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Before the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, Committee 
on the Judiciary, House of Representatives:

United States General Accounting Office:


For Release on Delivery Expected at 11:00 a.m. EDT:

Thursday, May 22, 2003:

Federal Bankruptcy Judges:

Weighted Case Filings as a Measure of Judges' Case-Related Workload:

Statement of William Jenkins, Jr., Director
Homeland Security and Justice Issues:


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

I am pleased to be here today to discuss the results of our review and 
assessment of bankruptcy court-weighted case filings, the workload 
measure the Judicial Conference first considers in assessing the need 
for additional bankruptcy judgeships. Weighted filings are a 
statistical measure of the estimated judge time that specific types of 
bankruptcy cases are expected to take. For example, a business chapter 
7 bankruptcy case with assets of $50,000 to $499,999 is expected to 
take about twice as much judge time as a nonbusiness chapter 7 case 
with assets of $50,000 to $499,999. You asked us to assess whether 
weighted case filings are a reasonable means of measuring bankruptcy 
judges' case-related workload and to assess the methodology of any 
proposal to update the current case weights.

My statement today focuses on the weighted case filings as a measure of 
case-related bankruptcy judge workload. My testimony is based on the 
results of our review of documentation provided by the Federal Judicial 
Center (FJC) and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) 
and interviews with officials in each organization. My statement 
includes the following major points:

* The time demands on bankruptcy judges are largely a function of the 
number and complexity of the cases on their dockets. Not all cases 
necessarily take the same amount of judge time. Some types of cases may 
take more judge time than others.

* In assessing the need for new bankruptcy judgeships, the Judicial 
Conference relies on the weighted case filings to be a reasonably 
accurate measure of case-related bankruptcy judge workload. Whether 
weighted case filings are a reasonably accurate workload measure rests 
in turn on the soundness of the methodology used to develop the case 

* On the basis of the documentation provided for our review and 
discussions with FJC and AOUSC officials, we concluded that weighted 
case filings, as approved by the Judicial Conference in 1991 and 
amended in 1996, are likely to be a reasonably accurate means of 
measuring the case-related workload of bankruptcy judges.

* The original case weights are now about 12 years old and were based 
on time data that are now about 15 years old. Changes in the 
intervening years in such factors as case characteristics and case 
management practices may have affected whether the case weights 
continue to be a reasonably accurate measure of case-related judge 
workload. Some of these changes may have increased the time demands on 
bankruptcy judges and others reduced time demands. To the extent that 
the case weights may now understate or overstate time demands on 
bankruptcy judges, the weights could potentially result in the Judicial 
Conference understating or overstating the need for new bankruptcy 
judgeships. The Judicial Conference's Committee on the Administration 
of the Bankruptcy System has approved a revision of the current weights 
whose methodological design is reasonable.

* The accuracy of the case weights is also dependent upon accurately 
assigning each case filed in each bankruptcy court to the appropriate 
case weight category. AOUSC said that its staff took a number of steps 
to ensure that individual cases were assigned to the appropriate case 
weight category. These are described in appendix I. We did not evaluate 
how effective these measures may be in ensuring data accuracy.


Biennially, the Judicial Conference, the federal judiciary's principal 
policymaking body, assesses the judiciary's needs for additional 
judgeships.[Footnote 1] If the Conference determines that additional 
judgeships are needed, it transmits a request to Congress identifying 
the number, type (courts of appeals, district, or bankruptcy), and 
location of the judgeships it is requesting. In 2003, the Judicial 
Conference sent to Congress requests for 93 new judgeships--11 for the 
courts of appeals, 46 for the district courts, and 36 for the 
bankruptcy courts.

The demands upon judges' time are largely a function of both the number 
and complexity of the cases on their dockets. Some types of cases may 
demand relatively little time, and others may require many hours of 
work. The federal judiciary has developed workload measures for 
bankruptcy judges to estimate the national average amount of a judge's 
time that different types of cases may require. Individual judges may 
actually spend more or less time than this average on specific cases 
within each type--such as personal chapter 7 bankruptcy cases with 
assets of less than $50,000 or chapter 13 cases with liabilities of 
$50,000 or more (see app. II).

