FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION

BUDGET REQUEST FOR FY 2001

PRESENTED TO THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET

PURSUANT TO GPRA AND OMB A-11

 

Concurrently submitted to Congress pursuant to

2 U.S.C. ß437d(d)

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The Federal Election Commission submits a budget request of $41,323,000 and 356 FTE for FY 2001, an increase of $2,901,000 (or 7.55%) and 4 FTE (an increase of 1.1%) over our FY 2000 appropriation. In essence, it represents a continuation of the FY 2000 funding level, as adjusted for inflation and personnel pay and benefits increases, including the executive and senior level pay raises. The differences from our FY 2000 appropriation are:

The funding level contained in this budget request will enable the Commission to:

Difference Between FY 2000 Appropriation and FY 2001 Request

FY 2000 Appropriation $38,422,000

+ Increase in pay costs, rent costs, and overhead costs $ 1,843,500

- Net Decrease in IT Initiatives costs ($ 329,500)

- 5 FTE for Audit temporaries ($ 129,000)

Subtotal for changes to FY 2000 for "Base" level $ 1,385,000

+ 3 FTE to implement the PwC Title 2 Audit "For Cause" Program $ 177,000

+ 2 FTE for Staff Director to implement ADR Program $ 348,000

+ 4 FTE for Commissioners $ 460,000

+ Completion of VSS $ 100,000

+ National Conference on VSS and other issues $ 116,000

+ Legal document imaging and indexing $ 250,000

+ IG audit contract $ 65,000

Subtotal for programmatic initiatives in FY 2001 $ 1,516,000

= Budget for FY 2001 $41,323,000

Mission

Our FY 2001 budget request will enable the Commission to perform its statutory mission and meet its program goals and objectives. The Commissionís budget justification, therefore, is structured to reflect its fundamental mission: to administer and enforce the three main components of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (FECA):

Additionally, the Commission has the mandated responsibility of compiling information and reviewing procedures related to the administration of federal elections.

Additional FTE for Commissionersí Offices (See p. 7)

It is important to note that, at present, only the Chairman and Vice Chairman are allocated a second Executive Assistant (EA). Providing each of the other Commissioners with an additional EA will enable them both to have basic staffing at all times and to meet the increased demands which have been placed on their offices.

Programs, Objectives and Goals (See p.13)

To accomplish its mission, the Commission has established six major programs. For each program, the Commission has defined objectives and goals, which are listed in the full discussion (pp. 6 to 27). The programs are listed below, followed by the dollar amount and FTE needed to achieve the objectives and goals under the FY 2001 Budget:

Internal IT Enhancements (See p. 22)

Under the current budget request, the agency will fully fund IT initiatives as outlined in its Information Technology (IT) Strategic Plan, including the following four areas:

 

Electronic Filing (See p. 23)

By the start of 1998, the Commissionís full voluntary electronic filing system was in place for any political committee, other than Senate committees and the national partiesí Senate campaign committees. On September 29, 1999, the President signed the FY 2000 Treasury General Government Appropriations Act, which mandates electronic filing in the 2002 election cycle for political committees reaching a certain threshold, other than Senate committees and the national partiesí Senate campaign committees. The provision will be effective for reporting periods beginning after December 31, 2000. Thus, the implementation will take place in FY 2001. The Commission anticipates that the related rulemaking will be implemented by December 2000. The FECís current electronic filing system is designed to handle the entire filing community if necessary. Efficiencies to be realized from mandatory electronic filing should become a reality in the midst of FY 2001.

FY 2001, meanwhile, represents the peak activity period of the 2000 election cycle. The election itself, as well as most of the related disclosure and enforcement work, will occur in FY 2001. Off year filings clearly indicate that the 2000 elections are likely to break all records for financial activity. The Commission will continue to actively encourage voluntary electronic filing for the 2000 elections, including offering incentives to encourage committees to file.

Year 2000 Computer Adjustment (See p. 24)

The Commission is confident that all FEC processes are Y2K compliant.

