For over 20 years, Fentress has produced annual workload and personnel forecasts for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) to support the long-range facilities planning program and numerous special studies. For this effort, Fentress uses a variety of statistical methods to produce forecasts for 12 workload series and for judge and court personnel. We perform over 10,000 forecasts annually for the AOUSC.
Each year, Fentress performs several key tasks to accomplish the forecasting effort, including data mining, forecasting using a variety of time series methods, peer reviews of forecasts, and result briefings with the AOUSC, and updates to a computer application that contains the forecasting data and results. Data mining is a critical first step, as much of the caseload data come from the AOUSC in master files that contain individual records that must be mined and queried to generate the caseload totals for each district. The personnel data also require mining and manipulation. Following this step, Fentress statisticians produce initial caseload and personnel forecasts. These results are evaluated internally through a peer review of analysts knowledgeable about the federal judiciary. These analysts are in touch with the latest workload and personnel trends and are able to critique the forecasts from a content perspective. Fentress then briefs the AOUSC on the results in meetings that focus on reviewing forecasting samples, best fit statistics, and data validation materials. These meetings often result in beneficial collaboration between Fentress and the AOUSC – new techniques have been evaluated, valuable insights into court trends have been gained, and new ways to validate the forecasting results have been developed. Finally, Fentress updates an on-line computer application that contains the annual forecasts and data. This application allows the AOUSC to access the data and forecasts, and generate reports.
The annual caseload and personnel forecasting task that is performed by Fentress is an integral part of the AOUSC’s long-range facility planning program. This project provides the AOUSC with insight on workload and personnel growth, the interconnectivity between workload and staff, and the latest trends and initiatives that may impact the workload, including legislation impacts and policy changes. The information gained from this annual effort helps to guide the long-range facilities planning program and shape facility and space planning decisions.