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Accountability and Resource Management – Annual Report 2023

The Judiciary is committed to adherence to the highest ethical standards, the sound stewardship of public funds, and the effective and efficient use of public resources.

Office of Judicial Integrity training

A specialized program for law clerks was designed to equip them with essential information about the Judiciary’s workplace protections, employment dispute resolution procedures, and other resources. Pictured at right is Michael C. Henry, the judicial integrity officer.

Risk-Based Management and Decision-Making

The Enterprise Risk Management Program reflects best practices in the federal government and private sector. The program identifies the top risks facing the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) and is designed to ensure that both external and internal risks are analyzed, addressed, and monitored by the agency’s leadership team.

The Office of Compliance and Risk (OCR) collaborated with human resources staff to train employees in making risk management a critical component of managing programs and projects. The OCR introduced a risk-management approach to the Electronic Public Access program, the Integrated Data Center relocation project, and the development of the new Probation and Pretrial Services Automated Case Tracking System, the main case management system used by pretrial and probation officers in their supervision and investigative efforts.

Financial Management System Upgrade

The AO launched a major effort in 2023 to modernize and upgrade the Judiciary’s budget, accounting, and acquisition system. The upgrade will strengthen the Judiciary’s cybersecurity posture by keeping the platform current and secure. The project is also a foundational step in the Judiciary Data Integrity, Reporting, and Controls initiative to produce consolidated annual statements of all Judiciary financial activity. Modernizing the system will result in better support for important daily court operations, such as juror payments and fee collection. The upgrade will introduce numerous efficiencies aimed at increasing productivity and decreasing costs and enable the Judiciary to continue to adopt and implement financial management best practices that facilitate compliance with statutory and regulatory changes.

Accountability Training for Employees

During 2023, the AO trained more than 1,000 Judiciary executives and staff in courts and federal defender offices in the proper ways to carry out financial and resource management responsibilities. Workshops covered a variety of timely issues including travel policy, criminal restitution, and certifying officer liability. Through the Financial Forum Academy Series, the AO provided virtual training on transactions that courts must execute at the end of a fiscal year, tax reporting, and payment card security. Training and outreach also focused on compliance with internal control requirements, which are procedures that court and federal defender employees must implement to safeguard resources and mitigate the risk of error, fraud, waste, and abuse.

A variety of learning methods and opportunities were offered to accommodate different learning styles, training platforms, and scheduling needs, including presentations, self-paced electronic learning modules, instructor-led virtual training, and in-person classes.

A Safe and Respectful Workplace

In late 2022, the Judicial Conference approved a recommendation by the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group to conduct periodic national workplace surveys, intended to evaluate the effectiveness of the myriad policy and process improvements implemented over the last several years and to identify additional areas for further refinement. In 2023, the Judiciary disseminated the first national workplace survey, developed and conducted by the Federal Judicial Center, the Judiciary’s education and research arm. The survey was sent to all current court and federal public defender office employees for their voluntary participation. Information was collected confidentially and anonymously with the aim of providing the working group with a national overview of the Judiciary’s workplace environment, including how Judiciary workplace policies and procedures are working. The working group will provide the relevant Conference committees with any recommendations for improvements to workplace policies and procedures, which would then be considered as part of the Judiciary’s normal policy-making process.

Another priority in 2023 was expanding and improving training in the area of workplace conduct. Adding to the existing array of local, circuit, and national education and training initiatives, a specialized program for law clerks was offered in October, designed to equip them with essential information about the Judiciary’s workplace protections, employment dispute resolution procedures, and other available resources and tools to address employment-related issues.

Government Accountability Office Studies

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) regularly conducts studies related to Judiciary operations. In 2023, the AO coordinated the Judiciary’s participation in five such studies: