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for facts, figures, and targeted information that you can download, manipulate, and pass along.
E-mail and the Internet have also revolutionized the way you communicate among yourselves, with your staff, with your constituents, and with the hundreds of groups and organizations that you rely upon for information and insights, including CRS. This trend is particularly evident in your staff, who are increasingly technically savvy. For them (some have dubbed the e-generation) the ease and immediacy of e-mail is more conducive to their work style than voice mail and “phone tag”.
The research and analytical work we do in CRS to support your legislative responsibilities has also been changing. The complexity and inter-relatedness of many of the issues facing Congress require CRS staff to be able to work together on issues and share data and information. As research is shifting from a primarily paper-based world to a digitally-dominated universe, research methods are evolving. The nature of CRS research is changing from individual research to team and Service-wide research; from a single discipline perspective to integrated, multi-disciplinary perspectives; from individual data and information owners to groups who own and share their research; from main-frame dominant applications to network-dependent applications; and from paper and microfiche to the Internet, the Web, and multi-media.
What do these changes mean? They mean as Congress changes, so too must CRS. When Congress re-constituted CRS in the early 1970's, it did so with a vision of us as an extension of their own personal and committee staffs - a shared pool of staff that could work seamlessly alongside Members and staff to support the legislative work of the nation.
We take seriously our statutory obligation to each Member and committee of Congress to provide you with the best analyses and information this country has to offer, and to do so in ways that meet your legislative needs and time frames.
You expect CRS to keep pace with you, and your staff, in addressing information technology policy issues and in integrating new technologies into our work. Just as you are grappling with policy implications of complicated technology issues, so too do you expect CRS to be analyzing and studying these issues. Just as you are communicating through e-mail, so too do you expect CRS to communicate through e-mail. Just as you are utilizing web pages to gather and disseminate legislative information, so too do you expect CRS to have a strong web presence. And just as you and your staff go "on-line" to retrieve data and information directly from other sources, so too do
be addressing. CRS does a fabulous job for us, but I have noted over recent years as I have learned to type, because we have to use a computer these days, that at a district office level, if you want to access the CRS system to get information from the Library or otherwise, especially from the Midwest, particularly the West, that there is a security requirement of confidentiality of these communications that makes the requests come all the way to Washington, then they have got to go all the way back through security and on to the District offices. It is such a lengthy process that sometimes the computer just doesn't work. It is so slow that there is absolutely no way that your district office staffs are going to be using these computer systems.
I mean, it is incredible that we have not come into the modern age. If this problem is affecting West Coast offices, it probably affects most of the 435 offices. I would hope that the Leg branch would help CRS make this a priority and find a solution. I must say that Dan was very forthcoming in that discussion, and so I am confident that we are going to see some thought applied as well as perhaps a solution, but it is a problem we should know about.
Mr. TAYLOR. Right. In the supplemental, which was passed in the House and now is over in the Senate, we have provided funds to address that problem, and I hope we can make some progress during this Congress.
Mr. LEWIS. Well, I have had an opportunity to work in many a way with Ms. Dawson, and she is always well ahead of me.
Mr. MORAN. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. MORAN. May I just suggest the chairman address the historical records questions to me. Let me just say I am aware of what Mr. Lewis has contributed to the legislative branch buildings and personnel and vision, and I am very appreciative of it. We obviously stand on his shoulders. And also may I say it is somewhat inspirational to see the former ranking member of the legislative branch is now the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which I find to be of inspirational value as well.
Mr. HOYER. Good precedent.
Mr. MORAN. Yeah, good precedent, and I also appreciate his concern over the Botanical Garden. I think many of those flowers will be endangered species by the time that is completed, but thank you for your comments, Mr. Lewis.
Mr. LEWIS. Thank you very much, Mr. Moran.
Mr. LAHOOD. Mr. Chairman, Dr. Billington and General Scott
COPING WITH RETIREMENTS AND SUCCESSION PLANNING
digital one, I see a whole lot of problems and opportunities, and Mr. Lewis just commented on the slowness of some of our systems. And I would just like to ask, do we have enough in the budget, and is our management enough directed to make this great change that technology dictates? And also do we—and I would like to put another component to that, and I think that is personnel. I think we have a system staffed with great institutional memory, because of the longevity of so many of our employees, and I would like to know about the thinking of transferring that institutional memory as we have retirements. And so if I can put those two to you, would appreciate it.
Dr. BILLINGTON. Well, those are really extraordinarily good points. That touches on a couple of things central to this budget. First of all, we are very grateful that the 84 people who built the National Digital Library were transferred and accepted as those slots were given us last year by the committee. That was terrifically helpful, because these are people who have helped build something new into the system.
