March 21, 2013
Dear Members and Others,
It seems like yesterday when respected State Auditor Elaine Howle issued her scathing report on CCMS. To those in the Legislature and Governor’s Office that audit turned out to be a game changer. No longer would the judicial branch get a free pass on cost estimates, competency or managerial abilities. And thanks to our sister branches of government the plug was finally pulled on the most costly computer boondoggle our state has ever witnessed.
The day before yesterday the State Auditor released her findings on “Judicial Branch Procurement,” which echoes many of the observations made in that February 2011 audit of CCMS. Here is a link to that report. What follows are merely highlights from the audit:
- The AOC’s semiannual report was “neither accurate nor complete with respect to data from the superior courts.”
- The AOC “filtered certain transactions out of the report.”
- There were instances “where the semiannual report was missing information…….and where the semiannual report provided inaccurate cost data.”
- “During the course of our audit we relied on the AOC’s semiannual report….We stopped testing when it became clear that the report contained a number of inaccuracies.”
The Alliance wishes to allay any concerns you may have regarding these findings as the AOC has “asserted that it has corrected the problems that caused these errors and that they will not occur in future semiannual reports.” You will also be relieved to know that in many of these instances the AOC indicated “that the errors were the result of flaws in the extraction process that it has since corrected.” You will likewise be satisfied to hear that as to the other inaccuracies, omissions, and flat out wrong information provided to the State Auditor, “the program used to extract the courts’ data contained a programming error that has since been corrected.“
As to the six local trial courts that were audited, we ask you to read the report for yourself and compare those findings against those of the AOC. The State Auditor appears to be committed to getting to the bottom of what is happening in the central office. On page 12 she writes: “Further, we anticipate conducting a review of the Phoenix system concurrent with our audit of the AOC’s procurement practices at a future date.” To that the Alliance says: Godspeed!
The Alliance would ask however, that the State Auditor not confine herself to AOC procurements only. A real independent audit must be conducted concerning the maintenance and construction programs. Too much money is on the line to give the bureaucracy that has a historical record of recklessness with public dollars the ability to conduct business as usual.
Which brings us back to the dysfunctional and inbred system of branch governance which is designed to turn a blind eye in order to speak with one voice. We need a truly diverse group of judges, democratically elected to appropriately manage and oversee the morass that is the AOC.
Alliance of California Judges