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Our overall fiscal year 2002 request of $298,957,000 includes $196,356,000 for ongoing operations and maintenance and $102,601,000 for the capital budget to meet fire and life safety, security and infrastructure improvements.
The operations and maintenance budget request reflects a 15.1 percent increase of $25,749,000. The increase is comprised of; $3,446,000 to fund 48 essential positions needed to carry out programs required by the Congressional Accountability Act and other needs; $8,753,000 for COLAs and other mandatory pay items; $5,141,000 for price level increases, the majority of which are to meet the rising cost of utilities; and a net increase of $8,409,000 for items related to other workload increases.
The capital budget request includes 115 projects identified for funding in fiscal year 2002. Seven projects, which total $66,970,000, account for approximately 65 percent of the capital budget request. The seven projects are; the Rehabilitation of the Capitol Dome ($42,500,000); Off-Site Delivery/Screening Center for the U.S. Capitol Police ($6,750,000); the new Library of Congress Audio Visual Conservation Center, Culpeper, VA ($5,000,000); Renovations to the Rayburn Cafeteria ($3,460,000); design and land for a Vehicle Maintenance Facility for the U.S. Capitol Police ($3,260,000); design to Construct a Garage on the Eastern End of Square 724 ($3,000,000); and Elevator Modernizations in the House Office Buildings ($3,000,000). (see Appendix J). III. CAPITAL PROJECTS
As we look to the future, we believe it important to note that over the past year the AOC has accomplished much, as evidenced by progress on the following capital projects (see Appendix F):
A. Construction work on the Botanic Garden Conservatory is nearing completion after overcoming significant construction issues that have delayed the project. Planting activities have begun in the low glass houses where construction activity is winding down. We expect to begin guided tours in September while the planting continues, and when most of the planting has been accomplished, we are planning a formal conservatory-wide opening for the first week in December. The contiguous privately funded National Garden project is poised to go to bid and when completed it will complement the conservatory with its outdoor horticultural exhibits and its Interpretive Learning Center for children.
The construction documents for the Capitol Visitor Center are proceeding well and will, with the availability of funding and the approval of the Capitol Preservation Commission, go out for competitive bidding during the last quarter of this calendar year.
C. The Master Plan for the Capitol Building will be completed by the end of this calendar year, and will provide a roadmap for how to best bring this 200-year-old
landmark structure up to modern standards, while retaining its historic integrity and stateliness. Since this Master Plan will be completed well into FY 2002, we anticipate requesting approximately $8 million in FY 2003 to begin the actual design drawings for work identified therein. Construction funding will be requested in successive years.
D. The contract for the Capitol Square Perimeter Security Project has been awarded, the construction staging area has been established on Capitol Grounds, and phased work is about to begin on the east side of the Capitol. In other areas of security needs, we continue to work with the U.S. Capitol Police to install upgraded building security equipment.
E. Much fire safety work has been initiated and accomplished across the Capitol complex. We also worked with the Library of Congress and the Office of Compliance on an extensive examination of fire safety conditions in the Jefferson, Madison and Adams Buildings and have developed a, multi-year, building by building plan to address these issues (see Appendix A). Timelines have been, or are being, developed to address remaining fire safety challenges.
F. In the House office buildings, we are about to begin work on repairing the Cannon House Office Building garage. This 35-year-old structure is in a seriously deteriorated condition and repairs are urgently required. The garage will be closed on June 29 and remain closed through January 1, 2001 to allow major work to proceed. The renovated Page Dormitory at 501 First Street is nearing completion and the first group of pages should take up residence there following the August recess.
PERSONNEL NEEDS, WORKLOAD, AND LIFE SAFETY ISSUES
The AOC injury/illness rate is much too high and must be lowered significantly. The well being and safety of our staff is of the highest concern. In the context of what impact the work described above has on AOC staff and the injury/illness rate, however, it is important to note that, in addition to hiring contractors to design and build the larger fire safety projects in the Library of Congress, the AOC for the next two years must also dedicate 12-15 internal people from AOC's Library buildings and grounds workforce full time to address the many smaller fire safety projects. This means that they are effectively lost for other, more routine but essential projects. This mirrors our situation across the Capitol complex. For many years, we have reassigned workers to additional tasks while reducing the total number of employees within AOC. This is true in all of our jurisdictions. We have now reached a point where we cannot continue to assign major additional work to our staff and still expect them to accomplish the many other basic day-to-day tasks that are important to support the mission of the U.S. Congress and the proper maintenance of its buildings and grounds.
Historically, when workloads increase significantly while the workforce contracts, the stress of having more to do with fewer people often results in an increase in
accidents. I believe this is one of the major factors behind our high injury rate, although it is not the only factor. Over the past decade we have markedly downsized the AOC workforce while increasing the workoad. Our workforce is down 20 percent from FY 1993 levels. This downsizing, accompanied by an increasing workload, has put our employees under great pressure.
While it has been possible to increase productivity to an extent, while still decreasing staff levels, much of the work accomplished by AOC employees is generally not of a nature where technology alone can replace human effort and skills. In fact, the implementation of the Congressional Accountability Act has increased, not decreased, the amount of skilled and properly trained people necessary to complete the wide range of tasks we are responsible for.
