Part 7: Development and Implemention of the Sentencing and Parole Legislation

Co-ordination and Collaboration in the Criminal Justice Sector.

Why Did We Select This Case Study?

The passage of the Sentencing Act and the Parole Act in June 2002 significantly reformed New Zealand’s criminal justice law in the area of sentencing and parole.

The development and implementation of this legislation posed significant challenges for the criminal justice sector. The project tested the ability of the core criminal justice agencies – the Ministry of Justice, the Police, the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections – to work together and manage a complex and evolving policy development process to a tight timeframe. The project also tested the ability of the sector to work together on complicated information technology projects where the decisions taken by one agency could have major implications for the development of another agency’s systems.

Key Findings

The Ministry of Justice (the Ministry) led the development of the new sentencing and parole legislation, and so was responsible for managing wide-ranging consultation on policy issues to a demanding timetable, reconciling a range of agency views, and obtaining from Ministers those decisions necessary for the legislation to be drafted.

Although the Ministry’s leadership role provided a valuable focus for policy work in the sector, the project was already well advanced before effective governance arrangements were put in place. As a result, the necessary sector-wide project planning was not undertaken to coordinate project management, mitigate risks and develop contingency plans. The short timetable (passing of the legislation was a Government priority) made sector planning a particularly important dimension of project governance, so that the agencies could respond effectively to the expectations of Ministers.

Only one agency undertook the necessary comprehensive project planning to identify risks and impacts for its business, and to develop action plans. The absence of detailed agency project plans led to a failure to clearly identify, at the outset of the project, vital inter-agency dependencies having an impact on supporting project tasks, such as the development of information technology infrastructure and changes to business operations.

Given the number of issues to be considered, the extent of consultation required, and the work needed to prepare for implementation of the legislation, policy development and drafting of the legislation was undertaken within a very short timeframe. The requirement to develop policy and prepare and implement new legislation within two-and-a-half years placed considerable pressure on the agencies involved. The consultation process was rushed, with agencies having little time to comment comprehensively on policy papers.

This project showed that the time it takes to design, build or modify major information technology systems can constrain the policy development process. Conversely, policy changes can require significant changes to information systems and supporting infrastructure. There was no cohesive sector-wide strategy that co-ordinated the information technology work required to prepare for and implement the proposed legislation.

The Department for Courts had difficulty preparing its information systems to meet the July 2002 deadline, but alerted other agencies to likely delays only when the project was already well advanced. This left the sector limited time to consider options and seek Ministerial approval to a revised approach. The sector worked well together to recover from delays in the Department for Courts to meet the 1 July 2002 implementation deadline.


The justice sector agencies should draw lessons from the events and processes surrounding development of the sentencing and parole legislation for the future management of projects with sector impacts, including:

  • sector-wide governance, including leadership, oversight and monitoring;
  • project planning, risk management and contingency planning; and
  • integration of sector information technology strategy and policy development.


A citizens initiated referendum was held during the 1999 general election that asked the following question:

Should there be a reform of our justice system placing greater emphasis on the needs of victims, providing restitution and compensation for them and imposing minimum sentences and hard labour for all serious violent offences?

Almost 92% of voters returned a “yes” vote.

Early in 2000, the Minister of Justice requested a general report on sentencing reform including reform of the current parole system. Officials recommended that work proceed on identifying the matters to be included in a Sentencing Reform Bill. For a detailed timeline of events see the Appendix on pages 104-105.

The Sentencing Act 2002 and the Parole Act 2002 came into force on 30 June 2002. Together, they substantially replaced the Criminal Justice Act 1985 and reformed the law in four areas:

  • general sentencing purposes and principles;
  • range of sentences and orders available to the courts;
  • sentencing for murder and high-risk offenders; and
  • parole and final release of offenders from prison.

This case study considers the process that the four criminal justice sector agencies went through to bring the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill (SPRB) into force.15 We examined:

  • governance arrangements;
  • policy development; and
  • the development of the information technology systems necessary to implement the Bill.

Figure 5 on the next page sets out an overview of the progress of the SPRB.

Figure 5
Overview of the Progress of the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill16

Figure 5.



Preparation of the legislation entailed major changes in sentencing and parole policies. Analysing policy issues, consulting on proposals and draft Ministerial papers, obtaining decisions from Ministers, drafting legislation, and building and modifying the information technology systems necessary to implement the legislation, created an immense workload for the sector.

