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DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCEDURES

Mr. THOMPSON. Bobbie Holzwarth has just a few words, if that would be possible.

Chairman LEWIS. Before we go to that, let me just mention that we have from the Office of Compliance a report on dispute resolution that is due to Committee on April 30, 2006.

Mr. THOMPSON. Yes, sir.

Chairman LEWIS. One of the areas of interest that I have relates to dispute resolution. You mentioned that in your open testimony. Somewhere within the mix of that report, I would be very interested in getting some representation of the source of complaints, maybe a percentage from each of the legislative branch agencies; how we are moving along in terms of resolution; numbers of lawsuits out that might be outstanding, et cetera. That sort of analysis would be helpful to me.

Mr. THOMPSON. We would certainly be happy to provide the committee with statistics regarding where-obviously we can't tell specific individual cases, but where things are coming from, what kind of cases they are.

Chairman LEWIS. If they are all coming from the Power Plant, I want to know that. If they are coming from the Police, I want to know that, too.

Mr. THOMPSON. The large workforces are where most of the cases are coming from. But we will provide that information shortly.

FURTHER REMARKS

Chairman LEWIS. And you have a formal presentation, too, Ms. Holzwarth.

Ms. HOLZWARTH. Very briefly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, other Members. Again, I am Roberta Holzwarth; we have Barbara Camens also from the Board here today. And just as members of the Board of the Directors of the Office of Compliance, we are honored to be here today with Mr. Thompson regarding our fiscal year 2007 budget request.

We wanted to take this opportunity to again thank you on behalf of the Board for the additional funding that was provided in fiscal year 2006 for our biennial health and safety inspections. Without that funding, we could not be performing our statutory duties. And, as Mr. Thompson has indicated, we are very happy to report that we are on schedule with that project at this time.

On behalf of the Board, I would also like to commend Mr. Thompson, Mr. Eveleth, and all of the other staff members that we have for a number of really significant achievements in the last several years. We now have a strategic plan in place that is guided by our statutory missions. It is coordinated with individual work plans, and we are measuring performance through outcome-based measurements. And we are very happy to be in that spot today. The Office is in the process of updating that strategic plan right now to carry us into the future.

We have made progress in developing protocols with our stakeholders to better enable us to ensure that there is compliance with the act, and that there is transparency in how we are operating in

with the GAO in terms of our internal business practices and in terms of being able to better those, both with respect to our budgeting, with our strategic planning, and also with the development of these performance measures.

These improvements would not have been possible without all of the hard work of our four statutory officers and the staff that they have assembled. We are very grateful to them, and I and all the members of the Board wish to assure you that we monitor everything quite closely, and we are pleased to report that we feel that every cent that you appropriate to this organization is well spent and is well used.

And I would like to thank you for this opportunity to appear here today. And if, as a member of the Board, I can address any of your questions, I would be happy to do so. Thank you.

Chairman LEWIS. Thank you very much.

For the record, the budget request is for $3.4 million ($3,418,000) for 2007. That is approximately $337,000 over the 2006 level, or 10.9 percent. I have no questions about that at this moment. Mr. Obey, anything else?

Mr. Moran.

Mr. MORAN. Actually, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Shays and I, I think, have gotten even more deeply involved in the workings of this Office than perhaps we would have preferred, so I think I am going to pass on any questions.

Chairman LEWIS. Thank you, Mr. Moran.

Thank you, Mr. Obey.

You have done such a magnificent job, we can close right now. So thank you very much for being with us. Thank you for the work that you do. I will insert some questions for the record, as well as those from Mr. Obey and Mr. Moran.

[The questions and responses follow:]

OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE

QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD

Question. You state that since the passage of the Congressional Accountability Act, significant progress has been made by the Office in improving the safety of the legislative branch; recognizing and implementing the rights of employees; responding to the rights of the disabled; educating your constituency on the mandates of the Act. For the record provide examples in each of these categories reflecting the areas of concern before the passage of the Act and the progress made since the passage of the Act. Also, explain how you measure that significant progress has been made?

Answer.

Areas of Concern Before the Passage of the Act:

The passage of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 was prompted by the overriding concern that the American people had concluded that Congress was an "imperial body" out of touch with the real world and the real world effects of regulatory legislation. This concern led to the adoption by Republican Members of the House of Representatives in 1994 of the Republican Contract with America. That document stated, in part:

On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:

First, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the
Congress....

The Congressional response to Item Number 1 of the Contract was the passage of the Act in the opening days of the 104th Congress. The Act itself was sponsored on a bipartisan basis, and passed unanimously in the House, and with one dissent in the Senate. In the following responses to this question, we include some relevant quotes from the floor debates on the House of Representatives and Senate concerning the reasons for the enactment of this statute in each of the programmatic areas mandated by the law which are also referenced in the question.

Before responding in greater detail regarding the various ways in which the Office of Compliance measures progress toward best practices, we stress that this agency is guided toward all its mission accomplishments by the recommendations of the 2004 GAO Report: Office of Compliance: Status of Management Control Efforts to Improve Effectiveness (GAO-04-400), our own Strategic Plan, which reflects many of the GAO recommendations, and our recently adopted Interim Performance Measures. Copies of those documents are available on our website.

