The Strategy Plan for Modernisation of the Justice System 2009-2012
The Strategy Plan for the Modernization of the Judicial System was a priority for the Spanish government in power from 2004 to 2011. Its political project was to make the administration of justice more open and transparent. It sought to bring it closer to ordinary citizens by simplifying its processes and procedures and improving its accessibility (Ministry of Justice, 2009). E-government was an important tool.
The strategy plan is grounded in political understanding of the need for a “social deal for justice” (Acuerdo social por la justicia) aimed at modifying the public image of a slow, inefficient judiciary.12 The implication was that the outcome of the strategy should be measured both by the judicial system’s improved internal effectiveness and efficiency and by how improvements were communicated to the public to improve the public perception.
The strategy plan is built on six pillars, or strategic axes, and structured to support its reform goals and programmes. Each strategic axis has a set of specific objectives, which include e-government-related programmes. Axis III is particularly relevant to e-government as its declared aim is to develop a technologically advanced justice system. Around half of the projects in the modernisation programme are directly IT-related, which makes Axis III particularly important. E-government and modernisation projects are considered complex to implement in the Spanish legal system, due to tradition, institutional inertia, and to the fact that some judicial institutions are autonomous and not under the ministry’s aegis.13 There was, therefore, a need for strong, close management and co-ordination and implementation efforts at all levels.
The Strategy Plan for the Modernization of the Judicial System in Spain sets an example of how, through e-government, to embrace and support the government’s broader policy goals at all levels as an integrated part of a public-sector modernization project. Large-scale investments to improve organizations demand a high level of senior management skills.