DC Courts:

Disciplined Processes Critical to Successful System Acquisition

GAO-02-316: Published: Feb 28, 2002. Publicly Released: Feb 28, 2002.

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The District of Columbia Courts (DC Courts) is acquiring the Integrated Justice Information System (IJIS) to replace many nonintegrated systems. This system is expected to address current deficiencies and provide the courts with necessary information critical to its mission. DC Courts has not yet implemented the disciplined processes necessary to reduce the risks associated with acquiring and managing the IJIS acquisition effort at acceptable levels within established resources and schedule. Most of the DC Courts' requirements, developed in the draft request for proposal, lacked the specificity needed to ensure that requirements had been reduced to acceptable levels and the system would meet users' needs. DC Courts officials want to use the acquisition process to identify the cost, schedule, and performance gaps associated with their effort. DC Courts officials acknowledge that this approach increases risk; however, they believe that accelerating the implementation of a badly needed system justifies those risks. As with any effort, alternative approaches need to be analyzed.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 2005 an independent appraiser, Cyber Solutions, Inc., announced that the DC Superior Court (DC Courts) had achieved Maturity Level 2 of the SEI Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI SW). The appraiser identified strengths found in areas such as: (1) work breakdown schedules being used as the basis for planning, monitoring, and controlling the project through project plans, project control reports, status reports, and weekly senior management meetings; (2) stakeholders being actively involved in project planning and execution; and (3) DC Courts staff taking appropriate corrective action when necessary to maintain control of the project. According to the Project Manager, every customization was reviewed at a high level of specificity. The appraiser also reported that suppliers are selected using structured criteria based on an evaluation of the ability of the supplier to perform the work.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the DC Courts reduces risks associated with its systems development and implementation and increase the chances of a successful effort, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration in the District of Columbia should ensure that the acquisition process is adequate to (1) clearly define the terms customization and modification and (2) ensure that vendor responses clearly communicate the cost, schedule, and performance impacts of implementing a customization or modification associated with a given requirement.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Joint Committee on Judicial Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 2005 an independent appraiser, Cyber Solutions, Inc., announced that the DC Superior Court (DC Courts) had achieved Maturity Level 2 of the SEI Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI SW). The independent appraiser reported that requirements for the Integrated Justice Information System were being obtained from relevant stakeholders, analyzed for impact, and changes were being appropriately managed in Requisite Pro. The appraiser also found that the requirement traceability matrix was being used to document bi-directional traceability throughout the life-cycle.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the DC Courts reduces risks associated with its systems development and implementation and increase the chances of a successful effort, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration in the District of Columbia should organize the requirements document to facilitate the requirements validation process used by disciplined organizations.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Joint Committee on Judicial Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 2005 an independent appraiser, Cyber Solutions, Inc., announced that the DC Superior Court (DC Courts) had achieved Maturity Level 2 of the SEI Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI SW). The appraiser found that DC Courts' requirements management process involved identifying inconsistent requirements. According to the Project Manager, every customization was reviewed at a high level of specificity.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the DC Courts reduces risks associated with its systems development and implementation and increase the chances of a successful effort, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration in the District of Columbia should develop requirements that contain the necessary specificity to reduce requirements-related defects to acceptable levels and add them to the draft request for proposal. The requirements management process used to develop and document the requirements should be adequate to ensure that each requirement (1) fully describes the functionality to be delivered, (2) includes the source of the requirement, and (3) is stated in unambiguous terms that allow for quantitative evaluation.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Joint Committee on Judicial Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 2005 an independent appraiser, Cyber Solutions, Inc., announced that the DC Superior Court (DC Courts) had achieved Maturity Level 2 of the SEI Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI SW). The independent appraiser reported that DC Courts has institutionalized a managed process with strong management and leadership commitment that has facilitated rapid progress in achieving business goals. For example, IJIS personnel identify, track, and manage risks, effectively use Risk Radar, and analyze resulting issues.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the DC Courts reduces risks associated with its systems development and implementation and increase the chances of a successful effort, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration in the District of Columbia should develop a plan on how it will implement the disciplined processes necessary to reduce the risks associated with this effort to acceptable levels. This plan should include the processes, such as those identified by the Software Engineering Institute and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, that will be implemented and the resources, such as staffing and funding, needed to implement the necessary processes effectively.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Joint Committee on Judicial Administration

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 2005 an independent appraiser, Cyber Solutions, Inc., announced that the DC Superior Court (DC Courts) had achieved Maturity Level 2 of the SEI Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI SW). The appraiser reported that the use of CMMI has provided DC Courts a robust architecture for the successful deployment of IJIS business processes. The appraiser noted strengths in the areas of schedule, cost, project reviews, and milestones. Also, higher level management is actively engaged in reviewing the activities, status, and results of processes. According to the Project Manager, every customization was reviewed at high level specificity with a determination of the order of magnitude, costs, as well as other alternatives, and the detailed specifications included a limit on costs. DC Courts IT Division managed major budget and spending categories including interfaces, customization, and training.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the DC Courts reduces risks associated with its systems development and implementation and increase the chances of a successful effort, the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration in the District of Columbia should evaluate the cost, schedule, and performance impacts of the customizations and modifications identified during the system acquisition process and ensure that the benefits are cost-effective and that alternatives to customization or modification are not available.

    Agency Affected: District of Columbia: Joint Committee on Judicial Administration

 

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