CONFINED SPACES – ONE OF 41 MANDATED LIFE SAFETY
An example of our changing workplace is illustrated by the fact that four years ago, a worker who needed to enter a utility vault to do simple maintenance work would remove the manhole cover, climb down into the space, do his or her job, climb out, put the cover back into place, and go on the next task. Today, a worker who needs to enter a utility vault - a confined space, in contemporary safety parlance – would first need to obtain and fill out a permit form to notify the permitting authority of the plan to enter a confined space. The worker now needs to be accompanied by another employee to act as a safety monitor, open the confined space, place the appropriate rescue gear and barriers outside the confined space, sample the air quality within the space before entering it, enter the space in the appropriate manner and with appropriate safeguards, maintain communications with the worker outside, do the work, exit the space, close the space, remove the barriers and rescue equipment, complete the permit, and report back to the permitting authority that the employee has completed the task and exited the confined space.
What used to be a half-hour task for one employee has therefore become, at a minimum, an hour and a half task for at least two employees, plus the additional supervisory/administrative time. While this methodology is clearly safer, it also severely impacts productivity levels for a staff that has continued to shrink.
Additionally, all employees who enter confined spaces must receive initial training, and regular refresher training. Air sampling equipment, rescue gear, and communications gear must be provided and maintained. A permitting process must be created, and permits must be properly obtained, executed, and filed when embarking on work in permitted confined spaces. This point regarding record keeping highlights a related need - we must assure that our IT environment is available and reliable to our employees so we can carry out critical business functions - and that is why we have asked for more resources in that area. And, a confined space survey must be completed for the
areas that may only be entered by persons with the proper training, equipment, and using the proper procedures.
The confined space program is only one of 41 life safety program areas that AOC, working with the Public Health Service, must formalize and retrain workers to handle properly. More detailed information about these matters is in Appendix A. But this single example illustrates an important point. Our workplace has become more, not less, labor intensive in response to OSHA, EPA and Department of Labor provisions while our workforce has been reduced.
Most of the work we do, most of our daily physical effort, goes to support the day-to-day operations of the Congress.
For example, during the past year, our House Superintendent's office completed 80,771 work orders, an average of 1,553 per week, or 221 every day of the week.
Our Capitol Superintendent's office completed 21,043 work orders, an average of 405 per week, or 58 per day.
Our House Superintendent also coordinates office moves and custodial work, services subways and elevators, cleans hundreds of restrooms every day, provides restroom supplies, and cleans up after emergencies, among his myriad tasks. As much as possible, we try to minimize disruptions for the House not only with daily tasks but even with more major projects, like the sprinkler installation project in the Rayburn House Office building.
VII. MAJOR CAPITAL REQUESTS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2002
The Capitol Dome renovation's second phase, at $42.5 million, is our largest Capitol project request this year. This will complete the work necessary to make certain that the Capitol Dome, at the beginning of the 22nd Century, will remain the most recognizable symbol of representative democracy in the world.
In the House Office Buildings, we are requesting $3 million for elevator modernization, representing this year's budgetary need for an ongoing program estimated to require $14 million overall.
We also are requesting $1.514 million for Americans With Disabilities Act upgrades to fire alarm systems in the House Office Buildings, and $2.444 million for roof fall protection on the Cannon, Rayburn and Ford House Office Buildings.
$2.1 million is requested for the next phase of implementation of our new Financial Management System that also is building for the future. We successfully implemented the initial standard general ledger module in September of 2000 and now are working on implementing procurement, funds control and accounts payable modules.
VIII. STAFFING REQUESTS
The Congressional Accountability Act, the interpretations of the Office of Compliance on how fire codes should be applied to the Capitol campus, the aging infrastructure of our priceless and unique historic buildings, the changed expectations of the American public, all mean that the AOC must continue to change and improve its methods of operations, that we have to retrain our workers, hire some key new ones, address the tasks at hand in new and safer ways.
While we contract out many of our major projects and some of our technical needs, we still need to have the proper internal resources to adequately manage and coordinate this work. We have been working hard to hire the fire safety professionals we need to help our Fire Marshal and Executive Director of Facilities Management accomplish their tasks. We are similarly actively and aggressively recruiting the people we need to serve as jurisdictional life safety experts and coordinators, and the right construction management professionals for the many major tasks that must be successfully accomplished (see Appendix I).
The 48 additional positions we request this year are people who must be put in place to prepare our workforce for the future. They are so essential that we have already begun the hiring process, but need funding to continue paying these key personnel in successive years without having to make further cuts in shop staffing levels in all jurisdictions.
These include five positions to support fire safety programs; eight positions to support environmental and life safety programs; five for the campus energy savings program required by Section 310 of the 1999 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act.
We also need 19 persons to implement high priority programs. These positions include the two necessary to support preparation and issuance of auditable financial statements. AOC has been working with GAO on this, and one of things we have discovered is that AOC has never been staffed assure appropriate separation of functions necessary to maintain proper internal controls, nor enough staff to prepare and reconcile monthly and annual auditable financial statements (see Appendix G). Seven more positions are to improve the project delivery process. Like most government agencies, AOC has to manage far more external contracts and work than in the past, and like most government agencies, AOC does not have enough people in place to manage outside contractors properly. We are also dead last in the Legislative Branch in percentage of our staff dedicated to Intelligence Technology efforts.
We need two more air conditioning mechanics at the Library of Congress to safeguard its priceless collections by maintaining proper conditions for storage. Three additional workers are needed at the Capitol Power Plant. And at the Botanic Garden, which has been closed for a number of years, with the Conservatory scheduled to reopen