|Goal 1-4: Enhance technology use to improve inmate incarceration and offender supervision.|
The protection of the public is the foremost responsibility of the Office of Information Technology (OIT) as it supports every facet of the operation and management of the Department of Corrections statewide. OIT plans, develops, maintains, operates and enhances the computer systems and the technology infrastructure necessary to ensure the safety of the public through the work of the more visible departmental functions. Security and Institutional Management and Community Corrections form the core of the mission of the department and the majority of the work of OIT. In addition, the technology associated with the development of institutional facilities, the provision of health care and data sharing are vital to the achievement of the goals of the department.
External forces impacting applications and technology include the public's expectations as reflected in legislative enactment and court cases that make changes in the law enacted. The department is able to accommodate these expectations by the development of new programs in institutions and community corrections and information systems by OIT. The discussion that follows provides a high-level view of the use of custom applications and information technology in the largest functional areas to illustrate the strategic necessity for technology.
Operate Safe and Secure Institutions and Minimize Disruptions in Correctional Facilities
Protecting the public by effective incarceration of inmates is the highest priority of the department supported by systems for Security and Institutional Management. Technology has helped to improve prison function and reduce escapes by making equipment and systems available to support security operations and by providing information to other criminal justice agencies and the public. Safety and security in institutions is improved by implementation of systems to determine inmate classification, effectively schedule officers to posts, calculate release dates, determine inmate housing requirements, calculate the risks and needs associated with individual inmates, arrange rehabilitation experiences and track membership in Security Threat Groups.
Supervise Offenders Safely and Effectively in the Community
Safely and effectively supervising offenders and inmates on work release in communities, also the highest priority, is supported by Community Corrections. The public expects that those convicted of crimes are held accountable by receiving the prescribed punishment, paying restitution and not re-offending. Community Corrections has implemented systems to assess risks and program needs and to track offender work, residence and behavior while advising the sentencing/releasing authority of the offender's progress. The Probation Officer Workstation system is an innovative approach to supervision by gathering information for case management in the field and advising of high-risk contact requirements.
Construct and Maintain Sufficient Prison Capacity
The use of systems by Security and Institutional Management over the last 18 years has helped to enable the department to use existing physical plant facilities more effectively. These systems include applications for shift management of Correctional Officers, inmate bed management and control of inmate movement. The department is designing new institutions with technology and new workflow changes in mind.
Provide Constitutionally Mandated Quality Health Care to Inmates
Health Services depends on systems to gather information regarding inmate health and plans to implement a new cost effective replacement for manual paper-based systems. As health services technology and technologies such as image processing have improved, it is possible to streamline record keeping and retrieval while controlling costs and workloads. A study evaluated the use of new technologies to gather and retrieve information regarding inmate demographics, signs and symptomatology, test ordering and results, treatments and medications, patterns of usage of health services and inmate co-payment. The benefits over a conventional paper health record include improved quality of care arising from information availability, increased capability for managed care and a reduction in the effort and costs associated with using and maintaining files.
Data Sharing with External Entities
The department shares information regarding inmates and offenders under supervision with a multitude of local, state, federal and private entities supporting public safety and public information. Information is also provided via the department's Internet site to the public and via the department's Intranet to authorized law enforcement authorities. Special attention is given to those offenders, such as sexual predators, who present more of a danger to communities. The department also provides information to other criminal justice agencies via the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Information System to facilitate their public safety work.
Technology Infrastructure, Applications Programming and Support
Technology is advancing so rapidly and seems to be so accessible that anything seems possible; however, rapid change makes large investments in new un-proven technologies risky. The department must control risks while satisfying the public's concern for safety. The department's applications systems cannot function without staff to develop and maintain the programs. The systems cannot function without software and equipment. The equipment cannot function without the staff and services needed to operate, maintain and upgrade them. The department restructured its technology operations to enable effective control of its application software and mainframe and microcomputer equipment operations and support. This was done to ensure high-quality staff could be managed effectively in different areas of technology. Multi-year strategic planning is necessary in each area of the technology environment to enable the department to address the need for new systems using new technology. The Chief Information Officer integrates these functions to address the department's rapidly evolving needs.
