology section to support missions of their agencies.
Importance of the Information Technology Investment:
The department's information technology strategy provides a long range vision of the major technology issues that support the business processes of the agency. The agency technology plans also support the goals and objectives of the State Annual Report of Information Resource Management and statewide policies recommended by the State Technology Council.1
The purpose of the agency's information technology planning process is to identify the issues that are most important for a successful technology strategy for the next five fiscal years and present them in the agency strategic plan. Due to limitations placed on the ASP by instructions from the Governor's Office, information technology issues have been divided to show integration of technology into strategies having a direct bearing on the two critical issues in the ASP, public safety and programs contributing to recidivism reduction. These technology strategies are enumerated in Appendix 7 of the ASP. The remaining information technology issues of critical importance to the operations of the department are described in this section of the Strategic Management Plan. The emphasis in the Strategic Management Plan is on the agency's business needs and ensuring an adequate technology infrastructure to meet those needs. The use of technology is only effective if it is directed at increasing the effectiveness and productivity of the agency's business process.
Technology offers the department's managers the means to improve efficiency and effectiveness. It has clearly enabled managers to meet the high growth needs of the offender supervision process with fewer staff and other resources.
Needed improvements to Information Technology infrastructure:
The current technology environment of the department consists of a hardware architecture that encompasses all the various types of computers on the market today. This includes large mainframe traditional data centers, minicomputers supporting distributed processing, client server systems offering networked office automation and personal computers providing basic stand alone office automation support.
For the past several years, the department's previously aggressive office automation initiative has been severely set back due to lack of appropriations during the state's fiscal crisis. This has lead to a critical unmet need to replace end-of-life, just plain worn out, or severely overloaded minicomputers and workstations currently supporting office automation. Moving away from minicomputer based office automation and toward a client server based platform offers the department a modern, less expensive, more flexible solution. Replacement of older technology in the P&P offices, plus new implementations in the region offices, institutions, community centers and work camps is the planned strategy. An adequate number of LAN client server support staff, with the appropriate training, will be needed to effectively implement client server LAN systems. Implementation of many of the planned applications depends on this infrastructure being in place statewide. As the year 2000 approaches, the replacement of many of these older processors becomes a critical need, as many of these processors are unable to handle the change to the new century.
The Offender Based Information System (OBIS), the department's bread and butter offender data base system, supports the basic statewide operation of both major institutions and the probation and parole offices. The department's growth projections indicate the need for an additional capacity upgrade in the future. A shortage of programmer and analyst staff has resulted in a heavy backlog of pending maintenance and enhancement requests. The backlog of requested changes, if accommodated, could improve a good system and make it even more responsive to department staff.
The backlog of OBIS change requests is just one indication of a technology support function that is still grossly understaffed when compared with other state agencies of like size and scope. Adequate numbers of technical staff, plus the ability to recruit, train and retain quality personnel is critical to the department's ability to provide high quality information systems.
SM Objective 5-1:
By July 1999, increase the information retrieval capabilities by providing the hardware, software and network infrastructure necessary for improved access at all department sites.
SM Objective 5-2:
By July 1999, obtain the technology support staff levels, create an organization structure and implement policies and procedures that will produce a measurable increase in effectiveness.
SM Objective 5-3:
By December 31, 1999, implement all needed hardware and software changes to successfully move into the year 2000 and the new millennium.
Increased Use of Information Technology and Innovations:
The department has responsibility for many complex tasks that must be accomplished on a daily basis. Many of these tasks, if computer assisted, could result in dramatic productivity improvements.
The computer industry is constantly evolving and many new types of technology are becoming well-developed and cost effective alternatives. The challenge for the department is to identify new projects which are good candidates for technology and to apply the appropriate re-engineering, research and development to maximizing those automation opportunities.
The use of imaging technology, mobile communications, client server LAN based systems, kiosk-style reporting stations in probation offices, payments from offenders by electronic charge or debit cards, and Internet applications both internally and externally all represent new technology concepts that can be used to increase the department's productivity and efficiency.
The department faces a growing demand for Internet-related capabilities, both in terms of information available through the Worldwide Web and in terms of leveraging Internet functions (e-mail, web browsing, etc.) for DC employees. The Internet continues to expand dramatically as a communications medium. Internet technology and features change and grow even more rapidly than general computer technology. This growth emphasizes even more the lack of infrastructure to support current technologies that exists in many areas of the department. Continued development and expansion of the department's "Intranet" (an internal network that uses the Worldwide Web's graphical, multimedia interface) will require additional resources. Both Internet and Intranet applications can increase the speed of information dispersal, make that information more readily available, and increase the quality of information by adding audio-visual and other elements to traditional text-only information.
SM Objective 5-4:
By July 1999, accomplish application support system projects described in strategies.
SM Objective 5-5:
By July 1999, contribute to improved administration of criminal justice by implementing all approved information technology projects.