Senate Committee Hears Internal Office Budget Requests

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Policy Intern Cassandra LaRussa wrote this post.

On Thursday, two internal Senate offices responsible for legislative transparency presented their fiscal year 2013 budget requests to the Legislative Branch subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson requested a budget of $30 million, an increase of $91,000 due to cost of living changes from fiscal year 2012. She noted her staff’s cost-cutting measures over the past year and reminded the subcommittee that her office handles senate payroll, coordinates with the National Archives to preserve senate records, and conducts emergency preparation.

Erickson also noted that the STOCK Act, passed by the Senate the same day, would have significant implications and costs for her office. The transparency legislation requires online disclosure of financial statements, an endeavor that will cost an estimated $424,000. It is Erickson’s responsibility to make sure the required documents are available to the public on the internet.

Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer requested a budget of $205 million, an increase of $1.7 million from fiscal year 2012. His office, responsible for technology and communications infrastructure as well as security, is also affected by recent government transparency initiatives.

The DISCLOSE Act, Gainer explained, requires an updated database with more search capabilities as well as increased file storage. He testified that these changes would cost an estimated $1.5 million to build, as well as $200,000 annually for system maintenance. Gainer said that while his office struggled with a reduced budget last year, upgrades to Senate technology are critical for FY 2013, especially in light of these requirements.

Witnesses explained that they have been running their respective offices on a bare-bones budget and cannot afford to further scale back operations without compromising their service to the Senate.

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