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October 2010

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


Inventory Control System Locally Grown

For the first time, a court-developed property inventory system has been selected for national support by the Judiciary. Fully automated and web-based, the Judiciary Inventory Control System (JICS) tracks property purchased with court funds, everything from copiers and paper shredders to furniture and computers. With a direct link to the Judiciary’s financial accounting system (FAS4T) database, it can automatically import information, and it even has a bar-coded label system for use with a handheld scanning device, among other features.

Nearly three years ago, the Northern District of New York created JICS for their own use.

“It quickly became apparent there was a need for such a system Judiciary-wide.”

—Clerk of Court Larry Baerman

“It quickly became apparent there was a need for such a system Judiciary-wide,” said Clerk of Court Larry Baerman. The district court applied for funding from the Edwin L. Nelson Local IT Initiatives Grant Program to add capabilities and complete development of the system. Today, 115 court units use JICS.

Some courts have used off-the-shelf programs to track inventory, and some have done it the old-fashioned way, on paper. Why would a court use JICS? 

“Simply put, using this software strengthens internal controls and keeps a more accurate account of court assets,” said Baerman. “With automated file transfer from FAS4T to populate the inventory control system, courts use the information that’s already been entered to improve the oversight of court assets. It eliminates redundant data entry and makes better use of available resources. And given the lean budgetary times, we need to look at ways to improve productivity.”

Another convincing argument for JICS: potentially fewer audit findings related to inventory. Non-compliance with Judiciary guidelines on property management and disposal ranks in the top five of findings in audits of court units. According to Denise Marks, Furniture Program Manager, Space and Facilities Division at the Administrative Office, courts using JICS have had far fewer inventory-related audit findings. 

Courts that wish to implement JICS may download the program from the Northern District of New York’s website, along with training materials. Once JICS is in use at a court, access to live data is available via Blackberry or any web-enabled device with a connection to the Judiciary’s Data Communications Network. Help Desk support will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.