AOC Admits to Lobbying Against CCMS Audit

In an article printed in the The Recorder yesterday, reporter Cheryl Miller revealed what we’ve long suspected and perhaps already knew. The AOC is actively campaigning and lobbying against an audit of the monies spent on CCMS.

Curtis Child, director of the AOC’s Office of Governmental Affairs, confirmed Wednesday that he and other AOC staffers have tried to persuade members of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee that further scrutiny of plans for the controversial computer network is unnecessary. The committee decides what audit requests are submitted to auditor Elaine Howle.

As part of the budget adopted last year, the Office of the State Chief Information Officer, which reviews government technology projects, was charged with reviewing the CCMS and issuing a report to the Legislature. That report is due in the coming weeks.

“We think that’s exactly the place [an audit] ought to be,” Child said. “This is a chief information officer who certainly knows systems and knows approaches and will be able to provide information.” Review by the state auditor “would be duplicative,” Child added.

In addition to arguing that an audit would only be duplicative of any of the work done by the Office of the State Chief Information Officer, Childs went on in the article to claim that an independent audit would also wind up costing AOC staff attention.

Child said that the AOC has nothing to hide from an audit, but an additional review will divert staff attention from completing the project. If the CIO’s review doesn’t satisfy all of Lowenthal’s questions, she can “make a new request after that.”

Word of the AOC’s campaign has, of course, been met with dismay and disappointment. And one person in particular nailed it on the head in describing how wrong it is for the AOC to be doing what it’s doing.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, formally requested the CCMS audit and said she was surprised to learn of the AOC’s lobbying efforts.

“You’d think that would be a red flag to the committee,” Lowenthal said. “There will obviously be value to the report by the chief information officer. But you’d get a much more thorough and in-depth picture with an audit,” she said. “An audit is a tool of good government. It is the tool of transparency.”

And at least one member of the bench was quoted in the article voicing her displeasure at the AOC.

“It is troubling to think that Judicial Council/AOC staff would be urging legislators, behind the scenes, to oppose an independent and fair audit of the problematic and horrifically expensive California Case Management System,” Sacramento Judge Maryanne Gilliard, a board member of the Alliance of California Judges, said in an e-mail. “One would hope and expect the judicial branch to welcome and embrace efforts to shine the light of truth on this matter.”

108 responses to “AOC Admits to Lobbying Against CCMS Audit

  1. This moment has been inevitable since the October legislative hearing. No one wants an audit, but in this instance …. the overall situation for the State is dire and if there is nothing to hide, then audit.

  2. justacourtworker

    Let me get this straight — are they using more of the money we need to fund the courts to lobby against an audit!

  3. The stupidity of lobbying against the audit! Or is it audacity? Probably a combination of both. All they’ve done is create is an environment where Legislators now really think they have something to hide. Way to go, Curt!

  4. What do the Chief Justice, the Judicial Council, and the AOC have to hide? Plenty.

    As we have all learned over the past seven or eight months, the Chief Justice, the Judicial Council, and the AOC only preach “transparency” but do not actually practice it. They also preach public accountablility, but don’t actually practice that either. Real transparency and public accountability is exactly what this audit will bring. The Chief Justice and the AOC also know that they won’t be able to control this audit or the results. Assemblywoman Lowenthal’s astute observations that an audit is a tool of good government and transparency, and produces a more thorough and in-depth result is precisely why the Chief Justice and the AOC are so fearful and so opposed to this audit and are so agressively lobbying against it – they all know what such an audit will reveal, and it won’t be good for the Chief Justice and the AOC.

    As for the AOC’s claim that an audit will divert “staff attention”, maybe the AOC can use some of those 30+ “temporary employees” the AOC is busy hiring to assist with the audit. That should alleviate any concerns Curtis Child and the AOC allegedly have of diverting staff attention.

    This latest shameful lobbying effort to cover-up the misconduct going on in the offices and ranks of the Chief Justice and the AOC just brings more dishonor, disgrace and disrepute to the Branch. The fact that this effort is being made by the AOC only makes it even more clear that such an audit is necessary.

  5. judicial observer

    This got posted on the wrong topic. I will repost it here, where it makes more sense.

    I must have missed the Judicial Council meeting where they made the policy decision to have the AOC be open and transparent, except if there is an audit which might raise criticism. But that does appear to be the case, doesn’t it?

    Those in leadership positions in the Judicial Branch (yes, those of you on the Judicial Council and also the executive management at the AOC) should be ashamed of the actions of the AOC and should not be surprised when the taxpaying public and the legislature loses confidence in our ability to responsibly manage ourselves.

    As happened with California’s education system over the past 40 years, once the envy of the nation and now at the bottom because of mismanagement and leadership stymied by its own entrenched bureaucracy, we all will suffer and this once great Judicial Branch will continue to sink in respect and stature.

    What a sham.

  6. Nathaniel Woodhull

    Is anyone really surprised by any of this?

    The appointed CIO, Teri Takai, seems to have a broad corporate background in finance (30+ years with Ford). Anyone with additional information on her, please dish…

    A recently appointed underling in the OCIO is Rachelle Chong. Ms. Chong was a former employee of Kleiner Perkins, sponsor of the CJ speech to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Look to see if there is a hook between Kleiner Perkins and Kleiner Bell (Ralph J. Shapiro). Ms. Chong was not ratified by the Legislature after being appointed to the PUC, so the Gov. then appoints her to OCIO as counsel making $140k a year.

    Maybe there is a real reason why the CJ does not want an “independent audit”? A real life version of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

    Keep looking and follow the money…

  7. Real Party in Interest

    Judicial Observer:

    In the event that there is an audit, I hope it leads to something transformative for the judicial branch. There are incredible and dedicated workers in the trial, appellate and Supreme courts, and at the AOC. People need to believe in the place they work, whether it’s a courthouse or a building where dedicated government workers do their jobs everyday. That will not change and people will rally to move through and past any problem that may arise. The justice system has been around for centuries and it’s not going anywhere but into the future.

    • judicial observer

      There are indeed wonderful and very dedicated people working in the judicial branch. Judges, staff and managers in the trail courts and at the AOC all want to give of themselves (and keep their jobs) to fulfill the primary mission of the branch to deliver justice. They simply deserve much better leadership and setting of priorities than they are getting from the Judicial Council members and the executives at the AOC.

      It is that group of people and their lockstep adherence to a philosophy of preserving their status quo of unrestrained spending to maintain pet projects at the cost of everything else rather than the supporting the basic functioning of the trial courts which make us all look bad.

      They clearly believe the audit will show they have spent irresponsibly and embarrass them. I hope so. Maybe they then will think about other ill conceived expenditures in light of our current fiscal crisis and what should be their priority; supporting all the fine people in the branch so we can deliver the service of providing forums for justice.

      • Wednesday’s 9:30 hearing of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee is hugely important. The AOC, of course, will go to any lengths and pull out all the stops to derail the audit, as the article cited at the top of this thread demonstrates. Just because the press got wind of it does not mean they will cease their efforts.

        I am extremely pleased at the reaction of Assemblywoman Lowenthal as expressed in the article–the back-door pressure on on the committee members to back off is indeed a huge red flag. If ever an audit was justified, this is the case. Press outlets all over the state have recognized the problems in the entire CCMS process, and the incredible waste. The AOC will never acknowledge this mess, much less clean it up. This audit simply must be conducted.

        Several ACJ directors will be at the hearing to support Assemblywoman Lowenthal in her wise and courageous effort.

  8. On the subject of Teri Takai, as requested by Judge Woodhull, I have it on pretty good authority that she doesn’t know much about computers. Now I personally don’t know her, have never met her, and am simply trusting the evaluation of people whom I trust. And these people are in a very good position to know. They say she’s just a nice lady who is in over her head because she doesn’t understand what she’s managing.

    If what my contacts are saying is correct, then having her look at CCMS is a waste of time, except perhaps from the $$ standpoint. And even that is questionable because you have to understand the technology to understand the $$ situation very well.

    And it shouldn’t be any great surprise if it turns out she doesn’t know much about computer technology because she had predecessors such as John Thomas Flynn and J. Clark Kelso who don’t know much about modern computers either. The CIO position is a political appointment. People assume that any good bureaucrat can handle the job. Not so, but that doesn’t deter governors from helping out political buddies by getting them or their friends a new job on the taxpayer buck.

    • What we must understand is that the review underway by the CIO will NOT focus on the money at all. The CIO is quoted in the full article as saying just that. Don’t be confused on this–the audit and review by CIO are two complete different animals, and only an audit will address the issues of importance. Certainly the CIO review ought to continue, and will undoubtedly be a valuable supplement to a full audit, but it is in NO way a substitute for one. That is precisely why the AOC is pushing for the CIO approach, and is deathly afraid of a true audit.

