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expertise and Service-wide leadership on technology policy issues and implications as they affect various legal areas (such as privacy, fraud, intellectual property), government information policy, national security, telecommunications technologies, and economic issues of the technology and information industries. These resources will enable CRS to provide the Congress with a core of high level experts who will: lead and coordinate the Service's work on information and technology policy issues across disciplines; guide and mentor other CRS research staff at various grade levels, thereby building additional capacity in these critical research areas; create and lead Service-wide teams to address key congressional concerns; and develop innovative products and services to inform the Congress about information and technology policy issues.
Equipping the CRS Research Environment to Align with How the Congress Works
If CRS is to continue to be an extension of congressional staff and the best public policy research organization that Congress needs and deserves, then we must acquire the high-level technical leadership and skills we require to enable us to build and maintain a secure and adaptable technology-based research environment. Such an environment is the critical underpinning of all of our research activities supporting Congress-it provides the blueprint for how all of CRS's systems, knowledge, and information can be shared, preserved, delivered, and made available to the Congress.
We are also requesting 12 FTEs and $2.9 million in FY 2002 to begin equipping ourselves with the leadership and technical staff, skills, and tools we need to effectively and pro-actively use technology to support Congress as its working environment continues to accommodate technological change. The information technology investment that we are requesting you to support will enable CRS to make significant progress in improving interactive communications with Congress and your access to us and to our products as well as in transforming our research work to 21" century methods.
More specifically, the funds requested will be used to: improve protection of confidential congressional information; provide secure access to CRS for district offices; support the delivery of innovative interactive products and services through the CRS web site; move innovative electronic research products (e.g., electronic briefing books, e-coverage of current legislative issues) from pilot products into full-fledged products. This request will also support implementing on-line document creation and editing to facilitate team research projects such as the Electronic Briefing Books and our new Legislative Issues Service on the CRS web site; laying a foundation for managing CRS electronic data and information for as long as needed; developing new multi-user quantitative databases, and modifying and documenting existing databases that are at-risk due to inadequate documentation; and expanding our capacity for critically-needed electronic storage.
Our current technical staff are not sufficient in number and do not have the requisite skills to undertake the kind of technology transformation needed. CRS must invest in hiring staff with the expertise to lead our efforts to implement the processes and technologies needed to ensure our accessibility to the Congress and to guarantee the reliability, accuracy, and timeliness of our services and products.
Conclusion In summary, this request does not propose funding tactical change; rather, it supports the strategic, mission-critical change necessary for CRS to continue fulfilling its statutory mandate as the key non-partisan public policy research arm for Congress in the digital environment. It is not about coping with the future, it is about confronting the future that is already here and threatens to leave us in its wake. As the Congress is placing new and increasing reliance on information technologies so too must CRS. We at CRS have always aligned our work directly with your work-this is our mission; this is our mandate. To continue the strong tradition of service and reliability, CRS needs your help now. Again, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss CRS's future with you. We at CRS stand ready to assist you as you consider this request and the consequences and challenges it poses for the Service and the Congress.
LIBRARY ADJUSTMENT OF FTES BETWEEN ORGANIZATIONS
Mr. TAYLOR. I have a question for the Congressional Research Service, that can be answered by Mr. Mulhollan or yourself, Dr. Billington. The library's justification, part I, page 930, reflects a deduction of 25 FTEs for CRS with redistribution of those FTEs to the Copyright Office and the Books for the Blind. In this budget request CRS has requested an additional 17 FTEs, costing $3.5 million, to strengthen its capacity to provide research and analysis to the Congress. As you are aware every day it becomes more difficult to attract skilled employees to the Library as well as other parts of the Legislative Branch. How do we plan to attract and retain the needed expertise of the employees that you are recruiting for, and if CRS needs additional FTEs, why were 25 of them shifted to other parts of the Library? It seems like you are double functioning
Mr. MULHOLLAN. Sir, the 25 positions were a reallocation FTE's, reflecting the amount of money available and lack of funding of all mandatories in some previous years. The Library's proposed transfer is not a shift in money. The Library regularly evaluates the amount of money available to fund FTEs. The proposed shift is less than 1 percent of the total FTEs. Should the Congress approve funding for the 17 FTES CRS has requested, the Library would reduce its proposed decrease for CRS to reflect that, and would reallocate only 8 FTES.