The Ministry led the policy and legislative development processes (see paragraphs 7.36-7.74 on pages 87-93). Each of the three operational agencies was responsible for considering the impact of the proposed policy and legislation on its own business.

Arrangements for Oversight and Monitoring

The Ministry led the policy development process. However, until the project was well advanced, no formal, sector-wide arrangements were in place to give all agencies project oversight, and enable them to monitor progress. Two sectoral groups were established as the project progressed, and the project was a standing item on the agenda of the Chief Executives Forum from February 2002.

The Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill – Implementation Overview Group

The Ministry established this Group in August 2001 to:

Strengthen the inter-agency consultation on SPRB issues and ensure that a common sector understanding of the total implementation needs and risks is reflected in any advice to Ministers.

The Group comprised officials from the Ministry, the Department of Corrections, the Department for Courts, and the judiciary. It met thirteen times over a period of eight months and was well attended by the three core agencies involved. A member of the judiciary attended six of the meetings.

Through this Group, officials from the different agencies were able to exchange information and remain informed about activities across the sector. It was therefore an important mechanism for collaboration, co-ordination, oversight and project monitoring. An issues log helped to ensure that all key issues were worked through as they were identified.

The Ministry viewed this Group as playing a useful role, and has acknowledged that, in hindsight, it should have been set up earlier in the project. The Ministry has drawn on this lesson in developing the Clean Slate legislation by setting up a similar co-ordination and monitoring group much earlier in the policy development process.

The Information Technology Enablers Oversight Group

The need for significant modifications to information technology systems and interfaces had been recognised at an early stage in the project. However, it was late in 2001 before the Information Technology Enablers Oversight Group was established to oversee the technology projects needed to support implementation of the proposed legislation.

The Group consisted of senior business managers from all four of the core criminal justice agencies. It was responsible for developing a critical path overview plan and for managing risks from a sector perspective.

The Ministry has acknowledged that:

This group was formed significantly late in the implementation cycle, which meant that a whole of sector approach to risk management around the interfaces and interdependencies was not addressed from the outset.

The Ministry has also noted that, once established, the Group:

  • was an effective mechanism for issue resolution;
  • heightened awareness for project managers and their teams of the critical interface issues from a systems perspective; and
  • provided an overview of the risks and agreed strategies for their management and/or mitigation.

Standing Item at the Chief Executives Forum

Making the SPRB project a standing item on the agenda for meetings of the Chief Executives Forum ensured that agency leaders were kept informed of progress, and were able to address issues as they arose. However, the project became a standing item at the Chief Executives Forum only from February 2002 – by which time policy development was largely complete and difficulties with completion of the necessary information technology work (in particular implementation of the Department for Courts’ Case Management System) were already apparent. Regular oversight at an earlier stage in the project would have given Chief Executives the opportunity to anticipate likely difficulties and put in place plans to address them.

Clear governance arrangements should be established at the commencement of a project, clearly setting out the roles and responsibilities of each of the agencies involved in the project.

When policy development takes place that has sectoral implementation issues, a sectoral senior officials group should be established early in the policy development phase. The group should meet regularly to discuss sectoral implementation issues.

Where policy development has large information technology implications, a senior information technology oversight group should be established early in the policy development phase to ensure that any information technology issues are dealt with as and when they arise. This also will help to ensure that the policy and operational arms work collaboratively.

Where a sector is undertaking a legislative development of such a size, Chief Executives should regularly discuss the project from its inception to ensure that all key issues are raised and dealt with as and when they arise.

Project Planning

The SPRB project involved co-ordinating a range of agency and interagency tasks to a tight critical path. These tasks included:

  • developing and analysing policy options;
  • extensive inter-agency consultation;
  • major concurrent information technology infrastructure development within and between agencies;
  • seeking decisions from Ministers; and
  • translating policy decisions into draft legislation.

With a number of concurrent tasks to be managed, a variety of stakeholders, and a short timeframe, it was vital for all of the core criminal justice agencies to have in place individual comprehensive project plans specifying a critical path with key milestones identifying risks, and containing contingency plans should the critical path not be met. A sectoral project plan was needed to integrate individual agency plans and provide oversight and inter-agency monitoring.

