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The Department of Corrections has many challenges and uncertainties. There are more uncertainties in this department because the job done each day is highly influenced by external factors. This makes it difficult for workers in this department to predict the number of inmates who will come in or the number that will be received.
It is difficult to even plan for the day-to-day work in the Department of Corrections. As professionals of this department report to work on a daily basis, they never have an idea of what is going to happen. It is, therefore, important to implement an information technology system to improve the level and efficiency of services. This will have a positive impact on all the departments’ stakeholders. An information technology system will help stakeholders achieve their objectives.
It is important to note that the overall objective of the Department of Corrections is to ensure a peaceful and safe society. This is done through enforcing court sentences, ensuring that prisoners are held in safe custody where their human dignity is observed and respected, and ensuring that the social responsibility of the inmates is developed. In addition, the Department of Corrections ensures that all inmates are developed in relation to their community corrections.
Objectives of the departmental stakeholders should also be achieved in the process of achieving the general objectives of the department. Among the stakeholders in the department include police agencies, employees in the department, court persons, inmates, as well as the government itself (Pearlson & Saunders, 2013).
In this case, Robin was responsible for ensuring that the information system to be implemented met all the needs and expectations of the stakeholders. Among the objectives was ensuring that a proper register of inmates was maintained. This was a major objective that would be beneficial to the departmental workers.
For instance, Donna the Head of state Department of Corrections had worked there for a long period and she had experienced stories of inmates who had been released before their time due to a poor register of inmates. The major reason for these early releases was computer errors. This means that those involved in maintaining the register had hard times due to the poor systems that led to poor registers.
Upgrading the information systems to maintain a proper register would also be beneficial to the court, police agencies, government, and employees in general (Pearlson & Saunders, 2013). Court sentences are given based on the severity of crime committed. A sentence is aimed at ensuring that the inmate reforms within the given period and the society is kept safe from criminals. The court’s objective might not be achieved if inmates are released earlier.
Inmates’ reformation and society’s safety are also the objectives of police agencies and employees, as well as the government. In this case, the new project will ensure that the Department of Corrections in this county will be interacting with the federal government.
The other objective of the project is to increase the safety of inmates while in the facility. There have been reports of inmates being bullied by fellow inmates while in the facility. This problem can be dealt with through installation of surveillance cameras in strategic places where the staff on duty can see what is happening throughout the facility from a central position. This will facilitate timely action whenever such cases are observed.
Another objective that will be of benefit to the inmates is that appropriate facilities will be provided. Inmates’ work programs’ optimization will also be improved and made more efficient. This will help inmates in their rehabilitation process. Inmates will be able to learn and correct their conduct more effectively. It will be advantageous to the community and the government since safety will increase once the inmates are reformed.
Current situation in the Department of Corrections
The project being assigned to Robin is of high profile since the current situation in the department is not efficient and effective. The importance of the project was highlighted by the governor’s brief appearance in the meeting. Although the new governor seemed opposed to spending on such an upgrade, the project that was started by the former governor was funded halfway by the federal government, further indicating its importance.
The register of inmates is not maintained effectively in the current situation. It is difficult to precisely determine the time an inmate comes in and when they should leave. Consequently, there have been cases of inmates being released earlier before their sentences are over. As Donna puts it, she had witnessed stories of inmates being released earlier than expected due to computer errors. Donna has worked in the legal system for over twenty-five years.
Another situation currently indicates a poor system, thus computer errors are numerous. There is a high probability of losing important data and information when computers have errors. There is also likelihood that information can be leaked to the wrong people and end up being altered or corrupted. Loss of data might lead to serious problems in the department. Corruption of such data can also be highly risky to the department.
These problems could have resulted from an information system that was poor and downgraded. It is imperative to note that technology development has advanced in the current world, thus it is worth upgrading the systems in government departments.
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Technology facilitates innovation, thus upgrading the information system in the Department of Corrections will make it possible for better and improved services to be provided to all the stakeholders. Better systems will make the work of employees easier since employees will not have to deal with cases of computer errors.
There is poor communication between the Department of Corrections and the federal government. Communication is vital for effectiveness and success of any organization. The effectiveness of the department is compromised when there is poor communication.
Being a government department, it is important that the Department of Corrections communicates effectively with the federal government. It could be as a result of poor communication between the department and the federal government that no federal representative was invited in the meeting. This led to the meeting not being successful due to the high political nature that was witnessed.
As usual, every problem has a root cause. It is this root cause that needs to be first identified before any corrective actions are initialized. From the case in question, it is clear that the root cause of the problems in the Department of Correction is poor information systems. It is difficult to maintain records due to the poor information systems in the department, thus there is high risk of data loss. It is also difficult to ensure effective services.
