Tell Me More: AOC Advisory Groups

A reader by the name of Atticus Finch (seriously a great login name) made this comment that I thought deserved a post of its own.

Someone should ask the AOC about the nearly $2,000,000 they spend each year on the council’s multiple “advisory groups,” (what is it now–close to 30?) many of which can’t be bothered to attach cost estimates to the recommendations they send to the council.

If anyone out there has the scoop on the AOC’s advisory groups (Good Lord.  Are there really thirty of them?) feel free to comment here.  I went to the AOC’s website to try and get some idea of what these advisory groups are and just what it is they’re advising but alas….like almost everything with the AOC…I couldn’t find the information I needed.  Drop me an email as well if you wanna spill.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader WiseEmployee I managed to find the advisory groups with the AOC and Judicial Council.  You can reach it yourself by clicking here.  The following is taken from the site explaining what the advisory groups are.

To provide leadership for advancing the consistent, impartial, independent, and accessible administration of justice, the Judicial Council must be aware of the issues and concerns confronting the judiciary, as well as appropriate solutions and responses. The council carries out this mission primarily through the work of its advisory committees and task forces.

The chair of the council may appoint advisory committees and task forces, comprising judges, court officials, attorneys, and members of the public, to advise the council in studying the condition of court business, improving judicial administration, and performing other council responsibilities. Advisory committees monitor areas of continuing significance to the justice system, whereas task forces handle particular projects or proposals. Both make recommendations to the council.

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13 responses to “Tell Me More: AOC Advisory Groups

  1. Where could one email you at to spill about the advisory committees?

  2. I can be reached at aocwatcher@yahoo .com. Orginal, I know.

  3. See the http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov and click on Judicial Council and then click on advisory committees. Their taskforces will come up, as well. Not the easiest website to find anything…at least anything really worth knowing.

  4. Much obliged my friend.

  5. The public web site referenced does not list “working groups” (of which there are quite a few) that report to AOC executive leadership and/or other advisory groups. AOC insiders tell me that at one point, there were over 50 “advisory entities” (advisory committees, task forces, sub committees, working groups, etc.). Supposedly some of these entities prepare “work plans” annually, but those preparing the plans rarely bother to include cost estimates or carefully planned budgets for their work. The AOC way?

  6. Be mindful of the fact that AOC uses the advisory groups for cover. When they like what the group comes up with, they adopt it. When they don’t, they ignore or bury it. A positive outcome is generally guaranteed because the AOC staff directs each meeting, sets the agenda, times when material is distributed and reports back to AOC management when things are not going as hoped. Meetings and committees don’t have a meeting called if things are not going as expected. The outcome is pretty much a forgone conclusion but in the report to the Judicial Council and the public, it is always reported that the issue was fully vetted. Dissenting views are given a short boot out the door. And, of course, if the recommendation being made tot he Judicial Council is not as hoped, the agenda item is pulled or members are pulled aside and told how they are supposed to vote. needless to say, appointment to both the Judicial Council and the committees is tightly controlled.

    Just an observation from years and years of watching the above practice occur.

  7. It would be interesting to know just how much $ is spent on transportation costs for the judges that sit on the various committees. I used to be on one and I believe we had about 3 meetings a year which accomplished …?

  8. One wonders whether the AOC staff handled the discussion on the court closures in the same fashion as they handle their advisory workgroups???? Hmmmmm. I bet so.

  9. And how many staff members are used for this and how many consultants are hired to “help” the committees? I would love to see a list of consultants reports generated on behalf of the AOC and how many are planned for the future….I guess the likely hood of it is the same as seeing the AOC budget.

  10. Speaking of JC advisory bodies, check out the Commission for Impartial Courts report on the AOC-JC public web site: 108 recommendations, not a single one of which offers information on how much it would cost to implement. How much time and money did it take for the Commission to compile this report for the JC’s adoption, and who determines which recommendations get implemented and how much that will cost? Are all advisory body reports submitted for JC adoption like this, devoid of cost analysis? Anyone know?

  11. Cost Analysis??? If the AOC supports the project/program, an analysis of the costs and expected benefits is not required. Cases in point, CCMS, Phoenix HR, court facilities, etc.

    When the statewide accounting system (CARS) was first implemented, many courts complained because the monthly fees for support of CARS were more than what courts paid for their own off the shelf acconting systems. In addition, the AOC’s system was more labor intensive and some courts had to hire more fiscal staff to meet the system’s workload requirements. After the courts complained, the AOC came up with a “solution” – if a court could establish it was paying more for staff or technical support to support the AOC’s system, the AOC increased that court’s baseline allocation to cover the cost increase. So in addition to paying for the costs of development of the system the taxpayers end up covering the increased costs incurred by individual courts for operating the system on an ongoing basis. How can implementing a system that increases costs over the long run be considered a good use of taxpayer money?

    In addition to the increased costs to the courts are are the army of budget analysts the AOC had to hire to operate CARS on its end. When Courts used their own accounting systems, the AOC didn’t need these analysts.

    There may be some benefits to these AOC policy decisions in terms of judicial administration. In theory, I have no objection to statewide systems or the AOC assuming responsibility for court facilities. My objections are based on the fact the AOC has never shown that the expected benefits of one of its pet programs justify the expense of the programs or reallocation of funds away from core court operations.

    While I never bought into the conspiracy theory that the AOC planned to take over trial court administration at the local level, I can’t think of any other reason why the AOC wants to puts these statewide systems in place, irrespective of the costs. Maybe once the legislature starts to look at the huge costs of the AOC bueracracy, the AOC will argue it is too expensive to administer courts at both the state and local level The AOC will then argue that the fiscal, HR and case managmement systems are already in place for statewide or regional administration, therefore they could save money be eliminating local control over trial courts.

    Just because you are not paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

  12. Reader of the Complaint

    The fact that the HAS already taken over much of the administration of the dependency courts at the local level in the DRAFT counties and that the plan is to make all counties DRAFT counties also demonstrates that this is a concern. The cost involved in this program, not the least of which has been the increase in employment of staff in the Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC), has been very substantial.

  13. Reader of the Complaint

    P.S.: DRAFT stands for Dependency Representation, Administration, Funding, and Training (see the AOC sued in Federal Court portion of this blog).