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which provides a single point of contact for all services and products that the Sergeant at Arms provides.
We have an ongoing quality assurance council comprised of representatives from Member offices, committees, and other support units here in the Senate. Their job is to make sure we continually improve. We have a reinvigorated human resource operation to provide management training. We have pay, performance, retention, and recruitment programs for our employees, while we are still meeting the rather rigorous standards of the Accountability Act.
To do the third, which is the management part, evaluation part, we are migrating some of our financial operations, as you know, to the Secretary of the Senate in his role as the chief financial officer, and we are converting our financial operations office into a management review office.
This is a project tracking activity report that we are trying to get out quarterly. Obviously, one of the major functions of our management office is to make sure that you get the kind of information on tracking our projects and the expenditures of our dollars on a quarterly basis. That is helpful to you. It is also helpful to us in managing this operation.
During the course of last year, we have actually consolidated our operations division and eliminated a lot of duplication of services. That is where some of that $3 million in our reduced budget comes from. We have added two new departments, however. We have added the office of project management, which adds a new discipline to the way in which we actually manage projects up here in the Senate, and the office of the systems architect.
It is that systems architect's job to make sure that the technology infrastructure of the Senate remains visionary, not only with an eye to what we have to accomplish today, but to try to get us on the cutting edge for what we have to do in the decade to come.
We are also pursuing and trying to finish the joint office of education and training.
As we discussed here last year, one of our primary objectives is to try to invest in our human resource, something we have not done as good a job as we should have. That is what part of this education and training program is all about.
We have also been tasked as part of the ongoing strategic plan with the accomplishment of four goals.
Mr. CASEY. As part of that strategic plan-I will not go into those in great detail—we did have
Senator BENNETT. Can we interrupt here and come back to you Mr. Casey? This is an appropriate time. Senator Roth has just come in and we want to accommodate his schedule, so we will suspend the Sergeant at Arms presentation and go to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
JOINT COMMITTEE ON TAXATION
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM V. ROTH, JR., CHAIRMAN
LINDY PAULL, CHIEF OF STAFF
Senator ROTH. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Senator Dorgan. I appreciate the opportunity to appear today before this Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch on behalf of the fiscal year 1999 appropriation request for the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Congressman Bill Archer and I submitted a written statement, and I ask that this statement be made a part of the record.
Senator BENNETT. Without objection, it will be part of the record.
Senator ROTH. Mr. Chairman, the operations of the Joint Committee on Taxation are vital to the tax legislative process. For example, the Joint Committee staff played a critical role last year to help the Congress enact the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, which began the process of returning to the American people some of their hard-earned dollars.
This tax bill, which provided the biggest tax cut Americans received in 16 years, included such major tax benefits as the child tax credit, the opportunity to save for retirement in tax-deferred IRA's, significant education tax incentives, relief from confiscatory estate and gift taxes for small businesses and family farms, as well as substantial reductions on capital gains.
During 1997, the Joint Committee staff prepared more than 2,000 revenue estimates in response to Member requests and in connection with committee markups drafted 14 committee and conference reports, drafted 8 tax treaty executive reports, published 92 documents made available to the Congress and the general public, as well as reviewed the work of the IRS on more than 600 large income tax refund and 64 large deficiency cases.
During 1998, the Joint Committee staff will be front and center on our efforts to reform and restructure the IRS.
The Joint Committee staff has also been devoting significant resources to analyzing the various proposals to restructure the Federal tax system and will take a lead role in providing assistance to the Congress as we consider fundamental tax reform, hopefully, in the not-too-distant future. These tax reform proposals will require the Joint Committee staff to provide comprehensive economic and legal analysis of a wide range of issues, including complex transition issues.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to speak just a minute on the important role of the Joint Committee on Taxation in the preparation of revenue estimates for pending revenue legislation.
As you know, under the Congressional Budget Act, the Joint Committee on Taxation has the sole responsibility for preparing revenue estimates for all tax legislation considered by the Congress. As I mentioned, during 1997, the staff responded to over 2,000 requests for revenue estimates from Members of Congress, including estimates prepared in connection with committee markups.
