CCMS- California’s Continuing National Embarrassment

Posted on October 14, 2013

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We write to reference an October 7, 2013 article from the Boston Globe newspaper by Megan Woolhouse and Beth Healy which places the spotlight yet again on our branch leaders’ disastrous stewardship of CCMS.

The article referenced CCMS in connection with a Deloitte project in Massachusetts. Key points of the article are as follows: “In its brochures, Deloitte Consulting proclaims a record of “smooth implementations” of complex technology projects. But in courts, school systems, and government agencies in several states, the roll-out of computer systems built by the global consulting firm has proved to be anything but smooth.

From Florida and Pennsylvania to California, multimillion-dollar projects managed by the New York company have come in behind schedule, over budget, and riddled with problems. It is a situation that has been repeated in Massachusetts this summer; Deloitte was two years late and $6 million over budget in delivering a system to manage unemployment claims, and, separately, the Department of Revenue fired the firm for falling behind on a $114 million tax-system overhaul mired in errors.”
. . . .
“A project for California’s massive court system shows how bad it can get. Officials hired Deloitte and another firm in 2003 to create a statewide case management system, connecting 58 county courts, as well as appellate courts. By 2010, Deloitte was running the entire job, and the contract had been amended 102 times, ballooning in cost to $310 million from $33 million, according to a state audit.

Worse, the cost to install the software had been wildly underestimated. The total price tag soared to a projected $1.9 billion, so expensive that the courts could not afford to put the system into operation. “We basically got this nice SUV that can really do everything but we can’t afford to get it out on the road,’’ said Cathal Conneely, spokesman for California’s Administrative Office of the Courts. The state audit blamed the court system for agreeing to contract terms that failed to ensure it had sufficient oversight of Deloitte.”

The article also details problems with the Los Angeles City Schools project and state projects in Pennsylvania, and reports that: “In 2009, Pennsylvania’s auditor general performed an examination entirely dedicated to Deloitte’s broad reach with the state, including 25 contracts. The 179-page report detailed problems with procurement and management of contracts at agencies ranging from welfare to the state liquor board. The liquor board, for example, awarded Deloitte a $26 million contract to upgrade the agency’s technology, but the system caused inventory shortages while the cost more than doubled, to $60 million. The auditor’s review pointed back to state officials for better oversight, saying it ‘found numerous concerns, including poor accountability of contracts totaling $592.1 million.'”

The article rightly points out that the full cost of CCMS would have been at least $1.9 billion dollars and that the contract had to be amended 102 times. What is not in the article is the fact that our branch leaders ineptly signed a contract wherein the warranty on the “product” had expired before it was installed on a single courtroom computer.

We find somewhat amusing, but also sad, the comment made by AOC spokesman Cathal Conneely who described CCMS as a “nice SUV” that was apparently fabulous but, due to financial issues, was unable to be driven. You may recall that in the recent past, branch leaders have referred to CCMS as a “Ferrari” parked in a garage and, because we could not afford the gas, there it sat. These continuous attempts to spin the waste of half a billion dollars by our court leaders does nothing to enhance the credibility of our branch. When will our branch leadership take responsibility for squandering public resources on this colossal IT failure and admit that they paid over five hundred million dollars for a Yugo?

We also attach this link which details the current membership of the Judicial Council’s Technology Committee and the Court Technology Advisory Committee Liaisons. Stunningly, our branch leaders have decided that some of the chief architects and public advocates of CCMS deserve to chair these committees. We offer no further commentary on this point as we trust you will appropriately analyze the wisdom behind these appointments.

Lastly, for those of you who are providing financial support to the ACJ, we wish to thank you. For those of you who have not yet given, we encourage you to log on to the ACJ website and consider making a donation. We need to have our voices heard in Sacramento and we need the financial resources to do so.

As always, we will continue to keep you informed.

Directors, Alliance of California Judges