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Us Gao Federal Judgeship Workload Measures Report 2009

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United States Government Accountability Office

GAO

Statement for the Record, Senate
Committee on the Judiciary,
Subcommittee on Administrative
Oversight and the Courts

For Release on Delivery
Expected at 2:30 p.m. EDT
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

FEDERAL JUDGESHIPS
The General Accuracy of
District and Appellate
Judgeship Case-Related
Workload Measures
Statement of William O. Jenkins, Jr., Director
Homeland Security and Justice

GAO-09-1050T

September 30, 2009

FEDERAL JUDGESHIPS
Accountability Integrity Reliability

Highlights

The General Accuracy of District and Appellate
Judgeship Case-Related Workload Measures

Highlights of GAO-09-1050T, a Statement
for the Record before the Senate
Committee on the Judiciary,
Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight
and the Courts

Why GAO Did This Study

What GAO Found

Biennially, the Judicial Conference,
the federal judiciary’s principal
policymaking body, assesses the
need for additional judges. The
assessment is based on a variety of
factors, but begins with
quantitative case-related workload
measures. This statement focuses
on (1) whether the judiciary’s
quantitative case-related workload
measures from 1993 were
reasonably accurate; and (2) the
reasonableness of any proposed
methodologies to update the 1993
workload measures. This statement
is based on work completed and
reported in 2003 and discussed in
testimony on June 17, 2008.

In 2003, GAO reported that the 1993 district court case weights were
reasonably accurate measures of the average time demands that a specific
number and mix of cases filed in a district court could be expected to place on
the district judges in that district. At the time of GAO’s 2003 report, the
Judicial Conference was using case weights approved in 1993 to assess the
need for additional district court judgeships. The weights were based on data
judges recorded about the actual in-court and out-of-court time spent on
specific cases from filing to disposition. This methodology permitted the
calculation of objective, statistical measures of the accuracy of the final case
weights.

What GAO Recommends
In 2003, GAO recommended that
the Judicial Conference, among
other things, develop a
methodology for measuring the
case-related workload of courts of
appeals judges by using
methodologies that support
objective, statistically reliable
means of calculating the accuracy
of the weights and workload
measures, respectively. The
Conference disagreed and stated
that, among other things, GAO’s
report did not reflect the
sophisticated methodology of the
study and that the workloads of the
courts of appeals entail important
factors that have defied
measurement. GAO believes the
importance and costs of creating
new judgeships requires the best
possible case-related workload
data to support the assessment of
the need for more judges.

View GAO-09-1050T or key components.
For more information, contact William O.
Jenkins, Jr. at (202) 512-8757 or
JenkinsWO@gao.gov.

In 2003, GAO reviewed the research design the Judicial Conference's
Subcommittee on Judicial Statistics had approved for updating the 1993
district court case weights, and had two concerns about the design. First, the
design assumed that the judicial time spent on a case could be accurately
estimated by viewing the case as a set of individual tasks or events in the case.
Information about event frequencies and, where available, time spent on the
events would be extracted from existing databases and used to develop
estimates of the judge-time spent on different types of cases. However, for
event data, the research design proposed using data from two data bases that
had yet to be integrated to obtain and analyze the data. Second, unlike the
methodology used to develop the 1993 case weights, the design for updating
the case weights included limited data on the time judges actually spent on
specific types of cases. Specifically, the proposed design included data from
judicial databases on the in-court time judges spent on different types of
cases, but did not include collecting actual data on the noncourtroom time
that judges spend on different types of cases. Instead, estimates of judges’
noncourtroom time were derived from the structured, guided discussions of
about 100 experienced judges meeting in 12 separate groups (one for each
geographic circuit). Noncourtroom time was likely to represent the majority
of judge time used to develop the revised case weights. The accuracy of case
weights developed on such consensus data cannot be assessed using standard
statistical methods, such as the calculation of standard errors. Thus, it would
not be possible to objectively, statistically assess how accurate the new case
weights are—weights on whose reasonable accuracy the Judicial Conference
relies in assessing judgeship needs.
The case-related workload measure for courts of appeals judges is adjusted
case filings in which all cases are considered to take an equal amount of judge
time except for pro se cases—those in which one or more of the parties is not
represented by an attorney—which are discounted. In our 2003 review, we
found no empirical basis on which to assess the accuracy of this workload
measure. Although a number of alternatives to the adjusted filings measure
have been considered, the Judicial Conference has been unable to agree on a
different approach that could be applied to all courts of appeal
United States Government Accountability Office

