TechShare.Court, one of the failed software products offered by TechShare, was dealt a serious blow last week when Dallas County took a stand for taxpayers. As Texas Scorecard recently reported, the TechShare.Court program has become a black hole for Tarrant and Dallas counties’ taxpayers.
The Dallas County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 to withhold a contribution of $1.4 million taxpayer dollars into TechShare.Court’s Maintenance & Operation fund. The money would have been used to develop, rather than maintain, the software.
“Is TechShare.Court implemented here in Dallas County?” District 2 Commissioner J.J. Koch asked representatives of the project.
“At this time, sir, it’s not. It’s still being developed,” was the reply.
Koch asked why the county was paying $1.4 million for the maintenance and operations of a program it had yet to implement. Koch was informed that the Texas Conference of Urban Counties had not yet delivered the software and delivery was expected later during the same week of this Commissioners Court meeting, the week of January 14.
District 1 Commissioner Dr. Theresa Daniel asked if the program was implemented anywhere in the state. The representative replied that it was being used in Potter County, prompting Koch to ask for clarification. It was revealed Potter County is using TechShare.JP, a derivative of TechShare.Court but not the TechShare.Court program itself.
“I’m having a hard time seeing why my taxpayers owe $1.4 million for [TechShare.Court],” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
District 4 Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia pointed out, “Maintenance and Operations have to be done by the time we have the program.” She went on to discuss the upcoming vote in March regarding the funding of the entire Court project, saying, “I’m ready to vote ‘no’ and actually take the loss, and move on to something that we can actually achieve in less than four years.”
Daniel stood up for TechShare.Court, saying she feared pulling the plug on M&O funding on Court would affect the three fully operational TechShare programs being used by a number of counties: Juvenile, Indigent Defense, and Prosecutor.
“Our responsibility is to allow the whole entity to move forward,” Daniel said.
When District 3 Commissioner John Wiley Price asked if the county is contractually obligated to continue paying for Court, Jenkins noted their higher obligation to taxpayers. “We are $27 million of taxpayers’ money into a project that has shown no evidence that it will ever work, and if they want to sue us for $1.4 million dollars, I think they need to be careful about coming into a court with the situation they’re in.” Jenkins also pointed out Travis County has already pulled out of the project, further mentioning that he has always opposed the project in light of the availability of more affordable options.
Koch noted Dallas County taxpayers were only supposed to carry about $10 million of the burden for the total cost of TechShare.Court back in 2013, but over $27 million has since been spent on the program.
“Five million dollars more than the whole anticipated cost of the project back in 2013, is that correct?” Koch asked. “That’s insane.”
Koch said taxpayers shouldn’t have to keep throwing more money into the project.
“If [Tarrant County] Judge Glen Whitley and the rest of the folks that are in this want to front this fake software company anymore, they can do it, but this is totally insane,” Koch said. “There’s a certain county judge out there that is the ringleader of this … if he wants this to live, he’s going to have to pony up his taxpayer dollars, because we’ve done enough.” Texas Scorecard reported previously that Tarrant County commissioners unanimously approved more funding for Court in their own meeting last week.
Dallas County commissioners denied M&O funding for TechShare.Court 4-1, but Jenkins clarified the vote did not affect funding for any functioning TechShare software, nor was it a vote on whether or not to continue the Court project. That issue will be voted on in March, and Jenkins floated the idea of an outside audit of the project.
Additionally, the contract for a Quality and Assurance Analyst for TechShare.Court came up for renewal and was only renewed to February 15, as opposed to March, by a vote of 4-0 with one abstention.
Last year, Texas Scorecard reported that the election for Dallas County District 2 Commissioner would decide the future of TechShare.Court. Koch maintains that the program is a waste of taxpayer dollars and that this could be the deciding factor on its full implementation.