Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

!

Senator ROTH. Exactly.

Senator BENNETT (continuing). Gathering around the table and swapping ideas. So, I am not suggesting you do not need it if the Congressional Research Service has it, but when we get the Library of Congress before us, we may ask them if their Congressional Research Service has some experts that are working on this. So, the IRS will come and say this is how we think, the Joint Committee on Taxation comes and says this is how we think, and the Congressional Research Service says this is how we think. Maybe we will get some fertile ideas coming out of that kind of exchange.

Senator ROTH. Right. It is a major undertaking and it is extraordinarily difficult.

Senator BENNETT. It is. I was involved in Senator Dole's effort to try to come up with an idea, and we finally settled on saying it will take us 2 years. (Laughter.]

Thank you very much. We appreciate your being here and the work you do.

Ms. PAULL. Mr. Chairman, if I might also leave some background pamphlets that we did in response to your concerns and the subcommittee's concerns about access to our services by other Members than the tax-writing committees so they can understand what we do and how to use our services.

Senator BENNETT. We have some statistics on that.

Ms. PAULL. Yes, I know. We are very interested in making sure everybody uses our services and has equal access.

Senator BENNETT. Well, I noticed the one group that has the highest response. You might be interested, Senator Feinstein. We raised the issue that their staff only responds to people from the Ways and Means and the Finance Committees. You will find now that on the Ways and Means Committee, Republicans get 85.6 of their questions answered and the Democrats 86.4; the Senate Fi. nance Committee Republicans, 86.5 and the Democrats, 86.6. But (non-Ways and Means Committee Republicans are 89.1. That is the highest level, and the lowest level is non-Finance Committee Democrats. I wonder if that reflects the Speaker who would be a non-Ways and Means Committee Republican? The Speaker may be the one who has driven that number higher. (Laughter.)

Ms. PAULL. The leadership certainly usually needs information quickly when they ask for it.

Senator BENNETT. Since the Leader over here is a Finance Committee Republican

Ms. PAULL. But if you would look at the absolute numbers in the Senate, non-Finance Committee members, it is a factor that there are a lot more amendments that get offered on the Senate floor than they do in the House. You can see the absolute numbers are high.

Senator BENNETT. Well, your overall response: 85.6 percent. You mentioned that in your testimony, which is why I did not pursue it in the questions. Your desire to get that up is recognized and we appreciate your concern. Senator ROTH. Thank you very much. Senator BENNETT. Thank you. Senator FEINSTEIN. Thank you.

MA

JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE

STATEMENT OF HON. CONNIE MACK, CHAIRMAN

OPENING REMARKS

Senator BENNETT. We welcome Senator Connie Mack, the Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee that has requested $3,200,000 for fiscal year 2000, which is a slight increase over fiscal year 1999 to provide accommodation for cost-of-living for staff and nondiscretionary agency contributions.

Senator, we welcome you and look forward to your testimony.
Senator MACK. You just made my statement. (Laughter.]
I do have a couple of comments that I will make.

But first of all, let me say what a pleasure it is to be back with the committee, this time sitting on this side of the desk.

Senator BENNETT. Senator Mack and 1—when he was the chairman of this subcommittee cut the Joint Economic Committee back, so he has to live with that now that he is the chairman.

Senator MACK. Well, as a matter of fact, if I remember correctly, it was about a 24 percent cut in real terms and we reduced the staff from about 50, 51 to 38, which was in 1994. Senator BENNETT. 1995.

JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE BUDGET REQUEST Senator MACK. 1995? Yes.

We have the same number of personnel now as we did after we made the cut. We have held it steady during that period of time.

I just have a short statement that I would like to present.

The Joint Economic Committee, as you have indicated, requests $3.2 million for fiscal year 2000. This budget request reflects the anticipated cost-of-living adjustments and incremental discretionary agency contributions.

The 106th Congress will confront a host of important economic issues that will have a far-reaching impact for the next 2 years and the coming millennium. It is my hope that the upcoming debates on Social Security, tax reform, and the budget, among many other economic issues, will be better informed by analyses provided by the Joint Economic Committee. I am committed to providing Congress with quality research that will help us make the best possible decisions for this country.

These are truly exciting times. A technological revolution has produced the emergence and integration of world financial markets to create a global economy. As much of the world struggles to adapt to the changes demanded by these new realities, the United States stands as a beacon to economic growth. The way in which this Congress addresses the many economic issues before it will affect the long-term economic health of our country, as well as the paths which many other nations will follow.

[ocr errors]

non

Producing and disseminating accurate economic research and analysis will be the hallmark of this Congress' Joint Economic Committee. Only through the use of accurate research can we promote the informed policy debates that are crucial to the formation of sound economic policy. It is my judgment that this can be accomplished within the budget request that I have made.

Again, Mr. Chairman, as I mentioned a moment ago, we have held the staff positions to the same number now, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and this will be into the year 2000. At the same time that we have made those reductions, we have been able to produce quality information and information that is of benefit to the Congress. I would hope that you would be supportive of our budget request.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

PREPARED STATEMENT

The increase you mentioned is to cover inflation, but there is a component over which we have no control over, the nondiscretionary agency contributions.

[The statement follows:]

[ocr errors]

PREPARED STATEMENT OF SENATOR CONNIE MACK Mr. Chairman, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning as Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. I am happy to be here. The Joint Economic Committee requests $3,200,000 for fiscal year 2000. This budget request reflects the anticipated cost of living adjustments and incremental nondiscretionary agency contributions.

The 106th Congress will confront a host of important economic issues that will have a far-reaching impact for the next two years and the coming millennium. It is my hope that the upcoming debates on Social Security, Tax Reform, and the Budget, among many other economic issues, will be better informed by analyses provided by the Joint Economic Committee. I am committed to providing Congress with quality research that will help it make the best possible decisions for this country.

