Federal Judiciary:

Information on Noncase-Related Travel of Bankruptcy Judges in 14 Bankruptcy Districts

GGD-97-166R: Published: Aug 8, 1997. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 1997.

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Norman J. Rabkin
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the noncase-related travel of the bankruptcy judges in each of 14 districts for calendar years 1995 and 1996, focusing on the dates, purpose, number of workdays required, cost, destination, and the organization that paid for each noncase-related trip.

GAO noted that: (1) in assessing bankruptcy judge workload, the Judicial Conference assumes that each bankruptcy judge will spend, on average, about 30 percent of his or her time--about 600 hours per year--on noncase-related matters, such as travel, training, administrative affairs, and general case management activities that cannot be attributed to a specific case; (2) the 80 judges who responded to GAO's request reported that they took a total of 416 noncase-related trips in calendar year 1995 and 403 trips in calendar year 1996; (3) together, circuit or district meetings and activities; Judicial Conference meetings and activities; and Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts- or Federal Judicial Center-sponsored workshops, seminars, and other activities accounted for about 66 percent of all trips and about 74 percent of all travel workdays reported for 1995; (4) comparable figures for calendar year 1996 were about 67 percent and about 73 percent, respectively; (5) there was a marked difference between the districts with the highest and lowest average number of noncase-related trips per judge and between the districts with the highest and lowest average number of workdays per judge for noncase-related trips; (6) the total number of trips reported varied among districts, and among judges in the same district, for several reasons; (7) first, in some districts, judges served on Judicial Conference committees or subcommittees and traveled to meetings of these committees and subcommittees--travel not required of their colleagues who did not serve on such committees; (8) second, some districts had newly appointed judges who attended one or more sessions of new judge orientation and training; (9) third, some judges were active in national bankruptcy organizations, such as the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, and traveled to more events sponsored by these organizations than did their colleagues within the district or judges in other districts; (10) destinations varied widely, from local county bar association meetings to trips overseas to teach bankruptcy seminars; (11) about 98 percent (805) of the 819 noncase-related trips reported for 1995 and 1996 were for destinations within the United States; (12) five judges reported a total of 14 trips to other nations; and (13) about 34 percent of all reported trips were paid for by the judges personally or by organizations other than the federal judiciary.

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