In assessing the need for additional bankruptcy judgeships in a 
bankruptcy court, the Judicial Conference first considers the court's 
weighted case filings. The Judicial Conference has established 1,500 
annual weighted case filings per authorized judgeship as an indicator 
of a bankruptcy court's potential need for additional judgeships. This 
represents about 1,500 annual hours of case-related judge time. The 
Conference's policy for assessing bankruptcy judgeship needs recognizes 
that judges' workloads may be affected by factors not captured in the 
bankruptcy-weighted case filings. Examples of such factors include 
historical caseload data and filing trends; geographic, economic, and 
demographic factors in the bankruptcy district; and the availability of 
alternative solutions and resources for handling a court's workload, 
such as assistance from judges outside the district. However, our 
analysis focused solely on the weighted case filings workload measure.

Each case filed in a bankruptcy court is assigned a case weight. The 
case weight statistically represents the national average amount of 
judicial time, in hours, each type of bankruptcy case would be expected 
to require. The case weights are based on a 1988-1989 study in which 
bankruptcy judges completed diaries on how many hours they spent on 
specific types of cases and noncase-related work. Total annual weighted 
case filings for any specific bankruptcy court is the sum of the 
weights associated with each of the cases filed in the court in a year. 
Total annual weighted case filings per judgeship represent the 
estimated average amount of judge time that would be required to 
complete the cases filed in a specific bankruptcy court in a year.

Weighted case filings per judgeship is the total weighted filings 
divided by the number of authorized judgeships. For example, if a 
bankruptcy court had 5,100 weighted case filings and three authorized 
judgeships, the weighted case filings per judgeship would be 1,700. 
Because this exceeds the 1,500 threshold, the Judicial Conference would 
consider this court for an additional judgeship. However, it should be 
noted that the Judicial Conference's policy is to consider additional 
judgeships only for those courts that request them. Thus, if a court 
would otherwise be eligible for an additional judgeship, but did not 
request one, the Judicial Conference would not request a judgeship for 
that court.

How the Case Weights Were Developed:

The Federal Judicial Center (FJC) developed the weights, adopted by the 
Judicial Conference in 1991, based on a 1988-1989 time study in which 
272 bankruptcy judges (97 percent of all bankruptcy judge in those 
years) recorded the time they spent on specific cases for a 10-week 
period. Unlike the District Court time study, whose goal was to follow 
each sample case from filing to disposition--a "case tracking" study--
this study was a "diary study" in which judges recorded in a time diary 
the hours spent on each case in the study and for other judicial work 
for the 10-week period. This period of time may or may not have covered 
the entire life of the case from filing through disposition. Appendix 
III includes a more detailed comparison of case-tracking and diary time 
studies as methods of capturing judge time spent on specific cases.

The case weights were developed using a two-step process.[Footnote 2] 
First, time data were collected from 272 judges (97 percent of the 
total of 280 bankruptcy judges at the time of the study). The judges 
recorded the time they spent on a sample of cases and other judgeship 
work over a 10-week period. The judges were subdivided into five groups 
and the recording time period for each group was staggered over a 1-
year period. Second, the researchers assessed the relative impact on 
judicial workload of different types of cases--that is, which types of 
cases seemed to take more or less time--and developed individual case 
weights for specific case categories. The basic case weight 
computations involved calculating the average amount of time spent on 
cases of each type during each month of their life. These averages were 
then summed to determine the total amount of time for each case type.

Once the case weights had been created, total weighted case filings 
were calculated for each bankruptcy court. Then, weighted caseloads 
were transformed into initial estimates of required judgeships. These 
initial estimates were adjusted to account for factors other than those 
covered by the case weight calculation, such as the court's case 
management practices and the time required to travel to divisional 
offices. After all adjustments, the study concluded that bankruptcy 
judges spent about 1,280 hours annually on direct case-related work and 
an average of 660 hours on matters not directly related to specific 
cases (e.g., on court and chambers administration, work-related travel, 
and other matters related to the judicial role).

