CCE Theses and Dissertations

Assessing The Practice of Systems Administration in United States Federal District Courts

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)


Center for Computer and Information Sciences


John Kingsburry

Committee Member

Jacques Levin

Committee Member

Laurie Dringus

Committee Member

George K. Fornshell


The United States District Courts employ a decentralized automation strategy. This strategy allows each federal district to utilize automation resources in such areas as case management, court financial services, and decision support systems. With changes in technology and increased demand for automation support courts have adopted additional hardware platforms and communications technology at the direction of the Administrative Office of the Courts in Washington, D.C. with an increased demand for automation technology increased technical expertise is also required. This expertise needs to be accompanied by sound system administration practices. The literature indicates that no administrative model exists for the courts that thoroughly deals with the administration of hardware, software, security, operations, and networks. The literature supports that the lack of procedural formalization in automation operations can put information resources at risk. Consequently, this study is designed to assess t \ e practice of system administration in the courts. The assessment is based on the development of a system administration model that allows the courts to conform to sound UNIX administration practices as well as federal regulations and guidelines. The assessment is based on a survey instrument that addresses general and specific areas of system administration. The results of the survey accept the basic hypothesis that United States District Court system administration practices do not presently conform to accepted data center operation practices. This indicates that court information resources are at risk and expected administration tasks are not entirely supported by court information systems. However, it could not be ascertained that the man-machine interface of court systems is unreliable. This study provided a means to assist the courts to strengthen their administration practices. From the assessment it is recommended that the courts adopt a control systems methodology that can support the various court environments. Additional study is also required to better assess the reliability of the court system man-machine interface.

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