Budget Management

Resource Guide

While courts do secure some funding through grants from federal agencies and private institutions, the majority of state court funding comes from state and local government appropriations, with some additional funding coming from court costs. Consequently, the debates over court funding tend to be intergovernmental in nature, with courts competing with other government agencies for public funding at both the state and local levels.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.


Featured Links

Budget Resource Center.

Information on states' budgets.

Budgeting and Financial Administration. Court Consulting Services helps courts increase information on which to base critical financial decisions and maximize court revenues.
Reinkensmeyer, Marcus W. Court Security and Business Continuity in Lean Budget Times: A Collaborative Systems Approach. (2011). Future Trends in State Courts. Many courts are challenged to maintain high levels of court security and business continuity plans with increasingly limited resources. Drawing on the experience of an urban court, the Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County (the superior court), a collaborative systems approach can help courts leverage available resources and reengineer essential security services.
Grossi Jr., Peter T., Jon L. Mills and Konstantina Vagenas. Crisis in the Courts: Reconnaissance and Recommendations. (2012). Future Trends in State Courts. The courts are still in peril as a result of the nationwide economic crisis. The ABA Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System has put the issue of state court underfunding in the spotlight, and with its report has defined the crisis and offered recommendations to assist in dealing with it.
Gavel to Gavel Database.

Search the Gavel to Gavel legislation database based on state, year, legislation category, or any combination. Bill Type = "Salary & Budgets".

Durham, Hon. Christine M. and Daniel J. Becker. Reaping Benefits and Paying the Price for Good Business Decisions: Utah's Reengineering Experience. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. Twelve months of what we would characterize as solid planning, well-developed alternatives, creative problem solving, and good business decisions, culminating in both impressive system improvements and unanticipated political consequences.
Grant, Hon. Glenn A. Thirty-Sixth District Court of Michigan in and for the City of Detroit: Special Operational Review. (2013).

This study is directed at suggesting ways to improve the operations, staffing, and performance of the Thirty‐Sixth District Court (“the Court,” “District 36,”“D36”) serving the City of Detroit in light of grave financial problems facing it. The City is the Court’s principal funding source. An austere budget for the City and Court will be essential in the next few years and beyond.

Broderick, Jr., Hon. John T. and Daniel J. Hall. What Is Reengineering and Why Is It Necessary?. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. When the economy finally recovers, state courts will be even further behind if they have wasted valuable time by failing to develop strategies and structures to fulfill the emerging needs of this new era. Call it reengineering or systemic change, but creative innovation is no longer just a good idea, it is an absolute prerequisite to survival.

General

Carlson, Alan, et. al. Adequate, Stable, Equitable and Responsible Trial Court Funding: Reframing the State vs. Local Debate. (September 2008). This is a case study examining how three states funded their trial courts and how this impacted four key dimensions of funding: the adequacy and stability of funding, the equity of funding across trial courts in a state, and accountability for the fiscal management of trial courts.
Tobin, Robert. An Overview of Court Administration in the United States. (1997).

This short work discusses how court administration changes over time. Tobin first looks at court administration at the start of the judicial branch and notes the changes seen during certain time periods and broadly discusses the organization of modern court administration.

Hall, Daniel, Robert Tobin, and Kenneth Pankey. Balancing Judicial Independence and Fiscal Accountability in Times of Economic Crisis. (Summer 2004). Judges` Journal, Volume 43, Number 3, This article about state court efforts to balance principles of independence and accountability in the midst of a state fiscal crisis with its attendant budget cutbacks was originally published in the Summer 2004 issue of Judges' Journal on pages 5-9.
Tobin, Robert and Brian Lynch. Case Study of the Effects of State Financing of Trial Courts: California. (October 1990). Washington Project Office.

Evaluation of California's Trial Court Funding Program, which uses block grants rather than direct appropriations to finance the courts.

Tobin, Robert and Brian Lynch. Case Study of the Effects of State Financing of Trial Courts: Oregon. (October 1990).

This report summarizes the implications from Oregon's state financing of its courts, and draws lessons from Oregon's experiences that can be used by other states considering state financing.

Daniel J. Hall and Thomas Clark. Delivering Judicial Services in Hard Times. (2008). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2009.

