Audit of AOC is Released: Worst Suspicions Confirmed
Critics of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), the government agency in charge of supervising the running of California’s court system, have long argued that the AOC was completely mismanaged and had grown so unwieldy in terms of size and scope and spending that an audit was needed.
An audit of the AOC indeed was ordered and today the California State Auditor’s office released its findings confirming all of the worst suspicions that the AOC’s critics had of the agency.
Some of the damning highlights of the audit released today revealed:
- The Judicial Council did not adequately oversee the AOC in managing the judicial branch budget, which allowed the AOC to engage in questionable compensation and business practices.
- Provides its staff with generous salaries and benefits—the AOC pays eight of its nine office directors more than the governor and many other high-ranking executive branch officials receive.
- Employs over 70 contractors and temporary employees and could save about $7.2 million per year by using state employees in comparable positions.
- Maintains a fleet of 66 vehicles without requiring its offices to justify the need.
- Made about $386 million in payments over the last four years on behalf of trial courts using funds appropriated to them but could have paid a portion of those payments from its own funds.
- The AOC has sole autonomy in deciding how to spend certain judicial branch funds due to the lack of Judicial Council’s involvement in the budgeting process.
- The AOC has few policies, procedures, or controls in place to ensure funds are appropriately used and spent and, unlike the executive branch, is not required to undergo an annual independent financial audit.
- Although it provides services to the courts, the AOC has never comprehensively surveyed the courts to identify the needs of the courts and ensure that services it provides are useful.
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