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March 2008

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


CVB and Forest Service Launch E-Ticketing Pilot

The federal Judiciary's Central Violations Bureau (CVB) teamed with the U.S. Forest Service for a pilot project that has equipped a small group of officers with an especially rugged laptop and printer in their vehicles.

Instead of issuing a handwritten violation notice, those officers issue an electronic ticket and, when they reach headquarters, transfer the information into a central Forest Service database. The information is then transmitted to the CVB once a week.

"This saves the Forest Service time and saves our data entry staff time," said Ted Willmann, chief of the San Antonio-based CVB. "E-tickets can speed up the time it takes a ticket to reach the CVB, provide more accurate results, and ultimately lower the cost of processing a ticket by eliminating many of the manual processes."

If the pilot is successful, the Forest Service will consider expanding it to all of its law enforcement officers.

Through mid-February, nearly 300 people had received e-tickets in about five months. Willmann said he expected the daily totals to increase significantly by summer. Statistically, the Forest Service issues just 1 percent of all citations. Military police issue more than half of all citations.

"There are 350,000 to 400,000 violations a year. The fines, most of which fall into the $25—$100 range, totaled $25 million last year," Willmann said.

All the money from fines is deposited into the Treasury, and is transferred into the Crime Victims Fund maintained by the Justice Department. A $25 processing fee is added to each fine, and the Judiciary puts that money into its general funds.

People cited for petty offenses have the option of paying fines without going to court, but some offenses are serious enough for mandatory court appearances. About 20 percent of all violators are told they must appear in court.

"The pilot has gone smoothly so far," said CVB Systems Manager David Mata. "The Forest Service developed the program that captures the data, prints the ticket and uploads the data to the CVB. We worked on our side to accommodate the transfer of data."