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No answers in offender system dispute

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Correctional services and SITA are facing legal action following a dispute with Dimension Data, the service provider of its offender management system.
Correctional services and SITA are facing legal action following a dispute with Dimension Data, the service provider of its offender management system.

Questions surrounding the Department of Correctional Services' (DCS) offender management system remain unanswered and legal action is being taken by service provider Dimension Data, against the department and the State IT Agency (SITA).

The DCS has already spent R17 million on the project, but there is no system to show for it. Meanwhile, Dimension Data reportedly claims it is still owed millions by the department for work done to develop the program.

The Remand Detainee Offender Management System (RDOMS) is a redesign of the DCS software systems to allow for better management of offenders, and is set to include full biometric tracking of inmates.

A tender was issued to Dimension Data in 2009, and it reportedly partnered with Magic Software SA to supply the system. Kwesthuba Consulting also came on board as the black economic empowerment partner, but has reportedly since withdrawn from the project.

According to a reliable source close to the project, the contract was originally awarded for 12 months. The scale of the project was, however, far bigger than had been foreseen, reportedly also because the tender specs were vague and did not spell out what was really required.

This meant Dimension Data's contract had to be extended to accommodate a new delivery time. For unknown reasons, the contract was never officially extended, but all parties agreed to the extension and Dimension Data carried on with the development of the system.

Dimension Data and Magic Software SA allegedly had to fund the rest of the development out of their own pockets, but nonetheless completed the system, realising the element of risk involved, but fearing they would not get paid if the project was not finished.

The DCS is now allegedly refusing to pay for the system, arguing the contract with Dimension Data is no longer valid as it was never officially extended.

No money, no system

The RDOMS was apparently completed in November 2012 and has already been demonstrated to SITA. The system is, however, not yet up and running, as the DCS is refusing to pay the outstanding R27 million to SITA, which then needs to pay Dimension Data.

According to a committee report, the DCS has already paid R17 million for the system to SITA, but refuses to pay the outstanding R27 million as "they can not pay for what they do not have".

Dimension Data has now proceeded with legal action against DCS and SITA, as it seems an agreement outside of court is not on the cards. A source states SITA hopes to settle the matter with Dimension Data, while the DCS is refusing to budge.

Attempts to get answers from the parties involved delivered no results. Dimension Data confirmed that a legal process is under way, but says this prohibits it from commenting on the matter. The DCS referred ITWeb's questions to SITA, saying it was the agency's role to manage and provide IT services to government departments and it should therefore provide clarity on the matter.

SITA, however, also refused to comment, saying it "would be speaking on behalf of a client" if it responded, and referred all questions back to the DCS.

The DCS formed part of an AG report released in January that revealed a total of R102 billion was spent on ICT consultants between the 2008/9 and 2010/11 financial years, and more than a billion of this amount went to IT projects that were overpaid, or never completed.

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