Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Page 3


AOC Agrees to Fully Implement Auditor’s Recommendations on CCMS


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Administrative Office of the Courts yesterday announced that it has reversed course from its earlier objection to a recommendation by the Bureau of State Audits to utilize an outside consultant for final product compliance testing of its California Case Management System.

First District Court of Appeal Justice Terence L. Bruiniers, chair of the Judicial Council’s CCMS Executive Committee, said there were initial concerns that hiring a third party to verify that the controversial program will meet contract requirements and user needs would be “redundant and would incur unnecessary delay and expense.”

But “[w]e now believe that the independent review recommended by the BSA can be completed without causing significant delay, and at a reasonable cost,” the jurist wrote.

He said the agency will collaborate with the California Technology Agency, formerly the Office of the State Chief Information Officer, to select a vendor to conduct an independent review of the CCMS application before full deployment of the program, and that internal product acceptance testing is already underway.

Bruiniers added that deployment of the CCMS system remains slated to begin in April in the San Diego, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo superior courts.

The justice remarked that implementing the auditor’s recommendations “will help to ensure that we meet our shared goals of improving court efficiency, public safety and accessibility in the most prudent and cost-effective way” and that “another review that will enhance confidence in the system can only be a good thing and will ensure a better final product for our court system and for all Californians.”

State Auditor Elaine M. Howle issued a scathing report last Tuesday, in which she found the project “lacked sufficient planning and analysis,” and criticized the agency for its inaccurate cost estimates, lack of transparency and failure to foster the trial courts’ receptiveness to implementing CCMS.

Howle recommended the agency conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the $1.9 billion program, improve its reporting to the Legislature and develop a funding strategy for the project, in addition to having an outside consultant test for final product compliance.

Bruiniers has repeatedly noted these other recommendations have been, or are in the process of being implemented and yesterday reiterated that Judicial Council oversight of the project has been increased, a project management office has been created, advisory committees have been formed, and a cost-benefit analysis is being conducted.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Horan, a director of the dissident Alliance of California Judges and frequent CCMS critic, yesterday questioned what factors brought about the AOC’s change in position.

“This decision does not have the earmarks or the timing of a studied change of position, nor frankly would I trust it, given the earlier protestations that this was unnecessary,” he said. CCMS management is “just in a blind panic,” he suggested, following the negative publicity generated by last week’s audit “and they don’t know what the heck to do right now.”


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