Saunders testifies on OHR Budget
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Saunders testifies on OHR Budget


COUNCIL MEMBER VINCENT ORANGE, CHAIR
COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS
COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20004

PUBLIC OVERSIGHT HEARING
APRIL 3, 2006

RE: “Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Request for the Office of Human Rights”


PREPARED STATEMENT

Chairperson Orange and members of the Committee on Government Operations. My name is Kenneth L. Saunders and I am here today to present testimony on the Office of Human Rights fiscal year 2007 budget request.

For fiscal year 2007, the proposed budget for the Office of Human Rights is set at four million, eight hundred and seventy-four thousand, eight hundred and eighty nine dollars ($ 4,874,889.) This total budget is divided as follows: Two million three hundred and eighty-seven thousand are Local funds and two million four hundred and eighty-eight thousand are Federal funds. Over the past few months, we have been engaged in discussions with city officials regarding our FY2007 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. Moreover, it provides sufficient funding to address the cases we administer annually; to meet the requirements of the Language Access Act of 2004; to provide training, education and outreach to government agencies and community organizations.

How the Budget Is Constructed

The FY 2007 budget is comprised of $2,387,000 in local dollars and $2,488,000 in Federal dollars. The budget also authorizes full funding for a total of 30 positions. Two positions are included solely for the Language Access Act. As you know, OHR is the lead agency for this program and is required 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.

The FY2007 budget represents an increase in Local funds of $102,000 and a decrease of $259,000 in Federal funds. The increase in Local funds restores $35,000 to the Language Access program and $67,000 for salary increases, and the decrease in Federal funds pertains primarily to the HUD Academy. I would like to point out that the estimate included in Federal funds for the Academy would not take place in FY2007. Originally, the relationship with HUD was expected to last approximately three years. HUD has advised us that the administrative function will be assumed by a federal agency. Over the two-year period, OHR has earned approximately $565,000 in federal dollars to apply to its overall operations. Overall, here is how the budget is divided:

In addition to the federal funding for the Academy, OHR also receives 2 additional federal grants. First, OHR’s Fair Housing Office is expected to receive approximately $137,000 for handling cases that relate to housing discrimination and second, we get approximately $101,000 from the EEOC. OHR is awarded an amount of $500.00 per case from EEOC and this grant is based upon our completion of 200 cases.

Let me now address OHR’s performance goals that are tied to this budget. First, I am very pleased to report that for fiscal year 2005, OHR met, exceeded or significantly exceeded each of its Scorecard goals. We reduced the number of Aged cases in the Office; we reduced the total backlog; our productivity level increased significantly; and we reached more citizens through our outreach and education efforts than ever before. The Language Access program was also a very big success for us. Through our leadership and oversight, all District agencies identified in the Act met their respective requirements and I can assure you that our “Limited English Proficient” population is very aware and interested in the progress we make as a government in ensuring access to services to all District residents.

Our goals for FY2007 are as follows:

As I indicated earlier, I am confident that with this budget, we can accomplish the goals we have set for fiscal year 2007. 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 priorities of this administration and the Council. I am thankful to the Mayor and City Administrator for their support of the Office of Human Rights and I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved. As we move forward, 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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