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PREPARED STATEMENT We are very proud of the work of this office, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and Christine Ciccone for the support which has unfailingly been afforded to us in the nearly 4 years since Congress passed the CAA and since the Office of Compliance was begun.
We will be delighted to answer any questions you may have. [The statement follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF RICKY SILBERMAN Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. As the Executive Director of the Office of Compliance, I am honored to be here to present to you the Office's year 2000 budget. With me are my colleagues the statutory officers: Deputy Executive Director for the Senate, Pam Talkin; Jim Stephens, Deputy Executive Director for the House; General Counsel, Gary Green and Beth Hughes-Brown, Administrative and Budget Officer.
This year we once again are asking for less money than last: $2.076 million for fiscal year 2000, a 0.5 percent decrease from our fiscal year 1999 budget, and a decrease of more than 20 percent over the past three years. The majority of our appropriation 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. The nature of some of these requests required expert guidance in the performance of a wide range of occupational safety and health analyses, and assistance in preparation of technical reports. Gary Green, our General Counsel, who enforces the OSHA, ADA, and other sections of the CAA, is here to address any questions you may have.
The strictly confidential alternative dispute resolution system, which Congress provided legislative branch employees in the CAA, continues to be a model of effectiveness. 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 efficient 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 which the Board is required to review and report on the applicability to Congress of employment laws passed subsequent to the CAA. That report also included the Board's evaluation of the comprehensiveness of coverage of the CAA laws to the three largest instrumentalities—the Library of Congress, the General Accounting Office, and the Government Printing Office. I've brought copies of the 102(b) Study with me today for you and the members of the Committee. We have also attached for your information the Section 301(h) report of the statistics which the Office is required to maintain and publish on employee use of the Office.
The Office provides a comprehensive program of education and information including monthly briefings for House employing offices, quarterly newsletters which are sent to all legislative branch employees, and a comprehensive manual for employing offices on rights and responsibilities under the Congressional Accountability Act. Education and information activities, in addition to 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.
We acknowledge and appreciate your leadership, Mr. Chairman, in addressing year 2000 compliance in legislative branch agencies. We have made good use of the guidance of the GAO team working at your behest in the past year, to assess, test, and when necessary revise or replace the mission critical systems that could be affected at the turn of the next century. We have had a certain degree of advantage over some other agencies due to our small size, recent startup, and most importantly, due to the fact that our internal systems are completely PC-based. All of our personal computers are Y2K compliant, in terms of hardware, software, and networking and operating systems. All of our peripheral equipment, including printers, faxes, modems, TDD's, copiers, postage meters, scanners, and the technical equipment needed to conduct OSHA inspections, are compliant as well, and have been tested for interoperability issues. Our e-mail system, voice mail system and recorded information line are compliant and ready.
External systems include accounting, our web page, and payroll. The Office is cross-serviced by the Library of Congress for accounting and disbursement purposes, and the Library loaded the new compliant version of the Federal Financial Systems software in production mode last June. It has passed all tests, including interface issues. Our web page is maintained on a GPO server, which has been fully tested, and we access the server by a dial-up software that is also compliant. We are crossserviced by the National Finance Center for payroll purposes, and all newly compliant NFC systems have been in production mode since September, 1998. Direct deposit could be a problem for some employees, since NFC has no control over banks, but with such a small number of employees, the Office will generate replacement hard copy checks if necessary.
The only area where the Office has insufficient control over our vendors and their component vendors is in telecommunications. Our phone instruments are fully compliant, as are the switches we lease. We are not satisfied with the assurance we've received to date from our telecommunications vendors, and our phone system is one of our most critical systems. Therefore, we have a contingency plan in place, and will be procuring cell phones for essential staff members late this year.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, the Office of Compliance has conducted an analysis and evaluation of Office functions and needs. In light of our reduced workload in counseling, mediation and hearings and the increased demand in OSHA and other activities, we have reorganized and reallocated our resources. We believe we'll be able to further trim our budget by reducing staff by attrition within the next year or two. We're very proud of the work of the
Office and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and Christine Ciccone for the support which has been unfailingly afforded to us in the nearly four years since the passage of the CAA.