Improve Average Mainframe Information Processing Rate
The department's mainframe application systems are critical to the daily operation of institutions and other facilities and the tracking of inmates and offenders in community supervision. Critical security and management functions require reliable operation and quick response times to ensure the safety of correctional officers, probation and parole staff, inmates, offenders and the public. Although the mainframe is a proven operational environment, improvements in the hardware, operating systems, utilities and networking are occurring at a rapid rate.
The power and flexibility of mainframe hardware are increasing while its size and cost are decreasing. It is now possible to provide a reliable environment that serves client-server and web-based applications, as well as production mainframe applications systems. The maintenance of satisfactory response times while accommodating expanding legacy applications and the introduction of new functions and connectivity within a failsafe production environment requires careful planning and procurement of staged upgrades to hardware and operating systems software. New CMOS mainframe technology allows the addition of processors as demands increase. Expanding data storage and access requirements while maintaining response time requires the use of new storage methods such as silos for tape storage and access and new mass direct access storage technology. The department is consolidating three networks into a single network to improve network speeds, simplify connection and maintenance and reduce costs.
The new capabilities of mainframe processing and the new tools and techniques require highly trained and skilled staff. Recruitment and retention of qualified staff must be a priority to ensure that stable, reliable and responsive systems are maintained. The critical nature of mainframe operations requires help desk support of local and central office staff.
Increase Information Usage Capabilities
Graphical user interfaces (GUI) enable all levels of users to access desktop computing power. In addition, some applications that had required programming are now available off-the-shelf. These factors have caused users to seek more innovation including the development of client-server or Web-based applications. While mainframe platforms and networks have had many years to evolve into reliable failsafe environments, microcomputer platforms running client server or Web applications are now developing the utilities to improve controls and access. During this evolutionary period, new interfaces are also enabling the access of mainframe data by desktop systems and new networking technologies are pushing transmission speeds higher. The department has an expanding local area network and wide area network infrastructure that serves the desktop environment.
This pressure for access to new technology creates an expanding workload to install and maintain new faster networks, connect an increasing number of microcomputer workstations and interconnect departmental networks with a variety of external application systems. This requires careful planning, funding and staged equipment acquisition to ensure a stable environment. Interconnection presents problems requiring knowledge of multiple platforms to resolve protocol differences. Highly trained and skilled staff are required to install and maintain user-level and server-level equipment and networks. Operating system and networking protocols are changing so rapidly that even the most skilled technical staff must dedicate time to learn new software, utilities and techniques. Advanced training is often provided in larger population centers and is very expensive. Once staff are trained, they are often recruited out of state service. As more systems are developed the need for departmental operational knowledge, as well as technical knowledge, is increased.
The proliferation of desktop and networked systems requires cost effective maintenance to ensure reliable operation. Maintenance agreements must be carefully written to ensure workstation downtime is reduced. Software maintenance agreements are being used to help control costs associated with the proliferation of desktop software. A help desk is necessary to support reliable operation.
Obtain adequate technology support staff levels
Staffing is often a significant obstacle to acquiring and implementing new technology not faced by private sector. Hiring criteria and salary ranges are sometimes inadequate and inflexible resulting in an inability to hire staff with skills in emerging technologies. The lack of flexibility to train and assign staff quickly often limits the state's ability to retool the existing work force. Often, the hiring process itself is so lengthy that candidates with new skills are recruited away from the state before they are interviewed.
The department is addressing these issues by creative recruitment and retention including hiring junior staff in entry positions and cross-training between mainframe and microcomputer environments. In addition, funding for outsourcing computer programmer analysts has been requested for 1999-2000. Outsourced contracting will enable the state to acquire highly trained and skilled technical staff at the time they are needed for work in specific environments rather than attempting to hire or train staff within the Career Service system. The use of outsourced programmers requires management by state staff who are experienced in the department's systems, technical environment and programming standards, as well as best professional practices, project management and work with contractors.
Complete Year 2000 Hardware and Software Upgrades
Many automated devices, as well as applications programs and supporting hardware and software rely on the accurate use of dates. Every use of dates must be reviewed and corrected in applications programs and in devices with embedded chips that use dates. This process is time and labor intensive, as well as potentially costly. The department began its remediation efforts in applications programming early enough to be able to complete the effort using existing state staff and contractors. This impacted the work on development, maintenance and enhancement of systems. The system software needed to operate mainframe and microcomputers alike was reviewed for the need for Year 2000 compliant upgrade, as was all computer hardware. Embedded chips are found in a multitude of devices such as telephone systems. All devices with embedded chips were reviewed for the need for Year 2000 compliant upgrade. A potential barrier to remediation is the lack of cooperation by vendors to provide information.
