Category Archives: CCMS

Judicial Council Pulls Plug on CCMS…My Work Here Is Done

In a stunning turnabout from the position that the Judicial Council has regularly taken regarding CCMS, today the judicial members of the Judicial Council voted to halt implementation of the much maligned and criticized CCMS software program.

From the Courthouse News Service:

Ultimately, the council found the courts as a whole could no longer afford to support the project and decided to allocate $8.6 million to shelve the Court Case Management system and salvage any useful technology from it, including the ability for lawyers to file documents online.

In other words, the JC is mothballing the project and they’re suggesting that courts pick through the scrapheap to see if anything worthwhile can be salvaged from it. Oh my how the mighty have fallen.

But I come here today not to bury CCMS, and certainly not to praise it, but to remind everyone that CCMS cost California almost $500 million in the middle of the Great Recession with county courts shutting down courtrooms and courthouses, and layoffs sweeping the land. Is it any wonder that the JC finally got a clue? Even if it was two and a half years later?

I tip my hat to the original followers of Thetis from the AOC who let me know what was going on with CCMS back in 2009. And I salute the Alliance of California Judges for leading the fight against CCMS. And what can I say about Judicial Council Watcher? Those folks took an idea and made it better. While I got stopped blogging due to life commitments, they soldiered on creating a website that I encourage all to visit.

And as for me, although I know there are many more court-related issues that people are still waging battles over, (I’m looking at you AB1208) I am officially pulling the plug on this great venture I started almost three years ago. I wish everyone the best of luck and again, I encourage everyone to visit the Judicial Council Watcher.

Maybe I’ll see you around there in the comments section.  😉

Op-Ed Piece Claims “Deploying CCMS Is Common Sense”

In an op-ed piece published in the Daily Journal yesterday a group of CCMS supporters comprised of judges and court executive officers from San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura continued to bang the drum in support of the AOC/Judicial Council’s contention that CCMS will be the savior of the California superior courts. The group claimed in their letter that currently courts are paying exorbitant amounts of money to run antiquated computer software that does not meet the needs of superior courts throughout the state.

The cost-saving implications for a unitary system are obvious. Together we three courts alone spend almost $2.6 million annually to maintain inefficient, outdated local case management systems. These monies should be better spent in the deployment of CCMS, which promises economies of scale as it is rolled out throughout the state.

However, nowhere in their piece did they even mention that it’s cost California almost $2 billion dollars to save millions. Let me repeat that again in case you missed that. We’re spending BILLIONS to save MILLIONS. Is it any wonder there’s such a large wide swath of the population that doesn’t trust the government to spend its monies wisely? And they didn’t bother to mention that this project is almost ten years old.

And no. Even though the op-ed piece was published on April 1st, I don’t think the citizens of California should be fooled by their arguments. I’m all for a consolidated software program with all courts integrated into it. I’m just not sure it needed to cost billions and take almost longer to complete than the building of the Great Wall of China.

Legislative Committee Approves Audit of CCMS

Critics of the AOC’s CCMS software program got handed a major win yesterday when the Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted unanimously to request an audit of the California Case Management System or CCMS. The request will now go to State Auditor Elaine Howle who is expected to begin her audit some time in April after the state’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) turns in his own report on CCMS next month.

The push for an audit of CCMS got interesting last week when The Recorder broke the news that the AOC was actively campaigning in Sacramento against an audit of CCMS. Joining in on the anti-audit of CCMS campaign were members of the Judicial Council as well who argued to members of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee that an audit would only duplicate the work being done by the CIO. But that wasn’t their only complaint about an audit. Quoting from the this morning’s Recorder article, “The judicial lobbyists also complained that a new audit would pull Administrative Office of the Courts staffers away from their work on the CCMS network.” To which I would reply, given that it’s taken you people almost ten years to get the thing off the ground, a little more extra time certainly won’t hurt!

Speaking before the committee, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, (D) argued in favor of the audit.  “There’s too much uncertainty, too many moving pieces, too much money at stake.”

But even though the committee voted to request an audit, they made it clear that it was not their intention to either derail or pull the plug on CCMS.

From The Recorder:

Lawmakers were quick to add that while they want greater oversight of the CCMS devlopment, they don’t want to pull the plug on the project.

And from the Daily Journal

Senator Denise Duchany, D-San Diego, voted for the audit but said she had concerns that critics were only seeking to derail a needed system.

Also speaking in favor of an audit was Sacramento County Superior Court Judge and Alliance of California Judges member Maryanne Gilliard.  “You need to understand this project started out as a no bid, sole source project.  Please do your job.  Be a public guardian of the public trust.”

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.”

Is The AOC Considering Selling CCMS to Other Courts?

A sharp-eyed AOC Watcher reader spotted this on the AOC’s website.

RFI for CCMS Alternative Funding for Statewide Deployment

RFI Number: RFI 201001-CAFSD01

The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to invite qualified interested parties to provide information (submissions) to the Judicial Council of California, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to assist the AOC in identifying and exploring the potential implementation of alternative funding and market opportunities for the California Court Case Management System (CCMS). CCMS is a custom-developed court case management system intended to be deployed statewide in all 58 California trial courts.

The AOC’s goal is to identify feasible alternative funding transactions and asks interested parties to present submissions that will fund CCMS deployment to the courts in a manner consistent with existing public policy objectives (e.g., transparency, accountability, and fiscal prudence).

If anyone has info on what exactly the AOC has in mind for CCMS, do fill us in.

AOC Releases “News Piece” Promoting CCMS

The AOC has released an in-house produced “news piece” in which they sing the praises of CCMS.  The piece was produced by the AOC and distributed under their California Court News banner.

The piece begins with a shot of judicial council members, including King Mister Justice George, visiting a location in Santa Ana to learn more about CCMS and how it will supposedly change how things are done in California courts.

Paul Robinson of Deloitte Consulting, the consulting firm appointed by the AOC to develop CCMS, is shown in the piece saying, “The impact will be absolutely phenomenal and I think you’ll get a sense of that today.” Mmm…phenomenal…yeah. Like what else is a rep from a consulting firm going to say? And for almost $1.5 billion of Californians’ hard earned dollars it better damn well be phenomenal.

Here are a couple of things you’re going to learn about CCMS after watching the video. One, “there are 222 people from 29 courts actively involved in building the system alongside 130 administrative office of the courts employees and 160 justice partners.” And two, “The design blueprint for the software is now 18,000 pages long.” That’s right. 18,000 pages long. Yikes. I’d hate to see how many pages the user manual will be.

The narrator also goes on to claim that, “Our state is so massive and our court needs so complex there is simply no suitable software off the shelf.” And to reiterate her point they show Orange County CEO Alan Carlson stating, “It’s just not there yet. The vendors are not willing to put in the kind of money you have to put in to develop this kind of system.” Well, the vendors may not have the money but fear not because the citizens of California will pay for it. Oh, have I mentioned current CCMS costs are now at $1.5 billion?

This bit of video propaganda appears to have been developed by the AOC after the grilling they got last October when they appeared before a legislative committee.  I mean I highly doubt the JC delegation to Santa Ana had even planned on visiting before the legislative hearing.   CCMS and its costs were one of the primary areas the committee had questions about and it’s more than obvious that somebody took the committee’s questions, developed their answers and tailored their video piece to answer those questions. I think anyone who has real questions about CCMS are not going to find unbiased answers considering this video was produced by the AOC and disseminated on its own website means it isn’t unbiased.  It’s just a piece of fluffery where the AOC is defending its turf by developing a piece of PR to promote a software program that has been years in the making and has cost billions of dollars.

Thank you very much AOC and the JC for your slickly produced piece of fluff, but I’ll wait for an outside source to do a piece on CCMS that will give us a more rounded and unbiased look on your $1.5 billion dollar software program.  Oh, have I mentioned the cost already?  Silly me.

“On The Money” Profile on the AOC Airs

Sacramento CBS affiliate KOVR 13 aired their piece on the AOC last night. If you’d like to see the piece yourself, you can view it by clicking here. And don’t forget that you might also want to tune into radio station KHTK Sports 1140 this afternoon beginning at 2:00 p.m. where they will be continuing a discussion started by the “On the Money” piece.  You can listen to the radio broadcast live online at their website.

Screenshot of Ron Overholt who sang the virtues of the AOC’s $1 billion CCMS software program.

On The Money: Court Controversy

California is so deep in debt that courthouses are closed one day a month. Many judges have taken voluntary pay cuts, but not everyone apparently, is feeling the pain.

Turns out, dozens of people in the court system received raises over the last two years.

In court, a growing number of judges are in open revolt.” To pass out raises like this in this climate, I think is just outrageous,” Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster told CBS13 in an exclusive interview.

McMaster is critical of the Administrative Office of the Courts – the AOC – which gave out pay raises of 3% and higher to roughly 80 staffers, many of them already making six figure salaries.

Click here to read more and to view video.

Sac Bee Op-Ed Calls AOC’s Cost Estimates for CCMS “Fishy”

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.

Op-Ed Piece on AOC’s “Ludicrosity”

I just love it when people get to the AOC’s Mad Hatter tea party and discover just how crazy and insane things can be in the Wonderland that is the AOC. These newcomers to the party are just discovering the insanity that those who work within and with the AOC have known for years. The newest person to the party is columnist Lois Henry for the Bakersfield Californian whose incredulity at the AOC’s decision to issue raises in the midst of a budget crisis caused her to invent a word.

There just aren’t enough hours in the day to absorb all the ludicrosity (yeah, I made that word up) that abounds in California state government.

I’m back on the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), which has taken over operation of county courts in the last decade. And which came up with the brilliant (dripping sarcasm) idea of closing those courts one day a month in order to save money this year.

Now, I see they’ve been busy giving out raises to some of their 900 employees while continuing to pursue a $2 billion computer system and they’re pushing ahead with new courthouse construction.

Let us pause for a moment to mull the idea that the AOC was created to bring greater efficiencies to county court operations. It now has 900 employees, while our courts are closed one day a month, cases are backlogged and if we could fill our vacant judgeships, there’s no staff to run a courtroom.

Oh yeah, that smells like California style “efficiency,” doesn’t it?

Ludicrosity.  It may be made up, but it certainly defines the AOC to a tee.  You can read the rest of the column here.

Letter to the Editor Calls Out Kelso’s Conflicts

The op-ed piece written by J. Clark Kelso produced quite a response. Although probably not the kind of response that Kelso and the AOC wanted. What really drew people’s attention wasn’t Kelso’s defense of the CCMS program and the AOC’s handling of it, we kinda expect that from them, but instead it was Kelso’s failure to mention that he is currently on the AOC payroll at the tune of $18,000 a month.

Of course that little $18,000 omission didn’t go unnoticed by intrepid AOCW readers who immediately began posting comments on who Kelso really was and all of the financial conflicts he had that made it impossible for anyone to take his position on CCMS seriously.

In response to Kelso’s original column, judges Loren E. McMaster and Maryanne G. Gilliard sent a response to the Sacramento Bee that published the original piece by Kelson. Their response calls out not only Kelso but also the AOC continued support of computer software over people in the midst of a budget crisis. I’m including the entire response in this post which you can read after the jump.

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