Audit Finds Major Problems With State's Oversight of Court Computer System


A new state audit has found that the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has not done a good job of overseeing the development of a statewide case management project.


The AOC did not structure the development vendor's contract to adequately control cost and scope, the auditor said, and over the course of seven years, the AOC entered into 102 amendments and increased the cost from $33 million to $310 million.


The office also failed to develop accurate cost estimates. In 2004, the cost estimate was $260 million and by 2010 the estimated cost was $1.9 billion. The $1.9 billion estimate fails to include all costs, including an estimated $44 million in costs that the superior courts already have incurred to implement interim versions of the computerized case management system.


Additionally, the auditor found that the AOC:

  • Inadequately planned for the statewide case management project and did not analyze whether the project would be a cost-beneficial solution to the superior courts' needs.

  • Was unable to provide contemporaneous analysis and documentation supporting key decisions on the project's scope and direction.

  • Has not obtained the funding needed for statewide deployment and without full deployment to the 58 superior courts, the value of the project is diminished.

  • Must gain better support from the superior courts for the project – the superior courts of Los Angeles and Sacramento counties asserted that they will not adopt the system unless their concerns are resolved, and many counties indicated that their current systems are meeting all of their needs.

To make matters worse, the auditor said the statewide case management project "may be at substantial risk of future quality problems" as a result of the AOC's failure to address concerns raised by a consulting firm. (Source: California State Auditor report, February 8.)

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