This article reports on the status of state court budgets and notes the strategies used by courts during the previous recession to address budget gaps.  Because demand for judicial services remains high, courts are faced with tough choices to address budget concerns.  Business-process redesign may offer a longer-term solution.

Hudzik, John. Effects of State Financing: Summary Findings from the Four-State Study. (October 1990).

This report summarizes the findings of four statewide case studies of states where the judiciary is state financed, and provides suggestions to states considering state financing.

Tobin, Robert and Brian Lynch. Experience of States Which Have Adopted State Financing of Trial Courts: Implications for Illinois. (October 1990).

This report summarizes the implications from Illinois' state financing of its courts, and draws lessons from Illinois' experiences that can be used by other states considering state financing.

First Nationwide Financial System Nears Completion. (July 2004). The Financial Accounting System for Tomorrow or "FAS4T" is shorthand for a Windows-based financial management system that is transforming accounting in the federal courts.  Over the years, the courts of appeals and district courts have independently developed various manual and automated accounting systems.  FAS4T interfaces with the systems already in place, such as the Jury Management System and the Integrated Library System, and links these systems to the Central Accounting System maintained by the Administrative Office.
Tobin, Robert. Learning from Recession Experience. (March 2004).

This document summarizes observations and lessons learned from state experiences in handling the recessions of the early 1990d and early 2000s.

Resources, Budget and Finance. (2003). Core Competency Curriculum Guidelines, Williamsburg, VA: National Association for Court Management This Web site discusses the complications of budget planning, including effective resource allocation.
Michael Buenger. State Courts and State Legislatures: A Funding Crisis Renewed. (2008). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2008.

The 2008 economic crisis could test the relationship between the three branches of government in terms of both funding state court operations and other programs while maintaining an adequate system of checks and balances.

Rottman, David B. et al. Table 16: Preparation and Submission of the Judicial Branch Budget for State Funding. (2006). Table 16 from State Court Organization 2004 indicates who prepares and who reviews the state budget and where the budget is submitted.
The Economic Impacts of Delay in Florida Courts Due to Under-Funding of Court System. (January 2011). This report was commissioned by the Florida Bar and written by the Washington Economics Group.  It analyzes and reports on the economic effects caused by underfunding the state court system.  The report points out that the foreclosure crisis in 2008 was a catalyst to the current crisis built underfunding has been an ongoing issue for years.  This situation costs the residents of the state billions in added legal costs, decreased business opportunities and declining property value.

Accounting Policies and Procedures

Association of Government Accountants (AGA). www.agacgfm.org AGA is an educational organization dedicated to the enhancement of public financial management.
Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). www.fasb.org The mission of the Financial Accounting Standards Board is to establish and improve standards of financial accounting and reporting for the guidance and education of the public, including issuers, auditors, and users of financial information. See Statements of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS), Statements of Financial Accounting Concepts, and FASB Interpretations at this site.
Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB). www.gasb.org/ This web site is designed to provide information that will “establish and improve standards of state and local governmental accounting and financial reporting.”
Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). www.gfoa.org/ GFOA is the professional association of state/provincial and local finance officers in the United States and Canada and has served the public finance profession since 1906. GFOA is dedicated to the sound management of government financial resources.
Daniel J. Hall. How State Courts Are Weathering the Economic Storm. (2009). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2009.

Well into the first year of the recession, state courts have taken cuts that are affecting the way judicial services are being delivered.  As it becomes apparent that the breadth and depth of the recession will impact courts for several more years, courts are looking at policy options that could shape the face of courts for years to come.

<i>Journal of Government Financial Management</i>. Formerly the Government Accountants Journal The Journal of Government Financial Management provides valuable, in-depth information to decision makers at all levels of government. The Journal is published quarterly by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) and is distributed to government financial managers and countless libraries across the nation and abroad.
Judiciary Procurement Program Procedures (JP3). Federal Court Procurement Site, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts The JP3 is an operations manual containing a fully integrated set of specific and detailed procedures to be used as a reference document by judiciary procurement personnel.

Budget Planning

Marcus W. Reinkensmeyer. Court Security and Business Continuity in Lean Budget Times: A Collaborative System Approach. (2011). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2011.

