United States General Accounting Office GAO Report to Congressional Requesters August 1999 D.C. COURTS Staffing Level Determination Could Be More Rigorous GAO/GGD-99-162 United States General Accounting Office General Government Division Washington, D.C. 20548 B-282696 August 27, 1999 The Honorable Ernest J. Istook Jr. Chairman, Subcommittee on the District of Columbia Committee on Appropriations House of Representatives The Honorable Tom Davis Chairman, Subcommittee on the District of Columbia Committee on Government Reform House of Representatives The Honorable James P. Moran Ranking Minority Member Subcommittee on the District of Columbia Committee on Appropriations House of Representatives This report responds in part to your request for information concerning personnel management in the District of Columbia courts. Specifically, this report provides information about staffing and workload levels for the courts from 1989 through 1998, assesses how the courts evaluate the sufficiency of the levels of nonjudicial staff who work on processing and disposition of cases, and compares the D.C. courts’ staffing methodology to other available methodologies. We will respond to the other parts of your request in a future report. Overall staffing levels in the D.C. courts increased between 1989 and 1990, Results in Brief declined slightly with some fluctuations through 1997, and then decreased below the 1989 level in 1998. Cases available for disposition increased slightly during this time in the D.C. Superior Court, the largest part of the courts, while its backlog increased substantially. The cases available for disposition, and the backlog, of the far smaller D.C. Court of Appeals increased steadily over this period. In both courts, the mix of different types of cases has changed over this period. District of Columbia court officials said that they consider caseload data, along with other data, in judging whether staffing levels are appropriate. For example, the Chief Judge of the Superior Court said that if the number of filings and case dispositions increased in a given branch, while the case backlog decreased, the implication is that the staffing level is appropriate. Page 1 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 According to court officials, staffing decisions are made on a year-by-year basis and are made individually for each division of the Superior Court and Court of Appeals. The courts’ methodology does not provide a comprehensive review of what staffing levels should be because it does not consider the amount of staff time and resources that are needed for case processing. Caseload trends alone do not show whether a unit is overstaffed or understaffed because they do not account for how much time is needed to process differing types of cases or for productivity improvements. For example, if a court’s caseload remained constant, but the types of cases shifted from those taking relatively smaller amounts of time to cases requiring much more time, the court could be understaffed for the amount of work required to process the cases. Methodologies that consider the amount of staff time and resources required to process different types of cases in determining the sufficiency of staffing levels do exist. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has devised a databased system to determine staffing levels needed for a given workload, and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) uses a databased system to distribute resources among the federal courts. We make a recommendation in this report that the D.C. courts review the amount of time needed to process cases to determine what staffing levels are sufficient to process the courts’ caseload. The District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of Background 1970 established the D.C. courts in their present form. The courts consist of the D.C. Superior Court, the D.C. Court of Appeals, and the D.C. Court System. Judges of the D.C. courts are appointed by the President and are subject to confirmation by the Senate. The D.C. Superior Court has general jurisdiction over virtually all local legal matters. It consists of 59 active full-time judges, several senior judges who work part-time, and 15 hearing commissioners who exercise limited judicial functions. The D.C. Superior Court has several divisions that process and dispose of cases, including divisions for civil, criminal, probate, and family cases. The court also has divisions that do not process cases but provide alternative dispute resolution services and handle the juvenile probation function. There are also divisions that perform support functions for the court, such as the personnel division. The D.C. Court of Appeals is the highest court in the District of Columbia. It has nine active full-time judges, and several senior judges serving part- Page 2 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 time, who usually sit in three-judge panels. Appeals from the D.C. Court of Appeals are taken to the U.S. Supreme Court. The D.C. Court System does not process cases but provides administrative services to the Superior Court and Court of Appeals, including fiscal services, education and training, data processing, personnel management, and court reporting. A Joint Committee on Judicial Administration governs the D.C. Courts. The Chief Judges of the D.C. Superior Court and D.C. Court of