Category Archives: CCMS

Op-Ed Piece Sings the Praises of CCMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacramento Bee Editorial: Calls AOC’s Administration of CCMS “Shockingly Inept”

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Hey!  I didn’t say it!  The editorial board of the Sacramento Bee did.  It’s one thing when you have court staff screaming how inept the AOC is when it comes to court administration and in particular its blind devotion to building and funding its computer software program CCMS.  But it’s quite another thing when the AOC gets called out on the carpet by a paper like the Sacramento Bee.

In an editorial printed on Saturday, October 31st, the Bee did its best Claude Rains impersonation when it explained to its readers how it was shocked, shocked, to discover just how much of a boondoggle CCMS has been.

It’s hardly surprising that the state courts are having trouble developing a massive new computer system. California continues to build an information superhighway that is strewn with potholes.

In recent years, a computer system designed to track child support payments ran up tens of millions of dollars in cost overruns. So did an effort by the Department of Motor Vehicles to update its computerized operations.

Yet even when measured against those and other blunders, the snafu of the California courts stands out. Its eye-popping price tag, closing in on $2 billion and climbing, comes in the midst of a massive state budget crisis. The court’s administration of this project has been shockingly inept.

To the editors of the Sacramento Bee who are now shocked and chagrined to find out just the tip of the iceberg of how “inept” the AOC can be, all I can say is, welcome to the party. Now take a number.

Yet the Sacramento Bee didn’t just stop there.  Oh, no.  The Bee went on to support an idea that has been promoted by many all over the state.   Call in for an independent audit now!!

Business as usual will not do. The courts can no longer tolerate wasteful spending, poorly managed technology initiatives and bloated bureaucracies.

To quell all the speculation, Justice George should invite independent outside scrutiny. The Bureau of State Audits should be brought in to do a top-to-bottom review of the state court bureaucracy and a representative sample of county court systems as well. The state’s chief technology officer should take over management of the court’s computer efforts.

Last week’s hearing should just be the beginning because I believe the legislative committee made up of members from both political parties realize that Californians have little to no patience for spending programs that they see as wasteful.  Especially when monies are poured into those programs with no controls, oversight, transparency, or input.

Sacramento Bee Investigates the AOC’s CCMS Program and Finds Problems

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All I’m going to say is that most of the problems with CCMS reported in the Sacramento Bee’s investigation into CCMS has already been said by plenty of commenters here. Yet the more attention that the AOC receives for its handling of CCMS the better off we’ll all be. Click the link below to read the entire article.

An effort to create a centralized computer system for California’s state courts, originally conceived as a modest upgrade in a few counties, now faces total costs approaching $2 billion and is years away from large-scale implementation, an investigation by The Bee has found.

The project has ballooned in scope and costs since its 2001 inception without the scrutiny other state computer systems face because the state Administrative Office of the Courts is not bound by the same project review requirements.

Amid California’s budget crunch, which has closed state courts one day a month, the computer project jumped into the spotlight. A state Assembly committee will hold a hearing this week to review overall spending growth at the courts’ administrative office. The governor’s technology watchdog also is evaluating the computer project.

Click here to read more.

LAO’s 2004 Analysis Raised Major Concerns with CCMS Costs

LAO

An analysis by the Legislative Analyst’s Office from February of 2004 indicates that the LAO had no confidence in the AOC’s ability in implementing court software including CCMS.  In fact, the LAO’s report raised serious concerns about how the projects would be funded with no little to no oversight.

I’m curious what readers of the report thought of the CCMS project when the report was full of section titles like:

Court Not Required to Follow Process Intended To Protect State Against Failed Projects
Court IT Project Process Is Lacking
Court’s IT Project Planning Is Inadequate
Court’s IT Project Development and Implementation Not Fully Developed
Court IT Project Implementation Evaluation Not Required

And the most ominous sounding title:

State’s Financial Exposure Is Potentially Significant

I’m including the full report after the jump but I wanted to highlight one particular section of the report which I think advocates of AOC transparency would find interesting reading.  The emphasis on the last sentence is mine.

Court IT Project Implementation Evaluation Not Required.

The state’s IT process requires departments to submit a post implementation evaluation report (PEIR) within 18 months after implementation. This report documents what was expected to be achieved and what was actually achieved by projects. The court’s IT process does not require such information. Consequently, the AOC will be unable to demonstrate whether an implemented project ever achieved the savings, efficiencies, or other benefits as originally intended. In addition, without PIERs, the Legislature cannot determine how much an IT system ultimately cost to develop or how much it will cost to operate and maintain the system on an annual basis.

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Poll Question: Should the AOC continue to fund CCMS?

Time To Rein In AOC’s Software Spending Habit

CutCreditCard02With the date of October 28th set for the AOC to appear before a legislative committee, the AOC is preparing itself for the most focused attention the agency has ever received. Since the AOC first announced budget cuts and court closures, the number of critics have only risen and their criticism of the agency has gotten louder and louder.

One of the main points of criticism has been the AOC’s fanatical devotion to funding the California Case Management System, (CCMS) the AOC’s supposedly miracle software that once implemented will tie all California superior courts together under one software system. It’s an admirable goal to achieve in the future, but it’s a goal that critics say must be delayed in order to address current needs.

And although the AOC has said in no uncertain terms that it will not defer funding for the completion of CCMS, it will have a difficult time explaining its position before the Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review in light of an article recently published in the Daily Journal. In the article reporter Amy Yarbrough details how costs for CCMS have grown by more than a third since the initial release of the memo to judges. The memo stated that CCMS would cost $1.3 billion. However a more recent report states that final overall costs would bring the project to a total of $1.75 billion.

It should come as no surprise then to anyone that CCMS has cost taxpayers five times more than what the AOC originally said it would cost. From the article:

“The sum [$1.75] is nearly five times more than what the agency expected the project to cost in 2006, and the system will be completed no sooner than 2013, three years later than expected. Philip Carrizosa, an AOC spokesman, confirmed the $1.4 billion in projected expenses.

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AOC To Spend “Billions” On Court Case Management System (CCMS)

demotivatorsPlanning
As court employees and the public in general celebrate the official beginning of the AOC’s decision to close courts, I thought it would be a good idea to remind everyone of how we got here.

The judicial branch suffered a $360,809,000 million cut to its budget. The breakdown of the cut was $100 million imposed by the 2009 Budget Act, plus another $92.24 million cut that was a continuation of a cut the courts got in fiscal year 2008-2009, and another cut of $168.57 million proposed by the governor. Total reductions? $-360,809,000 million.

Now the AOC managed to bring that deficit down to $-190,126,592 through various cost cutting measures including one-time offsets, savings from the Voluntary Salary Waivers for the judges, security reduction, and increased court fees. That $-190,126,592 was then divided among the various court systems throughout California with the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego taking the biggest hit. A $-52,574,606 cut in the case of Los Angeles.

While the AOC was handing out these cuts to all of the counties to handle on their own, they continued to funnel funds into their favorite court software program called the Court Case Managment System. (CCMS) And it isn’t as if this was some big secret. Everyone who had some type of working relationship with the AOC knew that the AOC is adamant that they will not divert funding from the CCMS into other much needed areas….like say helping courts deal with their deficits. Bailouts. It’s good enough for banks. Courts? Not so much.

Last month the AOC put out a FAQ about CCMS in which they attempt to explain what CCMS is, what they hope it will accomplish, why they believe CCMS is a good idea, and how much it’ll cost taxpayers. There are two paragraphs in the FAQ that stand out to anyone who reads it. The following are taken directly from the document the AOC put out.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION

How much has the AOC invested in development of CCMS?

$394 million has been invested in CCMS through FY 08/09. This includes development, enhancements, and maintenance for CCMS-V2 and CCMS-V3. CCMS-V4 development costs (to date) are incorporated in this figure, as well as costs for the California Courts Technology Center (CCTC) and costs associated with the Data Exchange project. Deployment to Fresno, Sacramento, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and San Joaquin counties is also included.

How much will it cost to deploy CCMS?

Based on the original plan, deployment was estimated at $1.2 billion through 2013 and includes deployment to all 58 courts. The current economic situation and changes to the budget and schedule will determine the final cost.

No, your eyes do not deceive you. The AOC has invested $394 million through FY 08/09 and they believe that deployment will cost $1.2 billion by 2013. $1.2 billion for the AOC’s new software that they hope when launched will be their version of the iPhone but for all we know could wind up being the AOC’s version of the deployment of Windows Vista. And we all know how swimmingly that went. Of course the FAQ says $394 million has been invested but we don’t even know what the breakdown is for each year since the project began. We don’t even know exactly how the $394 million was invested. Nothing is itemized in this FAQ put out by the AOC.

Not only that, who the heck is building the CCMS program to the tune of $394 million so far? How were the contractors for the CCMS program selected? More importantly, what were the original costs given by the contractor for the building and completion of CCMS?

And notice how the AOC tries to deflect any talk of delay of CCMS by claiming that,

The downstream impacts of delay are significant and could be as high as $240 million for a full year delay. This is due to the cascading effect on future activities, legacy systems that will need to be extended or replaced, potentially higher deployment vendor costs and numerous other factors. The longer deployment is delayed the greater the financial impact.

Really? $240 million for a full year delay? Says who? And why? Why would a delay cost $240 million? Again, nothing is itemized here.  For all we know any delay in CCMS’ implementation may wind up costing the AOC something.  But are we supposed to believe it’s going to be $240 million just because the AOC says so?  Is it any wonder that court employees, unions, and a great number of judges doubt the AOC’s sincerity when they say that the court closures were inevitable when they throw figures around willy nilly with nothing to back it up?

And of course that $240 million claim does nothing to answer why the AOC believes that funding CCMS is more important than funding courts that are now suffering budget cuts that have resulted in court closures, furloughs, salary reductions, and layoffs. And those are just the negative effects on court staff. We’ve barely even discussed the negative impact on the general public that the court system is supposed to serve. Is access to justice not more important than CCMS? Apparently the AOC’s actions leads one to believe otherwise.

If you want to read the entire CCMS FAQ yourself, you may do so by downloading the document here.  I’ve also uploaded the Trial Court Budget Allocations for FY 09/10 which you can access here.