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get a complete committee schedule for the committees or subcommittees that Senator is a member of.
You can go in by committee name, and you can get the schedule of that committee, as far as they have been reported to the daily digest, which is within our office and is responsible for tracking all of the hearings. You can also go in and ask for conflicts, and it will pull together and print out each of the committees by, say, Senator Bennett. If you went in under your name and asked for conflicts, it would print the ones that were all scheduled at the same time.
And we think it is particularly helpful as a planning tool for a chairman to call a meeting or to see when the members of his committee might be most readily available to have hearings and to facilitate the whole process. So that is available.
I have left with the staff, in lieu of a live demonstration, this little booklet that I will not attempt to go through today in this hearing, but it shows the reports that are in there. And, again, this was announced in January and it is available for your staff. And we stand available and ready to do a live demonstration any time anyone would want one.
We are regularly surveying legislative directors, secretaries, chiefs of staff, and obviously Senators, to ask what do you most need in the legislative system, what would help you do your job most effectively, what sources are you using now. And we are incorporating all those responses into the design of the legislative information system.
Our primary question on everything that we are doing is how does this help an individual Senator do his or her job on a day-today basis, positively, negative or neutral, and then we make a decision on whether or not to try to do it. Because that is why we are here.
Senator BENNETT. Do you have any sense of usage? Mr. Sisco. We do. On the last survey, 52 offices responded. And 87 percent of the respondents used the legislative information system, in its current stage of development, as their first and primary source of inquiry into the whole process. And at this point, obviously, it is not fully implemented and not fully known, but when that happens, I think we will see regular usage.
We have got to educate people that the tool is out there to be used.
Senator BENNETT. Yes; that is my concern, how many offices know that it is there and pay attention to it and use it in any sense. I guess you cannot monitor the number of hits you get, because you get a lot of hits from outside the Senate?
Mr. Sisco. On the home page in the web site, we can monitor the hits though we do not know the source. But on LIS, the only way I know to do it is just to continue to announce it, and reannounce it. We are thinking of putting it on the internal Senate TV from time to time, and just basically market it as a tool that is available. And, over time, I think, when people see the benefits from using it instead of doing things manually, by the old way or the existing system, then I think it will catch on.
Senator BENNETT. Good.
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM
Mr. Sisco. In the financial area, FMIS, I have not put the estimated budget together yet, because we are still in the process of developing the project plan. However, the requirements for the system will be completed next month and signed off on by everybody in the Senate whom it impacts. And that is everybody in our office, under the leadership of Stuart, the Financial Clerk, the Sergeant at Arms people in the computer center, and the Rules Committee. And, again, we have got a project office that involves Senate input.
But we have $7 million that was first appropriated in fiscal year 1995. And when I arrived about 17 months ago, we had spent $194,000. We have spent another $10,000 since then. So we have about $6.8 million of that left. We have spent about $200,000. And, again, most of the activity has been in terms of coming up with correct systems design requirements from the people who have been doing the job in the Disbursing Office, and making sure we have got the requirements right before we go out and spend the money.
And so your recognition, Mr. Chairman, of the fact that—especially in the financial area and in every area, where we have got an impact on these new systems, people have to do the job, but also they have had this extra burden of designing and making sure these requirements are what fit the Senate-it is appreciated that that is recognized. Because it requires a lot of extra work on everyone's part.
The financial management information system will take us from a cash basis to an obligation and accrual basis. It will produce an auditable financial statement, and it will make a consolidated financial statement available for the whole Senate. It will also, being a replacement system with commercial, off-the-shelf software where at all possible, solve the year 2000 problems for the financial system and will take that out of the loop. That is primarily the Sergeant at Arms responsibility, in terms of making sure that the hardware and software is year 2000 compliant. But I will digress from what I want to say here and tell
you that we have looked at the captioners' equipment, the Official Reporters of Debates, the library, the Historian's Office, some of the offices within our own operations, and have addressed the year 2000 problems that are not computer based. And we are in good shape there. They are either already year 2000 compliant, or it is not a problem, or we have one situation that we will address in the near term.
Before September 30, 1999, as part of FMIS, Stuart and his people will replace the general ledger and consolidate the purchasing system into that system, under the Disbursing Office. And also by then, we will have the payroll system upgraded, and it will be year 2000 compliant, as I said.
We will then be in a position—after converting everything over, as much as possible with commercial off-the-shelf software instead of customized software to take the Senate operations into postyear 2000, into the next millennium, and then begin to take advantage of some of the client/server-based software and operations that we are not able to now with so many of our things that are on the mainframe. So it will position us to get even greater benefits that we have not yet identified but that we know are out there.
So that is the status of the financial management information system.
One other thing that I think is key is succession planning. We have people within the Chamber and within the Disbursing Office, within all of our offices, who are eligible now to retire or will be eligible very soon. For some of these jobs, to get to the first position, which is very visible in the Chamber, it takes 4 to 8 years, based on historical facts, for someone to come in, train on the job, and work themselves up to occupy those chairs. And there is similar experience that is required in other offices.
So we are looking at that. And what we are trying to do is look at the average age and the average length of service for the first person in each of the department head positions, and then the second, and on down the line, to where we have succession planning and we have experienced people in here, so that death or disability or retirement does not grind the Senate to a halt. Not this budget, but our future budget will have to take that into account, even though we will allocate 4 or 5, at this point, of the new 15 positions that we are requesting, to supplementing those positions. The rest of them will be in the Disbursing Office.
CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER Finally, just a word about the Capitol visitor center. It was addressed by the Capitol Police Board. It was addressed yesterday in the Rules Committee by the Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol in their testimonies. It is very important. Senate bill 1508 was introduced last fall by Senators Lott, Daschle, and Warner, with a lot of work done prior to that being introduced. A lot of work was done by the Architect, and myself, and the Sergeant at Arms, and all of our staffs. So it would authorize the Architect to construct the Capitol visitor center.
There is a House bill that was introduced last year also. I see the benefits in security—there are great benefits there but also in terms of the Capitol, the visitors' experience to the Capitol, and how it can be improved to make it a better experience for visitors who come here from within the country, and also our foreign visitors, just to facilitate the flow of people, with places to eat and to change diapers of their children, and the restroom facilities, and all those kind of things.
So I would encourage that the bill be passed. And, in my opinion, it is long overdue.
On the funding of that, presently the Capitol Preservation Commission has $25.3 million. That was all raised from private funding. It is invested, and it is growing at about $1 to $1.2 million a year, depending on the yield they get. That is about one-fifth of the $125 million, the present estimated cost.
It can be done, in my opinion, and if you look at other projects around the country, it can be done with private funding. But it does need to be authorized and dealt with, from an appropriated funds standpoint, enough to make sure the project is authorized and gets out of the chute, and then all of the other things can then kick into place. And I believe it can be funded by private funding. There is a bipartisan effort on that within the Senate. And if we can pass it here, I think it would help to bring the House along to do their part, and we could go ahead and get on with that project.
Those are the highlights. I have tried to take out of the full testimony things that I feel relate more to dollars, more to money, and give just a quick, hard assessment of where we are. I will answer any questions about the full testimony or anything else.
PREPARED STATEMENTS AND ADDITIONAL COMMITTEE QUESTIONS
Senator BENNETT. Thank you. I appreciate your testimony. I appreciate your diligence. I think you have covered it very well, unless anyone on your staff has something to add.
Books and documents
Online information services
- 500 –5,000
15,000 10,000 25,000 23,000 1,000
- 15,000 - 10,000 - 25,000 -23,000 - 1,000
Orientation and training (Public Law 95–94)
98–125) (S. Res. 184, July 29, 1983)
BILL CLERK The Bill Clerk records official actions of the Senate, keeps an authoritative historical record of Senate business, enters daily legislative activities and votes into the automated legislative status system, and prints all introduced, submitted and reported legislation. In addition, this office assigns numbers to all bills and resolutions. Legislative Activity
The legislative materials processed by the Bill Clerk during the first sessions of the 105th and 104th Congresses is included in Table 1–Legislative summary. Relations with GPO
The Government Printing Office has responded in a timely manner to the Bill Clerk's request for the printing of bills and reports, including the printing of priority matters for the floor. The record on specific GPO printings for the first session is summarized below:
Star Prints: The number of Star Prints (reprints) authorized was 21.
—“Bates List”: Overnight rush printing was ordered on 51 pieces of legislation. Legislative Information System (LIS)
LEGIS:- The office continued working with the KPMG Program Office reviewing the legislative information that is processed by this office, including the redesign of the status input screens.
Amendment Scanning:- This office began scanning pending proposed amendments less than 10 pages which can be viewed and printed by all Senate staff via the Sen