Report 2014-107 Recommendation 3 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 #3 To: Administrative Office of the Courts

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.

Agency Response*

In January 2016, the Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council) informed the State Auditor's Office that it had contacted executive branch agencies to better understand their policies on leave buyback programs. The Judicial Council learned there is no policy and that the decision to offer leave buyback for unrepresented employees is made by CalHR and the Department of Finance based on the availability of funds. Based on consultations with CalHR and the Department of Finance, the Judicial Council believes its existing policies are consistent with the executive branch and will not be taking further action on this recommendation. The Judicial Council's executive management team recognizes that the courts are underfunded and will continue to advocate for additional resources. The Judicial Council will evaluate the prudence of offering future leave buyback programs, if any, in the context of court funding levels and operational business need.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

The status submitted for the six-month report has not changed.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: March 2015
  • Response Date: January 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement

Our recommendation states that the AOC should mirror the executive branch's practices for offering leave buyback programs in terms of frequency and amount. Such a policy could state that the AOC will offer leave buyback programs only at the same frequency and amount offered by the executive branch. Our recommendation is intended to prevent the AOC from offering leave buyback programs to its employees during fiscal crises. As we noted in our report on page 25, the AOC continued to provide the leave buyback benefit to its employees at a time when it was reporting that many courthouses had to lay off their employees, reduce hours, and close courtrooms. Thus, we do not believe that the current policy regarding the AOC's leave buyback program will preclude it from again offering this benefit to its employees during a potential future fiscal crisis.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Agency Response*

In response to the Judicial Council's 60-day report, the auditor indicated that without a specific policy that mirrors the executive branch policy this recommendation cannot be considered to be fully implemented. Council staff received an April 3, 2015, Personnel Management Liaisons (PML) memorandum from CalHR regarding the offer of up to 40 hours of buy-back for excluded employees effective May 1, 2015. Council staff contacted the executive branch to obtain their policy on buy-back and was informed that there is no policy. The decision to offer leave buy-back for unrepresented employees is made by CalHR and the Department of Finance based on available state funds. Further, a department's participation is subject to the availability of departmental funds. The decision to offer leave buy-back for represented employees is subject to Memoranda of Understanding and the availability of departmental funds. We believe our policy is consistent with the executive branch practice and, therefore, consider this recommendation to be fully implemented.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: March 2015
  • Response Date: July 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement

Our recommendation states that the AOC should mirror the executive branch's practices for offering leave buyback programs in terms of frequency and amount. Such a policy could state that the AOC will offer leave buyback programs only at the same frequency and amount offered by the executive branch. Our recommendation is intended to prevent the AOC from offering leave buyback programs to its employees during fiscal crises. As we noted in our report on page 25, the AOC continued to provide the leave buyback benefit to its employees at a time when it was reporting that many courthouses had to lay off their employees, reduce hours, and close courtrooms. Thus, we do not believe that the current policy regarding the AOC's leave buyback program will preclude it from again offering this benefit to its employees during a potential future fiscal crisis.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Agency Response*

In fiscal year 2013-2014, leave buy back for Judicial Council staff was consistent with the executive branch's program. The executive branch's approach is routinely considered by the judicial branch, among other considerations, in evaluating a leave buy-back option.

Effective February 19, 2015, the Judicial Council suspended leave buy back for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 fiscal year budget cycles to allow for a full analysis of the council's operating budget and how leave buy back is used in relation to the overall budget. At the conclusion of this period, and on an ongoing basis, the council will continue to review buy-back programs being offered by the executive branch or trial courts in considering the value and benefit of a buy-back program to the organization and the branch.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Completion Date: March 2015
  • Response Date: March 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: No Action Taken

Our recommendation stated that the AOC should mirror the executive branch's policy in terms of frequency and amount. The AOC's response notes that the AOC will review the buyback programs being offered by the executive branch in considering the value and benefit of the program. We acknowledge that the AOC suspended the buyback program; however, without a specific policy in place that mirrors the executive branch, we conclude this recommendation is not implemented.

  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

All Recommendations in 2014-107

†Response Type refers to the interval in which the auditee is providing the State Auditor with their status in implementing recommendations made in an audit report. Auditees must submit a response 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 or subsequent to one year.

*Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.


Report type

Report type
















© 2013, California State Auditor | Privacy Policy | Conditions of Use | Download Adobe PDF Reader