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Facilities and Security - Annual Report 2014

The Judiciary pays $1 billion in annual rent to the General Services Administration (GSA). As part of an effort to reduce the growth in this cost, the Judicial Conference in September 2013 approved space reduction policies for the Judiciary, contingent upon sufficient funding, to enable the analysis, design, and implementation of space reduction projects.

New Five-Year Plan Approved

The Judicial Conference in September 2014 approved a Five-Year Courthouse Project Plan for Fiscal Years 2016-2020 containing the Judiciary’s priorities for courthouse construction funding in each of those years. In August 2013, the Executive Committee, on behalf of the Judicial Conference and on the recommendation of the Committee on Space and Facilities, endorsed requiring all districts with a project on the Five-Year Plan that had not already done so, to undergo an asset management planning (AMP) evaluation.

Under the AMP process, each district and circuit adopts a long-range facilities plan, which entails an evaluation of each courthouse location for urgency of space needs. As part of the process, facility benefit assessments are conducted on each courthouse to determine how well the existing facility supports the needs and operations of the court. An Urgency Evaluation (UE) Results List is then developed each year, placing each courthouse location in rank order.

The current Five Year Plan incorporates the results of the AMP evaluations and, with the exception of the Nashville, Tennessee courthouse project, which retains its number one priority from the previous year’s plan, prioritizes projects solely on the basis of UE scores.

John M. Roll Courthouse Dedicated

John M. Roll Courthouse Dedicated

A new federal courthouse in Yuma, Ariz., named for slain Judge John M. Roll, was formally dedicated in an April 2014 ceremony attended by his family,  members of Congress, and former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded in the 2011 mass shooting that took Judge Roll’s life. As chief judge of the District of Arizona, Judge Roll had considered the Yuma courthouse a top priority. He had signed off on the courthouse’s Southwestern architectural design just days before his death.

No Net New Policy Amended

This is a Judiciary cost-containment initiative.

In September 2014, the Judicial Conference amended the No Net New policy so that any increase in square footage within a circuit needs to be offset by an equivalent reduction in square footage identified within the same fiscal year. Previously, courts had been required to complete the offset within the same fiscal year, a requirement that was complicated by construction and other variables. Exclusions from the policy include new courthouse construction, renovation, or alterations projects approved by Congress.

Space and Rent Management Plans

This is a Judiciary cost-containment initiative.

By May 2014, each circuit submitted its space and rent management plan articulating the circuit’s strategy for achieving its space reduction target by the end of FY 2018. Each circuit plan identifies space reduction strategies that include Integrated Workplace Initiative (IWI) projects; closing or downsizing court facilities; closing, reducing, and repurposing circuit libraries; and releasing space to the GSA.

As of October 2014, courts had eliminated 242,403 square feet from the Judiciary's rent bill through the space release allotment program. The program provides financial incentives for courts to identify and release space and allows a special one-time court allotment, available for two years, equal to the actual first year’s net rental savings of the released space, subject to funding availability. Courts are on track to accomplish 29 percent of the national space reduction target simply as a result of space already released or in the process of being released since the start of FY 2013.

GSA, AO, and court staff representatives have been meeting to look at ways to improve delivery of GSA services to the federal courts.

GSA, AO, and court staff representatives have been meeting to look at ways to improve delivery of GSA services to the federal courts.

Integrated Workplace Initiative

This is a Judiciary cost-containment initiative.

In September 2014, the Judicial Conference endorsed a new U.S. Courts Design Guide chapter advancing the Judiciary’s Integrated Workplace Initiative (IWI) program and other space and rent reduction efforts.

The aim of the IWI is to reduce the Judiciary’s real estate footprint and to create a better and more efficient workplace environment by capitalizing on the flexibility that new and emerging technologies provide. IWI examines how court units work, researches work style changes, and identifies successful mobile working situations, for example, where probation officers work remotely in the field rather than in the courthouse.

Space reduction projects already underway or in the planning phase incorporate IWI concepts and “right-sizing” space to align with the Design Guide based on current operations and personnel. Current IWI projects include:

Judge D. Brooks Smith and GSA PBS Commissioner Norman Dong.  Judge D. Brooks Smith (photo right), chair of the Judicial Conference Space and Facilities Committee, and GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Norman Dong.

