Op-Ed Piece Sings the Praises of CCMS

Professor J. Clark Kelso of the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law wrote an op-ed piece published in the Sacramento Bee in which he not only argues in favor of CCMS but also defends how the AOC has implementing it. Although there’s been plenty ink spilled detailing what a boondoggle CCMS is so far, Professor Kelso is not moved by any arguments against CCMS.

Professor Kelso is especially negative about any idea of having the state’s chief information technology officer taking over control of the CCMS project as some have suggested.

Second, some have suggested the courts’ development efforts should be taken over by the state’s chief information officer. Bad idea. The truth is that the courts have avoided the mistakes made in the executive branch and have been doing information technology better than the executive branch. For example, they successfully deployed a statewide accounting function for all 58 trial courts and a statewide appellate court case management system.

Hmmm…was this the accounting function that led to the financial frackup in San Mateo Superior court? I’m just saying.

Professor Kelso also claims that any assertion that CCMS will cost billions is an exaggeration.

First, critics assert costs may exceed $2 billion and that the magnitude of those costs is reason enough to shut down the project. However, the $2 billion figure is grossly inflated. Instead, the courts may ultimately invest closer to what has been invested in other large California automation systems, such as the child support system. The costs of the system are not off the charts or out of proportion to comparable projects.

He not only denies that it will cost that much but he says that whatever the final cost is, it won’t be out of line with what has been spent on other similar systems. Nice. We don’t know how much it’ll cost, but it’ll cost something between $1 and $2 billion and it’ll be the same as what we’ve spent before on similar projects….however much those other projects cost.  Oh, yes.  I’m oh so convinced now.

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28 responses to “Op-Ed Piece Sings the Praises of CCMS

  1. Professor Kelso’s ties to the AOC go way back: former AOC Scholar in Residence (what’s the salary for that primo position?), long standing Master of Ceremonies at innumerable JC shindigs, etc., all at taxpayer expense. Who’d want to jeopardize any of those gigs?

  2. From the December 1 Daily Journal:

    Judicial Branch at a Crossroads
    By Presiding Judge Charles W. McCoy Jr.
    Daily Journal
    12/1/09
    Last fall, the Legislature passed, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed, Senate Bill 1407, creating an income stream of new fees and fines to support courthouse construction and renovation. SB 1407 culminated years of creative problem-solving aimed at correcting the longstanding problem of deteriorating courthouses statewide.
    Then the world changed.
    California now faces $21 billion in annual deficits, every year for at least the next five years – a whopping $100 billion. The judiciary’s share of the cuts required to close the gap will likely total over $2 billion, the equivalent of nearly one year’s budget for the entire state trial court system.
    The accelerating crisis has brought the Judicial Branch to a crossroads. We must decide what matters most – keeping existing courtrooms open for justice, or shutting them down, and laying off thousands of skilled court staff members, in a headlong rush to build expensive new courthouses. The consequences of a wrong decision here – choosing to spend precious remaining resources on new courthouses rather than preserving daily court operations – are catastrophic.
    Cuts already imposed on the Los Angeles Superior Court, if unabated, will force the closure of over 180 courtrooms and layoffs of more than 1,800 employees in the coming years. Far beyond only closing one Wednesday a month, nearly half the court’s civil, family and juvenile courtrooms will be shut down permanently and the staffs let go. Criminal courtrooms will also be affected, though not to the same degree.
    While the effects of current budget cuts vary county-to-county, every trial court in the state is seriously at risk in view of the massive new budget cuts soon to come.
    Lawyers and judges who have devoted their entire professional careers to serving the rule of law, and insuring access to justice for all, know fully the damage to these core values that crippling our civil court system will do. Everyone from children and families to commercial litigants will suffer tremendously. Peoples’ faith in the court’s capacity to resolve their pressing legal problems will be shaken. But this is not the end of the story.
    Justice severely delayed has real economic consequences. Delays of the sort soon to come will harm our economy and California’s capacity to recover from recession. Contracts will go unenforced, vital capital will be tied up in an interminable judicial limbo, and cases of every kind will stagnate for years. In the current economic environment, when so much effort is being put into stimulus, and uncertainty plagues the economy, the state cannot afford for court delays to become a brake on economic recovery.
    The potential damage to our justice system produced by the coming budget cuts is so unthinkable that we, as a branch, have found it impossible to presently face and make the choices in priorities required to mitigate the terrible harms that otherwise will occur.
    Some take the narrow view that the problem is primarily external to the courts. This view sees the solution mostly in persuading the Legislature to appropriate more money for the courts or to shift looming new cuts onto others. That was not possible last year, and nothing suggests a different outcome in the years ahead, with even deeper cuts at hand. If the Judiciary is to be sheltered from new larger cuts, then on whom will the cuts fall? Health care? Education?
    In the end, the answer to our Judicial Branch budget problems must be found mostly within the resources presently accessible to the court system – not through competing against other worthy state institutional interests in a vain effort at shifting burdens onto other already devastated government constituents.
    Last year trial courts statewide received much needed budget relief when a portion of trial court funds dedicated to development of large new computer systems was redirected to protect court operations. A choice among internal priorities was made, and rightly so. While the computer funds can be tapped again, much more is urgently needed to cope with the huge cuts ahead.
    Fortunately, one other viable source exists within the Judicial Branch. That is SB 1407, the $5 billion revenue bond for courthouse construction and renovation. The bonds, which have not yet been sold, are supported by a new revenue stream in the form of added court fees and fines. Collections on those fees and fines began on Jan. 1, 2009, and the money is accumulating at the rate of about $280 million per year.
    A relatively small portion of the SB 1407 stream was used last year to absorb necessary budget cuts. The Legislature and governor possess the power to lawfully redirect more in the coming years. Sale of the bonds can prudently be postponed for a period long enough to preserve courtroom operations through the recession. Then the stream can be put back to work supporting sale of the bonds, and new courthouses can become a reality. Any portion of the SB 1407 stream not now needed to save trial court operations can be used to advance new courthouse projects where possible.
    We are indeed at a crossroads where a crucial decision on priorities will determine our future path.
    Will we go down the path of rushing to build new courthouses at the cost of: massive, permanent courtroom and courthouse closures; layoffs of thousands of skilled court employees; substantial delays in the timely processing of cases; a growing denial of access to justice for those most in need; and significant damage to California’s already hurting economy? Or will we take the path where resources now available to the Judicial Branch are devoted first to preserving trial court operations so that, when new courthouses are eventually built, we will have healthy trial courts to occupy them?
    Los Angeles has five new courthouse projects funded by SB 1407. We accept the fact that those projects may need to be delayed to cope with the state’s growing budget crisis.
    By placing the consequences of our choices fully in the balance, the decision comes clear. Preserving existing courtroom operations takes priority in the scales where justice matters most.

    Charles W. McCoy, Jr. is Presiding Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, and a Member of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Council’s Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee.

  3. From the December 1 Recorder:

    AOC to Support Whistle-Blower Protections
    Cheryl Miller
    The Recorder and http://www.callaw.com
    12-01-2009
    SACRAMENTO — Two state lawmakers say they’ll introduce legislation next month to extend whistle-blower protections to judicial branch employees.
    Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said she was surprised to learn during an October legislative hearing on the Administrative Office of the Courts that judicial workers aren’t protected by the California Whistleblower Protection Act . The statute shields executive branch workers from employer retaliation if they report illegal activities or, separately, government “waste” or incompetence that may not violate a specific law.
    “I decided on the spot that it would be important legislation to improve transparency and government,” Lowenthal said. “It’s a good government bill, and considering that billions of dollars are spent on the judicial system, I think taxpayers want to know that workers in our court system are protected from any retaliation.”
    In e-mails sent to court employees and legislative staffers last month, AOC Administrative Director William Vickrey said that judicial workers enjoyed adequate whistle-blower protection in state Labor Code provisions and an internal agency reporting system. But in a statement released Monday, Vickrey said the AOC would support the whistle-blower legislation.
    “To the extent that there may be any existing gaps in state law for the judicial branch, we are happy to work with Assemblymember Lowenthal in addressing those concerns,” Vickrey said.
    “I’m sure they recognize that it’s the right thing to do to open up their own system to any scrutiny or questioning,” said Lowenthal, who is the mother of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daniel Lowenthal.
    Lowenthal and joint author Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks, are still hashing out some of the bill’s specifics. They have not decided whether worker protections should be codified in a statute or enacted by a legislatively mandated rule of court that would ultimately be approved by the Judicial Council. Also, they haven’t announced how any whistle-blower provisions might affect the branch’s many attorneys, who are generally barred from reporting wrongdoing by the attorney-client privilege.
    In announcing the legislation, Lowenthal cited the case of Jack Urquhart, the 11-year employee of the AOC who claims he was forced to retire by supervisors earlier this year after alerting the media to Judicial Council spending on a San Francisco retreat. The state Labor Code shields workers who report illegal activities but not those who highlight government waste, she said. The Whistleblower Protection Act protects both types of disclosures, she said.
    Lowenthal and Strickland are still pursuing an audit of the judicial branch’s Court Case Management System, although they have not yet submitted a formal request.

  4. Crikey, who the heck made Kelso god? He is a frickin leach that makes his living as interim deparatment head of various state departments and participating in commitees. Who made him expert in anything? of course he is going to support any state government agency…they all pay his salary! Shame on him for not reporting his work with the AOC and thus his conflict to comment on CCMS. Man, if the public only had a clue! Not to mention, why did he not back up his op ed piece with facts? gee wiz, he had none!

  5. Kelso is just protecting his rich, ripe, gold vein, namely the AOC. What a conflict!

  6. I wonder how much the AOC paid Kelso for his publishing his thoughts?

  7. I believe that Mr. Kelso is paid by the AOC but that the money he receives, I believe it is about $220.000.00 a year, is for his work as a Federal Receiver and that the money is a “pass through” from some other agency or branch.

    I have heard that the reason for this is that it looks better if the judicial branch is paying him rather than the executive branch.

    It all seems strange to me.

  8. Wow, first Dennis Jones (CEO of SACTO court) and now Clark Kelso on the AOC “pass through” payroll system? Geez, who else is on the payroll and for what? I have seen the list of who gets paid what at the AOC but is everyone i.e. consultants, etc. on that list? I say we all need to do a letter to the editor of the BEE to bring out any information regarding Mr. Kelso’s relationship with the AOC. You would be doing the public a favor!

  9. J. Clark Kelso is a former professor of law and director of the Capital Center for Government Law and Policy at the McGeorge School of Law. In 2001 he served as a scholar-in-residence at the AOC and has served as an unpaid facilitator at several council sessions.

    Mr. Kelso’s current employment status with the AOC is detailed in an agreement between the AOC and the California Prison Health Care Receivership Corporation (PDF) in his capacity as the court-appointed receiver in Plata v. Schwarzenegger. This relationship was requested by federal Judge Thelton Henderson, who was concerned about possible conflicts with executive branch agencies and requested that the receiver be based in the judicial branch. After conferring with representatives of the executive and legislative branches, the AOC agreed with Judge Henderson that this arrangement was appropriate and in the best interest of the state.

    Funding for this position comes to the AOC from the corporation; not a single dollar comes out of the judicial branch budget to pay Mr. Kelso’s salary. The branch is paid a modest processing fee to accommodate the federal courts’ request of this arrangement. The contract (dated March 7, 2008) is in effect as long as Mr. Kelso acts as receiver in the case. The goal of the receiver is to develop a constitutionally adequate system of inmate medical care over which the state eventually can resume control.

    • Dan Goldstein

      Hello Just Sayin’,
      I don’t disagree that Mr. Kelso is paid through a corporation and the AOC acts as a facilitator. You obviously know a great deal about this arrangement.

      Enlighten me. Help understand a bit more:
      1.) What organization pays for Mr. Kelso’s health care insurance? Is it through the AOC or through the corporation?
      2.) Obviously Mr. Kelso receives some type of contribution to his retirement….who is making that contribution, the courts or the corporation?
      3.) It is my understanding that AOC employees receive lifetime health care insurance once they have worked 10 years for the organization. Is Mr. Kelso participating in that plan?
      4.) You write the arrangement was made between the federal judge and the AOC. Was this approved by the Judicial Council or did the AOC act alone? How would one get a hold of this, “detailed…agreement?”

      I look forward to your prompt response.

  10. No wonder AOC leaders are having a difficult time doing thier jobs ethically, effectively, and otherwise. Seems their cups runneth over!

    I wonder if the Judge would have requested judicial branch involvement, particularly the AOC’s involvement, if he had known about all the behind-the-scene-messes that AOC leaders are capable of cultivating?

    Whoa! Watch out prison system!

    • justinianscode

      Actually, Judge Henderson should have known better regardless of whether he was aware of the AOC’s track record on financial issues.

      Asking the state Judicial Brach to be a figleaf for the federal judiciary’s court-appointed receiver is out of line. Let him be paid through the federal court’s payroll system, but don’t foist it off on California’s judges.

      • Judicial observer

        Neither the illusory payroll description concerning Professor Kelso nor the payment of the Sacto trial court Executive Officer through the AOC to evidently avoid something as yet unclear does not seem to meet the “smell test” even if legal. Each is done in a surreptitious manner to hide the reality of each person’s employment from interested persons or entities.

        I can’t imagine the judges on the Judicial Council approving either of these arrangements, and if they did I question their ethical compass. And with the all the attorneys working for the AOC, one must question the quality of their advice as well.

  11. It is very clear regarding Dennis Jones. There was an article about it in either the Bee, the Recorder or the Daily Journal, I can’t recall. Dennis Jones used to work for Sacramento County and has a retirement pension from there. In that system Mr. Jones could not “unretire” and go back to work for the Sacramento Superior Court, unlike the CalPers system. SACTO county’s system sees that as double dipping. So in order for the court to hire him, someone there worked it out with the AOC to have Mr. Jones salary paid by the AOC and then the court reimburses the AOC…all so Mr. Jones can keep his retirement check and work for the court. Clever eh?

  12. Shakesperean Darling

    “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” aka AOC with respect to how Mr. Kelso is paid. Just sounds like a form of laundering, so to speak. But then again we all know the AOC has perfected the art of money laundering….

  13. A rumor out there is that Clark Kelso is on the AOC payroll in order to be eligible sooner for employer paid health benefits when he retires. If he stayed on Corrections payroll, he would have to put in 15 years before being eligible. As every one knows, AOC is not bound by the rules that apply to other state employees. One only needs 10 years to receive employer paid health insurance in retirement.
    When the story about Kelso being on the AOC payroll came out, I asked myself, what is in it for AOC. Now I know.

  14. “From 2002 to 2007, I served as the state’s chief information officer but was not responsible for information technology in the legislative or judicial branches.”

    Does this mean that your hands are clean regarding the AOC contracts that have served as high-speed cash tunnels for Siemens and Deloitte? It’s really too bad that the CCMS “sound approach” has not included a usable statewide product coming out anytime soon.

    Follow the money.

  15. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    You’ll note that Kelso is a savvy politician – not an expert by any means in information technology.

    The interesting thing is that the trainwreck that is CCMS was that it was initially awarded to the now defunct BearingPoint. When it became obvious to the AOC that BearingPoint couldn’t deliver it was switched over to Deloitte Consulting.

    An army of H1B’s from india is developing a program that barely works, is years behind schedule and more than a billion dollars over cost.

    When sole source contracts go out to mega-consulting firms that never wrote a line of commercially marketable software code an audit that follows that money is necessary.

    When sole source contracts go out to unlicensed contractors like Team Jacobs and AGS who maintain every courthouse in the state while the AOC exempts itself from all public works laws an audit that follows the money is necessary.

    Follow the money.

    There is more than one high speed cash tunnel of impropriety.

  16. @Judge Goldstein, the only information I know of this arranagement came from from a recently discovered page on Serranus. I should’ve noted the source for clarity:

    http://serranus.courtinfo.ca.gov/programs/oc/factcheck.htm

  17. Wasn’t Deloitte used by Ventura and Orange County courts for their local case management system before CCMS? That would be interesting since Sheila Cabrallo is the head of the CCMS program and the fomer CEO of Ventura Superior Court.

  18. And under what authority did “she” do that? Whoever approved the sole source contract for V4 with Deloitte is accountable.

    • Obi-Wan Kenobi

      ….and it to screams for an investigation.

      • From a “roberta” post herein made October 2009:

        chelsey… To answer at least one of your questions, Sheila Calabro approved the sole source contract. She hired “Reggie” (a former Deloitte employee) to manage the CCMS project. As part of his job, “Reggie” negotiated the contract with Deloitte and, I might add that if you look at the SOW, he negotiated in Deloitte’s favor. Despite the scrutiny and many valid objections by AOC staffers who are involved in the CCMS project but do not work for the AOC’s Southern Regional Office, the contract was accepted by the team at SRO. Shortly after negotiating the contract, “Reggie” left the AOC.

  19. justinianscode

    And now Mr. Kelso has hired a former state employee who recently resigned in disgrace for failure to manage her office and its funds properly. Good for you, Mr. Kelso.

    http://www.sacbee.com/capitolandcalifornia/v-print/story/2378234.html

  20. Injury to 1, Injury to All

    Kelso in the news again (from the Capitol Weekly):

    Months of negotiations between the state’s campaign-finance enforcer and the prison health care receivership are making headway and may head off a threatened lawsuit against correctional officials over conflict-of-interest rules.

    The Fair Political Practices Commission scheduled a closed-door meeting Thursday to consider filing the suit against the federally appointed receiver, J. Clark Kelso, and state prisons director Matthew Cate. The agenda item – last of the 35 items on the FPPC’s crowded docket – was the only public notification that discussions were under way.

    But during the past few days, the parties have come closer to accord. Documentation has been provided and the possibility of a court showdown appears to be receding.

    At issue is the FPPC’s contention that the prison health care receiver and the Corrections Department do not have sufficient financial disclosure rules in place. The financial disclosure reports, called Statements of Economic Interest, are required of state and local elected officials, ranking bureaucrats, members of state-created commissions, boards and some advisory panels, and others. The reports are filed with the FPPC and are available for public viewing on request.

    The documents, filed annually, describe in broad categories a person’s income, assets, investments and the like. A primary residence is exempt.

    The receiver and the Corrections Department already have conflict-of-interest codes, but the FPPC believes wants to sure the codes are enforced and that those who should file the disclosure reports are actually doing it.

    “We never had a problem with disclosure,” said Luis Patino, a spokesperson for the receivership. “The questions concerned a couple of committees, one of which never met and the other disbanded.”

    The language on the agenda says the potential lawsuit seeks “requiring the adoption or amendment of a conflict-of-interest code to include officers, employees, members of advisory boards, and other appropriate individuals operating under the authority of the Receivership created by the federal district court to oversee the provision of health care at California prisons.”

    FPPC Executive Director Roman Porter and Patino declined to discuss specifics of the negotiations with Kelso and Cate.

    • justinianscode

      The FPPC correctly characterizes Kelso’s position as “the Receivership created by the federal district court.” So again I ask, why is the AOC voluntarily acting as Kelso’s figleaf by carrying him on its books as a “consultant”? Just because some federal judge supposedly asked them to do so does not make it right or appropriate.

      Let U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson put Kelso on the federal payroll, or let Kelso appear on the state’s Executive Branch payroll if that is where the Receiver’s funding comes from. But let’s not continue the charade that he does anything for the Judicial Branch in exchange for the money.

      We’re the judiciary. We should not abet subterfuge.

  21. From Today’s SACTO Bee:

    Viewpoints: Statewide court computer system is beyond repair
    ShareThis

    Buzz up!By Loren E. McMaster and Maryanne G. Gilliard
    Special to The Bee
    Published: Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 3E
    Last Modified: Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009 – 11:06 am
    The column by J. Clark Kelso promoting spending taxpayer money for the statewide California Case Management System (Viewpoints, Dec. 1) omitted important facts.

    First, Kelso has no direct experience with the CCMS. Second, in his current role as Federal Court Receiver, he is paid over $18,000 monthly by the Administrative Office of the Courts – the agency responsible for the troubled $1.7 billion computer system Mr. Kelso so ardently defends.

    In 2004, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that no business plan was ever created to assess the costs and benefits of the system. It is not surprising that a computer system awarded on a no-bid contract has skyrocketed from an estimated $260.2 million in 2004 to over $1.7 billion with no completion date in sight. That’s over $1 million per judge at a time when the public is being locked out of their courts due to budget constraints.

    The no-bid contract was only one of several highly questionable decisions made by the AOC. For instance, they chose not to observe courts that have cost-effective systems that work, such as the U.S. District Court in Sacramento. They awarded the contract to a vendor who located the system’s servers out of state and who last year was forced to pay or cancel invoices totaling $18.25 million to the L.A. Unified School District because of a failed computer system.

    Sacramento Bee reporter Robert Lewis accurately described CCMS’ products as follows: “One was a dud, one is off to a rocky start, and one might never be finished.”

    Sacramento’s Court spends approximately $1 million yearly to staff the case management system. Because of shrinking budgets, we no longer have the staff needed for the labor-intensive data entry. Long lines form daily to file documents due to the system’s poor design. As of October, a backlog of approximately 18,000 documents has resulted. Last July, the AOC and its pricey consultants were shocked when their planned demonstration went awry because the system took too long to load and operate.

    The accepted definition of a failed project is one that is over budget, overtime, and/or does not meet the user’s needs. The California Case Management System has experienced all three. A new computer system that works and does not overburden the taxpayer would be welcome. CCMS is not that system.

    The AOC should allocate scarce resources to keep courthouses open and not continue this past year’s priority spending on a failed computer system.