Report 2014-107 Recommendation 22 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 #22 To: Judicial Council of California
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.
Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2018
Upon further reflection, the Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council) believes it has implemented all of the recommended best practices that are the most beneficial to its operations. However, certain recommendations made by the State Auditor—such as implementing a fee-for-service model and prioritizing staff work based on court-specific needs instead of the Judicial Council's priorities—are respectfully declined and will not be implemented. The Judicial Council has adopted a strategic plan that guides the activities of its administrative staff. In addition, budget activities for the branch are open and transparent, particularly since any interested member of the public may listen to or attend meetings of the Judicial Branch Budget Committee and the Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee. Further public meeting materials are made available at the courts.ca.gov website and branch budget information can be found at: http://www.courts.ca.gov/finance.htm for those interested in learning about the judicial branch's budget. Finally, the State Controller's recurring and public audits of the Judicial Council's spending activities provide even further assurance that its spending decisions are appropriate and consistent with law.
California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Will Not Implement
Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From December 2017
This recommendation is partially implemented. In 2017, the Judicial Council developed a training program/resource guide titled Measuring Success (see attached handbook). This program builds upon the prior Operational Planning and Alignment methodology mentioned in Recommendation 21, and provides a structured and consistent approach to developing performance measures for council offices across the organization. It will be launched in early 2018 with plans to deploy across the organization during calendar year 2018.
- Estimated Completion Date: End of 2018
California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Pending
Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From November 2016
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.
- 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 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
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: Multi-phased implementation to be fully completed in 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.
Agency responses received are posted verbatim.