Hundreds of millions of tax dollars have been mismanaged by the state courts, according to California's auditor.
An audit released Tuesday found the courts' new computer project -- the Court Case Management System -- was mismanaged from its inception without basic business controls.
The massive project was supposed to connect every case to every court. It has cost $332 million to date.
"The computer system is a failure," said Vista Judge Dan Goldstein, who is part of an alliance of California judges concerned with how courts are run.
The group, which consists of more than 300 judges, has been highly critical of the Case Management Computer System.
The state audit confirmed what the judges feared, saying the Administrative Office of the Courts "did not ensure that the Court Computer System is the most cost-effective technology for the courts' needs."
The audit also said the AOC did not properly structure the contract with the computer system developer to control costs. According to the audit, the cost of the contract went from $33 million to $310 million in seven years.
"At a time when people and the courts are struggling to stay open with budget cuts, this is really bad," Goldstein said.
The Administrative Office of the Courts claims to have already adopted some of the new policies suggested in the audit, including independent cost-benefit analysis and Judicial Council oversight.
"There seems to be little question that we're on the right path," Justice Terence Bruiniers, chair of the project's executive committee said. "I think it's important to emphasize that the audit does not recommend ending the project."
"To hear that the leaders in San Francisco are not taking this report seriously is very troubling," Goldstein said about Bruiniers' statement. "The leaders of this court have to democratize this court. They have to create transparency and accountability or we'll be subject to these failures again and again."
The state audit claims the computer project could cost as much $1.9 billion, but those running the courts guarantee it won't cost more than $1.3 billion.
For more on the state's audit:
Audit Fact Sheet
CCMS Audit Response
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