Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania
County of Allegheny

I am pleased to present the Fifth Judicial District Strategic Plan for 2012-2015 for 2012-2015, as well as the Strategic Projects for 2012-2013 for 2012-2013. These documents are the culmination of seven months of work by a Strategic Planning Committee consisting of judicial officers, managers and supervisors who analyzed national and local trends, solicited input from focus groups of court employees and incorporated survey results from court-related users, litigants and the vast majority of court personnel. Our next step, implementation, will include more than 80 judges, magisterial district judges and court employees, representing all court divisions and functions, coming together to facilitate these important projects. The administrative judges and I appreciate the participation of all who contributed to this important undertaking.

As you may know, due to economic shortfalls, many courts throughout the country have had to reduce numbers of courts, furlough employees, freeze salaries or reduce hours. I do not wish to see the Fifth Judicial District take such drastic measures that would deleteriously affect court personnel or the quality and convenience currently maintained in court services. However, understanding that we must be cognizant of the economic difficulties of our funding bodies, I have instituted a number of cost containment measures to reduce spending consistent with the court’s adopted budget.

  1. A 90-day hiring freeze;
  2. Reduced Information Technology costs ($96,000 annually) through improved management of remote access services;
  3. Reduced the number of mobile access devices, resulting in an annual savings, thus far, of approximately $40,000 per year;
  4. Restructured jury operations from three departments to one, realizing a payroll reduction of $140,000 per year; and
  5. Implemented an Arbitration project by assigning court employees who are licensed attorneys to serve as arbitrators six times per year at no cost (three times in 2012).

These efforts aside, the purpose and intent of developing a strategic plan and projects are not limited to matters of financial security and responsibility. They reach far beyond this single objective and address many issues affecting our court, employees and those we serve. Put simply, we sought to answer the questions, "Where are we now?", "Where do we want to go?" and "How do we get there?" You will note that the tasks contained in the 2012-2013 Strategic Projects, both court-wide and divisional, include projects designed to strengthen the court’s workforce and work environment, improve access to services, assure timeliness of operations, and address serious facility issues, among many other important endeavors.

I embarked on this endeavor to build on the good work of my predecessors and to establish a guide for my successors to strengthen the viability of court operations on a continuing basis. I believe the Plan and its focused initiatives are an honest and accurate reflection of the competence and dedication to public service that is so evident in the work of all judicial officers and court employees. I offer my sincere gratitude to all of you and look forward to the successful implementation of our many initiatives.

President Judge