We'd be delighted to answer any questions.
OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE SECTION 301(H) REPORT TO CONGRESS JANUARY 1, 1998–
DECEMBER 31, 1998
INTRODUCTION The Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) generally applies provisions of eleven federal labor and employment laws to over 20,000 covered congressional employees and employing offices. The Office of Compliance (Office), an independent agency in the legislative branch, was established in the CAA to administer and enforce the Act and provide a process for the timely and confidential resolution of workplace disputes. Section 310(h) of the CAA requires that the Office of Compliance: *** compile and publish statistics on the use of the Office by covered employees, including the number and type of contacts made with the Office, on the reason for such contacts, on the number of covered employees who initiated proceedings with the Office under this Act and results of such proceedings, and on the number of covered employees who file a complaint, the basis for the complaint, and the action taken on the complaint.
This third annual report, which provides information for the period from January 1, 1998 through December 31, 1998, begins with a summary of the authority and responsibilities of the Office of Compliance.
OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE AUTHORITY AND RESPONSIBILITIES The CAA establishes the Office of Compliance with a Board of five members, who serve on a part-time basis, and four statutory appointees: the Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director for the Senate, Deputy Executive Director for the House, and the General Counsel. The Office is charged with providing alternative dispute resolution procedures, adjudicative hearings and appeals, for covered legislative branch employees and education and information on the CAA to members of Congress, other employing offices, and employees of the legislative branch. The Board is required to adopt substantive regulations for implementation of certain provisions of the CAA and the Executive Director to adopt rules governing the procedures of the Office. The Office of the General Counsel enforces the provisions of sections 210 and 215, relating to health and safety and public access requirements, including investigation and prosecution of claims under these sections, and periodic inspections to ensure compliance. Additionally, the General Counsel investigates and prosecutes unfair labor practices under section 220 of the CAA.
The CAA applies the rights and protections of provisions of the following eleven labor and employment statutes to covered employees within the legislative branch: title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967; title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993; the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938; the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988; the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act; chapter 43 of title 38 of the U.S. Code (relating to veterans' employment and reemployment); the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 relating to public services and accommodations; the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970; and chapter 71 of title 5 of the U.S. Code (relating to federal service labormanagement relations).
THIRD ANNUAL REPORT-JANUARY 1, 1998–DECEMBER 31, 1998 Number of Contacts Received by the Office of Compliance: 544
Employees and employing offices may, at any time, seek informal advice and information on the procedures of the Office and the rights, protections, and responsibilities afforded under the CAA. The office responds to all inquiries on a confidential basis.
544 requests for information from covered employees, employing offices, the public, unions, and the press were made by phone and in person from January 1, 1998 to December 31, 1998. Contacts were as follows: Employees
302 Employing offices
3 Recorded Information line
141 In addition, the Office of Compliance website proved to be a frequent and efficient means for covered employees, covered employing offices and the general public to access information on the CAA. Reasons for Employee Contacts
302 covered employees contacted the Office asking questions under the following sections: (note: Aggregate numbers will not necessarily match category totals as a single contact may involve more than one section or subsection of the CAA, and/or more than one issue or alleged violation.)
