Report 2014-107 Recommendations

When an audit is completed and a report is issued, auditees must provide the State Auditor with information regarding their progress in implementing recommendations from our reports at three intervals from the release of the report: 60 days, six months, and one year. Additionally, Senate Bill 1452 (Chapter 452, Statutes of 2006), requires auditees who have not implemented recommendations after one year, to report to us and to the Legislature why they have not implemented them or to state when they intend to implement them. Below, is a listing of each recommendation the State Auditor made in the report referenced and a link to the most recent response from the auditee addressing their progress in implementing the recommendation and the State Auditor's assessment of auditee's response based on our review of the supporting documentation.

Recommendations in Report 2014-107: Judicial Branch of California: Because of Questionable Fiscal and Operational Decisions, the Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the Courts Have Not Maximized the Funds Available for the Courts (Release Date: January 2015)

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Recommendations to Administrative Office of the Courts
Number Recommendation Status
2

To ensure that its compensation structure is reasonable, the AOC should cease paying employees' share of retirement contributions.

Fully Implemented
3

To ensure that its compensation structure is reasonable, the AOC should mirror the executive branch's practices for offering leave buyback programs in terms of frequency and amount.

Will Not Implement
4

To increase its efficiency and decrease its travel expenses, the AOC should require its directors and managers to work in the same locations as the majority of their staff unless business needs clearly require the staff to work in different locations than their managers.

Will Not Implement
5

To ensure that it pays its employees the appropriate salaries for the locations in which they spend the majority of their work hours, the AOC should follow its policy to periodically verify that salary differentials are based on an employee's actual work location.

Fully Implemented
6

To justify maintaining its headquarters in San Francisco and its additional space in Burbank, the AOC should conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis of moving its operations to Sacramento. If the analysis determines that the financial benefits of consolidating its operations in Sacramento outweigh the costs of such a move, the AOC should begin the process of relocating to Sacramento.

Fully Implemented
7

To reduce its expenses, the AOC should implement a policy that requires it to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for using temporary workers, contractors, or consultants instead of state employees before employing temporary workers, contractors, or consultants to do the work of AOC employees.

Fully Implemented
8

To reduce its expenses, the AOC should follow its policies and procedures limiting the period of time it can employ temporary workers, and develop a similar policy to limit the use of contractors to a reasonable period of time but no more than one year.

Fully Implemented
9

To reduce its expenses, the AOC should conduct a cost-benefit analysis for maintaining its pool of vehicles. If the analysis finds that the cost of maintaining the vehicles outweighs the costs of having its employees use other means of transportation, such as their personal vehicles, the AOC should reduce the number of vehicles it owns and leases. Also, the AOC should track and periodically inventory the vehicles in its fleet.

Fully Implemented
10

To reduce its expenses, the AOC should cease reimbursing its office directors for parking at their headquarters by adopting the executive branch's parking reimbursement policies.

Fully Implemented
11

To reduce its expenses, the AOC should cease its excessive reimbursements for meals by adopting the executive branch's meal and travel reimbursement policies.

Will Not Implement
14

To ensure that it spends funds appropriately, the AOC should develop and implement controls to govern how its staff can spend judicial branch funds. These controls should include specific definitions of local assistance and support expenditures, written fiscal policies and procedures as the rules of court require, and a review process.

Not Fully Implemented
19

The AOC should conduct a comprehensive survey of the courts on a regular schedule—at least every five years—to ensure that the services it provides align with their responses. The AOC should re-evaluate any services that the courts identify as being of limited value or need.

Partially Implemented
20

To justify its budget and staffing levels, the AOC should conduct the steps in CalHR's workforce planning model in the appropriate order. It should begin by establishing its mission and creating a strategic plan based on the needs of the courts. It should then determine the services it should provide to achieve the goals of that plan. The AOC should base its future staffing changes on the foundation CalHR's workforce planning model provides. Finally, the AOC should develop and use performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of this effort.

Not Fully Implemented
Recommendations to Judicial Council of California
Number Recommendation Status
1

To ensure that the compensation the AOC provides is reasonable, the Judicial Council should adopt procedures that require a regular and thorough review of the AOC's compensation practices including an analysis of the job duties of each position to ensure that the compensation aligns with the requirements of the position. This review should include comparable executive branch salaries, along with a justification when an AOC position is compensated at a higher level than a comparable executive branch position.

Will Not Implement
15

The Judicial Council should develop rules of court that create a separate advisory body, or amend the current advisory committee's responsibilities and composition, that reports directly to the Judicial Council to review the AOC's state operations and local assistance expenditures in detail to ensure they are justified and prudent. This advisory body should be composed of subject matter experts with experience in public and judicial branch finance.

Partially Implemented
17

To increase transparency, the Judicial Council should conduct a more thorough review of the AOC's implementation of the evaluation committee's recommendations by more closely scrutinizing the actions the AOC asserts it has taken to complete directives.

Fully Implemented
18

To make the AOC's budget more understandable, the Judicial Council should require the AOC to report its budget in a more understandable and transparent manner, and in a manner that readily allows stakeholders and the public to know the full amount of the AOC's spending. Further, the Judicial Council should require the AOC to prepare and make public a high-level summary of how the judicial branch's budget relates to the appropriations from the State's budget.

Fully Implemented
21

To ensure that it provides services to the trial courts as efficiently as possible, the Judicial Council should explore implementing a fee-for-service model for selected services. These services could include those that are little used or of lesser value to the trial courts, as identified in our survey that we discuss in Chapter 3.

Not Fully Implemented
22

To justify the budget and staff level of the AOC, the Judicial Council should implement some or all of the best practices we identified to improve the transparency of AOC spending activities.

Not Fully Implemented
Recommendations to Legislature
Number Recommendation Status
12

Once the AOC has identified savings related to its compensation and business practices, the Legislature should consider ways to transfer this savings to the trial courts.

No Action Taken
13

To determine the cost to the State of providing support to the trial courts, the Legislature should take steps to clearly define the difference between local assistance expenditures and state operations expenditures. One method of accomplishing this would be to make the necessary statutory changes to classify as local assistance only those appropriations that the AOC passes directly to the trial courts or that the AOC expends on behalf of the trial courts with their explicit authorization. All other appropriations would be classified as state operations.

No Action Taken
16

To bring more transparency to the AOC's spending activities and to ensure that the AOC spends funds in a fiscally and legally prudent manner, the Legislature should require an annual independent financial audit of the AOC. This audit should examine the appropriateness of the AOC's spending of any local assistance funds.

No Action Taken


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