We’re guessing that the SEC report was intentionally released on a Friday before a long holiday weekend as to blunt the response. JCW’s own analysts will be reviewing the SEC report over the long holiday weekend and will be updating this thread periodically section by section. Additionally, we wish to supplement our own analysis with yours and make this an interactive blog post.
A very brief analysis-
The AOC’s expenditures exceed a half billion dollars a year from all revenue sources, yet they don’t adjudicate a single case.
After spending a few hours poking around the report (my how judges can write….) we agree with the SEC findings but believe that these findings must have been sanitized because we have some of the same records provided to the SEC.
As to solutions, some proposals appear to continue to diffuse ownership and accountability, like the three chiefs concept.
Perhaps it’s in the names – but since it replaces directors and assistant directors for a more focused 4 person senior management team, we like is the concept of eliminating all directors and all of the assistant directors and reclassifying many of these positions as unit managers. Eliminating all of the silos, directors and assistant directors were specific recommendations made by JCW over the last couple of years. Having attorneys in lots of the divisions makes it a “I’ll have my division attorney contact your division attorney” mentality or rigorous chains of command where few things progress because workers were discouraged to speak to or work with other divisions.
It appears that the SEC’s recommendations take a larger chunk out of the senior management ranks in an attempt to reduce the 2.7 workers to every manager ratio. Patel herself indicated that about 160 positions would be eliminated by June 30th yet the SEC report makes recommendations that go well beyond those numbers, potentially doubling the positions eliminated should the recommendations be put into place. This report was hard on every division and recognized the duplicated efforts, mismanagement and waste in the organization, starting with management ranks. And if one was to demonstrate some real leadership (hint, hint Tani/Patel ) you would start asking for all of those resignations now, before the June 30th budget is chiseled into stone and before the trial courts lay siege to the Judicial Council over AOC excess.
One thing that is evident by the report itself is that Mary “The Lizard” Roberts will soon be submitting her resignation, retiring or being terminated and another thing that is evident is that the organization has been grossly mismanaged as a whole and that falls on the shoulders of the two clowns that occupy part of the 4th floor – Mr. William Vickrey, who was recently ordained with a conference center named after him recognizing his accomplished mismanagement and our pal Tonto that has a really, really nice back yard.
This report suggests gross mismanagement that would call for their termination and the end of their retired on active duty pension padding status.
In-depth analysis & discussion:
Summary of Recommendations
There are no recommendations in chapters 1 through 3.
Chapter 4. Judicial Council Oversight
Recommendation No. 4-1: The Judicial Council must take an active role in overseeing and monitoring the AOC and demanding transparency, accountability, and efficiency in the AOC’s operations and practices.
Recommendation No. 4-2: The primary role and orientation of the AOC must be as a service provider to the Judicial Council and the courts.
Recommendation No. 4-3: In exercising its independent and ultimate governance authority over the operations and practices of the AOC, the Judicial Council must demand that the AOC provide it with a business case analysis, including a full range of options and impacts, before undertaking any branch-wide project or initiative. In exercising its authority over committees, rules, grants, programs and projects, the Judicial Council must demand that the AOC provide it with a full range of options and impacts, including fiscal, operational, and other impacts on the courts.
Recommendation No. 4-4: The Judicial Council must conduct periodic reviews of the performance of the Administrative Director of the Courts. These reviews must take into consideration input submitted by persons inside and outside the judicial branch.
Chapter 5. Organizational Structure
Recommendation No. 5-1: The AOC should be reorganized. The organizational structure should consolidate programs and functions that primarily provide operational services within the Judicial and Court Operations Services Division. Those programs and functions that primarily provide administrative services should be consolidated within the Judicial and Court Administrative Services Division. Other programs and functions should be grouped within an Executive Office organizational unit. The Legal Services Office also should report directly to the Executive Office but no longer should be accorded divisional status.
Recommendation No. 5-2: The Chief Operating Officer should manage and direct the Judicial and Court Operations Services Division, consisting of functions located in the Court Operations Special Services Office; the Center for Families, Children and the Courts; the Education Office/Center for Judicial Education and Research; and the Office of Court Construction and Facilities Management.
Recommendation No. 5-3: The Chief Administrative Officer should manage and direct the Judicial and Court Administrative Services Division, consisting of functions located in the Fiscal Services Office, the Human Resources Services Office, the Trial Court Administrative Services Office, and the Information and Technology Services Office.
Recommendation No. 5-4: Other important programs and functions should be consolidated within an Executive Office organizational unit under the direction of a Chief of Staff. Those functions and units include such functions as the coordination of AOC support of the Judicial Council, Trial Court Support and Liaison Services, the Office of Governmental Affairs, the Office of Communications, and a Special Programs and Projects Office.
Recommendation No. 5-5: The Chief Counsel, manager of the Legal Services Office (formerly the Office of the General Counsel) should report directly to the Administrative Director, depending on the specific issue under consideration and depending on the preferences of the Administrative Director.
