H. Rept. 108-285 - 108th Congress (2003-2004)

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House Report 108-285 - STATE JUSTICE INSTITUTE REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2003

[House Report 108-285]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]



108th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    108-285
======================================================================
 
              STATE JUSTICE INSTITUTE REAUTHORIZATION ACT 
                                OF 2003

                                _______
                                

 September 25, 2003.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Sensenbrenner, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2714]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 2714) to reauthorize the State Justice Institute, 
having considered the same, report favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     4
Committee Consideration..........................................     4
Vote of the Committee............................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     4
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     4
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     5
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     6
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion.......................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     7
Markup Transcript................................................     8

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 2714, the ``State Justice Institute Reauthorization 
Act of 2003,'' authorizes the operations of the State Justice 
Institute (``the Institute'' or ``SJI'') for Fiscal Years 2005-
08. The Institute allocates grant money to state courts and 
other entities that support their operations.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

                               IN GENERAL

    Congress created SJI in 1984.\1\ Since becoming operational 
in 1987, the Institute has awarded more than $125 million in 
grants to support over 1,000 projects. Another $40 million in 
matching requirements has been generated from other public and 
private funding sources.
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    \1\ Pub. L. No. 98-620, 42 U.S.C. 10701, et seq.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sustaining the Institute's operations is necessary because 
the states, as a practical matter, devote the great majority of 
their judicial funding to address personnel, construction, and 
maintenance needs. They simply lack the resources to develop 
programs that improve the administrative efficiency and overall 
productivity of their courts.
    SJI serves a Federal interest precisely because it makes 
state courts more efficient. State courts are the primary fora 
in which the vast majority of lawsuits are resolved. In 
fulfilling that mission, state courts address Federal 
constitutional and statutory issues everyday. For example, 
every state court criminal case raises a variety of Federal 
constitutional issues.
    In sum if litigants largely resolve their legal differences 
at the state level--including those that involve Federal 
issues--then Congress promotes a Federal interest by supporting 
SJI.

                      OPERATIONS OF THE INSTITUTE

    The Institute operates according to the following relevant 
sections of title 42 of the U.S. Code:

        Sec. 10702. Establishment and Duties. Congress 
        established SJI as a private nonprofit corporation. Its 
        stated purpose is to further the development and 
        adoption of improved judicial administration in state 
        courts. SJI is to accomplish this goal by providing 
        funds to state courts and other national organizations 
        or nonprofits which support state courts. SJI also 
        fosters coordination and cooperation with the Federal 
        judiciary in areas of mutual concern. The Institute may 
        not duplicate the work or functions of other existing 
        nonprofit organizations.

        Sec. 10703. Board of Directors. An 11-person Board of 
        Directors supervises SJI. The Board is comprised of six 
        judges, a state court administrator, and four members 
        from the public sector--no more than two of whom shall 
        be members of the same political party. The President 
        appoints the Board with the advice and consent of the 
        Senate. Board members serve 3-year terms. The chief 
        responsibility of the Board is to develop policy and 
        funding priorities for SJI. Board members serve without 
        compensation.

        Sec. 10704. Officers and Employees. The Board appoints 
        a Director to supervise the administration of SJI. The 
        Director is empowered to hire and fire staff. SJI 
        currently employs seven individuals.

        Sec. 10705. Grants and Contracts. The Institute awards 
        grants and enters into cooperative agreements or 
        contracts to conduct research, demonstrations, or 
        special projects that enhance the operation of state 
        courts and that provide technical assistance and 
        training in support of these activities. SJI functions 
        as a national clearinghouse for information related to 
        the operations of state courts. Section 10705 imposes a 
        statutory duty on the Institute to monitor and evaluate 
        any program supported by SJI funds.

        Sec. 10706. Restrictions on Certain Activities. The 
        Institute may not use funds to support any program that 
        advocates particular nonjudicial public policies or 
        encourages nonjudicial political activities.

