Dallas County approves jail software vendor with questionable track record

Dallas County Commissioners decided Tuesday to invest millions of more tax dollars into an organization that has failed to deliver what it promised on time.

FOX4 first reported about two years ago on problems with TechShare Courts, a computer system Dallas County was trying to build from the ground up. Now the county has approved TechShare to develop the county's jail software.

Dallas County judges were supposed to have a new software program a year ago. The one they use now has been in use since the 1980's.

County Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia has heard the complaints and now does not understand why the county would want to expand the software development program to the county's jail.

"We have been working with TechShare for 6 years. $26 million project. We are 1 year late. Only 1.2 million left,” Garcia said.

Garcia argued that off the shelf software would cost $3-5 million compared with TechShare's pricetag of $11 to 13 million.

"From the business standpoint, this just does not make sense,” Garcia said.

The theory of TechShare, the brainchild of County Commissioner Mike Cantrell, is that it would save the county money because the county would own its own software code. They could then take that code and sell it to counties around the country.

"The whole basis of TechShare is it is silly to reinvent the same wheel 254 times,” said John Dahill, Texas Conference of Urban Counties.

But the problem is only two counties have bought in: Dallas and Tarrant.

"You've had limited return on investment,” said Charles Gray, Texas Conference of Urban Counties.

The TCUC, the non-profit developing the software, admitted Tuesday it’s have problems.

"It's hard for us to close a deal outside of Texas,” Gray said. “They look at who we are, a small non-profit organization. They think can they really support us?"