Appeals (both designated by the D.C. Judicial Nominations Commission from among the active judges for a 4-year term) serve on this committee, with the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals serving as committee chair. In addition, another Court of Appeals judge elected by the Court of Appeals judges, and two Superior Court judges elected by their colleagues, serve on the Joint Committee. The Joint Committee appoints an executive officer who serves at the pleasure of the Joint Committee. The executive officer is responsible for the administration of the courts and can appoint and remove, with the consent of the Joint Committee, all D.C. court personnel (including the Clerks of the Superior Court and Court of Appeals) except for the judges’ law clerks and secretaries and the D.C. Register of Wills. Until fiscal year 1998, the D.C. courts’ budget was submitted by the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration, through the D.C. Mayor and Council, to the President and Congress. The budget was forwarded by the Mayor and Council without revision but subject to recommendations. The D.C. Revitalization Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-33) changed this process so that the Joint Committee now submits its budget directly to the Office of Management and Budget, and the Courts’ estimates are included in the President’s budget submission to Congress, without revision but subject to the President’s recommendations. Our objectives were to provide information on staffing and workload Objectives, Scope, and levels for the D.C. courts from 1989 through 1998, assess how the D.C. Methodology courts evaluate the sufficiency of their nonjudicial case processing staff levels, and compare the D.C. courts’ methodologies to other available methodologies. For the purpose of this review, we defined staff as personnel who perform case processing and disposition functions for the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals, such as clerks, bailiffs, court reporters, administrators, and so on. This definition does not include judges or their law clerks and secretaries. Page 3 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 To achieve the first objective, we obtained from the courts copies of their annual reports from 1989 through 1998, which contain workload data. We obtained staffing level data for 1989 through 1998 from the Executive Office of the D.C. Courts. We did not independently verify data obtained from the courts. To achieve the second objective, we obtained relevant reports and documents from the D.C. courts and interviewed the clerks of the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals and the acting personnel director for the D.C. courts. We subsequently sent a letter to the Chief Judges of the Superior Court and Court of Appeals, asking for a statement of how staff levels were determined and for a statement of the courts’ position concerning the possibility of a databased study of staffing levels. We received separate replies from the Chief Judges of the Superior Court and Court of Appeals, the contents of which are discussed in this report. We also surveyed a representative sample of D.C. court employees in February 1999 on their perceptions of personnel management in the D.C. courts; several of the questions in the survey referred to staffing. To achieve the third objective, we held discussions with officials of AOUSC and reviewed documents provided by these officials. We also discussed state court staffing with officials of NCSC, which is a clearinghouse for state court information and which provides consulting, conference, and educational services to the state courts. We obtained documents from NCSC concerning its methodology for state court staffing reviews and information on actual reviews done in several states. We did our work from January through June 1999 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We requested comments from the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration of the D.C. courts. The comments are discussed near the end of this letter and reprinted in appendix I. As shown in table 1, staffing levels in the D.C. courts, excluding judges and Trends in D.C. Courts’ their law clerks and secretaries, as measured by full-time equivalents Staffing and Workload (FTE), were 5.7 percent lower in fiscal year 1998 than in fiscal year 1989. There was about a 10 percent increase in FTE levels for 1990 compared with 1989. FTE levels fluctuated between 1,231 and 1,187 during the period from fiscal year 1990 through fiscal year 1997. There was a decrease of about 11 percent in FTE levels in fiscal year 1998. Page 4 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 Table 1: D.C. Court FTEs, Fiscal Years 1989 Through 1998 FY 1989 FY 1990 FY 1991 FY 1992 FY 1993 FY 1994 FY 1995 FY 1996 FY 1997 FY 1998 a Superior Court 1,005 1,100 1,090 1,063 1,082 1,071 1,057 1,058 1,032 889 a Court of Appeals 34 41 41 41 43 47 43 42 44 47 Court System 77 90 93 98 93 103 106 102 111 116 Total 1,116 1,231 1,224 1,202 1,218 1,221 1,206 1,202 1,187 1,052 a Excludes judges and their law clerks and secretaries. Source: Executive Office of the D.C. Courts. FTEs in the Superior Court increased by approximately 10 percent between fiscal years 1989 and 1990; declined, with some fluctuations, by about 6 percent through fiscal year 1997; then decreased by about 14 percent