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Public Law 89-473 back in the 89th Congress permitted the issuing of a voucher against one appropriation for the benefit of any other appropriation in order to finance the procurement of
materials or services for which both appropriations are available. Reimbursement is made in the same fiscal year by a charge to the benefited appropriation and a credit of a like amount to the
financing appropriation after the actual usage of the materials or services is determined. This is a flexible accounting procedure. It is designed to save the Government money through facilitating accounting in procuring various common services, activities and materials.
Straying away for a minute from the District government, if, for example, the Commerce Department and one of its bureaus, the Bureau of Standards, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and probably the Office of the Secretary itself, all needed some common technological service, it could be purchased out of the appropriations of the Office of the Secretary with accounting charges to the two subagencies being made later and crediting the appropriation of the Office of the Secretary with such amounts, based on the actual extent of their respective use of this common service.
Inadvertently, however, Public Law 89-473 was enacted without consideration being given to the fact that such accounting adjustments procedures would benefit the government of the District of Columbia in its operations. During the last Congress—that would be the 91st Congress-Mayor Washington asked the then Speaker, our former Speaker, the Honorable John W. McCormack, that legislation be introduced to cure this omission. This subcommittee, the Special Studies Subcommittee, in the 91st Congress held a hearing on what was then H.R. 13769, introduced by the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Monagan, then the chairman of this subcommittee, and submitted it for favorable consideration by the Committee on Government Operations.
Thereafter that bill was reported by the full Committee on Government Operations and actually passed the House on the consent calendar on October 5, 1970. Unfortunately, the Senate and both bodies of the Congress were caught in an end of session logjam and were unable to consider a lot of good legislation, and this bill was one of them.
The present bill that we have before us now is intended to achieve the same objective as H.R. 13769.
And with that preliminary statement, we are pleased to have with us this morning some witnesses from the District government, and on our witness list here I note the first witness is the Honorable William A. Robinson, who is the Assistant Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia government. We would be pleased to hear from you at this time, Mr. Robinson. Proceed.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM A. ROBINSON, ASSISTANT CORPORATION
COUNSEL, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT
Mr. ROBINSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am accompanied by two officials from the District of Columbia government. With your permission
Mr. RANDALL. They will join you, please. Yes, sir.
Mr. ROBINSON. Mr. O. F. Maltagliati, who is the Accounting Officer for the District of Columbia government, and Mr. Joseph Haley from the
Mr. Haley. Chief, systems development, for the District.
Mr. RANDALL. Well, if I may interrupt, did I understand right, systems development?
Mr. Haley. Yes, sir.
Mr. RANDALL. Thank you. And you are in the accounting end?
Mr. ROBINSON. Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the opportunity afforded us to appear before this committee to present the views of the Commissioner of the District of Columbia on H.R. 8712.
H.R. 8712 amends the act of June 29, 1966 (Public Law 89-473) by striking out “Government” in section 1 and inserting in lieu thereof "Federal Government or the government of the District of Columbia.”
The effect of the amendment made by the bill is to extend the authority conferred by existing law upon executive departments and independent establishments of the Federal Government to departments and agencies of the District government. Public Law 89–473 enables Federal agencies and departments, including any bureau or office thereof, subject to limitations applicable with respect to each appropriation concerned, to charge one appropriation, at any time during the fiscal year, for the benefit of any other appropriation available to the department or agency for the purpose of financing the procurement of materials or supplies, or to finance other costs for which funds are available both in the appropriation to be initially charged and the appropriation benefited, subject to subsequent reimbursement or adjustment.
The District government does not have authority to use one appropriation for the purchase of goods or service which are required for carrying out activities for which several appropriations have been made. If, however, the provisions of Public Law 89-473 were made applicable to activities of the District government, any appropriation for any department or agency within the District of Columbia could be charged for the benefit of any other appropriation of other departments or agencies within the District.