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
I appreciate the opportunity to comment on our work on case-related
workload measures for district court and courts of appeals judges. My
statement today is based on work completed and reported in 2003 1 and
discussed in testimony last year on June 17, 2008, 2 and is focused
exclusively on these workload measures. We have no views on the Judicial
Conference’s pending request for additional judgeships.
Biennially, the Judicial Conference, the federal judiciary’s principal
policymaking body, assesses the judiciary’s needs for additional
judgeships. 3 If the Conference determines that additional judgeships are
needed, it transmits a request to Congress identifying the number, type,
(courts of appeals, district court), and location of the judgeships it is
requesting.
In assessing the need for additional judgeships, the Judicial Conference
considers a variety of information, including responses to its biennial
survey of individual courts, temporary increases or decreases in case
filings and other factors specific to an individual court. However, the
Judicial Conference’s analysis begins with the quantitative case-related
workload measures it has adopted for the district courts and courts of
appeals—weighted case filings and adjusted case filings, respectively.
These two measures recognize, to different degrees, that the time demands
on judges are largely a function of both the number and complexity of the
cases on their dockets. Some types of cases may demand relatively little
time and others may require many hours of work. Generally, each case
filed in a district court is assigned a weight representing the average
amount of judge time the case is expected to require. The weights are
relative to one another; the higher the case weight, the greater the time the
case would be expected to require. For example, on average a case with a
relative weight of 2.0 would be expected to require twice as much judge

1
GAO, Federal Judgeships: The General Accuracy of the Case-Related Workload Measures
Used to Assess the Need for Additional District Court and Courts of Appeals Judgeships,
GAO-03-788R (Washington, D.C., May 30, 2003).
2

GAO, Federal Judgeships: General Accuracy of District and Appellate Judgeship CaseRelated Workload Measures, GAO-08-928T (Washington, D.C., June 17, 2008).
3

The Chief Justice of the United States presides over the Conference, which consists of the
chief judges of the 13 courts of appeals, a district judge from each of the 12 geographic
circuits, and the chief judge of the Court of International Trade. The Conference meets
twice a year.

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time as a case with a weight of 1.0. In the courts of appeals, all case filings
are weighted equally at 1.0, except for pro se case filings—those in which
one or both parties are not represented by an attorney—which are
discounted.
Using these measures, individual courts whose past case-related workload
meets the threshold established by the Judicial Conference may be
considered for additional judgeships. These thresholds are 430 weighted
case filings per authorized judgeship for district courts and 500 adjusted
case filings per three-judge panel of authorized judgeships for courts of
appeals (courts of appeals judges generally hear cases in rotating panels of
three judges each). 4 Authorized judgeships are the total number of
judgeships authorized by statute for each district court and court of
appeals.
The Judicial Conference relies on these quantitative workload measures to
be reasonably accurate measures of judges’ case-related workload.
Whether these measures are reasonably accurate rests in turn on the
soundness of the methodology used to develop them. This statement
provides information on two of the objectives in our 2003 report: (1)
whether the judiciary’s quantitative case-related workload measures were
reasonably accurate measures of district judge and courts of appeals
judges’ case-related workload; and (2) the reasonableness of any proposed
methodologies to update the workload measures. In this statement, we
discuss those two objectives first for district courts then for courts of
appeals.
Our 2003 report was based on the results of our review of documentation
provided by the Federal Judicial Center (FJC) and the Administrative
Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) on the history and development of the
case-related workload measures and interviews with officials in each
organization. The scope of our work did not include how the Judicial
Conference used these case-related workload measures to develop any
specific request for additional district and courts of appeals judgeships.
We conducted our performance audit in April and May 2003 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards
require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate

4
In the documentation accompanying its 2007 request for additional judgeship, the Judicial
Conference notes that in 2004 it adopted a starting point of more than 430 weighted case
filings per authorized judgeship with an additional judgeship.

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evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions
based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained
provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our
audit objectives.

