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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the methodology of reports by federal circuit courts of appeals' task forces on the affects of gender, racial, and ethnic bias on court operations. GAO noted that: (1) the 3 reports reviewed were the only ones available; (2) the reports' objectives and methodologies did not gather the type of information necessary to support their conclusions that gender, racial, or ethnic biases existed or their recommendations to remedy such perceived bias; (3) the methodologies did not have consistent and clearly defined benchmarks for the representation of women and minorities in various court positions, data on applicant pools applicable to personnel issues, or factual data measuring court processes and operations; (4) the reports cover a wide range of topics and provide useful descriptive data and some statistical data that could be used as baseline measures for future studies in these Circuits; and (5) the reports' appeared to follow generally accepted social science research methods and their methodologies were appropriate for describing a variety of court participants' perceptions and experiences about court worklife.

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