AOC To Spend “Billions” On Court Case Management System (CCMS)

As court employees and the public in general celebrate the official beginning of the AOC’s decision to close courts, I thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone of how we got here.

The judicial branch suffered a $360,809,000 million cut to its budget. The breakdown of the cut was $100 million imposed by the 2009 Budget Act, plus another $92.24 million cut that was a continuation of a cut the courts got in fiscal year 2008-2009, and another cut of $168.57 million proposed by the governor. Total reductions? $-360,809,000 million.

Now the AOC managed to bring that deficit down to $-190,126,592 through various cost cutting measures including one-time offsets, savings from the Voluntary Salary Waivers for the judges, security reduction, and increased court fees. That $-190,126,592 was then divided among the various court systems throughout California with the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego taking the biggest hit. A $-52,574,606 cut in the case of Los Angeles.

While the AOC was handing out these cuts to all of the counties to handle on their own, they continued to funnel funds into their favorite court software program called the Court Case Managment System. (CCMS) And it isn’t as if this was some big secret. Everyone who had some type of working relationship with the AOC knew that the AOC is adamant that they will not divert funding from the CCMS into other much needed areas….like say helping courts deal with their deficits. Bailouts. It’s good enough for banks. Courts? Not so much.

Last month the AOC put out a FAQ about CCMS in which they attempt to explain what CCMS is, what they hope it will accomplish, why they believe CCMS is a good idea, and how much it’ll cost taxpayers. There are two paragraphs in the FAQ that stand out to anyone who reads it. The following are taken directly from the document the AOC put out.


How much has the AOC invested in development of CCMS?

$394 million has been invested in CCMS through FY 08/09. This includes development, enhancements, and maintenance for CCMS-V2 and CCMS-V3. CCMS-V4 development costs (to date) are incorporated in this figure, as well as costs for the California Courts Technology Center (CCTC) and costs associated with the Data Exchange project. Deployment to Fresno, Sacramento, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and San Joaquin counties is also included.

How much will it cost to deploy CCMS?

Based on the original plan, deployment was estimated at $1.2 billion through 2013 and includes deployment to all 58 courts. The current economic situation and changes to the budget and schedule will determine the final cost.

No, your eyes do not deceive you. The AOC has invested $394 million through FY 08/09 and they believe that deployment will cost $1.2 billion by 2013. $1.2 billion for the AOC’s new software that they hope when launched will be their version of the iPhone but for all we know could wind up being the AOC’s version of the deployment of Windows Vista. And we all know how swimmingly that went. Of course the FAQ says $394 million has been invested but we don’t even know what the breakdown is for each year since the project began. We don’t even know exactly how the $394 million was invested. Nothing is itemized in this FAQ put out by the AOC.

Not only that, who the heck is building the CCMS program to the tune of $394 million so far? How were the contractors for the CCMS program selected? More importantly, what were the original costs given by the contractor for the building and completion of CCMS?

And notice how the AOC tries to deflect any talk of delay of CCMS by claiming that,

The downstream impacts of delay are significant and could be as high as $240 million for a full year delay. This is due to the cascading effect on future activities, legacy systems that will need to be extended or replaced, potentially higher deployment vendor costs and numerous other factors. The longer deployment is delayed the greater the financial impact.

Really? $240 million for a full year delay? Says who? And why? Why would a delay cost $240 million? Again, nothing is itemized here.  For all we know any delay in CCMS’ implementation may wind up costing the AOC something.  But are we supposed to believe it’s going to be $240 million just because the AOC says so?  Is it any wonder that court employees, unions, and a great number of judges doubt the AOC’s sincerity when they say that the court closures were inevitable when they throw figures around willy nilly with nothing to back it up?

And of course that $240 million claim does nothing to answer why the AOC believes that funding CCMS is more important than funding courts that are now suffering budget cuts that have resulted in court closures, furloughs, salary reductions, and layoffs. And those are just the negative effects on court staff. We’ve barely even discussed the negative impact on the general public that the court system is supposed to serve. Is access to justice not more important than CCMS? Apparently the AOC’s actions leads one to believe otherwise.

If you want to read the entire CCMS FAQ yourself, you may do so by downloading the document here.  I’ve also uploaded the Trial Court Budget Allocations for FY 09/10 which you can access here.

11 responses to “AOC To Spend “Billions” On Court Case Management System (CCMS)

  1. Not trying to be crude but…DAMN!

    I’m also willing to bet if someone digs hard enough there is going to be some serious kickbacks on the project.

