Financial and Human Resource Initiatives - Annual Report 2015
Attracting, developing, and retaining staff and delivering critical support systems are vital to the support of federal court programs and future workload needs.
Work Measurement Formulas Updated
In September 2015, the Judicial Conference approved recommendations from the Committee on Judicial Resources to revise staffing formula for probation and pretrial services offices and the initial staffing formulas for federal defender organizations. The formulas used data collected from all impacted offices and employees—more than 13,000 employees.
The Judiciary plans to use the techniques from its enhanced work-measurement process to update its staffing formulas at five-year intervals. Revised techniques also will address more specific staffing requirements, such as updating how the staffing formula for district clerk’s offices addresses multi-district litigation, and generating case weights on presentence guideline reports for the staffing formula for probation offices.
Commitment to Diversity Outreach Continues
The Judiciary continues to demonstrate its strong commitment to fair employment practices. The Judiciary encourages attendance by judges and court staff at local career fairs with diverse pools of students, graduates, and professionals as part of its Diversity Recruiting and Outreach Program. By attending such events, judges and court staff are able to showcase the federal courts as a model, competitive employer and to speak one-on-one with a diverse group of potential applicants.
Judges also are recruiting exceptional students from diverse groups to participate in the Summer Judicial Internship Program, a partnership between the Judicial Conference Committee on Judicial Resources and Just the Beginning–A Pipeline Organization (JTB-APO). The AO is working to broaden this type of vital mentoring work to new underserved communities and individuals. It is also increasing its collaborative efforts with JTB-APO, and in the summer of 2015 assisted with its Summer Law Institute training at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
HRMIS Leave Tracking Module Improved
The Human Resources Management Information System (HRMIS) has undergone significant changes this year to support court unit executive pay changes, reflect mandatory and statutory updates, and provide courts with improved capabilities. In evaluating the system’s performance, the AO solicited user opinion on how to improve leave tracking. In consultation with the Human Resources Specialists Advisory Group, the AO was able to prioritize resolution of concerns identified as being of highest priority in survey responses. Streamlined HRMIS functions have reduced certain processing times by as much as 50 percent. Additional leave-tracking enhancements are under evaluation.
Updated System Manages Judiciary Payroll Projections
More than 98 percent of the courts units and federal defender organizations now use the new InfoWeb Pay Projection System (iPPS) to help manage their personnel budgets and estimate future costs. The system was deployed in 2014 and includes features such as reconciliation of payroll data, recording of pay adjustments, and creation of resource planning scenarios.
Financial Management Strengthened
In fiscal year 2015, the Judiciary continued deployment to the court of appeals of its next-generation Judiciary Integrated Financial Management System (JIFMS), the official financial and procurement management system replacing FAS4T. JIFMS offers improved internal controls, enhanced security, and standardized Judiciary-wide business process and procedures. The integrated, web-based system is now live in eleven of the regional Courts of Appeals. The First Circuit and district court units, including bankruptcy courts, probation and pretrial services offices, and federal public defender organizations, are scheduled to begin migrating from FAS4T to JIFMS in fiscal year 2016.
Financial Transactions Security Enhanced
EMV (Europay, MasterCard®, and Visa®) chip technology is becoming the global standard for credit and debit card payments. This smart-chip technology features payment instruments (cards, mobile phones, etc.) with embedded microprocessor chips that store and protect cardholder data. This security enhancement includes a shift of financial liability from the credit card companies to the processing vendor for fraudulent EMV-capable credit card transactions.
In the Federal courts, debit and credit cards are often used to pay court fees and fines, and courts accepting credit card payments are now required to ensure that credit card payments made with an EMV smart-chip credit card are processed via an EMV-compliant credit card terminal. In May 2015, the AO signed an inter-agency agreement with the Department of Treasury for 500 EMV-compliant credit card processing terminals and 500 pin pads. The District of Connecticut Bankruptcy Court and the Eastern District of Virginia Bankruptcy Court successfully piloted the very first EMV-active terminals in the federal government and by September 1, 2015 existing credit card terminals in the courts had been replaced with EMV-compliant terminals.
Court Registry Investment System Improved
In 2008, the Judiciary received Congressional authorization to invest registry funds in Government Accounting Series securities under the Bureau of Public Debts Federal Investment Program. The Court Registry Investment System (CRIS) is currently managing $1.9 billion in registry funds for 126 district and bankruptcy courts, and providing innovative solutions in this increasingly complex area of financial management. This year, the AO worked to create a CRIS fund for disputed ownership funds (DOF) to manage the special federal income tax treatment of interpleader deposits. Once complete, the DOF fund will provide an efficient, cost-effective, centralized way for the Judiciary to comply with federal tax regulations. Future enhancements will allow for improved returns on invested registry funds.
Last year, the Registry Monitoring Group recommended the creation of a CRIS Minors’ Fund to better match investments with the longer holding periods associated with post-adjudicated cases for minors. Five court units already participate in the Minors’ Fund.
Transition to Paperless Travel System Begun
The Judiciary Electronic Travel System (JETS) is a web-based application that will replace the current paper-based travel management process. JETS was launched throughout the AO in February 2015 and will be deployed to the courts beginning in 2016. All Judiciary employees will be able to go online to plan travel, track travel authorizations and vouchers, and receive payment for travel electronically.
JETS provides standardized, automated procedures that conform to travel and financial management standards. The system will reduce the duplication of data entries, improve the accuracy of information, expedite reimbursements, and allow for near real-time posting of travel obligations to the accounting system. JETS also will feature sponsored travel and blanket travel authorization functionality to establish a more streamlined process for travel authorization requests. Lastly, Judiciary employees will be able to book reservations directly in the system, making JETS a one-stop shop for all of the Judiciary’s travel management needs.