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Judiciary Transmits Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request to Congress

The federal Judiciary transmitted its fiscal year 2017 budget request to Congress, seeking $7.0 billion in discretionary appropriations, a 3.2 percent increase above fiscal year 2016 funding. Of that, $5.1 billion is for courts’ salaries and expenses, which fund the operating expenses of the regional circuit courts of appeals, district and bankruptcy courts, and probation and pretrial services offices.

The Judiciary’s request also includes $1.1 billion for the defender services program, which provides court-appointed attorneys for criminal defendants who cannot afford counsel, $565.4 million for security costs at federal court facilities, and $43.7 million to pay juror fees.

At the beginning of fiscal year 2016, probation offices nationwide received the largest increase in caseload in the system’s 90-year history due to sentencing reductions for offenders of certain drug offenses. An increase of $6.7 million in fiscal year 2017 will ensure a sufficient number of probation officers are available to properly supervise these offenders in the community.

A $6 an hour above inflation rate increase from $131 to $137 is requested in fiscal year 2017 for Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys in non-capital cases.  

“The Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel depends on the quality and competence of these CJA panel attorneys, and a fair hourly rate is essential to meeting this Constitutional mandate,” said Judge Julia Gibbons, chair of the Judicial Conference’s Budget Committee.

A requested increase in the daily juror attendance fee from $40 to $50 for fiscal year 2017 would be the first rate increase since December 1990.  The increase would alleviate some of the financial burden associated with jury duty for the approximately 40 percent of private sector workers who have no access to paid jury leave.

The Judiciary continues its aggressive cost-containment efforts begun over a decade ago.  Specific areas of focus include space rent, personnel expenses, information technology, and operating costs.

“Our budget request is reflective of the cost-containment policies we have put in place and reducing cost growth in the Judiciary’s budget continues to be a top priority,” said Judge Gibbons.

James C. Duff, Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, thanked Congress for providing GSA with funds this fiscal year for eight new courthouse construction projects, and partial funding of a ninth, along with funding for two new federal buildings housing court operations, to address the Judiciary’s top space priorities. “We will work closely with GSA to create an effective and cost efficient project management strategy to move these projects forward,” Duff said.

Duff noted that security remains a concern and the funding requested for court security is needed to ensure the safety of judges, staff, litigants, and the public at federal court facilities.  Most of these funds are transferred to the U.S. Marshals Service, which is responsible for providing security to the Judiciary.

 “The federal Judiciary looks to Congress for the funding we need to do our work,” said Judge Gibbons. “We are grateful for Congress’ past support and we ask that Congress again treat the Judiciary as a funding priority for fiscal year 2017.”

Fiscal Year Judiciary Discretionary Appropriations ($ in 000)
Appropriation Account FY 2016
FY 2017
U.S. Supreme Court
Salaries & Expenses
Care of Building and Grounds


U. S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit       30,872      30,108
U. S. Court of International Trade       18,160      18,462
Courts of Appeals, District Courts &
other Judicial Services (CADCOJS)

Salaries & Expenses
Direct 4,918,969 5,045,785
Vaccine Injury Fund        6,050        6,260
Total 4,925,019 5,052,045
Defender Services 1,004,949 1,056,326
Fees of Jurors &
     44,199      43,723
Court Security    538,196    565,388
Subtotal, CADCOJS 6,512,363 6,717,482
Administrative Office      85,665      87,748
Federal Judicial Center      27,719      28,335
U.S. Sentencing Commission      17,570      18,150
Total Discretionary, The Judiciary $6,778,151 $6,991,821