The NCSC has pioneered work in the development of tools for performance management. Its CourTools analytical approach provides ten core performance measures for courts to use in evaluating their performance. Building upon its work on performance management, the NCSC has recently developed the High Performance Court Framework, which enables court managers to improve their courts’ performance through the use of a quality planning methodology, the establishment of performance criteria, and means to collect, analyze, and use performance data in order to manage and adjust operations to improve performance.
The NCSC is the leader in the area of performance measures for problem-solving courts. NCSC has produced national guidelines for adult drug court and performance measures for mental health court and is currently working with Pennsylvania to develop the first ever veteran’s court performance measures. With funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Statewide Drug Court Technical Assistance Grant, NCSC developed performance measures for adult courts.
The measures varied in content and emphasis depending on the specific goals and objectives of the programs, but generally included measures of post-program recidivism, accountability and social functioning, retention and graduation; timeliness; and interaction/cooperation with other criminal justice and community agencies and organizations.
In addition, under the auspices of this grant, NCSC and its assembled team of consultants, including drug court practitioners and researchers, provided technical assistance and consulting services to state court administrative offices and state alcohol and drug agencies to enhance leadership of statewide drug court efforts, improve coordination and collaboration among drug court agencies, and increase the likelihood of the installation of drug courts in all court operations.
The NCSC published a BJA Technical Assistance Bulletin, Developing Statewide Performance Measures for Drug Courts (2004), which summarized the results of these efforts and delineated a four-step process for developing measures that are meaningful, precise, and reliable without overly taxing resources.
In 2008, the NCSC published a monograph that described drug court performance measurement systems developed for more than 10 states. More recently, the NCSC and a working group of experts produced a set of performance measures designed specifically for mental health courts. The set of 14 measures was tested for feasibility, ease of implementation, and usefulness by multiple courts, and are now used by courts across the country.
The mental health court measures are designed to be used as a management tool, to monitor program performance, and to demonstrate accountability to funding agencies, court leaders, external partners, and the public. A summary of the measures, an in-depth user’s guide, and an Excel spreadsheet for tracking and reporting the measures can be found at ncsc.org/mhcpm. In addition, NCSC has also developed the PSC Toolkit which documents best practices for implementation of problem-solving courts.
In 2009, NCSC partnered with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the National Institute of Justice and American University on a “Research to Practice” project designed to provide drug court practitioners with a practical understanding of the latest research in the field related to problem-solving courts. More information is located at research2practice.org.