These are truly exciting times. A technological revolution has produced the emergence and integration of world financial markets to create a global economy. As much of the world struggles to adapt to the changes demanded by these new realities, the United States stands as a beacon to economic growth. The way in which this Congress addresses the myriad of economic issues before it will affect the longterm economic health of our country, as well as the paths which many other nations may follow. For these reasons, this Congress must possess the ability to gather and utilize the most accurate economic data available. My staff and I are committed to providing this data in a concise and accessible manner so that we may meet the challenges that face us and make the best possible decisions for the 21st century.

Producing and disseminating accurate economic research and analysis will be the hallmark of this Congress' Joint Economic Committee. Only through the use of accurate research can we promote the informed policy debates that are crucial to the formation of sound economic policy. It is my judgment that this can be accomplished with this budget request. I thank you and welcome your questions.

Senator BENNETT. You have covered all of the issues that I had as questions.

Do you have any questions Senator Feinstein?
Senator FEINSTEIN. No questions. A piece of cake.
Senator MACK. A piece of cake. That is right.
Senator BENNETT. Thank you very much for all you do.
Senator MACK. Thank you very much.
Senator BENNETT. Thank you. We appreciate your coming in.

[ocr errors]

OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE

STATEMENT OF RICKY SILBERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
ACCOMPANIED BY:

PAM TALKIN, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR THE SENATE
GARY GREEN, GENERAL COUNSEL
BETH HUGHES-BROWN, ADMINISTRATIVE AND BUDGET OFFICER

INTRODUCTION OF ASSOCIATES

Senator BENNETT. We recognize officially Ms. Ricky Silberman who is the Executive Director of the Office of Compliance. If you want to introduce the people who are with you.

Ms. SILBERMAN. I do indeed. Mr. Chairman and Senator Feinstein, this is the Deputy Executive Director for the Senate, Pam Talkin, who has been here before; Gary Green, General Counsel of the Office of Compliance; and Beth Hughes-Brown, our Administrative and Budget Officer. We are honored to be here today to present to you the office's fiscal year 2000 budget.

I know you will be pleased to hear that this year we are once again asking for less money than we received last year: $2.076 million for fiscal year 2000, which is a half percent decrease from our fiscal year 1999 budget. We have actually sustained a decrease of over 20 percent over the past 3 years that the office has been in existence.

The majority of our expenditures continue to be in personnel costs and personal services contracts. For example, section 215 of the CAA, which applied portions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to the legislative branch, vests in the General Counsel the authority to conduct inspections and investigate health and safety complaints. During this past fiscal year, requests for inspections and investigations under section 215 have increased significantly. OSHA is proving to be one of the most significant responsibilities that we have under the act.

The nature of some of these requests has required expert guidance in the performance of a wide range of occupational safety and health analyses, and assistance in the preparation of technical reports. Gary Green, our General Counsel, who enforces OSHA, ADA, and the labor-management portions of the CAA, is here to address any questions that you may have in this area.

The strictly confidential alternative dispute resolution system, which Congress provided legislative branch employees in the CAA, continues to be model of effectiveness. I think it is probably the single most important reason why our costs continue to go down. It is based on the principle that an informed regulated community and early resolution of disputes is most cost effective and best for employees and employing offices. Indeed, the process has proved so effective that the Board of Directors has recommended that Congress provide the private and Federal sectors "with the same effi

[ocr errors]

cient and effective method of resolving disputes that the legislative branch now enjoys."

This recommendation was made in the biennial section 102(b) study recently submitted to Congress. In that study, the Board is required to review and report on the applicability to Congress of employment laws passed subsequent to the CAA, and that report also included the Board's evaluation of the comprehensiveness of coverage of the CAA laws to the three largest instrumentalities, a task that was left to the future time when the CAA was passed. Those three instrumentalities are the Library of Congress, the General Accounting Office, and the Government Printing Office. We have sent along copies of the 102(b) study to members of the committee, and we have one available if anybody would like to see it.

We have also attached with our submission for your information the section 301(h) report, and that contains the statistics which the office is required to maintain on employee use of the office.

The office is mandated to provide a comprehensive program of education and information, and that includes briefings for Senate employing offices, as well as a number of publications regarding rights and responsibilities under the Congressional Accountability Act. These education and information activities and the publication of reports and studies account for most of the printing and postage costs and much of the cost of materials requested for fiscal year 2000.

Mr. Chairman, we acknowledge and appreciate your leadership of and interest in addressing the year 2000 compliance in legislative branch agencies. We have made good use of the guidance of the GAO team working at your behest in this past year. We have assessed, tested and, when necessary, revised and replaced the mission-critical systems that could be affected at the turn of the century. We have gone into considerable detail in our written statement as to what we have done. I will go into it if you like or skip over it and you can ask questions which I will not be able to answer, but Beth Hughes-Brown will absolutely be able to answer.

When we first went into business over 3 years ago, Beth came in and said, you know, there is a real problem looming in the future, and she has been on top of this. We are very proud of the fact that we are totally compliant at this point with the exception of something that we have no control over and that is the telecommunication systems. We have a redundant system in place with cell phones just in case we need it.

So, moving right along, looking to the future of the Office of Compliance, we have conducted an analysis and evaluation of office functions and operations in terms of future needs. Our reduced workload, as I said earlier, in counseling, mediation, and hearings seems to be stabilized at really a much reduced level. However, we have had an increased demand in OSHA and other activities, and we are reorganizing and reallocating our resources. We believe we will be able to further trim our budget by reducing staff by attrition within the next year. We are already moving to do that, but of course if the Congress were to increase the office's authority and responsibility, as recommended in the 102(b) report, a reassessment is going to be necessary.

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »