Lara Convenes Joint Oversight Hearing on Viability and Cost of Court Computer System

February 15, 2011

Audit Finds Information Technology System Costs Approaching $2 Billion

SACRAMENTO – The California Court Case Management System (CCCMS) was under scrutiny at today's Joint Oversight Hearing. Assembly Member Ricardo Lara, Chair, of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, (D-Bell Gardens) convened the hearing to explore the viability of the CCMS project, which according to the State Auditor, may soon reach a $2 billion price tag. The vision for the information technology system was to provide statewide data sharing; lower costs and improve public access to court records and data. Nonetheless, cost estimates for the upgrade have steadily increased from $260 million in 2004 to nearly $1.9 billion in 2010.

"At a time when the State is facing a severe budget crisis, we must take a critical look at all expenditures and this is no exception," said Lara. "Like all statewide services, the courts have made a concerted effort to limit spending through furloughs and other cost savings strategies. It is unconscionable to allow this project to continue to grow without proper oversight, especially since these costs do not include implementation of the system."

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) was charged in 2003 to improve the judicial system's access, quality and timeliness after finding over 200 varieties of case managements systems in use by superior courts statewide. However, the audit released last week by California State Auditor found that the AOC inadequately planned the project and it lacked a clear business plan as well as a cost benefit analysis to ensure that the CCMS would be the most cost-effective solution for the court's needs. The audit also highlighted troublesome findings regarding additional significant costs and risks associated with the ongoing implementation of the system.

Today's hearing focused on the State Auditor's findings and recommendations. The Administrative Office of the Courts had the opportunity to respond to the audit report and provided the committees with certainty to address the many concerns and recommendations highlighted in the report. Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 5 on Public Safety Chair, Assembly Member Gil Cedillo (D-Lincoln Heights) accompanied Joint Legislative Audit Committee Chair, Ricardo Lara.

"The CCMS project's contracts have been amended more than 100 times in seven years and their costs have increased by 700%; clearly proper independent oversight of this project has been lacking. The Auditor's recommendation for an immediate independent cost benefit analysis of the system is needed to check the out of control spending by the AOC and give us the framework for how we should move forward. Legislation, which I plan to introduce jointly with Assembly Member Lowenthal, will tackle the issue of reporting and oversight, as well as transparency of expenditures of these public dollars." concluded Assembly Member Lara.

CONTACT: Julia Juarez @ (562) 927-1200