  9. I agree, Judge Horan, that any audit and any technology review are separate animals. But in the world of software creation, they get hopelessly intertwined of necessity. Audits usually look at $$ and that, ultimately, is a huge problem with CCMS. That is, of course, what is causing court closures, layoffs, etc. A financial audit certainly can’t hurt because, if the investigators look at a wide enough picture, they can come to understand that good solutions could be obtained for $10 Million, or $5 Million, or maybe even less.

    Behind the $$ problems are the technology problems. The fundamentally wrong technology approaches in CCMS are driving the huge costs. The state is paying a bunch of people to chase rainbows. To fully understand that the cost situation is out of control requires understanding what could be done and what is technologically wrong with CCMS.

    I’m personally in favor of just cutting to the chase and getting a good, cheap technology solution in place but that is often not the way government works. If the PTB decide to just cut to the chase, and ask me to just do it, and enable the necessary cooperation, the whole solution could be in place very quickly.

    I guess we’ll just have to see how the Legislature and possibly the Governor handle this.

  10. ComputerGeek: Can you identify exactly what you believe are the “wrong technology approaches in CCMS?” The sysem is designed and developed using n-tier technology to allow for ease of maintenance and enhancement. The database technology is Oracle. Having worked on the project in a senior role, I don’t believe the problems are related as much to technology as they are to poor scope control and gross project mismanagement. CA has not been in a position to fund a “cadillac” product for many years, yet CCMS management recklessly continued to staff the project with expensive Deloitte staff and expensive independent contractors. Political decisions to save face, such as the one to continue to press for the implementation of V2, which IS a wrong technology approach, have greatly contributed to the budget overrun. The AOC video brags about the number of requirements; however, I believe this should be a huge red flag about the inability of senior project management to control scope (which really means controlling Deloitte).

  11. Well I’m curious why you flagged V2. Is there something about V3 that is better? I understand from the Sacramento demonstration that V3 ran slow as molasses. What’s so right about that?

  12. ComputerGeek: I flagged V2 because it’s architecturally unstable. There’s a reason why V2 was installed in only 1 court, Fresno, and it wasn’t lack of trying on the part of AOC executive management. The V3 application architecture is more in keeping with today’s industry standards. As I understand it, Sacramento SC is the only CCMS court to be running the application from the CCTC. I’d be first looking at network components, followed by a review of the database tables, to troubleshoot Sacto’s problems with speed. You haven’t identified your specific concerns about the “wrong technology approaches.”

  13. TooBig: to find out about ComputerGeek’s experience, click on the underline of his name in his 3:17 reply to you above. That takes you to his website.

  14. ConcernedReConsolidation

    TooBig: to find out about ComputerGeek’s experience, click on the underline of his name in his 3:17 reply to you above. That takes you to his website.

  15. Well, the “wrong technology” problem is exactly what you just flagged. The network situation. I was blocked from looking at the technical details so I could only guess at what all might be wrong. But just the idea of having 58 counties, with thousands of users, accessing all this data from remote locations impresses me as insane. Unless I see it demonstrated to me hands-on and with everyone live all at once that this will work, I would bet against it in the blind. The Sacramento experience was just a warning shot across the bow.

    And I did see parts of both V2 and V3. I wasn’t impressed by either one. V3 is never going to work well in courtrooms if it slows down and is awkward to use, particularly in high-volume calendar courts.

  16. I have to go to a wedding soon but before I leave, it also occurs to me to ask about a few more items. You said you worked on this project in a senior role. How long? Are you still working at the AOC? Did it ever occur to you while you were on the project that the entire approach of having 58 counties run from one remote site might be on the wrong track? Do you think that’s the way to go? Did you ever think that? Did anyone ever test such an idea before sinking $500 Million into this project?

    And what do you mean by scope? It can mean a lot of things. Is there something about “scope” that explains the terrible performance in Sacramento? What was in there that shouldn’t have been? What is the “scope” problem. Please explain.

    And if I understand the situation correctly, none of the counties in Southern California running CCMS are sharing data. So what was the “statewide” approach supposed to be? If they’re not sharing data, what’s the point in parking data in Newark, or Tempe, or Omaha?

    And how many associated agencies are sharing data with courts? That is supposed to be one of the main reasons behind this whole project, according to what Sheila Calabro said to the Legislature on October 28th. How many counties are doing that? How many sheriffs are linked in? CDCR? CHP? Police?

  17. ComputerGeek: I’ve stated in other posts that I worked on the CCMS project in a senior role for 18 months. I’ve also stated that I chose not to extend my contract in mid-2006 because of what I believed to be political decisions that were driving up the costs and making it impossible to stay on schedule. I could no longer quiet my concerns as a CA taxpayer as well as a project management professional, so I gave a 3-month notice to AOC management that I would not extend my contract again. I have been a “persona non grata” at the AOC since I spoke up to AOC ISD executive management about my concerns. I don’t know if you’ve worked on enterprise, highly visible projects with a number of major league consulting partners such as Deloitte and MTG; I have on a number of occasions. It’s very dangerous to disagree with anything that stands in the way of these firms’ profits. In late 2004, while doing other work at the AOC, I was asked by management to join the CCMS project. I never wanted to do so as I believed then that the one-size-fits-all model and the influence of Deloitte and MTG would be too costly and likely unsuccessful. I also had concerns about the CCTC plans and expressed those concerns. But I also had managed several successful projects with a number of trial courts and had great relationships with the trial court folks. I had established myself as a PM who could implement case management software within scope, on schedule, and on budget. I hoped that my prior experience on AOC trial court projects would outweigh my concerns about the project. I was wrong. I’ve also sp9ken on this blog about the folly of only developing code and not pursuing sufficient target audience implementations. Those implementations should have included a representative sample of CA courts (very small to very large) networked into the CCTC utilizing all data sharing components. You are preaching to the choir on this matter. Perhaps the AOC chose to not engage in industry standard project management practices because of a fear of exposing the core strategic problems behind the tactical solution they were pursuing. Project scope dictates what functionality is to be delivered in the software product. No responsible and knowledgeable senior PM would ever build every known feature and function into a software product before releasing it to the field for use. Had the product been planned in an iterative fashion where functionality was designed, developed, and implemented using a RUP/Agile development methodology, we would have had feedback from the implementations to incorporate into subsequent iterations and/or early warnings on the viability of the approach.

    It serves no purpose to address me with language such as “Did it ever occur to you while you were on the project…” I find that tone to be insulting. Yes, your concerns did trouble me, and that’s why I finally chose to leave the AOC in 2006 and why I’m active on this blog and lobbying for an independent audit of the CCMS project.

  18. ConcernedReConsolidation: I appreciate the info about how to access ComputerGeek’s web site; however, I don’t believe it’s appropriate to promote one’s self-interests on this blog. I also don’t believe it’s appropriate to make negative comments about Ms. Takai unless one has worked with her for an extended period of time. He has not done so, and relying on the opinions of others for me compromises his credibility. I believe our mission should be to shine a light on the need for an independent audit of CCMS, not in a leisurely manner but with a sense of urgency and as a requirement to any further expenditures on the CCMS effort.

  19. Thank you for these posts. I tend to agree … we all know what ComputerGeek does and that he wants to help. I am grateful for his voice and for yours (both the information and asking for respect). And of course I am glad that CG can go to a wedding, if only to put his active mind on ice for a few hours, relax, and toast a happy couple. Mazel tov.

  20. The truth is a precious commodity. For those of us working in the trial courts and the AOC, it is our reason for being. It is why we get out of bed every morning and go to our courthouses and offices.

    None of us who have worked with the Chief or Bill Vickery are surprised they are actively lobbying the Legislature to avoid a financial audit of the CCMS project. We know the disdain they have for oversight, cristicism or inconvenient government regulations, like competitive bidding. Most of us simply shrug our shoulders when we listen to Bill/Ron drool on about openness. We long ago learned that we can not trust Bill Vickery to put public access and trial court operations ahead of his agenda.

    The larger problem with the Chief and Vickery lobbying against a financial audit of CCMS is that it again highlights the complete absence of effective oversight by the Judicial Council of the AOC.

    For men and women of considerable professional success and possessing critical thinking skills, Judicial Council members have allowed themselves to be relegated to eunuchs in the “Court of King George”. Some Council members are allowed to play the role of court jesters. Some are permitted speaking parts at Council meetings and in ghost written news articles co-authored by trade union bosses, but only if scripted and approved by the Chief and Vickery. Other members are told to sit silently until they are told how to vote. They are constantly reminded of the mindless mantra ” Speak with One Voice”.

    The Judicial Council exist to provide policy guidance to the Branch. It is comprised of twenty-one members. Each member has a duty to actively exercise oversight of the AOC, its staff, to assure the agency is acting consistent with the policy set by the Council.

