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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

Issue 7: Efficient and Effective Use of Technology to Improve Timeliness and Accuracy in Department Administration

GOAL: To efficiently utilize existing information technology and employ new, innovative uses of technology to support department operations and processes.

Progress Achieved

The continuation of the department's leadership role in correctional technology requires the integration of innovative and proven technologies. The Office of Information Technology (OIT) takes great pride in supporting innovation while maintaining critical operations. We successfully addressed each of the opportunities described in the Agency Strategic Plan for 1997-2002, in cooperation with our users. Technological achievements depend on funding and the availability of experienced staff. The problems endemic to the recruitment and retention of technical staff create barriers to the use of technology. A few technical staff members were provided to the Regions but staffing was not funded to support the rapid growth of technology.

Efforts to develop applications vital to safe and efficient operations were very productive. In partnership with departmental leaders, the analysis of the feasibility of a large innovative electronic medical record system was initiated, a large system to analyze the risks and classification of inmates for proper placement was implemented and many analytic reports were developed to support management. To ensure functionality in the year 2000, the use of dates in every computer, software package, program and physical plant system is being corrected.

The expansion of automation is vital to continue the department's leadership in cost avoidance. A system to automate security staff utilization ensures experienced staff are available when needed while imaging is helping to streamline record-keeping. Laptop computers are being pilot-tested to enable probation officers to collect data in the field and upload it to the department's mainframe. Technology has enabled the expansion of distance learning by implementation of satellite downlinks and multi-point video conferencing.

The capability to retrieve timely information was augmented by upgrading mainframe capacity to accommodate an increase in processing and by installing new technology to triple our storage capacity. Access was improved by replacing old computers, developing a single integrated network, updating local area networks and installing new client-server technology.

Objective 7-1:

By September 1998, increase the department's capability to retrieve timely information critical to public safety as determined by desired retrieval times measured in sub-seconds on an average inquiry.

Performance Assessment
  • Computer operations were enhanced by upgrading mainframe capacity from 175 Machine Instructions Per Second (MIPS) to 215 MIPS to accommodate an increase in online and nightly batch processing. Technical staff training and diagnostic tools were improved to more quickly identifies and resolves problems. Keeping staff more informed of system and application changes are resulting in end user productivity improvement by reducing system downtime.

  • New data storage technology was installed to more than triple our storage capacity, increase data throughput, and eliminate downtime by storage failures. An automated tape library system was purchased to help manage and provide access to the large volume of stored data stored and complete backup of data in a more timely manner.

  • A project was initiated to integrate the mainframe, office automation and local area networks (LAN) into a single multi-protocol network using Frame Relay Technology. This preserves the current functionality, provides the increased capacity needed for new applications and growth, helps to support Internet access, and decreases end-user response time. Having single network architecture simplifies network administration and reduces problem resolution time.

  • Workstations were acquired to replace the personal computers in the Central Office that do not comply with Year 2000 requirements or antiquated. LANs were installed at approximately 30% of major institutions and 60% of the Probation & Parole (P&P) offices.

Objective 7-2:

By October 1998, increase the department's capability to manage data critical to public safety and agency efficiency beyond baseline levels established by October 1997.

Performance Assessment
  • The project to replace outdated and overloaded Local Area Network (LAN) processors is proceeding. LANs in all circuit and sub-offices in Region 2 were replaced with newer Windows NT client-server technology. A project was initiated in the circuit offices in Regions 1, 3, 4 and 5 to install a Windows NT Server, a client PC, and networking to begin developing LANs in these locations.

  • Regular performance monitoring checks are conducted at least quarterly to determine the need to upgrade or replace distributed systems equipment. These performance checks are also completed as needed to identify problems with system. This is an ongoing maintenance strategy.

  • We were very successful in installing new client-server technology to replace older mini-computer based systems and to build systems in new areas. Some of the older client-server technology must be upgraded or replaced within the next two years.

Objective 7-3:

By July 1999, accomplish application support system projects described in strategies.