in fiscal year 1998. According to a court official, most of the increase in FTEs in 1990 was due to staff associated with eight additional judgeships that were filled in that year. Much of the 1998 decrease in FTEs was attributed to the removal from the courts of the responsibility for 1 adult probation by the D.C. Revitalization Act of 1997. The FTEs for the Court of Appeals increased by approximately 21 percent between fiscal years 1989 and 1990 and then remained relatively constant thereafter. The stability in FTEs after 1990 was associated with the institution of a case management system in 1990 that was aimed at enhancing the efficiency of processing appeals. The Court System, although not directly involved in case processing or disposition, was the only part of the courts to show FTE increases during almost all of this period, with the fiscal year 1998 FTE level 50.6 percent above that of 1989. The rise in staffing levels in the Court System, according to the Executive Officer of the D.C. courts, was due to an increase from 51 to 59 Superior Court judges in 1990, the assumption by the courts (from the D.C. Department of Administrative Services) of responsibility for janitorial services in court buildings in 1993, and the assumption by the courts (from the D.C. Department of Public Works) of responsibility for all maintenance of court buildings in 1996. Table 2 shows the workload of the Superior Court during the calendar year period from 1989 through 1998. Cases available for disposition in the 1 According to a D.C. courts official, the decrease in the Superior Court’s FTEs from 1,032 in fiscal year 1997 to 889 in fiscal year 1998 resulted from the Superior Court’s transferring 163 filled positions to the Court Services and Offender Supervision Trustee for the District of Columbia, created by the D.C. Revitalization Act, and the normal fluctuation in staffing (i.e., filling vacant authorized positions). This resulted in a net loss of approximately140 FTEs between fiscal year 1997 and fiscal year 1998. Page 5 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 Superior Court decreased 2.8 percent during this period, while cases pending increased 36.5 percent. Table 2: Superior Court Workload, 1989 Through 1998 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 Cases available a for disposition 244,405 241,204 248,752 255,194 247,186 243,141 242,885 241,131 241,201 237,612 b Percent change N/A (1.3) 3.1 2.6 (3.1) (1.6) (0.1) (0.7) 0.0 (1.5) Cases pending (year end) 39,925 39,509 49,501 47,896 45,229 52,219 43,834 52,087 53,786 54,513 Percent change 5.6 (0.7) 25.1 (2.4) (5.1) 15.5 (16.1) 17.7 3.3 1.4 a Includes cases pending at the beginning of the year, cases filed in current year, and cases filed in previous years that were reactivated or became “at issue” during the year. b N/A represents not applicable. Sources: Annual Reports of the D.C. Courts and Executive Office of the D.C. Courts. The overall workload statistics shown in table 2 are combinations of different types of cases, and the mix of case types in the workload can vary over time. For example, of cases filed in 1989, 13.0 percent were felony cases, and 15.9 percent were misdemeanor or traffic cases. In 1998, 5.8 percent of filings were felony cases, and 19.9 percent were misdemeanor or traffic cases. Court officials pointed out several factors that have the potential of affecting their pending caseload, in addition to changes in the mix of cases over time. For example, the use of therapeutic case processing alternatives, such as those used in drug court or with domestic violence cases, may extend the life of a case on a pending caseload while they also result in the rehabilitation of the offender. The caseload of the D.C. Court of Appeals significantly increased during this same period, as shown in table 3. Table 3: D. C. Court of Appeals Workload, 1989 Through 1998 a 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 Cases available b for disposition 3,881 3,887 3,616 3,463 3,646 3,680 3,925 4,454 4,763 4,592 Percent change (2.3) 0.0 (7.0) (4.2) 5.3 0.1 6.7 13.5 6.9 (3.6) Cases pending (year-end) 2,283 2,089 1,853 1,945 1,991 2,093 2,443 2,671 2,634 2,694 Percent change (2.7) (8.5) (11.3) 5.0 2.4 5.1 16.7 9.3 (1.4) 2.3 a In 1994 the Court of Appeals revised its data reporting to exclude rehearings from its case totals. The Court made this revision for prior year data, from 1990 through 1993 but not for 1989 data. There were 19 rehearings granted in 1989, 27 in 1990, 40 in 1991, 33 in 1992, and 23 in 1993. b Includes cases pending at the beginning of the year, cases filed during the year, and cases reinstated. Sources: Annual Reports of the D.C. Courts and Executive Office of the D.C. Courts. Page 6 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 The total number of Court of Appeals cases available for disposition in 1998 was 18.3 percent greater than in 1989, and the number of pending cases at year-end was 18.0 percent greater. In 1989, 42.3 percent of the court’s new filings were criminal cases, and 32.1 percent were civil cases; of 1998 filings, 39.4 percent were criminal, and 23.2 percent were civil. In both years, the balance of the cases fell into a number of categories, including family or agency proceedings. Overall appeal filings were 28 percent higher in 1998 than in 1989. 