    There is no public record of the Council authorizing the AOC to lobby against a financial audit of the publicly funded CCMS project. Under what authority are the Chief Justice and Vickery arguing against an financial audit of a project with management that has been publicly labeled as ‘ shockingly inept” ?

    More importantly, how can individual Judicial Council members sit silently and allow their staff, the AOC, to lobby against a much needed review of a massive public expenditure that the Council members themselves authorized ? Do they not recognize that the AOC is lobbying on their behalf ? How can they think otherwise ?

    It is bad enough that individual members voted to expend public funds without knowing how the money was to be spent. It is even more egregious, when they are given the chance to learn how the money was spent, they support ignorance over audited information.

    So what is the position of the Judicial Council and each individual member on the issue of the need for a financial audit of the CCMS project ?

    Truth is a precious commodity. Every individual member of the Council needs to consider their personal responsibility to assure public money is spent lawfully and prudently. They can not hide within the ” group think mentality” that exist within the Judicial Council. Each member has a personal responsibility to speak up. I know many of them to be people of honor and integrity. When will they show that side of themselves and take responsibility for promoting a position to avoid financial audit ?

    If you know a Council member you should ask them their position on this matter. If you know a legislator, you should ask them to ask a Council member to go on record as to their position to resist audit of a public expenditure of over a half a billion dollars of taxpayers money.

  21. JusticeCalifornia

    If the audit is approved, looked for interesting stories like these:

    In the wee hours of the morning on June 26, 2008, The Capitol Weekly reported that Assemblywoman Lieber would be seeking an audit of multiple family courts in California. See:

    A few hours later that same morning, a “freak power surge” hit the State building in San Francisco, which houses the CA Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal. Employees, state workers and litigants were immediately sent home, and the IT experts came in. The building was out of commission for days. The hope was, “no data would be lost”. See:

    As I understand it, PG& E had nothing to do with this “freak power surge”, no explanation has ever been given for it, and there has been no report on what data may have been “lost”.

    And, as for hoping the Judicial Council will “oversee” the AOC: One of King George’s latest appointments to the Judicial Council is Marin County’s own Court Executive Officer, Kim Turner. Turner became CEO after her boss, former CEO John Montgomery, was arrested on 10 felony counts of conflict of interest, for funneling over $650,000 in court contracts to his live-in girlfriend, a computer IT consultant. Several years before Turner was appointed to the Judicial Council she was criticized by the Judicial Council for waiting so long to report Mr.Montgomery (whom she has described as her “friend” and “boss extraordinaire”), and for signing off on some of his improper expenditures.

    Who has gotten rich off this CCMS fiasco? Follow the money.

  22. Pro Per

    You hit the nail on the head. If I were a JC member (which is not possible for those of you who might be wondering), I would want some answers from AOC management. I would want to know why there was never any plan or budget for CCMS? I would want to know why none of the recommendations in the 2004 LAO report were ever followed. I would want to know why after spending $500 million and waiting for 8 years after directing the AOC to to develop a case management system, it is not done yet. I would want to know why the person who has overseen this project was given a 10% raise because the executive director wanted to make sure she wouldn’t leave the AOC. I would want to know how they ever intended to pay for a $1.0 billion deployment of the system. I would want to know why the forced Jack Uruqhat to resign for going to the press regarding the $82,000 two-day budget crisis confereence.

    Memo to JC – This is not an issue of the AOC wasting its money or the trial courts’ money. This is an issue of the AOC wasting TAXPAYER money. Doesn’t it concern you that the administrative agency charged to carry out your policy is lobbying against a fiscal audit? How does that reflect on you as a judicial officer? I can only imagine the legislators and members of the public who learn of the lobbying efforts are going to wonder why you wanted to block the audit of a half-billion dollar project. Particularly when the AOC told the legislative oversight committee last Fall that it wasn’t sure how much it had spent on the project, how much the project would eventually cost and how it was going to pay for the project.

    Every voting member of the JC is bright and competent by virtue of their appointment. As judicial officers they are required to exercise their judgment every day. Their apparent blind allegiance to the Chief and AOC is simply incomprehensible.

    Have any of the current JC members spent the time to independently examine the history of the CCMS project? Would they ever rule on a motion or an appeal reading only the briefs submitted by one side to a case? Other than the Chief telling them the critics are uninformed, what have they done to learn more about the issues? If there is a problem, don’t they want to find out about it? Did they ever wonder if the critcs might be right?

    If any of you work for a trial or appellate court of a JC member, I hope you print a copy of Pro Per’s post above and slide it under their chambers door or into their incoming mail. Maybe one member will have the courage to start asking some questions and demanding some answers.

  23. TooBigToFail/Computer Geek

    I have no idea which one of you is correct in your analysis of the cost and functionality of a statewide case management system. However, I think to focus on those issues, while very important, might detract attraction from the larger policy issues.

    Even if we were to assume that CCMS works as they say it will, can its functionality justify the expenditure of $1.5 billion of taxpayer money on a poorly planned and executed project.

    In addition, do you think back in 2000, 2002, 2003 or whenever the AOC says the JC approved CCMS, the JC would have green lighted the project if it had any idea the project would cost as in excess of $1.0 billion and product acceptance testing would not begin until 2010?

    Accountability is the threshold issue. Funtionality and costs, while critical factors in the evaluation of the project are secondary to the issue of who is in charge of the judicial branch.

  24. This whole audit issue is fascinating. As far as I know the Judicial Council has never discussed at an open and public meeting a decision to block a legislative audit of CCMS. Yet we know from Ms Miller’s excellent reporting that Curtis Child who heads up the AOC Office of Governmental Affairs is seeking just that. I’m also pretty sure Mr Child didn’t make a decision about something of this importance on his own. So we need to ask who directed Mr Child to block this potential legislative audit and why? Could AOC leadership acting alone do so? If that is the case one could argue they would then have trumped the Judicial Council and acted in excess of their authority. The second possibility is that the Chief Justice directed or concurred with AOC leadership to block the audits. If this is the case then the branch is being run by essentially one person. Either way this whole audit issue is revealing significant flaws in the governance of the Judicial branch. It is shocking that given economic crisis and the massive amounts spent and proposed to be spent on CCMS (over 1 billion dollars) that anyone would seek to block a legislative audit. Sadly as it has evolved far too much power is concentrated in the hands of 1 person, the Chief Justice. In the short term pro per is absolutely right – individual members of the Judicial Council should demand answers. In the longer term the only solution to all these problems is democratization of the Judicial Council so that the branch will once again reflect the will of the people we serve.

  25. i agree that defining project/program roles and responsibilities, including who is Responsible to produce work products, who Approves work products, who Contributes to work products, and who is Informed about work products is critical to a project’s success. When I worked on this project, senior ISD and Burbank management were not interested in using industry-standard processes such as RACI (used in the Six Sigma methodology). Using techniques that promote minimal political decision making was not a methodology that Sheila and Margie wanted to utilize. They wanted only toadies in key senior project management roles who would not “rock the boat” and would keep quiet to continue their exhorbitant hourly rate cash flow, not to mention Deloitte and the other big consulting firms who’ve made shameful amounts of money on taxpayers’ backs. Based on what the AOC had been paying CCMS independent contractors when I left the project, these folks have been making in excess of $200,000/year for as many as 9 years and counting and have delivered little for what they’ve earned. At least two of them don’t reside in CA. And the rates for Deloitte and other vendor staff are more troubling. It really does come down to a lack of awareness/interest in utilizing good project management disciplines and processes on this effort. No funding committee should ever be asked to approve more than project stage funding until the project is far enough along in iterative design, development, and implementation to have facts, rather than speculation, about the cost/benefit of making a bigger commitment in the project.

  26. Good morning!
    TooBigToFail, I certainly didn’t mean to insult you. I apologize if the typed word came across that way. Ah, the problems of e-mails and blogs and no facial expressions. It’s hard to get tone/manner/inflection across sometimes. I was asking more as an information matter whether or not you or others had inquired into certain matters or wondered about them early in the process while CCMS was being developed. I got the distinct impression from descriptions by Sacramento judges of the test/demo they saw that Deloitte and the AOC had not adequately tested the network. As you and I both know, you can get some huge surprises on networks. Stress test software is available although it’s just a way to red flag something and not a complete substitute for real world tests of actual data exchanges. Logically I would have thought those in charge would have tested the data flow situation back in 2002 when CCMS was just being cranked up. At least in some manner. Since I couldn’t get any real access to the system when I went to interview people, I’m not sure what the setup is. A VPN arrangement??? People were hiding the ball.