        Sec. 10710. Records and Reports. The Institute is 
        authorized to require all grant recipients to maintain 
        records associated with the awarding of grants. Records 
        developed by SJI which evaluate grant recipients are to 
        remain on file for inspection by the public for 5 
        years.

        Sec. 10711. Audits. SJI is audited annually. The 
        resulting report is filed with the General Accounting 
        Office.

        Sec. 10712. Report by Attorney General. The Attorney 
        General was required to submit a report evaluating the 
        effectiveness of SJI on October 1, 1987.

                    THE 1987 ATTORNEY GENERAL REPORT

    Section 10712 of the original authorizing legislation, 
which took effect on October 1, 1985, required the Attorney 
General to submit a report governing the effectiveness of SJI 
operations by October 1, 1987, to the House and Senate 
Committees on the Judiciary. Since SJI did not become 
operational until fiscal year 1987, however, the report 
submitted by former Attorney General Meese is of limited value 
in assessing the operations of the Institute.
    Still, the report praised SJI's start-up activities in the 
following summation: ``Although the Institute has only recently 
begun implementation of its program, much has been accomplished 
since it began operation. The Institute has made diligent 
efforts to develop and implement effective policies, 
procedures, and guidelines . . .'' \2\ With regard to 
oversight, the report also noted that the Institute had 
established ``. . . an effective system of internal control by 
developing procedures and guidelines for its staff and grantees 
that ensure its resources are protected against fraud, waste, 
abuse, and mismanagement.'' \3\ The report concluded by noting 
that a full assessment of SJI activities could not be made 
until grants had been awarded and other program activities 
implemented.\4\
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    \2\ Report of the Att'y Gen. to the House and Senate Committees on 
the Judiciary Regarding the Effectiveness of the State Justice 
Institute  at 2 (Oct. 1, 1987).
    \3\ Id. at 7.
    \4\ Id. at 11.
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     107TH CONGRESS: H.R. 2048 AND THE 2002 ATTORNEY GENERAL REPORT

    In the 107th Congress, then Subcommittee Chairman Coble 
introduced H.R. 2048, to examine whether SJI's authorization 
should be extended. H.R. 2048 required the Attorney General, in 
consultation with the Federal Judicial Center, to submit a 
report to the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary 
regarding the effectiveness of the Institute in fulfilling its 
missions, which include providing funds to improve the quality 
of justice in state courts, facilitating enhanced coordination 
between state and Federal courts, and developing solutions to 
common problems faced by all courts.
    Following enactment of H.R. 2048,\5\ the Attorney General 
submitted his report in November 2002. His analysis of SJI 
operations is positive; he specifically notes that the 
Institute has been ``effective'' and has complied with its 
statutory mission. Importantly, the Attorney General observes 
that ``[s]ome degree of support for state court innovation and 
improvement is a Federal interest.'' \6\
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    \5\ Now Pub. L. No. 107-179.
    \6\ Report of the Att'y Gen. to the House and Senate Committees on 
the Judiciary Regarding the State Justice Institute  at 32 (November 
2002) (hereinafter 2002 Attorney General Report  ).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                Hearings

    No hearings were conducted on H.R. 2714.

                        Committee Consideration

    On July 22, 2003, the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, 
and Intellectual Property met in open session and ordered 
favorably reported the bill H.R. 2714 without amendment, by 
voice vote, a quorum being present. On September 10, 2003, the 
Committee met in open session and ordered favorably reported 
the bill H.R. 2714 without amendment, by voice vote, a quorum 
being present.

                         Vote of the Committee

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of Rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee notes that there 
were no recorded votes during the Committee consideration of 
H.R. 2714.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of Rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of Rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) of Rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives is inapplicable because this legislation does 
not provide new budgetary authority or increased tax 
expenditures.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of Rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with 
respect to the bill, H.R. 2714, the following estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under the section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                                September 24, 2003.
Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2714, the State 
Justice Institute Reauthorization Act of 2003.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Lanette J. 
Walker (for federal costs) and Melissa Merrell (for the state 
and local impact).
            Sincerely,
                                               Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 2714--State Justice Institute Act Reauthorization Act of 2003

    H.R. 2048 would authorize the appropriation of $7 million a 
year over the 2005-2008 period for the State Justice Institute 
to make grants to state and local courts for improvements in 
court management systems, compiling statistical data, training 
programs for judges, and other purposes. Based on historical 
spending patterns of the institute, CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 2714 would cost $20 million over the 2005-
2008 period, assuming appropriation of the specified amounts. 
Enacting H.R. 2714 would have no effect on direct spending or 
receipts.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                               -------------------------------------------------
                                                                  2004      2005      2006      2007      2008
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Authorization level...........................................         0         7         7         7         7
Estimated outlays.............................................         0         2         5         6         7
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    H.R. 2714 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. It 
would impose no costs on local or tribal governments, and state 
governments would benefit from grants awarded by the State 
Justice Institute for programs and activities to enhance the 
administration of the state court systems. Assuming 
appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO estimates that 
about $14 million in grants (of the estimated total spending of 
$20 million over the 2005-2008 period) would be provided to 
benefit the operation of state courts.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Lanette J. 
Walker (for federal costs) and Melissa Merrell (for the state 
and local impact). This estimate was approved by Peter H. 
Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    Enactment of H.R. 2714 would enable SJI to continue to 
fulfill its statutory obligations as set forth in 42 U.S.C. 
10702 et seq. By all accounts, including congressional 
oversight of its operations and the findings of the 2002 
Attorney General Report, SJI is well-run and has contributed to 
the improved efficiency and productivity of state courts.
    The 2002 Attorney General Report also made specific 
recommendations that the Committee expects SJI to adopt.\7\ 
Based on a KPMG audit of the Institute in March of that same 
year, these suggestion include that SJI do the following:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\ Id. at 33-34.

         LTake steps to increase the awareness of SJI's 
        work, including advertising with appropriate membership 
        organizations and publications; developing branding of 
        SJI; obtaining the services of a public relations 
        specialist to disseminate information about SJI's 
        projects; allowing interested parties to [subscribe to 
        automatic notification] of new SJI grant projects; 
        expanding the Internet site; redesigning the concept of 
        the State Designated Libraries to reach members of each 
        state court system; maintaining hard copies of 
        products; establishing a process to send information 
        packets to new judges; holding fora on the Internet on 
        each new product; and requiring grantees to have a 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
        marketing plan for their grant product.

         LTake steps to increase the involvement of 
        state court members with SJI's work and encourage them 
        to take action based on their involvement, including 
        tracking products requested, sending follow-up messages 
        to requesters, and engaging those who express interest 
        in implementation workshops; setting aside a portion of 
        grant monies for grantees to assist court systems to 
        implement the grant products; using the Internet to 
        host discussion groups of bulletin boards on each 
        product; and holding implementation workshops using the 
        Internet.

    The Committee looks forward to evaluating SJI's progress in 
meeting these performance goals and objectives in the years to 
come.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of Rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds the authority for 
this legislation in article I, section 8, of the Constitution.

               Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion

    Sec. 1. Short Title. The Act may be cited as the ``State 
Justice Institute Reauthorization Act of 2003.''
    Sec. 2. Authorization of Appropriations. Section 2 
authorizes to be appropriated for SJI operations $7 million 
annually for Fiscal Years 2005 through 2008. (Given the late 
hour in the present budget and appropriations cycle, H.R. 2714 
probably will not be enacted in advance of the relevant 
appropriations vehicle for Fiscal Year 2004. However, the 
committee anticipates that the Institute will secure an 
appropriation for Fiscal Year 2004.)
    Appropriated funds under Section 2 are to remain available 
until expended. The last two bills reauthorizing the Institute 
contained such language, which reflects the reality that no 
grant agency can fully expend all of its funds in the year of 
appropriation.
    In addition, the Committee notes the existence of relevant 
funding sources, including the Crime Victims Fund and the 
Violence Against Women Act, that could greatly supplement SJI's 
budget. Given the scarce discretionary resources presently 
available to Congress, the Committee strongly recommends that 
SJI vigorously pursue these other options as a means to sustain 
its operations.
    Sec. 3. Technical Amendments. Section 3 authorizes the 
Institute to purchase goods and services from the General 
Services Administration (GSA). Because SJI is not a Federal 
agency, it is not legally authorized to procure goods and 
services from GSA. In some instances, however, this exclusion 
can create unnecessary hardships (e.g., SJI could not purchase 
GSA storage boxes to transfer its records to the National 
Archives).
    Section 3 would extend Federal health insurance benefits to 
five SJI employees. Congress chose to deny these benefits to 
non-federal agency workers in 1988 \8\ (the two most senior SJI 
employees were ``grandfathered'' under the old law and not 
affected). This provision has produced hardships for the 
affected individuals and potentially compromises the ability of 
the organization to retain the bulk of its minuscule workforce. 
SJI argues that extending these benefits to all of its 
employees would enable the Institute to reduce its 
administrative costs significantly and thereby strengthen its 
operations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\ 5 U.S.C. 8914.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Finally, Section 3 clarifies that meetings of the Executive 
Committee of the Board of Directors are to be open to the 
public only on such occasions as the Board delegates this 
authority to the Committee. This clarification is consistent 
with the terms of the Government in the Sunshine Act \9\ and 
will enable the Institute to exercise greater control over its 
meetings while allowing appropriate public access to its 
operations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \9\ 5 U.S.C. 552(b).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3(e) of Rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

STATE JUSTICE INSTITUTE ACT OF 1984

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



TITLE II

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



                           BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sec. 204. (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (j) All meetings of the Board, any executive committee of 
the Board (on any occasion on which that committee has been 
delegated the authority to act on behalf of the Board), and any 
council established in connection with this title, shall be 
open and subject to the requirements and provisions of section 
552b of title 5, United States Code, relating to open meetings.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                         OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES

Sec. 205. (a) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (c)(1) * * *

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (3) The Institute may purchase goods and services from the 
General Services Administration in order to carry out its 
functions.
    (d)(1) * * *
    (2) Officers and employees of the Institute shall be 
considered officers and employees of the United States solely 
for the purposes of the following provisions of title 5, United 
States Code: Subchapter I of chapter 81 (relating to 
compensation of work injuries); chapters 83 and 84 (relating to 
civil service retirement); chapter 87 (relating to life 
insurance); and chapter 89 (relating to health insurance), 
notwithstanding section 8914 of such title. The Institute shall 
make contributions under the provisions referred to in this 
subsection at the same rates applicable to agencies of the 
Federal Government.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    [Sec. 215. There are authorized to be appropriated to carry 
out the purposes of this title $20,000,000 for fiscal year 
1993, $20,000,000 for fiscal year 1994, $25,000,000 for fiscal 
year 1995, and $25,000,000 for fiscal year 1996. Amounts 
appropriated for each such year are to remain available until 
expended.]

                    AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS

    Sec. 215. There are authorized to be appropriated to carry 
out the purposes of this title, $7,000,000 for each of fiscal 
years 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. Amounts appropriated for each 
such year are to remain available until expended.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                           Markup Transcript



                            BUSINESS MEETING

                     WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2003

                  House of Representatives,
                                Committee on the Judiciary,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:07 a.m., in 
Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. F. James 
Sensenbrenner, Jr. [Chairman of the Committee] presiding.
    [Intervening business.]
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. And now the last bill on the agenda 
is the adoption of H.R. 2714, the ``State Justice Institute 
Reauthorization Act of 2003.''
    [The bill, H.R. 2714, follows:]
    
    
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. The chair recognizes the gentleman 
from Texas, Mr. Smith, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on 
Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.
    Mr. Smith. Mr. Chairman, the Subcommittee on Courts, the 
Internet and Intellectual Property reports favorably the bill 
H.R. 2714 and moves its favorable recommendation to the full 
House.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. Without objection, the bill will be 
considered as read and open for amendment at any point.
    The chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith, 
to strike the last word.
    Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Congress established the State Justice Institute as a 
private, nonprofit corporation in 1984. Its purpose is to 
improve judicial administration in State courts. SJI 
accomplishes this goal by providing funds to State courts and 
other national organizations or nonprofits that support State 
courts.
    SJI also fosters cooperation with the Federal judiciary in 
areas of mutual concern. Since its creation in 1987, the 
Institute has awarded more than $125 million in grants to 
support over 1,000 projects.
    Pursuant to oversight legislation passed in the previous 
Congress, the Attorney General, in consultation with the 
Federal Judicial Center, conducted a review of SJI operations 
and reported his findings to Congress late last year. The 
results are encouraging.
    The Attorney General noted that the Institute has been 
effective and has complied with its statutory mission and 
observed that ``support for State court innovation and 
improvement is a Federal interest.''
    SJI has earned the support of this Committee through a 
reauthorization. That is the purpose of H.R. 2714. More 
specifically, Section 2 of the bill authorizes $7 million 
annually for SJI operations over a 4-year cycle. Appropriated 
funds under Section 2 are to remain available until expended.
    The last two bills reauthorizing the Institute contained 
such language, which reflects the reality that no grant agency 
can fully expend all of its funds in the year of appropriation.
    Section 3 of H.R. 2714 authorizes the Institute to purchase 
goods and services from the General Services Administration. 
Because SJI is not a Federal agency, it is not legally 
authorized to procure goods and services from GSA. In some 
instances, this exclusion can create unnecessary hardships. To 
illustrate, SJI recently was denied the ability to purchase GSA 
storage boxes to transfer its records to the National Archives.
    Section 3 also extends Federal health insurance benefits to 
five SJI employees. Congress chose to deny these benefits to 
non-Federal agency workers in 1988. This provision has produced 
hardships for the affected individuals and compromises the 
ability of the organization to retain its small workforce. SJI 
argues that extending these benefits to all of its employees 
would enable the Institute to reduce its administrative costs 
significantly and thereby strengthen its operations.
    The Committee on Government Reform has been notified of 
this provision and, to date, has not objected to its inclusion 
in the bill.
    In sum, Mr. Chairman, H.R. 2714 is a noncontroversial bill 
that allows our Subcommittee to plant a jurisdictional flag and 
support a small, but important, organization that assists our 
State court systems, and I urge my colleagues to support the 
bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman from California, Mr. 
Berman?
    Mr. Berman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I move to strike the 
last word.
    I endorse the reauthorization of the State Justice 
Institute and urge my colleagues to pass this bill. The SJI 
does important work. I've been told that by judges. The 
Attorney General gave high marks to the State Justice Institute 
in a report issued last year.
    They are facilitating enhanced coordination between State 
and Federal courts and work on solutions common to problems 
faced by all of our courts. The last time we reauthorized the 
Institute was 1992. The Appropriations Committees have 
continued to fund it, but I think it's our responsibility to 
reauthorize this, and I urge us to move this legislation.
    Thank you.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. Without objection, all Members' 
opening statements will be placed in the record at this point.
    Are there amendments?
    [No response.]
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. There are no amendments.
    The question occurs on the motion to report the bill H.R. 
2714 favorably. The chair notes the presence of a reporting 
quorum.
    All of those in favor will say aye.
    Opposed, no.
    The ayes appear to have it. The ayes have it. The motion to 
report favorably is agreed to.
    Without objection, the Chairman is authorized to move to go 
to conference pursuant to House rules. Without objection, the 
staff is directed to make any technical and conforming changes, 
and all Members will be given 2 days, as provided by the rules, 
in which to submit additional dissenting, supplemental or 
minority views.
    This concludes the matters on the agenda before the 
Committee. The chair thanks the Members for their cooperation, 
and the Committee stands adjourned.
    [Whereupon, at 11:29 a.m., the Committee was adjourned.]