Judge D. Brooks Smith (right), chair of the Judicial Conference Space and Facilities Committee, and GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Norman Dong.

GSA Service Validation Initiative

This is a Judiciary cost-containment initiative.

In December 2013, the Judicial Conference Space and Facilities Committee endorsed the GSA Service Validation Initiative to improve the delivery of GSA services to the Judiciary. Working in tandem with the Judiciary’s space reduction program, this initiative will focus on: the appraisal methodology/return on investment (ROI) pricing practice; overtime utility estimating and energy savings sharing; space assignment, classification, and billing validation; and project management. Four groups of Judiciary and GSA subject matter experts have been formed to address each topical area and will report on their progress to the Space and Facilities Committee.

Judge D. Brooks Smith, chair of the Space and Facilities Committee, appointed Judge Susan R. Bolton as chair of a subcommittee to oversee the GSA Service Validation Initiative’s progress. Subcommittee members also include Chief Judge Gregory K. Frizzell, Judge Beverly B. Martin, and Judge Sul Ozerden. Chief Judge Carol Bagley Amon (E.D. NY), who earlier this year solicited relevant information from all chief judges about GSA’s performance, also is working with the subcommittee

CSP projects now in progress:
Brunswick, Georgia
Benton, Illinois
Lexington, Kentucky
San Juan, Puerto Rico
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Construction Funding for Capital Security Improvements

The Capital Security Program (CSP) helps the Judiciary and GSA address security deficiencies in existing court facilities where physical alterations are viable. The goal is to improve security by renovating courthouses in locations unlikely to be considered in the near term for new courthouse construction or a major renovation project.

In addition to the CSP projects now in progress (see box), in FY 2014, CSP studies were initiated to identify design solutions and associated project cost estimates for addressing federal courthouse security concerns in Alexandria, Louisiana; Paducah, Kentucky; and a continuing project in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Space and Facilities Committee has endorsed projects for CSP program participation in Columbus, Georgia; Monroe, Louisiana; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Texarkana, Texas/Arkansas.

For the first time since the inception of the program, GSA included $20 million for the CSP in the Administration’s FY 2015 budget. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, Pub. Law No. 113-235, included the $20 million for the Judiciary-endorsed CSP projects.

Fergus Falls Courthouse Named in Honor of Judge Devitt

Fergus Falls Courthouse Named in Honor of Judge Devitt

In 2014, the Fergus Falls, Minnesota courthouse was renamed in memory of Judge Edward J. Devitt. A native of Minnesota with a long and distinguished career, Judge Devitt was appointed a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in 1954 and served as the district’s chief judge for 23 years. Chief Judge Michael J. Davis (D. Minn.) presided at the ceremony, which was attended by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN), who introduced the legislation to rename the courthouse. Three federal judges who knew Devitt well, Judges Paul Magnuson, John Tunheim (at the podium in the photo), and Myron Bright, shared their memories of the distinguished jurist in an interview.

Judiciary Facility Access Card Program Live

The Facility Access Card (FAC) program is now live in 16 districts and three national courts. FAC is the Judiciary’s version of Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-12, which established a mandatory, government-wide standard for a secure and reliable form of ”smart card” identification for federal employees and contractors in the executive branch. Although HSPD-12 does not cover the judicial and legislative branches, the Judicial Conference endorsed the Judiciary’s participation in the program, given that courts are housed in facilities owned or controlled by the executive branch and are protected by executive branch entities.

Court IT Security Assessments

More than 100 court security assessments have been conducted by the AO over the past three years. The assessments have not only helped individual courts improve their security posture, but have consistently identified corrective actions that can be applied at any court as part of an IT security self-assessment.

Courtroom Technology Design Guidelines

Courtroom technology design guidelines were developed in consultation with the courts and were published in September 2014. They define baseline designs for courtroom audiovisual configurations, including endpoint devices and infrastructure. Baseline designs are intended as a starting point for new system deployments, which should reduce design costs and promote efficiencies in procurement, training, and management.