The next 12 months will see major upheaval at the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA). The department is responsible for upholding justice, rights and democracy. Its responsibilities include running the courts, and improving the justice system; human rights and information rights law; and policy on running elections and modernising the constitution.

But as of May 2007 DCA became part of the new Ministry of Justice. This brings together the DCA – including Her Majesty’s Courts Service and the Tribunals Service – the National Offender Management Service and the Office for Criminal Justice Reform. This will inevitably produce new challenges for IT.
In 2006, the DCA signed two new IT contracts with Atos Origin and LogicaCMG worth in excess of £500 million. The contracts, which last for seven years, will consolidate and replace current infrastructure and application contracts as they expire.

The contracts are forecast to deliver cost savings of more than £100 million over the next seven years on comparable IT services. The department said they will ensure more efficient, effective and joined up services to DCA clients and staff.

In October 2006, the DCA delivered the Possession Claim OnLine Service (PCOL), a web-enabled application to manage claims in county courts for possession of property for non-payment of rent or mortgage only.
The DCA says it is following industry trends towards browser use as the prime interface for systems, the use of Java for development and the move towards larger datacentres with storage area networks and virtualised processing power. This is being done as part of the transition to new service providers, which will be the main focus of attention for the majority of the coming 12 months.

“We are building closer relationships with key suppliers such as Oracle and Microsoft, and this will act as input on the solution definition and consequent package/platform selection. As part of the Enterprise Architecture roadmap we have identified a process and phasing for some application consolidation, which will be linked with some of the transition activities from the existing to the new IT contracts,” the department said.