Committee Votes to Suspend Court Computer Modernization
California’s Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety voted yesterday to suspend expansion of the Court Case Management System (CCMS) due to escalating costs, reports the Los Angeles Times. The full legislature can now consider whether it wants to halt program expansions.
CCMS is a statewide computer modernization initiative to develop and deploy a unified case management system for the state’s 58 superior courts. The California Judicial Branch’s website claims that “CCMS will reduce operating costs, increase efficiency, and give Californians an unprecedented level of access to their courts.”
While the system may reduce costs in the future, State Auditor Elaine Howle said CCMS faces significant challenges because of poor project management and inaccurate cost estimates, according to the California Bar Journal. Costs for the project increased from $260 million in 2004 to $1.9 billion by 2010. The audit recommended that the Administrative Office of the Courts, the bureaucratic arm of the state judiciary, should "work with the Judicial Council, legislature and governor to develop an overall strategy for CCMS that is realistic, given the current fiscal crisis facing the state."
The Alliance of California Judges (ACJ), which is openly critical of the AOC and CCMS, supported this week's measure to suspend the program. The ACJ told the committee Wednesday that courtrooms are being closed because CCMS is taking tens of millions away from court operations budgets, reports the Times.
Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo, the committee chairman, told Appellate Justice Terry Bruiniers, who is overseeing the project, that the Judicial Council can still save the project. Cedillo described the committee's action as a "time out," and told Justice Bruiniers "You have the opportunity to persuade us to go forward," according to the Times.
CCMS has been implemented in seven counties. If completed, it would be expanded to all 58 counties in the state.
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