Performance Assessment
  • Providing timely support to the Parole Commission is a ongoing effort. Work in progress includes modification of the maximum-supervision calculation, modification of and addition of data to the conditional certificate of release, and the addition of reasons for extending supervision beyond two years.

  • Health Services determined an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system is needed to streamline access to inmate medical records, to improve services, their documentation, staff accountability and reporting, and to provide comprehensive audit trails. They plan to develop the new system using client-server technology and a graphical user interface. Central and Field Office Health Services and Office of Information Technology staff are reviewing the available systems selected by and with the assistance of an outside contractor. The EMR team developed an extensive list of functional user and technical requirements that are guiding this review. A legislative budget request submitted last year was not funded but we plan to include it in the FY 99-2000 LBR as a funding issue.

  • Timely response to requested enhancements, changes, and improvements to our systems that are essential to local operations is an ongoing effort. The Offender Based Information System (OBIS) forms the core of application programs and data that are essential for the safe operation of our facilities statewide. OBIS is augmented by various client server systems that are increasing in number and size. We use a Work Order system to accept, assign, track, and approve the programming work needed to develop, enhance, and maintain systems. The Risk and Needs Assessment system is an example of a large development in OBIS that was completed to gather data on inmates, analyze risks and properly classify and categorize inmates to ensure placement in appropriate housing. The Roster Management System is an example of a client server system completed to ensure security posts are properly manned with certified staff.

  • User demand for new development and enhancements to existing systems resulting from emergency requests, legislation, and court decisions continues to increase. Rapidly changing technology and a very competitive private sector market for computer skills makes recruitment and retention of knowledgeable staff very difficult for state information systems offices. We have addressed this ever-increasing demand for a larger, stable, and knowledgeable computing work force by using contracted consulting and programmers to augment state staff. This enabled us to maintain the quality and quantity of our completed work, while continuing our efforts on special projects, such as the review and correct programming for transition into the Year 2000 with the Office of the Governor Y2K Task Force . A legislative budget request submitted for funding for contractor support was not funded.

  • Enhancement of the OBIS system to provide top management with critical information is an ongoing project. OIT is constantly responding to the needs of the department by providing ad hoc reports. In the last year, OIT staff has instituted an Internet site to provide both the department, as well as, the public with up to date information on the inmates and the supervised population.

Objective 7-4:

By July 1999, implement IRC approved automation expansion projects that contribute to cost avoidance in state government.

Performance Assessment
  • Implementation of client server LAN automation systems in the major institutions and region offices is proceeding well. LAN servers and network equipment was purchased for each Regional Office and four or five Regional Offices are operational. The purchase of LAN equipment for new institutions is now included as part of the facility cost. LANs and associated equipment were purchased for 12 sites for projects such as the Roster Management System and another 19 sites are targeted for installation during fiscal year 1998-99.

  • Work camps and community correctional facilities were targeted for installation of basic LAN equipment and connection to the Wide Area Network as a part of the Roster Management System project. The implementation of a check-in / check-out system at the work camps and community correctional facilities is in the planning stages.

  • Since 1994, we have installed new client-server LAN equipment in each correctional institution as it is built. This equipment is funded out of construction funds for the facility. This is an ongoing development strategy.

  • Enhancement and improvement of the Sentencing Guidelines module is an ongoing maintenance project. The maintenance changes in progress now and scheduled to be completed by September 1998 include additions to the narratives in the Sentencing Analysis and Guidelines Entry System (SAGES) on-line help system and testing of the Automated Felony Coding Manual search and view options. Work orders are being submitted for additional major changes as a result of recent litigation.

  • We established an Internet server providing public information and an Intranet server for use by department staff only. These are fully operational.

  • The equipment for capturing and transmitting electronic fingerprints to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for positive identification of all inmates during the reception process was installed at all five reception centers. However, FDLE has not provided us with an implementation date on receiving and verifying positive fingerprint data.

  • The project to install a client server system for classification and case management in major institutions has not been implemented to date.

