On The Money: Judges Blow Whistle On State Agency’s Hiring

By Mike Luery

Courthouse delays are more common now because of staffing shortages. But an On The Money investigation has discovered that one government agency — the Administrative Office of the Courts — is growing despite a statewide hiring freeze.

“They’ve gone on a hiring spree with IT consultants and technicians and the totals are in the millions of dollars,” said Maryanne Gilliard, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge. Gilliard is also part of a rebellious group known as the Alliance of California Judges.

Judge Gilliard told CBS13 that the money is going to a court computer project that is years behind schedule and already hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. The projected costs have jumped from $260 million to $1.9 billion.

Kevin McCormick, another Sacramento County Superior Court judge, blames the Administrative Office of the Courts for hiring dozens of consultants.

“They’re being carried under contracts with the AOC so they don’t have to be reported as employees. And they don’t report them as employees,” said McCormick, who is also a member of the Alliance of California Judges. The Alliance told CBS13 the group has some 400 members across the state.

The judges say millions of taxpayer dollars are going to outside firms like the Blackstone Technology Group, All-Star Consulting and Ascent Services Group despite state budget cuts and a hard freeze on hiring.

“It’s incredible because they’ve got over 140 people on staff already responsible for doing IT services,” McCormick said. “Yet they’re outsourcing huge numbers of contracts, oftentimes well over $100 to $200,00 a year.”

The Administrative Office of the Courts declined to be interviewed on camera for this report. But the agency admits it used an employment agency to provide temporary workers for temporary needs. The AOC sent a statement to On The Money, defending the practice.

“This is a common practice in both the public and private sectors and it’s more cost-effective than hiring full-time workers, especially during a downturn in the economy,” stated Philip Carrizosa, a spokesperson for AOC.

But is it really more cost-efficient?

“What we found was there were at least four AOC employees that were being paid $35 an hour when they were AOC employees, but now they’re working for Apple One Temps and they’re being paid $50 an hour,” Gilliard said.

In response, AOC spokesperson Carrizosa said the four workers, “started with us in July 2010 as temporary ‘909’ employees on our payroll… Even though 909 employees are temporary, they’re still eligible for benefits. In July 2011, they became temporary workers through Apple One, so they’re no longer 909 temporary employees. The hourly cost for the workers has gone up (because, as an employment agency, Apple One, receives part of a worker’s costs) but they are not receiving benefits.”

But Gilliard is not convinced of any savings. “I don’t see that as a win-win for the taxpayer,” she told CBS13.

Gilliard said the money is coming out of the trial court trust fund that keeps the courts open — and that is troubling to many judges who fear courtrooms may go dark.

In response, the AOC issued a statement saying, “These funds are being used to keep courthouses open and operating. In many cases, temporary workers or contractual services are being used to maintain services for the courts’ infrastructure — their facilities and technology,” Carrizosa said.

The AOC spokesperson added, “In 2010, we had 45 temporary workers provided to us by Apple One. In 2011, we have 41 temporary workers provided to us by Apple One.”

But how much will it cost taxpayers to hire these temporary workers?

In documents obtained by CBS 13, the AOC reveals it spent $5.2 million over the past two years on IT consultants for the Court Case Management System.

The AOC spent an additional $3.5 million for other court information services during that two-year time span.

Carrizosa stated, “Please remember that it costs about 30 percent less to use temporary workers than hiring new staff because we do not provide benefits to temporary workers. Also, we can remove these workers when the project they are working on is completed.”

But the Alliance of California Judges questions the use of additional tax dollars for the court computer system project.

“I think it’s irresponsible how money’s being spent on an IT project that’s already over budget and way behind schedule,” McCormick said. “There is no doubt that the overall picture in terms of the expenditure of funds has done nothing but grow — even in the face of a hiring freeze.”

If you see government waste, send us an e-mail to onthemoney@kovr.com. You can also follow On The Money stories in progress via Twitter and on Facebook.

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  • Philip R. Carrizosa

    It’s incorrect to say that the AOC is hiring temporary workers to skirt a hiring freeze. It hires temporary workers because there’s a hiring freeze on fulltime workers. In addition, hiring temporary workers for defined projects is often more cost effective than hiring fulltime workers. It’s a prudent use of resources to accomplish required work.

    • http://judicialcouncilwatcher.wordpress.com Judicial Council Watcher

      As the spokesperson for the administrative office of the courts Mr. Carrizosa, you can try to spin this any way you like because that is why they pay you the big bucks. What you can’t do is explain why you’re still hiring like mad when the courts, those that actually serve the public are forced to lay people off. The AOC is building some of the worlds most expensive buildings and has been paying hundreds of millions of dollars to design a notable piece of vaporware called CCMS V4.

  • http://lesliebrodie.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/judge-maryanne-gilliard-blow-whistle-on-administrative-office-of-the-courts-aoc/ Judge Maryanne Gilliard Blow Whistle On Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) « The Leslie Brodie Report

    […] # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Search Listings via sacramento.cbslocal.com […]

  • Thomas

    If they are using temporary help and paying $50 an hour while their staff gets $30 where is the cost savings? Benefits only account for about 1/3 cost of salary so no matter how you crunch the numbers it is wasting taxpayer dollars by outsourcing. Of course in this case the extra money does not go to the worker benefits it goes in the pocket of the firms owners.

    And you would think Mr. Carrizosa would be knowledgeable enough to know that the state can hire staff on a limited term basis so saying they are doing outsourcing because they can let the staff go after the project is complete is an incompetent argument. As it is, it does not look like this project is ever going to end anyway.

    Maybe they should take less time making excuses and more time and finding out why their contractors are robbing the taxpayers.

  • http://judicialcouncilwatcher.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/company-confidential-the-new-paradigm-in-the-aocs-continued-hiring-binge/ “Company Confidential” – The new paradigm in the AOC’s continued hiring binge « Judicial Council Watcher

    […] The AOC is still hiring! (KCRA, CBS News Sacramento) LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_bg", "ffffff"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_text", "333333"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_link", "222222"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_border", "dddddd"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_url", "346ba4"); LD_AddCustomAttr("LangId", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Autotag", "business"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Autotag", "technology"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "administrative-office-of-the-courts"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "aoc"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "flapdoodles-pravda-propaganda"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "judicial-council-of-california"); LD_AddSlot("wpcom_below_post"); LD_GetBids(); Rate this: Share this:MorePrintEmailDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Posted in: Administrative Office of the Courts, AOC, Flapdoodles & Pravda Propaganda, Judicial Council of California ← A new (and arguably better) resource for trial court reporters…. Carpet: $391 per sq. yard and “game changers” → 5 Responses ““Company Confidential” – The new paradigm in the AOC’s continued hiring binge&#8221 → […]

  • MrsKramer

    Mr. Carrizosa writes: “It’s incorrect to say that the AOC is hiring temporary workers to skirt a hiring freeze. It hires temporary workers because there’s a hiring freeze on fulltime workers”

    Isn’t that the same thing as saying they ARE hiring temporary workers to skirt a hiring freeze on full time employees?

    • Peter

      IT staffing Atlanta is easiest when done through an employment agency, who are set up for just this job and can save you on the bottom line when hiring.

  • http://californiacourtsmonitor.com/community/alliance-judges-continue-court-critique/ ‘Alliance’ Judges Continue Court Critique

    […] connection with the failed attempt to consolidate the state’s court computers (see coverage here).   Writing in The Courthouse News, Judge Gilliard uses Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s […]

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