Clark Kelso had his say in the Sacramento Bee when he came to the defense of the Administrative Office of the Courts and the over $1 billion cost estimates for the AOC’s CCMS computer project. Now the Bee has published another op-ed piece this time attacking Kelso’s assertion that CCMS would cost no more than $1.4 billion. The piece, written by Richard Power, who is a columnist for the Daily Recorder as well as a practicing attorney and software writer, says that any new software for the courts should cost no “more than $1 million or $2 million.”
Kelso stated the cost figures were grossly inflated and the courts’ system shouldn’t cost any more than the $1.4 billion child support project. That project was done twice at huge cost. The $1.4 billion price tag for the second version was ridiculous. The Administrative Office of the Courts told the Legislature the system would cost $1.75 billion.
Contrary to what Kelso opined, $1.4 billion is way off the charts. The cost to write all the specialty software for managing court data and all the specialty software to allow associated agencies to share data and to educate users should not be more than $1 million or $2 million.
I’m no computer software expert, that’s for sure. So I’m not sure what to make of Mr. Power’s claims that the software for the entire court system that’s supposed to do everything the AOC claims it’ll do except power the Universe will cost no more than a couple million. That’s a HUGE world of difference than the $1.4 or $1.75 billion dollar figures that some estimate CCMS will wind up costing taxpayers.
But is Mr. Power’s cost estimates anymore unreasonable than the billion dollar estimates given by the AOC? According to Mr. Power, for the $500 million the AOC has already spent on CCMS the agency should have had SOMETHING to show for the money it spent.
Software to handle court case data and share it with associated agencies could be created in a matter of weeks.
About $500 million has been spent so far on the court system and not a single county is fully operational. The final software version just for the court portion hasn’t even been written after years of effort. And they haven’t even started figuring out how to share data bilaterally with associated agencies.
Yikes! $500 million is a whole lot of money to spend without some evidence that you’re creating something. But I’m sure the PR department deep within the recesses of the AOC offices are cranking up the old Imperial mimeographs to start counteracting Mr. Power’s op-ed piece. Expect the CCMS supporters to come out with blasters firing.
However, there is one thing that Mr. Power says in his op-ed piece that I’m sure not even the myopic AOC could take offense with. When he says that, “It’s time for some fiscal responsibility and common sense,” he’s only repeating what critics of the CCMS have been saying for years. And as we’ve seen so far, contrary to whatever the AOC may claim, “fiscal responsibility” and “common sense” are two things that are in short supply over at the AOC.