Developing and retaining a highly competent, educated, and diverse workforce of committed public servants is a key strategy of the Strategic Plan for the Federal Judiciary and is central to the Judiciary's human resources and benefits program. The AO provides a wide range of resources, guidance, and support to courts to enable effective human resources development and management.
Court/AO Exchange Programs
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Effective communication for human resources development and management is critical to developing and retaining a highly competent and diverse workforce.
The Court/AO Exchange Programs promote effective working relationships among the AO, the courts, and defender organizations. They bring court and defender organization staff to work at the AO, and send AO staff to work in the courts, resulting in greater collaboration and mutual understanding.
Director's Leadership Program
Senior- and mid-level court and federal defender organization staff work at the AO for up to one year, contributing to national initiatives and high-priority projects. Three highly qualified residents were selected for the class of 2011. Susan Y. Soong, Chief Deputy Clerk, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, joined the AO Office of Court Administration to assist with the national effort to identify and prioritize complete requirements for the next generation of CM/ECF. Cathy A. Tovornik, Pretrial Services Officer Specialist, Western District of Tennessee, joined the AO Office of Probation and Pretrial Services to develop and implement a pretrial services evidence-based practices program and raise awareness of the economic and social costs of excessive pretrial detention. Joel Turner, Chief Deputy Clerk, Western District of Wisconsin, joined the AO Office of Probation and Pretrial Services to assist in developing a Court/AO Information Technology Collaboration Model. He will work with court unit representatives to facilitate software and data sharing among court units and the AO.
Temporary Duty Assignments Program
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Court and AO staff apply specialized skills to projects outside their regular work responsibilities for assignments ranging from a few weeks to a year. In 2011, 61 court and defender organization staff worked with AO staff on temporary assignments. During the summer months, the AO expanded the program to include court-to-court assignments to assist the southwest border probation and pretrial services offices. Thirteen probation and pretrial services officers from various districts across the country performed temporary assignments in two southwest border districts.
AO Orientation and Knowledge Exchange Programs
AO staff gain better understanding of court operations and programs through firsthand experience in these varied programs. The AO New Employee Orientation Program and Knowledge Seminars provide local learning opportunities for AO staff. In June, 30 AO employees participated in the enhanced orientation, receiving an overview of the U.S. Constitution and the federal Judiciary, court management and structure, and online Judiciary resources.
The District of Columbia Circuit and District Courts also hosted a full-day program for 25 AO employees. A knowledge exchange program enabled 12 AO employees to experience court operations first-hand.
Knowledge seminars, in turn, teach AO employees about key Judiciary programs such as jury management, court interpreting, electronic monitoring, and drug testing. A panel of subject-matter experts from the AO and the courts, as well as defender organizations discusses each program's core functions, how the AO provides support, and their experiences with the programs. The programs are held quarterly and are open to all AO staff.
The federal Judiciary has long recognized the importance of diversity in its workforce and has for many years developed programs, policies, and training that support fair employment practices. A goal to strengthen workforce diversity is part of the Judiciary's strategic plan. Beginning in fiscal year 2010, the Committee on Judicial Resources piloted a Diversity Recruiting and Outreach Program to increase awareness of the breadth and scope of legal and non-legal positions in the Judiciary, and share advertised vacancies and opportunities for internships. As its core mission, the program puts courts in touch with a diverse pool of students, graduates, and other professionals and highlights the U.S. courts and the Judiciary as a competitive employer.
As part of the pilot program, the Diversity Recruiting and Outreach Program built a strategic network of partnerships between various program offices, local courts, and working groups of judges and court staff, as well as external organizations such as Just the Beginning Foundation, Congressional Caucuses (Black, Asian, and Hispanic), Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Minority Corporate Council Association, National Association for Legal Career Professionals, and the American Bar Association. In its first year, the Diversity Recruiting and Outreach Program facilitated the involvement of local court participation at 35 career fair and legal recruiting events, resulting in direct contact with over 5,000 students.
The effort to reach institutions with diverse student bodies and those serving minorities, has yielded additional candidates for judicial internships through a nascent partnership with Just the Beginning Foundation. The partnership has reviewed 331 applications in its first year and led to the selection of 42 law students for judicial internships with 31 judges.
The Judicial Resources Committee continues efforts to meet the Judiciary's strategic goal of diversifying its workforce, and the AO continues to identify outreach opportunities.
Librarians Trained in New Technologies
Consistent with a Judicial Conference-endorsed report on libraries and library services, the AO and Federal Judicial Center (FJC) delivered training about instructional methods and the latest technology to 33 court librarians with representation from every circuit. Librarians received instruction on teaching, adult learning, curriculum design, remote communication tools, and mobile learning (mlearning). Attendees developed and delivered presentations on several cutting edge topics such as the deep web, social media security, and PACER use. Materials created in the training session were designed to be used by other librarians for training end users. The training continues beyond the in-person session: AO staff facilitate ongoing teleconferences for further discussion and presentation practice.
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