Recommendation No. 5-6: The Chief Deputy Administrative Director position must be eliminated. If the absence of the Administrative Director necessitates the designation of an Acting Administrative Director, the Chief Operating Officer should be so designated.
Chapter 6. Management Structure, Systems, and Processes
Recommendation No. 6-1: The Administrative Director, the Chief Operations Officer, the Chief Administrative Officer, and the Chief of Staff should be designated as the AOC Executive Leadership Team, the primary decision making group in the organization.
Recommendation No. 6-2: The AOC Executive Leadership Team must begin to implement a formalized system of program and project planning and monitoring that includes, at minimum, a collaborative planning process that requires an analysis of impacts on the judicial branch at the outset of all projects; use of workload analyses where appropriate; and development of general performance metrics for key AOC programs that allow expected performance levels to be set and evaluated.
Recommendation No. 6-3: The AOC Executive Leadership Team must order immediate compliance with the requirements and policies in the AOC personnel manual, including formal performance reviews of all employees on an annual basis; compliance with the rules limiting telecommuting; and appropriate utilization of the discipline system.
Recommendation No. 6-4: With an appropriate individual employee performance planning and appraisal system in place, the AOC must utilize the flexibility provided by its at-will employment policy to address serious employee performance issues.
Recommendation No. 6-5: The Executive Leadership Team must direct that a comprehensive review of the AOC position classification system begin as soon as possible. The focus of the review should be on identifying and correcting misallocated positions, particularly in managerial classes, and on achieving efficiencies by consolidating and reducing the number of classifications. The Chief Administrative Officer should be given lead responsibility for implementing this recommendation.
Recommendation No. 6-6: The Executive Leadership Team must direct that a comprehensive review of the AOC compensation system be undertaken as soon as possible. All compensation-related policies and procedures must be reviewed, including those contained in the AOC personnel manual. AOC staff should be used to conduct this review to the extent possible. If outside consultants are required, such work could be combined with the classification review that is recommended above. The Chief Administrative Officer should be given lead responsibility for implementing this recommendation.
Recommendation No. 6-7: The AOC’s fiscal and budget processes must be transparent. The Executive Leadership Team should require the Fiscal Services Office to immediately develop and make public a description of the fiscal and budget process, including a calendar clearly describing how and when fiscal and budget decisions are made. The Fiscal Services Office should be required to produce a comprehensive, publicly available midyear budget report, including budget projections for the remainder of the fiscal year and anticipated resource issues for the coming year. The Chief Administrative Officer should be given lead responsibility for developing and implementing an entirely new approach to fiscal processes and fiscal information for the AOC.
Recommendation No. 6-8: The AOC must develop a process to better assess the fiscal and operational impacts of proposed rules on the courts, including seeking earlier input from the courts before proposed rules are submitted for formal review. The AOC should establish a process to survey judges and court executive officers about the fiscal and operational impacts of rules that are adopted, and recommend revisions to the rules where appropriate. The AOC should recommend changes in the rules process, for consideration by the Judicial Council, to limit the number of proposals for new rules, including by focusing on rule changes that are required by statutory changes.
Recommendation No. 6-9: The Executive Leadership Team must develop and make public a description of the AOC’s process for determining which grants to pursue. The process should mandate a detailed impact analysis for every grant proposal, including consideration of all anticipated impacts on the workload and resources of the courts and the impacts to the AOC as a whole. Only after such analysis should the Executive Leadership Team make a determination whether the AOC should pursue grant funding.
Chapter 7. AOC Divisions and Specialized Offices
Recommendation No. 7-1: The Administrative Director must operate subject to the oversight of the Judicial Council and will be charged with implementing the recommendations in this report if so directed.
Recommendation No. 7-2: The practice of employing a special consultant on a continuous basis should be reevaluated and considered for termination, taking into account the relative costs, benefits, and other available resources.
Center for Families, Children and the Courts
Recommendation No. 7-3: The Center for Families, Children and the Courts should be an office reporting to the Chief Operating Officer in the AOC’s Judicial and Court Operations Services Division, rather than a stand-alone division. The CFCC manager position should be compensated at its current level.
Recommendation No. 7-4: CFCC’s current number of authorized positions should be reduced. To achieve the reduction, these areas should be reviewed and considered, and appropriate actions taken:
● CFCC has a one-over-one management structure with a Division Director and an Assistant Division Director position. The Assistant Division Director position should be eliminated.
● There are nearly 30 attorney positions in CFCC, including 7 attorneys who act as Judicial Court Assistance Team Liaisons. All attorney position allocations should be reviewed with a goal of reducing their numbers and/or reallocating them to nonattorney classifications.
● The CFCC has numerous grant-funded positions, including five in its Rules and Forms Unit. Implementation of our recommendations for the AOC’s Grants and Rule-making Processes could result in some reductions in these positions.
