AOC Recommends Allocating $62 Million for CCMS in 2009-2010

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The AOC Watcher has learned that in another display of the AOC’s full confidence in its California Court Case Management System (CCMS), the AOC will recommend to the Judicial Council that the AOC continue to fund CCMS to the tune of $62 million dollars for the fiscal year of 2009-2010.  The recommendation will be made to the judicial council as a whole when they meet Friday, October 23rd, in San Francisco.

In a report to members of the Judicial Council dated October 20th, the AOC proposed a plan that would involve the diversion of monies from various funds that would equal roughly $171 million dollars. The funds affected and the amounts to be diverted include a little over $30 million from the Modernization Fund, almost $70 million from the Improvement Fund, and about $72 million from the Improvement Fund. The monies diverted from each fund will then be apportioned as follows:

a. $87.771 million for statewide administrative programs and services, from the Modernization Fund ($9.958 million), the Improvement Fund ($38.309 million), and the TCTF ($39.504 million)
b. $83.353 million for statewide administrative and technology infrastructure projects, from the Modernization Fund ($20.337 million), the Improvement Fund ($30.481 million), and the TCTF ($32.535 million)

A couple things drew my attention in the report. The first being, as I mentioned earlier, that the AOC plans to continue funding CCMS for another $62 million this year. CCMS came out the big winner as most of the $171 million the AOC plans to divert will go to CCMS.

The second thing that caught my attention is that the AOC plans to fund CCMS partially with $72 million from the TCTF. The TCTF is the Trial Court Trust Fund which I’ve been told is the fund that the AOC draws upon for trial court operations. Which to me means the AOC had $72 million that it could have sent back to county superior courts to help with their budget deficits.

Let me get this straight AOC. You tell the public that you’ve cut your budget to the bone and that court closures were a result of your budget cutting, yet you’ve miraculously found $72 million in the TCTF that you can reallocate to fund your little miracle court computer system? Pity you couldn’t teach your little money-appearing trick to the San Mateo Superior Court finance department.

Well, AOC all I can say is that for the millions you’re spending on CCMS I only hope it winds up being half as successful as this product instead of a complete dud like this one.

If you want to read the AOC’s full report to the Judicial Council click here.  The section regarding CCMS begins at the bottom of page 16.

And if any of you AOC readers are interested in making the meeting, which is open to the public, info for the meeting follows.  Who knows.  Maybe you’ll catch me there.

JUDICIAL COUNCIL MEETING
Administrative Office of the Courts
Malcolm M. Lucas Board Room
455 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, California 94102-3688
October 23, 2009
8:30 a.m.–12:55 p.m.
Open to the Public

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10 responses to “AOC Recommends Allocating $62 Million for CCMS in 2009-2010

  1. Can someone post a copy of this report here?

  2. They have no shame! Judges and staff around the state are taking millions of dollars in pay cuts, courtrooms are being closed, California’s justice system is crumbling and the Judicial Council, at the demand of the AOC , will take more money from the trial courts’ operations to fund a bloated, unorganized, ineffective computer system. Shame on the Judicial Council members who support this. It is time to hold responsible those that are presumed to be the “policy making arm of the judicial branch.” The AOC hides behind the Judicial Council and it is now time for someone to hold the Judicial Council members feet to the fire. If they vote for this in the face of the financial crises the courts are in, then they are no better than than the boards of Enron, Countrywide and all the other corrupt boards of directors out there.

  3. justinianscode

    The total amount the AOC is recommending be transferred from the various accounts to CCMS is over $88 million, according to the memo that AOC prepared for Judicial Council members, reflecting at least three different categories of CCMS activity. Funding will (at least in part) come from the Trial Court Trust Fund (TCTF), where the AOC has apparently found over $72 million. This looks like a shell game; the AOC earlier this year said that CCMS was taking a $100 million hit in order to support other branch operations and now the AOC is returning almost all that money to CCMS by transferring it back from branch operating funds.

    The State Department of Finance has a Manual of State Funds that covers, among other things, proper use of the TCTF. It states, “This fund was created to deposit fees collected for the first filing in a civil action in Superior Court. The fees will be used for the operational expenses of trial court operations including: services and supplies, salaries, benefits, and public agency retirement contributions for superior and municipal court judges and for subordinate judicial officers.”

    Apparently the AOC must think that trial court operations now include a case management system that will be used by non trial court Judicial Branch entities such as the courts of appeal and the Supreme Court, as well as the AOC itself. I hope they have a legal opinion to back up that position, because I would bet the Legislative committee holding hearings next week will be asking why the AOC urged the Judicial Council to take trial court money and use it for CCMS.

    And the answer to the unasked questions is: no, CCMS development cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered a trial court operation so that it meets the language of the Department of Finance Fund Manual. The Judicial Council should carry out its primary responsibility to keep the courts functioning, even when it means delaying what some consider very worthy projects. In this instance, the Council can do that by directing the AOC to distribute the TCTF money to the trial courts immediately. It’s not that hard; just follow the same proportions used for trial court budgets and disbursement already in place for this fiscal year.

