Budgeting for the U.S. Judiciary: Preparing for the Future

June 2007 - The Judiciary exerts the greatest influence on congressional budgeting decisions by presenting its case for annual appropriations and detailing the methods it uses to manage its financial resources. Funding the Judiciary at adequate levels presents a challenge to appropriators, given a capped congressional budget process designed to ensure that the entire federal government’s missions be underwritten and a given appropriation subcommittee’s purview.

Congress directed the Judiciary to contract with the National Academy to examine the Judiciary’s budget process and its recent cost-containment initiatives. Congress also requested a study on how the Judiciary’s priority-setting process is built into its budget requests and its communication strategy to both Congress and the public.

Key Findings

The Panel suggested improvements to provide both the Judiciary and Congress with better information as they consider trade-offs in the budget process, and it urged the Judiciary to move expeditiously on these recommendations.