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Comisiwn y Cynulliad
Assembly Commission

NAFWC 2010 (Paper 3 Part 1)
Unifying the Assembly’s ICT network (UNO)

Date: 30 November 2010
Time:After Plenary
Venue:Conference Room 4B
Author name and contact number: Brian Davidge, ext 8879

This paper has been prepared for consideration by the National Assembly for Wales Commission. It has been deemed suitable for publication after such consideration in line with the Commission’s rules for conduct of business. Premature publication or disclosure of the contents of this paper is not permitted as this might prejudice the Commission’s deliberations

1.0 Purpose and summary of issues

1.1 The unified network project is an enabling project, through which we have addressed the issues identified in the i-change review.  UNO enables us to introduce ways of working that reduce costs in the business and improve the services offered to the people of Wales.

1.2 This paper is an update to the Commission on progress to date and on the final stages of project closure. There will be a further final report at the Commission’s next meeting.

2.0 Recommendations

2.1 To note progress on the rollout of UNO and steps being taken to resolve outstanding issues.

3.0 Discussion

3.1 The UNO project has created an up to date ICT system to enable the Assembly to work independently of the Welsh government, to improve business continuity and to enable the Assembly to make appropriate, cost effective choices for future ICT provision.  The system’s design was based upon an extensive consultation exercise with all users, Members, their staff and Assembly staff.  Between July and October this year the system was installed for 800 users at over 80 locations, including Ty Hywel, constituency offices and in homes.  50 applications were migrated from the old system to the new.  This was not just a regular equipment refresh, the whole system was changed, including an external data centre and a new operating platform.


3.2 The budget for the project has been tightly managed and the out turn is expected to be within the final budget allocated by the Commission (£4.3m).


3.3 The rollout programme was completed on time.  Rollout for staff in Ty Hywel was carried out during the summer recess in three tranches, being completed on 23 September.  There were two pilots carried out on 31 July and 14 August and the main rollout took place on 31 August.  Homeworkers and the north Wales office in Colwyn Bay were rolled out during September.

3.4 The Assembly Member and Assembly Members’ support staff rollout began on 13 September and ran until 20 October.  This was conducted on an office-by-office basis, which meant that the Member and all his or her support staff, regardless of location, were rolled out at the same time.  This was challenging due to tight control over budget and the busy schedule of Assembly Members during term time.  The project team visited and provide basic training to users in dozens of locations across Wales in just under six weeks.

3.5 The system is now operational in 108 supported sites, including the Assembly Estate in Cardiff Bay, Assembly offices in Colwyn Bay and Brussels, constituency and regional offices, Members’ homes and Assembly staff homes.


3.6 All Assembly staff received training prior to and following their rollout.  This was offered to Members and their support staff but the take-up was low.

3.7 Basic training following rollout was provided to users who were present at the locations visited.  Basic guidance documents on using Office 2010 were given to users on rollout, and have also been published on the intranet.  We are currently discussing further training requirements for Members and support staff with the ICT user group, with the aim of providing more flexible training.


3.8 A number of issues have affected the service provided to Members.  The project board are aware of them and are working on resolving them in the quickest, yet most cost effective way. The project team are working on resolutions on the following priority basis:

  • the issue affects how Assembly Members work;

  • the issue affects public interaction with the Assembly;

  • the issue prevents staff users from doing their job; or

  • the issue impacts upon a large number of users.

The following Member-specific issues have been raised and logged with the project team. They have been thoroughly investigated by Siemens and, where applicable, third parties:

3.9 Caseworker systems
Some applications have never been supported under the ICT service contract, including Party supplied casework systems.  A number of calls and complaints have been received by support staff because of difficulties with these applications.  The team are working with the suppliers on improvements that can be made to these systems, some of which have not been designed to work over an IT network.  The Assembly-provided Caseworker system is currently being upgraded, and will be available to all Members in early December.

3.10 E-mail
Some offices were affected by e-mail problems early in the project, when users were being sent e-mails which did not arrive, and sent emails were not being delivered.  This did not apply to all users or to all e-mails.  The fault was quickly identified, and resolved for all users within a few days.

3.11 Remote working
Connection speed from constituency offices and the north Wales office has improved with the introduction of the new systems.  On the whole, home working has improved on both Assembly-provided broadband and home users’ broadband, although there are known issues with six home users which we are working to resolve.

3.12 Members’ p: drive data
The project plan was to move the Members’ p: drive data in one piece by party following the successful upgrade of all parties.  Working with the IT Party group administrators, this work was undertaken over the weekends of 20 November and 27 November.

3.13 Siambr
Some Members experienced issues relating to password problems and mailboxes within the Siambr during the first Plenary session of the new term.  These were resolved by the next day’s meeting.  Additional testing was arranged and undertaken with Members who were subsequently rolled-out, to ensure that their first log-on in the Siambr went smoothly.  Ministers continue to experience some lag with their Member e-mail accounts in the Siambr; this issue is being considered by the Project Board.

3.14 Blackberrys
All Members’ Blackberry devices had to be reconfigured as part of the rollout process.  Some devices had to be returned for further reconfiguration work as they were not synchronising emails.  This work was done as a matter of urgency by service desk engineers.

3.15 Outlook Web Access (OWA)
Due to security certificate issues, Members were unable to access the OWA facility for a number of weeks.  This issue has been resolved, and guidance on how to access OWA on the new system has been communicated to Members via the intranet.

Old equipment

3.16 All of the PCs and laptops collected from Assembly Members and support staff have been stored in locked secure areas, with access limited to ICT staff and Siemens engineers.  Equipment was kept for a minimum of six weeks in case any data held on the machines was required and needed to be recovered by Siemens engineers.

3.17 Equipment that is compatible with the new IT system will be rebuilt and reused as stock.  Older machines that are not compatible with the new GF domain will be sent to Remploy, who will securely wipe all data off the hard disks.  If the machine is in good condition, it will be refurbished and resold (with the Assembly receiving a rebate).  If the machine is not deemed fit for resale, the components will be stripped and the parts recycled.  Remploy have assured us that no parts will be sent to landfill.  Our aim is that taking into account the rebate from used PCs and laptops, the disposal process will be cost neutral to the Assembly.

Support Services

3.18 In order to provide an enhanced service for Members using the new system, the IT service desk is now available between 9am-3pm on weekends for a trial period.

3.19 The final stage of UNO is to introduce a new support service agreement which meets Assembly requirements, as captured by i-change.  These include one hour fix for computer failures, weekend telephone support and a single dedicated helpdesk.  The new arrangements are being negotiated with Siemens and the Welsh Government as the parties to the Merlin contract.

3.20 It is the intention of the Assembly to introduce the new service levels in a manner that improves services and is cost-effective.  This final stage also moves the Assembly closer to one of its strategic objectives, “to design an infrastructure and IT service model, driven by the needs, priorities and strategy of the Assembly.”

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