Only one of the core agencies involved in this process – the Department of Corrections – had a comprehensive project plan. The Department produced eight linked project plans, which provided a detailed analysis of project objectives, structure, and risks, through:

  • an analysis of objectives and impacts of the reforms for each business group;
  • action plans for each relevant business group under the oversight of a department-wide project steering committee, and key deliverables;
  • clearly identified roles and responsibilities for key project personnel, and defined internal relationships for monitoring and accountability;
  • timelines and a critical path; and
  • an assessment of key external risks (which included a lack of coordination between agencies) and internal risks for each service or business group.

Copies of these plans were provided to the Ministry, the Department for Courts, the State Services Commission, the Treasury and Audit New Zealand.

The Ministry has recognised the need to develop comprehensive project plans for undertaking projects such as this, and have put such plans in place for the development of the Clean Slate legislation.

Policy Development

In the sections that follow, we discuss the various phases of the policy development process leading up to drafting of the Bill, and the consultation process that accompanied each stage.

Early Stages of the Sentencing Reform Bill

The Ministry had undertaken a variety of work on sentencing policy, and released a discussion paper in 1997. This paper examined the principles underlying sentencing and the purposes for which sentences should be imposed, and discussed the policies and approaches that may be applied to sentencing. Following the 1999 general election, officials recommended to Ministers that work proceed on identifying those matters to be included in a Sentencing Reform Bill.

The Ministry consulted other justice agencies at an early stage, informing the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections in March 2000 that there was to be a review of sentencing that could potentially involve quite a lot of work for those agencies. They were given approximately two weeks to provide feedback on the initial proposals.

The Department for Courts responded by noting that:

  • they could not comment on behalf of the judiciary; and
  • they were unable to comment on the Ministry’s proposals as the operational impacts were unclear.

Before the Department of Corrections responded, the Ministry sent the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections a proposed timeframe for the project. The Ministry’s plan was to prepare eleven policy papers, the first to be ready by mid-May 2000. The Ministry envisaged that Cabinet would make decisions on the first eight papers in early- September 2000, and on the remaining three papers by mid-October 2000. Drafting instructions were to be issued by the end of November 2000.

Ideally, consultation on major policy proposals should involve two stages:

  • preliminary consultation with those agencies for whom proposed changes have the most significant operational consequences; and
  • wider consultation with all those agencies in some way affected by the proposals.

In preparing the policy papers, the Ministry intended to undertake preliminary consultation with the agencies only if it was considered by the Ministry to be necessary.

The Department of Corrections responded in mid-April 2000, and expressed concern about the tight timetable that the Ministry had proposed.

This early stage of the policy development process already revealed a fundamental concern that was to recur at various stages of the policy process: the challenge of carrying out meaningful consultation with all relevant agencies to a tight timetable, on policy issues with major operational implications for the justice agencies and a range of system impacts – such as information technology interfaces.

Development of the July 2000 Cabinet Paper

A paper submitted to Cabinet in July 2000 sought Ministerial agreement on the scope of the Bill and recommended that Cabinet set up an informal Committee of Ministers to make interim decisions about the Bill’s content.

In preparing the July 2000 Cabinet paper, the Ministry consulted with the Department of Corrections, the Department for Courts, the Crime Prevention Unit, the Crown Law Office, the Police, Te Puni Kōkiri, the Law Commission and the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. These agencies were given two weeks to comment on the draft paper.

Responses were received from six of the eight agencies. Key concerns raised included the lack of consultation with Māori, Pacific Island peoples and the judiciary.

Developing Policy Papers

In developing and submitting policy papers to Ministers, the Ministry had to consult widely within limited timeframes. Concerns about limited consultation reflected constraints on both the Ministry and on the operational justice agencies, who had to develop responses at short notice, and without knowing what form the legislative framework might take.

The Ministry developed a series of eleven policy papers that it sent to nine agencies17 for comment, before finalising them and submitting them to the informal ministerial committee.

The agencies were given between 11/2 and 3 weeks to comment on each of the papers, which they received in batches of up to four at a time. The Ministry was aware of the pressures such an intensive consultation round created, but considered it essential that its deadlines were met.

Varying levels of comment were provided by the agencies, with some agencies unable to comment within the time allocated.

Both the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections provided significant comment on all of the papers produced by the Ministry. However, the agencies often had insufficient time to consider all the likely policy and operational implications of the papers. As a result, the consultation process has been described variously as “pro forma” and “virtually non-existent”.

