Ministry of Justice pledges to update 'creaking PCs and snail-paced connections'

Written by Rebecca Hill on 3 August 2016 in News
News

The Ministry of Justice has published a set of nine principles it will stick to as it updates outdated hardware that is making work difficult for employees.

MoJ has said it wants staff to have tech at work that matches kit at home - Photo credit: Flickr, Kevin Walter

Arif Harbott, the chief digital and information officer at the MoJ, said that staff had to “put up with creaking PCs and snail-paced connections in the office” – which he said was a stark contrast with the superfast WiFi and cutting-edge technology they used at home.

He said that desktops were “well past their prime and heavily locked down”, which was stopping staff from using the latest software and apps, and that they were unable to use their own devices to look at emails without an expensive encryption app. Layers of encryption and passwords also made logging-on time-consuming, he said.

“We want to provide technology that’s at least as good as what they have at home, so they can work in modern, flexible and collaborative ways,” Harbott said, adding, however, that the team “don’t underestimate the size of this challenge”.


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In a blopost on the MoJ’s digital blog, he detailed nine principles aimed at ensuring staff had fast devices with invisible security, better messaging tools, up-to-date software and a wider choice of devices.

These include being free to consider any solution without having to be “tied down” by old architecture and contracts, providing permanent storage for information – such as using the cloud rather than devices that have a limited shelf-life – and that solutions be based on user-need.

A further point was that technology needs to be continually renewed, “rather than wait for big replacement programmes that come around once in a blue moon”.

In addition, he said that operating systems and browsers should all be better kept up-to-date and that progress should be measured in how much working hardware is delivered.

Harbott said that the department had launched a pilot with 20 users to look at how to update old technology, and that it was on track to “radically improve” the technology by the end of the year.

The move follows repeated calls for Whitehall's clunky technology to be updated. Last week, former Government Digital Service boss Mike Bracken and former Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said they would have worked to update old kit much faster if he had his time again.

On a Centre for Public Impact podcast, Maude said: “All this time we were asking them to do really difficult stuff and giving them rubbish IT to work on; worse than you’d have at home,” adding that faster improvements would have been a “morale kicker”.

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