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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Michael D. Crews, Secretary

Strategic Management Issue 5: Using Technology Efficiently and Effectively to Improve Timeliness and Accuracy of Department Administration.

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.]

Key indicators:
(Baselines indicated in parentheses)

 

  1. Level of Corrections Data Center (CDC) capacity. (95/96: 24 months estimated capacity life)
  2. Capacity level of distributed processing systems. (95/96: 2/3 distributed systems at or beyond estimated capacity life.)
  3. Implementation status of approved information technology projects. (As reported annually.)
  4. Number of approved information technology projects implemented. (As reported annually.)
  5. Number of technical support staff compared to recommended baseline of 0.8% of department staff. (95/96: 0.48%)

Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Anlysis

Strengths

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.

Weaknesses

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.

Staffing:

For a department of this size, the technology function is drastically understaffed statewide.

Opportunities

Data sharing:

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.

Threats

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.

Condition Description, Objectives and Strategies

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.

Strategies:

  1. Enhance the operations of the Corrections Data Center in order to provide mainframe computing, network, operations and telecommunications support on a twenty-four a day, seven days a week basis. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services
  2. Provide upgrades to the central processor and other peripheral equipment at the Corrections Data Center over the next five years, as needed, to support the growth of the offender information system activity. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services
  3. Replace outdated and overloaded processors at probation and parole circuits and major institutions with a client server LAN based system. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services; Other Org. Units: Regions
  4. Install client server LAN based system connections at all department sites, including probation and parole officers, major institutions, region offices, community facilities, and work camps. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services; Other Org. Units: Regions
  5. Install appropriate computer equipment and systems in each new facility as it is constructed. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services; Other Org. Units: Security and Institutional Management, Administrative Services; Regions
  6. Provide upgrades to existing LAN and client server systems over the next five years, as needed to support the growth of the offender information systems and other department activities. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services; Other Org. Units: Regions
  7. Add additional statewide area data circuits with sufficient speed and capacity to match the department's growth, and upgrade to newer network topologies and protocols (ATM) when available statewide from the Division of Communications. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services; Other Org. Units: Department of Management Services (Division of Communications)
  8. Obtain cost effective hardware maintenance and repair services for department computer equipment to provide continued availability and to protect the department's financial investment in the equipment. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services.
  9. Acquire workstations in sufficient quantities so that every staff member who has a legitimate need has access to a workstation to perform his/her everyday duties. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services; Other Org. Units: Regions.
  10. Replace old, worn-out and obsolete equipment with updated models capable of exploiting new functions and features of application systems, including workstations accessing department systems and workstations accessing statewide systems such as SAMAS, COPES, SPURS, and FCIC/NCIC. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services; Other Org. Units: Regions.
  11. Provide access to applications (including any applicable access fees) at other sites, including statewide systems, other criminal justice sites and other state, local, and federal government 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.

Strategies:

  1. Obtain legislative approval for additional central office and field information systems support staff to achieve the recommended level of 0.8% of department staff. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services; Other Org. Unit: Regions
  2. Develop and implement, by the required timelines, appropriate formal policies, procedures and standard practices in order to comply with state rules and statutes relating to information technology issues. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services

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.

Strategies:

  1. Obtain necessary hardware replacements and upgrades to ensure all processors are year 2000 compliant. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services
  2. Complete all software maintenance to the Offender Based Information System (OBIS), Cashless Canteen/Inmate Bank System, Computer Assisted Reception Processing System (CARP), and other department applications to correctly process dates into the next century. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services
  3. Ensure all systems software running on the Corrections Data Center mainframe processor and all processors at distributed sites are year 2000 compliant. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services
  4. Assist other areas of the department to become aware of the millennium change problem in sufficient time to seek out solutions or to take corrective action. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services

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.

Strategies:

  1. Provide timely responsive support to the Parole Commission by making needed enhancements and changes to commission systems to reflect legislative, court decisions, or other operational requirements. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services; Other Org. Unit: Parole Commission
  2. Provide timely response to requested enhancements, changes and improvements to the department's basic support software systems (offender data base, reception center, cashless canteen, inmate bank, etc.) in order to meet changing operational needs. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services
  3. Secure out-sourced technology consultant and programming support to augment MIS staff ability to respond to emergency requests, new legislation, court decisions, and change request overflow. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services
  4. Enhance the capabilities of the offender information system to provide top management with high-level critical information on a daily basis. Lead Org. Units: Executive Services, Other Org. Units: All assistant secretaries
  5. Continue to enhance and improve the computer assisted Sentencing Guidelines module of the Offender Information System. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services
  6. Convert all community facilities from the mainframe inmate banking system to the distributed system for cashless canteen and inmate bank.

SM Objective 5-5:
By July 1999, contribute to improved administration of criminal justice by implementing all approved information technology projects.

Strategies:

  1. Establish an automated food services system, that aids in production planning (correlating the master menu to consumption to inventory and purchasing), retains historical and managerial data ( the collection and subsequent synopsis of key elements of food services), and provides communication and information flow (via a statewide network connecting all food service sites). Lead Org. Unit: Administrative Services, Other Org. Units: Security and Institutional Management; Executive Services
  2. Expand the amount and quality of information on the department's worldwide web site (internal and external) to reduce paperwork and manual handling of information requests. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services, Office of the Secretary (Information Services)
  3. Develop and implement, beginning with Central Office, a controlled-access Intranet system consisting of internal documents, work group bulletin boards, training applications, and other components. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services
  4. Develop and implement, and regularly maintain and update, a comprehensive public information web site with online documents, access to inmate and institutional information (text and graphics), automated information inquiries, "virtual tours", and other advanced web-based multimedia. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services, Office of the Secretary (Information Services)
  5. Research and implement new applications on the Internet for use by appropriate department units and staff. Lead Org. Unit: Executive Services

END NOTES:

  1. State Strategic Plan for Information Resource Management: FY 1996-2000, Information Resource Commission, State of Florida, February 1996.Return to Reference