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Administrative Provisions for
FY 2002 Budget Request
Coverage Under the Training Act
SEC. 102. (a) The Director of the Congressional Budget Office may, by regulation, make applicable such provisions of chapter 41 of title 5, United States Code, as the Director determines necessary to provide hereafter for training of individuals employed by the Congressional Budget Office.
(b) The implementing regulations shall provide for training that, in the determination of the Director, is consistent with the training provided by agencies subject to chapter 41 of title 5, United States Code.
(c) Any recovery of debt owed to the Congressional Budget Office under this section and its implementing regulations shall be credited to the appropriations account available for training employees of the Office at the time of recovery.
Sale of Surplus Property
SEC. 103. Section 105(a) of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1996 (2 U.S.C. §606(a)), is amended by striking "or discarding." and inserting "sale, trade-in, or discarding.", and by adding at the end the following: “Amounts received for the sale or tradein of personal property shall be credited to funds available for the operations of the Congressional Budget Office and be available for the costs of acquiring the same or similar property. Such funds shall be available for such purposes during the fiscal year in which received and the following fiscal year."
Repayment of Student Loans
SEC. 104. (a) The Director of the Congressional Budget Office may, in order to recruit or retain qualified personnel, establish and maintain hereafter a program under which the Office may agree to repay (by direct payments on behalf of the employee) all or a portion of any student loan previously taken out by such employee.
(b) The Director may, by regulation, make applicable such provisions of section 5379 of title 5, United States Code, as the Director determines necessary to provide for such program.
(c) The regulations shall provide the amount paid by the Office may not exceed(1) $6,000 for any employee in any calendar year; or
(2) a total of $40,000 in the case of any employee.
(d) The Office may not reimburse an employee for any repayments made by such employee prior to the Office entering into an agreement under this section with such employee.
(e) Any amount repaid by, or recovered from, an individual under this section and its implementing regulations shall be credited to the appropriation account available for salaries and expenses of the Office at the time of repayment or recovery.
Educational Gift Fund
SEC. 105. (a) The Director of the Congressional Budget Office may establish and hereafter maintain an educational program of conferences and research fellowships designed to advance the learning and capabilities of the Congressional Budget Office to assist the Congress through economic or financial forecasting, projections, and analyses, and statistical studies and modeling.
(b) The Director may accept, hold, and administer gifts and bequests of money for the benefit of the program. Gifts and bequests shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States in a trust fund called "Congressional Budget Office Educational Fund". The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to pay to the Congressional Budget Office such sums as the Director determines are necessary and appropriate to enable the Office to carry out the provisions of this section. For the purpose of Federal income, estate, and gift taxes, money accepted under this subsection is considered as a gift or bequest to or for the use of the United States.
(c) Sums in the Fund shall be available until expended for -
(1) the costs of educational conferences concerning the work of the Office; (2) the award of fellowships for the conduct of research in areas within the mission of the Office; and
(3) the costs of a program providing for study or uncompensated work experience of employees of the Office as provided in subsection (g).
(d) Under the program, the Director may award fellowships to individuals and may accept voluntary services of individuals without regard to section 1342 of title 31, United States Code, to conduct research in areas within the mission of the Congressional Budget Office. The term of each fellow shall be for 1 year, and may be renewed for a term of 1 additional year.
(e) Research fellows under the fellows program shall, for purposes of rules of ethics, including those related to conflicts of interest and standards of conduct, be considered to be an employees of the House of Representatives. For purposes of financial disclosure, such individuals shall be considered to be officers or employees of the Congress under section 109(13) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. app §109(13)).
(f) An individual performing voluntary services under the fellows program may receive pay and other benefits, including stipends, allowances, travel and subsistence expenses, from a non-partisan, tax-exempt organization described under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. §501(c)(3)).
(g) The Director may, by regulation, make applicable such provisions of section 3396(c) of title 5, United States Code, as the Director determines necessary to establish a program providing opportunities for employees of the Office to engage in study or uncompensated work experience, or temporary assignments in other agencies, State or local governments, or the private sector, which will contribute to the employee's development and effectiveness.
SALARY BUDGET AND FTE'S
Mr. TAYLOR. Your salary budget increase is $2 million, or 89 percent of your total requested increase. This amount includes four additional FTEs and you state in your justification that your funding increase is explained by your need to remain competitive. With such a tight labor market, how realistic is your goal of reaching your full complement of 232 employees?
Mr. CRIPPEN. Mr. Chairman, we are quite confident. We have some interest now, and a number of offers have been extended, so I am quite sure we can productively use the 232. One thing we will have to do in some cases is lower our sights slightly. We have been able to hire only one Ph.D. Health economist, for example, so instead we are looking for folks who perhaps have different educational backgrounds but who have directly relevant experience. So we have had to change our target audience a little bit, but we are continuing to try to compete with both the Fed and the World Bank for Ph.D. economists which is an ongoing challenge.
