Administrative Office of the United States Courts in the United States
Agency that manages the daily operations of the federal courts. The Administrative Office of the United States Courts was established by Congress in 1939. The office is an agency of the Judicial Conference of the United States, although the director is selected by the Supreme Court. The administrative office performs basic management duties for the federal courts. It also collects and processes data on federal court activities. The office acts as staff for the judicial conference and functions as a clearinghouse for information obtained by the conference and its many committees. Finally, the office provides liaison among the federal Judiciary (Judicial Organization), the conference, and the legislative and executive branches. The office represents the conference before Congress, conveying budget requests, advocating additional judgeships, and recommending changes in court rules and other matters of consequence to the federal courts.
Analysis and Relevance
The establishment of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts was an outgrowth of President Franklin Roosevelt’s criticism that the federal courts were not managed efficiently. Roosevelt proposed that a Court Administrator ( U.S.) be appointed with extensive administrative authority over the federal courts. Because the Judiciary (U.S.) wished to retain more control over the courts than the Roosevelt proposal allowed, it offered its own counterproposal for the administrative office. Neither the office nor its director was given any policy making authority, but were to function largely as the administrative arm of the judicial conference. This proposal was adopted, and it remains in effect. Finally, the office has not been altogether successful in securing congressional support for various proposals affecting the court system, especially in its attempts to obtain more money for judicial branch expansion.
Notes and References
- Definition of Administrative Office of the United States Courts from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California
The Administrative Office of the United States Courts and the Federal Courts
In the words of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts: The Administrative Office, an agency within the judicial branch, provides a broad range of legislative, legal, financial, technology, management, administrative, and program support services to the federal courts. The Administrative Office is responsible for carrying out the policies of the Judicial Conference of the United States. A primary responsibility of the Administrative Office is to provide staff support and counsel to the Judicial Conference and its committees. The numerous additional responsibilities of the Administrative Office include collecting and reporting judicial branch statistics, developing budgets, conducting studies and assessments of judiciary operations and programs, providing technical assistance to the courts, developing training programs, and fostering communications within the judiciary and with other branches of government and the public. The Director of the Administrative Office, who is appointed by the Chief Justice in consultation with the Judicial Conference, serves as the chief administrative officer of the federal courts. Congress vested many of the judiciary’s administrative responsibilities in the Director. Recognizing, however, that the courts can make better business decisions based on local needs, the Director delegates the responsibility for many administrative matters to the individual courts. This concept, known as “decentralization,” allows each court to operate with considerable autonomy in accordance with policies and guidelines set at the regional and national level.
The Administrative Office of the United States Court, the judicial branch’s central support agency, provides a broad range of management, legal, technical, communications, and other support services for the administration of the federal courts.