Management Support and Business Analyst, Federal Public Service Justice
Business Intelligence improves the Belgian justice system
Arrears in the processing of electronic monitoring dossiers reduced by 40 percent
The Belgian Ministry of Justice has decided to step up the war on criminal impunity. In order to implement purposive policies, monitor their effectiveness, and swiftly take (corrective) actions, governments need readily available and reliable information. With this in mind, the Directorate General of the Houses of Justice (FPS Justice) decided to build an efficient and professional business intelligence (BI) environment that provides a diverse set of users direct and secure access to high quality data. Its implementation has already led to a 40 percent reduction in the processing backlog of electronic monitoring dossiers.
There are 28 Belgian houses of justice that make up an integral part of the FPS Justice. They provide the indispensable information that is used in the decision making process of FPS management and the Minister of Justice. The information these houses provide is used to answer questions from Parliament, to make decisions concerning—among other things—preliminary discharges, and to objectify workloads. Before 2009, to do this, 70,000 dossiers needed to be processed annually based on spreadsheets containing data from 28 local databases. Obviously such an approach was time consuming and prone to human error, especially when there is no guarantee that the data are reliable.
Currently, management, operational executives, and even the Ministry of Justice cabinet can consult the information they require via a secure online portal. As a result, their processes for making, managing, and evaluating policies have become significantly more efficient.
Centralize all data, give users direct access, speed up decision making
"We decided to replace the spreadsheets with a professional BI environment," explains Anabelle Rihoux, Management Support and Business Analyst at the FPS Justice. The BI environment now centralizes all data, generates standardized reports, and guarantees various user categories access to validated and reliable data.
Previously, everyone that needed data had to submit a request to the IT department. "The IT department had to develop reports without real consultation, sometimes resulting in misinterpretation," recalls Anabelle Rihoux. "Currently, the new Data Analysis and Quality Department, within the Business Department, centralizes and analyzes all data requests. The data warehouse and BI environment that have been developed for this specific purpose are the result of close collaboration between the IT and the Business Department, to ensure that the information matches the business model and business needs."
As result, management, operational executives, and even the Ministry of Justice cabinet can consult the information directly via a secure online portal. This is a major improvement, vastly increasing the efficiency of the decision making, management, and evaluation processes.
Reducing backlogs, defining targets
One important feature of the new BI environment is its standardized reporting tool. The resulting reports help, for instance, the various houses of justice to reduce their backlogs. "Based on an interpellation by the Ministry of Justice, a standard report was created that monitors the processing of electronic monitoring dossiers. This was an area which was consistently running in arrears and posing a major problem in the justice administration. The report provides accurate and timely insight into the actual stocks of electronic bracelets in service and the waiting periods. In this way, clear targets can be defined, appropriate actions undertaken, and the proceedings promptly reported to the Ministry's cabinet. As a result, the arrears in the processing of electronic monitoring dossiers have been reduced by 40 percent in the months immediately following the creation of the report," cites Anabelle Rihoux. "Of course, the tools would be nothing without the hard work of the people in the field. However, the tools help set and monitor targets and motivate employees to achieve these targets."
Facilitating the implementation of decisions
The reduction in the backlog is certainly an important success. But new challenges are already waiting. When the government decided to take the fight against criminal impunity to a next level, they envisioned the execution of short sentences via electronic monitoring or home detention, without creating additional administrative backlog. "With a SAS tool, it is perfectly possible to simulate the evolution of criminals detained at their homes and the impact this will have on the resources that are necessary to make this happen. In short, we can advise the Ministry of Justice cabinet with considerable confidence and precision on the required actions and realistic timelines," observes Anabelle Rihoux.
The latest development of two BI dashboards, has only added to the already very enthusiastic reception of the new BI environment. These dashboards increase the Directorate General's professionalism, since it enables to target actions and better advise the Ministry of Justice. It is already helping the Directorate mobilize its staff to improve the Belgian justice system in specific domains.
Prioritized iterative approach proved successful
The successful realization of the BI project was the result of intense collaboration between three parties, following a pre-defined project methodology. Anabelle Rihoux explains that together with the IT staff of the Data Management department and the SAS consultants, the Data Analysis and Quality Department was able to execute the project in a series of successive iterations. Each was carefully prioritized and tested in a pilot program. "Consequently, we could evolve step-by-step, developing good practices along the way. This proved to be the ideal approach for creating a professional BI environment."
Develop a data warehouse and BI portal with validated information as well as effective tools to support the decision making, the management, and the monitoring of the execution of business processes.
- Improved policy making
- Considerable efficiency gains and 40 percent reduction in the processing backlog of electronic monitoring dossiers
- Improved data quality