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Issue 4: Harnessing Technology’s Potential

How can the judiciary develop national technology systems while fostering the development of creative approaches and solutions at the local level?

Issue Description 

Implementing innovative technology applications will help the judiciary to meet the changing needs of judges, staff, and the public. Technology can increase productive time, and facilitate work processes. For the public, technology can improve access to courts, including information about cases, court facilities, and judicial processes. The judiciary will be required to build and maintain effective IT systems in a time of growing usage, and judicial and litigant reliance. At the same time, the security of IT systems must be maintained, and a requisite level of privacy assured.

Responsibility for developing major national IT systems is shared by several Administrative Office divisions and Judicial Conference committees, and many additional applications are developed locally. In addition, local courts have substantial responsibilities for the management and operation of local and national systems, including the ability to customize national applications to meet local needs. The judiciary's approach to developing, managing, and operating national IT systems and applications provides a great deal of flexibility but also poses challenges for coordination, prioritization, and leadership. A key challenge will be to balance the economies of scale that may be achieved through certain judiciary-wide approaches with the creative solutions that may result from allowing and fostering a more distributed model of IT development and administration. The judiciary’s strategy for addressing this issue follows.

Strategy 4.1 

Harness the potential of technology to identify and meet the needs of court users and the public for information, service, and access to the courts.

Background and Commentary. The judiciary is fortunate to be supported by an advanced information technology infrastructure and services that continue to evolve. Next-generation case management and financial administration systems are being developed, while existing systems are being updated and refined. Services for the public and other stakeholders are being enhanced, and systems have been strengthened to provide reliable service during growing usage and dependence. Collaboration and idea sharing among local courts, and between courts and the Administrative Office, foster continued innovation in the application of technology.

The effective use of advanced and intelligent applications and systems will provide critical support for judges and other court users. This plan includes a goal supporting the continued building of the judiciary’s technology infrastructure, and another encouraging a judiciary-wide perspective to the development of certain systems. Another goal in this section focuses on the security of judiciary-related records and information.

The effective use of technology is critical to furthering other strategies in this plan. In particular, the effective use of technology is critical to judiciary efforts to contain costs, and to effectively allocate and manage resources (Strategy 2.1). Technology also supports improvements in the delivery of justice (Strategy 1.1), efforts to strengthen judicial security (Strategy 1.2), the delivery of training and remote access capabilities (Strategies 3.1 and 3.2), the accessibility of the judiciary for litigants and the public (Strategies 5.1 and 5.2), and judiciary accountability mechanisms (Strategy 7.1).

Likewise, an effective technology program is also dependent upon the successful implementation of other strategies in this plan. In a rapidly changing field requiring the support of highly trained people, is it critical that the judiciary succeed in recruiting, developing, and retaining highly competent staff (Strategy 3.2). And, investments in technology also require adequate funding (Strategy 1.3).

Goal 4.1a:   Continue to build and maintain robust and flexible technology systems and applications that anticipate and respond to the judiciary’s requirements for efficient communications, record-keeping, electronic case filing, case management, and administrative support.

Goal 4.1b:   Coordinate and integrate national IT systems and applications from a judiciary-wide perspective and more fully utilize local initiatives to improve services.

Goal 4.1c:   Develop system-wide approaches to the utilization of technology to achieve enhanced performance and cost savings.

Goal 4.1d:   Refine and update security practices to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of judiciary-related records and information.