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LEGISLATIVE BRANCH APPROPRIATIONS FOR
FISCAL YEAR 2000
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24, 1999
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m., in room SD-116, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Robert F. Bennett (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Bennett and Stevens.
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE SENATE
GARY SISCO, SECRETARY OF THE SENATE
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT F. BENNETT Senator BENNETT. Good morning. The hearing will come to order. This is our last hearing on the Legislative Branch budget request for fiscal 2000. I am delighted that we are moving along in the pattern that we are and will have completed the Legislative Branch hearings by the end of March.
Before we begin with our witnesses, I will surprise no one by raising my favorite subject, Y2K. I have been warning all of the agencies that come before this subcommittee on how important it is and how personally embarrassing it would be, after all the noise I have made on this subject, if everybody else is compliant and the Senate is not. I understand that word has gotten out and we are going to be buried with more information than we want today, so I look forward to that.
I have a statement from Senator Craig, a member of the subcommittee who was not able to be here, and it will be placed in the record at this point.
[The statement follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SENATOR LARRY E. CRAIG Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding this hearing today. The Sergeant at Arms, the Secretary of the Senate, and the Congressional Budget Office all provide services which are vital to each of us. I would also like to take a second and welcome the new Sergeant at Arms, James Ziglar, to his first budget hearing. I look forward to many more hearings with Mr. Ziglar.
There are several important issues that this committee is addressing, and I don't want to discount them. However, the issue that I want to focus on today is the changes that are taking place with the Computer Information Services (CÍS) that
the Sergeant at Arms, the Secretary of the Senate, and the Senate Rules Committee are involved with.
As the Committee is aware, last July Senate offices were notified by the Senate Rules Committee and the Sergeant at Arms that the online services which are offered to Senate offices were going to be dramatically changed. The Senate, through its Legislative Information Service (LIS), will provide the bulk of online legislative research. Services not provided by LIS may be purchased by outside vendors, either by the Senate or by individual offices. The Committee had concerns with the proposal and voiced these concerns with language in the fiscal year 1999 Legislative Branch Appropriations Conference Report.
The temporary program, valid through the end of this calendar year, works to address the temporary concerns of offices who were feared they would lose key research capabilities they rely on. However, it does not address the fundamental question of where these changes are headed and why they are taking place.
Over the last few years, my office has been pleased with the CIS offerings and has taken advantage of them, perhaps more than many offices. My staff has been pleased with what the private sector has to offer. While many of my staff also use LIS, there are many weaknesses in LIS for one simple reason—LIS does not compete with other vendors and, therefore, does not have an incentive to be bigger, better, and faster than the competitors.
This raises a key point. Several private sector companies already take legislative information and compile it into a searchable, online format. They are not simply taking information we generate and selling it back to us. They are adding value to it and we are paying for that. However, they also sell their service to private entities. Consequently, we are not covering the entire cost of their operation. We share it with all of their customers. This being the case, why is the Senate duplicating the efforts of the private sector?
I also want to address concerns about Senate offices losing services they have come to rely on. For starters, there are several services which are offered by the private sector which are not offered by LIS. From detailed summaries and analysis of bills and committee hearings to extensive databases of periodicals and legal documents, the outside services offer a wealth of information that Senate offices depend
I hope that as this process moves forward, the Sergeant at Arms, the Rules Committee, and the Secretary of the Senate will ensure that the Senate's staff and Members have the research tools they need while ensuring that our tax dollars are spent wisely.
Senator BENNETT. Our first witness is the Hon. Gary Sisco, Secretary of the Senate, and we want to welcome Mr. Tim Wineman, who took over the job of Financial Clerk last year after Stewart Balderson retired. Mr. Wineman, we recognize that this is your first hearing before the subcommittee in this position and we are delighted to have your willingness to serve in this position and look forward to hearing from you.
The Secretary's budget request is $15.7 million. I note that this is the third year that Mr. Sisco has asked for a level budget, with only the adjustment for the mandatory cost of living increase. I recognize that there are often times when you cannot do that, but I am delighted that when you can do it, you do do it, and we appreciate you being here.
So Mr. Sisco, we will hear from you, and you can introduce Mr. Wineman if he has information for us at the appropriate time.
STATEMENT OF GARY SISCO, SECRETARY OF THE SENATE Mr. Sisco. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to be here this morning and, as you indicated, Tim is here with me. Tim is the Financial Clerk and has been since last May 1, and I would note that in his capacity as Financial Clerk he has submitted to the committee a budget for the entire Senate. My testimony this morning will be targeted just to the budget of the Secretary of the
Senate. Tim is also responsible for the financial management information system, or FMIŠ, that we will hear more about later.
My full statement has been filed with the committee, including the annual reports of each of the 24 departments of our office. This morning I will be brief. I will include Y2K, our budget request, and then I would like to make a comment or two on the Capitol Visitor Center.
Senator BENNETT. Please.
FISCAL YEAR 2000 BUDGET REQUEST
Mr. Sisco. First, the budget request. As you indicated, for the third year in a row we are proposing a budget that holds the line on administrative expenses and reflects an increase in the payroll area for the COLA only. In dollars, that is $15,713,000, $14,202,000 for salaries, and $1,511,000 for other expenses. It is an increase of $508,000, or 3.3 percent, over our fiscal year 1999 appropriation of $15,205,000.
From an operational standpoint, that is our request. The two major projects that are ongoing are the financial management information system, or FMIS, which I just mentioned, that Tim is responsible for, and a legislative information system, or LIS.
We will continue to be funded for those for the remainder of fiscal year 1999, and for 2000, using the existing budgets that we have, and I do not project the need to request any new money for these two projects in 1999, or 2000. The only possible request may be to reprogram some of the unused funds from the appropriations we have already been provided in the administrative area.
