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Hon. Alexandra DiPentima
Remarks given at the First Meeting of
The Public Service and Trust Commission
September 27, 2007

Chief Justice Rogers realized at the outset that a great deal of planning and preliminary work would have to take place in creating a strategic plan. She wanted to make sure that the valuable time of the Commission members was well spent and productive. To that end, she formed a Steering Committee in June to develop a process for the Commission to carry out its work. The Steering Committee, which consists of members of the Commission and support staff, began its work by first developing the general outline of the components of a strategic plan of which I will speak in a bit. It then addressed the process of collecting information which would become the raw material to be used by the Commission in developing a strategic plan.

The process of collecting information was broken down into several components. First, a survey of members of the public that have recently interacted with the Judicial Branch would be conducted. As you will note from the agenda, we will be discussing that survey shortly. Secondly, a series of meetings or focus groups would be conducted with Judges, staff, attorneys and all of the various groups that interact with the Branch and have a strong interest in its operations. Thirdly, the Commission would conduct a number of public hearings throughout the State to solicit additional input from those we don't reach in the survey and focus groups.
 

 

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Remarks by Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers
Public Service and Trust Commission

Hon. Alexandra Davis DiPentima
Hon. Alexandra DiPentima 

 

In determining the focus groups, excluding Judges and staff, the Steering Committee identified over 70 groups/organizations that either interact with the Branch on a regular basis or have an interest in its operations. The Committee grouped the organizations and ended up with approximately 30 groups that we hope to meet with over the coming two months. We are scheduling these meetings with advocacy groups, including victims, minorities, disabled, seniors, gay/lesbian, various bar groups, commissions, community agencies, law enforcement, media and municipality associations. This is in addition to the focus groups we will be conducting with Judges and Branch staff.

Judges have a pivotal role in this process. There is no question that judges play the most important role in carrying out the Judicial Branch’s mission to resolve matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner. The judges' perspective as to the environment in which we make our rulings and dispense justice is unique. Because of that, every Supreme Court Justice, Appellate Court Judge, Superior Court Judge and Judge Trial Referee will be given the opportunity to participate in the focus groups. I urge all of the judges on this commission to encourage our colleagues to do so.

Before I forget, at our next meeting, the members of this Commission will also be going through the focus group process. Because of the large number of focus groups that have to be conducted, as some of you know first hand, we have begun conducting focus groups. To date, approximately 20 focus group meetings have been completed and at least another 36 have been scheduled.

What happens at these focus groups? Each group is facilitated, and the same format is followed with each group. Participants are asked to identify trends that will have an impact on the Judicial Branch over the next 3 to 5 years, to identify the specific impacts each trend will have on the Judicial Branch and to list some strategies that will address the impacts.

Once we have substantially completed the focus groups and collected the information, the committee work of this commission will begin. We hope this will be by early December. The various trends will be categorized and distributed to the several committees of the Commission. The committees will then develop outcome goals, prioritizing as necessary, strategies to achieve those outcome goals, and finally activities to achieve the strategies. There will also be a committee of Commission members that will revisit the Branch’s mission, develop a vision based on the outcome goals and establish values for the Branch based on input from the various focus groups, public hearings as well as the survey.

The chart is a graphic, simplified representation of what the Commission’s strategic plan will look like.

The vision sets forth where we are going.

The mission sets forth what we do.

The outcome goals set forth how we hope to achieve our vision.

The strategies set forth how we will achieve the outcome goals.

The activities set forth how we will achieve the strategies.

The outcome goals and strategies have to specifically set forth what they hope to accomplish, why they are necessary, and, as the CJ noted, they must contain performance measures. Without such measures, we will never know if we are attaining our goals or even if we are successfully implementing our strategies. With apologies to those of you familiar with strategic planning, I have described the process in terms that I have been able to grasp and I have frankly not tried to cover every aspect. As the process moves ahead, other aspects will become obvious, and I welcome your requests for more details at any time.

This whole process is foreign to us and is foreign to state government generally. We are not a business that has to plan ahead to survive in the market place. We are clearly not a Home Depot or for that matter a Nordstroms. We don't have customers buying retail goods or commodities. We can, however, learn from the private sector and use some of the techniques and strategies they employ to create our strategic plan. The Steering Committee has been gathering information on creating a strategic plan over the past several months, and what we have learned will be shared with the Commission as it carries out its work.

One important fact that we have learned is that 9 out of 10 strategic plans fail because they are not implemented. There are countless numbers of neatly bound and graphically designed plans with excellent ideas that are sitting on shelves collecting dust. Please let me assure you that that will not be the case with this strategic plan. The implementation and execution of the plan have been designed into and made an integral part of this entire process. As this process moves along, the details of implementation and execution will be presented to the Commission.

There is something else about this process that I would like to stress: this is the beginning of a process that will continue into the future. The plan will have to be reviewed every year to ensure that we are carrying out strategies and meeting goals. Adjustments will be made to address new conditions or events that may have an impact on the Branch. The plan will change as the world around us changes.

Our charge is to improve performance in meeting the mission of the judicial branch. As we undertake this task, we will be listening to clerks who daily interact with the public, marshals who secure the courthouses, probation and bail officers, interpreters, court reporters, secretaries, family relations officers, librarians, among others, a myriad of judicial branch employees whose job performance is crucial to meeting the branch’s mission “to resolve matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.” Without their commitment to the plan, it will fail. While without commitment from the top, that is Chief Justice Rogers, this plan would fail as well, we have that commitment clearly and strongly. It is therefore our job to ensure that the plan addresses the concerns of these employees in fulfilling their job responsibilities.

We have a lot of work before us as the CJ said. It is work that will further a cause we all have committed to in some way - public service. I look forward to working with you all in this ambitious and exciting project.

 

 

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