IT modernisation project implementation: Department of Correctional Services briefing

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Justice and Correctional Services

23 February 2016
Chairperson: Dr M Motshekga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) gave feedback on the implementation of its IT-modernisation project. Before the presentation commenced, the National Commissioner recapped the projects of the DCS and highlighted some developments and challenges in the Department. He noted that the DCS had previously engaged in a programme involving consultants, contractors and agencies, and the Auditor-General had seen an increase of consultants in IT branches, that had more than doubled, to a ratio of 9 consultants to 1 staff member in 2009/10. Initiatives were implemented and the ratio in DCS had now dropped to 1:1. In the past the DCS faced challenges such as obsolete IT structures, procurement issues with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and the ongoing Remand Detainee Offender Management System (RDOMS) dispute. These were being addressed. The DCS then outlined some of the IT modernisation projects. The Enterprise Architecture programme was to develop a plan which would improve the performance of DCS functions and service through the optimal investment, acquisition and operations of ICT resources and processes. The IT infrastructure projects were concentrating on areas where there was no cabling. The Integrated Inmate Management System (IIMS) would replace the current Admission and Release (A & R) and the Community Corrections systems, and aimed to hold a single view of the offender, as a centralised and one-stop shop for every piece of inmate and offender information. It would include biometric identification technology and a facilities module would determine the availability of bed space up to a cell level. Mobile devices will be used for inmate and parolee tracking, as well as mapping requirements. For this process, the Integritron Integrated Solution (Pty) Ltd proposal was accepted and the tender was awarded at a cost of R378.08 million over three years, to cover 243 Correctional Centres and 228 Community Corrections and the Central Nerve Centre at SITA.

The Department then gave an update on the historical RDOMS dispute. Dimension Data, the service provider, sued the Department claiming the balance of the contract plus costs in relation to services not rendered. The summons was followed by a summary judgment application, which was opposed, and the DCS had now filed a counterclaim and plea.

Members were generally pleased with the presentation and some commented that there seems to be a renewed energy and productivity in the Department. A few Members commented on the legacy of the Department and the need to start afresh. They appreciated the reduction in the reliance on consultants and expressed interest on the matter of skills transfer. They asked about the differences between the IIMS and the Integrated Management System, and wanted some more detail on the challenges in infrastructure including the Head Office. They commented that perhaps the transfer of remand inmates also had to be examined in terms of cost and efficiency. Members asked how the DCS would monitor whether inmates were in gangs and said that some of the issues around over-crowding were actually created by the Department. Members expressed their concern about allegations of torture and abuse, by both other inmates and staff, and asked how far the discussions were on cameras in cells. The Committee suggested that it might be apposite for the Committee to visit Pretoria Central to meet with prosecutors and magistrates to discuss postponements, which increased the flight risk. There had been allegations of racism in the Western Cape and the DCS was asked to explain whether there were racial problems in the system.  The Chairperson expressed that the Committee had to find out why society was destroying itself and investigate moral regeneration programmes, and suggested that the Committee should convene an indaba with several religious leaders and relevant departments to move from arguing to action as a possible solution to the socio-economic status of so many individuals.

Meeting report

IT modernisation project in Department of Correctional Services (DCS), RDOMS-related dispute, inmate management, contract investigations: Department of Correctional Services briefing
Mr Zack Modise, National Commissioner of Correctional Services, Department of Correctional Services, introduced other member of the delegation from the Department (or DCS): Ms Nthabiseng Mosupye, Chief Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology; Mr Nick Ligege, Chief Financial Officer; and Mr Joseph Katenga, Chief Deputy Commissioner with the responsibility of Strategic Management.

The National Commissioner stated that this meeting would amplify on what was said in the last meeting and the various challenges that the Department had faced over a number of years. Challenges included projects which had been started but were slowed by processes, procurement matters with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and the Department’s inaccessibility to up-to-date infrastructure. These problems were further compounded by projects such as Remand Detainee Offender Management System (RDOMS) which were based on inflexible and limited development frameworks. Contractual obligations prevented the Department from owning intellectual property, exposing the Department to certain risks. The Department has also had to deal with legacies and obsolete technology. This environment has inhibited business flexibility and efficiency, impacted negatively on the reliability of performance information and has prevented integration with the Integrated Justice System (IJS).