Objective 7-5:

By July 1999, contribute to improved administration of criminal justice by implementing all Information Resource Commission (IRC) approved innovative technology projects.

Performance Assessment
  • The Roster Management System (RMS) will implement an automated security staff utilization system. RMS supports effective use of staff by preparing their assignments based on the availability of experienced staff at specific time periods. The analysis and design for RMS was a coordinated effort between the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and the Office of Security and Institutional Management (SIM). The system was developed and installed by OIT. Staff from Central Office SIM is conducting the training of field staff at ten locations statewide. In addition, equipment purchased for RMS has helped to support the installation of LANs in institutions.

  • A system to electronically monitor inmate movement could be an asset to the security of institutions and the safety of the public, staff and inmates. While proven technology to accomplish this objective is not available, a "bed management system" has been implemented to track an inmate's housing and job assignments. The department has contacted a company that provides more comprehensive electronic monitoring. The problems experienced as this system is being tested in another state indicate that more work is required. Considering the significant investment involved to purchase such a system, a hasty decision is certainly not advisable and we will monitor carefully the experience at the other state location.

  • The establishment of an automated food services production and inventory system was placed on hold.

  • We entered into a Prime Vendor contract for food purchase, inventory management, and deliveries in three of the five regions. This concept takes advantage of private sector expertise in this area, with the goal of reducing food inventories and costs. We are monitoring regional distribution operations in the remaining two regions in order to determine the most cost efficient method of providing this food service statewide.

  • We initiated a contract to provide the hardware, software, and services required to implement the Inmate Records Imaging System. Thus far, 95% of the hardware and 100% of the off-the-shelf software was delivered. The Facility Plan describing the modifications required was completed. A draft Systems Integration Plan incorporating requirements from the department and the Parole Commission was submitted for review. This system will support the Central Records function allowing the records storage at the two reception centers to be phased out over four years. Imaging for the P&P circuit file rooms has not yet been addressed.

  • The Avon Park Correctional Institute (CI) law library has been operational for approximately 6 months. It is providing inmates with access to law library materials and at reduced cost (10% less than for collections in print-only format). CD-ROM major collections were established at Calhoun CI, Hamilton CI Main Unit, and Holmes CI in February 1994. The CD-ROM format is providing inmates with equivalent or better access to legal information (as opposed to print-only collections), at slightly less cost and using significantly less building space. As a result, all future major collections purchased will utilize CD-ROM technology.

  • The Probation Officer Workstation (POW) project is planned to allow probation officers to gather data in the field on a laptop computer. Upon completion of data collection, officers use the laptop to upload the data collected to the mainframe. We estimate this will save time and provide more information quicker. POW was analyzed, designed, developed and user testing was completed. POW is currently in pilot testing in a real-work environment. Additional technical issues involving file transfer were identified and resolution is being sought.

  • Implementation of a new pharmacy system based on LAN technology has not yet occurred. A pilot program was conducted at Washington Corrections Institution with positive results.

Objective 7-6:

By July 1998, obtain the technology support staff levels, create an organization structure and implement policies and procedures that will produce a measurable increase in effectiveness.

Performance Assessment
  • The legislature has not approved the department's requests for additional staff. Improving departmental effectiveness by enhancing technology services and augmenting technical staffing, plus strengthening the organizational structure are critical to performance excellence. Standards for technical staffing were researched through sources such as the Gartner Group to determine the basal and optimal levels based on user needs and expertise. The need for technical support at our field and central offices was evaluated based on those standards and considerations for the volume of new and existing equipment and the number of systems in operation. Legislative budget requests are developed for additional technical staff to support new and existing under-supported projects.

  • Region 3 reclassified three clerical positions form Central Florida Reception Center to provide three additional technology support staff (DCSAs) in FY 97/98. These positions allow for fundamental support of various technology systems at multiple institutions and circuits. Total current MIS staff is 13 serving 3,890 staff.

