The U.S. Courts Increase Efficiency and Decrease Costs through CGI’s Managed Services and Momentum® Solution
The U.S. Courts are often called the guardians of the Constitution because their rulings protect rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Supporting this critical mission is the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC), which provides a broad range of administrative, legal, technical, communications and other services to support the workload of thousands of people across the Courts.
Among its many functions, the AOUSC develops and administers the judiciary's budget; audits court financial records; manages the judiciary's payroll and human resources programs; manages the judiciary's automation and information technology programs; and collects and accounts for fines.
Over time, however, the installation of FAS4T at each court location began to raise distinct challenges. While the AOUSC routinely pushed upgrades and patches out to the Courts, each court decided whether or not to install the release. Eventually, a variety of versions of FAS4T existed, resulting in configuration and server management issues. The AOUSC faced increasing demands to reconcile multiple FAS4T versions and manage the accuracy and reliability of its data.
In addition, each court district developed and managed its own backup and recovery plan. After Hurricane Katrina, which affected court operations in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Houston, the AOUSC knew that a comprehensive disaster recovery and continuity of operations plan was imperative to the Courts’ ability to operate and meet their commitments to citizens.
Given the high costs and configuration issues with maintaining FAS4T at 94 locations—plus the federal government’s typical budget constraints and mandates that called for the need to “do more with less”—the AOUSC was ready for a proactive, centralized approach to managing their financial and other operations. This also would allow AOUSC to provide the Courts with an increased focus on security and continuity of operations.
In 2005, after a competitive process, the AOUSC awarded CGI a contract to become the managed services provider for the Courts’ financial management application, FAS4T. CGI’s data center management and hosting experience plus familiarity with the U.S. Courts’ business needs led to the development of a long-term strategy designed to achieve the conference’s objectives.
The first phase of this strategy is under way, with CGI working to standardize the Courts’ version of FAS4T and manage the system’s servers within CGI’s data center. This is being done in “waves” of 9-10 Courts. The pilot, “proof of concept” stage involved 10 district Courts. The results were immediate and clear: system performance improved dramatically while maintaining high availability; in addition, new services such as a robust security and disaster recovery program were in place. As a result, CGI is migrating FAS4T operations from all of the other Courts.
As of March 1, 2008, 63% (59) of the Courts were operating in the new higher performing environment at CGI, with the remaining Courts on track to finish migrating by May 2008. The Courts join more than 50 other federal organizations, including the General Services Administration, supported by financial systems live in CGI’s onshore U.S. Shared Services Center. This phase of the project will be finished by the end of 2008 and will result in one standard FAS4T application and a vastly streamlined server environment—the previous 94 individual servers will be replaced in an updated architecture by 19 state-of-the-art servers located in CGI’s secure data center in Phoenix.
In conjunction with the initial phase, CGI was separately contracted to replace the AOUSC’s 20 year-old accounting system with CGI’s Momentum ERP software, which modernizes their financial management operations and allows them to be fully integrated with the Courts. CGI has been tasked with hosting this as well.
The second phase of the project will be to merge the multiple instances of FAS4T at the Courts into one database and one instance of FAS4T. Also based on CGI’s Momentum software, FAS4T’s robust security module will ensure that Courts have access to only their own data, an important feature to the Courts. CGI is designing a solution that will segregate each Court’s data when the databases are merged, allowing the data to be partitioned and accessible only to the Court that owns the data.
During the third and final phase, FAS4T will be upgraded to the most up-to-date version, allowing the AOUSC and the Courts to take advantage of a number of functional, web-based features that meet increased security standards and heightened mandates for internal controls and accountability. This phase also will merge the Courts’ databases with the AOUSC’s to create a single, integrated financial management system.
As the remaining Courts migrate to the standard system and servers the AOUSC expects to see significant cost savings and improved service quality from this centralized, managed services environment.
The Courts also can be confident of maintaining top quality IT. CGI’s technology refresh plan allows leasers to upgrade hardware every three years—before systems become obsolete or problematic.The bottom line: With this initiative, the U.S. Courts is relying on CGI to deliver the systems that manage critical mission and financial transactions, which allows the Courts to enhance their focus on administering justice.
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