When it approved the case weights in 1991, the Judicial Conference 
stated that it expected that in addition to other judicial duties, a 
bankruptcy court should have at least 1,500 annual case-related hours 
per judgeship to justify additional judgeships. The federal work year 
is 2,080 hours per year, based on a 40-hour work week. Assuming that 
judges spent 1,500 hours annually on cases, there would remain 580 
hours for federal holidays, annual leave, training, and noncase-related 
administrative tasks. Of course, the actual time that individual judges 
spend on case-related and non case-related work will vary.

Assessment of Case Weight Methodology:

Overall, the methodology used to develop the bankruptcy case weights 
appears to be reasonable. The methodology included a valid sampling 
strategy, a very high participation rate among bankruptcy judges, and a 
reasonable means of adjusting for such factors as missing data. A 
notable strength of the methodology was the high participation rate by 
judges--97 percent of the bankruptcy judges at the time of the study. 
Thus, participating judges represented almost the entire universe of 
bankruptcy judges that could be included. The sampling period was not 
limited to a single time of year, thus minimizing potential bias due to 
variations in case filings by time of year. FJC researchers 
systematically used the reported time data to develop the case weights 
and made an effort to address all known limitations in the data. In 
computing the case weights, assumptions, and adjustments needed to be 
made to account for time data that were not linked to specific cases, 
missing data, and other factors. Both the assumptions and the methods 
used to make these adjustments appeared to be reasonable. It is 
important to note that the case weights were designed to estimate the 
impact of case filings on the workload of bankruptcy judges. Noncase-
related time demands, such as time spent on court administration tasks, 
are not included in the case weights. The Judicial Conference focuses 
its analysis of the need for additional judges primarily on the demands 
that result from caseload, not noncase-related tasks and 

Potential limitations of the methodology included the possibility of 
judges using different standards and definitions to record their time. 
Although the judges had written instructions on how to record their 
time, judges may have varied in how they interpreted case-related and 
noncase-related hours. To the extent this occurred, it may have 
resulted in the recording of noncomparable time data among judges. 
Because some cases require longer calendar time to complete than 
others, not all cases in the sample were completed at the end of the 10 
weeks in which judges recorded their time. In particular, the study 
captured only a small portion of the total time required for very large 
business bankruptcies. Where the cases were not completed, it was 
necessary to estimate the judge time that would have been required to 
complete the case. However, the method used to make these estimates was 
also reasonable.

Amending the Case Weights--"Mega" Chapter 11 Cases:

The size and time demands of chapter 11 business bankruptcies vary 
considerably. The bankruptcy case weights, which the Judicial 
Conference approved for use in 1991, included a weight of 11.234 hours 
for chapter 11 business filings involving $1 million or more and a 
weight of 4.021 hours for chapter 11 business filings with assets 
between $50,000 and $99,999.

In 1996, a new method was used for measuring the workload required for 
very large ("mega") chapter 11 business cases. This measure was also 
developed by the FJC and approved by the Judicial Conference's 
Bankruptcy Committee. The mega cases were defined as "those involving 
extremely large assets, unusual public interest, a high level of 
creditor involvement, complex debt, a significant amount of related 
litigation, or a combination of such factors." The Administrative 
Office of the U.S. Courts defines mega chapter 11 cases as a single 
case or set of jointly administered or consolidated cases that involve 
$100 million or more in assets and 1,000 or more creditors. Mega 
chapter 11 cases are distinct from other large chapter 11 cases in that 
they generally involve a larger number of associated filings and extend 
over a longer period of time.

The 1991 case weights did not fully reflect the judge time required for 
these very large, complex bankruptcy filings. The weighting scheme was 
a particular problem for the Southern District of New York and the 
District of Delaware, both of which have a high number of mega cases. 
At the time of the 1988-1989 bankruptcy time study, the highest value 
for chapter 11 cases in the bankruptcy administrative database was $1 
million or more. Subsequently, changes were made to the database, which 
now includes several subcategories for cases above $1 million, the 
highest being $100 million and above. Also, the time study estimated 
the judge time required by cases for the first 22 months after the case 
was filed, a period which may not have encompassed the entire calendar 
time required to dispose of the case. Both of these factors contributed 
to the inability to create case weights for the mega chapter 11 cases.

Beginning in 1996, the adjustment of weighted case filings to account 
for mega chapter 11 cases was implemented in the two districts where 
most of these cases have been filed--first in the Southern District of 
New York and later in the District of Delaware. FJC's research 
suggested there was no clear linear relationship between asset size and 
judge time in mega chapter 11 cases. Instead, FJC selected an 
adjustment method using data routinely collected on docketed events in 
bankruptcy cases, such as docketed hearings. The method used to adjust 
the case weights for mega chapter 11 cases consists of a preliminary 
weighted caseload computation, followed by a ratio adjustment step. The 
preliminary weighted caseload is the sum of the bankruptcy case weights 
for each case filing associated with the mega chapter 11 cases. For 
example, if a mega case consisted of two consolidated cases, one with 
assets of between $50,000 and $99,999 (weight: 4.021) and one with 
assets greater than $1 million (weight: 11.234), the preliminary case 
weight would be 15.255 (4.021 plus 11.234). In the Southern District of 
New York, this preliminary case weight is adjusted by the ratio of 
docketed events per weighted case-hour for mega chapter 11 cases to the 
docketed events per weighted case-:

hour for nonmega chapter 11 cases involving more than $1 million in 
assets.[Footnote 3] In the District of Delaware, where mega chapter 11 
cases tended to have a larger number of consolidated filings, several 
ranges of the number of associated filings are used to classify mega 
chapter 11 cases. For each range, a separate docketing ratio adjustment 
is calculated in the same manner as it is for the District of Southern 
New York. In both districts, the final step is to report these 
calculations over a period of several years and use the average value 
across the years as the adjusted weighted caseload for mega chapter 11 
cases. The purpose of this final step is to moderate the effect of 
fluctuations in the number of mega chapter 11 cases filed from year to 

Assessment of Mega Case Weighting Method:

The methodology used to adjust the weighted caseload for mega chapter 
11 cases, specifically the ratio adjustment step, cannot be thoroughly 
assessed because there are no objective time data to use for 
comparison. The FJC selected this methodology after extensive research 
on other possible methods. The overall strategy of applying a ratio 
adjustment using auxiliary information, followed by use of a multiyear 
average, is a reasonable approach.

Research Design for Updating the Bankruptcy Case Weights:

In June 2002, the Judicial Conference Committee on the Administration 
of the Bankruptcy System decided to begin a study to create new 
bankruptcy case weights. The preliminary design for the study has a 
two-phase structure. In the first phase, a diary time study would be 
conducted, and the time study data would be used to develop new case 
weights. In the second phase, research is planned to assess whether it 
is possible to develop "event profiles" that would allow future 
updating of the weights without the necessity of conducting a time 
study for each update. Future updating of the weights could include 
revision of case weight values and/or developing case weights for new 
case categories. The data from the time study can be used to validate 
the feasibility of the new approach.

The preliminary design for the study appears to be reasonable. In the 
first phase, new weights would be constructed using objective data from 
the time study. The second part represents experimental research to 
determine if it is possible to make revisions to the weights in the 
future without the requirement of conducting a time study. If the 
research determines this is possible, it would be possible to update 
the case weights more frequently with less cost than required by a time 

If enacted, it is likely that the bankruptcy reform legislation passed 
by the House of Representatives would probably affect the time 
bankruptcy judges would need to devote to personal bankruptcy cases. 
Personal bankruptcy filings accounted for 97 percent of the total 
1,547,669 bankruptcy filings in fiscal year 2002. Currently, the great 
majority of those who file for personal bankruptcy (70 percent in 
fiscal year 2002), file under chapter 7, in which their eligible debts 
are discharged. Under the terms of the proposed legislation, a greater 
proportion of those who file for personal bankruptcy will be required 
to file under chapter 13 and enter into a 5-year debt repayment plan. 
If the bankruptcy reform is enacted during the course of the new 
bankruptcy time study, FJC officials said they would recommend halting 
the time study and allowing some period for the implementation of the 
new law before restarting the study. Because personal bankruptcy 
filings represent the vast majority of bankruptcy filings, this seems 
to be a prudent plan.


On the basis of the documentation provided for our review and 
discussions with FJC and AOUSC officials, we concluded that weighted 
case filings, as approved by the Judicial Conference in 1991 and 
amended in 1996, was a reasonably accurate means of measuring the case-
related workload of bankruptcy judges. The 1991 bankruptcy case 
weights--which cover all but mega chapter 11 business filings--are now 
about 12 years old, and the data on which they were based are about 15 
years old. Changes since 1991 in such factors as case characteristics 
and case management may have affected whether the weights continue to 
be a reasonable measure of case-related bankruptcy judge workload. The 
design for revising the current bankruptcy case weights seems 
reasonable. The new weights would be based on the same type of 
objective time data as are the current weights, and the time data from 
the new bankruptcy case weight study can be used to validate the 
feasibility of using an event-based approach for future updates of the 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement, I would be pleased 
to answer any questions that you or other members of the Subcommittee 
may have.

Contacts and Acknowledgments:

For further information regarding this testimony, please contact 
William Jenkins, Jr., at (202) 512-8777. Individuals making key 
contributions to this testimony included David Alexander, Kriti 
Bhandari, Chris Moriarity, and R. Rochelle Burns.

[End of section]

Appendix I: Quality Assurance Steps the Judiciary Takes to Ensure the 
Accuracy of Case Filing Data for Weighted Filings:

All current records related to bankruptcy filings that are reported to 
the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and used for the 
bankruptcy court case weights are generated by the automated case 
management systems in the bankruptcy courts. Filings records are 
generated monthly and transmitted to AOUSC for inclusion in its 
national database. On a quarterly basis, AOUSC summarizes and compiles 
the records into published tables, and for given periods, these tables 
serve as the basis for the weighted caseload determinations.

In responses to written questions, AOUSC described numerous steps taken 
to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the filings data, including 
the following[Footnote 4]:

* Built-in, automated quality control edits are done when data are 
entered electronically at the court level. The edits are intended to 
ensure that obvious errors are not entered into a local court's 
database. Examples of the types of errors screened for are the district 
office in which the case was filed, the U.S. Code title and section of 
the filing, and the judge code. Most bankruptcy courts have staff 
responsible for data quality control.

* A second set of automated quality control edits are used by AOUSC 
when transferring data from the court level to its national database. 
These edits screen for missing or invalid codes that are not screened 
for at the court level, such as dates of case events, the type of 
proceeding, and the type of case. Records that fail one or more checks 
are not added to the national database and are returned electronically 
to the originating court for correction and resubmission.

* Monthly listings of all records added to the national database are 
sent electronically to the involved courts for verification.

* Courts' monthly and quarterly case filings are monitored regularly to 
identify and verify significant increases or decreases from the normal 
monthly or annual totals.

* Tables on case filings are published on the Judiciary's intranet for 
review by the courts.

* Detailed and extensive statistical reporting guidance is provided to 
courts for reporting bankruptcy statistics. This guidance includes 
information on general reporting requirements, data entry procedures, 
and data processing and reporting programs.

* Periodic training sessions are conducted for bankruptcy court staff 
on measures and techniques associated with data quality control 

In addition to the quality control procedures listed above, AOUSC 
indicated that an audit was performed in 1997 by Clifton Gunderson 
L.L.C., a certified public accounting firm, to test the accuracy of the 
bankruptcy statistical data maintained by bankruptcy courts and the 
AOUSC. The firm compared individual case records in 11 courts 
nationwide with data in the national database for cases filed in 1993, 
1994, and 1995 for completeness and accuracy. Excluding problems in one 
district, the overall match rate of all statistical data elements 
captured exceeded 97 percent, and the fields with most mismatches were 
not relevant to the bankruptcy weighted caseload. AOUSC was unaware of 
any other efforts to verify the accuracy electronic data to "hard copy" 
case records for bankruptcy courts. AOUSC noted that it did not have 
time to seek detailed information from the individual bankruptcy courts 
on this issue within the short time available to respond to our 

[End of section]

Appendix II: Bankruptcy Case Weights and Confidence Intervals for All 
Cases Except "Mega" Chapter 11 Business Filings:

Type of case: Chapter 7--Business:

Type of case: Assets less than $50,000; Case weight in hours: 0.335; 
Confidence interval: 0.312 - 0.359.

Type of case: Assets $50,000-$499,999; Case weight in hours: 0.413; 
Confidence interval: 0.382 - 0.444.

Type of case: Assets greater than $499,999; Case weight in hours: 
1.704; Confidence interval: 1.426 - 1.982.

Type of case: Chapter 7--Nonbusiness:

Type of case: Assets less than $50,000; Case weight in hours: 0.089; 
Confidence interval: 0.079 - 0.099.

Type of case: Assets $50,000-$499,999; Case weight in hours: 0.160; 
Confidence interval: 0.144 - 0.176.

Type of case: Assets greater than $499,999; Case weight in hours: 
0.302; Confidence interval: 0.239 - 0.365.

Type of case: Chapter 11:

Type of case: Assets less than $50,000; Case weight in hours: 5.372; 
Confidence interval: 5.054 - 5.690.

Type of case: Assets $50,000-$99,999; Case weight in hours: 4.021; 
Confidence interval: 3.692 - 4.350.

Type of case: Assets $100,000-$499,999; Case weight in hours: 4.285; 
Confidence interval: 3.991 - 4.579.

Type of case: Assets $500,000-$999,999; Case weight in hours: 5.143; 
Confidence interval: 4.769 - 5.517.

Type of case: Assets of $1 million or more; Case weight in hours: 
11.234; Confidence interval: 10.397 - 12.071.

Type of case: Chapter 12; Case weight in hours: 4.040; Confidence 
interval: 3.558 - 4.522.

Type of case: Chapter 13:

Type of case: Liabilities less than $50,000; Case weight in hours: 
0.310; Confidence interval: 0.269 - 0.351.

Type of case: Liabilities at least $50,000; Case weight in hours: 
0.457; Confidence interval: 0.410 - 0.504.

Type of case: Other cases; Case weight in hours: 0.194; Confidence 
interval: 0.074 - 0.314.

Type of case: Adversary proceedings; Case weight in hours: [Empty]; 
Confidence interval: [Empty].

Type of case: Dischargeability; Case weight in hours: 1.346; Confidence 
interval: 1.232 - 1.460.

Type of case: Other; Case weight in hours: 2.016; Confidence interval: 
1.722 - 2.310.

Source: Federal Judicial Center.

[End of table]

[End of section]

Appendix II:I Measuring Judicial Workload Using the Collection of Time 
Study Data:

The current Bankruptcy Court and District Court workload measures were 
developed using data collected from time studies. The District Court 
time study took place between 1987 and 1993, and the Bankruptcy Court 
time study took place between 1988 and 1989. Different procedures were 
used in these two time studies. The Bankruptcy Court time study 
protocol is an example of a "diary" study, where judges recorded time 
and activity details for all of their official business over a 10 week 
period. The District Court time study protocol is an example of a 
"case-tracking" study, where a sample of cases were selected, and all 
judges who worked on a given sample case recorded the amount of time 
they spent on the case. Time studies, in general, have the substantial 
benefit of providing quantitative information that can be used to 
create objective and defensible measures of judicial workload, along 
with the capability to provide estimates of the uncertainty in the 

Estimating Judge Time in Diary and Case Tracking Studies:

At the conclusion of a case-tracking study, total time spent on each 
sample case closed during the study period is readily available by 
summing the recorded times spent on the case by each judge who worked 
on the case. For a given case type, the summed recorded times can be 
averaged to obtain an estimate of the average judicial time per case 
for that case type.

For a diary study, however, it is necessary to make estimates of 
judicial workload for all cases that were not both opened and closed 
during the data collection period. This estimation step requires 
information from the caseload database, and thus the accuracy of 
estimates depends in part on the accuracy of the caseload data. Two 
kinds of information are required from the caseload database: case type 
and length of time the case has been open.

With the diary approach, the total judicial time that is required for 
lengthy case types is estimated by combining "snap shots" of the time 
required by such cases of different ages. Thus, in theory, reducing 
accurate weights for lengthy case types is not problematic. In 
practice, however, difficulties may be encountered. For example, in the 
1988-1989 bankruptcy time study, the asset and liability information 
for cases older than 22 months was inadequate and appropriate 
adjustments had to be made. In addition, difficulties may arise if only 
a small number of cases of the lengthy type are in the system. This is 
an issue FJC said it is considering as it finalizes how to assess the 
judicial work associated with mega cases in the upcoming bankruptcy 
case-weighting study.

Comparing Case-Tracking Studies and Diary Studies:

Each study type has advantages and disadvantages. The following 
outlines the similarities and differences in terms of burden, 
timeliness of data collection, post-data collection steps, accuracy, 
and comprehensiveness.

Burden on Participants:

Each study type places burden on judicial personnel during data 
collection. It is not clear that one study type is less burdensome than 
the other. The diary study procedure requires more concentrated effort, 
but data are collected for a shorter period of time.

Timeliness of Data Collection:

Data collection for a diary study can be completed more quickly than 
for a case-tracking study.

Post Data Collection Steps:

More effort is needed to convert diary study data to judicial workload 
estimates than case tracking study data. Also, the accuracy of 
estimates from diary study data depends in part on the accuracy and 
objectivity of the information in the caseload database.

Data Accuracy:

It is not clear that one study type collects more accurate data than 
the other study type. Some of the Bankruptcy Court case-related time 
study data could not be linked to a specific case type due to 
misreporting errors and/or errors in the caseload database. Some error 
of this type likely is unavoidable because of the requirement to record 
all time rather than record time for specific cases only. However, it 
is plausible that a diary study collects higher quality data, on 
average, because all official time is to be recorded during the study 
period; judicial personnel become accustomed to recording their time. 
In contrast, the data quality for a case-tracking study could decline 
over the study's length; for example, after a substantial proportion of 
the sample cases are closed, judicial personnel could become less 
accustomed to recording time on the remaining open cases.

Comprehensiveness and Efficiency:

In theory, a case-tracking study collects more comprehensive 
information about judicial effort on a given case than a diary study, 
because data for a sampled case almost always are collected over the 
duration of the case. (Data collection may be terminated for a few 
cases that remain open, or are reopened, many years after initial 
filing.) For case types that simultaneously stay open for a long period 
and require a substantial amount of judicial effort, it is possible 
that a diary study would not be able to produce suitable estimates of 
judicial workload due to a lack of data.


[1] The Chief Justice of the United States presides over the 
Conference, which consists of the chief judges of the 13 courts of 
appeals, a district judge from each of the 12 geographic circuits, and 
the chief judge of the Court of International Trade. The Conference 
meets twice a year.

[2] The methodology is described in detail in Gordon Bermant, Patricia 
Lombard, and Elizabeth Wiggins, A Day in the Life: The Federal Judicial 
Center's 1988-1989 Bankruptcy Court Time Study, American Bankruptcy Law 
Journal, Vol. 65 (Lexington, SC: 1991).

[3] This determines "how the level of docketing in mega cases differs 
from the docketing in non-mega cases of one million dollars or more." 

[4] Given the limited time for our review, AOUSC was unable to obtain 
input to our questions on data quality control procedures from 
individual courts.