Even the most highly skilled court leader needs access to adequate funding, resources, and facilities for effective and efficient court operations. Not only does the court leader need to be able to develop complex plans to secure the necessary resources, he or she must also be able to effectively manage the court's budgets and resources.


Court leaders have a dual role in both securing resources for court operations and effectively managing those resources. All courts, regardless of size or jurisdiction, function as co-equal branches of government that must work transparently and collaboratively with legislative and executive branches to secure, manage and account for the resources they need. These resources include the people, funding, equipment, technology and supplies necessary to operate the court.

Court leaders need to work across many different levels and branches of government for funding and facilities to secure resources from various sources. The budgets for state, local and tribal courts, as well as their resources, generally rely on appropriations from state and local funding sources, including legislative and executive branch resources. Many courts also draw on state and federal grant funds. Federal courts, on the other hand, generally derive their resources through a more focused, single source budget process.

For courts to have the funding, equipment and resources necessary to operate, court leaders must perform a variety of complex functions and establish/manage numerous relationships. In addition, court leaders must be able to manage the court’s budget, resources and facilities constantly and be able to respond quickly to developments outside of its control.


Managing the court’s budget and resources often involves multiple staff performing interrelated functions. Regardless of the particular court environment in which court leaders function, competency in managing the court budget and resources should reflect a court leader’s ability to:

  • Develop budgets, including the use and application of key metrics for budget planning, development, program delivery, audits, assessment of program outcomes and allocation or reallocation of resources necessary to meet the court’s needs and provide justification to funding bodies.
  • Manage varied resources necessary for the court to operate.
  • Develop a plan for responding to potential budget cuts or for funding new projects.
  • Identify and support the range of resources the court needs to function.
  • Manage the court’s assets to safeguard their adequacy to support the court’s functions.
  • Ensure timely financial management and auditing.
  • Communicate the court’s fiscal and other resource needs to executive and legislative branch representatives through regular communication in which the court’s needs are presented within a framework of justice system — not simply court — operations.
  • Collect and use workload and performance indicators that reflect budget needs and priorities.
  • Define key fund accounts and assess the true cost of applying for and managing grant funds.
  • Define relevant financial policies for the court.
  • Develop a plan of action for emergency situations involving the court’s fiscal operations and facilities.