Further, we have 108 new FTEs that we are asking for this year. We realize that looks like a lot. It actually is very modest if you look at the National Academy recommendations. They recommended something that if we translated it into direct financial terms would have been astronomical, but we think that this is appropriate and this could get us there as rapidly as possible. There is no question that we need additional slots, and we are in the process of trying to retool and reshape a lot of our existing people.
We have been working on the succession problem. We have had a number of succession positions filled in CRS and Library Services. CRS hired 56 positions, Library Services hired 16, to develop staff mentoring relationships so that the institutional memory is transferred to people who at the same time bring in new skills.
What we are doing digitally is basically what we have done with traditional artifactual collections; that is to say, it is acquiring them, preserving them, cataloging them, making them accessible and deliverable and speeding up the delivery. All of this is part of the process. That is essentially what we have done before, but it is in a whole new area, and so you need the wisdom of the traditional functions, and then you need the innovative ability to deal with the new technology.
Regarding retirement-I think somewhere between 8- and 900 people will be eligible to retire this next year. We normally have about 15.6 percent of the people who are eligible to retire who do retire annually.
So there has been a slight increase in the number of people that have retired, but it is not as dramatic as the numbers might suggest. Our staff do tend to stay on, and this gives us a great deal of continuity. But because you never know how this is going to play out and because there is going to be a very large number of people eligible to retire, increasingly so, there is just an absolute need for people to come in before those people retire so that that wisdom is maintained and at the same time to bring in the fresh talent.
COMPETING WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR SALARY SCALES
General SCOTT. I would just add that one of the difficult challenges is to be able to find the people who have the technical knowledge and then to be able to pay them comparable to what the civilian industry is paying them. That is one of the challenges that we are facing when we look for people who have the knowledge of the new technical storage capacities, this digitally-based, and that is something that we are continuing to struggle with.
Dr. BILLINGTON. I want to just pay tribute to our technical people, because they have done tremendous work in keeping up with this exponential growth, because we had a billion electronic transactions last year. Our electronic transactions, unlike banks and other institutions, contain a great deal of data. These are very data-heavy transactions. There is a tremendous burden here, and we really can't pay competitive salaries with the private sector. This is definitely a problem, but the dedication and the hard work of the people who have made it possible to field a billion transactions in a year and to keep getting out so much material is really extraordinary. That is why we do need this additional infrastructure.
If we are talking about infrastructure, we are talking about two things, both storage capacity, these expensive technical things, and we are mainly talking about people, and that is what is so essential.
Mr. SHERWOOD. Thank you.
Mr. TAYLOR. Dr. Billington, you are requesting about $2.1 million to begin an eight-year project to inventory the 17 million books and bound periodicals in the Library's collection. It was our understanding that one of the benefits of the Integrated Library System would be for the first time the Library could maintain inventory control over its collection. Has the Integrated Library System proven to be ineffective in this regard, or would this inventory project be accomplished as part of shifting to the Fort Meade storage facility?
Dr. BILLINGTON. No. It is not at all. The Integrated Library System has created a means and a mechanism by which it is possible to gain inventory control. This has been a constant concern of audits and reviews of the Library-item-level inventory control.
The Integrated Library System has made it possible for the first time to do this, but in order to do it, you have to check what is on the shelf. There has to be a one-time, basic inventory, which is very labor-intensive work. The Integrated Library System has given us a tool with which to do this, and that is why this is so important, because it will give us total inventory control, which we have never really been able to have before. This is a process that involves 17 million printed items, books and periodicals that have to be inventoried.
Mr. TAYLOR. I have a question I will submit for the record. [The question and response follow:]
INVENTORY CONTROL You are requesting funding ($2.1 million) to begin an eight-year project to inven
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Question. Would this inventory project be accomplished as part of the shifting of collections to the Fort Meade storage facility? What is your estimate of the total cost of this inventory project?
Answer. The scope of this major effort is to produce a one-time retrospective inventory of all 17 million items in print collections in the general collections, Law Library collections, and Area Studies collections. The Library's Integrated Library System (ILS) provides a means for undertaking comprehensive retrospective collections inventory efficiently, and for the first time. ILS is a tool which makes it possible to inventory and barcode each volume, enter the barcode into existing ILS records, capture information on each item (e.g., preservation status), and then track each item.
Collections being transferred to the Fort Meade remote storage will first be placed under inventory control. This step is critical for item retrieval once it is stored at the facility. Inventory of the collections remaining on Capitol Hill is independent of the Fort Meade transfer. The inventory will be facilitate by a reduction in the extreme over-crowded conditions that exist currently. The eight-year, total cost of the inventory project is approximately $10 million. The fiscal $2.1 million request includes both the inventory program and security guards, which is part of the Library's physical security initiative. The inventory program is approximately $1.2 million annually.
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF DIRECTOR OF CRS
Mr. TAYLOR. We have the prepared statement of the Director of
[The prepared statement follows:]