    That said, we probably agree on a great number of items. I agree the target audience problem is absolutely crucial. If at any time during development, intended users being used as alpha or beta testers sound an alarm, it’s time to stop right away and address the problem. And that applies even if they just express some concern about being confused by screen displays or not liking the layout arrangement. And to my way of thinking, every single build must be tested by someone who is not in on the design process. That can be accomplished very quickly via the Internet and phone but it must be done. No exceptions.

    If early tests of a network demonstrate a data flow problem, it’s time to stop and think about the overall architecture and possible alternatives. There are often many ways get data processed. When access from only one county shows any problem at all, that’s a huge red flag. As I’m sure you know, even an apparent data flow success from one county wouldn’t satisfy anyone in the know. For crying out loud, there are going to be 58 counties accessing data. The possible traffic and processor and other conflict problems may not show up to any significant degree or even at all when only one user is accessing the system.

    And I applaud you for having spoken up to the AOC. Someone has to. The Legislature needs to listen to people like you and me and take some action. I hope you have pushed the matter with legislators and are willing to speak out now publicly. I have said enough. I have no idea whether anyone is going to put a stop to this nonsense.

    And now that you have explained your scope concerns, I agree with that too. Many software developers put things out in v1.0, 2.0, 2.1, etc. for just such reasons. I have done the same thing. I know better than to barge ahead to a supposed final version without real world testing/use of released software. I would have real users test every version and every build within a version. And on top of that, I would deploy the first usable version of the system on a test basis, starting with a small county. And then add on one or more outside agencies to test cross-access and records exchanges. Then expand that to two small counties to test cross-access, data pooling, etc. Within that real world testbed, I would expand features and go through several versions before ever venturing out to other counties. Then you test a large county, again testing all the data pooling and cross-access. This could all move very fast but it’s necessary. When V2 crashed and burned in Fresno, nothing should have gone anywhere beyond there until something satisfactory was demonstrated there.

    I actually spoke with some users in Fresno a while back before I realized what all was happening. That was before the billion dollar figures started floating around. I heard about all the problems. But I just heard about a few million dollars and wrote it all off as just another stupid local joke. Some secretaries and clerks told me about the problems when I saw what turned out to be the BearingPoint software on screen. None of the problems they described were complicated to address at all. I could have written software in a matter of hours to address all of their concerns. It was only much later that I heard about the huge expenditures on something called CCMS and that was in relation to Sacramento and problems they had when some new system went live.

    And I agree with the concerns expressed by various people about whether it makes any sense to spend over a billion dollars regardless whether CCMS finally works. That’s just plain crazy. It’s taking funding away from necessary daily court operations. Workers being laid off are probably in deep financial trouble. I guess what got me riled up about all that is that I can see how electronic records can be created, shared between courts, and shared with other agencies for a tiny fraction of the projected CCMS cost. There is absolutely no excuse for closing courts and laying people off.

    And on the subject of Teri Takai, I admit I have never met her. But I do trust my sources. Either she knows how to write modern software or she doesn’t. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. If I were face to face with her, and I was being asked to determine whether she is someone to pay any attention to, my questions would be blunt but right to the point, starting with items like:

    Show me some complex software that you personally wrote within the last year or two. Explain to me what the software does. Show me the User’s Manual. Give me the names and phone numbers of at least two end users. Put the software up on screen and let me test it right now, hands-on.

    If I got the “Well, I don’t actually write software, I just manage ….” routine, I would turn around, walk away, and warn anyone who would listen to ignore her.

    It’s way past time for being polite. About $500 Million past that time.

  27. While taking a Sunday morning walk and hitting some golf balls in the back yard, it occurred to me to ask you, TooBigToFail, whether anyone performed any stress testing of the proposed network setup before you walked away. Was the Sacramento test/demo the first time it was ever really tested?

  28. Nathaniel Woodhull

    Shiela Calabro has been telling anyone who will listen that she has met with the California District Attorney’s Association (CDAA) and Sheriff’s and they “can’t wait” to get onto CCMS (V2).
    Um, that might be a good place to check and see if the justice partners are really that excited to join this network, especially since those I’ve spoken with indicate they have no idea what the costs are associated with their joining the new system. One thing was clear, they have no money to spend joining a new system.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that the Criminal version of CCMS (V2) requires the City Attorney, District Attorney or A.G. to create all new filing documents and amendments to them (complaints or informations.) Not sure that was discussed or explained either. This would mean significant increases in staffing for these offices to handle all of this data entry.

    What will happen if our justice partners say “nyet” to CCMS? Maybe the Chief can control anything within the Judicial Branch, but no so with the Administrative Branch.


  29. Good point, Judge Woodhull. I asked a couple of people in law enforcement about this after hearing what Sheila Calabro said to the Assembly committee on October 28th and they said their departments had never heard anything about all this. And they have no money to chase down solutions. But they might use one if it was handed to them and they could just use it on ordinary Windows computers. I noted that carefully when considering possible overall solutions.

    Conversion of data between law enforcement systems and any trial court data management system is possibly another sleeping giant in this mix. When I sketched out an overall system I took it into account. I don’t think Sheila Calabro even understands the problem. The best answer is to align both ends based on common formatting, common syntaxes, etc. The software is created in parallel development tracks so it fits together in modular fashion. That would allow quick exchange of data. That might also require a lot of data conversion and might also require some agreements. Depends on the people. People I know in IT who have been in such situations tell me getting people to agree is often impossible when they already have some piece of software they like. Data conversions depend, as they say. I can usually determine within minutes of looking at and testing a raw database if conversions are easy or even possible.

    As for the cost, bear in mind that my approach for creating a comprehensive justice data management system actually includes all this, including possible data conversion techniques. I saw the problem coming up front and therefore in a comprehensive justice data management system I would include templates for all the attorneys involved. That’s a must in my opinion. The District Attorney in each county is likely to be the biggest user so it is crucial to supply their office with totally compatible forms. The Public Defender, private attorneys, any government agency that does a lot of filings, and probation need to have templates too. My approach also covers how to take all these compatible items and include them in electronic records that can be stored as a group in the central clerk’s office and sent electronically to appellate courts and appellate counsel after trials.

    And remember that my estimate for the whole shebang is just a few million dollars. None of the outside agencies would have to put up any money unless they needed to upgrade old computers. They would just need reasonably current Windows PCs outfitted with standard desktop productivity software.

  30. As a P.S., before the state expends any more money on contracts, they need to look at a prototype of what is possible. I will create prototypte software for free and have ordinary clerks, lawyers, judges, probation officers, sheriff’s deputies, etc. try it all out.

    Or, the state can do what it usually does and put out an RFP created by people who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing, expend hundreds of millions more, and find out years from now their grand plan won’t even work.

    In my opinion, NO MONEY should ever change hands until a prototype has already been shown to work. Under that approach, we wouldn’t be out $500 Million with nothing useful to show for it.

  31. ComputerGeek: Here are responses to your statements/questions: (1) I do not believe it is necessary for an IT executive such as Ms. Takai or, for that matter, a senior program manager responsible for an enterprise-wide project such as CCMS, to have recent individual contributor experience “cranking code.” It helps if the PM has a technical background as a designer/developer to understand the design/development processes. I have this background; what’s more important is that an experienced and competent PM will know what resource skills are needed on the project and will work to acquire those resources taking experience, skill set required, and cost into consideration, (2) I don’t recall any performance and scability testing being performed before I left the AOC in 2006. Another flaw in the project team structure was a situation where the CCMS architect and network implementer, both independent contractors, did not report to the CCMS project/program manager. Even if the CCMS pm had been knowledgeable about performance and scalability matters, he was not in a position to direct the project activities of these critical areas, (3) My last assignment with the AOC, and the one that broke the “camel’s back,” was to work with Sacramento SC on the Civil CCMS implementation. I was at odds with MTG and AOC ISD executive management over data exchange decisions. Deloitte and I had one view; MTG and AOC ISD executive management another. I took the position that the decision being pushed by MTG and the AOC would further delay the Sacto implementation and increase project costs without a sufficient benefit. My recommendation was based on what I believed was in the best interests of the Sacto project, not based on political face saving. I lost another battle and had had enought.

    It was not easy for me to chose to not extend my contract. First of all, I agree with other bloggers on this site who speak to how hard the court operational folks work on behalf of CA’s residents and how important it is to provide them with effective and efficient systems at at a reasonab le price to the CA taxpayers. Prior to being assigned to work on the CCMS project, I had two, long-term engagements lasting approximately 6 years working on CMS implementations with the courts. I still keep in touch with several of the court folks with whom I worked. It’s shameful that courts are closed and court workers are being furloughed/laid off to continue to fund a failed project. Secondly, I made a choice to step away from approximately $80K/year in consulting fees (difference between AOC independent contractor hourly rates and private sector IC hourly rates for my experience and skill set). But I sleep well at night. And yes, I have sent emails to my assemplyperson and senator and I intend to try to contact members of the Audit Committee on Tuesday AM.