The role of the Government Information Technology Officer (GITO) branch in Correctional Services has been elevated to help achieve objectives related to the White Paper on Corrections and the White Paper on Remand. This branch has enabled the Department to improve its IT capabilities to support the Department’s strategy focused on internal procurement, management of ICT network and infrastructure and to ensure better integration with technology. In future, a centralised and integrated inmate management system will improve inmate identification, while data accuracy and security will be developed and implemented. An enterprise architecture platform is also being procured to provide for enterprise-wide systems employment and standardisation.
The Department has had a programme involving consultants, contractors and agencies as outsourced services. In 2008/09 and 2009/10, the Auditor-General saw that the extent of consultants used by ICT branches was on the increase and the unit was becoming more dependent on services of consultants. The ratio of consultant:official increased from 4:1 in 2007/08 to 9:1 in 2008/09.  Since then, a number of initiatives to reduce dependency on consultants have been implemented. There had been appointment of a Chief Deputy Commissioner, at the level of Director-General, for the corporate governance of ICT. This had improved the ratio of consultants, which dropped from the 9:1 level of 2008/09 to 1:1 currently. The vacancy rate had improved from 66% to around 10%. Filling vacant positions had been a slow process but would hopefully end soon.

Hiring for ICT in the public sector has been particularly difficult. External resources will be required from time to time. To ensure that the use of external consultants happens in a controlled manner, and benefits the organisation, the GITO branch will use a blend of external and internal expertise. In order to ensure success, progress reports will be thoroughly reviewed before payments are made to external sources, project managers will monitor work performed, contracts must stipulate time frames and various programmes will monitor the transfer of skills. The contract with consultants ended on 21 December 2015 and the Department is currently in the process of appointing contractors. This report would hopefully allow Members to appreciate where the Department had come from and where it was going.

Ms Mosupye took over and touched on a few matters addressed in the previous meetings, including the RDOMS dispute, consulting issues, procurement issues with SITA and challenges faced between the Department and Telkom. Ms Mosupye said that the debt of R34 million has not yet been settled with SITA as the Department had not received the necessary documentation from SITA.

The presentation programme was then outlined, which would include the IT modernisation process, encompassing Enterprise Architecture, IT infrastructure projects and the Integrated Inmate Management System (IIMS). The RDOMS dispute would be discussed and an update on the electronic monitoring investigation would be provided.

In terms of IT modernisation, she noted that the purpose of an Enterprise Architecture (EA) programme is to develop a plan which would improve the performance of DCS functions and service through the optimal investment, acquisition and operations of ICT resources and processes. The EA development process prescribes that business architecture drives the development of ICT architecture. This would ensure that ICT investments contribute directly to the performance of the Department.

In the past, because there had not been any prescribed way of how to acquire ICT in government, random acquisition had occurred. The EA Architecture required that a need and business process be defined and only thereafter could ICT be implemented. This was to avoid procuring projects which were unnecessary. She said that the Department had lacked experience. The process analysis and management was inconsistent and there was no alignment between business and IT. It was an unstructured technology landscape and there was a limited understanding for technology, with some being implemented a long time ago. There were complexities in terms of governance risk and compliance.

There are three factors in the future EA environment: EA Practice Establishment, Support Strategic Planning Compliance and Support Integrated Enterprises. The aim is to improve time to delivery and to reduce IT portfolio complexity so that people must understand what has been implemented. Visual dashboards must be used to report financial, governance and key performance indicators and traceability must be increased in terms of corrections initiatives and government-wide priorities. The one dashboard will integrate many government systems and the performance of the Department will be visible.

Ms Mosupye said that IT infrastructure was in the process of being upgraded and improved within the Department. This is concentrated on areas where there is no cabling. The existing infrastructure of remote sites means that some connectivity is lacking. Each region is supposed to cable 25% of its sites per annum – based on the existing budget. A table was displayed with figures depicting the cabling of sites for the various regions. Some regions have progressed faster in terms of their implementation of their infrastructure, particularly Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and the Free State.