Consultation was complicated by the fact that, as the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections had the same Minister, they were obliged to provide competing advice wherever they disagreed. This arrangement added to the time required for policy issues to be resolved. Given the tight timeframes under which officials were working, some felt that they were not always able to adequately brief their Minister.

Consultation with the Judiciary

The Department for Courts raised concern with its Minister and the Ministry about the lack of consultation with the judiciary. In response, the Ministry consulted with a number of judges on the proposed Bill, but the tight timetable limited the extent of consultation that was possible.

The Ministry was obliged to consult with individual representatives of the judiciary because there is currently no structure or mechanism in place to readily obtain a judiciary-wide perspective. Given the tight deadlines, this arrangement exposed the Ministry to criticism of failing to adequately consult the judiciary on matters of significant interest.

Consultation with Other Agencies

Short lead-times for consideration of policy and operational matters directly affecting the business of justice agencies18 continued to make consultation hurried, and limited early analysis of some likely impacts – such as fiscal implications for individual agencies affected by the changes. In addition to inter-agency consultation, officials had to allow time for consideration by those Ministers with portfolios affected by the proposed changes. These co-ordination mechanisms at Ministerial level imposed additional time pressures.

On 14 November 2000 the Ministry informed all agencies involved in consultation that they could expect to receive a draft Cabinet paper for consultation by 21 November 2000. This Cabinet paper was a consolidation of policy papers on which the agencies had been previously consulted. The deadline for comment on the paper was to be 10am on 27 November 2000 – giving agencies less than one week to provide comment on the draft.

As planned, the draft Cabinet Paper was sent to agencies on 21 November 2000, although it did not set out the fiscal implications of the proposals. Responses were received from a range of agencies with several asking for agency specific comments to be added.

The draft Cabinet paper was submitted to the Minister of Justice on 29 November 2000, and was considered by the informal ministerial committee on 30 November 2000.

Consideration by Cabinet

In December 2000, a Cabinet paper containing the policy decisions made by the informal committee of ministers was prepared. The paper recommended that the Minister of Justice be invited to issue drafting instructions to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel for the drafting of the SPRB.

The Cabinet Paper was sent to the Cabinet Policy Committee on 7 December 2000. It was referred to the Cabinet Business Committee meeting to be held on 31 January 2001, which in turn referred the paper back to the Cabinet Policy Committee.

On 21 February 2001 the Cabinet Policy Committee agreed to the various aspects of the paper, noted the fiscal implications of the Bill, and invited the Minister of Justice to issue drafting instructions to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. Cabinet confirmed the decision of the Cabinet Policy Committee on 26 February 2001.

Drafting the Bill

The Bill was drafted within a short timeframe, particularly considering the size of the proposed legislation. The drafting instructions were sent to the Minister of Justice for his approval in mid-March 2001. The Department of Corrections also received a copy to enable it to provide comment on the large amount of operational detail that needed to be finalised before the Bill could be passed.

The Department of Corrections commented on both parts of the SPRB during April and May 2001. It received a copy of the Bill in May, having raised concern about the timeframe within which the operational details of the Bill would need to be finalised. All three agencies continued to provide comments to the Parliamentary Counsel Office throughout May and June 2001.

The Department for Courts raised further concerns in late-June 2001, since it had not seen any of the provisions of the parole section of the Bill. The Department noted that, due to the tight timeframe given for comment on this part of the Bill, it had not been able to undertake a comprehensive review.

The parole section of the Bill was circulated for a final round of consultation in mid-July 2001 to all the relevant agencies. They were given less than 48 hours to comment on the Bill.

The hurried consultation added to the uncertainty surrounding completion, and led to a view that further modifications might need to be made to the legislation as it proceeded through the House. In our view, this was an unsatisfactory situation, because:

  • it created the potential for unplanned operational impacts across the sector;
  • it threatened to hold up the drafting process; and
  • it created the risk of delays in giving effect to the provisions of the new legislation.

The Bill was circulated for a final time in late-July 2001. The Department for Courts noted in its response to the Ministry that:

Given that there was hardly time to do justice to this draft, it is important to have a process for resolving any issues that may arise either because we did not identify the consequences in the time available or resulting from further changes.

Cabinet approved the introduction of the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill on 6 August 2001 with the Minister of Justice introducing the Bill into the House on 7 August 2001.

