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Like the rest of federal government, AOC is responding to the crisis in human capital by requesting these 48 essential positions for Fiscal Year 2002.
Once again, I am proud of our accomplishments in so many critical areas, much of which is documented in the attached appendices*. While there is much left to address in the coming years, we look forward to working with you as we successfully face those challenges and continue to provide strong support to the Congress and build an even stronger and responsive AOC.
I thank you for your support and welcome whatever questions or comments you
Architect of the Capitol
Initiatives in Fire, Occupational, and Environmental Safety
House Subcommittee on Legislative Branch Appropriations
The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) has made safety the agency's number one priority. In the past year, the AOC has undertaken significant steps to strengthen the fire, occupational and environmental safety programs. However, much work remains to be done. An additional thirteen (13) FY02 positions are requested and are in the process of being filled now to better enable the AOC to develop and implement fire, occupational, and environmental safety programs and make necessary facility upgrades to comply with fire and building codes.
In FY02, thirty (30) projects totaling over $14.5M are requested under the Life Safety Category to address identified fire and/or occupational safety deficiencies across the Capitol Complex. An additional $362K is being requested (see: Capitol Buildings Salaries and Expenses Operating Budget Life Safety Operations and Maintenance section) to cover needed environmental contractor services as well as increases in cost of fire safety and occupational safety and health program management.
I. Fire Safety
The Fire Marshal Division was created in FY01 to focus on fire safety, life safety, and emergency preparedness program policy, coordination, inspection, and oversight. Fire protection engineering design responsibilities are being transferred to the re-established Fire Protection Engineering Division under the Director of Engineering. The AOC is working closely with the Office of Compliance to identify fire and building code concerns and raise the Capitol complex buildings to modern standards of safety.
Significant progress has been made and is detailed in Section I.
As part of our continuing commitment to fire safety program needs, the AOC has begun hiring to fill FY02 funded vacancies to ensure adequate staff is available to perform needed work. Full funding of fire related FY02 requests is essential to the AOC's ability to continue to improve the fire safety posture and programs across the Capitol complex.
II. Occupational Health and Safety
The Life Safety Division was restructured and renamed the Safety and Environmental Division in FY01 to focus on occupational health and safety, recycling, and environmental program policy, coordination, inspection, and oversight. When fully staffed, two branches will exist - the Safety and Occupational Health Branch and the Environmental Branch.
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
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.
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.
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 entire 14,000,000 square feet of space on the Capitol complex to identify and label 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.
DAY TO DAY OPERATIONS
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.