2 In three reports issued from 1980 through 1990, we recommended to How the D. C. Courts certain federal agencies increased emphasis on workforce planning and set Evaluate Sufficiency of forth the basic elements of such planning. Among these elements was that Staffing Levels of identifying the number of employees needed to accomplish agency goals. We specifically identified collecting and analyzing data on staff time required to fulfill agency goals as an important element of workforce planning. We asked D.C. court officials how they evaluate staffing needs. Officials of the D.C. courts said that workload data are used to assess the staffing needs of the courts. The Chief Judge of the Superior Court said that he monitors the court’s case inventory and case processing and relies on actual observation of service delivery and review of customer complaints and compliments. According to the chief judge, if customers are being “courteously, fairly, accurately, and expeditiously serviced,” the court’s workforce is considered appropriate for its needs. The chief judge gave several examples of such assessments. One example referred to the Felony Branch of the Criminal Division, for which filings and dispositions had declined from 1994 through 1998, and cases pending and the backlog had decreased in the same period. According to the chief judge, this implied that case processing is within acceptable limits and that therefore the branch’s workforce is appropriate. The chief judge also noted, however, that other branches’ backlogs have increased, indicating that their staffing was not sufficient. He cited as an example the Misdemeanor and Traffic Branch of the Criminal Division, for which the backlog increased substantially, from 1996 through 1998, although case filings and dispositions went up and down in volume from year to year. 2 Federal Work Force Planning: Time for Renewed Emphasis (FPCD-81-4, Dec. 30,1980); Managing Human Resources: Greater OPM Leadership Needed to Address Critical Challenges (GAO/GGD-89-19, Jan. 19, 1989); U.S. Department of Agriculture: Need for Improved Workforce Planning (GAO/RCED-90- 97, Mar. 6, 1990). Page 7 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 The Clerk of the Superior Court told us that decisions on changes in staffing from the previous year are made separately for each division of the court. If a division director indicates more staff is needed, the clerk will try to meet those needs by moving members of the workforce around between 3 working units while maintaining the same overall workforce numbers. The clerk said that he will usually approve new hiring only for a new function or program. The clerk is to send staffing recommendations to the executive officer and the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration for inclusion in the budget. Similar to the Chief Judge of the Superior Court, the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals also said that the court uses indicators such as case filings, number and types of dispositions, cases pending, time involved in various stages of the process, and general mix of cases. With these data, according to the chief judge, the clerk and staff of the court identify staffing needs and possible management efficiencies. The Clerk of the Court of Appeals said that, as with the Superior Court, staffing decisions are made on a functional basis for each division of the court, rather than for the court as a whole. We also obtained the perspective of D.C. court employees concerning court staffing. As part of our overall review of personnel practices in the D.C. courts, we mailed out a questionnaire in February 1999 to a random, representative sample of court employees to get their views on the courts’ personnel practices. More than 70 percent of those employees in the sample who were working for the courts answered our questionnaire. In addition to their perceptions regarding selected personnel practices, we asked for their views on the adequacy of staffing levels. We estimated that about 40 percent of the courts’ employees would agree or strongly agree that their work unit had a sufficient number of employees to do its job and about 49 percent would disagree or strongly disagree, while the remaining percentage would neither agree nor disagree, not be sure, or have no basis to judge. A similar question was asked of federal employees in a 1996 governmentwide survey. About 43 percent said their work unit had a sufficient number of employees, while about 47 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed and the remaining percentage neither agreed nor disagreed. 3 According to the Executive Office of the D.C. courts, transfers of personnel between the Superior Court, Court of Appeals, and Court System are possible, but rarely happen in practice. Page 8 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 The federal court system and some state court systems use formulas based Methods Used by on court workload data to determine satisfactory levels of staffing and Other Courts resources. The federal court system uses a databased system to distribute resources to the U.S. Appellate, District, and Bankruptcy Courts, and the Probation and Pretrial Services Offices. Prior to the adoption of this system, these courts had received resources on the basis of total number of people employed and cases heard in a given year. However, court administrators came to realize that this system did not distribute resources