Summary

District Courts. In 2003, we reported that the methodology used to
develop the 1993 district court case weights resulted in reasonably
accurate measures of the average time demands that a specific number
and mix of cases filed in a district court could be expected to place on the
district judges in that district. At the time of our 2003 report, the Judicial
Conference was using case weights approved in 1993 to assess the need
for additional district court judgeships. The weights were based on data
judges recorded about the actual in-court and out-of-court time spent on
specific cases from filing to disposition. This methodology permitted the
calculation of objective, statistical measures of the accuracy of the final
case weights (e.g., standard errors).
In 2003 we reviewed the research design the Judicial Conference’s
Subcommittee on Judicial Statistics had approved for updating the 1993
district court case weights, and had two principal concerns about the
design. First was the challenge of collecting reliable, comparable data for
the analysis on in-court events from two different automated data systems,
one of which had not been implemented in all district courts. The FJC
established a technical advisory group to work through this issue. Second,
unlike the methodology used to develop the 1993 case weights, the design
for updating these case weights included limited data on the time judges
actually spent on specific types of cases. Specifically, the proposed design
included data from judicial databases on the in-court time judges spent on
different types of cases, but did not include collecting actual data on the
noncourtroom time that judges spend on different types of cases. Instead,
estimates of noncourtroom time would be based on estimates derived
from the structured, guided discussions of about 100 experienced judges
meeting in 12 separate groups (one for each geographic circuit).
Noncourtroom time was likely to represent the majority of judge time used
to develop the revised case weights. The accuracy of case weights
developed on such consensus data cannot be assessed using standard
statistical methods, such as the calculation of standard errors. As the
Federal Judicial Center acknowledged in commenting on our 2003 report,

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it is not possible to objectively, statistically assess how accurate the new
case weights are. 5
Courts of Appeals. Adjusted case filings, used to measure the caserelated workload of courts of appeals judges, are based on available data
from standard statistical reports from the courts of appeals. Unlike the
case weights used to measure district judge case-related workload,
adjusted case filings are not based on any empirical data regarding the
time that different types of cases required of courts of appeals judges. The
adjusted filings workload measure basically assumes that all cases have an
equal effect on judges’ workload with the exception of pro se cases—those
in which one or both parties are not represented by an attorney—which
are weighted at 0.33, or one-third as much as all other cases, which are
weighted at 1.0. On the basis of the documentation we reviewed, there is
no empirical basis on which to base that assumption or on which to assess
the accuracy of adjusted filings as a measure of case-related workload for
courts of appeals judges. Although a number of alternatives to the
adjusted filings measure have been considered, the Judicial Conference
has not been able to agree on a different approach that could be applied to
all courts of appeals.

Case Weights Are
Intended to Measure
Judicial Time
Required to Handle
Their Caseloads

The demands on judges’ time are largely a function of both the number
and complexity of the cases on their dockets. To measure the case-related
workload of district court judges, the Judicial Conference has adopted
weighted case filings. The purpose of the district court case weights was
to create a measure of the average judge time that a specific number and
mix of case filed in a district court would require. Importantly, the weights
were designed to be descriptive not prescriptive—that is, the weights were
designed to develop a measure of the national average amount of time that
judges actually spent on specific cases, not to develop a measure of how
much time judges should spend on various types of cases. Moreover, the
weights were designed to measure only case-related workload. Judges
have noncase-related duties and responsibilities, such as administrative
tasks, that are not reflected in the case weights.

5

We have not reviewed in detail the materials the FJC has posted on its Web site with
regard to the methodology actually used to develop the revised case weights approved in
2004. However, those materials indicate that the FJC essentially followed the design we
reviewed and that standard errors were not computed for the final weights..

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With few exceptions, such as cases that are remanded to a district court
from the court of appeals, each civil and criminal case filed in a district
court is assigned a case weight. For example, in the 2004 case weights,
drug possession cases are weighted at 0.86 while civil copyright and
trademark cases are weighted at 2.12. The total annual weighted filings for
a district are determined by summing the case weight associated with all
the cases filed in the district during the year. A weighted case filings per
authorized judgeship is the total annual weighted filings divided by the
total number of authorized judgeships. For example, if a district had total
weighted filings of 4,600 and 10 authorized judgeships, its weighted filings
per authorized judgeships would be 460. The Judicial Conference uses
weighted filings of 430 or more per authorized judgeship as an indication
that a district may need additional judgeships. Thus, a district with 460
weighted filings per authorized judgeship could be considered for an
additional judgeship. However, the Judicial Conference does not consider
a district for additional judgeships, regardless of its weighted case filings,
if the district does not request any additional judgeships.