Ms Mosupye moved on to the Integrated Inmate Management System (IIMS), which replaces the current Admission and Release (A & R) and the Community Corrections systems, including all of their sub-modules. The IIMS supports the goal of achieving a single view of the offender through the single capture of inmate and offender information. This is meant to be a centralised, one stop shop for inmate, parolee, probation and offender registration. This National Database will include biometric identification technology – ten fingerprints will be captured during admission ad be utilised through the life cycle of an offender, including attendance of programmes or any movement within the Justice System including Home Affairs. A facilities module will determine the availability of bed space up to a cell level.

The biometric integration will be done using plug-in architecture and biometrics will be integrated into User Authentication and Inmate Management modules. The types of biometric integration includes fingerprints, facial, retina, finger vein, scar marks and tattoos. Fingerprints and facial recognition will be introduced first. The proposed matching engine can perform in excess of 100 million unique fingerprint matches per second.

Ms Mosupye discussed the usage of mobile devices which will be used at centres for inmate tracking and at community corrections for parolee tracking. The device will be registered and will have Integrated User Authentication. The devices will have a geographic location tagging system and routes or distances can be calculated.

The Integrated Facilities Management allows for the design of a tiered floorplan with drill-down capability. Overlays can be used to show information or states of various layout components. A summarised view of occupancy and statistics are provided for a selected facility or area within a facility so that decision can be made by the operator around the placement of inmates to minimise the possibility of conflict. The system will be able to determine the number of people, age-group and gang-affiliation of the various cells. The layout of the facility and number of beds per cell will be displayed. It will be possible to calculate over-crowding in all facilities.

For the IIMS Tender Process, an open and transparent process was used to invite suitable bidders to submit proposals in terms of the IIMS tender. The Integritron Integrated Solution (Pty) Ltd proposal was found to have responded to the specification of the bid as advertised and its financial proposal was found to be reasonable and cost-effective in that it was in the DCS’s pre-tender estimate. The tender was awarded at a cost of R378.084 million for a period of three years, to 243 Correctional Centres and 228 Community Corrections and the Central Nerve Centre at SITA.

The acquisition of the IIMS solution and related services is backed up by funding from the Integrated Justice System (IJS) budget. The National Treasury has to date approved a total sum of R356.332 million over the three year Medium Term expenditure Framework (MTEF) for DCS, a budget of R86 million for 2015/16, R120 332 million for 2016/17 and R150 000 million for the 2017/18 fiscal years.

Ms Mosupye gave an update on the RDOMS dispute. Dimension Data, the service provider, decided to institute summons (Case 82500/2015) against the Department claiming the balance of the contract plus costs in relation to services not rendered. The summons was followed by a summary judgment application, which was opposed. The application was withdrawn and the Department was granted leave to file its plea. The Department filed a counter-claim with its plea.

Mr M Redelinghuys (DA) indicated, in answer to the Chairperson, that he was present in the meeting because neither of the other two DA Members could be present.

Ms M Mothapo (ANC) enquired about consultancy and whether internal capacity has been developed to run the IT system. She stated that from 2012-2014, an amount of R626 million has been spent on IT programs. She asked how much had been spent so far and asked about the differences between IIMS and the Integrated Management system.

The Chairperson remarked that the history of the Department has been complex due to the instability in the leadership of the Department. Commenting that a new National Commissioner was in place, he wondered if there had been any handover report detailing what happened in previous terms. This would help determine whether the Department was dealing with legacy problems or problems with the current term. He said it would be unfair to judge the performance of the new National Commissioner on his inheritance of the past. These issues, whilst historic and noted, were not up for debate.

Mr M Maila (ANC) agreed that the team had inherited something from the past but this presentation indicated that the Department was willing to turn it around. He asked the National Commissioner to clarify challenges of infrastructure progress, as Gauteng seems to be lagging behind, which included the Head Office. He also asked about RDOMs and what is currently happening.

