In FY 2011 budget news, though it is not news now but sharing anyway, is the March 9 public hearing on FY 2011 budget for public schools. Details are in the hearing notice.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
At 2:00 pm on February 24, Mayor Fenty will give remarks at the Cardoza Senior High School Autism Wing ribbon cutting. Cardozo's address is 1200 Clifton St NW.
- Watch the hearing via on-demand video on the Office of Cable Television website. Select the 2/19/2010 COW public oversight hearing.
- The hearing starts off with opening statements from Councilmembers. Interested in a particular CM? Here are where to find them: Vince Gray (Chair) - 4:35; Harry Thomas, Jr. (Ward 5) - 10:30; Jack Evans (Ward 2) - 15:25; Marion Barry (Ward 8) - 20:35; Kwame Brown (At-large) - 26:50; and Mary Cheh (Ward 3) - 30:25.
Absent, then, from the beginning of the hearing were: At-large CMs Michael Brown, David Catania, and Phil Mendelson; Ward 1 CM Jim Graham, Ward 4 CM Muriel Bowser, Ward 6 CM Tommy Wells, and Ward 7 CM Yvette Alexander.
- City Administrator Neil Albert and Deputy CFO in the Office of Budget and Planning Gordon McDonald kicked off the testimony and availability of the executive branch. This part started at 32:54. Mr. Albert's testimony is here. More than 10 agency directors and other staff followed this first panel; here is the revised witness list.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Forty-one people were registered to testify at the hearing; there were 42 people including Clarence Carter, DHS director.
The city has, in the past, released the information in table or graph format. DOH's report of 1997 and 1998 causes of death were:
- Heart Disease
- Cerebrovascular Disease
- Pneumonia & Influenza
- Homicide & Legal Intervention
- Accidents & Adverse Effects
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
A report for preventable causes of death in 1985 shows other causes, in order starting with the most common:
- Infant Mortality
- Drug Overdose
It will be interesting to see what shakes out in the latest data the District will report out at the presser. It will also be interesting to learn what the mayor and Dr. Vigilance have to say about why causes of death have changed over time and what must be done to reduce preventable death going forward.
- Hearings on various health insurance-related bills: The Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs (CM Bowser, Ward 4, chair) is holding a public hearing on four health insurance bills on March 24 at 2:00 pm in the JAWB. The committee will consider B18-499, "Health Insurance for Dependents Act of 2009", B18-528, "Health Insurance for Children with Autism Act of 2009", B18-656, "Healthcare Justice for Victims of Domestic Violence Reform Act of 2010", B18-657, "Ian’s Law for the District of Columbia Act of 2010." Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, are in the hearing notice.
- DC Public Charter School Board public hearings on charter school applications: The board invites the public to comment on the 13 applications for public charter schools at two public hearings: March 15 from 6:00 – 9:30 pm and March 16 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School (1100 Harvard St NW). Details about the hearings and the information available to the public in advance of the hearings is in the hearing notice.
Published every two years, INDICES provides a wide range of data about all DC government services delivered. According to the announcement, in part:
INDICES is developed to satisfy seven basic information needs, which are: to provide statistical summaries of services delivered by agencies; to provide a comprehensive overview of government activities; to provide information that is accessible to the reader in format and content; to provide information to facilitate the identification of trends; to provide a holistic picture of a service where there may be a number of different providers. . .
Sure, the data book is not perfect. It includes data collected between 2005 and 2008 so there is nothing recent about it. But it is all in one place and there is always something you have not seen before.
