January 14, 2021
The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
Sacramento, California 95814
Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:
As required by state law, my office conducted an audit of certain judicial branch entities’ compliance with the requirements of the California Judicial Branch Contract Law (judicial contract law), Public Contract Code sections 19201 through 19210. The judicial contract law requires the Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council) to adopt and publish a Judicial Branch Contracting Manual (judicial contracting manual) that is consistent with the Public Contract Code and establishes the policies and procedures for procurement and contracting that all judicial branch entities, including superior courts, must follow.
This report concludes that the five courts we reviewed for this audit—the superior courts in Alameda, Contra Costa, Lake, Orange, and San Bernardino counties—adhered to most of the required and recommended procurement and contracting practices that we evaluated, but they could improve in certain areas. Specifically, three courts did not always follow required or recommended payment practices that help to safeguard public funds. For example, the Alameda court made $16,000 in questionable payments because it did not match invoices to appropriate supporting documentation for two payments we reviewed. In addition, four courts have failed to consistently comply with state law requiring them to notify my office when they enter into high-value contracts, which limits my office’s ability to identify in a timely and accurate manner contracts that may warrant review. Finally, two courts could improve their local contracting manuals by including certain information, such as a policy on legal review of contracts, that the judicial contracting manual recommends and the courts had no compelling reason to exclude.
ELAINE M. HOWLE, CPA
California State Auditor