Saunders testifies on budget for Office of Human Rights
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Saunders testifies on budget for Office of Human Rights



April 5, 2004

RE: “Fiscal Year 2005 Budget Request for the Office of Human Rights”

Chairperson Graham and members of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Latino Affairs and Property Management. I am here today to present testimony on the Office of Human Rights fiscal year 2005 budget request.

For fiscal year 2005, the proposed budget for the Office of Human Rights is two million, five hundred and thirteen thousand, five hundred and fifty two dollars ($ 2,513,552). This amount represents an increase of $622,000. or 32.9% over our FY2004 allocation. Over the past few weeks, we have been engaged in discussions with city officials regarding our ’05 request, and I am pleased to report that the funding approved by this administration, fully provides the resources to achieve the objectives we have established and further, it allows us to meet the requirements of the Language Access Act of 2004. With this budget, I firmly believe that the Office of Human Rights will continue to make improvements in our internal operations such as reducing the number of aged cases, expediting the time it takes for a case to be adjudicated; broaden our public awareness campaigns and increase our training opportunities for District agencies and the private sector; and we will actually be in the second year of implementing the requirements of the Language Access Act.

How the Budget Is Constructed

The FY 2005 budget is comprised of $2,281,000 in local dollars and $233,000 in Federal dollars. The budget also authorizes full funding for a total of 27 positions - 25 positions that are currently occupied, and 2 additional positions to meet the requirements of the Language Access Act. The Act requires that OHR designate a Language Access Program Director to provide coordination and technical assistance to all covered entities, to monitor plans and ensure compliance with the Act, to supervise the Language Access Coordinators located within District agencies, and to represent the Executive branch in making reports to the City Council. We have also added an administrative position to provide support and assistance to the Language Access program.

Regarding the increase that is reflected in our budget, here is how it is accounted for:

The $140,559 mentioned above represents the increase required to fully fund all positions that were occupied at the beginning of fiscal year 2004. In the analysis we presented during the budget process, we demonstrated that all positions which were authorized, were not fully funded. As you know, in fiscal year 2003, this Office was authorized a ceiling of 33 positions and in fiscal year, it was authorized 28 positions. However, the funding allocated for these positions were insufficient, thereby creating “unfunded” positions. When I came on board and began filling the positions that were authorized, we discovered that a correction should be made to our baseline amount for salaries. The administration supported our claim and corrected the amount allocated for salaries.

Regarding the Fixed Costs increase of $74,916, this amount is merely passed on to us from the Office of Property Management. The CFO can address this in greater detail if you so wish.

The $117,700 increase in Federal dollars actually represents an adjustment to the amount we receive. In fiscal year 2004, the amount booked to our budget is $115,000, however, this amount should be $232,700. It will be corrected in FY2004 and carried forward to FY2005.

Before I close, I would like to highlight some of the accomplishments and initiatives currently taking place at the Office of Human Rights:

As I indicated earlier, I am confident that we can accomplish the goals we have set for Fiscal Year 2005. While I’m sure that additional resources can further enhance both our office as well as the Commission, I am keenly aware of the fiscal challenges facing the District. I am thankful to the Mayor for the increases we have been afforded. We will continue to examine ways to improve our overall operation and work closely with the CFO to utilize our budget prudently and effectively.

Thank you for this opportunity and I am now prepared to answer any questions that you may have.

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