The Department of Corrections’ Internal Consideration of the Bill

The approach taken by the Department of Corrections to assess the effects of the legislation on its business serves as a useful model for other agencies facing significant operational impacts in similar circumstances.

Once the legislation had been drafted, the Department of Corrections held a series of internal workshops to consider each clause of the Bill and the implications for each of the Department’s business units. This process helped to ensure that the Department identified all the key issues across its organisation. The Department subsequently met the Ministry to discuss the results and to develop a co-ordinated response to the proposed legislation.

Select Committee Process

After being introduced to the House, the Bill was sent to the Justice and Electoral Committee.

The agencies took responsibility for advising the Committee on different clauses of the Bill. The Ministry, the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections prepared five major reports for the Select Committee. The agencies worked together successfully to prepare these reports within a short timeframe.

Passage of the Bill

The Select Committee reported back to the House in February 2002, and the Bill had its second reading on 28 March 2002 and its third reading on 1 May 2002. The separate Acts then received the royal assent from the Governor-General on 5 May 2002, and the legislation came into force on 30 June 2002.

Information Technology

The implementation of the SPRB was an enormous task for the sector. The need to build or modify information technology systems to meet the changes in sentencing and parole policy – including interfaces between agency systems – put additional pressure on the project timetable.

Each set of policy changes had its own implications for the way each agency would gather, analyse, use and share information. Yet long lead times for designing and building the necessary information technology systems required decisions to be made no later than August 2001. At that time some key policy proposals had not been determined. As a consequence, subsequent changes to policy, or to the draft Bill, were likely to be constrained by the design of information technology systems across the sector. These pressures made it critical for the agencies to develop an information technology plan as part of project planning, and for the implementation to be monitored in each agency and across the sector. This required maintaining ongoing communication as to the achievement of those milestones necessary to meet the timetable for the passing of the legislation.

Initial SPRB Information Technology Implementation Planning

Both the Department of Corrections and the Department for Courts recognised that they needed to modify their information technology systems to meet their obligations under the proposed Bill. In addition, all four core criminal justice agencies had to build interfaces between those modified systems to ensure a free flow of information across the sector. (For further discussion of information technology systems, see Part Five on pages 53-66.)

The Integrated Offender Management System – Department of Corrections

The Department of Corrections recognised in mid-2000 that the reforms would have significant information technology impacts. It considered that the required changes to the Integrated Offender Management System (IOMS) would be fundamental and wide-ranging, entailing:

. . . a fundamental change to the sentencing structure, which underpins the entire application. The changes impact specifically on the sentence calculation module, which is core to the system. These changes are complex and driven through the whole application.

In November 2000, the Department of Corrections identified that it would need to re-build IOMS to meet the legislative requirements. It assessed that the project would normally take 15 months to complete, and would have an expected implementation date of 1 July 2002.

However, at that time, the proposed date for passing the legislation was 1 March 2002. The Department noted that 1 March 2002 was the earliest possible time it could realistically complete the rebuild of the system without posing significant risks to delivery of services.

COLLECT and the Case Management System – Department for Courts

At the same time, the Department for Courts was in the process of building its fines management system (COLLECT), and was planning to move from the Law Enforcement System (LES) to a new Case Management System (CMS) in July 2002. The Department advised its Minister in November 2000 that this could be achieved by March 2002.

Risks for Both Departments

In bringing forward the planned information technology project implementation dates, both the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections took on significant risks. These risks made it particularly critical that the sector agencies develop a cohesive sector-wide strategy for co-ordinating the information technology systems development. However, no such strategy was developed.

Concerns Emerge That CMS Will Not Be Ready by 1 March 2002

In May 2001, the Department of Corrections began to voice concerns that CMS might not be ready to meet the 1 March 2002 deadline. The Department for Courts stated that its planned timetable was for:

  • CMS to be finished by 1 March 2002;
  • CMS to be rolled out progressively to all Courts from 1 March 2002;
  • the Department for Courts to make minor changes to LES to support their Sentencing and Parole obligations; and
  • the Department for Courts to be off LES by 1 June 2002 – so, between 1 March and 1 June 2002, the two systems would have to be updated.

This timetable not only made the transition to the new legislation more complex, but also had a direct impact on those justice agencies – the Department of Corrections in particular – which relied on electronic links for sharing information.