1993 Case Weights
Reasonably Accurate,
But Accuracy of 2004
Case Weights Cannot
Be Statistically
Determined

In our 2003 report, we found the district court case weights approved in
1993 to be a reasonably accurate measure of the average time demands a
specific number and mix of cases filed in a district court could be
expected to place on the district judges in that court. The methodology
used to develop the weights used a valid sampling procedure, developed
weights based on actual case-related time recorded by judges from case
filings to disposition, and included a measure (standard errors) of the
statistical confidence in the final weight for each weighted case type.
Without such a measure, it is not possible to objectively assess the
accuracy of the final case weights.
At the time of our 2003 report, the Subcommittee on Judicial Statistics of
the Judicial Conference’s Judicial Resources Committee had approved the
research design for revising the 1993 case weights, with a goal of having
new weights submitted to the Resources Committee for review in the
summer of 2004. The design for the new case weights relied on three
sources of data for specific types of cases: (1) data from automated
databases identifying the docketed events associated with the cases; (2)
data from automated sources on the time associated with courtroom
events for cases, such as trials or hearings; and (3) consensus of estimated
time data from structured, guided discussion among experienced judges
on the time associated with noncourtroom events for cases, such as
reading briefs or writing opinions.

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According to the FJC, the Subcommittee wanted a study that could
produce case weights in a relatively short period of time without imposing
a substantial record-keeping burden on district judges. The FJC staff
provided the Subcommittee with information about various approaches to
case weighting, and the Subcommittee chose an event-based method—that
is, a method that used data on the number of and types of events, such as
trials and other evidentiary hearings, in a case. The design did not involve
the type of time study that was used to develop the 1993 case weights.
Although the proposed methodology appeared to offer the benefit of
reduced judicial burden (no time study data collection), potential cost
savings, and reduced calendar time to develop the new weights, we had
two areas of concern—the challenge of obtaining reliable, comparable
data from two different data systems for the analysis and the limited
collection of actual data on the time judges spend on cases.
First, the design assumed that judicial time spent on a given case could be
accurately estimated by viewing the case as a set of individual tasks or
events in the case. Information about event frequencies and, where
available, time spent on the events would be extracted from existing
administrative data bases and report and used to develop estimates of the
judge-time spent on different types of cases. For event data, the research
design proposed using data from two data bases (one of which was new
and had not been implemented in all district courts) that would have to be
integrated to obtain and analyze the event data. The FJC proposed
creating a technical advisory group to address this issue.
Second, the research design did not require judges to record time spent on
individual cases. Actual time data would be limited to that available from
existing data bases and reports on the time associated with courtroom
events and proceedings for different types of cases. However, a majority of
district judges’ time is spent on case-related work outside the courtroom.
The time required for noncourtroom events would be derived from
structured, guided discussion of groups of 8 to 13 experienced district
court judges in each of the 12 geographic circuits (about 100 judges in all).
The judges would develop estimates of the time required for different
events in different types of cases within each circuit using FJC-developed
“default values” as the reference point for developing their estimates.
These default values would be based in part on the existing case weights
and in part on other types of analyses. Following the meetings of the
judges in each circuit, a national group of 24 judges (2 from each circuit)
would consider the data form the 12 circuit groups and develop the new
weights.

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The accuracy of judges’ time estimates is dependent upon the experience
and knowledge of the participating judges and the accuracy and reliability
of the judges’ recall about the average time required for different events in
different types of cases—about 150 if all the case types in the 1993 case
weights were used. These consensus data could not be used to calculate
statistical measures of the accuracy of the resulting case weights. Thus,
the planned methodology did not make it possible to objectively,
statistically assess how accurate the new case weights are—weights
whose accuracy the Judicial Conference relies upon in assessing judgeship
needs.
We noted that a time study conducted concurrently with the proposed
research methodology would be advisable to identify potential
shortcoming of the event-based methodology and to assess the relatively
accuracy of the case weights produced using that methodology. In the
absence of a concurrent time study, there would be no objective statistical
way to determine the accuracy of the case weights produced by the
proposed event-based methodology—a major difference with the
methodology used to develop the 1993 case weights.