Now, to Y2K and the compliance status of the computers in the Office of the Secretary. While the Sergeant at Arms ensures Y2K compliance for all the computer equipment in the Senate, the Office of the Secretary has worked closely with the Office of the Sergeant at Arms to ensure, first, that FMÍS and LIS are engineered from the beginning to be Y2K-compliant, and, second, that all other computers and systems used in the Office of the Secretary are Y2Kcompliant.
We are on course to replace, repair, or retire anything that is not fully compliant. Most of that work is already done, and the rest will be completed no later than the end of September.
In terms of Y2K and the development of the FMIS, FMIS replaces a conglomeration of more than a dozen financial systems scattered throughout the Senate, none of which are Year 2000 compliant, and provides a single Y2K-compliant financial management system for both the general ledger and for purchasing.
Specifically, the KPMG Peat Marwick FAMIS 4.0 system, the financial accounting management information system, is the technology for the general ledger system, and KPMG's second package, called ADPICS 4.5, the advanced purchasing and inventory control system, is the purchasing system that we are using. These two software packages from KPMG are commercial off-the-shelf packages
already in use in the Federal Government, and they are warranted by KPMG to be Y2K-compliant. Even though KPMG has warranted that, these systems are so important to our financial operations that we are going to do independent testing and verification over the summer, and we are now preparing to select an independent contractor to help us test those two systems to double-check and make sure that they are compliant.
The new general ledger system is based on the standard general ledger of the Federal Government, and it converts the general ledger from a cash basis of accounting to an obligation and accrualbased accounting system. This is a mandate that has been there for a while. The system uses OMB object codes so that the budget authority and expenditures can be reported throughout the Senate and consistent with other Federal agencies, and FMIS will also deliver the capability to produce a consolidated audit of all financial statements for the entire Senate, beginning with fiscal year 2000. Again, that is part of our mandate.
Tim and the Disbursing Office staff will also be upgrading the payroll system to Y2K compliance by the end of September, but they are not installing a new system. The payroll system will be made compliant by a software upgrade, which is the Integral 9.5 system. It is a Year 2000 compliant version of the Integral payroll system that is already used by the Disbursing Office. It is a proven product, already in use in a number of other places, and it also is warranted by the vendor.
We have the original vendor installing the upgrade in the Disbursing Office, and it is being acceptance-tested at the present time, so we do not anticipate a problem there.
Shifting to the legislative information system, this also is a mandated system, with the objective of providing desktop access to the content and status of all Senate legislative information and supporting documents. Year 2000 compliance is being engineered, as a part of the LIS system development, by replacing the non-Y2Kcompliant LEGIS system that the Senate has used for some time.
To ensure that LIS meets the needs of all the Senate users, the LIS Project Office, which is comprised of personnel from the Secretary's Office, the Sergeant at Arms, the Library of Congress, KPMG, and a representative from the Rules and Administration Committee, has established a user group to collect the needs and priorities of the Senate offices. We sent out questionnaires and got feedback from those questionnaires, and major enhancements to the system have been based on the user feedback.
For example, users can now perform detailed searches for particular amendments by amendment number, by bill number, by the date introduced, or by the Senate sponsor, and users can also now print entire amendments from their desks using their personal computers.
We have all roll call votes from the 101st Congress to date available online for access by Senate staff through their personal computers.
Our new LIS home page provides a link to a menu of the latest official committee scheduling and subcommittee scheduling reports. This makes it easier for committees to schedule hearings at times that avoid or reduce conflicts with meetings of other committees or subcommittees that have some of the same Senators as members. We have got all that computerized comprehensively for the first time.
The new document management system, or DMS, of the LIS will replace the existing LEGIS system. The DMS will collect, manage, store, retrieve and report various types of data by tracking information in different formats from "A" to "Z”, from "A", the time something is introduced into the legislative system, until “Z”, when it goes to the National Archives.
The DMS implementation phase is progressing and it will be finished in August of 1999. This schedule also allows time to complete the thorough testing that we began on February 26, 1999. DMS end-to-end testing components have been identified and the LIS Project Office is actively addressing the Y2K compliance of the external interfaces.
DMS will interface with the amendment tracking system. The committee scheduling systems—the other ones that I mentioned and these interfaces will also be Y2K-compliant.
The Office of the Secretary is providing training for the Senate clerks, systems administrators, and the end users. Since each audience has distinct needs, the training approach is highly customized. Every effort is being made to provide a comprehensive training program for the users of the new system.
The successful implementation to date of these two systems, FMIS and LIS, has depended on the outstanding cooperation and dedication and funding of this committee along with many other organizations that are involved in one of the systems, or both of the systems, including the Rules Committee and the Office of the Sergeant at Arms, the Senate Member offices, and the committee offices, the Library of Congress and the Congressional Research Service, the General Accounting Office, and last but not least, the Government Printing Office. We have all worked together to get to this point in the development of FMIS and LIS.
For other systems within the Secretary's Office, we have an information systems department that in conjunction with the Sergeant at Arms has made an assessment of the Y2K compliance of all other hardware and software within our office that is, all nonFMIS and non-LIS systems, hardware and equipment. We have carefully thought through plans that are on course to replace or upgrade all of the noncompliant systems, systems programs and applications in a timely fashion.
We began this process in May of 1998, with a detailed assessment by Mitretek, an outside firm, to look at all computer-related activity in conjunction with the Y2K Project Office of the Sergeant at Arms. The assessment was finished in December of 1998.
During 1998, all of the personal computers within our office were updated or replaced with compliant hardware, and so from a hardware standpoint we are totally compliant.
Even more importantly, the outdated network transfer method of transmitting the text of our legislation, and all the other work that