For most people, the inner workings of the Illinois Judicial Branch are a mystery. There is little understanding of the many components necessary to keep the wheels of justice turning smoothly within our Illinois court system. While it is generally known that the Illinois Supreme Court oversees and directs the entire state court system, most people are unaware that the Administrative Offices of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) was created pursuant to Article VI, Section 16 of the Illinois Constitution to assist the Supreme Court with its general administrative and supervisory authority over all Illinois courts.
The AOIC is divided into 10 divisions: Access to Justice; Administrative Services; Communications; Courts, Children and Family; Court Services; Human Resources; Judicial College; Judicial Education; Judicial Management Information Services; and Probation Services. Last month I invited as my guest columnist, Chief Information Officer Skip Robertson, who heads the Judicial Management Information Services (JMIS) Division. This month, I invited Chief Fiscal Officer Kara McCaffrey, who oversees the Administrative Services Division, to be my guest columnist. The Administrative Services Division provides technical and administrative support services to the judicial branch through its three operational units: the Payroll Unit, the Accounting Unit, and the Budget Unit.
Kara will be sharing more details about the important work the Administrative Services Division does for the Illinois Supreme Court and the Illinois Judicial Branch. First, however, I want to say how fortunate we are to have Kara leading the Administrative Services team. Her knowledge and expertise, particularly in budgetary matters, has been invaluable. With her assistance, the budget proposal for the Illinois Judicial Branch received approval from the legislature, providing the Court with the funds necessary to meet our fiscal obligations. Thank you, Kara!
Now, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Kara McCaffrey.
The Administrative Services Division of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts
By Kara McCaffrey
It is my honor to have the opportunity to contribute to the monthly Illinois Courts Connect and bring awareness of the financial hub for the State of Illinois Judicial Branch – the Administrative Services Division (ASD) of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC). The ASD consists of three operational units: Fiscal, Accounting, and Payroll. Personnel within the ASD will likely interact with every member of the Judicial Branch at some point during their Judicial Branch career and the work ASD employees perform is essential in keeping the Illinois Courts operational. Yet, the work of the division is often completed behind the scenes.
The Judicial Branch’s primary source of funding is appropriated by the General Assembly and Governor from General Revenue Funds during the annual budget process. The State of Illinois’ fiscal year begins July 1st of each year and continues through June 30th
of the following year. The upcoming fiscal year budget preparation begins in November upon receipt of the Illinois State Legislature (ISL) Forms. In early December the Fiscal Unit submits the Judicial Branch’s Fiscal Year Budget Request to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB).
Historically, the State of Illinois Governor’s Budget Address occurs in February when the Governor presents a balanced budget to the General Assembly. The ISL documents providing detailed fiscal data for the previous, current, and upcoming fiscal year are submitted to the Legislative Leaders within 48 hours from the Governor’s Budget Address. The operational, programmatic and financial information and data provided in the ISL forms is presented and discussed in detail by the Chief Justice, Administrative Director, Chief Fiscal Officer, and guest speakers in the House and Senate Appropriation Hearings held during the Spring Legislative Session.
The comprehensive appropriation bill passed by the General Assembly to the Governor includes funding for all branches of government and state entities. The Governor then has the ability to reduce, modify, or eliminate any portion of the appropriation bill passed by the Legislature. Once the State of Illinois Appropriations Bill is signed into law, funding allocations and appropriation codes are established for the Judicial Branch’s upcoming fiscal year.
The Judicial Branch’s appropriation for Fiscal Year 2023 totals over $548.6 million which includes over $492.5 million in General Revenue Funds. Funding at this level allows the third branch of government to meet our statutory obligations and operational needs. In addition to procurement activities, the Fiscal Unit completes the financial reporting and assists with tracking judicial branch positions, expenditures, contractual obligations, spending projections and fiscal needs.
The Accounting Unit is responsible for processing and submitting over 23,000 state paid Judicial Branch vouchers within a fiscal year to the State of Illinois Comptroller’s Office. All vouchers are analyzed to ensure compliance with internal, external and statutory guidelines. The vouchers processed include, but are not limited to, probation officers’ salary reimbursements, e-filing initiative, foreign language interpreter reimbursements, circuit clerk stipends, reimbursements for sexually violent persons commitment cases, the court technology modernization program and statewide operational vouchers for the Supreme Court, the five Appellate Court Districts, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, and the Office of Statewide Pretrial Services. Upon receipt, review and approval, the Comptroller’s Office issues payments from the State of Illinois by check, direct deposit, or through electronic fund transfers.
The Payroll Unit produces the monthly and semi-monthly payrolls to the Comptroller’s Office for up to 1,815 Judicial Branch employees consistent with Internal Revenue Guidelines along with internal, external, processes and/or procedures. This includes the payroll for 994 judicial and 821 non-judicial positions.
Additionally, payroll personnel process judicial redaction requests pursuant to the Judicial Privacy Act and coordinate the Judicial Branch’s varied employee benefit programs, such as health, dental, vision, life insurance, deferred compensation, retirement, etc. with other state entities responsible for overseeing the specific State of Illinois benefit. The ASD also works closely with personnel in state owned Judicial Branch Courthouses along with the Capitol Development Board (CDB) for maintenance and repair projects.
The work that the Administrative Services Division carries out may take place behind the scenes, but I am beyond thrilled to share how we assist with keeping the State of Illinois Judicial Branch trains running with the lights on. If you have any questions and/or we can assist, please feel free to contact the Administrative Services Division of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts.