The op-ed piece written by J. Clark Kelso produced quite a response. Although probably not the kind of response that Kelso and the AOC wanted. What really drew people’s attention wasn’t Kelso’s defense of the CCMS program and the AOC’s handling of it, we kinda expect that from them, but instead it was Kelso’s failure to mention that he is currently on the AOC payroll at the tune of $18,000 a month.
Of course that little $18,000 omission didn’t go unnoticed by intrepid AOCW readers who immediately began posting comments on who Kelso really was and all of the financial conflicts he had that made it impossible for anyone to take his position on CCMS seriously.
In response to Kelso’s original column, judges Loren E. McMaster and Maryanne G. Gilliard sent a response to the Sacramento Bee that published the original piece by Kelson. Their response calls out not only Kelso but also the AOC continued support of computer software over people in the midst of a budget crisis. I’m including the entire response in this post which you can read after the jump.
By Loren E. McMaster and Maryanne G. Gilliard | Special to The Bee
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.