Thus, for example, a consolidated order for equipment for all District departments could be charged initially to the District's Department of General Services, subject to later accounting adjustments. Enactment of H.R. 8712 should result in some saving to the District and improvement in its business operations.
Inasmuch as the appropriation processes and the accounting practices and procedures of the District government are similar in principle to those of the Federal Government, and because the benefits and economies afforded by flexible accounting and payrolling procedures for common service types of activities such as supply inventories, technical services, and joint use of automatic data processing equipment, would be equally advantageous to the District of Columbia, the Commissioner urges favorable consideration by the committee of H.R. 8712 so as to include agencies and departments of the District government within the coverage of Public Law 89-473. Mr. RANDALL. Thank
you very much, counsellor. My first question is a rather obvious and apparent one. When you refer here to the Commissioner you are referring to the mayor, that terminology still applies, is that correct? There is only one Commissioner any more?
Mr. ROBINSON. One Commissioner.
Mr. RANDALL. When we came here back in 1959 you had a sort of triumvirate, some kind of a troika, and you had three Commissioners. But you still maintain the title of the word "Commissioner" although in the press and everywhere else he is referred to as mayor?
Mr. ROBINSON. His official title is Commissioner, and in addressing correspondence to the Congress we usually follow the official title. He is one and the same person, however.
Mr. RANDALL. Let the record show that our distinguished member from the great State of New York, Long Island, having solved all the problems of the drawbridges being raised and open and not being permitted to cross, has arrived and is with us. Delighted to have you with us.
Mr. WYDLER. Thank you.
Mr. RANDALL. I just asked the question of Mr. Robinson, who is the Assistant Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia-I was simply trying to clarify the testimony to show the Commissioner therein actually was the mayor,
Your testimony is very much to the point and very helpful. What I am trying to get my hands on is a concrete example for when we go to the floor with this bill. Your most impressive example it seems to me, is the one about the joint use of computer equipment, automatic data processing equipment, as you call it. You refer to inventories and other examples.
For an example on our part, we were faced with a rollcall vote on legislation this subcommittee had on the floor yesterday. We were very fortunate yesterday, 309, I think, to zero, because we had a bill that no one could oppose. But again and again and again Members came up and asked us at the committee table why are we doing this, why should we have this legislation before us today.
So when the bill we are considering today comes before the House, I hope we will have from you some concrete illustrations as to how this amendment will work in actual operation. Can
you cite some example as to how savings will result? We should be able to show that the District government needs this bill, not for convenience so much, but because it will permit operating savings. That is what our fellow Members, our colleagues are going to ask us when the bill comes up on the floor.
Mr. MALTAGLIATI. Well, if I may answer, Mr. Chairman, one type of thing that we do now, but do it in a more cumbersome manner, assuming that the District government were interested in procuring, let's say, 150 typewriters for perhaps 10 different departments, our procurement office does try to use this purchasing power as a group and negotiate for 150 typewriters. However, when the time comes that the price is established there would have to be 10 different purchase orders
charging 10 different appropriations, broken down for each of the 10 departments. We could not now prepare one or charge one appropriation or one department entirely. Funds wouldn't be available perhaps in any one department for this purpose. So that there would be a charge against the 10 different departments, 10 different purchase orders to purchase the 150 typewriters.
Under this proposed bill we could charge one appropriation, one department immediately for the purchase and then do the accounting adjustment later, the transfers later.
Mr. RANDALL. That is very helpful and very clear. That is a commodity, that is a purchase. Another illustration, an apt one, would be where services would be performed where one purveyor of services would actually be serving a whole group. Now do you have any other instances of services? I suppose you rent the automatic data processing equipment ? Mr. MALTAGLIATI. Yes, Mr. Chairman. Mr. RANDALL. What other equipment do you rent?
Mr. MALTAGLIATI. We do have a central share computer system which has been operating for some time and does not yet service all the departments of the District, but services several; and this, too, is a joint service, a centralized service that has been introduced for efficiency.
