Judges in San Luis Obispo oppose money-sucking IT system

March 28, 2012

San Luis Obispo County’s trial court has become the focus of the battle of  whether to abandon a costly statewide case management system. [CourthouseNewsService]

An audit of the project to install a California case management system (CCMS), resulted in criticism from judges questioning how the initial cost estimates swelled from $260 million in 2004 to $2 billion today.

On Tuesday, while California judges on the judicial council  deliberated on the IT system’s fate, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Jeff Burke told Courthouse News the administrative office of the courts is wasting money trying to keep the project alive when it should be channeling all possible funds toward keeping courthouses open.

“The reason that they’re closing these courthouses is because of the diversion of hundreds of millions to CCMS. There are hundreds of millions more that will be spent on this system that could be spent on court operations,” Burke said.

Officials with the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) contend the current computer system in San Luis Obispo is failing and desperately needs the California case management system.

“We have an old DOS based system that they’ve been eager to replace for quite a while. It is old and creaky. I don’t think it’s a critical need,”

Burke countered to Courthouse News. “The need I perceive the court has is maintaining the employees that are here now and not on this Ferrari computer system, to keep court services in tact. If it gets worse, we will be laying people off. I think that’s a shame.”

Burke said that several years ago, his court looked into replacing its computer system with an off-the-shelf product, but the AOC put a stop to it.

“Years ago we had a contract with a company in Texas for a case management system,” he said. “The AOC put the breaks on it. They said, ‘no, we’re building our own system.’”

While the council discussed the project at the courthouse in San Luis Obispo, Judge Burke told Courthouse News his court is divided on its support of proposed IT system.


16 Comments

  1. abigchocoholic says:

    Nope. Read it again. No “gross exaggerations” just reality. And I didn’t really say anything so awful as suggested. It’s no secret that government is inefficient and that its workers aren’t motivated by profit, a combination that creates a very mediocre product/service by the nature of the beast. It’s been proven over and over and over. And my focus is on the beast and the nature of the beast not the individual. The same person in private enterprise can be twice as effective as when he/she is at a government job–just as the same person running his own business is usually twice as effective as when he/she works for a union. It’s about pressure and a desire to survive. On average (note the word “average”) government is attractive to a certain type of worker and, irrespective of the worker, tends to make the worker very quickly conform to the government mentality which is very different than the private enterprise mentality.

    As for your comment about making a “god” out of the free market, I don’t recall doing so. And talk about exaggerating and polarizing, in calling a market system a “god” aren’t you the one actually polarizing and exaggerating? The free market system is brutal. Why? Because it mimics nature and nature is brutal. Nature allows the top predator to gorge and often kills off those less equipped or even those just less lucky. Nature is extremely efficient but also extremely brutal. In nature the number 2 lion might not even survive. It can be an incredible creature but just not quite as good or lucky as number 1 and not even survive. That’s brutal. And In the free market system, as in nature, the private business that’s not quite up to snuff or just unlucky doesn’t even get to survive. Those are real people who invested real capital and all their time and life energy in their restaurant or their retail store or their tech start up or their whatever and their business doesn’t even survive and they lose everything. That’s brutal. (Contrast that to government where the public school system that’s not competitive or the post office that’s not competitive or in the case at hand the IT system that’s not competitive just gets hundreds of millions more thrown at it rather than not surviving.) And as in nature, almost without exception, every business becomes uncompetitive and ceases to exist at some point in time, in the same way in that even the top lion eventually gets old or injured and can’t compete and ceases to exist. Again, nature and free enterprise are very similar and very efficient. but no doubt, also very brutal.

    Pick your poison.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

    • R.Hodin says:

      “It’s no secret that government is inefficient and that its workers aren’t motivated by profit, a combination that creates a very mediocre product/service by the nature of the beast. It’s been proven over and over and over.”

      It’s no secret either that executives motivated by nothing more than profit have a track record of destroying jobs and companies, producing fraudulent products (such as mortgages), defective and unsafe products, and unhealthy products (such as pink slime). Apparently this can be blamed on government as well?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    • R.Hodin says:

      Your comparison to Nature is utterly false and is a product of economists not biologists. That specious model is only used by predatory capitalists in order to rationalize their destructive and sociopathic impulses.

      Nature works on cooperation, not competition.

      If you want to see nature at work in a capitalist system read the latest about how the empire of the ultimate Capitalist: Murdoch, is crumbling:
      http://abcasiapacificnews.com/stories/201203/3465886.htm?desktop

      It’s the scandal of the week.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      Maybe I’m an idealist in my own way, but I think that we as human beings can do a bit better than lower animals in achieving a civil society. Competition will always play a role and is good to a point but we have seen how the top competitors can blow it too. What has happened is that success has been so well rewarded that the motivation has gone from survival to pure greed and short-sighted greed at that. Too many of the “top lions” are only concerned with their own near-term benefits and can’t see that their actions are leading to some serious long-term consequences which may not only destroy the “weak” but take down the system that allowed them to become wealthy and powerful in the process. Cooperation and unity as a nation and as a species has benefits too.

