Monday, October 26, 2009
Judicial Council Approves $171 Million Allocation for Technology
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
The California Judicial Council on Friday approved the Administrative Office of the Courts’ recommendation to allocate special fund monies for court system projects and programs, including approximately $171 million for statewide administrative and technology infrastructure.
Los Angeles Superior Court Assistant Presiding Justice Lee S. Edmon reportedly voted against the proposal. Edmon was not available for comment, but in remarks at the meeting expressed concern about the prudence of spending down overall funds on the programs and projects instead of using the monies to keep courts open and accessible to the public.
The council at its meeting in San Francisco approved allocations from the Trial Court Improvement Fund, the Judicial Efficiency and Modernization Fund, and the Trial Court Trust Fund for continued development and deployment of administrative and technology infrastructure projects as well as maintenance and operations of ongoing programs.
Members also voted to approve the AOC’s recommendations to provide funding for judicial education, complex litigation, alternative dispute resolution, self-help and other programs.
AOC Finance Division Director Stephen Nash told the MetNews that the allocations will nearly deplete the current balances of both the Modernization and Improvement funds, but said the AOC was confident the funds would be replenished to current levels in order to fund programs and projects in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Nash said the purpose of the proposal was to “strike a balance” in order to keep existing programs on “life support” and to continue rolling out new technology.
He commented that a number of courts have already transitioned to use of the programs and projects, and that continued support was necessary because cutting off funding now would result in “serious difficulties.”
Nash also noted that the council in July allocated funds that had been earmarked for construction and technology in order to offset budget reductions. Some members of the council in remarks said that the council was obligated to meet its commitment to fund technology that provided access as much as keeping courthouses open.
Case Management System
Under the proposal, almost $88 million will be provided from the Improvement, Modernization and Trust funds to fund ongoing programs this fiscal year such as the California Court Case Management System—a single, statewide computer system meant to replace each county’s individual system—and the Phoenix Financial and Human Resources System.
Nearly $10 million will come from the Modernization Fund, while over $38 million will come from the Improvement Fund and over $39 million from the Trust Fund.
An additional $83 million from the three funds will be allocated to fund continued deployment and development of the programs and other projects, such as the V2 Case Management System for criminal and traffic cases.
Over $20 million of that amount will come from the Modernization Fund, while over $30 million will come from the Improvement Fund and over $32 million from the Trust Fund.
In approving the AOC’s recommendation Friday, the Judicial Council also:
•Approved almost $54 million for non-administrative and technology infrastructure projects and programs from the Modernization Fund and the Improvement Fund.
•Authorized restoration of ongoing funding for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program in the next fiscal year, and authorized staff to proceed with program planning including soliciting court proposals for the next fiscal year, recommending projects to the Executive and Planning Committee for approval, and entering into interbranch agreements for fiscal year 2010-2011 funding.
•Approved the allocation of $7.4 million to courts for the replacement of technology assets, such as personal computers and printers, and authorized courts to redirect those funds to offset the impact of budget reductions, as deemed necessary by each court.
•Delegated authority to the Administrative Director of the Courts to adjust allocations of funds to courts and for approved programs and projects, as needed, to address unanticipated needs and contingencies.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company