CRS STAFF RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
With regard to retaining employees, you are quite right. It is a real challenge, but I think it is one that we can surmount. First and foremost, what we have found in our ongoing relationship with the graduate schools across the country is that CRS' greatest selling point is the actual work. The opportunity to work with the Congress to write the laws of the Nation is what draws applicants to us. We cannot of course pay what the private sector can pay, as already mentioned, but what we can do is try to meet the salaries that other government agencies are paying. We are aggessively establishing ongoing relationships with the policy and graduate schools to make sure that in fact they know of us, because there was the long period of time during downsizing when we didn't have that ongoing relationship.
We have established research relationships with the schools as well, including Columbia, Syracuse, UCLA, and Texas, where we get to see what the students can do on their research process, and they see the kind of work that they can be involved in with Congress itself. And, of course we are looking at other items, including professional development, career training and student loan forgiveness.
QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD FROM MR. HOYER Mr. TAYLOR. We have some questions submitted by Mr. Hoyer to be answered for the record.
SUCCESSION INITIATIVE Question. Congress has supported the CRS succession initiative for the last few years. How is the program proceeding and what successes have you had?
Response. We are very grateful for the support Congress provided to assist CRS with its succession initiative. This support came in response to CRS' strategic planning to ensure that CRS can maintain and strengthen its capacity to provide policy and legal analytic services for the Congress despite the fact that by 2006 more than sixty percent of CRS' staff of analysts, attorneys, and information specialists will be eligible to retire.
WHY CRS NEEDED A SUCCESSION PLAN-BACKGROUND Two factors, in combination, created this significant risk of lost expertise and research capability. First, the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 expanded CRS mission and staffing, and mandated that “It shall be the duty of the Congressional Research Service, without partisan bias—to develop and maintain an information and research capability.” Based on an underlying belief that it could most effectively and efficiently meet its research needs through a nonpartisan, shared, pool of experts, Congress provided appropriations for a significant increase in CRS staff capacity to implement the Act. Many of the staff hired between 1971 and 1975 are now, or will soon become, eligible to retire.
Second, between fiscal 1992 and 1998, CRS staffing decreased by 122 full-time equivalents (FTEs) as a result of government-wide budget reductions. Consequently, CRS was unable to fill behind many of the resignations, deaths or retirements of its professional staff, and therefore did not have a normal distribution of senior and junior staff, which would otherwise have provided an orderly transfer of institutional knowledge when experts retire.
IMPACT OF PROJECTED RETIREMENTS CRS conducted risk assessments through staff surveys in 1996, 1999, and 2000 to determine the a anticipated number and timing of retirements, and to assess the risk those retirements would pose to CRS' analytical and research capacity. Response rates have ranged from 80–95 percent. More than half of those eligible to retire intend to do so within a very few years.
As a result of these retirement projections, CRS identified future diminished capacity in such areas as antitrust law, crime and drug control, election law, energy, environmental and natural resources, foreign policy, government finance and tax policy, health insurance, immigration programs, medicaid and medicare, military forces, prescription drugs and pharmaceuticals, social security and trade. Unless replaced, this loss in senior policy and legal experts will result in a loss of Congress' pool of shared experts who provide unbiased and nonpartisan support to Members and Committees at all stages of the legislative process.
In many types of positions, management can wait until one staff member leaves before hiring a replacement. In fact, funding levels for agencies are usually based on the assumption that there is some lag time between the departure of the experienced staff member and the arrival of the replacement, who is expected to be able to operate at the full performance level very quickly. For policy analysts and information specialists in CRS, however, it takes much longer to replace the expertise lost when a senior staff member leaves. To work independently, entry-level staff, who are already well-trained in their disciplines, must build their capacity to (1) understand legislative/budget procedures as practiced in the legislative environment; (2) examine issues from a nonpartisan and unbiased perspective; (3) present analysis and research in a manner and form that best meets the Congress' legislative needs; and (4) develop and maintain contacts with subject experts in academia, government agencies, and elsewhere.
