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September 2011

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

 

"Quick Hit" List of Cost Containment Ideas Approved


Cost Containment Focus of Summit

Cost Containment Focus of Summit
The day before the Judicial Conference met in September, Judge Julia Gibbons, chair of the Budget Committee, headed a cost-containment summit in Washington, DC. The meeting included the chairs of all the Judicial Conference Committees and Executive Committee members, who discussed a number of cost-containment proposals compiled by the Judicial Conference committees and advisory councils, touching nearly every aspect of court administration. Chief Judge David B. Sentelle, chair of the Executive Committee, opened the meeting by encouraging judges to take a broad institutional view of cost containment.

In August 2011, the Judicial Conference Executive Committee endorsed a number of cost-containment ideas. The ideas were generated this past spring through the Judiciary’s advisory committee process and with the oversight and approval of the appropriate Judicial Conference committees.

“These ‘quick hit’ items will reduce fiscal year 2012 requirements, which will help in developing the interim FY 2012 financial plans,” said Director Jim Duff. “Reducing our requirements now will help mitigate the staffing losses we anticipate will be necessary later.”

The Conference and its committees continue to identify and develop short- and long-term cost-containment ideas, some of which may require legislation or changes in Judiciary policy.

"These 'quick hit' items will reduce fiscal year 2012 requirements, which will help in developing the FY 2012 financial plans."

—Director Jim Duff

Among the quick hit cost-containment ideas approved by the Committee for
the Judiciary:

  • Eliminate funding for salary progressions, including step increases and promotions, except in extraordinary circumstances. Eliminate any bonuses or cash awards for Judiciary personnel;
  • Cut funding for alterations in court facilities by 75 percent below allotment;
  • Cut funding for cyclical facilities maintenance by 15 percent below allotment;
  • Limit information technology requirements for funds held by the AO on behalf of the courts to no more than the fiscal year 2012 congressional budget request;
  • Reduce the funding available to circuits to address space needs. Reduce the funding for authorized additive staff supporting court projects, automation, or judicial work;
  • Reduce funding for law books;
  • Encourage the replacement of paper slip opinions with the electronic distribution of appellate opinions; and
  • Continue to encourage circuits to hold circuit conferences only every other year.
"Reducing our requirements now will help mitigate the staffing losses we anticipate will be necessary later."

—Director Jim Duff

In September 2011, the Executive Committee will consider and approve preliminary fiscal year 2012 financial plans for the Salaries and Expenses, Defender Services, Court Security and Fees of Jurors accounts based on assumptions that are likely to include significant budget reductions.