In the 2009 edition:
- Chapter 1: Washington, the Government and the People
- Chapter 2: District-wide Planning
- Chapter 3: Government Finances and Human Resources
- Chapter 4: Economic Development
- Chapter 5: Real Estate Services and Housing Trends
- Chapter 6: Human Services
- Chapter 7: Community Services
- Chapter 8: Education and Neighborhood Amenities
- Chapter 9: Transportation and Environmental Services
Friday, February 19, 2010
The hearing will start at 10:00 am today, February 19. Tune in to see the public reaction of the City Council and to learn what CA Neil Albert has to say about the pressures.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I was deeply saddened and disturbed by the findings and conclusions in the Bennett report. Nevertheless, it was vital to the integrity of the Council that all of what happened be fully disclosed to the public. Nothing has been hidden. Nothing held back. So, now we must implement the recommendations in Mr. Bennett’s report and move forward with reforms already started by the Council. Additionally, it is important that the Council condemn the transgressions of Councilmember Barry and act on Mr. Bennett’s recommendation to refer this matter to the United States Attorney’s office and the Board of Elections and Ethics.
Ward 5 CM Harry Thomas, Jr. issued a press release thanking the Special Counsel and Deputy Special Counsel for their work and supporting the findings. For a copy of the release, email Victoria Leonard, vleonard (at) dccouncil (dot) us; as of this writing, the release is not on the CM's website.
Ward 2 CM Jack Evans, according to WTOP, said
he believes the Council should hold an open vote and should create a process to examine possible sanctions against Barry, which could include removing his committee chairmanship.
"There's no regulation, so the Council would have to invent this for Councilmember Marion Barry. In this particular case, I think the Council should do that and will do that," says Evans, who is the longest continuously serving councilmember.
WTOP also reports that Ward 1 CM Jim Graham "says he was surprised that Barry questioned the report at a D.C. Council meeting Tuesday."
Thanks to Ben Merrion for sharing the survey opportunity on the D.C. LEARNs Announcements E-mail List, "DCL-Announcements."
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
- Tweets by Mark Segraves and Mike Debonis
- Tom Sherwood’s piece "Report May Put Barry in Hot Water -– Again"
- Tim Craig’s D.C. Wire pieces on Barry’s lashing out against the Special Counsel’s report, Ward 3 CM Cheh’s reaction to the situation, and a summary of the report and Council session
- WCP’s City Desk covers various aspects of the Bennett/Barry situation
As interesting as all of the juicy stories might be, and as important as CM Barry’s transgressions are, what is more important to me is what is embedded in the comment Ward 7 CM Yvette Alexander made at the release of the report: A lot of nonprofits serving residents east of the river rely on earmarks (go to 1:11:20).
What I believe is embedded in this statement:
- For some organizations it is too hard to compete for funding; it is easier to get earmarks
- Earmarks are less of a burden than regular grants or contracts
- Elected officials make better decisions about meeting needs than grant managers
- Elected officials can "tell" which organizations are good or worthwhile
Think I am projecting or overreacting? I don’t think so. Consider this from the report:
The Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Support Act of 2008 (the "FY 2009 BSA") was passed on June 26, 2008. For the first time, the FY 2009 BSA included a list of documentation that grantees were required to submit before funding could be released. However, some of the newly established requirements were perceived to be onerous for start-up organizations, prompting concern that those requirements might preclude the funding of otherwise worthy organizations. As a result, legislation was introduced on July 17, 2008, to ease the requirements for organizations that could not meet certain requirements. This amendment allowed an organization to submit a certified financial statement in lieu of a recent financial audit, and provided for a "fiscal agent" to be appointed for organizations that could not meet certain of the documentation requirements. (Emphasis added; pages 46-47)
What has disturbed me from the beginning of the "earmark" debate has been its schizophrenic nature. A significant number of organizations only testify when they seek money for their own organization. I understand and appreciate looking out for your best interest. But what about the best interest of the client population, the residents of the District? And then there are members of the council who demand detailed answers to questions about what outcomes the mayor’s budget will achieve. Why is it that the City Council is not interested in details about the outcomes their earmarked organizations will achieve?
And let’s not even get into what CM Alexander’s statement says about competence to manage a business. It is just not enough to want to do good. We have to do good, do right by clients, be good stewards of the public's money, of the public trust. When an organization receives a contract or grant, it has a responsibility to spend the money well. And as boring as record keeping might be, it is part of running an organization, it is part of documenting what was done with public funds. If you can’t do it, then this is wrong gig for you.
The council's budget office has updated the FYs 2009-2010 performance oversight hearing schedule and the FY 2011 budget hearings schedule. The latest update is February 12. The schedules linked here have the changes highlighted; those on the City Council website are not highlighted.
There a number of purposes of the legislation including providing for a post adoption contact agreement between an adoptive parent and the birth parent, establishing a sliding fee scale for adoptions, establishing a Volunteer Adoption Registry, and extending subsidies for a child from 18 years of age to 21 years of age beginning in FY 2010.
Details about registering to testify are in the notice.
Monday, February 15, 2010
What is most interesting are the results of the sub-indexes of well-being: Life Evaluation, Emotional Health, Work Environment, Physical Health, Healthy Behaviors, and Basic Access. As is shown in the table below, the DC area ranks first on the Life Evaluation sub-index, that which captures "Personal assessments of one's present life and life in five years, on a scale of 0 to 10." The DC area fares less well on the Basic Access sub-index which measures "basic needs optimal for a healthy life, such as access to food and medicine, having health insurance and feeling safe while walking at night." On this measure, DC ranks 24 out of 162.
This is what we know about access to basic services in DC:
- The recent FRAC analysis on food hardship reports that DC’s 2009 food hardship rate was 20.8, ranking the city 15th. Food hardship is defined as "the lack of money to buy food that families need."
- According to the feds, DC’s LIHEAP (Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program) benefits were: Heating and cooling: $49 minimum, $571 average, $1,300 maximum; Crisis: $750 maximum.
- The feds also report an estimated 36,607 households served by LIHEAP in FY 2009 for heating and cooling.
- On February 1, 2010, 1,724 individuals and 285 families were served by homeless shelters. On the same day, there were no family shelter vacancies and 34 families were turned away for lack of space.
This information can be used to make the case that more needs to be done to meet the basic needs of DC residents. Gallup has reached the same conclusion:
Bottom Line: Leaders should be mindful of the well-being of the residents in their respective cities, as it has potential ramifications for economic development, law and order, and a sense of shared pride and purpose. The city well-being comparisons can also help to reveal best practices to celebrate for some and a call to arms for others.
The challenge, of course, is how the city can use this information and information like it to make life-saving decisions in the context of a hundreds of million revenue shortfall.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
- Ward 5 CM Thomas has organized a rally on February 15 to save the Edgewood Safeway. Details here.
- At-large CM Kwame Brown’s new committee staffer: CM Brown recently announced the appointment of Jennifer Budoff as Committee Director, Committee on Economic Development. Details about Ms. Budoff’s background are online here. Getting in touch with Ms. Budoff: (202) 724-8116, jbudoff (at) dccouncil (dot) us.
- Contact information for Committee on Economic Development staff:
- Jennifer Budoff, Committee Director, ph ((202) 724-8116), email (jbudoff (at) dccouncil (dot) us)
- Mitria Wilson, Legislative Counsel, ph ((202) 724-8078), email (twilson (at) dccouncil (dot) us)
- Antonio Brentini, Administrative Clerk and Legislative Assistant, ph ((202) 727-6683), email (sbrentini (at) dccouncil (dot) us)
- Committee on Economic Development Open House, March 3: CM Kwame Brown is hosting this event to introduce the new Committee on Economic Development committee director Jennifer Budoff and committee staff to the public. The event starts at 3:00 pm. Details online.
- Ward 3 CM Cheh encourages residents to sign petition for high-speed broadband: CM Cheh recently told fellow residents about a pilot by Google, Inc. to build fiber-optic ultra-high speed broadband infrastructure in one or more communities in the United States. The proposed fiber-optic network proposed by Google would allow consumers to access data at speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, which is over 100 times faster than the connections that many use today.
Until March 26, government officials and the public can submit feedback to Google regarding the deployment of the pilot. It is CM Cheh’s understanding that public feedback will be crucial in Google's decision. Residents and organizations may inform Google directly by clicking on the "Get Involved" button and then clicking on the "Nominate Your Community" button. CM Cheh as also started an online petition and she encourages people to sign that as an additional way to support the District’s nomination.
CM Cheh, as chair of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, which oversees the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), is interested in DC being chosen as a pilot site. CM Cheh reports that the Chief Technology Officer is interested in exploring this possibility and recognizes that this is a unique opportunity for the District to be on the cutting-edge of broadband internet access.
- Ward 5 CM Thomas was interviewed on Comcast's Local Edition on January 21. The interview is here.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
to track how District Government is working for you. You can use these pages to track the performance of individual agencies, learn more about agencies Key Performance Indicators, Budget, Spending and News, access agency Data and Connect to the agency.
This is good, right? This tool lets people see what they are getting for their money. TrackDC is one way that the Fenty Administration has fulfilled a promise to operate "a more transparent and responsive government with fresh energy and ideas." (From Mayor Fenty’s 100 Days and Beyond: 2007 Action Plan for the District of Columbia)
The tool is a step in the right direction. Kinda sorta. But as rolled out, it has some limitations.Limitation #1: No definitions -- Budgets, like other things, have a language all their own. That is why it is so important to define the terms used. TrackDC does not do this so I am.
- Encumbered spending: These are budgeted funds that have not yet been spent but which are legally obligated or "set aside" for a specific purpose. Once encumbered funds are actually paid out, they become "spent" funds.
- Spent funds: Those funds that are used and no longer available.
- Burn rate: This tells us how fast the funds are being spent.
- FTE: This stands for full-time equivalent. One FTE can equal one full-time person in the way most of us consider full-time, 36.5/40 hours per week or two part-time, 20 hour per week staff.
- Gross funds: These are all funds that make up an agency’s budget. They can include Local, Federal, Intra-district, and Other.
Limitation #2: Little explanation of what things mean or why they are important
- Burn rate: Ok, so you know that this tells us how fast an agency is spending money. What TrackDC does not tell the public, though, is that not all funds are treated equally. In the "Budget & Operational Information" section, for example, you will see that the burn rate for Fixed Costs is 95% while the burn rate for "Other" is 33%. Without knowing that fixed costs are not like other funding, you might conclude that CFSA is spending its money faster than it should. We are, after all, about one-third of the way through the fiscal year. However, in order to assure that agencies pay their rent and electric bills, the Office of Finance and Resource Management (OFRM) takes all or most of the fixed costs allocation at the beginning of the fiscal year.
What this section does do is allow folks to ask questions about why the burn rate is the way it is. CFSA’s report shows that the burn rate for pay periods is 35% (9/26) at the same time that the burn rate for the total, salary and other personnel spending categories are 30%, 29%, and 29% respectively. Does the current vacancy rate of 6.22% account for the difference? If the agency has 55 fewer employees than it needs to do the work, why isn’t overtime spending happening faster or are the vacancies in areas where OT is not paid?
- Website traffic: So the questions are:
- Why is this an indicator for this agency?
- Does the graph represent unique visitors, page visits, etc.?
- Is the use pattern desirable?
Admittedly, there should be considerably information on the CFSA website even though there is already a lot. And, the site should be more user-friendly. But the measure does nothing to help the agency or the public answer the questions listed above nor does it move the agency to address the more fundamental concerns of content and usability. So again, why is this an indicator for this agency?
- Sunlight Lab’s Clay Johnson praises the city for moving the ball forward on information access. Yes, this tool does do that – kind of. Much of this data has been available from agencies in the past, some going back to the Williams Administration. What people want is the underlying data that allows the techies to create these dashboards. Using CFSA as an example again, we know from the FY09 Performance Accountability Report that CFSA achieved Initiative 2.3, Increase and expedite permanency youth:
CFSA reviewed all youth with goal of APPLA (Alternative Planned Permanent Living Arrangement) by June 30, 2009, there has also been a significant reduction in the number of youth with that goal since July of 2008. Currently CFSA is focused on ensuring the remaining youth are being prepared for adulthood as well as connecting with permanent adult relationships resulting in permanent homes.
What we don’t know is the number of youth with the goal of APPLA at both points in time referenced in the explanation. We also don’t know the number of teens in out-of-home placements.
My takeaway? This is a tool that may be helpful. It is getting us closer (maybe) to what the public, particularly the advocates, have been asking for, some demanding. Is it all that? No. So the question is, what can we do to get the kinds of information that people really need and want?
And let's not forget the other quesion: Does this rollout have anything to do with the upcoming election? Remember the 100 day plan and various campaign promises.
It will be interesting to see how this delay will negatively impact CM Cheh's effort to get funding for the bill in the mayor's proposed budget due out April 1. CM Cheh has said she would do what it takes to fund the healthy schools bill. Sure, there is the council review of the budget, but then B18-564 is competing with every possible CM and community priority.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
This project does two things. First, it seeks donations of prom-related items -- gowns, tuxes, shoes, jewelery, getting-pretty/handsome-for-the-big-dance services. Second, it identifies the kinds of items needed for the young people in foster care to have a successful -- and hip -- fashion show.
So, if you are looking for something to do while inside during the snow storm, why not rid your closet of the items on this list? You'll get a jump on spring cleaning and make teens very happy!
Monday, February 8, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
- The Ward 6 Dems are starting a conversation about the FY 2011 budget on February 18. Panelists include DCFPI's Ed Lazere and Julia Christian, ED of CHAMPS, Capitol Hill's Chamber of Commerce. Details about the event are in this flier.
- At the late January City Council retreat, CFO Natwar Gandhi presented information on the city's debt cap. Wonky, sure, but critically important to the city's credit rating and its capital projects.
- The FYs 2009 and 2010 oversight hearing schedule was updated on February 3. No child- or youth-related hearings changed.
- The FY 2011 budget hearing schedule was updated on February 3. No child- or youth-related hearings changed.
- Various budget trainings and events are listed in the calendar at the bottom of this blog.
As was pointed out by CFO Nat Gandhi and Mayor Fenty on the release of the CAFR, this was the 13th consecutive clean audit. Despite the unqualified opinion and no material weaknesses, the city does have some management things to rectify as outlined in the yellow book, Independent Auditors’ Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting.
The proposed regulations explain how DDOE will implement and enforce the requirements of the Act. While the proposed regulations closely track the language of the Act, certain provisions of the Act required further explication, and the regulations set forth how DDOE intends to implement and enforce the Act. These proposed regulations do not set forth the procedures through which the Office of Tax and Revenue, or the Department of Motor Vehicles will implement and enforce requirements of the Act that are within their jurisdictions.
Those who want to comment on the proposed rules should file comments in writing not later than 30 days after the publication of the notice in the DC Register. Details about commenting are in the notice.
- Date change for B18-564, the "Healthy Schools Act of 2009" joint public hearing: The Committee on Government Operations and the Environment (CM Cheh, Ward 3, chair) and Committee of the Whole (Council Chair Gray, At-large, chair) published a revised notice for the public hearing on this bill. The new date and time are: February 10 at 10:00 am in Room 412 of the JAWB.
The Committee on Government Operations and the Environment has held working group meetings to review the legislation and make revisions since the leg was introduced in January of this year. The revisions are shown in the working draft committee print dated February 3 and the redline of the original legislation.
- Public hearing on B18-605, "Pre-K Acceleration and Clarification Amendment Act of 2010": The Committee of the Whole (Council Chair Gray, At-large, chair) is holding a public hearing on the bill on March 31 at 10:00 am in the JAWB. Details about the hearing, including how to register to testify, are in the notice.
- Public hearing on B18-610, "Omnibus Procurement Reform Amendment Act of 2010": The Committee on Government Operations and the Environment (CM Cheh, Ward 3, chair) is holding a hearing on March 23 at 10:30 in the JAWB. Details about the hearing, such as how to register, are in the hearing notice.
This bill would make significant changes to the procurement process in the District, including strengthening internal controls and improve the skills of city government procurement personnel.
- Hearing on FY 2010 spending pressures: The Committee of the Whole’s February 19 hearing on FY 2010 spending pressures will feature senior staff from the Office of the City Administrator and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. These staff will present an overview of the city’s financial situation. They will be followed by agencies with spending pressures. The public will not testify at this hearing.
It is expected that this will be an all-day event.
- Mayor’s Order 2010-24, "Allocation of Spending (FY 2010)": This order, signed January 29, was published in the February 5 DCR. It requires executive branch agencies to reduce spending by $99 million.
The $99 million in cuts were made to 43 agencies. The cuts represent 5% of the aggregate approved budgets. The average agency cut was 11%. The cuts range from a high of 63% for the Deputy Mayor for Education to a low of under 1% in the Office of Finance and Resource Management.
Not all subordinate executive branch agency budgets are affected by this order. Notable among absent human services agencies are Child and Family Services Agency, Department of Health Care Finance, Department of Parks and Recreation, Children and Youth Investment Collaborative, Non-Public Tuition, and Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. Other agencies not affected include Serve DC, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, and Metropolitan Police Department.
Some of those agencies exempted from the spending cuts have spending pressures. According to an OCFO document FY 2010 Budget Pressures, pressures include:
- Non-Public Education (GN) has a spending pressure of as much as $38.4 million
- Special Education Transportation (GO) has a spending pressure of as much as $15 million
- Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (TK) has a spending pressure of as much as $5.3 million
- Department of Health Care Finance (HT) has a spending pressure of as much as $29.5 million
- Child and Family Services Agency (RL) has a spending pressure of as much as $23.1 million
- Department of Mental Health (RM) has a spending pressure of as much as $2.3 million
- Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (JZ) has a spending pressure of as much as $12.6 million
- Office of the Chief Technology Officer (TO) has a spending pressure of as much as $5.22 million
- Mayor’s Order 2010-25, "Implementation of Spending Controls for All Subordinate Executive Branch Agencies": This order prohibits subordinate executive branch agencies from exceeding the spending limits identified in MO 2010-24.
The DC Public Library is not impacted by this mid-year reduction since it is not a subordinate executive branch agency. Hazel v. Barry, according to the Congressional Research Service found that the "D.C. Public Library is independent of the mayor in terms of policy choices, personnel choices, and other areas."
Additional files in Excel are here. You will find the list of agency reductions as well as the list in order of percentage reduction.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
This is your opportunity to work in one of the most rewarding and challenging posts in government. As a Program Analyst in the Executive Office of the Mayor, you will be at the heart of strategic policy-making, working directly for the City Administrator and supporting Agency Directors as they fulfill Mayor Fenty’s commitment to improving health and human services for residents. To accomplish this, the Mayor is looking for exceptional leaders, characterized by innovation and "outside the box" thinking, to motivate and support District agencies through effective program analysis.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
There are no details on the mayor's site about the event, about which organizations and individuals are being recognized. However, word is that this event is the brainchild of Peaceoholics. As such, expect Peaceoholics and East of the River Clergy-Police-Community Partnership to be in attendance. Notably absent, then, are (fill in the blank).
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
How advocates will react to the news is anyone's guess. Now is when some nonprofit organizers, analysts, and advocates meet with the city's top analysts to get budget and policy items included -- and excluded -- from the mayor's proposed budget. The City Council will take action today at the council session to require the mayor to present a plan to address agency overspending. And the CFO and his staff will present the findings of the CAFR at the City Council briefing on the audit in the Council Chamber on February 5 at 10:00 am.