● The CFCC has a number of positions devoted to research programs, as do other offices to be placed within the Judicial and Court Operations Services Division, presenting opportunities for efficiencies by consolidating divisional research efforts.
● CFCC staff members provide support to a number of Judicial Council committees and task forces. The recommended consolidation of this support function under the direction of the Chief of Staff will present opportunities for efficiencies and resource reduction.
● The CFCC maintains a Core Operations Unit, which is essentially an administrative and grant support unit. The consolidation of administrative functions and resources within the Judicial and Court Administrative Services Division should lead to the downsizing of this unit.
● CFCC staff members produce various publications. They should be considered for reduction or elimination.
● The Judge-in-Residence position in this division should be eliminated.
● Positions related to CCMS should be eliminated.
● Although staffing reductions in this division are feasible, any reorganization or downsizing of this division must continue to allow for reasonable servicing of the diverse programs mandated by statute and assigned to this division, including such programs as the Tribal Project program.
Recommendation No. 7-5: The Judicial Council should exercise oversight to assure that grant-funded programs are undertaken only when consistent with predetermined, branch-wide policy and plans. The fiscal and operational impacts of grant-funded programs on the courts should be considered as part of the fiscal planning process.
Recommendation No. 7-6: Consistent with recommendations in this report calling for a review of AOC’s rule-making process, legislative proposals generated through this division should be limited to those required by court decisions and approved by the Judicial Council Advisory Committees.
Recommendation No. 7-7: A systems review of the manner in which trial court records are reviewed should be conducted to streamline audits, if possible, and to lessen the impact on court resources.
Recommendation No. 7-8: The CFCC should discontinue investigating and responding to complaints from litigants about judicial officers who handle family law matters, as such matters are handled by other entities.
Recommendation No. 7-9: Self-represented litigants in small claims, collection matters, foreclosures, and landlord-tenant matters are frequent users of court self-help centers. A majority of self-help clients seek assistance in family law matters. Consideration should be given to maximizing and combining self-help resources with resources from similar subject programs, including resources provided through the Justice Corps and the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel program.
Court Programs and Services
Recommendation No. 7-10: The Court Operations Special Services Office (COSSO), formerly CPAS, should be an office reporting to the Chief Operating Officer within the AOC’s Judicial and Court Operations Services Division, rather than a stand-alone division. The COSSO manager position should be at the Senior Manager level.
Recommendation No. 7-11: COSSO’s current level of approximately 74 positions (including those reassigned from the former regional offices as recommended in this report) should be reduced. To achieve the reduction the areas listed below should be reviewed and considered, and appropriate actions taken.
- COSSO should have a management structure that includes a Unit Manager, but the Assistant Division Director position should be eliminated.
- The research functions and units of COSSO should be reviewed for possible consolidation with other research programs in the Judicial and Court Operations Services Division, presenting opportunities for efficiencies and position reductions.
Recommendation No. 7-12: The Promising and Effective Programs Unit functions are largely discretionary and should be considered for reduction or elimination, resulting in position savings. Consideration should be given to the following.
● To save resources, the Kleps Award Program should be suspended temporarily.
● The Justice Corps Program should be maintained, with AOC’s involvement limited to procuring and distributing funding to the courts.
● Since funding for the Procedural Fairness/Public Trust and Confidence program has ceased, it should be eliminated.
● Once the 2013 summit has concluded, the Administrative Director and Judicial Council should evaluate continuing support for the Civics Education Program/California On My Honor program.
● The Jury Improvement Project is of high value to the judicial branch, especially as jury service represents the single largest point of contact between citizens and the courts. The Judicial Council should evaluate the extent to which financial and personnel support for the project should be maintained.
● The Fund Development Group concerns itself with training to obtain grants, seeking grants, and grant reporting. As is the case with other divisions in the AOC, grants should be sought in accordance with well-articulated AOC-wide priorities, as established by the Judicial Council. The Administrative Director and the Judicial Council should develop written policies and guidelines that control the pursuit and acceptance of grants and other funding, including utilizing a cost-benefit analysis.
● The Administrative Director and Judicial Council should study the budget and operational components of Court Interpreters Program to determine whether greater efficiencies can be implemented to deliver interpreter services to the courts. Internally, the Finance Division should not act as an impediment in the delivery of interpreter services to the courts.
Recommendation No. 7-13: The Editing and Graphics Group, with half of its eight positions currently vacant, should be considered for elimination.
Recommendation No. 7-14: A significant number of COSSO staff members, such as those in the Administration and Planning unit, are assigned to various functions in support of the Judicial Council. The recommended consolidation of Judicial Council support activities under the direction of the Chief of Staff will present opportunities for efficiencies and resource reduction.
Recommendation No. 7-15: Some COSSO staff are engaged in activities relating to the education and training of Appellate Court Justices. These functions should be consolidated with the Education Division/CJER.
Recommendation No. 7-16: The Judicial Administration Library should be consolidated with the Supreme Court Library.
Recommendation No. 7-17: Modifications to the Assigned Judges Program should be considered, including the following:
- The Assigned Judges Program and Assigned Judges Program Regional Assignments units should be merged, resulting in the elimination of a unit supervisor position.
- The program’s travel and expense policies should be reviewed to mitigate adverse impacts on the availability of assigned judges to smaller and rural courts.
- Consideration should be given to a pilot program to allow half-day assignments of judges, taking into account the probable inability of small, rural courts to attract judges on this basis.
- Consideration should be given to development of an Assigned Commissioner Program to assist courts with such matters as AB1058 child support cases.
Recommendation No. 7-18: The functions of the Trial Court Leadership Service unit should be moved under the auspices of the new Executive Office, as matters of policy emanating from the Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee and Court Executives Advisory Committee often relate to branch-wide policies.
Recommendation No. 7-19: The Education Division should be an office within the Judicial and Court Operations Services Division, under the direction of the Chief Operating Officer, rather than a stand-alone division. The Education Division/CJER manager position should be compensated at its current level.
Recommendation No. 7-20: The Education Division’s current staffing level is one of the highest in the AOC and should be reduced. To achieve the reduction, the following areas should be reviewed and considered, and appropriate actions taken:
- A workgroup has been formed to review all education for new judges to ensure that it is being provided in the most effective and efficient way possible. The efficiencies identified by this working group may present opportunities for reductions.
- There are in excess of a dozen attorney positions in the Education Division in units such as Design and Consulting, and Publications and Resources, in addition to the Judicial Education unit. All attorney position allocations should be reviewed with a goal of reducing their numbers and/or reallocating them to nonattorney classifications. In particular, education specialist positions are staffed by attorneys, a staffing practice that appears unnecessary.
- The Court Case Management System training unit and any other positions engaged in CCMS-related activities should be eliminated in light of the Judicial Council’s decision to cancel the full deployment of the CCMS system.
- The Production, Delivery and Educational Technologies unit has grown to more than 25 positions plus several temporary staff. The number of staff in this unit should be reduced in light of the difficult fiscal environment.
- The Curriculum and Course Development unit includes several positions assigned to develop training for AOC staff. This activity should be evaluated and reduced, especially if training requirements are relaxed.
- The Administrative Services unit contains more than 20 staff engaged in support activities such as records management, printing and copying, scheduling and planning training delivery, and coordinating logistics for all AOC events. The number of staff in this unit should be evaluated and reduced commensurate with the reduction in the number of live programs and events, and reflecting a reduction in the number of employees AOC-wide.
Recommendation No. 7-21: The Education Division should conduct true cost-benefit analyses — and not rely only on its own preferences — in determining the types of training and education it provides, including types, lengths, and locations of programs, delivery methods, and the costs to courts. This type of analysis should apply to training and education programs for new judicial officers.
Recommendation No. 7-22: The Education Division should support and provide requested assistance to those courts that collaborate with other regional courts in providing judicial education and staff training or that request support in providing their own programs.
Recommendation No. 7-23: As to training currently required of AOC staff and court personnel, the Judicial Council should examine and consider a relaxation of current mandatory requirements to allow the Administrative Director of the AOC and/or court executive officers greater discretion and flexibility in utilizing their workforces during times of budget constraints.
Recommendation No. 7-24: As to training currently required of AOC managers, supervisors, and employees, the Administrative Director should order a review of the content of training courses offered, the number and location of courses offered, and the means by which courses and training are delivered. Training opportunities should include greater orientation and development of understanding of court functions.
Recommendation No. 7-25: The functions performed by the Finance Division should be placed in the Judicial and Court Administrative Services Division. The Finance Division should be renamed the Fiscal Services Office, reporting to the Chief Administrative Officer. The Fiscal Services Office Manager position should be at the Senior Manager level.
Recommendation No. 7-26: The number of managers and supervisors should be reduced.
Recommendation No. 7-27: The AOC must improve its fiscal decision making processes. The AOC must make a commitment to involve the Fiscal Services Office in all phases of fiscal planning and budgeting, especially with regard to large-scale or branch-wide projects or initiatives.
Recommendation No. 7-28: The budgeting process must become more transparent. Budget information must be readily available to the public, including online. Budget documents must provide understandable explanations and detail concerning revenue sources, fund transfers, and expenditures.
Recommendation No. 7-29: This division must make a commitment to processing contracts in more timely fashion, with an eye toward better serving courts, contractors, vendors, and others.
Recommendation No. 7-30: The Finance Division must assess its workload needs, especially in light of legislation on court security and auditing functions being assumed by the State Controller’s Office, so that any necessary adjustments in staffing positions can be made.
Recommendation No. 7-31: The need for a Strategic Policy, Communication, and Administration Unit should be reevaluated by the Chief Administrative Officer and, most likely, be eliminated.
