JCW live from the state capitol – Hearing on JLAC Audit of CCMS

Posted on February 15, 2011

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JCW is coming to you live from the California State Capitol building. There are LOTS of press here covering this story.

First out in comments is Bonnie Lowenthal who is being rather frank and saying that the AOC is challenging the legislatures’ authority. The AOC was warned that the project had poor management years ago and they did nothing.

Gil Cedillo is up next on comments and says that I understand the independence of the judiciary but when we fund you, you were no more independent than his juvenile son and the state cannot afford any more boondoggles.

Drew Soderberg testifies for the LAO-

Nine years later, the LAO is still waiting for a cost benefit analysis that is required for other agencies to even start a project of this magnitude. They are also waiting for a financing plan.

Gill Cedillo – Why do we provide exemptions to the judicial branch to these common sense processes? This isn’t about independence of the judiciary…

Drew Soderborg – We agree

Up next – Elaine Howle, State Auditor

Audit broken into 4 parts: (didn’t get them all)

First piece was planning. There was and is insufficient planning for this project. Over the last 7 years it has increased from 43 million to 310 million. No cost benefit analysis, but in 2004 the AOC indicated costs of 260 million dollars. Now the cost is 1.9 billion, minus court migration costs and minus significant justice partner costs. No planning was done to determine if courts and justice partners could afford this project. The AOC claims to have an iterative approach to planning. Elaine Howell says they have an iterative decision -making process. In 2006-2007 there were 66 amendments to the contract with the vendor with a total of 102 amendments. The interim systems warranty period negotiated by the AOC expired before the product was even rolled out. Three courts volunteered to be early adopters and all three courts are NOT READY to migrate, having no resources and having not checked with local justice partners’ ability. San Diego is a county of “significant risk for failure in deployment” due to poor planning and a lack of court resources and less significant risks for failures on the other two volunteer courts.

While the AOC is meeting the requirements to report to the legislature, they are not being forthright about reporting ALL costs. Courts do not have the funding or resources to migrate to ccms. The AOC and courts need to find funding to deploy this system. The 7 courts deployed all experienced more costs, more staff, more time and more problems than anticipated – and all have experienced problems with the interim systems.

We surveyed the other 51 courts-

32 out of 51 courts said it meets their needs, 19 will meet the needs in the future. 39 out of the 51 courts expressed concern of CCMS failure. On data conversion- all courts use different systems. Over 100 case management systems exist in the other 51 courts so there are significant data conversion challenges. Justice partners “were wined and dined” on ccms but told us that they are concerned about their costs about interfacing the system, indicating they cannot afford to interface.

The second issue is oversight. The AOC did not contract for oversight until 2007 and contracted only a fraction of what is necessary. The AOC claims the individuals working on the project are overseeing it as part of an overall oversight plan. The AOC claimed that the oversight was ‘multi-faceted oversight’ and the auditor said, ‘show us a facet of how this oversight works” and the AOC produced nothing.

The AOC pushes the timeline regardless of what they are told because they do not listen to their consultants.

The AOC needs to do a cost-benefit analysis and promises to have that available this month.

Key decisions. Why are you moving in this direction? The AOC needs to be more transparent in its key decisions of this project as there is no documentation to justify many of the key decisions.

Disclosure: the AOC has not disclosed to anyone (courts or justice partners) what their costs will be and are not working with them to plan these costs. The AOC needs to be far more transparent to courts and justice partners about their costs and far better independent oversight. All of this has undermined support for CCMS statewide, with courts, with justice partners and with the public.

Alyson Huber- There is no independent oversight on this project and that kind of thing drives me nuts. There are problems with other case management systems and I see the value of the statewide system. The state could have licensed the federal system but that argument didn’t win the day. This system has serious buy-in from the courts “if” the courts move forward. Were alternatives considered?

Elaine Howle:

We didn’t consider alternatives and did not recommend scrapping the system, unless they can’t meet their deadlines. If there continues to be problems, the AOC needs to look at everything.

Lois Wolk- The LAO recommended the AOC follow state guidelines, do you believe that the AOC should continue to follow their own flawed processes?

Elaine Howle: The AOC needs to follow some sort of processes. They can alternatively follow the UC model which is required to parallel the state model but there are currently no processes.

(Attorney for Auditor)

We have not considered oversight models that include other branches of government because of separation of powers, but we certainly suggest that the power of the purse strings be tied to an independent oversight model because the AOC is exempt from all kinds of oversight, like public contract code.

Bonnie Lowenthal – Should we make additional reporting requirements of the AOC?

Elaine Howle – We would suggest that.

Mike Feuer – How long will this independent assessment take for the independent analysis?

Elaine howle – It will take 8-10 weeks and take 5 to 6 hundred thousand dollars.

Mike Fuer – Wow.

Ricardo Lara-

Let’s be frank- with the additional costs this is looking at an over 3 plus billion dollar system deployed to courts and justice partners. Is that correct?

Elaine Howle- Using an example- 10 million to deploy to each court would be 580 million dollars just for the courts. That puts you at 2.5 billion – without inculding justice partners. So yes, this is possible, this is why the AOC needs to be having buy-in from everyone with a comprehensive plan to fund it all.