MOVING BUDGET DATABASE SYSTEM
Mr. TAYLOR. Funding has been requested to design and implement a new database for tracking the Federal budget. You state that the current database must be moved from the House mainframe before fiscal year 2001. What plans have you made for relocating and what are your estimates of the redesign costs?
Mr. CRIPPEN. The House Information System has decided to discontinue the use of its mainframe computer, so we are forced to go look elsewhere. It is not all bad news, however, because we have found another contractor, the Department of the Interior to be precise, which actually will charge us less than the House Information System did for use of its mainframe services. And during that interval, we propose to redesign the system and essentially bring it back inside CBO to run on our own servers and our own computer equipment. The cost of that in a gross sense is about $550,000, more or less, over a couple of years, but ultimately over 2 years, we will save enough both from moving the database function to Interior and bringing it back in-house that essentially it will pay for itself in 2 years.
QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD
Mr. TAYLOR. I have a few other questions that I will submit to you to be answered for the record.
[The questions and responses follow:]
STUDENT PLAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM
You are requesting authority to establish a program under which CBO may repay, by direct payments on behalf of the employees, all or a portion of any student loan previously taken out by such employee.
Question. Would you explain this program and what is your anticipated total cost of the education loan pay off program?
Answer. Since 1990, executive branch agencies have been authorized to repay on behalf of employees a limited amount of their student loans. 5 U.S.C. 5379. The Office of Personnel Management plans to implement the statute this year. The requested provision would authorize CBO, within available appropriations, to repay student loans with the same limited caps as required by the statute governing the executive branch. If an employee violates his or her agreement to remain with CBO
of CBO's student loan repayments would be credited to the then available appropriation.
We wish to have this authority in case it could become an important recruiting tool. We would expect to implement this program as a recruiting tool for highly trained specialists whom we now have difficulty attracting, and we would limit its use. The scale of the program we envision is illustrated by the following example. If you assume that five new recruits per year fell into this hard-to-hire category and that they were offered this benefit with the loan repayment limited to $5,000 per year for a total of 5 years, then the impact on CBO's appropriation would be as follows:
Question. Are you sure that another $6,000 a year will help that much in recruitment? And, isn't such a program putting you at a disadvantage with those graduates who do not have loans and thus wouldn't benefit?
Answer. In some cases, this recruiting tool may be critical for us to attract and retain the highly specialized expertise necessary to perform our mission. If granted, it would become one of several tools we would be able to choose from. For example, if we were trying to recruit a graduate who had no student loans but who lived on the West Coast, then we could offer a recruitment bonus to help him or her offset moving expenses. On the other hand, a recent graduate with a large education-related debt might find this program particularly attractive.
Question. Would you be better off offering higher salaries?
Answer. Offering higher starting salaries, rather than a one-time signing bonus or several years of loan offsets, would eventually drive up all analyst salaries at CBO and could cost a great deal more over a period of years by permanently raising the pay base upon which future COLAS and merit increases are calculated.
Question. What happens if an employee takes advantage of this and then leaves CBO for another office in the legislative branch, or the executive branch?
Answer. The statute authorizing executive branch agencies to pay student loans requires that the recipient agree to repay the agency if he or she takes any other job within 3 years (or a longer period that the agency specifies), but the agency paying the student loans has the discretion to not require repayment if the employee takes a job with another agency. Our language would allow us to adopt this provision or modify it our language says that the CBO Director may adopt such portions of the executive branch statute as the Director determines necessary. Question. Is there a reimbursement provision?
Answer. The regulations promulgated by CBO to implement this new authority would certainly include a reimbursement provision. It would likely state that CBO may require the reimbursement of the agency's student loan repayments if an employee violates his or her agreement to remain with CBO for an agreed period of time or is removed because of misconduct. We could still waive such reimbursement if, for example, an employee left for another position in the executive branch.
Question. Are you at risk by implementing this proposal on a spot basis, wouldn't we be better off with legislative branch-wide authorization? After all, don't such onthe-spot changes in law make it difficult for CBO to do effective cost estimates?
Answer. We understand that several other legislative branch agencies already have the authority under the executive branch act, so our request for CBO's authority in part anticipates competing with those agencies for new recruits. Providing this authority in a legislative-wide provision would certainly meet our needs. If the new authority is provided in an appropriation bill, it is no more difficult for CBO to score the outlays for one agency than for all of the agencies in the legislative branch.
Your justification reflects that you realized nearly $400,000 in annual operating cost savings. You further state that your goal is to continue to identify operational cost savings.
Question. Have you identified any additional savings and could those savings be shifted to fund your additional FTE requirement?
Answer. The additional costs savings that have been identified and which will