Auditor’s report echoes need for strengthened transparency, accountability in AOC Administration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Mary Gutierrez
(213) 276-3384 | mgutierrez@seiucal.org

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

While courts closed to public, AOC pursued $1.9 billion computer project without planning, documentation or cost controls

(Sacramento, CA) — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California released the following statement from Kristy Sermersheim, Chief Elected Officer for SEIU Local 521 after the Independent California State Auditor presented a report which questioned the Administrative Office of the Court’s pursuit of the massive case management system computer project which is now years behind schedule and more than $1 billion over its initial budget:

“The findings of California’s independent auditor reinforce court workers’ calls to strengthen accountability and oversight of a runaway bureaucracy that has operated largely outside any checks and balances on its actions or spending.

“The report confirms what we already knew – that even as the Administrative Office of the Courts closed California’s halls of justice to the public, citing budgetary concerns, the AOC unjustifiably drove a $33 million computer upgrade that stands to cost an estimated $1.9 billion. The Auditor’s report also illuminates how the case management project grew so far out of control. The Auditor found the AOC ‘lacked sufficient planning and analysis’ to embark on the project, completed a cost-benefit analysis of the project only 4 years after the project was underway, and made critical decisions without the analysis or documentation to support its actions.

“And yet despite the AOC’s low marks in the Auditor’s report, the public needs to be even more concerned over reports this week that the AOC is proposing rule changes that would take power away from top judges in a trial court, in favor of themselves.

“California’s communities deserve better from those administering our judicial branch. Already, staffing reductions and forced court closures have put roadblocks in the way of those seeking swift justice in our courtrooms. If the AOC continues on its path to pursue implementation of this cumbersome system at any cost, it will cost local courts tens of millions they can’t afford and cause more delays and case backlogs.

“As nearly every one of California’s important public services is facing large budget cuts, it is important to minimize the damage further reductions will have on the public, businesspeople, and our communities.

“We call on the AOC to halt further spending on this out-of-control project until we can ensure that taxpayer dollars are not wasted and that our top priority for the judicial system – serving the public and keeping trial courts functioning – is fully funded.”

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SEIU California is a coalition of over 700,000 janitors, social workers, security officers, homecare workers, education workers, nurses and various classifications of city, county and state employees represented by SEIU local unions throughout California. We come together to build a better California by fighting to pass policies and elect candidates that fight for the issues working men and women care about such as affordable healthcare, good wages, a means to a good retirement, a healthy environment, education and stronger communities. We believe that by working together we can build a California that all working families can once again thrive in.

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