The Department for Courts is to spend millions going from a paper-based system to computerised systems over the next three years.
Department spokeswoman Hilary Bryan says it’s too early to give details of the technology that will be involved, but says there is a $47 million information technology budget.
The total capital spending budgeted for the new package is $73 million, $10 million of which is a new injection of funds, while the rest comes from the existing budget.
Over the three years there will also be a $39 million injection of additional operating revenue.
Bryan says that before decisions are made on what information technology system will be used, the department will undergo a business process re-engineering exercise. It will look at staff structures and the skill mix that is needed under a new system of what is called case flow management.
“Then we’ll be saying: ‘What IT do we need to support that?’”
The department still uses its mainframe-based legacy system at the Wanganui computer centre. Since 1995, it has been developing a strategic plan and a strategic business plan. The plan was agreed to in this year’s budget, giving the go-ahead for a substantial modernisation of systems.
At present, many of the tasks in the department’s case processing area (administration of the courts), the collection unit (fines) and the Maori Land Court are done manually.
Bryan says among the benefits of the new computerised system is that judges will be able to look instantly at sentencing decisions.
“The changes that we are about to make are the most exciting thing to happen of decades in terms of court administration. It isn’t just a cosmetic thing.”
The Maori Land Court will get a computer-based nominal index of Maori land ownership, while the collections unit will also be upgraded to utilise automatic dialling technology, building a system to assess people’s means and providing flexible management information.