Accuracy of Courts of
Appeals Case-Related
Workload Measure
Cannot Be Assessed

The principal quantitative measure the Judicial Conference uses to assess
the need for additional courts of appeals judgeships is adjusted case
filings. The measure is based on data available from standard statistical
reports for the courts of appeals. The adjusted filings workload measure is
not based on any empirical data regarding the time that different types of
cases required of appellate judges.
The Judicial Conference’s policy is that courts of appeals with adjusted
case filings of 500 or more per three-judge panel may be considered for
one or more additional judgeships. Courts of appeals generally decide
cases using constantly rotating three-judge panels. Thus, if a court had 12
authorized judgeships, those judges could be assigned to four panels of
three judges each. In assessing judgeship needs for the courts of appeals,
the Conference may also consider factors other than adjusted filings, such

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as the geography of the circuit or the median time from case filings to
disposition. 6
Essentially, the adjusted case filings workload measure counts all case
filings equally, with two exceptions. First, cases refilled and approved for
reinstatement are excluded from total case filings. 7 Second, pro se cases—
defined by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts as cases in which
one or both of the parties are not represented by an attorney—are
weighted at 0.33, or one-third as much as other cases, which are weighted
at 1.0. For example, a court with 600 total pro se case filings in a year
would be credited with 198 adjusted pro se case filings (600 x 0.33). Thus,
a court of appeals with 1,600 filings (excluding reinstatements)—600 pro
se cases and 1,000 non-pro se cases—would be credited with 1,198
adjusted case filings (198 discounted pro se cases plus 1,000 non-pro se
cases). If this court had 6 judges (allowing two panels of 3 judges each), it
would have 599 adjusted case filings per 3-judge panel, and, thus, under
Judicial Conference policy, could be considered for an additional
judgeship.
The current court of appeals workload measure represents an effort to
improve the previous measure. In our 1993 report on judgeship needs
assessment, we noted that the restraint of individual courts of appeals, not
the workload standards, seemed to have determined the actual number of
appellate judgeships the Judicial Conference requested. 8 At the time the
current measure was developed and approved, using the new benchmark
of 500 adjusted case filings resulted in judgeship numbers that closely
approximated the judgeship needs of the majority of the courts of appeals,
as the judges of each court perceived them. The current courts of appeals
case-related workload measure principally reflects a policy decision using

6

At the time of our 2003 report, the FJC had suggested that adjusted case filings may not be
an appropriate measure for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, given the distinctive
characteristics of the administrative agency appeals that were a major source of that
court’s caseload. Details on the FJC analysis for the D.C. Circuit can be found in our 2003
report: GAO, Federal Judgeships: The General Accuracy of the Case-Related Workload
Measures Used to Assess the Need for Additional district Court and Courts of Appeals
Judgeships, GAO-03-788R (Washington, D.C., May 30, 2003).

7
Such cases were dismissed for procedural defaults when originally filed, but “reinstated”
to the court’s calendar when the case was later refilled. The number of such cases, as a
proportion of total case, is generally small.
8

GAO, Federal Judiciary: How the Judicial Conference Assesses the Need for More
Judges, GAO/GGD-93-31 (Washington, D.C., Jan. 29, 1993).

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historical data on filings and terminations. It is not based on empirical data
regarding the judge time that different types of cases may require. On the
basis of the documentation we reviewed for our 2003 report, we
determined that there is no empirical basis or assessing the potential
accuracy of adjusted case filings as a measure of case-related judge
workload.

Various Proposals Have
Been Considered for
Changing the Court of
Appeals Workload
Measure

In the past decade the Judicial Conference has considered a number of
proposals for developing a revised case-related workload measure for the
courts of appeals judges, but has been unable to reach a consensus on any
approach. As part of its assistance to the Conference in this effort, the FJC
in 2001 compiled a document that reviewed previous proposals to develop
some type of case weighting measure for the courts of appeals. Table 1
outlines some of these proposals and their advantages and disadvantages,
as identified by the FJC. Generally, methods that rely principally on
empirical data on actual case characteristics and judge behavior (e.g., time
spent on cases) are more appropriate than those that rely principally on
qualitative data because statistical methods can be used to estimate the
accuracy of the resulting workload measure.

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Table 1: Federal Judicial Conference Case Weighting Measure Proposals, 2001
Proposal

Advantages

1.

•

Estimation of case burden based on
actual time required to process the
case.

•

The quantitative approach would be
very thorough.
Empirically based data.

Disadvantages
•

•

2.

Estimate of case burden based on the
assessment of burden of only “certain
characteristics” from an already-existing
data base of factors.

•
•
•
•

3.

Would not be very time-consuming
for judges.
Would assess the frequencies of
certain “factors.”
Analysis of an existing database
would save time.
Can use a “wealth” of factors to get a
big picture of the caseload burden.

•

Convenient to extract information
from surveys or group discussions.

•

•

•

Normative assessment of cases to look
qualitatively at the cases as a whole.