Ricardo Lara – About the warranty…

Elaine Howle- right now the early adopter courts appear to have a 90 day warranty after they are deployed and that is if they are migrated without a hitch.

Doug LaMalfa – This is like the movie groundhog day where the state of california builds another screwed up computer system.

Elaine Howle- The AOC cannot afford not to do the asessment because obviously the costs could climb higher than 3 billion dollars.

LaMalfa- wait a second, they are building courthouses that cost as much per court as this system. My facebook page can track 3000 friends and it is free. We must do something about oversight, despite the separation of powers. Can we implement budget control langage?

Elaine Howle: Yes. The AOC only has a funding plan through 11-12 and budget control language would help

LaMalfa- Would it pass constitutional muster?

Elaine Howle – I can’t answer that, I am not an attorney.

Next up, Mr. Bill.

We are following the recommendations of both the state auditor and the DTS, followed by the CCMS sales pitch. Governor Wilson and Davis expressed frustration with all of these different systems and an inability to interface with other systems. This was the impetus for CCMS. The courts were requesting independent appropriations and (blame governor davis) Governor davis would only appropriate money for one system. We sought advice and the advice we got was to undertake an iterative process (essentially, we needed to just get some partners on board and toss a program together as an example of what we can do, which we all know now was epic fail number one) We had an initial contract that was intended to be amended but we assure you that deloitte did not submit any of these amendments to inflate costs. This was a several hundred million dollar training session for the AOC. Where are we today? The civil system is the basis of the system for all 17 case types. There are some courts that are having problems and others that are extremely supportive. The final software product was done January 2009 and we were unsatisfied with final testing so we got them to get another team for testing. Today we have testers going through 20,000 test scripts. We will accept no defects. A lot of discussions about the costs going on… there was no funding plan because there was no appropriation made. In 2009 there was a funding plan submitted to the department of finance but we pulled funding from ccms. CCPOR has been deployed to 29 counties for protective order registries and interfaces with ccms. I have no disagreement with the challenges expressed by the auditor of what the courts will face. Justice partners are being supportive but we don’t know what their plans are or how they intend to adapt. I know you are all concerned about the costs in this system to justice partners and those costs aren’t usually included in statewide programs. (uh, in these austere budget times, you should be…)

We hope that you would permit us to move forward on this program as we provide a cost benefit analysis and financing plan. We will continue to work with courts and justice partners. We have established a governance structure with 29 courts, sonoma wants to move up faster to deploy. In closing, we think the system will be completed in April and an independent review will happen thereafter. We are happy to cooperate to any degree to any meeting, notes, information we can provide you with.

Justice Bruniers- We’re not going to make any excuses for prior failures. I took this on because it was important. Our purpose, our process and our product are what we present and only our process is being questioned (even though no product exists)

Gil Cedillo – Wrap it up Judge, we have 30 minutes of questions and 10 minutes left.

Feuer questions: Regarding the independent evaluation by the consultant- What is the timing of the independent consultants report?

Mr. Bill – We will have the report and address any issue of the report prior to deployment.

Feuer – regarding oversight from us, we need to establish some milestones and we will have other hearings over this. I want to understand where we are since it is not subjective to the same laws as other agencies and how we are going to approach that issue. We need to choose what regulations the AOC is bound by rather than the mushy process thus far.

It is hard for me to listen to you justify that the contract was designed to be amended and that this project was a planning a disaster from the beginning. 102 amendments is planning?

Vickery- This is the plan we developed. I’m not defending it, this is what we did. We don’t disagree that this was not the right way in retrospect. (even though for six years you weren’t listening to anyone telling you this….)

William Monning- We have a problem with layoffs vs. cost overruns. How is this going to improve public safety?

Vickery- it was the governors intent to have all items of public safety in the system.

Monning- 32 counties say their systems work.

Bruniers- I am meeting with courts to determine that but they don’t do everything ccms does

Monning what is the best case scenario>

Bruniers: 2016 is the best case.

LaMalfa- You are agreeing to independent oversight, is that correct?

Vickery- We’re willing to entertain it

LaMalfa- When did you wake up and realize this spun out of control to look like Boston’s Big Dig? When was your “oh no” moment?

Vickery? First of all we had a budget estimate of 1.3 billion before considering justice partners. The ultimate bid for deployment costs was 1.3 billion.

LaMalfa: I represent 12 rural counties that could be shut down by a few murder cases. How do we justify taking money away from these courts?

Vickery: We shifted funds last year and we agreed to shift funds this year and next year to ensure the courts stay open this year.

LaMalfa: I think we’re all supportive of the theory….. but you have a large hill to climb to gain credibility.

Lowenthal: Your verbal assurances are quite different from your written statements so we will need to continue to follow up on this

Cedillo: We need far more comprehensive reports. We need you to commit to comprehensive reports, not just minimum requirements.

Vickery: We have been giving those to you, I think…

Cedillo: In January 09, you told us 744 million and you only estimated half of those costs.

Vickery: We will continue to update costs.

Cedillo: are you using independent oversight?

Bruniers: We are using an OCIO recommendation for oversight.

Public comment period not covered. Minor edits done and this represents a brief summary of what JCW actually paid attention to while typing – and not the actual words used.