    • Well, on the point about Ms. Takai or other managers needing to know how to write software code, we absolutely disagree. It is critical that anyone running any development knows how to write the software. Every damn bit of it. The people at the top need to understand the architecture of any system as well. You can have others help by filling out long threads of code after they have been given guidance on what to do but, if you’re in charge, you have to have the skill set such that you could do it all yourself if need be.

      Writing huge chunks of code can be boooooring and if an assistant can be trusted to do it, fine. But if you don’t have someone you can trust absolutely to produce error-free code, it’s not even an option.

  32. Have folks closely read the RFI on CCMS Alternative Funding? Take a look at page 6 where the statement is made “Though using an entirely different architecture, the functionality of the criminal and traffic CMS will be reused with limited changes to support Felony and Misdemeanor/Infraction case categories in CCMS.” This statement should raise BIG red flags. When I was on the CCMS project, the V4 plan was to have a single, go forward architecture based on the V3 model. Several months ago, the AOC was looking for a PM contractor whose sole job was to work with Fresno to try to resolve their problems with an “unstable application” (AOC terminology, not mine). If the AOC now plans to proceed with a dual architecture product, this is another reason to suspend the project while an independent audit takes place.

  33. Judge Woodhull: When I worked on the CCMS project, data exchange between the CCMS application and its justice partners was a separate effort managed by MTG. I believe an industry-standard software product from TIBCO was to be used to extract, transform, and load data. I don’t know what happened to that plan. Another reason to suspend the project while answers to these questions can be obtained. Sheila has no idea about any of the technical considerations of CCMS which is why she should NOT be managing this project. Her role is that of a project sponsor. She likely doesn’t know and won’t admit that the V2 architecture, as it was when I left the project in 2006, is not viable.

  34. I just read the comment by TooBigToFail about a dual architecture approach. My instant reaction was OMG! Hold it! Stop! Such an approach is downright crazy. For one thing, it might make exchanges with outside agencies exponentially more complicated.

    I guessed from what I heard Ms. Calabro say on October 28th that she had no clue about data extraction and conversion problems. This is an example of why is absolutely critical for anyone managing an IT project like this to be able to write the entire thing, without assistance, if necessary.

    Gotta get ready for bowling soon. You guys have fun. I’ll think about you over strikes and beer.

  35. ComputerGeek: We’ll have to agree to disagree on the issue of individual contributor technical knowledge as a requirement for senior/executive program/project managers. On enterprise-wide projects such as CCMS, it would be impossible for the PM to have superior project management skills, along with individual congtributor skills in architecture, design, development, Q/A, etc. Large-scale projects have leads who are proficient in the individual contributor skill sets and can provide technical direction. If a senior IT manager is down in the trenches with the technical teams, s/he is not managing the overall project with all of its moving parts. The primary failure of CCMS is one of management, not technical abilities.

    • Last comment before I leave. We agree to disagree. The failure of CCMS is in the technology. The management failure is due to the managers not knowing beans about the technology. And the taxpayers will pay for this until someone in control of the money wakes up and smells the coffee.

  36. TooBigToFail

    Computer Geek raised an issue a while back that I have wondered about as well. San Diego and Ventura are apparently running their systems “locally”, which I understand to mean the systems aren’t tied into the Tech Center. What does this mean for the concept of a statewide system and venue transparency?

    Another question – Will courts use the tech center for CCMS the same way they currently use it for Phoenix Financial?
    If so, what happens when the tech center goes down? Does that shut down the entire system statewide or will courts be able to run the program “locally”?

    Any idea whether CCMS V4 can handle the receipt and distribution of fines and fees?

    Thanks for your input on the CCMS issue. It is validating to those of us without IT experience or expertise who look at the project and wonder if the IT goals could have been achieved sooner and at less expense if the project was properly managed.

  37. WBF: You are correct; local databases negate one of the key justifications for a statewide system. By definition, one cannot have a statewide system without eliminating local databases. Again, this is a political decision, not a decision that was made in the best interests of the project. Had Orange and San Diego SCs been told that they must use the CCTC database for their production implementations, more information on potential network problems would have arisen sooner, rather than later, in the project lifecycle.

    With respect to CCMS, it appears that changes have been made to core components of the project (for example, a combination of V2 and V2 architectures in V4). Because of this, I would not want to comment on the current infrastructure at CCTC. If the CCMS application is deemed to be mission critical for court operations, then redundancy should be built into the infrastructure. Of course, that increases the cost of the project, so tradeoffs would need to be examined. Without redundancy, it’s unlikely courts would be able to run CCMS locally.

    I can’t answer your V4 question. I would expect this functionality to be core to any CMS application. However, V2 has been problematic at Fresno, and the RFI seems to indicate that minimal feature/function changes will be made in V4 . Fresno would be able to answer this question.

  38. TooBigToFail, you stated you cannot have a statewide system without eliminating local databases. Actually you can have both. Another one of those items I’d have to demonstrate in action, I guess.

    But I have another question or two for you. No right or wrong answers. Just your estimates. Assume we’re not counting the potential end users (like judges, clerks, probation officers, lawyers, CDCR, sheriffs, etc.) who provide information during development on the types of data they want to mash around, and we’re not counting any secretaries, people who arrange coffee and donuts and meetings, or other non-code writers, here are two questions:

    #1 Starting from scratch, how many code crunchers do you think it would take to write all the software to manage trial court records, share the data with other courts, and share the data with associated justice agencies, as well as write standard software for the associated agencies to share their data with the courts (assuming they use the software provided to them instead of whatever they might have now)?
    #2 How long would it take this army of geeks to do it, assuming a 5 day work week?

  39. TooBigToFail/ComputerGeek,

    Your “insider” and technical knowledge is of great value and interest, but — and I say this with utmost respect — at this point it’s almost as if you two need a thread of your own re all this programming stuff. I think the overarching issue is exactly as set forth by WBF above, if I may be so bold as to quote it here:

    >>”TooBigToFail/Computer Geek,
    I have no idea which one of you is correct in your analysis of the cost and functionality of a statewide case management system. However, I think to focus on those issues, while very important, might detract attention from the larger policy issues…
    Accountability is the threshold issue. Functionality and costs, while critical factors in the evaluation of the project, are secondary to the issue of who is in charge of the judicial branch.”<<

    • I must concur, Delilah. Likewise, with utmost respect for Computer Geek and everyone else. Just my two cents, but there is perhaps a need for some self restraint and self-editing. This blog is a tremendously important source of information, and it would be a shame to have people drift away, but it surely could occur.

  40. ComputerGeek: I would work with technical folks to size the development effort (coding and unit testing only; other testing is required) based on the “must have’ requirements in an initial iteration. Based on the projections to actuals from the initial iteration, the project team would be in a much better position to apply the learnings to subsequent iterations of the product.

  41. Delilah: I’m not interested in a “programming shoot out” with CG. My points have primarily concerned serious problems with the management of the project. In my experience, the senior program/project manager is responsible and accountable for the project results. For the CCMS project, that role was not filled by the right person. The person in charge of the judicial branch should not have been making project decisions; unfortunately, politics rather than indistry-standard project management processes, has been the driver on this effort.

  42. Real Party in Interest

    I will only add that all of this discussion is healthy. It’s the exact kind of discourse that has been missing at JC meetings, within the AOC, and at the trial courts, appellate, and yes, the staff of the Supreme Court (I’m talking to you, Beth Jay — do not say that you have the Chief’s interests at heart but look the other way – that is not the work of an intellectual and you have not earned respect). There will be an audit of the AOC because it is inevitable. You cannot have smart people work for an organization and not expect them to have ethics. We work hard and have ethics, and the branch deserves this.

  43. All this technical computer stuff and critical comments of very professional and intelligent public servants like Beth Jay miss the big picture. The two issues that are of critical importance right now are the pending legislative hearing regarding the audit of CCMS and continued questions about judicial branch governance.I think it is time for the legislature to ask why is the AOC trying to stop the potential CCMS audit? Related to that question is who decided to take that position, the JC , Chief, AOC or some combination of all of them? Once that question is set forth then the legislature should ask who gave the entity objecting to the audit the authority to take that position and where and when that occur? Did the decision to object to the CCMS audit come about at a public meeting? If not then who is running the third branch of government here in California? These are the questions that should be asked this week in Sacramento.

  44. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    I’m just happy to see this hearing happening on the third Wednesday of the month. I am a bit perplexed that such an audit would stop at CCMS and hope that an audit such as this is the tip of the iceberg for a much larger audit of AOC’s operations.

