Isn’t it time…. for some leadership?

Posted on April 10, 2011


“They operate in committees and the rest of the body doesn’t necessarily know what’s going on. And here they are trying to run an 1100-person bureaucracy”

                                                                   Quote from Assemblymember Charles Calderon

Basic management is a blend of both art and science. The art being getting people to be more effective than they would be without your management, the science being the techniques used to achieve that goal. We’re going to touch on the issue of management by committees that meet once a month. It’s unrealistic that our recently appointed SEC committee, the accountability committee or even the judicial council itself could manage a 1,100 person bureaucracy.

To manage an 1,100 person bureaucracy requires an effective, full time management team. This full time management team needs to take ownership of their activities. When they and their teams are successful, they should be rewarded. When they fail or don’t provide honest services, they need to be held accountable. Some measures of accountability are of a private nature, some measures of accountability, such as asking for the resignations of those who spectacularly fail, may be of a more public nature.

What the public and the rest of the judicial branch sees by way of the evidence of spectactular failure presented thus far are things like:

  • You can add over a hundred change orders to a project such as CCMS, causing it to balloon in costs by hundreds of millions of dollars. You can describe your colossal failure to plan an “iterative process” as opposed to a plan to fail. You are rewarded by being permitted to keep your $150,000.00 + per year paycheck, your pension and get a shiny plaque of positive affirmation acknowledging AOC and Judicial Councils appreciation for your contributions in promoting access to justice.
  • You are permitted to lie to the legislature about how much you spent on what will likely be the worlds most expensive, privately developed public software program. You are permitted to string council members along and not give them straight answers as to costs, both in terms of past costs and future costs.
  • You are permitted to hire a consulting firm from overseas and feed them a bunch of lofty assumptions that will never come to fruition due to your previous failure to plan. That consulting firm will advocate you wasting more of the public’s money because that is the analysis you paid them to produce.
  • You’ve been overpaying unlicensed, unqualified contractors for years while ignoring complaints of the same for nearly as long as they have been working for you. During the entire time that you have personal knowledge of their lack of qualifications, overcharging and lack of a contractors license, you look the other way. When you are caught using them, you deny you’ve been caught for three years. Only because someone threatens to take the matter public do you take action and file a sham lawsuit against the unlicensed vendors with the Attorney General’s office, when you typically and historically have relied on outside counsel. In fact, you’ve never turned anything over to the AG’s office before this incident. Your real reason for going to the AG’s office is to pre-empt a department of justice investigation into your illegal activities under attorney/client privilege and to obstruct justice. When you turn the matter over to the AG’s office, you falsify the amount of damages to a reduced amount so that your kickback scheme doesn’t completely unravel and disclaim the existence of the company you’ve been doing business with for the previous 5 years. 
  • You’ve been hired to head an HR department. One of the first things that happens after you take over is your alleged associate embezzles more than a hundred grand from your organization and you proceed to work with others to cover it up. Then you blow over 60 people out the door because many won’t willingly agree to violate the law or overlook a lack of qualifications. You don’t perform or require criminal background checks or employment background checks. You don’t perform credible candidate interviews.

What you have in the AOC is a team of people whose interest is to grow the organization and the layers of management between the top and the bottom so that they can justify higher pay in newly created positions.

Just a few years ago, “Senior Manager” wasn’t a title at the AOC. Today, most divisions have several senior managers whose sole purpose is to manage one or two managers below them. Some senior managers have zero managers below them. As one entry in our private message window recently pointed out, the organization could benefit from a reorganization, a level-setting of titles and the removal of layers of management between the grunt doing the work and the person directing the agency.

All directors and assistant directors should step down and the wholesale elimination of all senior managers should take effect. Create a position of division manager because “director” implies independence.

There is no independence in the AOC group of directors. If you wish to keep directors, make them independent and appointed from the (democratically elected) Judicial Council from the trial courts. Being a director is not normally a full-time job in most companies or agencies, save the executive director.

Current directors are tasked with being division managers, nothing more.

There’s a small group of people that have shephearded the unprecedented growth in the AOC who were in it from the start of Lockyer-Isenberg. Most of these people have no previous management experience and no formal training. Their qualifications consist of working in a lower grade capacity for a certain amount of time. They could not pass an exam for their positions and lack the educational background. Their claimed value is “institutional knowledge”. They now run the AOC organization and for years have been adding additional layers of management to boost their positions and pay. In some cases, they’ve hired staffs of people and had them sitting around doing little to nothing just so they could justify the management positions they were creating for someone.

If the SEC committee is really intent on doing its job, then one of the questions they should ask and really look at carefully is how everyone with the title of manager or above obtained their job, where they came from to get to that position and why they were hired for that position as opposed to another candidate. In most cases, these positions were handed out as loyalty bonuses and have little resemblance to promoting competence within the organization.

Now about the SEC committee- An analysis of the membership of the SEC committee would cause one to come to the conclusion that they’re not as impartial as they may seem. In fact, many of the committee members could be easily led to believe they potentially have something to lose in advocating for a less bloated/management trimmed/function trimmed AOC. About half of them are in a race for their own courthouses and rely on AOC’s various services as opposed to hiring people locally. Others are “and now it is time that you scratch my back” appointments of individuals who are tainted themselves. Most are advocates of the AOC and their various functions. There is not a critic amongst them.

We’re working on a “potential conflicts of interest” piece that we will be amending to the bottom of this post for our new SEC committee.

Isn’t it time for some professional management and some accountability at the AOC?