•

Using multiple regression to use
information about the proportional mix
of cases with different defined
characteristics in the different circuits to
account for the differences in case
termination level.

•

Using district court weights for the
appellate system.

•

6.

Tallying court opinions (published and
unpublished)

•

Most appellate judge work leads to
production of appellate opinions in
chambers.

•

7.

Sampling cases for approximately 3
months for a case-based study.

•

Can project the results of 3 months of
cases to the rest of the years.

•

•
•

4.

5.

Quantitative approach to determine
factors to use.

•
•
•

•

Already available data.
Save time by using existing data.

•
•

Judges may not be amenable to the
time-consuming task of recording the
hours spent on individual cases.
Time spent gathering data could be
used elsewhere.
Difficult to agree on what factors to use
Difficult to decide if presence and
absence of factors is enough
information.
Database and survey accuracy may be
compromised.

Difficult to decide which factors to use.
Dependent upon the accuracy of
judges’ recall about the case.
Lack of empirically based data.
Use of a potentially incomplete model.
Inherent statistical limits.
Cannot assess appellate burdens on a
national level.
Little consistency between the two
court systems.
Sacrifice accuracy.
Necessary information cannot be
obtained consistently.
There is no way to anticipate possible
sample sizes, so cannot make a
statistical prediction.

Source: FJC documentation.

We recognize that a methodology that provides greater empirical
assurance of a workload measure’s accuracy will require judges to
document how they spend their time on cases for at least a period of
weeks. However, we believe that the importance and cost of creating new
federal judgeships requires the best possible case-related workload data
using sound research methods to support the assessment of the need for
more judgeships.

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Our 2003
Recommendations
and the Judiciary’s
Response

In our 2003 report we recommended that the Judicial Conference of the
United States
•

•

update the district court case weights using a methodology that
supports an objective, statistically reliable means of calculating the
accuracy of the resulting weights; and
develop a methodology for measuring the case-related workload of
courts of appeals judges that supports an objective, statistically reliable
means of calculating the accuracy of the resulting workload measures
and that addressed the special case characteristics of the Court of
Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Neither of these recommendations has been implemented.
With regard to our 2003 recommendation for updating the district court
case weights, the FJC agreed that the method used to develop the new
case weights would not permit the calculation of standard errors, but that
other methods could be used to assess the integrity of the resulting case
weight system. In response, we noted that the Delphi technique to be used
for developing out-of-court time estimates was most appropriate when
more precise analytical techniques were not feasible and the issue could
benefit from subjective judgments on a collective basis. More precise
techniques were available for developing the new case weights and were
to be used for developing new bankruptcy court case weights.
The methodology the Judicial Conference decided to begin in June 2002
for the revision of the bankruptcy case weights offered an approach that
could be usefully adopted for the revision of the district court case
weights. 9 The bankruptcy court methodology used a two-phased approach.
First, new case weights would be developed based on the time data
recorded by bankruptcy judges for a period of weeks—a methodology
very similar to that used to develop the bankruptcy case weights that
existed in 2003 at the time of our report. The accuracy of the new case
weights could be assessed using standard errors. The second part
represents experimental research to determine if it is possible to make
future revisions of the weights without conducting a time study. The data
from the time study could be used to validate the feasibility of this
approach. If the research determined that this were possible, the case

9

See GAO, Federal Bankruptcy Judges: Weighted Case filings as a Measure of Judges’
Case-Related Workload, GAO-03-789T (Washington, D.C., May 22, 2003).

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weights could be updated more frequently with less cost than required by
a time study. We believe this approach would provide (1) more accurate
weighted case filings than the design developed and used for the
development of the 2004 district court case weights, and (2) a sounder
method of developing and testing the accuracy of case weights that were
developed without a time study.
With regard to our recommendation improving the case-related workload
measure for the courts of appeals, the Chair of the Committee on Judicial
Resources commented that the workload of the courts of appeals entails
important factors that have defied measurement, including significant
differences in case processing techniques. We recognize that there are
significant methodological challenges in developing a more precise
workload measure for the courts of appeals. However, using the data
available, neither we nor the Judicial Conference can assess the accuracy
of adjusted case filings as a measure of the case-related workload of
courts of appeals judges.

Contacts and Staff
Acknowledgments

(440833)

For further information about this statement, please contact William O.
Jenkins Jr., Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, on (202) 5128777 or jenkinswo@gao.gov.

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