Moving the transition between LES and CMS to after 1 March 2002 meant that the Department of Corrections would be obliged to build an additional interface with LES to cover the requirements of the Bill for the period before CMS was fully operational. This would considerably increase costs for the Department. The Department made its concerns known, and noted the importance of timely co-ordination of system development across the sector to reflect dependencies between agencies:

As each agency removes systems from LES and creates their own platforms, there is a need for a high degree of co-operation between the agencies and a realisation that actions taken by one organisation have a direct effect on agencies that have already implemented their systems.

In its project plans at this time, the Department of Corrections identified risks to the sector from slippage of the legislative timetable and lack of co-ordination, potentially leading to delays in implementation, inconsistent application of the legislative provisions, and increased costs.

The Department for Courts confirmed its commitment to resolving issues relating to the Bill, and acknowledged a breakdown in communication. It considered that the breakdown illustrated the need for agencies to work much more closely together. It identified as a prime cause the absence of discussions between senior managers in their respective agencies. As a result, key information was not flowing back to lower-level managers and staff responsible for detailed project monitoring. With hindsight, the Department considered that a General Managers Forum should have been established to ensure that there was adequate oversight at a senior level from the outset.

The Deadlines Change

As it became clear that CMS would not be in place for the planned SPRB deadline of 1 March 2002, the Ministry, the Department for Courts, and the Department of Corrections recommended in August 2001 that Ministers agree to a new implementation date of 1 July 2002. In making this recommendation, officials sought assurance from the Department for Courts19 that CMS would be ready by that date. The Department for Courts gave this assurance. The CMS project manager supported this assurance in reports to the Department’s senior management, despite evidence of some doubts in the Department as to whether the revised implementation date could be met.

Further Delays Emerge

In November 2001, a Department for Courts’ project status report noted serious delays in completing key aspects of CMS development:

  • Finalisation of the agreement with the consultant was 39 days behind schedule.
  • The process for concluding a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Corrections was 29 days behind schedule.
  • The functional designs for the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections were not ready to be signed off. Related workshops indicated that the changes required to the Departments’ interfaces were greater than previously anticipated.
  • A possibility that the impact of the COLLECT/CMS interfaces had been under-estimated was also identified.

Concerns about the sector’s ability to meet the project deadline prompted a belated move to strengthen processes for planning, risk management, quality assurance, co-ordination and collaboration. The Ministry prepared a paper for the Chief Executives Forum outlining the current status, issues, and risks associated with the information technology changes necessary to give effect to the new legislation. The paper also made recommendations for improved co-ordination of activities with impacts for the sector, including:

  • A high-level project plan should be developed, identifying all key milestones and dependencies between projects across the agencies.
  • Project risks should be identified and mitigated, and a contingency plan established.
  • A sector-wide quality assurance should be carried out, focussing on the interfaces and dependencies between projects.
  • The Ministry should take responsibility for establishing and maintaining the overall co-ordination framework.

Addressing the Growing Project Risk

As it became increasingly possible that even the revised deadline of 1 July 2002 (accepted by Ministers) might not be met, the Ministry took a more vigorous leadership role in early-2002 by:

  • developing an integrated, sector-wide project implementation plan;
  • engaging PriceWaterhouseCoopers to provide quality assurance; and
  • establishing an Information Technology Enablers Oversight Group (see paragraphs 7.15-7.18 on pages 84-85).

The Department for Courts identified that CMS might not be ready to meet the 1 July 2002 deadline, and recognised a need to develop a contingency plan on the known risk factors. On 31 January 2002, the Steering Committee Quality Assurance Group of the Information Technology Enablers Group concluded that there was a significant risk of a delay to CMS. It assessed the likely impact of any such delay as high. Among the mitigation strategies proposed by the group were weekly meetings within the Department for Courts, and a month’s contingency period for the project plan.

Around this time, the Department for Courts considered that it should ensure that concerns were well founded before raising them with other agencies. The Department believed that by alerting the other agencies too early, there was a risk of escalating issues unnecessarily, creating further problems. The Department held regular internal meetings throughout January and February 2002 to discuss the possibility that CMS might not be ready by the 1 July 2002 deadline.

