Increasing demands to serve Florida’s courts in the wake of more than a decade of budget cuts. This is what prompted the Florida Legislature to undertake a review of statewide Clerks of Court offices to examine operational efficiency and resource allocation for court-related functions. The Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) selected MGT Consulting Group to analyze people, processes, and technology within the 67 Clerks’ offices to find ways to streamline their existing budget expenditures. A daunting task, but MGT’s team of organizational efficiency review and financial performance experts successfully translated mounds of data points into succinct and scalable statewide recommendations.
To complete this large, complex project on time (and within budget), MGT assembled more than 20 consultants with backgrounds in human capital, financial solutions, technology, and complex agency operations. This diverse team had three months to interview staff in 15 randomly selected offices and survey staff within the remaining 52. The onsite interviews also included observing and recording the time needed to complete a variety of court-related tasks. Combined, the interviews, surveys, and observable research provided more than 150 data points on current operations, people, and technology. The team also recognized the huge diversity in population, needs, and processes between rural and urban counties. Thus, providing nuanced, scalable solutions became a critical driver for the recommendations included in MGT’s final report.
By combining the data into an easy-to-understand graphic analysis, the heavy lift of interpreting intricate details of the Clerk’s day-to-day operations was streamlined into snapshots containing specific influencing factors and common observances found to be adjustable for improved operations. Employing archaic paper processes instead of digital alternatives or inefficient layout of an office’s physical space are examples of items evidenced and addressed. MGT also sought feedback from judicial stakeholders. This extra step, though not prescribed in the project scope, led to a key observation in the study. Judges reported that technologies used within a single judicial circuit may vary greatly, creating conflicts in information sharing. In response, the study recommended examining ways to encourage consistency in the use of technology, including evaluating the feasibility of using one standardized statewide case management system, something that has never been done before. The final 102-page report provided more than 25 recommendations to help the Clerks of Court be more efficient stewards of public funds while maintaining a vigilance to accuracy. Florida’s Clerks offices showed an overwhelming integrity and dedication to excellence; a testimony to the critical nature of court proceedings.
While the Clerks’ responsibility is twofold – to uphold the fidelity to taxpayer dollars and administer court functions and documents with kit-gloves – its focus should remain on a strict exactness in execution. The Florida Clerks of Court are pivotal to the lives of citizens throughout the state. MGT’s final report offers recommendations to help the Clerks’ offices to foster better customer service and enhance the allocation of public funds while honoring the precision required when dealing with civil and criminal court cases.