Current staffing levels permitted the Joint Committee staff to respond to approximately 66 percent of the requests received from Members. During 1998, the Joint Committee staff expects to receive at least 1,500 requests for revenue estimates.
In addition, during 1998, the Joint Committee staff will continue to proceed with the work necessary to develop the capability to incorporate macroeconomic effects into the revenue estimates of major tax legislation. I think this is a very important initiative, and as part of this effort, the Joint Committee has contracted with two major macroeconomic forecasting firms to help in the development of a prototype macroeconomic model.
In addition, the Joint Committee staff consults regularly with the economists who serve on the Joint Committee's revenue estimating advisory board with respect to this important effort.
As I said, I want to emphasize the importance that I place on developing macroestimating capabilities. I think it is crucial to our efforts to restructure the Federal tax system that we have the ability to understand how the economy will perform when we replace the current income tax system.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to address specifically a concern raised by this subcommittee during last year's appropriation process: that the Joint Committee on Taxation staff did not respond adequately to requests from Members of Congress who do not sit on the tax-writing committees. Included in my written testimony is a table that provides information on the Joint Committee staff responses to revenue estimate requests during the 104th Congress, and for the first session of the 105th.
The Joint Committee on Taxation staff receives a large number of requests each year, and responds to approximately, as I said, two-thirds of them. As attachment D to my testimony shows, the response to nontax-writing committee members during the last Congress was pretty close to that of tax-writing committee members. However, I am concerned that the data for the first session of this Congress is showing some disparities in the response to nonwriting committee members.
I believe it is imperative that the revenue-estimating process of the Joint Committee be above criticism. Therefore, when I recently named Lindy Paull, who is our new chief of staff, to take over as chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, I directed her to undertake a review of the revenue-estimating function of the Joint Committee and closely monitor requests so that all Members are treated fairly.
FISCAL YEAR 1999 REQUEST Mr. Chairman, Senator Dorgan, the fiscal year 1999 appropriation request for the Joint Committee is $6,018,000. This amount is a net increase of $202,500 over the fiscal year 1998 appropriation, and $1,000 less than the fiscal year 1995 appropriation for the Joint Committee. This increase is attributed solely to projected cost-of-living adjustments as provided to the Joint Committee by the House Finance Office, and a 1-percent merit increase for personnel expenses for the Joint Committee staff.
The funding we have requested for the Joint Committee on Taxation represents, we believe, the minimum amount necessary to finance the operations of the committee for fiscal year 1999. The Joint Committee provides essential services to the Congress that are not duplicated by any other congressional or executive branch office.
In closing, I want to thank the subcommittee for its continued recognition of the important role that this committee plays. Thank you.
[The statement follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SENATOR BILL ROTH AND CONGRESSMAN BILL ARCHER
INTRODUCTION Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the opportunity to submit this written testimony to the Subcommittee on Legislative of the Senate Committee on Appropriations on behalf of the fiscal year 1999 appropriation request for the Joint Committee on Taxation (the "Joint Committee”).
The funding we are requesting for the Joint Committee on Taxation represents the minimum amount necessary to finance the operations of the Joint Committee for fiscal year 1999. The Joint Committee provides essential services to the Congress that are not duplicated by any other Congressional or Executive Branch office. Failure to provide the requested funding will jeopardize the ability of the Joint Committee to provide these necessary services. We want to thank
the Subcommittee for its continued recognition of the important role that the Joint Committee plays in the development of revenue legislation. We are pleased that the Subcommittee has repeatedly acknowledged the needs of the Joint Committee, and we hope that the Subcommittee will understand the critical need for funds for the Joint Committee for fiscal year 1999.
Key points relating to the appropriation request are as follows:
We are requesting a fiscal year 1999 appropriation for the Joint Committee of $6,018,000. This amount is a net increase of $ 202,500 over the fiscal year 1998 appropriation and $1,000 less than the fiscal year 1995 appropriation for the Joint Committee. This increase is attributable solely to cost-of-living adjustments and a 1-percent merit increase for personnel expenses for the Joint Committee staff.
