Retreads and Denial – A Strange Way To Restore Credibility

Posted on February 3, 2014

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In the aftermath of the CCMS debacle — a $500 million waste of taxpayer money that ranks among the costliest IT failures in American history — how should the judicial branch go about restoring its credibility with the Legislature and the Governor? One way would be to acknowledge the CCMS failure immediately; hold accountable those who foisted CCMS on the branch and rabidly defended it despite mounting evidence of its critical flaws; bring new faces into the technology leadership circle; open up the decision-making process on any future technology projects; and welcome legislative oversight.

In the alternative, one could deny the overwhelming evidence that the program was a dud and claim — as Justice Bruiniers did — that it failed because of a lack of political will; slap a new name on the old CCMS Internal Committee and start calling it the Technology Committee, but keep the same old CCMS cheerleaders in charge of it; allow that committee and its feeder task force to meet behind closed doors; and applaud that committee when it cranks out a “technology roadmap” full of jargon, baffling flow charts, and platitudes.

Apparently, branch leadership is going with Option B.

We link to an article from Courthouse News that summarizes the Technology Committee’s new Judicial Branch Technology Governance, Strategy, and Funding Proposal, released last week, a year behind schedule.  The document itself — available at http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/jc-20140123-itemI.pdf — is a tough slog, chock full of nuggets such as, “The approach centers on working as an information technology (IT) community that can form consortia to leverage and optimize resources to achieve its goals and overall branch objectives.”

From the article, we bring to your attention the words of Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst: “We have to rebuild our credibility, with the Department of Finance, with the Legislature, with the executive branch, for managing tech projects so that we can build the case for restoring funding for technology.”

She’s right, but she’s forgetting somebody: us.  The Judicial Council and the AOC also have to rebuild their credibility with the judges they claim to serve.  Step One would be to submit the entire AOC operation to a comprehensive audit.

Directors, Alliance of California Judges