Human Resources Division
Recommendation No. 7-32: Consistent with recent consolidation of this division, the HR function should no longer be assigned stand-alone division status in the AOC organizational structure and should be combined with other administrative functions, reporting to the Chief Administrative Officer in the AOC’s Administrative Services Division.
Recommendation No. 7-33: The AOC leadership must recommit itself to developing and maintaining effective and efficient HR policies and practices. The new Administrative Director, among other priority actions, must reestablish the AOC’s commitment to implement sound HR policies and practices.
Recommendation No. 7-34: The current number of higher-level positions in the HR Division should be reduced, as follows:
● The Division Director position should be permanently eliminated as the HR function should no longer be a stand-alone division.
● The number of manager positions should be reduced from five to three, with some of the resulting resources allocated to line HR functions.
● One of the three Senior Manager positions is vacant, a vacancy that should be made permanent by reallocating managerial responsibilities to the two filled Senior Manager positions.
● With the elimination of the positions discussed above, consideration should be given to redirecting the resources from those positions to support vacant HR analyst positions that can be assigned work needed to help reestablish effective HR policies and practices in the AOC.
Recommendation No. 7-35: The AOC must commit to overhauling current practices for its classification and compensation systems. The AOC then must develop and consistently apply policies for classification and compensation of employees, by actions including the following:
● A comprehensive review of the classification and compensation systems should be undertaken as soon as possible, with the goal of consolidating and streamlining the classification system.
● Priority should be placed on reviewing all positions classified as supervisors or managers, as well as all attorney positions, to identify misclassified positions and take appropriate corrective actions.
● The manner in which the AOC applies its geographic salary differential policy (section 4.2 of the AOC personnel manual) should be reviewed and, if maintained, applied consistently.
● Given current HR staffing and expertise levels, an outside entity should be considered to conduct these reviews.
Recommendation No. 7-36: The AOC’s at-will employment policy provides management with maximum hiring and firing flexibility, and should be exercised when appropriate.
Recommendation No. 7-37: The AOC’s existing policy calling for annual performance appraisals of all AOC employees (AOC personnel manual, section 3.9) must be implemented uniformly throughout the AOC as soon as possible.
Recommendation No. 7-38: A consistent employment discipline policy must accompany the employee performance appraisal system. Section 8.1B of the AOC personnel manual discusses disciplinary action, but is inadequate. A policy that provides for performance improvement plans and for the actual utilization of progressive discipline should be developed and implemented consistently across the entire AOC.
Recommendation No. 7-39: The AOC must utilize its layoff process to provide management with a proactive way to deal with significant reductions in resources.
Recommendation No. 7-40: The AOC must adhere to its telecommuting policy (Section 8.9 of the AOC personnel manual). It must apply the policy consistently and must identify and correct all existing deviations and violations of the existing policy.
Recommendation No. 7-41: A gradual, prioritized review of all HR policies and practices, including all those incorporated in the AOC personnel manual, should be undertaken to ensure they are appropriate and are being applied effectively and consistently throughout the AOC.
Recommendation No. 7-42: The Administrative Director should resolve any remaining issues that have existed between the HR Division and Office of General Counsel, including by redefining respective roles relating to employee discipline or other HR functions.
Information Services Division
Recommendation No. 7-43: The committee recommends that the functions of this division be placed under a unit titled Information and Technology Services Office, combined with any remaining functions of CCMS. The office should report to the Chief Administrative Officer of the Judicial and Court Administrative Services Division. The IS Manager position should be compensated at its current level.
Recommendation No. 7-44: A reexamination of technology policies in the judicial branch must occur now that CCMS does not represent the technology vision for all courts. Formulation of any new branch-wide technology policies or standards must be based on the input, needs, and experiences of the courts, and including cost-benefit analysis.
Recommendation No. 7-45: Especially with CCMS not being fully deployed, staff reductions in this division are in order, including:
● Unnecessary CCMS positions should be eliminated.
● The total number of senior managers should be reduced.
● The use of temporary employees, consultants, and contractors should be reviewed and reductions made accordingly.
Recommendation No. 7-46: Different divisions in AOC operate from different technology platforms, including SAP used for the Phoenix system, Oracle, and CCMS. As part of a long range plan for the use of technology in AOC operations, the AOC should conduct a review and audit of all technology currently used in the AOC Efficiencies and cost savings could result from the use of a single platform.
Trial Court Administrative Services
Recommendation No. 7-47: TCAS should be made a unit under the Judicial and Court Administrative Services Division, reporting to the Chief Administrative Officer. The TCAS Manager position should be at the Senior Manager level.
Recommendation No. 7-48: The Phoenix Financial System is in place in all 58 superior courts; however, trial court use of the Phoenix HR/Payroll functionality should remain optional to individual trial courts.
Recommendation No. 7-49: As policy matters, it is recommended that the Judicial Council determine whether to continue with the charge-back model whereby courts reimburse the AOC from their Trial Court Trust Fund allocations for the courts’ use of the Phoenix financial system; and whether the Los Angeles court will be required to reimburse the AOC for use of the Phoenix financial system.
Recommendation No. 7-50: As with the Information Services Division, the AOC should determine whether to continue use of multiple or overlapping technologies for similar functions, as using a single technology could result in efficiencies and savings, both operationally and in personnel cost.
Recommendation No. 7-51: TCAS should continue to provide clear service-level agreements with respect to services provided to the courts.
Office of Communications
Recommendation No. 7-52: The Office of Communications should remain in the Executive Office and under the direction of a Chief of Staff. The Office of Communications manager position should be placed at the Senior Manager level.
Recommendation No. 7-53: The resources of this office, including the Public Information Officer, should be made more available to furnish increased media relations services to courts requesting such assistance.
Office of Emergency Response and Security
Recommendation No. 7-54: There is no need for a stand-alone Office of Emergency Response and Security. Most necessary functions performed by the office can be reassigned and absorbed by existing units in the Judicial and Court Operations Services Division.
Recommendation No. 7-55: The functions of this office should be refocused and limited to those reasonably required by statute or by the Rules of Court, primarily including review of security plans for new and existing facilities; review of court security equipment, if requested by the courts; and review of emergency plans.
Recommendation No. 7-56: Reductions in this office are feasible. The office cannot effectively provide branch-wide judicial security and online protection for all judicial officers. Positions allocated for such functions should be eliminated. The Administrative Director should evaluate whether some activities undertaken by this office are cost-effective, such as judicial security and online protection functions.
Court Case Management System Program Management Office
Recommendation No. 7-57: The AOC must seek the fully informed input and collaboration of the courts before undertaking significant projects or branch-wide initiatives that impact the courts.
Recommendation No. 7-58: The AOC must first employ an appropriate business case analysis of the scope and direction of significant projects or initiatives, taking into account the range of fiscal, operational, and other impacts to the courts.
Recommendation No. 7-59: The AOC must develop and communicate accurate cost estimates for projects, programs, and initiatives.
Recommendation No. 7-60: The AOC must apply proper cost and contract controls and monitoring, including independent assessment and verification, for significant projects and programs.
Recommendation No. 7-61: The AOC must maintain proper documentation and records of its decision making process for significant projects and programs.
Recommendation No. 7-62: The AOC must identify and secure sufficient funding and revenue streams necessary to support projects and programs, before undertaking them.
Recommendation No. 7-63: The AOC must accurately report and make available information on potential costs of projects and impacts on the courts.
Office of Court Construction and Management
Recommendation No. 7-64: The OCCM should be renamed Office of Court Construction and Facilities Management Services. The functions of this unit should be placed under the Judicial and Court Operations Services Division and reporting to the Chief Operating Officer. The manager of this unit should be compensated at the same level.
Recommendation No. 7-65: A cost-benefit analysis of the entire scope of OCCM operations is needed.
Recommendation No. 7-66: The current facilities maintenance program appears inefficient and unnecessarily costly. The consultant report is necessary and should be considered part of a necessary reevaluation of the program. Courts should be given the option to assume responsibility for maintenance of court facilities and for smaller-scale projects.
Recommendation No. 7-67: Fiscal planning for facilities maintenance for new and existing facilities needs to become an immediate priority, and revenue streams to fund increased costs for maintenance of court facilities must be identified and obtained.
Recommendation No. 7-68: Staff reductions appear feasible in light of the slowdown in new court construction and should be made accordingly. The Chief Operating Officer should be charged with implementing necessary reductions.
Recommendation No. 7-69: The use of temporary or other staff to circumvent the hiring freeze should cease.
Recommendation No. 7-70: The contracting process utilized by OCCM needs to be improved. This process should be reviewed as part of the AOC-wide review of its contracting processes.
Office of General Counsel
Recommendation No. 7-71: The Office of General Counsel should be renamed Legal Services Office, consistent with its past designation, and should be a stand-alone office reporting to the Administrative Director of the Courts. The Legal Services Office manager position should be compensated at its current level. The Legal Services Office should not be at the same divisional level as the Judicial and Court Operations Services Division or the Judicial and Court Administrative Services Division. The Chief Counsel, manager of the Legal Services Office, should not be a member of the Executive Leadership Team.
Recommendation No. 7-72: The Legal Services Office’s current level of approximately 75 positions, including more than 50 attorney positions, should be reduced. To achieve the reduction, the following areas should be reviewed and considered, and appropriate actions taken:
- In addition to the General Counsel, there are nine management level attorney positions in the Legal Services Office, including the Assistant General Counsel, three Managing Attorneys, and five Supervising Attorneys. This is an excessive number of management positions, which should be reduced. The position of Assistant General Counsel position could be eliminated. One managing attorney could be assigned to manage each of the two major functional components of the division, house counsel, and Judicial Council services, with each managing attorney reporting directly to the Chief Counsel.
