Legislators Vote To Suspend Court Computer System

California Court Case Management System Projected To Eventually Cost $1.9 Billion

A state Assembly budget subcommittee voted Wednesday afternoon to stop any further deployment of a problem-ridden technology program that is overdue and over budget.

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The California Court Case Management System (CCMS) is supposed to be a computer system that will connect every case to every Superior Court in California. Instead, it's been plagued with problems and an escalating price tag.

"The project is a good example of how not to develop an IT project," said Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo).

To date, it has cost the state $556.5 million, but it's projected to eventually cost $1.9 billion. The computer system has only been introduced in a few counties. San Diego is one of the test markets.

Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) made the motion to halt the project.

"We suspend the program with regard to all courts that aren't currently up and running, pending the legislature's approval of an alternative approach," said Feuer.

The motion came after legislators heard from State Auditor Elaine Howle, who gave an update on what's happened since her office issued a scathing report on the project last year, calling it poorly managed.

"We have a lot of outstanding issues that we have concerns about," said Howle.

Howle said the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) – the agency responsible for the computer project – has begun implementing some of the recommendations in the audit report, but she highlighted problem areas that remain.

"Considerable amount of uncertainty regarding costs of actually deploying CCMS system; whether these protocols that they have put in place will be effective during deployment; and whether or not they really have addressed all of the concerns that we have and are prepared to move forward," said Howle.

Curt Soderlund, AOC interim chief deputy director, said they are working on the recommendations the auditor gave them to fix its problems.

"We are in agreement with implementing all of these recommendations," said Soderlund.

Despite the assurances, the subcommittee voted to ground it for now.

"To use the parent language - we're taking a little time out here," said Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) who chairs the Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety. "It should not be considered more than that. You have opportunities to persuade us to go forward."

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego) has been an outspoken critic of the AOC’s spending practices and applauded Wednesday's action.

"For years we have seen mismanagement, incompetence and disregard for taxpayer funds from the AOC," wrote Fletcher in a statement to 10News. "I commend the Assembly budget subcommittee for denying the Administrative Office of the Courts the ability to expand its court case management system."

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