A Judiciary initiative is rewarding courts for reducing their space needs, which will save on future space rental costs. One of the Judiciary's biggest cost-containment successes to date has been in limiting the growth in space rent costs.
When a court releases space back to the General Services Administration (GSA) as marketable, an allotment equal to one year's savings in rent is now available to the chief judge of the district court, bankruptcy court, or court of appeals. The allotment previously went back to the circuit. The Judicial Conference approved this change in September 2012. The court must use the allotment within two years and is encouraged to apply the funding to what is necessary for their operations. The goal is to provide an incentive directly to the court that results in a reduced footprint and reduced future rent costs.
Currently four courts have received allotments, with over a dozen future space reductions planned over the coming months in 2013. For example, the probation office in the Northern District of Illinois, estimates it could reduce its space needs in Chicago by half, as more officers work remotely, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent per year.
"The Judiciary was one of the first entities in federal government to establish a systematic approach to space and facilities needs,” said Judge Michael A. Ponsor (D. Mass.), chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Space and Facilities. “We're also very concerned, in this fiscal climate, with cost containment. With this initiative, we may need to spend some money to reconfigure space and get the right fit for a court, but in the end we save on the rent we pay out."