Ronald George’s bridge to nowhere

Posted on May 11, 2011


As many have alluded to, mismanagement of the CCMS project is only the visible part of an expansive iceberg appropriately named “Abdication of Responsibility”

Unfortunately because JC members only meet six times a year to have their puppet strings pulled, mismanagement of this project lands squarely in the hands of AOC senior management – as do most other cases of mismanagement that amount to other AOC icebergs. We’ve received a number of documents to support our argument that this project remained on autopilot without any oversight and with precious little input from the trial courts.

Chief among them is the AOC’s own re-write of history called the “Judicial Council Policy Reference Manual 2010” where it goes to some length describing the process that the JC/AOC undertook to develop CCMS. Page 100 (which is page 3 of the reference manual attachment) indicates that CCMS will be deployed to the three early adopter courts being San Diego, Ventura and San Luis Obispo making it clear that further “statewide deployment to the remaining courts will continue when funding has been appropriated“.  This document, written in August 2010 makes AOC’s intentions perfectly clear. You will have spent as a taxpayer just over a half billion dollars to deploy this application to three out of 58 courts and rely on legislative appropriations of between 1 and 2 billion to complete deployment. Appropriations is the pre-baked August 2010 excuse that the JC/AOC cannot move forward on George’s bridge to nowhere. Blame our gross mismanagement on the legislature not giving us enough money to mismanage. We will force the legislature to fund the program or to end the program. Regardless, the legislature will be the party of no and not the AOC.  A similar showdown with the legislature (we affectionately call operation backfire) came with Ronald George’s decision to “show the legislature what a lack of funding will result in” by shutting down the trial courts and giving that money to CCMS.

This half-baked plan was rolled out prior to George ever leaving office. Likely  along side the planned retirements of Calabro and Vickrey. The CCMS ship was sunk in August 2010 and the AOC knew it. They’re just trying to keep their best poker face going and big checks to deloitte going out in the hope that you dear reader don’t read too closely or ask too many questions. After all, these mis-managers need a year in service at the higher pay grade to retire, which is the only real reason they’re sticking around.

When you look at the JC/AOC’s version of history in their policy reference manual and compare this version of history with other information, it becomes apparent that the people who only meet six times a year aren’t getting any of the information they needed to provide oversight from the AOC.

In 2004, the legislative analysts office warned the legislature and the AOC of everything that eventually came to fruition regarding the gross mismanagement of the CCMS project. (See legislative analysis of state trial court funding from 04-05)  Can you find these notes, warnings or action items related to this dire warning in any judicial council meeting minutes? Are they written into the policy reference manual that someone actually paid attention to these warnings? Did the AOC take any opportunity to mitigate the risks presented?

What it shows is that between 2003 and May, 2007 there is hardly any mention of CCMS in judicial council meeting minutes. Certainly, there wasn’t even acknowledgement of the risks presented by the LAO report written in 2004 by either the AOC or the Judicial Council. It was in that lack of reporting period that hundreds of change orders to the application were pushed through the CCMS trio of SRO Director, IS Director and Finance Director without so much as blinking. “It’s just like I tell my husband, you would never believe the price of shoes these days” was one argument made to justify huge sums without question.

In 2008 Mr. Bill came up with a Funding Strategy,  an executive update that he presented to the legislature. Again, referring back to Judicial Council meeting minutes or even the policy reference, there is no mention (except in the executive update to the legislature) that the program was slated to cost over 1 billion dollars. Even then, you have to add up the columns to come to that conclusion. Furthermore the funding strategy represents that the trial courts “will commit” 250 million dollars out of trial court reserve accounts that held only a hundred million dollars. Four hundred million dollars was up in the air as to where it would come from way back in 2008 and knowing the fiscal situation this state was in, AOC management concealed all of this simply by not revealing it. This was way back in 2008 when this state was already in a deep financial crisis that was getting deeper when no representation as to the total costs of this system were made to anyone that could have said or done anything about it. No one was permitted to ask why because AOC management concealed the facts, not letting having any party have all the facts with which they may have made more effective decisions. And now, we’re going to reward their mismanagement with fat pensions as parting gifts.

 They want you to believe the application has been accepted and delivered, yet numerous recommendations of the OCIO and BSA and even the state legislature remain outstanding.  A “core application” has been accepted with “modules” appearing in July. Just after Vickrey and Calabro vacate their offices, we’re going to hear that the July module delivery will need more time and significantly more money. Instead of Vickrey and Calabro misleading you about the completion of CCMS, that task is now up to Mark Moore.

The AOC is and has been on autopilot for at least 8 years. It hasn’t had any Judicial Council oversight (or any other oversight) of any of their programs in all of that time. Even when the OCIO and BSA audits were released to the AOC, you don’t see acknowledgement, action items or anything else that would lead anyone to believe that the AOC or Judicial Council had received this information in any judicial council meeting minutes. After robbing trial court trust funds for so long and living high off the trial court hog, the AOC finally recognizes after being told by others for years that it does not have the money to move forward. Add AB1208 to the mix and the various opinions of statewide trial courts that were given to the BSA and it becomes apparent that there is little support for CCMS as envisioned. The AOC’s opposition to AB1208 is rooted in their desire to continue to use those funds without permission because the representation was made in 2008 to the legislature that the trial courts would commit those funds. Don’t worry. It’s all being rolled out in a manner that’s supposed to keep you comfortably numb by those who know what’s best for you.

Courthouse News: Northern Courts reject massive IT project

Metropolitan News-Enterprise – CJA provides member survey comments to chief justice.

Courthouse News: Zingers from California Judges Association survey quoted in letter to chief justice

RELATED: Bill Girdner Editorial (Courthouse News) The Dark Castle (known as the AOC)

RELATED NEW: Bill Girdner Editorial (Courthouse News) “Jackpot” (Someone credible from Orange County is laying out the unvarnished truth about CCMS)