San Luis Obispo First to Try New Bidding Process for Case Management System

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The superior court in San Luis Obispo has become the first in California to use a new bidding process to find a case management system, now that the development of a statewide system has been axed.
     Several companies, whose names won’t be made public until later this month, have submitted proposals in response to a request orchestrated by the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts. The objective is to provide the San Luis Obispo courts with a “state-of-the-art” system that will handle case and document management.
     San Luis Obispo intends to manage and host the system in-house.
     Long without a functioning case management system, and currently piggy-backing off the county’s mainframe, the San Luis Obispo courts had been in line to adopt the final version of the Computer Case Management System, or CCMS, a program that was canceled in late March after 10 years in development and $250 million had been spent.
     “Our current system is non-operational,” San Luis Obispo Presiding Judge Barry LaBarbera told Courthouse News, “We can’t do anything with it.” He explained that the court has needed a new system for 12 years and had made all the preparations to implement CCMS: “We were pretty well down the road.”
     But because of the on-going costs that courts would face running CCMS, LaBarbera said of the March decision to cancel development, “I understood why the council came to that conclusion.”
     Then, in late June, the Judicial Council approved $3.36 million for San Luis Obispo during a meeting in which Judge James Herman of Santa Barbara, a Judicial Council member and the head of its Technology Committee, said, “San Luis Obispo is in a desperate state for a case management system.” Herman added that the decision to halt development of CCMS had left the court “out to dry.”
     Judge Stephen Baker of Shasta County, another Technology Committee member, said at the same meeting that San Luis Obispo had “detrimentally relied upon the council’s assurance that they’re early adopter, they were a team player in the development of CCMS, and did product testing for us, and most importantly this is not a bridge too far.”
     The court worked with the AOC to come up with the new bidding process, and if the request for proposals, or RFP, being used in San Luis Obispo is successful, it may be used again in other counties looking for a case management system, said LaBarbera.
     In leaving CCMS behind, LaBarbera said, “This is a totally distinct, new process only for our court.”
     The judge said that the court had not priced any case management systems before going out for bids, but that he believed in the competitive bidding process. He said in June that the court will not necessarily spend all the $3.36 million approved by the Judicial Council, adding, “We’ve always been frugal.”
     Susan Matherly, the Court Executive Officer in San Luis Obispo, echoed the sentiment, saying, “We don’t keep any of the surplus above the price of the system.”
     The vendors in the current RFP process will reveal the price tags on their offerings only after they have submitted proposals and provided demonstrations, according to the AOC’s contracting guidelines.
     “The funds will only be used for software and maintenance, not for staff,” LaBarbera said the court will host the new system on its own server.
     “We’re building a server room,” he said with a chuckle.
     “The hope is for implementation within 18 months,” LaBarbera said. “We are hopeful, but cautious.”
     Matherly said the AOC had been a helpful partner in the new bidding process, saying, “The AOC has a strong understanding of our requirements and business practices because we were so close to deploying CCMS.”
     “The AOC drafted the RFP and we reviewed,” Matherly said.
     In the competition between vendors, product demonstrations and documents will be given equal weighting with the cost proposals that will be revealed at a public opening scheduled for August 21, at which point the names of the vendors will be made public too.
     Vendors submitted their proposals last week, and next week they will demonstrate for the court and the AOC how their systems would work.
     The winning vendor will be announced on August 29 and a contract with San Luis Obispo will be executed in late September, according to the request for proposal.

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