In the last Congress, we asked the Joint Committee staff to assume additional responsibilities. In addition to the traditional role of the Joint Committee staff in the development, drafting, and estimating of proposed revenue legislation and the review of large income tax refund cases, the Joint Committee staff is now responsible for determining the possible unfunded mandates contained in revenue legislation and identifying, beginning in 1997, the limited tax benefits subject to the Line Item Veto Act. As you know, the Joint Committee staff identified over 70 provisions in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 that were limited tax benefits and the President exercised his authority under the Line Item Veto Act to cancel two of these provisions.
The Joint Committee staff provides unique and essential services to both the House of Representatives and the Senate at every stage of the tax legislative process. The Joint Committee staff, comprised of highly qualified lawyers, accountants, and economists, is involved in the development, marking up, and drafting of tax bills and in writing all tax Committee Reports and Conference Reports. In addition, the Joint Committee staff devotes substantial resources to the preparation of revenue estimates, distributional analyses, and other economic analyses relating to proposed legislation. The refund office of the Joint Committee reviews large proposed tax refunds as part of the Congressional oversight of the executive branch. The Joint Committee is charged by statute with oversight of the administration of the Federal tax system. The services of the Joint Committee are central to the tax legislative process. Additional details relating to this appropriation request are provided below.
SUMMARY OF FISCAL YEAR 1999 BUDGET REQUEST The following summarizes the Joint Committee's budget request for fiscal year 1999: Personnel Funding
$5,433,000 Non-Personnel Funding: Travel
12,000 Rent, Communications, Utilities
88,000 Other Services
95,000 Supplies and Materials
260,000 Total fiscal year 1999 Request
6,018,000 The fiscal year 1995 appropriation for the Joint Committee on Taxation was $6,019,000. The House-passed legislative branch funding bill for fiscal year 1996 froze the Joint Committee appropriation at the fiscal year 1995 level ($6,019,000). The final version of this legislation reduced the Joint Committee's appropriation for fiscal year 1996 by 15 percent to $5,116,000. This reduction was the result of a provision in the Senate bill, adopted in conference, which generally reduced appropriations of all Senate committees. This appropriation was lower than the Joint Committee's budget in each of the last 5 fiscal years. The fiscal year 1997 appropriation for the Joint Committee was $5,470,000. The fiscal year 1998 appropriation for the Joint Committee is $5,815,500, which is still below the fiscal year 1995 funding level.
DETAILS OF FISCAL YEAR 1999 APPROPRIATION REQUEST Personnel Expenses
We are requesting an appropriation for fiscal year 1999 for the Joint Committee that is $202,500 more than the fiscal year 1998 appropriation, but only $1,000 more than the fiscal year 1995 appropriation. This increase is attributable solely to costof-living adjustments to current personnel expenses plus a 1-percent increase for merit pay increases. As instructed by the House Finance Office, we are requesting $52,606 (attributable to a 1-percent merit increase) and $149,622 (which represents annualization of the fiscal year 1998 and fiscal year 1999 cost-of-living adjustments). These amounts are determined for the Joint Committee by the House Finance Office because they provide to us both the compensation base and the percentage adjustments.
This request does not include any specific requested amount for possible overtime pay. During calendar year 1997, the Joint Committee on Taxation paid over $13,000 in overtime pay. The Joint Committee has a policy of minimizing the amount of overtime pay that support staff employees earn by utilizing compensatory leave to the extent permitted under the law. Nonpersonnel expenses
We are requesting no increase in nonpersonnel expenses for fiscal year 1999.
The amount requested for travel expenses ($12,000) will be used to reimburse the economists who comprise the Joint Committee on Taxation revenue estimating advisory board for their expenses to travel to Washington, DC for advisory board meetings. In addition, this amount will be used to send Joint Committee attorneys and economists to educational conferences to improve their understanding of the Federal tax laws and to reimburse Joint Committee employees and prospective job applicants for travel expenses incurred in connection with the recruitment of new employees.
The amount budgeted for other services is primarily for consulting services. The needs of the Members for immediate responses to requests for revenue estimates and the substantial volume of requests for revenue estimates that the Joint Committee staff receives places tremendous burdens on the estimating staff. To perform efficiently, the staff of the Joint Committee has found it necessary to contract from