- Despite the large number of management positions, management systems and processes are particularly lacking in the Legal Services Office. Implementing fundamental management practices to address the underperformance of staff members and provide better supervision and allocation of work should produce efficiencies that can result in reductions.
- A large number of Legal Services Office positions are dedicated to supporting the Judicial Council and its various committees and task forces. Assigning responsibility for coordinating the AOC’s Judicial Council support activities to the Executive Office under the direction of the Chief of Staff will lead to efficiencies that should result in reductions of Legal Services Office positions dedicated to these activities.
- Implementation of the recommendations designed to streamline and improve the AOC’s contracting processes should reduce contract-related work performed by the Legal Services Office.
- The Legal Services Office has promoted and contributed to the “lawyerizing” of numerous activities and functions in the AOC. There are opportunities for work currently performed by attorneys in the Rules and Projects, Transactions and Business Operations, Real Estate, and Labor and Employment units to be performed by nonattorneys, resulting in efficiencies and possible staff reductions.
- Development and use of paralegal classifications, as found elsewhere in legal services throughout both the public and private sectors, could lead to the reduction of attorney positions in the Legal Services Office.
Recommendation No. 7-73: There currently are at least two positions in the Legal Services Office that violate the AOC’s telecommuting policy. These should be terminated immediately, resulting in reductions. Nor should telecommuting be permitted for supervising attorneys in this division.
Recommendation No. 7-74: As recommended elsewhere, the Judicial Council should assess the costs and benefits of allocating staff attorneys and resources to various advisory committees, task forces, and working groups.
Recommendation No. 7-75: The Administrative Director should make an AOC-wide assessment to determine whether attorneys employed across the various AOC divisions are being best leveraged to serve the priority legal needs of the organization and court users.
Recommendation No. 7-76: The role of the Chief Counsel should be redefined to reflect the primary role of providing legal advice and services, as opposed to developing policy for the judicial branch.
Recommendation No. 7-77: This office must place greater emphasis on being a service provider and in improving how it provides services, including as follows:
● Most fundamentally, this division should employ and emphasize a customer service model of operation — recognizing a primary goal of providing timely service and advice to its clients, including to internal clients in the AOC and to those courts that request legal advice or services from this office.
● This office should adopt an operations model whereby its attorneys generally are housed at one location. This would eliminate nonsupervision of some attorneys, promote better and more regular supervision of staff attorneys, and promote better utilization of available skills.
● The service model should emphasize that time is of the essence when it comes to delivering advice and opinions to the courts; that recommendations and advice to courts should include a full range of options available to the courts; and that there must be a greater recognition that the AOC’s interests may conflict with the specific interests of the courts. Clearer procedures should be put in place to safeguard the interests of individual courts in those instances when legitimate conflicts arise.
● Emphasis must be placed on reducing bottlenecks for advice, contracts, and other projects. More effective tickler and tracking systems for opinions, contracts, and other documents should be put in place.
● Court users of legal services should be surveyed periodically to determine if such services are performed in a timely and satisfactory manner.
Recommendation No. 7-78: The Administrative Director should resolve issues that have existed between the HR Division and OGC, including by redefining respective roles relating to employee discipline or other HR functions.
Recommendation No. 7-79: The Judicial Council and/or Administrative Director should order an independent review of this office’s use, selection, and management of outside legal counsel to determine whether outside counsel is being utilized in a cost-effective manner.
Office of Governmental Affairs
Recommendation No. 7-80: The Office of Governmental Affairs should be placed in the Executive Office, under the direction of the Chief of Staff. The OGA Manager position should be at the Senior Manager level.
Recommendation No. 7-81: The OGA should represent the interests of the judicial branch on the clear direction of the Judicial Council and its Policy Coordination and Liaison Committee. The Chief of Staff should take steps to ensure that the PCLC is apprised fully of varying viewpoints of the courts, court executive officers, and judges before determining legislation positions or proposals.
Recommendation No. 7-82: The Administrative Director should direct that attorney resources in the AOC be utilized to best leverage and draw on subject matter expertise, which may assist OGA as legislative demands may require.
Recommendation No. 7-83: The Office of Governmental Affairs should be directed to identify legislative requirements that impose unnecessary reporting or other mandates on the AOC. Appropriate efforts should be made to revise or repeal such requirements.
Recommendation No. 7-84: The regional offices should cease to exist as a separate division within AOC. The BANCRO and SRO offices should close. Advocacy and liaison services provided to the trial courts should be provided through the office of Trial Court Support and Liaison in the new Executive Office.
Recommendation No. 7-85: Leases for space utilized by SRO and BANCRO should be renegotiated or terminated, if possible, as such lease costs cannot be justified. To the extent AOC staff from other divisions is assigned to work at leased space at the regional offices, the need for locating such staff in currently leased space should be reevaluated.