Under CRS' succession plan, newly hired staff work closely with senior analysts who share knowledge and experience in their discipline within the legislative context. CRS found during the period since the 1970 Legislative Reorganization Act that it takes a number of years for an entry level analyst to develop subject expertise and knowledge of the legislative environment in order to handle complex issues in the way a manner comparable to that of a senior analyst.
SUCCESSION POSITIONS FILLED
To ensure continuity and sustain services to the Congress, CRS asked Congress to fund a small number of additional staff who could work with on board experts before they retire. Thus, current staff will be able to transfer institutional memory tivity, timeliness, accuracy, and responsiveness. Congress funded two phases ($724, 183) in fiscal years 1999–2000, permitting CRS to hire 15 entry-level staff. In addition, CRS devoted positions from its base to strengthen succession planning and incorporated risk assessments into quarterly workforce decision-making.
As of the beginning of July 2001 CRS has filled a total of 52 permanent positions using three recruitment programs—the Graduate Recruit Program, the Law Recruit Program, and the Presidential Management Intern Program.
Twenty-three percent of the hires are minorities. Since the beginning of the program, CŘS has experienced a 92% retention rate for staff who accepted permanent positions.
Although CRS is no longer conducting a formal Succession Plan, the Service has built the principles of succession planning into its overall workforce planning. All hiring decisions now take into account succession planning needs. Also, in the course of recruiting for its succession plan positions, CRS targeted top graduate schools with high concentrations of minority students. The relationships forged through this targeted recruitment effort have since led to other opportunities for CRS, including:
• Research partnerships with graduate schools of public policy: CRS has initiated, on a pilot basis, research partnerships with the following universities: Columbia, Harvard, Syracuse, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Rochester, and University of Texas. Under these partnerships, graduate students conduct research on select public policy topics under the supervision of senior CRS staff.
• CRS Internship Program for Students of the Atlanta University Center: This program (currently being conducted on a pilot basis) provides internship opportunities for college seniors at Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College, and Spelman College.
• United Negro College Fund/Institute for International Public Policy Internship Program: As part of its succession plan recruiting, CRS made contact with numerous minority education associations, including the United Negro College Fund/Institute for International Public Policy (UNCF/IIPP). This effort has enabled CRS to establish a working relationship with the UNCF/IIPP, through which CRS hopes to gain status, on a pilot basis, as a participating agency in the UNCF/PP internship program.
CRS has also implemented other initiatives to build research capacity within current resources. These include professional development details; visiting scholar and professional volunteer programs; realignment of CRS' divisions and offices, and contracting for skills and knowledge not currently resident in the Service.
FUTURE CHALLENGES-RECRUITING AND RETAINING STAFF Retention of our new hires, and the ability to continue to attract a high caliber of graduate student are very high priorities. Because both recruitment and retention are so critical to future success in ensuring the continuation of high quality services to the Congress, we have been thinking about ways that student loan forgiveness might help us attract and retain good candidates for public service. We have been working with the Library on a draft regulation, and are pleased that other government agencies are now beginning to design and implement such programs. We note that in recent budget requests our sister agencies, CBO and GÀO, have also discussed the challenge of recruiting and retaining staff, and have identified the value of such student loan forgiveness programs to help in attracting good candidates. We expect to develop more specific plans to include CRS in any Legislative Branch funding initiatives to ensure that the Congress itself, and its policy support agencies, can replenish their staffs with highly qualified and talented people who see public service as a good career.
In fiscal 2001, we have continued to ensure that our priorities for new hires are aligned with the most critical policy areas where recent and future retirements place our capacity at risk. This year, however, we face a particular challenge in filling positions because of the Library's transition to a new selection process which was developed by the Library to reach a court-ordered settlement. This new system requires significant up-front training of administrative staff and selecting officials and we are working intensively with the Library to help work out many of the implementation problems. We hope that the system can be made to work as quickly as possible as CRS faces high risk if we remain unable to fill our positions with