SA govt opens bids for major justice IT overhaul

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SA govt opens bids for major justice IT overhaul

Courts prepare to dump 25-year-old legacy platforms.

The South Australian government has opened the tender process for its $20 million overhaul of the state's justice network, which will see a new statewide electronic case management system (ECMS) deployed in most courts.

The ‘foundation’ of upgrade will be a new records management platform, which will either be provided as part of the ECMS, or will be integrated with it as a separate document management platform.

Once the records management platform is in place, the tender calls for a three-phase migration to a new core ECMS.

Key features of the new ECMS will include the ability to manage the workflow of court cases, keep track of all the participants involved in each case, maintain schedule information for cases, record outcomes, manage case files and allow self service.

The new platform will also be used to keep track of the exhibits used in cases, provide caseload reports, maintain a ledger, allow document tracking, send notifications and alerts, and manage the availability of staff and facilities.

The systems will be rolled out across all levels of the state's courts system.

However, a number of more specialised jurisdictions will be excluded from the project, such as the Coroner’s Court, Industrial Relations Court, South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT), South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) and Licencing Court.

The records management portion of the platform is expected to provide documented APIs that will allow information to be exchanged with a range of other agencies, including South Australian Police (SAPOL), the Attorney-General’s Department, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

It is envisaged, for example, that systems within the SAPOL Firearms Branch will be automatically notified whenever a court issues a firearms-related order.

Once the records management platform is in place, administrative case management will be migrated from two 25-year-old legacy systems, known as Civil Case Management System (CCMS) and CrimCase, to the new ECMS.

This process will include the transfer of around 29 GB of legacy flat-file data from CrimCase and 24 GB from CCMS into the new database. It will also see the implementation of the court management-related features of the new system.

The following phase will see the addition of online services to allow court users to access and update court information online.

The final phase, to be implemented either through the ECMS or a separate system, will focus on judicial case management, bringing advanced virtual courtroom features to South Australia’s justice system.

The tender documents insist that the successful vendor must have previously delivered a court case management system into a comparable court or tribunal.

The tender is open to both on-premises and software-as-a-service vendors, with both off-the-shelf and bespoke solutions to be considered.

Submissions for the tender close on February 26, with a briefing session at a yet-to-be named location on February 2.

The project comes after Chief Justice Chris Kourakis put the state's court infrastructure on the agenda in early 2013, when he gave a speech describing how 25 year old systems were crippling the speed at which cases could be processed.

The courts system subsequently became a key issue in the 2014 state election, with Attorney-General John Rau promising a $500 million overhaul of the state’s justice precinct including an on-site IT upgrade.

In the most recent state budget, handed down in June last year, the government committed $20.3 million to overhauling the troubled courts management systems.

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