    Any other action is reprehensible, irresponsible and unworthy of the judicial office held by almost all of the voting members of the Judicial Council.

  4. Justinian Code

    Well said –

    Set forth below is a comment I made to another post on this blog. It might be more appropriate here.

    The proposed budget allocation agenda item set for the JC meeting tomorrow is a good illustration of the problem. The AOC wants to spend $170 million on statewide infrastructure projects. This amount includes $28 million from the TCTF for the development of CCMS. TCTF money is for court operations. Will a JC member ask why $28 million of funding designated for trial court operations is allocated for the completion of the V-4 project?

    Will anyone ask what the public policy rationale is for this allocation? As a matter of policy should operations funding be used to cover capital costs? What is the timeline for a ROI from this use of these funds? Maybe it makes sense to use this money for V-4 development because courts will be able to realize quantifiable savings in staff or technology costs within a 3 – 5 year period after deployment. However, I am not sure this analysis was ever done. It certainly isn’t included in the information provided to the JC or the public for tomorrow’s meeting.

    Similar questions can be asked about CCMS in general. Is it good public policy to continue to invest in a system when the AOC/Courts lack the funding to deploy it? What is the benefit of spending $84 million on CCMS V-4 this fiscal year if the system will basically sit on the shelf for an uspecified number of years until courts have enough money to deploy it? Does the benefit outweigh the costs of closing courts, reducing baseline funding to the trial courts, etc.?

    These are tough questions that require serious and rigorous analysis. Maybe there is a public policy justification for continuing with CCMS. I don’t know. Unfortunately, I am not sure anyone on the JC knows eit

  5. In further support of the point made by Justiniancode:

    It should be noted that the “trial court’s primary source of state funding is the Trial Court Trust Fund.” (AOC Financial Policies and Procedures, Sec. 6.1.) And, “Each year the Budget Act contains an appropriation to the Judicial Council for the general operations of the trial courts. Money appropriated for trial court operations is deposited into the Trial Court Trust Fund.” (AOC Financial Policies and Procedures, Sec. 6.1.1)

    If I were a member of the JC I would like to ask AOC staff at the meeting why $28 million, which is supposed to be allocated for trial court operations, is being spent on the design and development of a computer system that is not yet deployed in the courts. Particularly when courts throughout the state are closed one day a month to cut operating costs and employees are being furloughed.

  6. Judicial observer

    Well they did it. Only one vote against the continued expenditures and no real discussion or examination of AOC staff about the advisability to proceed with this decision at this time. No probing of whether there are less fiscally irresponsible alternatives.

    I understand the reluctance of staff at the AOC to admit to having as huge a failure as they have with CCMS. But I thought it was in the nature of judges to look at problems and ask difficult questions. Do these judges on the Judicial Council not have spines? Do they care about the prestige of their membership more than about their own courts? Do they not care about the immediate failure of our courts to provide access and justice at this very time and can they not look into the future and beyond this meeting? Are they not sitting in any of the suffering trial courts? Do they lack any ability to engage in critical thinking? Do they only show up for the food and accommodations? Are they that afraid of the leadership of the AOC? I really don’t understand it.

    So we have another rubber stamp of approval. Again I ask, why have a Judicial Council? Why pretend we have any governance in this branch other than the staff decisions of the bureaucrats at the AOC?

  7. Nobody Does It

    Even staff at the AOC does not know who is in charge of CCMS. Is it Sheila? Bill? The Council? A consultant? The project does not have a defined manager who has to be accountable to the Council (for example, by meeting milestones that are associated with allocations of large funding). Until a system works and is in place, investing but never finishing, or even demonstrating progress, is a recipe for disaster.

  8. Perspective Adjustmemt

    All boondoggle IT projects at the AOC are managed by people outside of ISD. Similarly, all IT projects not managed by ISD are boondoggles.

  9. Judicial Observer

    Check out today’s (10/25) Sacramento Bee’s expose about CCMS

    “STATE COURT DEAL NEARS $2 BILLION”

    http://www.sacbee.com/topstories/story/2279857.html

  10. At Friday’s Judicial Council meeting it sounded as if the Chief Justice told Judge Edmonds, who expressed concern about allocating more money to CCMS when courts are being closed, that she just needed to have “faith”. I guess she, as well as everyone else who thinks the CCMS project needs to be re-evaluated (or maybe evaluated for the first time), just needs to have faith that the governor will come through with some more funding next year for the trial court.

    What is going to happen next year? Is the governor going to restore the trial courts’ budgets to 07-08 levels? I doubt it. Is the AOC going to use TCTF, TCIF, Mod Fund or SB 1407 money to support trial court operations? If it doesn’t, what happens to the trial courts? Do they continue to furlough? How many furlough days can be implemented without bringing the system to its knees?

    The JC/AOC didn’t even seem to address those issues. Instead it authorized the expenditure of $62 million to complete CCMS? What good is CCMS going to do if there isn’t any money to deploy it? Wouldn’t that money be better spent keeping the doors open?

    I guess we all need to have a little faith in a lame duck governor and a legislature, which would probably love to make the judicial branch an example of a bloated bureauracy gone wild, to deflect attention from its owns problems.