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Ms. POOLE. December.
Mr. TAYLOR. In December? And you are going out this fall to let a contract?
Ms. POOLE. We have November, December, the final design will be completed and with the
Mr. TAYLOR. Well, it has to be approved.
Mr. TAYLOR. And I do not know whether that will be done by the end of the year if you do not finish the plans before December.
Ms. POOLE. We are planning to finish the plans by November and come to the Commission sometime early December for approval of the final design package and provide you with final cost estimates.
Mr. TAYLOR. You are probably assuming if everything goes well you probably won't even
have plans for a contract to make any estimates on or before the first of the year. Is that what I am hearing you say? Am I wrong?
Ms. POOLE. We are planning on finishing the design by the end of November and a estimate completed to come to the Commission early December.
Mr. HANTMAN. Full construction documents.
Mr. TAYLOR. Well, you will have to move it much faster than I imagine it will. Mr. Hoyer?
VISITOR CENTER COST ESTIMATES
Mr. HOYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. While we are on the Visitor's Center, Mr. Hantman, you are pretty confident that $265 million is, in fact, the cost that will be good through 2005?
Mr. HANTMAN. That is correct.
Mr. HOYER. Now, am I correct in understanding that there have been estimates in the $300-million range of the work that will eventually be required?
Mr. HANTMAN. As I indicated earlier, there were two estimates. Again the belt-and-suspenders approach, two different firms took a look at it and reconciled the differences to ensure if there are fundamental differences and adjust as we are completing the construction documents. Yes, so we in fact met with GAO last week and talked about the two estimates and the range of differences between them. And Peter May stood up a little while ago and talked about the issue of where the reconciliations have to occur and making sure they do not include things that should not be in the project, that the quality of the systems was appropriate, and those kind of trade-offs are still occurring as we complete our construction documents.
Mr. HOYER. Because the trade-offs are still occurring, is the objective to ensure that the trade-offs reach $265 million or will there be a reestimate once the trade-offs have been made?
Mr. HANTMAN. We are constantly doing estimates.
Mr. HOYER. In other words, the $265 million, I want to know how hard a figure that is, because it will be this subcommittee that will be presumably asked to fund any additional sums that may be necessary. If that is correct, then we ought to have a pretty hard trying to get at is specifically how hard a $265 million figure is, particularly in light of the fact that the trade-offs have not been finally decided.
Ms. POOLE. The trade-offs are continuing as we speak and we will be doing a reestimate of the entire package.
Mr. HOYER. And that will be done when?
Mr. HOYER. So, am I correct that we will really not have a harder number for another 60 days?
Ms. POOLE. The number that you have, that is once it is reconciled, it is a good number to have for the 50 percent design. The 75 percent design number is a revalidation of that number to ensure that the 265—it is a harder number, but the number that we should be able to report to you in the next 2 weeks will be a hard number based on the 50 percent design that we have done.
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Hoyer.
Mr. TAYLOR. The question you are asking, and I certainly share it, are there any projects that are being considered for the Visitor's Center that are not in the $265 million? And could you maybe outline that and that might give us an idea of where you are going cost wise.
Mr. HANTMAN. One of the concerns, Mr. Chairman, of any project is scope creep, which is why I tried to define earlier what the scope of the project was. The Visitor's Center per se, the shell space, the connections to the Capitol, those are part of the scope of the $265 million. The Library of Congress tunnel is not part of that scope.
As we have gone through design phases we have taken a look at a couple of other issues that might potentially be done to supplement the spaces and the flow of Members into and through the expansion spaces. For instance, we think that it would be very helpful right now to supplement the connection—we have a connection from the Cannon tunnel coming into this expansion space from the House side. We have a connection from the subway tunnel on the Senate side coming into this area. A second means of access from the Capitol under the House steps would be a very direct way for people in the House to be able to get into the expansion space and the Visitor's Center itself. Whether or not that piece of work gets funded or not or gets done as part of the Capitol building itself, it is an estimated $5 million cost that is not included in the project.
It is a question of whether the House wants that to be done and where the funding for that piece comes from. We are not adding any additional scope at this point in time other than that addi
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I am sure both you and I and other members of the committee will spend a lot of time on this project, developing exactly where we are and what it is going to cost and what is included, and perhaps we ought to do that at some point in time.
Let me get back, however, to at least one question and then unfortunately I am going to have to leave. I, as you know, have been
folks that Mr. Moran was talking about, cafeteria employees. What is the status of the Harris case? The Harris case, for the Members, is about differential between what our custodial personnel earn, 99 percent women, and what our so-called labor personnel, mostly men, earn.