    • In the event an audit is authorized, should Elaine Howle and the Bureau of State Audits uncover accounting discrepancies, questionable finance practices (such as double invoicing), malfeasance, misappropriation, misuse of public funds, or other issues, Howle has the full authority to request and recommend that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approve expanding the audit, and the Committee has the authority to do so.

      The Office of the State Chief Information Officer has no such authority or ability, which should be a big clue as to why the Chief Justice, Vickrey, and the AOC are pushing so hard and so desperately to direct any review of the CCMS to that office, and away from the Bureau of State Audits.

  45. I am also not interested in some kind of programming shootout with TooBigToFail. I think both of us are simply interested in educating those in the court system and in the Legislature about what is possible with computers. At least that’s certainly my position. And although we may disagree on certain details, note the surprising amount of agreement on things like $$ and time.

    I know there are other factors involved, but it has been my feeling that the overwhelming reason why CCMS got out of hand financially is that no one at the AOC had any real comprehension about what could be done or what it should cost. None of the managers involved have any technical knowledge. That is a formula for absolute disaster.

    If you walked into a store, and knew that a product should cost about $300, and knew what it logically should be able to do, you would know better than to pay $15,000 for it, and particularly if it had fewer capabilities. The leaders of the JC and AOC as well as the vast majority of those in the court system simply had no idea that the IT task at hand could be accomplished for perhaps as little as a few million dollars. Although we may differ on the precise amount, you now know that several of us, who are all in a position to know, all peg the legitimate cost at $50 Million or less. That is way different from $1.75 Billion. That knowledge has been sorely missing.

    I will now back off, hopefully having educated everyone on the subject. It is now up to the Legislature to do something.

  46. Thank you Delilah and Judge Horan for pointing out the need for a broader, less exclusively CCMS-centric discussion. Like you, I concur that while vastly important, ongoing posts focused solely on the technicalities of CCMS overshadow other important (and related) topics such as accountability and governance. I can’t help but notice that many regular bloggers (perhaps non-teckies like me?) have fallen completely out of the thread.

  47. This points out the need for forums, so people can devote their energy to topics where they have most interest. And as for B.J., that too is an issue of governance. If she is the trusted advisor to the Chief Justice, then what advice has she been giving him if the AOC is about to be audited? From CCMS spending to money given by the Shapiro family, the entire AOC needs to go through an independent audit.

  48. No one should be surprised by the AOC lobbying to kill the audit. Our organization sponsored the JLAC request last year to audit the use of court appointees in family courts in Marin and Sacramento counties that passed unanimously out of JLAC 12-0, with no help from the AOC.

    This audit was about the epidemic of complaints from all over the state that family courts are routinely placing children into the custody of known domestic violence batterers and child molesters, while perfectly decent parents were being denied visitation and punished for trying to protect their kids. The AOC fought us tooth and nail, lobbying like mad and writing letters of opposition to lawmakers, telling them it was overkill and not needed, etc, etc, etc. They succeeded in severely narrowing the scope of the final audit request, but they could not stop it in the end. They protect their autonomy like nobody’s business- and this fight you are waging this year is going to be no different. If they had no qualms about fighting a transparency measure aimed at ensuring that CHILDREN are SAFE and not being placed in harm’s way by the courts, then they surely will fight to stop an audit of their financial mismanagement of the CCMS project.

    We are happy to share our experiences with anyone who is interested in understanding the nuances of the JLAC Committee- we worked with JLAC committee members and staff for 17 months to get our request through the process last July.

  49. judicial observer

    Yes, please. This is not CCMSwatcher.

    The discussion of minutia involving CCMS technology is off putting to those who are visiting this site because of a shared need to discuss the broader and more important issue of governance of the judicial branch and the AOC. CCMS’s spectacular cost and failure is to many of us simply a symptom (of many) of what is wrong with the oversight of AOC management decisions.

  50. Yes, in looking through past posts from Eunicelmn, Name Witheld, Judicial Observer, WBf, Pro Per, and others I notice that the technical aspects of CCMS were not discussed as much as the political process that got us into this mess. I agree with the above authors and further believe that we should not turn AOC Watcher into a technical forum.

    Remember that this blog is read by members of the Legislature and their staffs, the newsmakers, judges, the public and, although they deny it, the top officials of the AOC.

    The technical materials were interesting and valuable. However, even if CCMS was a perfect system the method by which it has been established is worthy of an examination.

    It appears that neither the Judicial Council nor the Legislature has ever approved of what is going to turn out to be 1.7 billion dollars plus for a computer system that should have been in place in 2009? Now this has been extended to 2014.

    It appears to me that the AOC has become, or is in danger of becomming, a runaway agency and it may not under the control of the Chief Justice or the Judicial Council.

  51. I disagree; the discussions between TooBigToFail & ComputerGeek have been very educational. Forums would be fine, in either case I find the technical discussion fascinating! The more we know the better armed we are for the broader discussions, since imho CCMS will always be a factor/point in discussing AOC failures.

  52. Well said, Judge Maino.

    And Pro Per, yes indeed, the truth is a precious commodity. I thank you for your wisdom.

  53. Chief Justice Ron George and Bill Vickery are on track to lead the most spectacular failure in the history of California judicial administration.

    If they continue on their present path they will soon be repudiated by the majority of the judges and court employees in the State. We can only hope that will happen soon enough to save the trial courts and the good employees at the AOC.

    The Chief and Vickery are failing. Failing big. Failing fast. And failing everywhere: mismanagement of the AOC, questionable contracting deals, CCMS blunders and overall inept budget administration. The list goes on and on.

    But most importantly, they are failing to hold the trust and confidence of those of us working in the trial courts and the AOC.

    They are failing because they have no understanding of what we do. Some of us wonder if they actually loath what we do and how we do it.

    Most of the trial courts are only months away from financial failure. Some are there now. Further budget cuts are inevitable, yet we continue to hear the same tired story from Bill Vickery : “the Chief met with the Governor and all is well”. Bill Vickery tells us he has a plan but he can not reveal the plan for fear some will not speak with ” One Voice”.

    What are we hearing from the Chief ? He has no narrative about the trial courts. He does have a narrative about himself. We have all hear it many times. How he visited all the local courthouses. How is was once a trial judge. How he is committed to openness and cooperation. If you missed his story it will be rerun at his up-coming State of the Judiciary address. He has given the same address for the last ten years.

    But the Chief’s narrative is isolated and does not connect with those of us that work in the trial courts and AOC. His remarks are self serving and intended to convince us that the history of California judicial administration began when he appointed himself Chair of the Judicial Council.

    Neither the Chief or Bill Vickery have a narrative that resonates with the rest of us. Their descriptions of the world we work in does not make sense to us.

    They are isolated, out of touch and do not seem interested in our daily experiences. Failure is their likely outcome.

  54. I personally appreciate all of the comments. That is what makes this blog so interesting! And no, I for one is not suprised by the AOC’s not wanting the audit. Come on! However, I did have to laugh at the statement that an audit would take staff away from the development of CCMS…heck the AOC insists on extensive useless “operational” audits (useless in the sense of the auditors doing the audits have no clue about court operations!) in the courts that take staff away from just doing the business of the court all of the time….so now they are crying the blues…excuse me?

    One thing I will say is that I hope that all of you that have more influence than this little flea, will contact their representatives in the legislature to support the observations of the one member that insisted on an audit of CCMS.

  55. I have written to Assemblymember Huber. Thank you C.F. for the reminder.

  56. Not a Techie, you may find this item interesting.
    The information in it bears heavily on my analysis of the proper way to handle court case data.

  57. Has anyone else up here in Sacramento heard about the Chief himself personally calling members of the Legislature and lobbying them against having a financial audit of CCMS. For him to get personally involved is more than unseemly. It raise a major red flag.

    Imagine the CEO of a major company lobbying Congress to not look at the company’s books. Oops! That already happened. Its was called Enron.

    What is the Chief so worried about? Who went to him and said he needed to get personally involved to stop the audit. Perhaps “unseemly” is to too mild a description?

    • Not only Enron, but also the more recent scandals in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which ultimately led to the resignation of the Ohio Attorney General in disgrace and several criminal indictments of others in that office, as well as the scandal that came to light at the end of 2009 involving the Pennsylvania Court system, which led to corruption charges, including a Pennsylvania judge accused of accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks and resulted in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court throwing out thousands of cases heard by that judge.

      In all of these cases, Enron, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and the Pennsylvania Court system, the misconduct, fraud, and corruption, only came to public light following external investigations, including independent audits, that were opposed by the very organizations and public entities involved.

  58. I don’t know if the Chief Justice is making phone calls, but I do know that things will get worse for the judicial branch if JLAC votes no to a CCMS and/or AOC audit. The Legislature has full knowledge of how damaging material is that can be released. If they don’t choose to audit, then more and more will leak out and it will get uglier and uglier for everyone in the branch. It will also not look so good for members of the Legislature to look the other way when they have an ethical obligation to act on information in their possession.