  • Region 5 increased the technology support staff to a total of 19. The Regional Director approved transfer/reclassification of eight (8) additional positions into MIS. These eight positions have been established and filled as professional/technical positions in each of our Major Institutions and Circuit Offices. This was a reallocation of our existing resources.

  • The establishment and maintenance of policies, procedures and standards is critical to the development and maintenance of application software that satisfy user requirements while complying with software engineering standards. The need for standards, policies and procedures to support professional data processing and software quality assurance practices were analyzed and researched. Standards were implemented to guide the use of electronic mail throughout the department, to secure access to critical systems and the Internet, and to guide the use of personal microcomputers by key staff in their homes. The Office of Information Technology recognized the need for an information systems development methodology to document standards for and to guide development, maintenance and enhancement of systems. Systems Development worked with the department's programming contractor to delineate the standards and procedures for the department.

Objective 7-7:

By December 31, 1999, implement all needed hardware and software changes to successfully move into the year 2000 and the new millennium.

Performance Assessment
  • All mainframe equipment, digital service units, control units, dumb terminals, and printers are Year 2000 compliant. Network routers are leased and will receive a software upgrade scheduled for November 1998. An environment is available for testing Year 2000 compliance for systems and applications programs. All Central Office LAN server software and applications were tested for Year 2000 compliance and two servers must be replaced. All software running on PCs in Central Office is compliant. Region IV has completed their compliance review for PCs and they report that 70% are compliant while 30% have BIOS problems. Testing of field software is not complete.

  • We began our efforts to establish Year 2000 compliance early to ensure all applications would be operational. An extensive effort was also undertaken in cooperation with the Executive Office of the Governor, Year 2000 Project. A coordinator was appointed to lead the Y2K team in reviewing each line of code of the more than 1,000 application programs that operate the department's systems. The Y2K team is identifying occurrences of two digit year fields and correcting them to four digits. Mainframe applications are scheduled for completion before the end of calendar year 1998. Due to the use of new technology, all client server applications are currently Year 2000 compliant. Final testing will be accomplished by rolling the system date forward to significant date/time combinations such as December 31, 1999 at 11:59 in the test environment and then monitoring the behavior of applications as the date changes.

  • On April 25, 1998, the Corrections Data Center successfully completed installation of a total of 104 mainframe system software products including the operating system that are Year 2000 compliant. To ensure compliance, we will test our systems when the upgraded processor is installed. This test is important as mainframe sites nationwide test this system software and as the vendors are revising their commitments. All Central Office LAN server software and applications have been tested for Year 2000 compliance and two servers must be replaced. All software running on PCs in Central Office is compliant.

  • Since technology has permeated all areas of daily life, there are potential problems with transition into the Year 2000 in areas that are easily overlooked. There are embedded microchips in equipment not readily associated with computer systems such as electronic door locks, telephone systems and fire sprinkler heads. Each of these must be checked to ensure those critical systems are operational in 2000. The Y2K team is passing information to security, physical plant, and other department entities regarding which equipment and systems are compliant and which require replacement. Each entity is responsible for determining the criticality of the system, its need for replacement, and for replacing the equipment needed.

Objective 7-8:

By December 1997, increase by 50% the number of General Equivalent Diplomas (GED) received and the percentage change in literacy attributable to distance learning via the department's CDLN network.

Performance Assessment
  • We continue to develop our advanced communications capability. We expanded our original distance learning network of 35 sites, combined satellite and multi-point video conferencing system. Phase I of the network became operational in November 1995. Since then, 13 satellite down-ink sites were added and four additional two-way video conferencing sites were installed, including two pilot sites at institutions for fully interactive inmate education classes.

  • Our expanding video conferencing capability is expanding our formerly limited educational services for offenders and support staff training. The system also provides an efficient and cost effective method of internal and external communication. The primary emphasis of the system is inmate education, vocational training, and life management skills programming. As such, the network continues to contribute to protection of the public by assisting offenders to become productive citizens. Distance learning is rapidly becoming a major force in the field of education, thus we are on the forefront of this educational evolution.
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