      Don’t let the faults of a few — and the focus of the media upon those faults — distort your perception of reality. There are many good people in government and some of them take their work as seriously and put as much into it as people in the private sector. I won’t argue that they benefit disproportionately from it compared to the people I know in comparable private jobs, but they aren’t all unmotivated, incompetent, greedy parasites either. (The same statement applies to corporate execs except that they most of them are GROSSLY overcompensated.)

      By the way, my only experience as a government employee was as a city summer day camp counselor some 30+ years ago. I have owned a business for the majority of my life since then so I am not unaware of the realities of private business either.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      • abigchocoholic says:

        What I said “They don’t get the brightest people. They don’t get the most competent people. They don’t get people who are risk takers. They don’t get people who are motivated by profit. They don’t get people who want to work twice as hard and make twice the money because there is no such government job.”

        What it gets turned into “they aren’t all unmotivated, incompetent, greedy parasites either.”

        I never said government workers were incompetent or parasites or anything of the kind. Using the IT case in the article think of IT as your smart phone and look at it more like government gets the ok B and C student programmers whereas the Googles, Apples, Microsofts and Oracles are getting the brilliant A student programmers. When you turn on your smart phone do you want it to be designed and programmed by Steve Jobs’ group of brilliant programmers or a state run bureaucratically administered group of average programmers? Do you really think the two groups put out the same quality programming? Do I really even need to ask?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. SLOBIRD says:

    If only common sense and purpose were the goals, and not pay offs, power, coruption, payoffs, etc. played into this there would be a system, Then we want to know why taxpayers are angry, have no confidence in their government and we have the financial problems we have. Talk about Wall Street and the banks ripping people off. What a sham…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  3. Chill says:

    Why aren’t the Bozos in charge of the IT department responsible for this debacle?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  4. mkaney says:

    I am unsure how BASIC logic escapes so many people in a decision-making capacity, especially when they get so invested in an IDEA. Anyone who supports the case management system needs to have their head examined. As an analogy, one could argue all day long about the benefits of owning a car. But if the car costs $20,000,000 then that pretty much rules out the case for buying one, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

    • R.Hodin says:

      Okay, I’ll bite.

      What if the entire CA court system & its employees, judges, police, police clerks, parole, prisons, lawyers & clients, victims of crimes all included depend upon that one car, and only that one car. That’s the type of vehicle we’re talking about here.

      It could be argued that it’s value could exceed by one or more orders of magnitude any “off-the-shelf” one-size-fits-all court data management software (if any such thing actually exists). Whether that pegs it’s price at $2M, $20M or $200M is another issue that needs serious airing.

      Do we spend a chunk of change on a system from Texas, and then 100 times that amount customizing it to work in California? Or do we have on built from the ground up? That’s a legitimate discussion.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • R.Hodin says:

      “I am unsure how BASIC logic escapes so many people in a decision-making capacity, especially when they get so invested in an IDEA”

      Actually, that’s exactly the point at which logic is (unconsciously) used to distort reality — when people are too-heavily invested in an IDEA.

      Got to remember that logic is a tool, not a path.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  5. abigchocoholic says:

    “Years ago we had a contract with a company in Texas for a case management system,” he said. “The AOC put the breaks on it. They said, ‘no, we’re building our own system.’”
    ———————-

    And therein lies the problem with all government. It costs the government 2 times as much to do what a private company can do with half the success rate. Why? The nature of government. They don’t get the brightest people. They don’t get the most competent people. They don’t get people who are risk takers. They don’t get people who are motivated by profit. They don’t get people who want to work twice as hard and make twice the money because there is no such government job. They get the people who have given up on the free market. Just think about it. Do you think any top student dreams about getting that graduate degree and then sitting at that government desk in a government building and putting in an 8-5 under a government supervisor for a mediocre salary? Hardly. That’s not a dream. That’s the fall back plan. The average government worker is someone who has given up on the free market, a person who has given up the entrepreneurial dream and is just looking for the safety net and then to get as much free ride as possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 15

    • bobfromsanluis says:

      Your comments about government employees is insulting to say the least. I would say “shame on you”, but you probably do not have the ability to feel shame. Sad.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 13

    • Maxfusion says:

      You are absolutely correct.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      You share common qualities with all the others who contribute toward polarizing politics — gross exaggerations and views distorted by ideological prisms. Some of what you say has merit but you distort the character and competence of government to a point far beyond reality.

      As for making a god out of the free market, have you really looked into the role of “free enterprise” in the recent economic crash? Free enterprise has some good characteristics but isn’t without it’s own flaws. There need to be limits to both government and free enterprise to maintain anything resembling a civil society.

      Instead of adopting a militant stance and point of view in favor of one and against the other, try limiting your criticisms to specific problems and open your mind to the possibility that the opposition has some legitimate views and functions as well.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

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