Page 83 - Ad Hoc Report June 2018
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 structure further complicates this task by creating obstacles to obtaining funding and limiting flexibility necessary for the program to be properly administered.
The process of creating a budget for the Criminal Justice Act program begins with budget analysts within the Defender Services Office.143 These analysts con- sider past year’s costs, projected caseload, staffing formulas, and any new initia- tives in projecting the program’s actual needs. However, this estimate of the pro- gram’s needs is not what is transmitted to Congress, or even necessarily to the DSC. Because DSO is a part of the AO’s structure, its estimates are reviewed and some- times altered by many other offices within the AO, including BAPO, the staff for the Budget Committee. Thus DSO’s budget formulations are subject to judiciary needs before those formulations are even transmitted to the DSC.
A principle policy mechanism is also used to limit the Defender Services (the account name for the entire CJA program within the judiciary’s budget) requests. Each year, before the beginning of a new appropriations cycle, the chair of the Budget Committee transmits to the Committees with authority over various judi- ciary “programs” a “guidance letter.” The guidance letter informs the Committee
(in the case of the CJA, the Defender Services Committee) chair of the maximum percentage increase the Committee should request in a given year—a budget cap. The Budget Committee’s guidance instructs the Defender Services Committee (like other JCUS “program” committees) to limit its request to the JCUS regardless of programmatic needs identified such as new prosecutorial initiatives, developments in the law, or changes in caseload. These caps can operate differently depending upon how the baseline is set. For example, for the FY 2018 request, the cap was
set at four percent with the FY 2017 current services as the base. However, for the FY 2019 request, the cap was set at four percent above the FY 2018 baseline which assumed the FY 2017 funding levels.144 In other words, while the four percent was the same, the starting point chosen from which to build each year’s request was very different. If strictly adhered to, this level of funding would have required signif- icant reductions to FY 2019 current services.
These caps are not hard ceilings; the Budget Committee has approved requests exceeding the limitations. But the limitations send a message to Committee chairs, who must present their program’s budget request to the Budget Committee, about what will or will not be approved and presented to JCUS. Ultimately, this process leads to situations where JCUS is not informed of and Congress is not requested to fund what DSO or DSC has determined to be the true needs of the program.
This process plays out in an environment where the DSC lacks any real power
143 Thisdescriptionoftheformulationofthebudgetisbaseduponinformationanddiscussionswith DSO, budget staff, and other employees at the AO as well as direct knowledge of members of this Committee involved in the process.
144 ThatFY2017fundinglevelwasbasedontheappropriatedlevelplustheprojectedcarryforward which was listed in the FY 2018 congressional request.
No recommendation presented herein represents
the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United 2 0 1 7 R E P O R T O F T H E A D H O C C O M M I T T E E T O R E V I E W T H E C R I M I N A L J U S T I C E A C T 39
 States unless approved by the Conference itself.

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