  59. While many of us don’t want to believe this in the world of judicial officers and their need to be independent from the political fray, the CJ first and foremost is a politian. How do you think he managed to get appointed as CJ…his good looks? his independent rulings? ya think? You think the first black female supreme court justice (Janice whatshername) got appointed to the Feds DC bench because she was so wonderful? It was obvious from what you read in the press, that the CJ wanted her out of his hair with her caustic dissenting rulings. This does not suprise me in least, that he is using his political influence to put the kabash on an audit. Because, if an audit was done, it would be political suicide for he and his henchmen. Just my humble opinion.

  60. He’s indeed working furiously, C.F.

    February 16, 2010
    Judges’ Group and Ronald George Make Appearances at Bench-Bar Lobby Day
    [Cheryl Miller]

    If you were looking for justice Tuesday, a good place to start was the state Capitol.

    A good number of judges, joined by State Bar leaders, were roaming the halls and pigeonholing lawmakers as part of the Bench-Bar Coalition’s (.pdf) annual lobby day. Among the Coalition visitors was Chief Justice Ronald George, who was spotted on the Capitol’s fifth floor late Tuesday afternoon.

    Coalition leaders don’t usually publicize their lobby day talking points, but this year the Alliance of California Judges took care of that for them.

    The Alliance, as you’ll recall, is the newly formed judges’ group that doesn’t always see eye to eye with the Judicial Council or the Administrative Office of the Courts. And Alliance members weren’t particularly pleased with the Coalition’s talking point No. 3, which suggests that lawmakers be told that the Alliance is a “small group” of disgruntled judges with its own agenda.

    So the Alliance released a copy of the Coalition’s agenda and sent its own letter (.pdf) to lawmakers countering the talking points.
    “… We are not a “small group of judges,” the letter reads. “In fact, we have attracted over 200 members, representing now approximately over 10% of the judges of this state in over 35 counties, and we are growing.”

    You can read the rest of the coalition’s talking points here (.pdf).
    All this took place one day before a legislative committee is scheduled to decide whether to order an audit of the judiciary’s controversial new computer network.

  61. Here are the BBC talking points. Who writes this crap?

    Click to access aoc-talkimg-points-memo.pdf

  62. The CJ was definitely lobbying against the audit today. Several people saw him.

  63. My sources say King George, Prince William and Little Lord FauntleRon were out and about in the capitol lobbying against the audit. My guess is this, if they were well received today then you will see the prince, the little lord and their privy council at tomorrow’s hearing. If they were not well received the prince and the little lord are sure to be hidden away in San Francisco while the privy council is left behind to fight the losing battle.

  64. Crikey, damn and double damn these folks just dont get it. Dont they realize that calling distenters names, etc. is not going to do them any good. Who writes this crap? the poor AOC employee soldiers who must do the bidding of the King. Iam afraid they doth protest too much…

    The wolf, I agree, this house of cards is going to implode sson, at least I hope so.

  65. Where did they come up with the figure $240M spent on CCMS as of July 1, 2009? With the consulting fees for Deloitte, MTG, Siemens, KC/future planning, inc., numerous highly-paid independent consultants, hardware costs, etc. that number is incorrect. It’s so troubling that this misinformation is propagated by people whose primary mission should be telling the truth. I have my fingers crossed for success at tomorrow AM’s Audit Committee meeting.

  66. If the Chief, Bill and Ron were all at the capitol today, they know that the possibility of this audit is as serious as a heart attack. The facade of true judicial governance and accountability is falling apart faster than debris and decay overlooking the steps of 350 McCallister.

    Does the Judicial Council approve of their lobbying and these “Bench Bar Coalition” talking points, or is that yet another task that they have delegated away?

  67. Real Party in Interest

    I am confused … is Tuesday a free pass to lobby day? And the AOC has confused the notion of lobbying (and the name Bench Bar) to high heaven.

    Click to access NR12-08.PDF

  68. TooBigToFail

    The $240 million is the result of some creative bookkeeping done after the hearing in front of the assembly committee last year. The AOC is now breaking out costs between “Project” and “Ongoing Support” to artifically deflate the costs.

    The “Project” costs are claimed to be $240 million. The balance of $200 million plus is booked as ongoing support. The AOC argues that these are costs the user courts would have to pay anyway for a CMS.

    While it may give the AOC some cover on the project costs, it then begs the question of exactly how much does it cost to operate the system on an ongoing basis. Partial versions of the systems were in what – 4 courts?? That works out to $50 million/court over an 8 year period or $6 million per court per year for support. That includes the Small Claims module in one courtroom in one courthouse in LA, which is the sum total of LA’s involvement.

    That fact the AOC is now cooking the books is all the more reason an audit is needed. Remember this is the group that couldn’t tell an assembly committee about 6 months ago, they didn’t know how much had been spent on the system.

  69. “Cooking the books” is putting it mildly. Let’s not forget the money that was wasted on BearingPoint with V2 before Deloitte took it over. It would be very interesting to obtain the invoices for the vendors, hardware, etc. costs and compare them against what the AOC is reporting as CCMS project development costs…

    • Which is exactly what an audit would show . . .

      In addition, this would shine light on the Govt Code Sec. 68058 issue, which might show the JC improperly allocated TCTF funds to CCMS development.

  70. I have a feeling that if 200 doctors were upset, the AMA would not refer to them as a handful of unhappy doctors that no one should listen to. The AOC constantly forgets that they are an administrative agency that should support the work of the courts, and that they are not, and will never be, judges or court staff.

    And yes, $240 million does not even cover the payments to Deloitte Consulting. This figure is ludicrous to promulgate as a “cost to date” amount for CCMS.

  71. It appears that only one member of the privy council is at today’s audit committee hearing. Hmmm….

  72. Did a JLAC hearing/vote take place?

  73. Yes, the Committee voted to do the audit.

  74. And is this news linkable / reported anywhere?

    I pray that you are not a horrible prankster. 🙂

  75. Real Party in Interest

    News should be free, but the headline is confirmation enough:

    Committee Green-Lights CCMS Audit

  76. No pranks here! The audit passed on a bi-partisan vote and is supposed to begin in April. I don’t know of the hearing was televised or not. If it was, it can be found online at calchannel.

  77. Thank you The Wolf and Real Party. Today is a great day for justice.

  78. PattyJaneSmith

    Excellent, excellent news! For all of you who made calls and wrote letters – great work! Thank you. Please consider making a thank you call to those legislators who voted for the audit.

  79. I agree. This is a great day for justice. I’m sure CCMS executive management in SF and Burbank are cranking up the document shredders. Does anyone know if the project is suspended pending the results of the audit?

  80. Hallelujah!

  81. No suspension of the project – at least to my knowledge.

  82. “We have nothing to hide” says Chief Justice George.

    Well, to the ” upstart coalition” of “shrill and uninformed judges” plus the wonderful investigative reporting from newspersons from the top of the state to the bottom of the state plus the good people of the AOC, some of whom have lost their jobs because they told the truth, plus the members of the Legislature who have listened to us and to the public and who have finally had enough of the Chief Justice and his minions, I say “thank you”.

    Only an idiot believes that CCMS should cost $1,000,000.oo per courtroom……or be as expensive as the Dubai Tower. Only an idiot believes in non competative bids for large public projects. Only an idiot believes that CCMS should take from 2002 to 2014 to complete. Only an idiot believes that the State of California should have contracted with a company who could not even complete the contract they had with the Los Angeles Public Schools besides having failures in other states. Only an idiot believes that there is nothing to hide.

    Dear Chief Justice: This state is not full of idiots.

    When the truth comes out about CCMS Omerta is of the opinion that the Chief Justice will decide that it is better not to run in 2010. He is the head of the Judicial Council which he controls. In turn the Judicial Council controls the AOC. “Policy Governance” which is the integrated board leadership paradigm created by Dr. John Carver will not get the Chief Justice off of the hook. He, like the Captain of the Ship, bears ultimate responsibility for this debacle. Dr. Carver believes this. The Chief Justice knows this and that is one of the reasons he used all of his political pull to avoid this audit.

    A final note: think about the AOC employee who was fired because he told the truth about the waste of taxpayer money when the AOC hosted that very expensive and unnecessary conference last year. Please do not forget this man. He started this ball rolling down the hill….and now it is clear why he was fired: the AOC had to terrorize anyone who does not “speak with one voice”.

    The strong wind of truth will blow down this house of cards.

    • The AOC employee who was fired because he told the truth about the waste of taxpayer money was not the first AOC employee to tell the truth about the misconduct going on at the AOC, nor was he the first to get fired for doing so, or even the first to get terrorized.

