Friday, September 18, 2020
Sept. 18, 2020

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Clark County prosecutor again pitches new case system

Management system’s cost gives council pause

By , Columbian political reporter
Published:

During a work session Wednesday morning, Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik again made his case to the county council that they should approve spending more than half a million dollars for a new case management system that he said is necessary to keep his office and local courts functional.

Golik first approached the council in May requesting they authorize $550,000 on a new case management system used to track criminal justice records, along with $185,000 in annual maintenance fees. But, experiencing sticker shock and lingering questions about the request, the council voted it down 3-2. Council Chair Eileen Quiring and Councilor Julie Olson voted “yes.” Councilors Gary Medvigy, Temple Lentz and John Blom voted “no.”

“We don’t ask for stuff if we don’t have to have it,” Golik said. “I think that’s the right way to run a budget.”

Golik said the case management system imports information from other local law enforcement agencies and tracks about 7,500 cases annually while maintaining other records. The system is used to determine the criminal history of defendants and their offender scores, as well as find exculpatory evidence that could be used by the defense. It’s also used to generate statistics.

He said a routine audit conducted in April 2018 by the Washington State Patrol found that the system used by the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office was out of compliance with security requirements. The audit found that Clark County’s system doesn’t have a way to track users and their activities or generate tamper-proof audit logs. It doesn’t meet new password security requirements. Golik said he worked with county IT to try to bring the system into compliance but was unable to do so.

Golik said auditors determined the current case management system lacked security controls necessary to connect it to the National Crime Information Center, an expansive database run by the FBI that tracks criminal records. He said there are no “ifs, ands or buts” that his office could not function without access to it.

Councilor Gary Medvigy, a former California Superior Court judge and prosecutor, still had concerns about the ongoing cost of the system as well as questions about Golik’s decision-making.

“I just wanted to know, is this a good deal?” he asked. “Is this the best deal we can get for taxpayer money?”

Gayle Hutton, office manager for the prosecutor’s office, said that a request for proposals produced four responses from four different companies. She said they were evaluated by a county committee that also performed site visits to other county prosecutors’ offices in the state to see how newer systems worked.

Golik presented numbers showing that 94 percent ($10 million) of his office’s budget was for “non-controllables” — money for salaries and other expenses that couldn’t be redirected.

Councilor Temple Lentz said she was initially reluctant to approve the funding request because it had been presented as an “emergency” when the issue had been previously known. Councilor John Blom also asked if the new system would remain usable, which Golik was confident it would.

Though Golik said he was uncomfortable with the system being out of compliance, the Washington State Patrol would allow it to be used for the time being. He said he would resubmit his request as part of the county’s fall supplement to the budget or its 2020 annual budget.

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