Serbia Justice Functional Review

Internal Performance Assessment > ICT Management

g. ICT Staffing and Training

i. Adequacy of Staffing Arrangements

  1. Nearly 30 percent of Misdemeanor Courts and 18 percent of Basic Courts have no ICT support staff. When software questions or minor maintenance needs arise, courts rely on non-technical staff that gained some knowledge of the systems from their day-to-day activities. With no ICT training, the ad-hoc volunteers for these tasks will remain unfamiliar with many of the system features.937
  2. The inadequacy of ICT staff affects service delivery. More significant issues are queued behind all other requests to vendors, and prioritized by the working groups. In other courts, there is generally adequate local ICT court staff to handle immediate issues (e.g., fixing equipment problems, loading software) but not enough to ensure the effective use of systems or provide analytical support to the courts. This impedes the courts’ ability to use technology to its fullest, understand their operations, or reengineer their processes to ensure that judges and staff engage in productive activities.
  3. According to the Gartner Group, the leader in assessing technology planning, government agencies worldwide allocate an average of 3.6 percent of their employees to the ICT function.938 In comparison, the only courts in Serbia with similar ratios of ICT to overall staff are the Higher and Commercial Courts: the Appellate, Misdemeanor and the Basic Courts fall far below that level (see Table 42).
  1. Other courts lack specialized ICT-trained staff. An additional 28 percent of the Basic Courts and 53 percent of the Misdemeanor Courts IT technicians only hold a high school diploma. Network administration, server administration, and website development may not be manageable by local staff.
  2. There is insufficient distinction in the tasks carried out by different IT positions; instead, ‘everyone does everything.’ The Belgrade First Basic Court began assigning distinct ICT responsibilities (e.g., network administrator, server administrator, end user support, e-mail support, website development), but these distinctions are not reflected in the systematization of positions approved by the MOJ, and no other courts are using the First Basic Court’s model. This results in extreme limitations in career growth within the courts. It may also explain the reported high turnover of ICT staff.
  3. There is no formal training or opportunity for ICT staff to discuss common issues. ICT employees receive no application-specific training when first hired or any ongoing training. Instead, staff must rely on online forums for answers. Concerns were expressed in interviews about training ICT staff because given the uncompetitive pay, trained ICT staff are likely to move to other employment.
  4. Further, basic computer and software skills are not included as minimum requirements in job classifications for civil servants in the courts. Including this basic requirement would reap benefits in terms of greater proficiency among new hires in the medium term.

ii. Adequacy of ICT Training

  1. There is minimal ICT training across the sector. Many judges, prosecutors and court staff have not received the most basic computer literacy training to familiarize themselves with computer hardware or relevant software. Stakeholders report that many judges are unable to do basic word processing, send emails or run searches in the case management systems or legal research databases.940 As a result, they rely heavily on judicial assistants and court staff – who similarly have received no such training but who may (or may not) have acquired such skills by virtue of younger age or previous employment. As a result, notwithstanding the availability of computers, many judges continue to dictate their orders or correspondence to typists, and then manually correcting them on several occasions, before finally proofing and signing the document. With basic training in computer literacy, the sector could significantly increase its efficiency use of technology.
  2. The ICT training for judges and staff occurs when a new system is implemented (and is usually funded by the donor that funded the system), but it is not offered to new employees or available as refresher courses. For example, training on AVP, arguably the most commonly used and essential system, has not been conducted since its initial rollout in 2010. More frequent trainings and advanced follow-up trainings could yield efficiency dividends.
  3. In addition, training is not tailored to what is needed. There is no training plan for ongoing, site-based training that differentiates IT specialists, super-users who can help other court employees with simpler ICT problems, and other employees. As discussed in the Human Resources Chapter, a training assessment based on survey responses of court employees needs to be conducted.

‘The most common factor for the failure of newly created ICT systems does not come from a technical background, but… from the non-usage of the new systems by a … critical mass of users, thus not allowing the system to actually become truly alive.’

ICT Strategy Report, Ministry of Justice, 2013