efficiently because it did not take into account that certain types of court activities will take more time and resources than other types of activities. The system is based on a large number of various workload statistics, which are fed into “work measurement formulas.” Based on the statistics and the formulas, a specific number of “work units” are allocated to each federal judicial district and circuit. Such work units consider tasks associated with the nature and types of cases, given a standard rate of efficiency (how much time and resources such cases should take). Each work unit is equal to a certain amount of money, the exact amount depending on overall budget levels. The managers of each court can use their allocation to hire or retain staff or to make capital purchases to improve court productivity. NCSC has developed and promulgated a “weighted caseload” system. Under this system, officials determine how much time is taken up by different types of cases in the court or courts under study. The officials then determine how much judge or staff time is taken up by the court’s caseload as “weighted” by the time factor and compare total judge or staff years, as calculated, with the actual judges or staff available. How much time is taken up by a certain type of case can be determined by actual measurement of cases in court or by the “Delphi” method of getting judges, staff, or outside experts to estimate the length of time certain cases would take. For example, if a court had five full-time staff members (and thus 5 staff years), and it was determined that the court’s annual workload would take 7 staff years to complete, there would be a need for two additional staff members. However, it could also be found that the court’s workload required only 4 staff years, in which case there would be one more staff member than needed. This system was developed to give state government decisionmakers an independent, objective way to evaluate the need for court personnel, based on the actual amount of time and resources different court activities should take. It has been used in at least 11 states, in most instances to determine how many judges are needed in a state. However, the method has been used to determine appropriate levels of court staff in New Jersey, Page 9 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 Colorado, and Kentucky. In Colorado, a weighted caseload study led to the addition of 30 to 40 court staffers statewide. In Kentucky, NCSC found that the level of case processing staff was appropriate in rural counties but that urban areas may need more staff. In promulgating this method and advocating its use, NCSC acknowledges that decisions on the size of a court or court staff cannot, and should not, be based solely on results obtained by a statistical model. Data from the model, according to NCSC, must be interpreted in a social, cultural, and political context, and factors peculiar to each court and court circuit should be considered. We asked the D.C. courts for their views on having a databased analysis done on the staffing of the courts, what advantages or disadvantages there would be in such an analysis, and whether there were features and qualities of the D.C. courts that would preclude such an analysis. The Chief Judge of the Superior Court had no objection to databased analysis of the court’s support staff, based on the work protocols used in the federal courts, provided that the actual instrument used was developed under the court’s supervision. He believed such an analysis could be helpful to more accurately measure the appropriate workforce for divisions that did not process cases and to check the present case processing measurement used in the clerk’s office. The Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, in her response, indicated that NCSC has had a great deal of experience with methodologies that might be effectively used for such a study and, therefore, is in a better position to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each. According to the chief judge, the primary determinants for a court system in doing such studies are resource related, and such studies seem to address discrete components of the court. The chief judge pointed out that the D.C. courts were a two-tiered system as opposed to the three-tiered system that exists 4 in most states. She said that whether there are unique features that would impede such an analysis in the D.C. courts might depend upon which area of the courts is selected for study. The chief judge added that, given the small size of the Court of Appeals, the cost of any study of it would likely outweigh the benefits. 4 The D.C. courts have two levels—the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals. Eleven state systems also have two levels; the remaining state systems have a lower court, an intermediate court, and a court of final appeal. Page 10 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 While D.C. court officials apparently consider caseload data in judging Conclusion whether staffing levels are adequate, they have not measured the amount of time required by case processing staff to process differing types of cases nor used such data to determine whether the size of the courts’ workforce is inadequate, adequate, or excessive for the work of the courts. Workload and formula-based methods of assessing the adequacy of case processing staffing levels do exist and are in use in the federal and state courts. Whether the D.C. courts have too many or too few case processing staff for their caseload is a question that cannot be answered without a systematic study. The Chief Judge of the Superior Court believed that such a study employing the work measurement protocol used in the federal judiciary could be helpful. The Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals questioned whether the small size of the appeals court would make a study of the court cost-beneficial. While we believe that the results of such a study could serve as a baseline for the courts and Congress to evaluate court staffing in the future, we recognize that in planning such a project the D.C. courts should weigh potential costs and benefits in determining the project’s scope, including the components that should or should not be covered. We recommend that the D.C. courts review the amount of time required to Recommendation process different types of cases and analyze other elements of the courts’ workload to determine what staffing levels are sufficient to process the D.C. courts’ caseload. We recommend that, before planning or implementing such a review (including selecting components to be covered and balancing costs and benefits), the courts consult with others who have used workload-based methodologies to evaluate court case processing staffing levels. The Chair of the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration of the D.C. D.C. Courts’ Courts provided the courts’ written comments on a draft of this report. The Comments and Our courts said that they had no objection to conducting a study of staffing Evaluation levels using a workload-based methodology, provided that funds are available. They asked that we include a request for such funds in our recommendation. The courts also pointed out that the methodology employed by NCSC, as explained in the draft, has been used in only three states and suggested that we make clear that the courts use a number of factors in assessing the need for staff, most of which are used in other jurisdictions. Page 11 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 We recognize that the determinants for doing such a study include resource issues. Once the necessary planning for such a study is completed, including determining its scope, we believe it would be appropriate for the courts to consult with Congress on the matter of funding. To the best of our knowledge and that of NCSC, only three states have done such a study. However, this is not to say that other jurisdictions have not conducted databased studies to assess the adequacy of their staffing levels using similar methodologies. We did not examine that issue. Our objective was to point out that workload-based methodologies exist. The courts said that our description of its methodology for determining staffing needs was inaccurate, apparently because we did not refer to internal budget requests that are prepared by court divisions. We did not do so because the budget requests dealt with staffing needs only in an incremental manner. Where division managers requested individual staff, they did so to meet an increase in workload from the previous year, such as when the court took on a new statutory responsibility; in these cases, there was no attempt to review whether a division’s staffing level was appropriate for its overall workload. Our depiction of the courts’ methodology for assessing the adequacy of staffing levels was based on descriptions provided by officials of the Superior Court and Court of Appeals. The courts took exception to our reference in the draft report to previous reports issued by GAO recommending increased emphasis on workload planning by federal agencies. The courts believed that our reference to these reports is misleading and gives the impression that the courts were mandated to follow these earlier recommendations. The courts were not mandated to follow these earlier recommendations. We believe these reports provide useful context for our recommendations, and we specifically point out in the text of this report that the recommendations were made to certain federal agencies. The courts elaborated on the staffing and workload data provided in the draft report. They also provided technical clarifications as well as suggestions for the report’s presentation. We incorporated these as appropriate. Page 12 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing B-282696 We are providing a copy of this report to Representatives C.W. Bill Young, Chairman, and David Obey, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Appropriations; Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on the District of Columbia, Committee on Government Reform; Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, Chairwoman, and Richard Durbin, Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on the District of Columbia, Committee on Appropriations; Senator George Voinovich, Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia, Committee on Governmental Affairs; and Representative Julian Dixon. We are also providing copies to the District of Columbia courts, the National Center for State Courts, and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. We will make copies available to others on request. If you have any questions, please call me at (202) 512-8676. Key