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Departmental ICT

Volume 485: debated on Monday 15 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which third parties are responsible for (a) managing and (b) hosting his Department's IT (i) systems and (ii) infrastructure. (240294)

Under existing contractual arrangements, EDS provides the Department with IT desk top service integration and management applications maintenance and support and hosting services. BT provides network and telephony services. In addition, the Department sources other IT services from a number of other suppliers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what policies and procedures his Department has relating to (a) change management, (b) problem management, (c) incident management, (d) release management and (e) configuration management in respect of departmental computer systems. (241306)

The Department works with its suppliers to apply comprehensive policies and procedures governing these functions, consistent with the standards established by Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). ITIL is the industry standard discipline for managing IT operations.

The Department's Corporate Information Technology Directorate provides assurance for the application of these policies and procedures.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans his Department has to replace the computer system infrastructure of (a) his Department and (b) its agencies; and if he will make a statement. (241307)

The Department’s plans for renewing its computer infrastructure have been pursued since 2005 through its IT Transformation Programme, which has equipped the Department with more resilient and sustainable IT delivering services at lower cost.

Realigned contracts with its IT Service providers, EDS and BT, have delivered data centre rationalisation, server modernisation, new desktops and encrypted laptops for staff and an advanced high capacity data network combining voice and data transmission.

Under these contractual arrangements and building on the transformation, a new data centre will be provided and call centre infrastructure will be replaced.

The Department has announced its intention to hold a series of competitions to replace these existing contracts between 2010-11 and 2015. This will provide a basis for continued modernisation of its computer infrastructure aligned to its strategic IT vision.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department takes to register (a) risks and (b) other issues relating to the operation of departmental computer systems. (241309)

The Department has an established process for managing risk and issues relating to its computer systems implemented at various functional levels. This risk management framework incorporates internal and external good practice from both the public and private sectors and is fully consistent with the HMT guidelines. The Risk Management Framework formally describes the Department’s approach to risk management and is based on a set of core elements which are mandated across all business units, programmes and projects.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what business continuity and disaster recovery plans his Department maintains in relation to its computer systems. (241310)

The Department has Business Continuity Plans, which are flexible and proven, to ensure that its customers receive their payments on time. Every departmental business area has its own Business Continuity Plans in place to support this top priority and these plans are comprehensively rehearsed at regular intervals. These plans are supported by resilience built into the Department’s IT systems design and alternative clerical process to deliver key services to customers where practicable.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent surveys (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have undertaken of satisfaction levels of users of departmental computer systems. (241312)

The DWP Staff Survey, conducted annually, contains a question on whether IT provides effective support for the job staff do. In addition, the annual IT & Telephony Satisfaction Survey, of a sample of staff across the Department, asks over 100 questions on a range of IT systems, services and equipment. The answers are used to identify priorities for improvement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans his Department has for future changes to its computer systems which store (a) financial and (b) non-financial data. (241317)

The Department does not categorise changes to computer systems according to data distinctions: changes often affect the storage of both financial and non-financial data and its deployment.

The Department’s computer systems are constantly reviewed to support policy and business modernisation and to improve efficiency and value for money. The Department currently has a schedule of over 1,200 IT system changes in the next 12 months. Many of these will arise from its current portfolio of about 200 modernisation projects.

19 of these are major business change programmes supported by IT. They are listed in appendix 1 of the report of the National Audit Office to the Work and Pensions Committee (Department for Work and Pensions: Information Technology Programmes), a copy of which is in the Library. They include programmes which will improve the deployment of financial information, for example the Central Payment System, and programmes to deliver efficient and effective services to the Department’s customers, for example the Department for Work and Pensions Change Programme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library a copy of each of his Department's (a) initiation documents, (b) business cases, (c) cost/benefit analyses, (d) communication plans, (e) project plans, (f) risks and issues logs, (g) technical and functional specifications, (h) user acceptance criteria and (i) stakeholder analyses for planned IT projects. (241390)

The information is not available in the format requested. It is available only at disproportionate cost.

The Department for Work and Pensions currently has a portfolio of over 200 projects with varying degrees of IT input. Project documentation is constantly updated and often contains both commercially sensitive and other information which may be prejudicial to the security of the Department's IT systems. The additional cost of removing such sensitive information to permit publication would be prohibitive. The Department regularly publishes information on major current modernisation projects in its annual plans and reports which are held in the Library of the House.