LOS ANGELES (CN) - The state Auditor warned on Thursday that court software with a $1.9 billion price tag may end up being useless, while court administrators are pressing ahead with development of the same software, saying any delay would "impose" on the private consultant and cost $1 million a week. Those statements sounded like a faint echo of three lawsuits against the same private consultant brought by a county, a union and a famous maker of jeans.
Ongoing litigation by the County of Marin accuses Deloitte Consulting of under-testing payroll software, putting steady pressure to meet go-live dates, silencing a critic and sugaring a key manager. The consultant was paid $11 million for a system that ultimately had to be scrapped, according to the suit.
A second action was brought by the school teachers union in Los Angeles alleging that on one day the software system put in place by the consultant paid 30,000 people the wrong amounts of money, a day referred to by union officials as "Black Friday." The matter received local publicity and the suit was ultimately settled.
Another ongoing action is brought by by Levi Strauss & Co. and levels similar charges, saying the consultant used the jean maker as "an installation guinea pig" to put in place software meant to control inventory and handle payroll. In fact, says the suit, the software "delivered ruin."
In both of the ongoing cases, Deloitte is saying it delivered the software, that it worked, and that any problems were caused either by the complainers themselves or other consultants they hired. In the case, of Levi, the consultant claims the clothing maker still owes nearly $8 million in fees.
But those amounts of money could be considered puny compared to the Gargantua of them all a $1.9 billion software system that is only partially installed in California's courts, in a deal set up by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
In a report published Thursday, California's state Auditor warned that the software project called the Court Case Management System may be useless by the time it is fully installed.
"The useful life of CCMS may be very short after it begins to achieve a positive return on investment in fiscal year 2019-20," said the Auditor in a report put out Thursday. "The technology will be almost 10 years old when fully deployed. Our IT expert believes there is significant risk that the technology could be outdated shortly after its full deployment in fiscal year 2016-17."
In contrast to the Auditor's critical view, the Administrative Office of the Courts is pushing the project forward. The agency's project director said in a meeting last week that the state would be "imposing" on Deloitte if the project were halted.
At that Judicial Council meeting, Judge Burt Pines from Los Angeles questioned administrators about the actual cost of the project and what harm would result from a halt in the spending while an independent review of the project is undertaken.