• L’il Hoover BombShell??: Courts Case Mgmt System looking like another Oracle Debacle, says State Auditor

    August 27th, 2011 by admin Categories: Blogs Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

    State Auditor Elaine Howle dropped a bombshell at the beginning of her Little Hoover Commission (LHC) testimony Thursday August 25th comparing the massive, problem-plagued $1.8 billion Court Case Management System (CCMS) to the state’s 2001 Oracle licensing scandal. With all but a few of the SRO audience having vacated the hearing room following three hours of earlier testimony from new State CIO Carlos Ramos and five project team officials, Howle made even this jaded journalist’s jaw drop when she stated that CCMS was like “revisiting the Oracle situation we had several years ago”. I went to the tape Friday as they say to confirm her words.

    While I have been in the vanguard of those trumpeting the failures of CCMS, even calling for its immediate termination last March, this is the first indication from anyone that there may have been unethical, even illegal activities associated with the CCMS project. So perhaps we misunderstood the State Auditor.

    The Oracle episode in 2001-2002 had all the appearances of a “quid pro quo” involving the state paying Oracle $95 million for seemingly unnecessary and unwanted software licenses; then one week later Governor Davis receiving a $25,000 campaign donation from Oracle.

    After numerous investigations, hearings and media coverage, at least three state employees lost their jobs including the Director of DGS, former state senator Barry Keene; Davis’ director of e-government, Arun Baheti; and my immediate successor as State CIO, the incompetent and inexperienced Eli “Boo-Hoo” Cortez whose lachrymose legislative committee testimony belied his heretofore supercilious and bullying persona.

    Oracle eventually withdrew from the contract and repaid the state, the Davis campaign returned the donation, and the State CIO’s office, the Department of Information Technology, was allowed to sunset and was dissolved. It would be almost eight years before the state CIO’s office was reborn, and empowered in the Schwarzenegger Administration as the California Technology Agency first through Executive Order then through official legislation just last year.

    Consequently, comparisons between CCMS and the Oracle Licensing scandal are very serious allegations, and certainly caught the attention of not only the audience but also we’re told the Little Hoover Commission. However, it turns out that this was a false alarm, and we are able to set the record straight.

    TechLeader.TV went to the source, contacting the State Auditor Friday afternoon to ask for clarification. We spoke with the State Auditor’s Press Officer Margarita Fernández whom we asked if Elaine Howle was comparing the Oracle debacle’s procurement and campaign financing scandals with similar infractions involving CCMS.

    Margarita spoke with the State Auditor and called us back to report that Howle had not meant to infer any similar, nefarious behavior by either court officials or vendors on CCMS; rather she was suggesting that like in the Oracle situation where critics including the Auditor rightfully maintained that the state officials were buying software licenses that state agencies did not want nor need, CCMS was a project which the many court officials outside of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) felt was unnecessary.

    While TechLeader.TV is glad to be able to clarify this matter, it should be recalled that the State Auditor provided a comprehensive list of problems on the part of the state courts officials and the vendor contractor earlier this year, including this:

    Over the course of seven years, the AOC entered into 102 amendments to develop, deploy, and support the civil system; to deploy and support the criminal system; and to develop CCMS. As a result, the cost of the (vendor) contract has increased significantly — growing from $33 million to $310 million.

    In addition, the State Auditor’s submitted testimony for the LHC hearing drawn from its most recent August 2011 Updated Assessment of High‑Risk Issues bring more, damning news:

    The AOC also hired a contractor to conduct a cost‑benefit analysis of CCMS. However, our review of this analysis found that the data the AOC provided to the contractor excluded and understated certain costs, assumed certain benefits of CCMS that were questionable, and used a deployment model that included some unrealistic assumptions…

    As of May 2011 the AOC estimated that it will complete CCMS by June 2017 and that the project will cost nearly $2 billion. According to its May 2011 report to the Legislature, as of June 2010 CCMS had already cost the State $454 million.

    Sloppy, unprofessional analysis on the part of the AOC, and certainly an 800% contract increase over seven years are quite troubling; but it’s not prima facie evidence of any potentially unethical or illegally activities. Nevertheless, how is it possible that this project remains funded, looking at another $1.6 billion or more to complete, under the best scenario?

    Governor Brown, please put this one out of its misery NOW, and spare the taxpayers a slow, painful, expensive death over the next 5-10 years.

    Little Hoover Commission, I hope you will concur and make the same recommendation.

    Secretary Ramos?

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