Lawmakers seek to rein in court contracts [Updated]
Upset over the skyrocketing cost of a computer upgrade in California’s courts, state lawmakers said Tuesday they are looking at stepping up controls over court contracts.
The courts, considered an independent branch of government, are exempt from many state contracting rules. As a result, the controversial upgrade was not subject to the same oversight that governs other state-agency projects. A state audit recently found its costs had soared from a proposed $260 million to $1.9 billion, which state Sen. Doug La Malfa (R-Richvale) called “appalling” during a legislative hearing Tuesday.
[Updated at 2:43 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the soaring costs prompted La Malfa to dub the project "appalling." La Malfa found the cost objectionable, not the project.]
Legislators including Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) said they are looking at whether the state Constitution would allow increased oversight of court contracts.
Meanwhile, court officials told members of the state Joint Legislative Audit Committee that they will voluntarily submit to the same contract oversight required of other state agencies. They said they will also hire an independent consultant to examine the upgraded computer system before it is deployed.
-- Patrick McGreevy