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Calif. courts scrap $2 billion computer project

California's finances were reeling and the nation's largest court system was sharing the pain. Every courthouse in the state closed one day every month—a drastic step never taken before, even during the Great Depression. Hundreds of workers received layoff notices and the wheels of justice turned even slower.

During the economic downturn of recent years, court leaders poured hundreds of millions of dollars into what would become the state's biggest technological undertaking. They ignored growing demands to scuttle the $2 billion project to unify the state's 500 court facilities under a single computing system, saying time and money would be saved in the future.

Earlier this month, a $200,000 consultant's report declared the project ready for a final push that would at last bring the Balkanized court system into the 21st Century.

The bad news was that it would take upward of $1.3 billion to finish a decade-long job that already had cost a half billion dollars but only produced significant upgrades to courts in seven of California's 58 counties.

So on Tuesday, the courts' governing body succumbed to long-simmering political and financial pressures and pulled the plug on the project, allocating a final $9 million to sort out what could be salvaged.
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"It was a big flop," said Michael Krigsman, chief executive of an IT consulting firm and author of the blog IT Project Failures.

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