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Corrections Department Seeks $42M+ for Tech Modernization, Expansion

The funding would enable the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to pursue projects including tele-mental health services and a new Medi-Cal billing system.

Closeup of a the right sleeve of a gray uniform a person is wearing with a patch on the sleeve that says "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation" and shows that department's logo.
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With about two weeks until lawmakers must approve a state budget, the state corrections department is asking for millions in funding for ongoing IT projects.

In so-called “spring finance letters” from California Department of Finance (DOF) leadership to Senate and Assembly budget committees, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) seeks nearly $43 million in increases. Gov. Gavin Newsom released the May Revision to his budget May 12. Per the state constitution, the Legislature must approve a budget by June 15, about two weeks before the July 1 start of the new fiscal year. Relative to Newsom’s original proposal, CDCR’s total budget would decline a little more than half a percent, from about $18.6 billion to about $18.5 billion, with rounding. Among the takeaways:

  • CDCR seeks an expansion of “Tele-Mental Health Services.” The department is calling for an increase of nearly $10.1 million and 85 positions in FY 2023-24 and about $17.3 million and 144 positions starting in FY 2024-25 to “expand the use of tele-mental health within the Statewide Mental Health Program to include psychology and social work disciplines in addition to psychiatry.” The stated goal is to give CDCR more tools with which to provide patients “quality mental health care” and recruit and retain clinicians.
  • The department seeks an increase of $207,000 and 12 positions “one-time” in FY 2023-24, about $4.5 million one-time in FY 2024-25 and about $3.7 million one-time in FY 2025-26 for the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) Justice-Involved Initiative — Medi-Cal Billing System. CDCR asks that “reimbursements be increased by $3.1 million one-time in FY 2023-24.” The adjustments, it said, are necessary to create an IT-based “Medi-Cal billing system to support the implementation of CalAIM.” CDCR asks for the addition of provisional language to “recognize potential grant funding” available in FY 2023-24. Per provisional language, the $207,000 would be available to develop that billing system in conjunction with implementing CalAIM — but at the order of the DOF, the amount could be adjusted according to resources received via the Department of Health Care Services’ Providing Access and Transforming Health (PATH) initiative.
  • CDCR seeks about $4.2 million and one position one-time and about $2.6 million and one position ongoing for “Board of Parole Hearings Budget Augmentation to Support Core Functions.” The funding would go toward “attorney fees, additional Americans with Disabilities Act and mental health related workload, attorney training and monitoring” — and toward the board’s IT system maintenance contract.
  • CDCR asks for a one-time increase of $391,000 in FY 2023-24 — and an ongoing decrease of $2.8 million for “eDiscovery Ongoing Needs,” to match available resources for its eDiscovery project with “refined cost estimates.” When done, the project will bring automation to the eDiscovery process, plus “timely identification and storage of digital evidence.”
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.