Joint IT center funding shortfall putting justice ministry's work at risk

The "Super Ministry" building in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Ministry of Justice has complained that the inter-ministry IT department cannot cope with its workload and problems arise "every day" putting its work at risk. But additional funding is unlikely as the government wants ministries to cut back.

One example highlighted by the ministry, recalls how autopsy data collected last month for a criminal case was almost lost after an IT upload failure.

Luckily, most of the information was still held on recording devices, but a doctor also had to supplement the data from memory.

But this case is part of a wider problem in which ministry officials say problems occur "every day".

In a letter recently sent to the Ministry of Economy and Communications, Ministry of Justice Permanent Secretary Tõnis Saar made a long list of complaints against the State Shared Service Center (RIT), which is responsible for computer workstations and server space for approximately 75 government agencies.

Computer updates take too long, mobile workers are given desktop computers, printers do not work, and software solutions stop working without any notice, he listed.

"As a result of the incidents in recent weeks, the services of the Ministry of Justice have repeatedly been unavailable for several hours," Saar said.

Kõigil inimestel on võimalik oma tekst tõlkida masintõlke abil näiteks võru, liivi või udmurdi keelde. Source: Bhikku Amitha/Pixabay

"As a result, it has not been possible to hold court hearings as scheduled and to draft and publish court decisions."

RIT Director Ergo Tars said the underlying causes for the autopsy data issue and day-to-day problems are the same.

"These file servers were purchased six years ago and are at the end of their life cycle. When the file server was purchased, there was no indication of the kind of intense workload that the servers are currently experiencing," he said.

Tars said problems have also been reported by other agencies.

"We have to take into account that technology is aging and needs to be constantly updated. This requires additional investment. And we don't have that money today," he said.

RIT mainly needs money for license shortfalls, network investments, server infrastructure, and special solutions, Tars said.

The agency would like to submit an additional funding request for next year's budget totaling tens of millions of euros and the usual deadline is July 1.

However, this year, additional funding is unlikely to be forthcoming.

Mart Võrklaev Autor/allikas: Siim Lõvi /ERR

"This year, we are not requesting any additional expenditure from ministries, confirmed Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform). "The government has decided that we want savings from all ministers."

Võrklaev said if additional funding is required then ministries need to reassess their expenses and find the money themselves.

While he admitted the sector is a concern across the country, the minister said the extra IT funding mechanisms will not be provided this year.

"IT has got its money's worth. Let's see what the ministries can do themselves and I imagine we will discuss different things in the budget process," Võrklaev added.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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