The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) uses a District Budget Model (DBM) – a budget formulation and resource allocation methodology – to identify staffing needs in all 94 district offices. The DBM provides a comprehensive assessment of the staffing needs of each district based upon mathematical and logical relationships between workload, performance standards, safety standards, and descriptive characteristics. The DBM does not determine personnel needs based on future workload; rather, it prescribes the number of positions required based on how the USMS should accomplish the workload within established business procedures and security standards. In 2002, the USMS sought a contractor to review the DBM, recommend improvements, and combine the past workload predictive models used by the USMS into a new model. The USMS also wanted this new model combined with the DBM to create a comprehensive budgeting and management tool that could be used to both estimate current personnel requirements and predict future resource needs.
Fentress began working with the USMS in 2002 on a multi-phased approach to the project. Fentress began by conducting an independent review of the existing DBM to evaluate its effectiveness and develop recommendations for improvement. The second phase involved implementing recommendations to enhance the DBM and its functionality, providing an improved and more credible model. Fentress then developed a projection model that could be used to formulate the budget and generate resource management scenarios. This model used both current and project workload to forecast USMS staffing needs and to support the agency’s annual budget requests. In the final phase of the project, the new budget formulation model was integrated with the DBM. During the evaluation phase of the project, Fentress identified three specific areas where the USMS should further investigate its workload and personnel assumptions. The USMS requested that Fentress review each of these three areas separately and develop new assumptions if needed. The three areas included the number of warrants assigned to USMS deputies, courtroom security staffing, and the use of federal judge hours worked as an indicator of USMS personnel needs. Investigating these workload factors and developing new strategies for forecasting resource needs required extensive knowledge of both analytical methodologies and of the federal justice system.
Fentress’ independent assessment of the DBM confirmed that it is a credible model with logical and defensible relationships between workload and staffing. Fentress analysts identified several areas for improvement within the DMB, focusing on further refining the methods used to determine staffing needs based upon workload and safety standards. Finally, Fentress’ analysis of the three key areas of staffing assumptions provided USMS with a more robust means to identify future personnel needs in key operational areas.