The analysis shows that they do about the same thing, but the laborers, 99 percent males, were paid a dollar and what?
Mr. HANTMAN. Roughly a dollar more.
Mr. HOYER. A dollar more an hour for essentially the same work that the women who are custodial women largely are paid. There was a suit about that and my understanding is settlement is pending. What is the status?
Mr. HANTMAN. As you are aware, we have reached terms. There is an agreement between us. Right now it is at the Office of Compliance. They want some additional language to be factored into the agreement. There is a fairness hearing scheduled before Judge Sullivan on July 27th. So if the compliance group comes up with the right wording we are working with the plaintiffs and we are in agreement on it and we will have a settlement.
a Mr. HOYER. Talking about that, I want to commend your office, Bob Miley and others who were in the meeting. I know you recently had a meeting with representatives of the employees. Hopefully those meetings will be ongoing. Many times it works out problems that other times would fester and expand and become a can
Mr. HANTMAN. They are the eyes and ears of the union. If there is something that we can do to improve the productivity and working conditions, that is wonderful.
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, when the Republican Majority came in we adopted some legislation which I think was excellent. We started it under the Democrats, but I think the new administration under Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Thomas and your predecessors as chairman of this subcommittee have pursued it. But we need to do better, in my opinion, in terms of treating our employees as we would require them I have a lot of safety questions—I won't have time to get into them-as to all the safety equipment and injuries on the job.
Secretary O'Neill, our Secretary of the Treasury, at Alcoa had one of the best safety records in the industry. He was very concerned about that. My information that I have is that our record is not as commendable and we need to work on that.
Mr. HANTMAN. Absolutely.
Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I would hope we would pursue some of these issues so that we are assured that our employees are treated fairly and are safe on the job and that we get efficiency as well as performance. [The following questions from Mr. Hoyer and responses follows:]
QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD FROM MR. HOYER Question. I am very concerned about the high rate of injuries among AOC employ
Response. The Architect too is concerned about our high injury rate—it is unacceptable and the Agency is taking aggressive action to reduce it.
Question. What accounts for your high injury rate, and what are you doing to reduce it?
Response. Back injuries represent over 20% of AOC FY00 injuries, upper extremity injuries (fingers, hands, and arms) are the second most predominant type of injury followed by lower extremity injuries (legs, ankles, and knees) and head the eye injuries. Back, arm, leg, and knee injuries typically include strains, twists and twinges. Finger and hand injuries are typically cuts, bruises, and dislocations. Head injuries typically consist of bumps, cuts, and foreign material (eye).
Our workforce is almost 80% blue collar; many jobs entail physical labor. Laborers, custodial workers, electricians and food service preparation workers had the highest numbers of injuries in FY00.
În FY00, 17.7 of every 100 employees reported an injury that incurred a medical cost or recuperation time away from work. Of those 17.9 percent injured, 2.92 required recuperation time away from work-a decrease from 10.35 in FY98– enmcouraging progress. In other words, although the total number of injuries is unacceptably high, the severity of most injuries is relatively minor-employees are able to return to work the same or next day.
The Congressional Accountability Act of 1996 required the AOC to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Act regulations. There is much work to do to comply with OSHA and reduce our unacceptably high injury/illness rate. During the past year:
A safety policy statement was approved and distributed to all employees
The Architect issued memos outlining supervisor and employee responsibility reguarding safety
Working with the Public Health Service, the first three (3) of forty-one (4) safety program policies were approved and distributed: Hazard Communication, Confined Space, and PPE. Three more program policies are under development and scheduled for final approval this fiscal year: Bloodborne Pathogens, Fall Protection, and Respiratory Protection. Four programs scheduled for FY02 approval were drafted and are in the initial review process: Lead, Asbestos, Electrical Safety, and Lock out/Tag out
Policies for the Safety, Health, and Environmental Council and Jurisdictional Occupational Safety and Health Committees were approved
Safety Committees were established in all jurisdictions and are meeting monthly to discuss safety matters and review injury/illness reports
The Architect established a goal to reduce total injury/illness rate by 10% per year for the next 5 years from the FY00 baseline of 17.9
A high level 5 year Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Plan was developed to meet the injury reduction goal and established as priorities:
1. Hiring required staff (central and jurisdictional-underway),
2. development of job hazards analysis process and policy (underway) and performance of job hazards analysis for all work (to be completed FY02) so that hazards can be identified and eliminated or controlled,
3. improvement of the injury/illness investigation process (underway) to include root cause analysis and implementation of corrective actions across the Agency to prevent recurrence,
4. development and inspection and audit process such that we critically evaluate our work and identify and correct deficiencies (to be completed in FY02), and 5. development, approval, and implementation of 41
safety programs (implementation of the last program will be completed in FY05). The Architect has initiated periodic shop walk arounds, visiting work sites, emphasizing PPE usage and discussing safety concerns with employees.