  2. It is my understanding the cost of deployment was estimated at $1.2 billion but:

    “The current economic situation and changes to the budget and schedule will determine the final cost.”

    Suppose you were building a house and when it was half completed your contractor told you that while the original price was $200K, the current economic climate and schedule would determine the final cost.

    What would you do? I am not sure what I would do, but I certainly wouldn’t blindly go forward with the project without first identifying how I was going to pay for these undetermined costs or without considering what my alternatives were to completing the project.

    The AOC answer simply reinforces the general suspicision that CCMS will go forward irrespective of any cost or funding considerations or impacts.

    The AOC says it wants to protect its $400 million investment in CCMS. If this is the case, where is the analysis of the project’s return on investment (ROI). What are the costs savings and how long will it take to recoup any additional dollars spent on the system. Just because a lot of money has been spent on the project doesn’t necessarily justify spending a lot more on it.

  3. Have any of us spoken to a clerk who believes that this new system is an improvement over the old system?

    The people who actually use this system tell me that they now spend about one third more time getting information into the new system than they did with the old system.

    Remember the fiasco DMV had with a failed system? I hope CCMS does not suffer the same fate.

  4. Sorry to say this but that $400 million is a low ball. It does NOT take into account all costs incurred to date. Many are buried in the trial court costs and other new money put into the project. You know who got the contracts: Deloitte. Many may remember that they were the ones that sold the payroll project to the LA unified school district in southern california that failed to pay the teachers. Deloitte has been in bed with the AOC for years and sucking the taxpayer dry. They don’t have to take kickbacks…the AOC gives it to them through the front door. Ask about their new contract: $600 million!!! Hear about that in their open and transparent system? There is NO oversight of AOC spending on this project and an audit is long overdue.

  5. So CCMS according to the AOC is deployed in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

    That deployment is in one small claims courtroom in Alhambra and that clerk does the CCMS entry and the L.A. Court’s SCOTT system.

  6. I was part of a team working on CCMS in a large Northern California County with Deloite. Spent almost 2 years trying to make the system work as they promised. It failed miserably! And not only is the AOC spending almost $400 million on this project, but is planning on building a new courthouse in our large No. California County, when we cannot even staff the courhouses we currently occupy!! Go figure!

    The AOC needs to be audited!

  7. I work for a case management system vendor supplying software for the criminal justice community and we have several customer that tell us they do not want to install this program and would like their county to purchase our product. However, the political pressure from CCMS keeps them from moving away from their current out dated systems they currently use, because they are being told they have to implement the software when it comes out but the delay is causing the courts to suffer with out dated technology and being left with fears of the unknown.

  8. Knowing about family murders,

    as well as California’s complete refusal to deal with them, both in law enforcement,

    and in the DA’s office –

    Or the courts…

    We are the long, over-due answer! Okay, “us” – but with a little help from technology.

    If this much money is spent on software that doesn’t work; perhaps concentrating on a people-oriented system, will free up court time.

  9. Just Call Me Snaky

    The AOC needs to be audited!

    I borrowed that line from another logger on this site because I agree with that statement. I have often wondered why the AOC spends so much money on consultant contracts, and yet continues to hire employees at the same time.

    Someone in the higher echelons of the AOC might say in response, “We need the expertise of consultants.” Well, why not hire those experts and not those non-experts the AOC has hired during the soft/hard freeze periods?

    I have counted no fewer than four (4) consultant contracts since late 2008 through current. Those are only the ones the AOC has announced. The AOC has hired consultants for “special projects” for years. Some of those consultants have charged an “arm and a leg,” but did not cut the mustard. Yet, the AOC made good on the contracts and then got rid of the consultants; only to hire more.

    Most recently, the AOC has hired several consultant firms for the case management project. Other consultants have been contracted with to revise the courts Web sites; one to review AOC systems; and, get this, one to assess the STAFFING NEEDS OF THE AOC, or was that the HR Division?

    If for no other reason, someone needs to audit the AOC’s consultant usage practices for necessity and waste.

    • You neglected to include the current special consultant contract to try and legitimize the AOC’s FLSA problems and the related problems with the U.S. Department of Labor.

  10. Just Call Me Snaky

    Watch out Fuentes and Couch, you two may not get to do whatever you want to do much longer! With the Office of the General Counsel straining at the reins to take over employee and labor relations, your jobs might be at risk. Ever thought of that you two?