46 Days – Fact Check – Courthouse Maintenance Bundling

Posted on August 1, 2011

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In the article 49 days – Fact Check or Truthiness – Disinformation from the AOC we illustrated how clawbacks help to decimate trial court budgets by sweeping trial court funds back to the AOC. Today, we’re going to cover the other fact check page on courthouse maintenance funding. 

AOC personnel are permitted to move forward without a higher level of approval on any repair or modification under $15,000.00 . These approvals are made by the senior manager of the facilities management unit. In an effort to better conceal the real costs of questionable expenses, the AOC is now permitted to bundle such jobs together so that we all can’t discern how much changing a light bulb costs. While other entities that provide facilities maintenance still hire people and pay them as if they were temporary employees, the AOC still seems to think they have a better idea by charging each task individually, yet are still having people man the buildings full time while charging their labor against individual tasks. Putting all of these complicated elements together and approving them is called bundling and as of last year when the AOC was caught with their pants down on maintenance costs, the usage of bundling has sharply increased so that the common man or common legislator is unable to discern what the real costs are of this overpriced activity.

In the real world, one would charge the AOC for the temporary maintenance worker in the building full time doing maintenance and servicing work orders. There would be no additional charge for individual line items for work performed under this scenario.  In other words, it wouldn’t matter how many light bulbs the workers changed, how many leaky faucets or clogged toilets were fixed or how much preventive maintenance was accomplished as all of this work would be charged against the person in the building full time hired to do this work. 

In the AOC’s world, every job is charged as if it were a stand alone task and billed out as if it were a stand alone task. The issue with this is that there is and always has been an unwritten rule that just processing a single service work order for a single task is billed out at a two hour minimum, which is why emptying an ash tray or changing a light bulb costs so much. Now we hear that the AOC has increased the bundling of such items together so that none of us has any idea of the actual breakdown of costs. Worse, this bundling of projects is often charged not as facilities maintenance but charged against overpriced facilities modifictions or even individually appropriated funds for court construction. With the bundling of simple tasks in this manner, that person that is manning the building full time may accomplish a whole group of service work orders in a mere 8 hours and bill the AOC for 40 hours for that 8 hours of work. 5 minutes to empty an ash tray is billed at a two hour minimum, yet these otherwise discernable costs are being buried in the bundling.

This is not a prudent use of scarce taxpayer dollars. It is not a prudent use to charge in this manner, it is not a prudent use to bill in this manner and it is not a prudent use to bundle jobs like this in this manner. In essence, this is nothing more than the street con game of three card monte or the shell game. The victims remain the local courts and the taxpayer with the added benefit of being able to prove little to nothing about the real costs.

What it really amounts to is less transparency and less accountablility on these stratospheric costs. 

Is it time to move these facilities over to DGS yet or do we need to wait for the next variation of three card monte produced by the AOC?

Produced by Yen Interactive Media for Judicial Council Watcher
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AOC Watcher has added San Mateo, Solano and Monterey courts to domino watch and has a new video of the SEIU protest of the AOC.

Program Note: Other than stories already prepared by Yen Interactive that have yet to be published, Yen is pulling back on their two year effort to bring all of what you know today to light. They indicate that there is ample evidence to act upon, yet there is a marked lack of will to do so. While they will still work with and sponsor JCW and continue to provide technical assistance and resources, it will be only on a by request basis. JCW wishes to thank Yen for all of their work in shedding light upon the inner workings of the Judicial Council and the AOC.