Reduce the Time Required to Complete Mainframe Modifications and Enhancements
While smaller client-server systems are being developed to provide a limited amount of data on a user's desktop or to the Internet, the department's mainframe systems support the daily operations of institutions and other facilities while tracking inmates and offenders in community supervision reliably, accurately and quickly. The department maintains more than 2 million lines of mainframe programming code to support local operations using 20 years of historical data on more than a million individuals contained in 68 data bases consisting of more than 9,000 data elements. Administration of this volume of data is complex and requires staff with a depth of knowledge about the department and its operation, as well as the technology, techniques and tools of data base management. The use of current tools and techniques is also required to ensure that data is managed properly and that processing times are kept within satisfactory limits.
The systems and subsystems, a small portion of which are described above, are equally complex and interrelated, as well as interdependent with the data environment. The development of new mainframe systems and the maintenance of existing systems require a greater depth of knowledge about department operations to ensure that user requirements are met while software quality assurance is satisfied. Approximately, 1,200 work orders are processed annually for development, maintenance and enhancement efforts ranging from 2 hours to more than 4,000 hours. A typical request for work must be completed as quickly as the available programming staff allows, while changes resulting from litigation or requests from the legislature require an immediate response. New tools and techniques for re-use of programming code, automation of testing, controlled release of versions, project management and defect tracking, as well as training and experienced supervision and management are essential to the delivery of high-quality software in a satisfactory time frame.
The effective recruitment and retention of highly trained and experienced staff and outsourced programmers present a primary challenge to the completion of programming work. A legislative budget request was submitted for outsourced programming support for 1999-2000. The department is working to retain its staff to ensure adequate knowledge of the department's systems.
The Office of Information Technology was restructured to address the rapidly evolving technical environment. Programming changes are made at the request of the users of the systems as a result of legislation, lawsuits or best professional practices. Improvements are being made in the information technology infrastructure to improve performance and prepare for system growth. Capacity planning methods are used to properly measure processors and networks to ensure that the application programs run at the optimal level of performance for the money invested. Improvements are being made in how application programs are developed, maintained, enhanced and operated using a combination of state staff and outsourced computer programmer analysts. Recruitment and retention of staff are critical problems. The expectations of system users for new technology and performance must be evaluated and factored into the plans of the department.
Provide users with access to mainframe information with an average processing rate of less than one second per transaction in the processor. Continue to provide this processing rate while anticipating an annual growth rate of 10% in the number of users and a 27% annual growth rate in transactions through June 2004.
Note: Legislative Budget Request 9, Major computer and Telecommunications Systems CDC Data Circuits, supports this goal.
|Processing time||1 second||1 second||1 second||1 second||1 second|
|Number of daily transactions||1,659,148||2,107,118||2,676,040||3,398,570||4,316,185|
|Number of users||18,960||20,797||22,877||25,164||27,681|
By July 2004, increase to 75% from the baseline of 50% the information usage capabilities of the department's total staff by providing access to equipment, networks and systems that manage the operational requirements.
Note: Legislative Budget Request 10, Microcomputer and Local Area Network (LAN) Systems Field Officer Security and Communications Systems, supports this goal.
|FY 99-00||FY 00-01||FY 01-02||FY 02-03||FY 03-04|
By July 2002, increase mission effectiveness by obtaining technology support staff levels equal to 0.9% (251 staff) of the total number of department staff above the baseline of 0.63% (177 staff) as of July 1998.
|% of staff||0.63%||0.67%||0.75%||0.82%||0.90%|
By December 31, 1999, implement 100 % of the hardware and software changes to successfully process date data into the year 2000 and beyond from a baseline of 1,100 applications corrections, 1,100 mainframe upgrades and 99 server upgrades from July 1997.
By July 2004, reduce the average response time for mainframe systems modification and maintenance work orders to five working days form a baseline average of 25 working days (July 1997).