The Legal Aid Agency has committed to setting itself ‘challenging’ targets over the reliability of its IT systems in the same week it suffered technical glitches for more than 48 hours.
A 2020 vision and 2017-18 business plan document, published yesterday, state that the agency will 'improve and enhance our business processes to ensure we maintain and build upon the excellent customer service we offer to our users and partners in the justice system'. The agency will also 'implement improvements to our business IT systems, increasing our digital offering for staff and users'.
The agency says it will measure these objectives by 'setting ourselves challenging targets for customer services, including responding to correspondence and resolving complaints quickly' and 'setting ourselves challenging targets for the reliability of our IT systems'.
However, on Monday, the agency acknowledged that some practitioners were having trouble using its client and cost management system (CCMS) to submit civil legal aid applications. CCMS has long been a source of frustration for practitioners.
We are aware that some users are experiencing issues with CCMS. We are working quickly to resolve.— Legal Aid Agency (@LegalAidAgency) November 13, 2017
We are still experiencing some issues with CCMS that may be affecting some users. We will be working overnight to fix the problem and will update in the morning #legalaid— Legal Aid Agency (@LegalAidAgency) November 13, 2017
On Tuesday the agency announced its customer helplines were down.
Our customer helplines down owing to technical issues. Email us for urgent civil or crime enquiries at email@example.com . CCMS currently stable, but further errors could occur. All other systems are working well. #legalaidpic.twitter.com/ZpweUBuTUm— Legal Aid Agency (@LegalAidAgency) November 14, 2017
On Wednesday customer service lines were 'back up and running' and CCMS was 'stable'.
Our customer service lines are now back up and running and can be telephoned on the usual number for civil and criminal enquiries. CCMS is stable and all other systems are working well. We apologise for the inconvenience caused and thank you for your patience #legalaid pic.twitter.com/h2opxQt5q2— Legal Aid Agency (@LegalAidAgency) November 15, 2017
The agency's CCMS system and the 230,000 phone calls received by the customer services team are listed as 'achievements' in the 2016-17 financial year.
Introducing the report, the agency's chief executive, Shaun McNally, said the next three years 'will bring a number of new challenges for the LAA and like all parts of the public sector we expect to remain under strong pressure to reduce our budget'.