Consultants reported to Dallas County Commissioners Court last week that taxpayers will never get a software product they paid a government-created entity tens of millions to create.

In March, Dallas commissioners voted to hire Alvarez & Marsal as consultants to evaluate TechShare.Court, a $30 million software program in development for nearly a decade intended to replace outdated software used by the court systems of Dallas and Tarrant counties. The commissioners wanted answers after years of development and investment, but have nothing to show for it.

At last week’s meeting, it was revealed that the consultants had informed the commissioners that TechShare.Court will never work.

In response to the consultants’ analysis, Dallas County Commissioners will now consider software already available on the open market to fulfill the need that TechShare.Court cannot. They will also keep their legal options open in regards to getting back the taxpayers’ $30 million spent on this disastrous project.

Not only have Dallas County taxpayers had their cash wasted, but now they, through their commissioners’ court, will have virtually no say in its future.

In January, the board of directors of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties—ranked in 2017 as the second most powerful “public sector lobby” group in Texas—formed the TechShare Local Government Corporation and moved all of TechShare’s projects there.  Each county involved was assigned voting power within the LGC.

Dallas was given just 25 percent voting strength, whereas Tarrant was given 63 percent. The remaining 12 percent of voting shares were divided evenly amongst Collin, Denton, Johnson, Midland, Potter, and Travis counties.

Dallas County District 2 Commissioner J.J. Koch was outraged.

“In the [LGC], essentially Tarrant County has decided that our $30 million does not count,” Koch said. “We have been robbed and run over.”

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, who has served as the vice chair of TechShare within the Texas Conference of Urban Counties and is now the Chairman of TechShare LGC, said this reduced strength was because Dallas stopped paying maintenance & operation fees for TechShare.Court.

The next chapter in this debacle will be when the Dallas Commissioners Court meets again on May 21 to explore buying other software options to fulfill their needs.

Texas Scorecard will continue to report on this situation as it develops.

Information in this article has been updated since publication. 

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.


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