The billing process now is somewhat cumbersome and we feel that this legislation might help smooth that. It services our Police Department, highways and traffic motor vehicles
Mr. RANDALL. What are those now? You are going too fast. Highways and traffic?
Mr. MALTAGLIATI. Yes, Police Department, some services for the Department of Human Resources.
Nr. RANDALL. Is that the poverty program?
Mr. MALTAGLIATI. No, specifically the medicaid, medicare services. And the Department of Motor Vehicles. And it hopes to expand, of course, Mr. Chairman, for improved efficiency.
(At this point in the proceedings, Mr. Goldwater of California entered the hearing room.)
Mr. RANDALL. Well, you certainly rent computers. Is there anything else you rent?
Mr. MALTAGLIATI. Offhand, sir, that is the biggest item of equipment I think that we rent. We do, of course, rent space,
space. Mr. RANDALL. And which is shared by
Mr. MALTAGLIATI. Well, different departments use it. A great deal of the rental of space is contained in the appropriation of the Department of General Services, but some of it goes into other appropriations also.
Mr. RANDALL. Mr. Wydler.
Mr. RANDALL. Mr. Goldwater, have you been briefed on this, familiar with it?
Mr. GOLDWATER. Yes.
Mr. RANDALL. Mr. Wasserman, Mr. WASSERMAN. Mr. Maltagliati, how would this new law function with respect to purchase of automotive vehicles by various departments in the District? Would it be of any benefit?
Mr. MALTAGLIATI. Well, I think that the same principle would apply that I used with the typewriters, Mr. Wasserman. I am quite sure that our procurement office does everything it can and does negotiate in blocs, attempts to in certain instances group the purchases in order to achieve savings that way. But then the paperwork that follows, as I said, it breaks down as if 10 different departments had each initiated its own order. The only benefit is the lower price, of course.
Mr. WASSERMAN. One other question. In view of the testimony it seems almost ridiculous, but to cover the point, there is no increased cost involved with respect to the enactment of this bill so far as the District of Columbia operations are concerned?
Mr. MALTAGLIATI. No, sir; we would hope there would be at least some saving
Mr. WASSERMAN. Do you have any figures of any possible dollar savings?
Mr. MALTAGLIATI. No, sir; a little bit of analysis would have to be done over the last couple of years, I think, to come up with a figure; and I am not sure that the figure would be a staggering one, because what we are trying to do is improve workflow and this type of thing. We think there would be some saving, but I don't think it would be any great sum.
Mr. WASSERMAN. That's all, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. WYDLER. Mr. Chairman, I am curious. We are saying the Federal Government has this right and, therefore, it would be good to give it to the District. Do we have any way of knowing how well it is working for the Federal Government? That would seem to me to answer the whole question before us, if it is working well for them.
Mr. MALTAGLIATI. I have no idea, Mr. Wydler. I don't know.
Mr. RANDALL. I would ask the staff to, depending upon the future course of this bill, to find out and try to get us some illustrations of departments in which I have little doubt, Jack, but what it has worked. And I know that last year there was quite a bit of enthusiasm, I distinctly recall, when this was discussed and passed by the House. If the staff would get us as much information on where it has worked.
Mr. WYDLER. In other words, it would seem to me, Mr. Chairman, if the principal agency, which would be either the GSA or the Government Accounting Office, or some logical Federal agency, would give us some statement-could be in the form of a letter--as to how this has worked to the benefit of the Federal Government, it makes our case much stronger when we present it to the Congress.
Mr. RANDALL. I think that is correct. And what I am trying to get my hands on here-I can see that there is some saving, some immediate saving. You were a little reluctant to say how much could be saved, and that is understandable. I can see that there is no doubt but what there is some saving in billing and paperwork, stenographic work, which costs money. I would be interested to know the dollar savings. I am not trying to put words in your mouth. You tell me whether you believe this to be true. Back on the old problem of inventories, it has come to our attention that in some departments of the District of