Most of the employees and stakeholders in the department seem to have high knowledge of the legal systems in place. However, they do not have any knowledge or they have little knowledge about the information system. Employees in this department are said to prefer doing jobs the old fashioned way.
For instance, Donna, the head of the state Department of Corrections is said to have no knowledge regarding information technology, despite having a lot of experience regarding the legal system. Donna was, therefore, not supportive of the upgrade since she preferred doing things the old fashioned way. Lack of stakeholders’ support could be another reason why the information system was poor and downgraded.
Donna’s assistant was more supportive of this project because he was computer savvy. He seemed more enthusiastic about the upgrade. It can be concluded that the root cause of the problems currently in the Department of Corrections is the poor information system that is as a result of lack of IT knowledge among stakeholders and their failure to support systems upgrade.
Achievement of the Department of Corrections’ objectives is hindered by these problems. For instance, the main aim of this department is to ensure safety of the society through enforcement of the sentences imposed on suspects by the court. The department also aims at ensuring safe custody of inmates.
It is also the duty of the Department of Corrections to facilitate community corrections. However, achievement of these objectives has been a challenge since inmates have been reported to be released earlier before their sentences are completed. The major reason that leads to early release of inmates is poor maintenance of registers.
There should be a clear record that indicates the time an inmate joins the prison, the sentence that has been imposed on him or her, and the time he or she is supposed to leave the facility.
However, according to the case, there they are poorly maintained records if there are any records. Consequently, inmates end up being released earlier than their sentences. Computer errors are many due to poor information systems and workers who have little or no knowledge regarding information Systems. This makes achievement of the departments’ objectives a challenge.
Once the problems have been identified and the root cause determined, the next important stage is to establish how these problems can be solved. Finding a solution to problems requires a lot of knowledge and skills since this is the most critical point in the problem solving process. In addition, problem solving is the most critical point during development of a project.
A bad solution to problems will have negative impacts on the organization in the long run, thus it is important to ensure good solutions are found from the beginning.
In the current case, the situation in the Department of Corrections is that the information system is poor, stakeholders have little or no information technology knowledge, some of the stakeholders are not supportive of the project, and there is poor communication within the department (Pearlson & Saunders, 2013). The register of inmates is poorly maintained due to poor systems. There are few options for solving these problems.
First, it is important to ensure that all the involved personnel are supportive of the project. Professionals who have no IT knowledge should then be trained and made aware of the importance of using improved IT systems. The other option is ensuring that employees who are experts in information system are employed, in addition to the current employees. It is stated that the current employees have knowledge and experience in the legal system, but they have no idea on information technology.
In this regard, employing IT experts could be a considerable option to complement the current professionals. The impact of each of these two options on the department would be different, but they would give almost similar results if not exact results (Pearlson & Saunders, 2013).
The former option will be cheaper since no costs will be incurred by employing new professionals. The costs incurred in new recruitment include advertisement, recruitment, and induction among others. The second option will be expensive. However, it will have better results since the new employees will have IT specialization. IT knowledge among employees will ensure good registers, proper communication and effective services.
The next step in solving the problem will be implementing the advanced IT systems. This is the main job that Robin has been assigned. Her consultancy firm is supposed to ensure that the current problems in the Department of Corrections are solved by upgrading the current information technology system. There are two options that can be considered for this process. The first option is to upgrade the current system without major changes being implemented.
The second option would be to change the system completely and implement an entirely new and advanced system. Each of the two options will have varied impacts on the organization. The first option will be cheaper since no major changes will be put in place. Upgrading without major changes is relatively cheaper.
However, this might not give the required results. The resultant system may not be fully effective, although it will be better than the current. The second option will have more impact in terms of finance. However, the results will be better since a completely new and advanced system will be implemented. The new system will be more effective compared to upgrading the current one without major changes.
Drawing from the above listed alternatives, I would recommend that the best options be adopted to ensure full effectiveness of the project. However, it is important to take into consideration the costs of each option. It is also important to take into consideration the fact that the new governor is concerned about spending on IT upgrade, thus he is keeping expenditures at the lowest level possible.
Having this in mind, I recommend that the current employees be trained on how to use information technology and the importance of such projects. This will be cheaper compared to employing new IT professional. I would recommend the cheaper option since staying within the budget of the available $100 million is of ultimate importance, considering the fact that the results would almost be similar (Pearlson & Saunders, 2013).
On system implementation, I recommend a total overhaul of the current system and implementation of a new advanced system. A new advanced system will be relatively expensive, but it will yield better results. The system will improve the effectiveness of the department and facilitate achievement of stakeholders’ objectives.
Pearlson, K., & Saunders, C. S (2013). Managing and using information systems: A strategic approach Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.