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Many support functions for the federal court system are performed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO). The AO was created in 1939 by Congress as an administrative body for the courts that functions independently of the executive branch. The courts formerly had received such services from the Department of Justice.
The AO is directed and supervised by the Judicial Conference. In that capacity, the AO prepares and submits the budget and legislative agenda for the courts to the Judicial Conference for transmittal to Congress. The AO monitors legislation that affects federal court operations and personnel, and also provides administrative assistance to the court of appeals, district, bankruptcy, and magistrate judges, clerks of court, pretrial services officers, probation officers, court reporters, public defenders, and other court personnel. The AO performs audits (financial examinations of court accounts); manages funds for the operation of the courts; compiles and publishes statistics on the volume and distribution of the business in the courts; and recommends plans and strategies to efficiently manage court business.
To support the Judicial Conference of the United States, the AO supplies a professional secretariat, legal and statistical services, and conducts studies of court procedures. As the secretary to the Conference, the AO director furnishes the professional support to its committees. The AO also maintains liaison with various groups interested in court operations, including committees of Congress, executive branch agencies, state courts, and the public.
The director of the AO is appointed by the Chief Justice after consultation with the Judicial Conference. The agency's headquarters are located in Washington, D.C.