contributors to the report included Richard W. Caradine, Domingo D. Nieves, and Steven J. Berke. Michael Brostek Associate Director, Federal Management and Workforce Issues Page 13 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing Contents Letter 1 Appendix I 16 GAO Comments 24 Comments From the D.C. Courts Tables Table 1: D.C. Court FTEs, Fiscal Years 1989 Through 5 1998 Table 2: Superior Court Workload, 1989 Through 1998 6 Table 3: D. C. Court of Appeals Workload, 1989 Through 6 1998 Abbreviations AOUSC Administrative Office of the United States Courts FTE full-time equivalent NCSC National Center for State Courts Page 14 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts’ Staffing Page 15 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts’ Staffing Appendix I Comments From the D.C. Courts Note: GAO comments supplementing those in the report text appear at the end of this appendix. Page 16 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing Appendix I Comments From the D.C. Courts See p. 12. See comment 1. Now p. 1. Page 17 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing Appendix I Comments From the D.C. Courts Now p. 1. See comment 2. Now pp. 1-2. See p. 12. See comment 3. See comment 4. Now p. 2. Now p. 2. Now pp. 2-3. Now p. 3. Page 18 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing Appendix I Comments From the D.C. Courts Now p. 3. Now p. 3. Now p. 3. Now p. 5. See comment 5. See p. 5. Now p. 6. See comment 6. Page 19 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing Appendix I Comments From the D.C. Courts Now p. 6. See comment 7. Now p. 7. Page 20 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing Appendix I Comments From the D.C. Courts See p. 12. See comment 8. Page 21 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing Appendix I Comments From the D.C. Courts Page 22 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing Appendix I Comments From the D.C. Courts Page 23 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing Appendix I Comments From the D.C. Courts The following are GAO’s comments on the letter from the Chair of the GAO Comments Joint Committee on Judicial Administration of the D.C. Courts, dated August 17, 1999: 1. The courts recommended a change in the title of our report. We believe that the title is objective and accurately reflects our conclusions and recommendation. 2. The courts noted an inconsistency between our characterization of the D.C. Court of Appeals caseload on page 1 and elsewhere in the body of the report. We have corrected page 1. 3. The courts suggested that wording used in the body of the report to discuss Court of Appeals staffing methodology be reproduced in the Results in Brief. The purpose of Results in Brief is to summarize the discussion in the body of the report; replicating the entire discussion in the body would be redundant. 4. The courts made a number of suggestions for technical revisions in the Background section of our report. We have made these revisions in the Background section of our report where appropriate. 5. The courts provided FTE data exclusive of judges and their law clerks and secretaries. We have adjusted table 1 on page 5 to reflect this data. 6. The courts commented that our presentation of workload data did not present a complete picture in that it did not reflect the causal factors that account for increased backlog. We included some of the courts’ explanation on page 6. 7. The courts suggested we include data on appeal filings in our presentation of Court of Appeals caseload data. We have done so in the text on page 7. 8. The Courts said that our recommendation should include a request that funds be appropriated to cover the cost of a databased study. We address this issue on page 12. Page 24 GAO/GGD-99-162 D.C. Courts' Staffing Ordering Information The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free. Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the following address, accompanied by a check or money order made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when necessary. VISA and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, also. Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address are discounted 25 percent. Order by mail: U.S. General Accounting Office P.O. Box 37050 Washington, DC 20013 or visit: Room 1100 th th 700 4 St. NW (corner of 4 and G Sts. NW) U.S. General Accounting Office Washington, DC Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000 or by using fax number (202) 512-6061, or TDD (202) 512-2537. Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and testimony. To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any list from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a touch-tone phone. A recorded menu will provide information on how to obtain these lists. For information on how to access GAO reports on the INTERNET, send e-mail message with “info” in the body to: email@example.com or visit GAO’s World Wide Web Home Page at: http://www.gao.gov United States Bulk Rate General Accounting Office Postage & Fees Paid Washington, D.C. 20548-0001 GAO Permit No. G100 Official Business Penalty for Private Use $300 Address Correction Requested (410415)
D.C. Courts: Staffing Level Determination Could Be More Rigorous
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-08-27.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)