Mr B Bongo (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson and Mr Maila but thought that there was light at the end of the tunnel despite the inherited problems in the DCS. Mr Bongo thought that there was quite an improvement from the previous to the current presentation, and asked the National Commissioner to convey to officials in uniform that the Committee appreciated the commitment to improve. Mr Bongo also appreciated the improvement in consultancy. He asked how the Department has benefited from skills transfer from the consultants. Noting the findings of Auditor-General, he said the Department seems to have figured out a one stop shop for all problems.

Mr Bongo pointed out that  the Integrated Justice System was not discussed. Most cases were postponed at court and he thought that as part of the cost-curtailing it would be necessary to look at how, in the process of transferring remand inmates from point A to point B, systems could improve. He also asked how the SITA debts were being managed. The Telkom issue was serious. Legislation concerning cable theft was passed last year, so he asked whether there was a back-up mechanism to address cable theft, and how many of the sites mentioned in the presentation had been or were being cabled now. He concluded by encouraging the National Commissioner to explore alternative dispute resolution options for the RDOMS case.

Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) pointed out that the National Commissioner was not actually new in the post. He asked  how inmates are treated in correctional centres, pointing out that rape, ill-treatment and murder resulted in a lot of litigation. He asked whether the system monitors this. He asked how exactly the Department monitors whether a prisoner is affiliated to a gang. Many factors contribute to over-crowding and some of these, especially related to parole, are created by the Department. He asked whether the system would address this. Mr Mpumlwana was concerned that people in centres were exposed to torture and abuse, and the resulting litigation has the potential to drain the budget. Mr Mpumlwana suggested that cameras should be installed in every cell to ensure that crime in prisons is mitigated.

Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC) stated that the plans sound futuristic and wanted to know how close these plans were to implementation. She asked what had been done so far on the counterclaim, in the RDOMS matter, for R31 million. DCS had been waiting on the IT upgrade for a while and it would be good to see movement in this area. She asked whether older systems were being built upon and said that it would be useful to have timelines to monitor the progress of projects.

The Chairperson stated that the National Commissioner must form his own opinions and come to the Committee to test these opinions out. There were some problems with postponements, as sometimes magistrates did not arrive in court. He suggested that the Committee visit Pretoria Central to meet with prosecutors and presiding officers to address the problem of postponements. The question of transport costs is related to this and also needs to be addressed. Postponements increase costs, risk of flight and the risk of violence.

The Chairperson also raised the issue of autonomy of the regions and noted that regions’ representatives are not invited to meetings. He commented that offenders had somehow got hold of his contact details and in the Western Cape he had received many complaints of racism in the correctional centres; relations based on colour added no value and did not help the nation. The Department needed to find out if there are racial problems in the systems.

The National Commissioner replied that the Western Cape matter was one of the issues that the National Committee had been intending to report on to the Committee, but had not yet had the chance to do so. He conceded that there was some racism in the Western Cape and that this had been confirmed by a Constitutional Court case. Senior coloured officials had taken the Department to the Constitutional Court because they felt that they were not being promoted, with the perception that African officials were seen to be ready for promotion earlier. This matter had been raised with the Regional Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner. He was still investigating and would produce a report. The DCS’s centre of power was its Head Office. He said that the rules are the same and that the National Commissioner and Head Office take full responsibility of what happens. He stated that the responsibility was on the National Commissioner and his team to investigate.

Mr Modise noted the concerns regarding the over-crowing which was due to a number of factors. The number of inmates remanded is one of those factors. Where overcrowding is experienced (especially bigger cities), it seems to be the result of large numbers of people trying to find work in these cities, displacements and  other reasons. Many of these people do not have fixed addresses and as a result, they are remanded. Crime in urban areas is a serious challenge and is exacerbated by alcohol and drugs.

The matter of over-crowding and inhumane treatment is currently being investigated in Pollsmoor Prison by Sonke Justice. There are too many inmates to schedule meals and exercise at the same time and some are getting meals too early or too late. DCS would need a vigilant team of officials so that these matters can be properly dealt with. The State Attorney plays a big role in assisting with this responsibility. Speaking to whether the system would be able to resolve these issues, he said that the system will be able to determine which cells house which gangs, and mechanisms can be put in place to deal with the gangsters. The recent mushrooming of gangs starts in communities outside correctional facilities and plays a big role in young people committing serious crimes. The system will help track and locate inmates, to avoid housing opposing gang leaders in the same cell.

