By CHRISTINA TYLER
On Sept. 29, President Clinton signed into law the fiscal 2000 appropriations bill for the legislative branch, which includes the Library of Congress.
A congressional conference committee approved the budget on Aug. 4. The following day, the House approved the conference report (H.R. 106-290) in a 367-49 vote. The Senate also approved by unanimous consent the same day.
Congress approved $385,946,000 in net appropriations, an increase in net appropriations of 4.8 percent, or $16.7 million, over that of the previous year.
- Congress approved the Library's request for mandatory pay raises of 4.4 percent. However, the actual pay raise may be 4.8 percent. To fund the difference, the Library will not be able to fill 12 positions in the next fiscal year, Financial Services Director John D. Webster said. Congress also authorized, without additional funding, a $21-a-month transit fare subsidy -- an incentive for staff to use public transportation to and from work. The transit-fare plan, as authorized by the federal Employees Clean Air Incentive Act of 1993, is comparable to that used by House employees. Library employees will receive the same amount of transit fare. To fund this new staff benefit, the Library will not be able to fill 11 positions, Mr. Webster said.
- The Congressional Research Service will receive $71,244,000, which includes full funding for its succession program of $559,052. Library Services will receive $505,000 for its succession plan -- 50 percent of the request.
- Except for price-level adjustments, the Copyright Office and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) received their full budgets. The Copyright Office was approved for $37.6 million, and NLS received $48 million, which was $49,000 less than what the Library originally requested.
- The Library Services section of the Library received a $290,000 increase for the Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Va. The Law Library will receive $188,250 for arrearage (backlog) processing.
- In automation, the Information Technology Services area of the Library received full funding of $3.3 million for its requests, including for an upgraded digital switch, initial work toward a financial system replacement, disaster recovery and security, UNIX servers and storage.
- The House and Senate conferees also approved $5,579,000 for teaching educators how to incorporate the Library's digital American Memory collections into school curricula and $600,000 for a project to digitize archival materials relating to ethnic groups of California, including Japanese Americans.
- Of the $5.4 million approved for furniture and furnishings, the Madison Building's accelerated furniture replacement program received $900,000. An additional $308,000 was authorized for installation assistance out of unspecified savings.
- While conferees applauded the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) for starting a Life Safety Program Division to address workplace safety, fire protection and environmental concerns, the report addressed the five citations issued by the Office of Compliance. Noting the life-safety violations discovered following an April 30 fire in the Madison Building, the report said, "The conferees believe that the Architect must consider the physical safety of the thousands who visit and work in the Capitol complex as one of his highest priorities." The conference committee members directed the AOC to provide within a month a plan detailing all activities undertaken to abate the violations and prevent their recurrence in the Madison Building or elsewhere in the Library. The AOC must also provide a reasonable plan, including completion dates, to correct hazards and deficiencies.
Ms. Tyler is assistant editor of The Gazette, the Library's staff newspaper.