74 36 27
201 Rights and protections under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Dis
crimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and title I
of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 202 Rights and protections under the family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 203 Rights and protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 204 Rights and protections under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 205 Rights and protections under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act 206 Rights and protections relating to veterans' employment and reemployment 207 Prohibition of intimidation or reprisal 210 Rights and protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 relating to
public services and accommodations; procedures for remedy of violations 215 Rights and protections under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970; proce
dures for remedy of violations 220 Application of chapter 71 of title 5, United States Code, Relating to Federal service
labor-management relations NA Questions regarding the general application of the CAA NA Questions on matters which were not cognizable under the CAA
11 33 136
The 302 employee contacts were for information regarding:
9 1 4 7 2 1 8
Number of Proceedings Initiated by Covered Employees: 60
Pursuant to title IV of the CAA, the Office of Compliance provides dispute resolution in the form of counseling and mediation. A proceeding under the CAA is initiated by an individual employee's request for counseling alleging a violation of the CAA.1
60 employees from the following employing offices filed formal requests for counseling: The Architect of the Capitol
30 Capitol Guide Service Capitol Police
6 Congressional Budget Office House of Representatives (non-member or committee offices) House of Representatives (member offices)
9 House of Representatives (committee office)
1 Senate (non-Senator or committee offices)
3 Senate (committee office)
Total employee counseling requests
60 These 60 requests for counseling alleged violations under the following sections of the Congressional Accountability Act: (Please see note above regarding aggregate numbers.)
201 Rights and protections under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimi
nation in Employment Act of 1967, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and title I of the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 202 Rights and protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 203 Rights and protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 207 Prohibition of intimidation or reprisal
61 5 2 27
Workplace issues raised by employees requesting counseling under the CAA fell into the following categories: (Please see note above regarding aggregate numbers.) Assignments
2 Equal pay
1 It should be noted that the alleged unlawful application of a single policy of an employing office may involve multiple individual claims.
Results of the Proceedings
Counseling. Of the 60 counseling requests received between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 1998, and the 11 pending on January 1, 1998: 11 cases closed during or after counseling, but before mediation-0 settled and 11 sought no further action; 2 cases were pending at the end of 1998; 58 requests for mediation were filed.
Mediation.—58 mediation requests received between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 1998. In addition, on January 1, 1998 there were 12 cases pending in mediation, and 13 cases which had completed mediation and were in the open period for filing a complaint. Of those 83 cases:
49 cases closed during or after mediation
-18 cases were settled (including one case that settled after District Court suit) -in 28 cases, no further action was taken by the covered employee after medi
ation ended -4 civil actions were filed in District Court (one of which was settled); -13 cases were pending in mediation on December 31, 1998; -10 cases had completed mediation and were in the time period when a com
plaint could be filed; -12 complaints were filed after mediation ended. Complaints. If the dispute remains unresolved after counseling and mediation, an employee may elect to file a civil action in the district courts of the United States or to file a complaint with the Office. If a complaint is filed with the Office, a Hearing Officer is appointed to hear the case and issue a decision.
Twelve complaints were filed with the Office between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 1998 and one complaint was pending on January 1, 1998. Basis of Complaints
The complaints filed during 1998 involved the following issues: alleged discrimination in assignments based on race and gender; alleged failure to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability (2 cases); alleged retaliatory discipline; alleged termination based on age; alleged termination based on national origin, race and color; alleged discrimination based on race and disability; alleged termination based on age and disability; alleged termination based on age and gender; alleged failure to promote based on gender; alleged failure to promote based on gender and race; alleged harassment and termination based on race and in retaliation for opposing practices made unlawful by the CAA. Action Taken on Complaints
Any party aggrieved by a Hearing Officer's decision may file a petition for review of the decision by the Board of Directors of the Office.
During January 1, 1998–December 31, 1998: Hearings.-2 hearing officer decisions were issued; 6 cases were settled or otherwise resolved before the hearings concluded; 5 complaints were pending either with hearings scheduled for early 1999 or awaiting Hearing Officer decisions.
Appeals.- No petitions for review of Hearing Officer decisions were filed with the Board; 3 petitions were pending on January 1, 1998; 2 Hearing Officer decisions were not appealed and became the final decisions of the Office.
Board action.—3 Board decisions were issued in 1998; No petitions for review of Hearing Officer decisions were pending on December 31, 1998.
Judicial review.—1 Petition for review was filed; One court decision was issued on a petition for review filed in 1997. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the Board's decision. Labor-Management Relations
The Office carries out the Board's investigative authorities under section 220 of the CAA, involving issues concerning the appropriateness of bargaining units for