Report 2014-107 Recommendation 20 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 #20 To: Administrative Office of the Courts

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.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2018

After continuous consideration, multiple starts, and upon further reflection, the Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council) is changing the status of this recommendation to "Will Not Implement." In our previous responses, we had referenced our Operational Planning and Alignment (OPA) activities and periodic surveys of the courts. While these efforts are valuable and will continue, the Judicial Council respectfully disagrees that these court surveys should be the primary determinant of how our administrative staff prioritize their work. The Judicial Council and its staff have continued to support the tenets of its Strategic Plan developed in 2006 and updated in 2016. It is important to recognize that the judicial branch's strategic plan was approved by the voting members of the Judicial Council, who each serve on different appellate and superior courts across the State and thus bring diverse views to branch-wide policy making. Under California Rules of Court, Judicial Council members commit themselves to acting in the best interest of the judicial system as a whole and do not represent any particular constituency, despite their primary roles as judicial officers or court executives at specific courts. The State Auditor's recommendation—while thoughtful and well-intentioned—seeks to alter how our administrative staff prioritize their work by replacing the guidance provided by the Judicial Council's voting members with court-specific needs assessments. As the constitutional policy-making body of the judicial branch, the Judicial Council at times does and may need to create policies that will be unpopular with certain courts or individual stakeholders. Our administrative staff are needed most to effectuate the Judicial Council's policy decisions, and their work should not otherwise be prioritized based on the court-specific preferences of either the Courts of Appeal or the State's 58 superior courts.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Will Not Implement


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, which will be used to further inform policy decisions regarding staffing levels and services. A pilot survey was sent to trial and appellate courts in May 2016. However, progress on OPA has been temporarily delayed due to the Judicial Council's focus on awarding, disbursing, and monitoring roughly $25 million in grants provided under the Court Innovations Grant Program. Significant resources have been committed to developing grant requirements, evaluating proposals, and monitoring court spending in order to ensure the Court Innovations Grant program is a success and meets the Legislature's expectations.

  • Estimated Completion Date: 12/30/2018

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


Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From November 2016

After review and consideration of the CalHR workforce planning model, the Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council) has, to best meet its needs, adopted a structured model/methodology for operational planning and alignment that includes the following elements: a structure for regular surveying of council customers; a means of evaluating services for process improvements; a tool for identifying workload and workforce capacity planning; and a structure for annual operational planning; and the development of performance metrics. The model/methodology has been piloted within the organization. A strategy for implementation across Judicial Council offices is under development with plans to begin a phased roll out beginning in late 2016/early 2017, continuing as an ongoing process.

  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Not Fully Implemented


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 it 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: 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.