Report 2014-107 Recommendation 19 Responses

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)

Recommendation #19 To: Administrative Office of the Courts

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.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From December 2017

The Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council) expects to periodically survey judicial branch entities as a component of its Operational Planning and Alignment (OPA) activities. A pilot survey was sent to trial and appellate courts for select services in May 2016, and the results are being evaluated to inform the design of future surveys. However, progress on OPA has been temporarily delayed as the Judicial Council's staff have been focused on disbursing and administering roughly $25 million in grants—as directed by the Legislature—through the highly detailed and competitive Court Innovations Grant Program. Regardless, the Judicial Council remains committed to the OPA evaluation process, which will be a continuing effort that does not have a formalized end date.

  • Estimated Completion Date: 12/30/2018

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Partially Implemented


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From November 2016

The Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council) has adopted a structured methodology for operational planning and alignment that includes a structure for regular surveying of council customers. In May of 2016, the Judicial Council conducted its first survey of trial and appellate courts for select services. The survey design will serve as the model for all future surveys.

  • Completion Date: May 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Partially Implemented

Information that the AOC provided in response to our follow-up questions showed that its survey was intended to be the start of a process to fully survey the service it provides to the trial courts. Resolution of our recommendation will involve a comprehensive survey of all services the AOC provides as well as adoption of policy to perform that survey on a regular schedule.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

1-Year Agency Response

The approach and timeframe outlined in the six-month response are on track.

  • Estimated Completion Date: Second quarter of 2017
  • Response Date: January 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Pending

In response to our inquiry of when it would complete its actions, the AOC provided us with the following timeline:

2015: 3rd—4th Quarter

- Operational planning and alignment—planning and initiation

- Customer Input: 4 in-person listening sessions convened with trial and appellate leadership of small, medium, and large courts on current services and future needs

- Analysis initiated to inform planned survey

2016: 1st—2nd Quarter

- Customer input

o Listening sessions with Supreme Court and Judicial Council members

o Follow-up with statewide survey to customers/clients

- Survey analysis on customer and staff operations needs

- Operational plan and performance measures development building on Judicial Council strategic plan foundation

2016: 3rd Quarter—2017: 2nd Quarter

- Develop structure for obtaining ongoing customer input

- Develop methodology to implement organization-wide workload analysis and evaluate future staffing needs

2017: 2nd Quarter/Ongoing

- Organizational effectiveness evaluation using performance measures


6-Month Agency Response

The Judicial Council has reevaluated the previously submitted timeline for this and related expansive recommendations and reduced it by six months. We now anticipate completing all tasks associated with the recommendations in Chapters 3 and 4 of the audit report by the second quarter of 2017.

  • Estimated Completion Date: Second quarter of 2017
  • Response Date: July 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending


60-Day Agency Response

We view Ch. 3 and Ch. 4 as interrelated and are, therefore, providing a combined response on recommendations. CalHR's workforce planning model is an important succession planning tool to build a sustainable workforce. However, we believe a broader organizational assessment will better address the intent of the recommendations, and ensure that council business is conducted efficiently and effectively while providing needed services to all stakeholders. The assessment will incorporate CSA recommendations with additional grounding in industry standard models (Amer. Soc. for Public Admin. and the Baldridge Nat. Quality Program from the Nat. Inst. of Standards and Tech). It will be conducted to: 1. Identify stakeholders needs; 2. Develop a strategic plan to meet those needs; and 3. Develop performance measures that allow management to determine success toward completing strategic objectives. This approach generally will follow the sequence set out below as certain elements depend on the completion of others: 1. (QTR 2, 2016): a) Conduct a comprehensive survey of courts on a regular basis—at least every 5 years—to ensure services provided align with their responses. Re-evaluate any services courts identify as being of limited value or need. (Ch. 3, rec. 1); b) Establish customer needs. (Ch. 4, rec. 2); 2. (QTR 1, 2017): a) Identify necessary work functions based on customer needs (Ch. 4, rec. 2); b) Establish mission, create a strategic plan based on court needs, and determine services to provide to achieve plan goals (Ch. 3, rec. 2); 3. (QTR 2, 2017) Conduct workload analysis (Ch. 4, rec. 2.); 4. (QTR 2, 2017): a) Create, track, and monitor performance measures; b) Evaluate performance-based budgeting for adoption (Ch. 4, rec. 2); 5. (QTR 4, 2017) Implement a protocol to calculate future staffing needs and changes based on workload analysis (Ch. 3, rec. 2); 6. (Ongoing) Periodically evaluate organizational effectiveness using performance measures (Ch.3, rec. 2)

  • Estimated Completion Date: Second quarter of 2015 with phased completion through fourth quarter of 2017
  • Response Date: March 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending

We acknowledge that some of our recommendations require significant and time-intensive steps. However, we are concerned with the amount of time the AOC estimates it needs to complete the various steps. In particular, the AOC notes that it will not complete its development of a strategic plan until the first quarter of 2017, after it identifies the needs of its stakeholders--the courts. Our report suggests that developing a strategic plan and identifying the needs of stakeholders can take place concurrently. Thus we believe that, at minimum, the AOC should begin its strategic planning process as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the results of the identification of customer needs. We look forward to reviewing the AOC's updated timelines for completion of these various steps.


All Recommendations in 2014-107

Agency responses received are posted verbatim.