Using Information Technology to Reduce Costs, Increase Efficiencies
- Enhanced National Internet Protocol (IP) Telephone Service Begun: The Judiciary is implementing a next-generation telecommunications service to enhance communications performance and reliability, and deliver converged voice, data, and video services over the Judiciary’s Data Communications Network. The National IP Telephone (National IPT) service will make electronic collaboration tools practical, such as desktop video- and audio-conferencing. Additionally, the service is expected to contain costs because courts will no longer need to purchase and maintain local telephone systems. A successful proof-of-concept of the new service was completed in December 2011. In response to court demand, a plan to accelerate deployment was put into place following the proof-of-concept.
As of September 2012, more than 8,000 devices had been deployed throughout the Judiciary. By the end of calendar year 2012, about 15,000 telephones had been deployed. To date, the project has cost less and is being implemented more quickly than originally presented.
- Centralized Data Warehouse Developed: A central repository or warehouse of data has been developed. Three Judiciary systems have been migrated to the data warehouse, and five others are at various stages of planning. Such an IT infrastructure consolidation translates into performance efficiencies with increased reliability, security, and savings for the Judiciary.
- National Videoconferencing Service Established: Many courts routinely use videoconferencing to conduct certain limited judicial proceedings, conferences with other government entities, training, law clerk interviews, and other official business. At present, courts purchase and maintain their own videoconferencing equipment and incur significant costs for hardware, dedicated circuits, and maintenance. With the endorsement of the Judicial Conference Committee on Information Technology at its January 2012 meeting, the AO initiated a project to establish a national videoconferencing service for courts. The service is hosted at the national network gateways and will reduce the Judiciary’s videoconferencing costs by eliminating the need for redundant local connections, maintenance agreements, and equipment.
- DCN and PACER-Net Circuits Consolidated: Until recently, the DCN and PACER-Net were configured to use separate circuits and equipment in each court location. This redundant configuration was necessary for performance and security reasons, but with the Judiciary’s new network, the redundancy can be eliminated without sacrificing performance or security.
At its January 2012 meeting, the Judicial Conference IT Committee endorsed an initiative to consolidate the electronic circuits used by the two networks. Elimination of the redundancies will realize significant cost savings for the Judiciary by reducing the amount of circuits, hardware, and vendor-provided services that are now required for two networks. A test of the consolidated circuits began in spring 2012, and national implementation began in summer 2012 and was completed by the end of calendar year 2012. It is estimated that $2.5 million will be saved annually beginning in FY 2014. This effort also capitalizes on technological advances in networking and telecommunications.
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This year, AO staff facilitated the Judiciary’s first virtual IT conference with real-time participation and discussion by court IT staff across the country. Significant time and cost savings resulted.