Patterson committee approves increase in OHR budget
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Patterson committee approves increase in OHR budget


COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20001

April 20, 2000

Mr. Craig Howell
Secretary
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013

Dear Mr. Howell:

Thank you for your April 13, 2000, letter recommending a $500,000 increase in the fiscal year 2001 budget for the Office of Human Rights (OHR).

During its April 18, 2000, budget markup, the Committee on Government Operations approved my recommendation for a $200,000 increase in OHR's budget to launch a backlog reduction initiative. Although this amount falls short of the sum that you recommended, the agency will have a substantial increase in resources if my budget proposal becomes law. First, OHR failed to spend approximately $250,000 in FY 99 funds. Second, the Mayor's budget proposal added $101,000 in funding. Third, OHR is about to receive $115,000 in federal funds for fair-housing enforcement, as a result of legislation that I introduced in 1998. These funding sources — including the baseline of current funding that has not been fully used — give OHR almost $700,000 to improve its enforcement of the D.C. Human Rights Act and reduce the persistent case backlog.

In your letter, you suggested that OHR should make a determination of probable cause within one year. I agree that probable cause determinations take far too long, but would point out that the D.C. Human Rights Act (D.C. Code 1-2545) requires a determination within 120 days. [GLAA note: we stand corrected. An attempt was made in 1997 to extend the determination period to one year, but GLAA helped defeat that amendment.]

I appreciate your insightful testimony at the Committee's performance and budget review hearings. I will keep working for measurable and significant improvement in the District's human rights enforcement, and I thank you for your help and your vigilant monitoring of human rights.

Sincerely,

Kathy Patterson
Chairperson
Committee on Government Operations


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