The National Commissioner reported that in ICT, a number of systems have been used and that it would be useful to present on all of the systems used, who was sued and how much the systems cost. ICT should be an enabler and a strategic partnership to enhance work. Consultants have taken over this space for a long time and are costly. It was important for the Department to start owning the IT systems and employing the people responsible for the IT plans.

He then addressed Mr Maila’s concern about claims and counterclaims. He said that before court proceedings commenced, a settlement offer was extended. Other routes had been explored and if the matter could be resolved amicably, it would have been.

The National Commissioner said that DCS was trying to do business differently and had improved on turnaround times. He said that he wanted the Committee to determine whether the DCS was delivering or not.

Ms Mosupye discussed the consultancy handover documents and skills transfer aims. The consultants had all completed handover documents and the new appointees had used their documents. Where difficulties or problems had been identified, the documentation had been updated.

Connectivity with Telkom and SITA remained a challenge and that by decentralising certain elements (such as handheld devices), the Department will always have connection. Where there is no connectivity, it would be possible to store data locally, and when connectivity returns, data can be transferred. 90 sites per annum have been completed in terms of central cabling and IT technicians can monitor the projects where issues are found.

In terms of the cost and value, the Department will give a report which projects have been implemented and the costs of these, from 2008, since some issues are historical and include monies paid to SITA. All projects running are three years in duration and are based on the budget. Ms Mosupye said that the system can be customised to the requirements of the Department and a field can be created to introduce a system.

Concerns about the name of the system were then addressed by Ms Mosupye. The previous system has not changed but the name had to be changed because too many “ICMS systems” caused confusion.

The National Commissioner said that the State pays for the transport of prisoners. In big facilities such as Pollsmoor Prison, systems had been introduced so that inmates only go to court when a matter is set down and not merely postponed. Postponements may be  done by video and this is a joint effort between the Department of Justice and the SA Police Service. This reduces several of the risks associated with the transportation of prisoners.

The National Commissioner then addressed the suggestion about cameras in cells. This has been investigated and a conclusion will be reached shortly. Some sort of surveillance is needed inside cells. A decision has been taken but still has to be formalised and implemented to assure citizens that prisoners are safe in prison. He noted the concerns about torture and said that the definition of torture covered assault and abuse that was taking place by both offenders and officials. The South African government will appear in the International Court in Geneva to defend itself and show that it is not, as government, involved in torture. He would appreciate a visit to the courts and facilities by the Committee, and suggested that the Committee would then also be able to check on the new systems installed. 

The Chairperson said that the Committee needed to identify the problem in society to find out why it is destroying itself. He suggested that the Committee should investigate whether a moral regeneration programme would be successful to address problems of alcohol and drug abuse, gangs and protests. There was a need to review the Integrated Justice System, as South Africa is facing a societal problem. The recent  Chinese New Year celebrations emphasise oneness of nature and humanity, harmony within society, importance of family and community values. These values produce useful and productive systems. The Chairperson noted that for the past twenty years the country had been talking about eradicating informal settlements and socio-economic problems, but these are just growing. For this reason he suggested that it would be useful for the Committee to convene an Indaba involving many religious leaders and the relevant government departments, as the problem is not improving. This Committee could not still be arguing about the same issues in five years time.

Ms Pilane-Majake said that the Committee needed to re-strategise matters in terms of the moral regeneration of South Africa and that the Department should aim for a partnership with the relevant institutions. She defended the governmental programme, stating that there was only had a budget of R3 million per annum.

The Chairperson asked what the budget was used for and what was happening on the ground. He suggested that the Committee must be briefed on what is being done.

Ms Pilane-Majake stated that the programme fell under Social Cohesion under the Department of Arts and Culture who probably could brief the Committee.

Mr Mpumlwana asked about the connection between the system and the identification of people as gang members.

The National Commissioner said that he would be prepared to explain that matter but that problems like overcrowding were largely a societal matter.

The Chairperson concluded that the Committee should prepare to act on the crisis in society and should meet with relevant parties to discuss a possible Indaba.

The meeting was adjourned.

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