      And the Chief Justice has much more to answer for than just CCMS because of it.

  83. Ah Wolf, only one attended today to TRY to make it look like this meeting was not a BIG deal to the AOC and the CJ.

    While this vote is soo way exciting and I am thrilled, I must say I am jaded…I sure hope the AG does not come up with an opinion that the legislature has no authority to audit the Judicial Branch or the AOC. I bet that is what the CJ is banking on and may even go as far to fight this in court. I am staying tuned! This should be interesting!

  84. I have been thinking about the AOC employee fired because he did the right thing, and obtaining whistle blower protection for AOC employees should be high on the lobbying priorities of citizens concerned about CA courts. Tonight, I spoke with a former AOC employee who stated the staff has been told that anyone caught posting to or reading this blog would be fired. It takes a lot of courage to come forward under the threat of loss of livlihood, pension, insurance, etc.

  85. PS Yes, Omerta, thanks to all who sacrificed so much to get us to this point!! So many brave souls. I salute you all, you make me proud to be a public servant again.

  86. TooBigToFail:

    This is a false rumor. If any AOC employee has been told that they will be fired for reading or posting to AOC Watcher, that employee has grounds to sue. I can say this with assurance because I can think of at least one director who has informed employees that they can read and post to the blog if they wish, but that they should not divulge information that can be requested through normal channels. I personally can also tell you that I will sue the AOC in a court of law if they terminate any employee for reading or posting on this blog, without providing any warning to employees. As of February 17, 2009, the AOC has never provided employees with any official guidance regarding this forum, despite its name, “AOC Watcher,” and despite the fact that employees have been mentioned here by name who are involved in pending (or impending) litigation with the AOC and/or Judicial Council.

  87. Correction: As of February 17, 2010. I am still not used to this new decade in print.

  88. I also heard that the privy council was already trying to spin that the audit was not such a big deal to the king and court. By tomorrow the face saving spin will be in overdrive. The funny thing is that this facade will only work on their delusional selves especially since so many saw the king, prince and little lord going in and out of JLAC members’ office yesterday.

  89. Real Party in Interest

    There is no spin on a joint legislative committee voting to audit the staff agency to the Judicial Council of California, which is chaired by Ronald M. George, the Chief Justice of California. When that reality sinks in, it will become news that spins out of control.

  90. It was worse than that. The Chief, himself, called members earlier in the week to lobby against the audit. Staffers were told to expect a call from the Chief. When he called, members were prepared for his pitch. Luckily, they didn’t fall for his “this would be duplicative of the other audit” song.

    Make no doubt about it. This was a major defeat for the him and the AOC. They will not take this lying down. Be prepared for more push back and obfuscation leading up to the audit. No doubt, they will work hard with Deloitte to cover-up as much as they can. This is not over. But it is a major victory for common sense and honesty. No time to rest. Much more work needs to be done. More remains to uncover.

    Congratulations to all that worked so hard on this: judges, employees, AOC staffers and the unions. Kudos for a job well done. Now get back to work and keep it going. It is not over yet.

  91. JusticeCalifornia

    In case anyone still thinks Ron George has not known exactly what he is doing–

    FYI, from another CA blog:

    “courtwatch ” wrote:
    ‘Further to the story about S148320 (campaign contributions affecting Marin custody cases), the Judicial Council’s “Commission on Impartial Courts” (CIC) issued a December 15, 2009 report recommending that Supreme Court justices be able to receive over $25,000 from an individual before having to recuse themselves from hearing a case involving that individual. The Judicial Council and the CIC are appointed by CA Supreme Court Justice Ron George, who is up for retention election this year. The CIC steering committee is chaired by Associate Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin, who is also up for retention election this year. And Ron George appointed our own Marin Judge Lynn Duryee –whose husband is a lawyer whose firm has been a top donor to multiple judicial retention elections– to the CIC.
    According to their 1998 campaign finance reports, in 1998 the vast majority of the contributions made to Justices George and Chin were $1,000 and under. It appears that via the new CIC report, they are INVITING big money into judicial elections.
    What can we do about this? For starters, register to vote, and vote to remove Ron George and Ming Chin from the CA Supreme Court this June. ‘

    In response, “Dump Ron George” wrote:

    ‘And further to the story about Ron George promoting his own interests, with the help of notoriously problematic Marin judges… Ron George (aka King George, and Pope George, who reportedly likes to have his metaphorical “ring” kissed), who certainly appears to appoint whomever he wants, to whatever council or commission he wants, to get the results he wants:

    Rumor has it that today the CA legislature approved a request, brought by a break-off group of CA judges (10% of CA judges and growing), asking for a legislative audit of Ron George’s Adminstrative Office of the Courts, regarding the amazing (disgusting) spending on a “court internet technology project” (a half billion taxpayer dollars and growing).

    Rumor has it King/Pope Ron and his top CA bar association buddies were making the rounds in Sacramento yesterday, desperately begging legislators to stop the audit.

    Could this be why King/Pope Ron appointed Marin’s own very troubled Kim Turner to his Judicial Council? She has experience deflecting this type of problem–after all, her self described “friend” and “boss extraordinaire” John Montgomery funneled $650,000 in court contracts to his live-in girlfriend, a Marin computer IT consultant. Turner reportedly signed off on some of his inappropriate charges, and Turner got promoted!

    She undoubtely has lots and lots of tips for King/Pope Ron, on how to handle this nightmare.

    Self-styled King/Pope Ron George is setting a very bad example, and appears to be promoting very bad policies. We know what to do with him, right?

    The CA judicial corruption house of cards appears to be falling. For those inclined to jump ship, at all levels, now is the time. ‘

  92. How are the Chief, the Judicial Council, and the AOC Executive Team going to stand behind their CCMS program and literally years of bad funding decisions? The Legislature had no choice to vote for an audit because the evidence of waste, lack of oversight, runaway spending, and inept management was overwhelming. There is no spin on this. For shame.

    I feel bad for any employee who has believed the load of bull fed to him or her about the integrity of the California judicial branch.

  93. Name Withheld: With all due respect, I’ve known the person who made the statement to me directly for over 10 years, and my experience with this person leads me to believe the statement regarding termination if caught posting to/reading this blog. This person has integrity and honor and cares about serving CA court folks and being effective and efficient with taxpayer money. There is no reason for this person to make false statements to me. I know that all AOC managers do not operate the same way; some are extremely ruthless and self-promoting.

  94. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Name Withheld: AOC management has discouraged AOC employees from contacting their own legislators in writing. We have some of that e-mail.

    While lots of people from the AOC read the watcher and it’s the talk of the AOC, few dare to look at it during business hours knowing that their management is looking at proxy server reports of who visited what.

    AOC managers and supervisors alike have been holding numerous and frequent meetings with employees in an effort to engage them and discourage them from adding their voices in any way to any of the discussions at hand.

    We were always confident that a reason would be found to open the AOC’s books and investigate and we only hope an audit of the CCMS project leads to a larger audit of all of the AOC’s operations.

  95. Thank you for the clarification (of an entirely inconsistent situation). I am greatly saddened to hear that there is even one employee at the AOC who feels intimidated or fearful regarding reading or posting on an anonymous blog. It points out — again — the need for the AOC to provide consistent guidelines and a policy that is applicable to all 900 employees.

  96. Sacramento Bee

    Panel OKs review of California courts computer system despite protest
    Published Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010

    A joint legislative committee on Wednesday approved auditing a costly statewide court computer system despite lobbying by top judicial branch administrators, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court of California.

    The Joint Legislative Audit Committee directed the state auditor to look into the Court Case Management System, a massive information technology project to link all courts on one system.

    “It is critically important we have taxpayer accountability for all branches of our government,” Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Moorpark, said after the hearing. “We are looking at somewhere between $1 (billion) and $2 billion that would be going to this computer system.”

    Chief Justice Ronald George discussed the proposed audit Tuesday with several lawmakers – including two on the committee – along with a host of other issues such as the budget and traffic cameras, he said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.

    George said he opposes the audit because the state’s chief information officer will complete a review of the project in March. An audit would divert limited staffing and resources, George added, calling the additional review “premature.”

    The judicial branch’s leaders have faced unprecedented scrutiny this past year as they chose to close the state courts one day a month for budget reasons. Some judges and union officials have been particularly vocal, questioning judicial spending on projects such as the computer system.

    Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, who voted for the audit, praised the purpose of the computer system: to unify outdated case-management systems that have trouble communicating with each other.

    Currently, there are more than 70 systems statewide, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to get information.

    Ducheny said “the point of the audit is not to say why we should not do this. It is to say how we do it more effectively and how we proceed to spend our tech dollars more wisely.”

    © Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.