The federal judiciary is requesting $7.22 billion in funding for Fiscal Year 2019 to support court initiatives related to cyber and physical security.
Kansas District Court Senior Judge John W. Lungstrum submitted the judiciary’s funding request to the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government as chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Budget. James C. Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, also testified before the subcommittee and requested the 3.2 percent budget increase for FY 2019.
Among the judiciary’s specific budget requests was $95 million for cybersecurity after a 2015 cyberattack on the Office of Personnel Management, which forced upgraded IT protections. The courts are also seeking funding boosts for the defender services program and for courthouse security measures, as well as money designated specifically for PACTS, a “national integrated database that helps probation and pretrial services officers supervise criminal offenders and defendants under community supervision.”
The judiciary recently received a $200 million budget increase for Fiscal Year 2018 through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, which President Donald Trump signed into law on March 23. The courts’ appropriation led to an increase in daily compensation for federal jurors and in hourly compensation for federal public defenders. It also increased the maximum amount federal defenders con recoup in noncapital cases and helped cover the cost of courthouse construction projects in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Huntsville, Alabama and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“We ask that you consider the judiciary’s unique constitutional role in our system of government,” Lungstrum said during his testimony. “In return, we commit to you that we will continue to be good fiscal stewards, cutting costs where possible, spending each dollar wisely and making smart investments to achieve long-term savings.”
Recently, being “good fiscal stewards” has meant implementing a national 3 percent space reduction plan that resulted in $25 million in rent savings and “encouraging court units to share common administrative functions,” Lungstrum said. The judge also expressed concern about proposed cuts to nondefense federal spending in FY 19, which he said would “come at a time in which the Administration intends to increase border security and law enforcement activities, which will increase our workload.”
“I would like to acknowledge the subcommittee for its generous and consistent support of the judiciary’s needs,” Duff said during his testimony. “We hope to maintain your confidence and support through another year of successful performance of our constitutional and statutory duties and efficient stewardship of taxpayer resources through the continuation of our longstanding cost containment program.”