Our assessment of the process suggests that it would have been appropriate for the Department for Courts to have alerted the sector much earlier that CMS would not be ready to meet the 1 July 2002 deadline. Other agencies were aware of the difficulties facing the Department for Courts in managing the project, and concerns had been widely expressed within the Department. However, our analysis of the chain of events suggested that senior managers in the Department for Courts were not aware of (or were not willing to accept and disclose outside the Department) the likely extent and impact of risks associated with the project. Unclear governance arrangements created the potential for conflicting assessments of CMS status, and for other sector agencies to receive mixed messages.

In addition, inadequate sector arrangements for co-ordination and project governance had restricted agencies from access to the information they needed to establish the true status of the CMS project. Uncertainty was bound to add to the apprehension surrounding the progress of the project.

Resolving the Problems

On 5 March 2002, a meeting of the Justice Sector SPRB Committee was attended by General Managers from the Ministry, the Department of Corrections, the Department for Courts and the Police. The purpose of the meeting was to “explore issues and risks in the non-deliverance of the 1 July 2002 SPRB and advise the Minister of the same”.

At that meeting the Department for Courts expressed a “general nervousness” about the ability of its information technology systems to achieve a 1 July 2002 implementation date. It was noted that:

After lengthy discussion aimed at establishing increases in risk profile of the SPRB IT systems, Courts advised the meeting that last Thursday their developers had advised that SPRB changes for CMS were three times bigger than originally envisaged.

It was agreed that the Ministry would co-ordinate a briefing paper and that Chief Executives would be advised of the situation. A further meeting was scheduled for two days later.

On 6 March 2002 the Ministry outlined to its Minister concerns about the delays to the Department for Courts’ interface development projects, noting that:

The concerns advised are assessed as a high-risk area by the sector. There is a potential significant impact on all agencies if their IT systems cannot interface with Courts’ system when SPRB comes into force. Justice sector agencies have therefore indicated they will provide all possible assistance to Courts to work through any difficulties.

After rapid and extensive consultation between the agencies, the Ministry prepared a Cabinet paper recommending that the Department for Courts modify LES to handle information associated with the proposed legislation, and that the Department of Corrections put in place the necessary technical interface for accessing data from LES. As the Police had previously advised Ministers of an operating surplus of between $5 million and $7 million, some of this funding would be made available for those purposes.

On 19 March 2002, officials from the Ministry and other agencies briefed the Minister of Justice, noting that:

Current indications are that the 2nd reading and committee stages for SPRB will take place in April, suggesting enactment may occur in the third week of May. The loss of almost three months of the planned implementation period puts achievement of the 1 July commencement date at very serious risk ...

We have now reached the point where no change that requires change to IT systems can be made prior to 1 July. It is important to note that small changes within the Bill can lead to significant IT changes, and that significant changes to the Bill may have little or no impact on IT systems. Until changes are identified their full impact cannot be defined.

Mitigation Strategy

There is no way to work around this.

Sector agencies faced the challenge of putting in place the necessary IT infrastructure to meet the 1 July 2002 implementation date. This required considerable co-operation and collaboration between the agencies to develop a workable solution within a very tight timeframe.

To the credit of the sector agencies, they were able to address this challenge in the short time remaining, in a manner that allowed the legislation to be implemented as planned.

Review of the SPRB Information Technology Process

The Ministry has reviewed the SPRB process and identified lessons to be learned from the process that reinforce the need for good communication, co-ordination and collaboration to reflect the interdependent nature of the agencies. The lessons included that:

  • The Ministry’s co-ordination role needed to be made clear.
  • The specific requirements of each agency needed to be more clearly identified and communicated.
  • A whole-of-sector approach to risk management in relation to interfaces and interdependencies should have been developed from the outset.
  • Proper consideration should have been given to the impact (on the Department for Courts and the Department of Corrections in particular) of the delay in the legislation date to allow time for CMS to be put in place.
  • Once established, senior managers groups proved an effective means of resolving issues, highlighting critical system interface issues and providing an overview of risks and mitigation strategies.

15: It was always intended that there would be two separate Acts – a Sentencing Act and a Parole Act. However, throughout its development phase, the legislation was treated as one Bill.

16: This figure is a summarised representation of the policy and legislative process. A fuller outline can be found in the Appendix on pages 104-105.

17: The Department of Corrections, Department for Courts, Police, Crown Law Office, Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Ministry of Youth Affairs, The Treasury, Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

18: In some cases, however, agencies had already considered proposals in an earlier form in another context.

19: The timeframe for CMS development was one of five factors leading officials to recommend deferral of the planned date for implementation of the legislation.

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