Recommendation No. 7-86: While responsibility for essential services currently provided to courts through regional offices should be consolidated and placed under the direction of Trial Court Support and Liaison services in the Executive Office, a physical office should be maintained in the Northern California Region area to provide some services to courts in the region.
Recommendation No. 7-87: The significant special projects previously assigned to the regional offices should be placed under the direction of the Chief of Staff in the Executive Office.
Chapter 8. AOC Budgets
Recommendation No. 8-1: All fiscal information must come from one source within the AOC, and that single source should be what is currently known as the Finance Division (to become the Fiscal Services Office under the recommendations in this report).
Recommendation No. 8-2: Tracking systems need to be in place so that timely and accurate information on resources available and expenditures to date are readily available. Managers need this information so they do not spend beyond their allotments.
Recommendation No. 8-3: Information displays need to be streamlined and simplified so they are clearly understandable.
Recommendation No. 8-4: The Finance Division (Fiscal Services Office) should track appropriations and expenditures by fund, and keep a historical record of both so that easy year-to-year comparisons can be made. This can be done by unit, division or by program — whichever provides the audience with the most informed and accurate picture of the budget.
Recommendation No. 8-5: Expenditures should be split into those for state operations and local assistance (funds that go to the trial courts) so it is clear which entity benefits from the resources. State operations figures should be further broken down as support for the Supreme Court and Appellate Courts. In most state departments, administrative costs are distributed among programs. The AOC should adopt this methodology.
Recommendation No. 8-6: The AOC should schedule its budget development and budget administration around the time frames used by all state entities. Assuming the budget for any fiscal year is enacted by July 1, the AOC should immediately allocate its budgeted resources by fund among programs, divisions, units. Management of the AOC, and the Judicial Council, should receive this information, which should be posted on the AOC website.
Recommendation No. 8-7: Requests for additional resources are presented to the Judicial Council at its August meeting. These requests identify increased resources requested and should be accompanied by clear statements of the need and use of the resources and the impact on the AOC, as well as the impact on the judicial branch, if any. A cost-benefit analysis should be part of any request and there should be a system to prioritize requests.
Recommendation No. 8-8: After the Governor’s Budget is released in January, the AOC should present a midyear update of the judicial branch budget at the next scheduled Judicial Council meeting. This presentation should tie to the figures in the Governor’s Budget so that everyone has the same understanding of the budget.
Recommendation No. 8-9: Except for changes that must be made to comply with time requirements in the state budget process, the AOC should not change the numbers it presents – continual changes in the numbers, or new displays, add to confusion about the budget.
Recommendation No. 8-10: The AOC must perform internal audits. This will allow the leadership team and the Judicial Council to know how a particular unit or program is performing. An audit can be both fiscal and programmatic so that resources are tied to performance in meeting program goals and objectives.
Recommendation No. 8-11: As part of the reorganization and downsizing of the AOC, the leadership team should employ budget review techniques (such as zero-based budgeting) so that the budget of an individual unit is aligned with its program responsibilities. In the future, there should be periodic reviews of units and or programs to make sure funding is consistent with mandated requirements.
Chapter 9. Staffing Levels
Recommendation No. 9-1: The total staff size of the AOC should be reduced significantly.
Recommendation No. 9-2: The total staff size of the AOC must be reduced significantly and should not exceed the total number of authorized positions. The current number of authorized positions is 880. The consolidation of divisions, elimination of unnecessary and overlapping positions and other organizational changes recommended in this report should reduce the number of positions by an additional 100 to 200, bringing the staff level to approximately 680 to 780.
Recommendation No. 9-3: Vacant authorized positions should be eliminated if they have remained unfilled for six months.
Recommendation No. 9-4: Employment of temporary or other staff to circumvent a hiring freeze should not be permitted. The Executive Leadership Team should immediately review all temporary staff assignments and eliminate those that are being used to replace positions subject to the hiring freeze. Temporary employees should be limited to periods not exceeding six months and should be used only in limited circumstances of demonstrated need, such in the case of an emergency or to provide a critical skill set not available through the use of authorized employees.
Recommendation No. 9-5: The staffing levels of the AOC must be made more transparent and understandable. Information on staffing levels must be made readily available, including posting the information online. All categories of staffing — including, but not limited to, authorized positions, “909” staff, employment agency temporary employees and contract staff — must be accounted for in a manner understandable to the public.
Chapter 10. Other Issues
Recommendation No. 10-1: The AOC should renegotiate or terminate its lease in Burbank. The lease for the Sacramento North spaces should be reviewed and renegotiated to reflect actual usage of the office space. The AOC should explore lower-cost lease options in San Francisco, recognizing that DGS would have to find replacement tenants for its space.
Recommendation No. 10-2: As part of its long-term planning, the AOC should consider relocation of its main offices, based on a cost-benefit analysis of doing so.