The Texas Scorecard has obtained a report from the Dallas County Auditor that sheds light on the costly price tag taxpayers have been forced to pay for a risky business venture between Dallas County and a government lobby group.
TechShare.Court is one of two TechShare software programs that have been in development for years. TechShare.Court was started to replace the current outdated court software used by Dallas and Tarrant counties. Rather than Dallas County buying existing software from a private firm, or have a product customized to meet their needs, they’re continuing to try and develop their own product in partnership with a county lobby association, the Texas Conference of Urban Counties (CUC).
TechShare Court has been stuck in development hell for years, and is incurring cost overruns. As a result, it is still siphoning money from taxpayers with little to show for it.
Ever since their January 15 meeting when Dallas County Commissioners voted 4 – 1 to withhold an additional $1.4 million dollar payment to the Maintenance and Operation fund of TechShare.Court, the officials have wanted to know just how much the program has already cost Dallas County taxpayers.
The Dallas County Auditor conducted an audit of TechShare’s Court projects from October 1, 2012 to August 31, 2017 to look into that very question.
The results were troubling.
The objectives of the audit were to “examine the CUC’s financial records and the related internal controls in place for proper accounting, reporting and cost allocation methodologies for the TechShare Court projects.”
The audit itself found that, as of August 31 of 2017, Dallas County taxpayers had dumped at least $24 million to the CUC to help finance TechShare.Court and TechShare.JP, with an additional over $1 million to be paid later.
Furthermore, because the CUC was receiving a multitude of requests for “enhancements” or “improvements” to TechShare.Court, rather than finance these development costs through a Capital Fund, they instead paid for them from the Maintenance & Operations fund, even though TechShare.Court is not currently in operation.
As a result of this decision, the project’s costs exceeded original estimates. Dallas County taxpayers saw their payments to the M&O fund jump over $500,000 to a grand total of $3,335,056 from fiscal years 2016 to 2018.
In the auditor’s report, he expressed concerns that this decision would result in counties not receiving “a true picture of their capital and operating costs” and that county taxpayers would be paying for implementation costs that “were not originally budgeted or approved by Commissioners Courts.”
The Dallas County Commissioner’s Court is set to meet Tuesday, February 5, at 9 AM to further discuss TechShare.Court and the financial debacle it has become.