U.S. Courts:

Estimated User Fee to Pay for New Facilities

GGD-92-8BR: Published: Dec 10, 1991. Publicly Released: Dec 10, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO: (1) estimated what a user fee would be if the Federal judiciary were required to recover its facilities capital needs by imposing a fee on cases filed; (2) provided information on the amount of General Services Administration (GSA) space, revenues, and costs attributable to the courts; and (3) reviewed information on the courts' obligations, number of judgeships, revenues, and case filings.

GAO found that: (1) using three capital cost estimates and three levels of filed federal court cases, GAO estimated that user fees would range between $79 and $536 per case; (2) between 1988 and 1992, GSA budgeted about $1.3 billion to meet the courts' capital investment needs and about $707 million to operate and maintain existing court space; (3) according to Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) estimates, the courts' reimbursable payments for alterations between 1988 and 1992 totalled about $232 million; (4) using a yearly average of GSA capital and operating costs and the courts' reimbursable payments, the government's total court facilities costs averaged about $447 million annually between 1988 and 1992; (5) remaining issues regarding filing fees included whether the government would be required to pay the fee and whether persons filing cases would be able pay the fee; and (6) during fiscal year 1990, the courts collected $278.1 million in court costs, fees, and fines, including filing fees, but although the courts are not currently using such revenues to pay for court facilities costs, AOUSC retained $47.2 million to offset judiciary operating costs.

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