Case filings are being processed more efficiently than ever in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, thanks to several procedural improvements made by the Clerk’s Office. The court’s administrative arm effectively cut the case processing time for submitted documents and filings in half, while also increasing the accuracy of how documents are submitted to the court to as high as 95 percent, up 13 percent since the improvements were made.
On March 3, the Clerk’s Office was recognized for its innovation when it received an award and certification from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) Government Division, an organization that objectively evaluates the quality of government operations.
“Our Clerk’s Office is the first government entity to achieve this certification, which makes it the standard which other government organizations, especially other court offices, can look to as the benchmark for exceptional performance,” said Chief Judge Kimberly A. Moore, of the Federal Circuit. “We take great pride in the accomplishments of our Clerk’s Office.”
Efficiency is critical for a federal court clerk’s office, which provides valuable support to judges and litigants as cases move through the court.
“It’s easy to self-evaluate and make assumptions that all is going well. It’s much harder to commit to having an independent party come in and audit your workplace and tell you what you’re doing right and what you could improve upon,” said Chief Deputy Clerk Jarrett B. Perlow. “But it’s a critical step if we are serious as an office and as a court to provide the highest level of service to the court and to the public.”
Circuit Executive and Clerk of Court Peter R. Marksteiner said that the project was a multi-year effort, beginning in 2017, which involved dedicating staff to conduct routine quality control checks, implementing uniform workplace standards, and improving training programs to ensure new hires would begin their work with a high level of efficiency.
“In the public sector, it’s far easier to get ‘comfortable,’ especially when your performance seems very solid to begin with. Our team just kept raising the bar. It’s been really humbling to watch,” Marksteiner said.
Since implementing the process improvements, the Clerk’s Office reported a 94.4 percent overall employee satisfaction rating in 2021, an 8.5 percent increase from when they began tracking this data in 2018. The office recently has begun surveying its public customer base to measure satisfaction levels.
“When the ASQ standard came along in 2020,” Perlow explained, “we now had a validated framework to evaluate both where we were as an operation and what additional steps we needed to take to fully implement an effective quality management system to support our essential mission. Because of the universality and incremental process of using the ASQ standard, any court unit can follow what we did to evaluate its current levels and then create a plan for sustainable quality practices.”