The Architect recently met with the General Counsel for the Office of Compliance to discuss the fire and occupational safety program and review the 5 year Question. Do all your workers have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) that would be required on any similar private sector worksite? Is it your policy that employees must always use any such equipment that is issued? If so, what steps do you take to ensure employees always use the proper PPE?
Response. As mentioned previously, all employees have been provided with proper PPE-similar to PPE required at a private sector worksite. In the last three months,
The Architect personally makes inquiries regarding PPE availability and use when performing his work site walk arounds.
Employees are required to use PPE. In memos of 4 April 2001, the Architect explained this requirement in no uncertain terms as well as other expectations regarding employee and supervisory safety responsibilities.
Supervisors at work sites enforce safety rules, including use of PPE. AOC Safety Specialists perform work site oversight inspections to verify use of PPE and adherence to safe work practices. The Architect verifies employees are wearing PPE when he performs his walk arounds.
Those employee who are found not to be wearing required PPE are subject to discipline in accordance with the Agency's progressive discipline policy. Supervisors who fail to enforce use of PPE and other safety rules are also subject to discipline.
The AOC recognizes progress has been made but there is much left yet to do. Agency management remains committed to applying the necessary resources and talent to improve the safety and well being of our employees.
Question. As a member of the police board, do you believe we should post capitol police officers at the botanic garden before we have reached our goal of posting two officers on every door throughout the capitol complex? Has there been a formal assessment of a threat at the botanic garden?
Response. There are some new safety concerns at the Botanic Garden Conservatory that did not exist in the past. There are now two entrances, one of which is in close proximity to the new basement area and we are expecting the number of visitors to increase. With out an onsite security presents the threat of theft is higher as well at the opportunity to attract traveling exhibits and other temporary displays, most of which have a security requirement will not be possible. The Conservatory will be unable to operate at overall level other institution in the Capitol complex as well as those on the Mall. We would defer the analysis and recommendation of the level of security required at the Conservatory to that in other buildings in the Capitol complex to the Capitol Police.
Question. Of the unfunded positions that you seek to fill in 2002, how many are mid- or senior-level positions, and how many are direct service providers, such as custodians and laborers for the house side, for which you are continually shortstaffed? What are you doing to remedy the problem of absenteeism at the serviceprovider level?
Response. Of the 48 positions requested, 33 are mid to senior level positions ranging in grade from GS-11 to GS-14, 6 are technical/clerical positions ranging in grade from GS-4 to GS-9, and 9 are wage board positions. Five of the positions are related to enhance customer service. Of the remaining, 13 are fire and life safety related, 7 for improved project delivery, 10 are in our information resources management area, 6 are for the reopening of the Botanic Garden Conservatory, 2 are for auditable financial statements and 5 are to meet the legislative mandated (Sec 310 of P. L. 105–275) energy conservation mandates.
Regarding absenteeism, we are attempting to reduce the rate through several actions:
(1) We have the need to fill custodial vacancies on the night shift and through recent recruiting efforts have identified 13 night shift custodians to fill current vacancies. Once these employees are on the job, it is expected that the need for custodians to clean areas for employees who are absent will be significantly reduced. This is often cited as a major working condition issue and should result in a reduction in the absenteeism rate.
(2) Management, at the Superintendent level, meets with all first line supervisors on a regularly scheduled basis to review attendance records for all employees. During these meetings, specific actions such as counseling, letters of warnings or disciplinary actions are discussed, and any current or long term problems are addressed. One important benefit is that these meetings foster consistence across the House Office Buildings and help to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and equally.
(3) A reduction in the rate of injuries will have a direct impact on absenteeism. Supervisors hold monthly meetings with employees to discuss safety issues. Safety awareness is emphasized and specific situations or concerns are discussed. The need to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is stressed. Management has met with all of the employees to identify PPE which is required for various tasks. The goal is to establish a culture in which the employees are always thinking about safety.
(4) We have brought on board a management/personal consultant who has been working with the night shift custodial and labor employees to identify issues affecting the workforce. He has a broad mandate to look at all issues including morale, working conditions and attendance. He provides an independent and unbiased anal