State's Court Computer Project Could Reach $2B

Proposal To Hire More Project Workers At 6-Figure Salaries Questioned

Some San Diego judges are questioning state spending after the California court administrators proposed hiring 18 staffers -- all at six-figure salaries -- to work on a computer project estimated to cost nearly $2 billion.

The computer project is supposed to connect every court case in the state with every court in the state, according to research by the 10News I-Team. However, last fall, the I-Team exposed problems with how and if the computer program being installed actually worked. Opponents said those problems have stalled the project and increased the price.

The I-Team learned California courts administrators want to hire 18 new positions for maintenance and support services to help with that computer project. They want to pay each staffer between $135,000 and $232,000 each year.

Vista court judge Tony Maino called the request "unbelievable arrogance," and added, "They need some adult supervision up there."

State court administrators issued the following statement: "The request for proposals are NOT for new employees, but for replacing one set of contractors for a less-expensive set of contractors. The contractors will provide services currently provided by a third-party vendor. To reiterate, this is not a contract for salaried employees with benefits. It’s a cost-cutting measure … Deloitte Consulting provides maintenance and support for the interim case management systems used by a number of courts, including San Diego. We anticipate saving $2.5 million over the next three years."

Judges across the state have complained about how the Administrative Office of the Courts runs California’s courts, specifically how the group spends money.

I-Team reports have detailed $45,000 being spent on a new desk and $114 spent to change light bulbs in county courthouses.

Maino and an alliance of more than 100 other judges throughout the state said the poor spending habits are a trademark in the state courts, adding that asking for 18 additional six-figure employees on a project that already costs billions is just too much.

"We're baffled by it, frankly," Maino said. "It’s just spending without any kind of a limit of common sense behind it."

The state auditor is taking a look at the court's computer project and will issue a report about its finances next month.

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