The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 19, 2013
Audit: California courts' statewide financial report incomplete

130319-elaine-howle-2011-autumn-cruz.JPGA sampling of the business reports by the California court system's administrative body reveals some flaws in how local courts assigned contracts last year and reporting gaps in goods or services purchases, according to a report released this morning.

State Auditor Elaine Howle found that the Administrative Office of the Courts' financial report to the Legislature for the first half of 2012 contained "several instances where data in (the report) was inaccurate,"

The AOC is the business arm of the Judicial Counsel, which sets policy for the California's network of 58 county courts. By law, it gives lawmakers a financial report twice each year.

The auditor's review spot-checked the January-to-July 2012 report against 92 records from the superior courts of Napa, Orange, Sacramento, Stanislaus, Sutter, and Yolo counties. Auditors found so many discrepancies that "we stopped testing when it became clear that the report contained a number of inaccuracies," Howle said, noting that 12 percent contained at least one error.

In some cases the AOC's report filtered out descriptions of the goods or services procured. In others, the amounts paid were wrong.

The AOC said that it has since fixed the problem with collecting the information.

The local courts generally complied with judicial contracting laws, the auditor reported, although a few problems surfaced: Some court managers overstepped the monetary limits of their authority to approve purchases, approved sole-source contracts without explaining why or didn't advertise for bids. And none of the courts had procedures in place to do business with veteran-owned companies, which the law requires.

PHOTO CREDIT: State Auditor Elaine Howle testifies at a 2011 legislative hearing. Autumn Cruz / The Sacramento Bee

Judicial Branch Procurement

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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