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.
The Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council) has initiated an operational planning and alignment effort to ensure it provides the most needed services to the courts and to the public. The Judicial Council has piloted this initiative with three internal offices, utilizing data from clients to promote better customer service and continual improvement. Specifically, the pilot effort entailed using client surveys to evaluate whether the services offered by these three offices are being utilized, and if so, to rank the criticality of these services on the judicial branch's operations. The results from this pilot effort will be used by both executive management and office managers to determine how best to use or reallocate each office's resources. The Judicial Council is planning to deploy this initiative to additional offices in calendar year 2017. Since this evaluation process will be a continuing effort that does not end, there is no target completion date for this initiative. Finally, the Judicial Council provides all required information for the annual budget process and has increased the transparency of its own budget by providing an additional display in the Governor's Budget for fiscal year 2016-17. This display provides information on the number of positions in the Judicial Council's various offices as well as information on prior spending by fund.
The approach and timeframe outlined in the six-month response are on track.
In response to our inquiries 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
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.
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)
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.
Agency responses received are posted verbatim.