Employment Dispute Resolution:

Mr. GRASSLEY (R. Ia.): "... [P]assage of the bill [S.1] will mean that congressional employees will have the civil rights and social legislation that has ensured fair treatment of workers in the private sector. Congress is the last plantation. It is time for the plantation workers to be liberated." Cong. Rec. 1/05/95, p. S441. "The purpose of S. 2 is to fully apply antidiscrimination and employee protection laws to Congress" p. $442.

Mr. GOODLING (R. Pa.): The bill (H.R. 1) “extends 10 major employment laws to Congress.... We will never be as careful as we should be in passing, changing, and drafting laws until we ourselves are forced to comply with those laws and the fundamental unfairness of a double standard is obvious in any case. So let us not pat ourselves on the back too eagerly tonight. It is long overdue." Cong. Rec. 1/04/95, p. H95.

Ms. CLAYTON (D. N.C. ): "If discrimination occurs in Congress, there should be protection from it, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, age, family status, physical condition, or any other protected class. Labor practices should be fair, the workplace should be safe, and fair notice and retraining should be the expectation of those who work here. We have outlived the days when Congress can expect special and different treatment from the average employer." Ibid., p. H96.

The Office measures success in the area of employment dispute resolution by the quality of the dispute resolution services and the efficiency with which cases are processed and resolved. The successful resolution of employment disputes is a major "value added" to the quality of workplace life on Capitol Hill. Before the passage of the Act, there was no independent agency which was dedicated to recognizing and implementing the rights of legislative branch employees. Many of the employment laws applied through the Act did not previously apply to Congress. The passage of the Act applied 11 employment, safety and health, and disability access statutes to Congress, and authorized the Office of Compliance to administer an independent dispute resolution program for legislative branch employees. This program provides employees with a mechanism by which they can informally and formally resolve disputes through counseling, mediation, and an administrative hearings process. During the years since 1995, hundreds of employment disputes have been heard and resolved at the Office, usually without any public attention.

Many of these employment disputes are successfully resolved in mediation. The Office has utilized focus groups as well as surveying instruments to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its mediation program. Over the years, the Office's progress in the area of implementing the rights of employees has also been measured by the number of contacts the Office has received. Since the inception of the Office, and through the fiscal year of 2005, over 6,500 contacts were made to the Office by employees as well as employing offices. Of these contacts, approximately 1,500 were employees who sought to have their rights recognized and implemented through use of the Office's dispute resolution program. Not included in these figures is the rapidly expanding

use of the Office's website by employees and employing offices. Since 2002, the number of monthly hits on our website (www.compliance.gov) has increased by approximately 400%.

In addition, as mandated by section 102(b) of the Act, 2 USC 1302(b), the Office continually monitors and tracks new legislation to ensure Legislative Branch employees' rights are recognized and implemented. Since the passage of the Act, the Office's Board of Directors has submitted proposed amendments to the Act, and proposed regulations to Congress covering most of the laws applied through the Act. Recently, the Board submitted amended substantive regulations relating to the changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regarding exemptions from the payment of overtime. The Board currently is engaged in drafting regulation for the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) to ensure that veterans employment and reemployment rights of Legislative Branch employees are recognized and implemented. Significant progress in this area is measured by the proposed regulations which are drafted and submitted.

Occupational Safety and Health and Disability Access Enforcement

Mr. FAWELL (R. Ill.): "I am also heartened by the fact that the Occupational Safety and Health Act is one of the statutes which will be applied to Congress. Although there is no committee report language accompanying this bill, it my understanding that the bill's sponsor, my colleague, Mr. SHAYS, is looking to the August, 1994, report language which accompanied last year's legislation, to provide guidance to the Office of Compliance." Cong. Rec. 1.04/95,p. H103

Mr. INHOFE: (R. Ok.):"... [O]ne of my colleagues from the other body, Representative JOHN BOEHNER... invited an inspector from OSHA... to come in and look at his three-room office...in... the Cannon Office Building. When they did, they found six safety violations, including a lack of an evacuation plan.... They went on to look at some of the other areas... in the Capitol... I believe in the Architect's Office. They said that in the event we had to comply with the OSHA requirements, that it would cost over $1 million to come up to compliance." Cong. Rec. 1/05/95, p. S454.

Ms. SNOWE (R. Me.): "... Congress has shown great skill over the last 20 years in passing laws barring discrimination and in passing regulations and requirements on America's small businesses. Unfortunately, Congress has shown even greater skill in avoiding those same laws. While small businesses struggle to pay for renovations that would make it pass an OSHA inspection, the Capitol - and our own offices, I might add - has never hosted an OSHA visit. And I dare say they would not pass an OSHA inspection, either. Why? Because, unbelievably, it has never had to." p. S457.

The Office measures its progress in this area by the number of square feet of covered buildings inspected, the number of safety, health and ADA violations identified, and the number of violations remedied. Prior to the CAA taking effect in 1996, no consistent and regular

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