Many courts are challenged to maintain high levels of court security and business continuity plans with increasingly limited resources.  Drawing on the experience of an urban court, the Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County (the superior court), a collaborative systems approach can help courts leverage available resources and reengineer essential security services.

Gerety, Corina. Excess and Access: Consensus on the American Civil Justice Landscape. (2011). Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.

This publication combines four studies that suggest a plausible theory: cost inefficiencies in the civil justice process reduce court access, delay contributes to unnecessary cost, and discovery procedure is a key factor with respect to both cost and delay. The survey results provide a starting point for further research on such a theory and on how the process might be improved without affecting fairness.

Tobin, Robert. Funding the State Courts: Issues and Approaches. (July 1996).

This report summarizes the discussion of the National Interbranch Conference on funding the State Courts, which brought together governors, legislators, and court personnel to address the issue of funding the judiciary and encourage interbranch cooperation on this topic.

Tobin, Robert and Kenneth Pankey. Managing Budget Cutbacks. (March 1994). Washington Office.

This report is one of a series of reports that are designed to elaborate and expand upon sections of the NACM Trial Court Financial Management Guide. The principal purpose of the project is to identify fundamental changes and basic management strategies that help courts to maximize their efficiency and to maintain, if not increase, their productivity in the face of resource limitations.

Gregory J. Linhares ad Anne Dannerbeck Janku. "Show Me" Where It Hurts: The Missouri Approach to Budget Impact Analysist. (2010). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2010.

This article discusses the Missouri Judiciary, using existing data, has analyzed how current programs and proposed budgetary changes impact court functions.  By gathering input from affected stakeholders, the often adversarial nature of budget cuts is minimized in interactions between the state and the judiciary and between the courts and court administration.

Tobin, Robert. Trial Court Budgeting. (August 1996). Court Management Library Services.

This book is intended for public administrators, court managers, and judges who are responsible for the preparation or review of court budget requests.

Budget Preparation

2008 Colorado Judicial Branch. Judicial Branch Budget Request Fiscal Year 2008 at www.courts.state.co.us This link is to the Table of Contents for the Judicial Budget Request, Fiscal Year 2008.
Budget Preparation and Enactment. (2007). County and Municipal Government in North Carolina, A. John Vogt and William C. Rivenbark, Chapel Hill School of Government This document has a detailed, itemized list of what one should note when preparing a budget.
Financial Planning & Control Manual. (October 2003). New York State Unified Court System, Division of Financial Management, Budget and Fiscal Operations. This Web site provides information regarding New York State’s financial cycle, budget preparation procedures and systems, accounting policies and procedures, and purchasing and contract procedures.
Campbell, Ralph, Jr. Fiscal Control Audit Report of Union County Clerk of Superior Court. (2003). State of North Carolina This is the audit report for Union County, North Carolina.  The pdf is divided into six sections: transmittal, table of contents, background, objective and methodology, distribution, and ordering information.
Barlow, Jeffrey. Funding Court Technology Initiatives. (2003). CTC 8 This article discusses how to strategically budget for new technology and/or improve existing technology.  The author includes grant information in the article.
Funding - Preparing Your Budget. Court Challenges Program of Canada This Web site has information about preparing a budget to secure program funding.
Justice in Jeopardy: The Court Funding Crisis in Washington State. (2004). Olympia, WA: Washington Courts. Board for Judicial Administration, Court Funding Task Force. This report addresses the issues of inadequate judicial funding and its impacts on the administration of justice in Washington.  The report concludes with possible funding alternatives, including fines, fees, and tax revenues, to enhance judicial budgets. 
Neal B. Kauder and Patrick K. Davis. State Budgets. (2008). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2008.

Provides a historical perspective of the effects of state budgets on courts and discusses what courts have done, and will need to do, to cope with budget issues.

Top Ten Trends. State Courts and Budget Challenges. (2006). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2006.

discussion of the budgetary challenges state courts are facing and the impact that the lack of funding is having on court programs and services.

Tobin, Robert. Transition to State Financing of Courts: The Implications of Financial and Personnel Management. (1981).

This guide is designed for judicial administrators involved or about to become involved in the process of transition from local financing to state financing.