 

FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION

FY 2001 BUDGET REQUEST

The Federal Election Commission submits a budget request of $41,323,000 and 356 FTE for FY 2001, an increase of $2,901,000 (or 7.55%) and 4 FTE (or 1.1%) over our FY 2000 appropriation. Except as noted below, it represents a continuation of the FY 2000 funding level, as adjusted for inflation and personnel pay and benefits increases, including the executive and senior level pay raises. It differs from the FY 2000 appropriation, however, in that it would fund 4 additional staff for the Commissionersí immediate offices. Currently, only the Chairman and Vice Chairman have a second EA allocated to them during their terms. This creates a void in staffing when the only EA either must be away from the office or there are too many projects for one person to handle. The 4 additional staff would put all Commissioner offices at the same staffing level and allow the Commission to meet the increased demands placed on their offices as explained below. (See p. 7) The only other differences from our FY 2000 appropriation are:

The funding level contained in this budget request will enable the Commission to:

 

Difference Between FY 2000 Appropriation and FY 2001 Request

The total difference between the FY 2000 appropriation and the FY 2001 request is an increase of $2,901,000, which reflects a modest net increase of 7.55% from the FY 2000 appropriation. Most of this increase is explained by the increases in federal pay and benefits costs because of COLAs and inflation, and inflation adjustments for GSA rent and basic overhead, for a total increase resulting from inflation and other uncontrollable costs of $1,385,000. (See Table 1, p. 9) To this, we have added $1,516,000 for programmatic initiatives, including the additional staffing request for the Commissioners.

One new staff member would be allocated to each of the four Commissioner offices that only have one EA. The second EA would serve as a back-up to the current EA to ensure that each Commissioner has a consistent staffing level to provide legal guidance to the Commissioner relating to ongoing compliance (enforcement, litigation, and audit) and the referral processes for those compliance activities. The second EA would assist with the many new administrative tasks the Commission is undertaking. These include the implementation of the PwC recommendations and other task forces and projects separate from PwC. For example, the Commissionersí offices are directly involved with working groups relating to:

The Commission is not requesting new additional staff resources in any other program area in FY 2001. The 4 FTE in additional staff resources would fall within the Commission Policy and Administration program. (There are some adjustments in staff allocations within the FY 2000 level of 352 FTE, and some other programmatic initiatives are funded in FY 2001, as further explained below.) The cost of the four staff in the Commissionersí offices is $460,000, including support costs.

In addition, state and local elections officials have requested that the FEC update the previously issued voluntary VSS, which have proved invaluable to election administrators in selecting vote counting and recording equipment. The Commission has included an additional $100,000 for contract funds for the Office of Election Administration, for a total of $200,000 to complete the VSS update. This, added to the $250,000 authorized in FY 1999, brings the multi-year cost for the VSS update to $450,000 to complete this project. The Commission has also included an additional $116,000 for the Office of Election Administration to fund a conference on the revised VSS and other election administration issues.

The Commission is reducing the base Audit staff from 43 FTE to 38 FTE, which represents the 5 FTE of Audit temporaries required for certifications of Presidential matching funds in the 2000 election cycle funded in FY 1999 and FY 2000. Because these temporaries will no longer be needed for certifications in FY 2001, the Commission has decided those 5 FTE would be better utilized to implement the PwC recommendation to upgrade the Title 2 Audit Program ($177,000 and 3 FTE) and to assist with the implementation of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Project under the Staff Director ($348,000 and 2 FTE).

The Commission has allocated an additional $250,000, in addition to the $250,000 included in the FY 2000 level, for legal document imaging and indexing to support the compliance program for major enforcement cases, including litigation efforts. Finally, the Commission has included $65,000 in audit contract funds for the Office of Inspector General.

The final result is a modest 3.6% increase ($1,385,000) for inflationary increases in pay and benefits, as well as support overhead. The programmatic increases, including the net gain of 4 FTE, represents an increase of 3.95% ($1,516,000), which brings the total increase up to $2,901,000 and 7.55% compared to FY 2000. Tables 1 and 2 depict in greater detail the increases from FY 2000 to FY 2001.

TABLE 1 FEC FY 2000 TO FY 2001: SUMMARY DIFFERENCES

TABLE 2 FEC FY 2000 TO FY 2001: DETAILED DIFFERENCES

* "Base" of 347 FTE represents purely inflationary increases in pay and basic overhead costs, plus reduction of five FTE of temporary Audit staff for 2000 cycle certification program.

 

FEC Staffing and Workloads

Despite large increases in Commission workloads due to ever-increasing federal election related campaign finance activity, the FEC has been relying on improvements in productivity, management initiatives, and technological advances to cope rather than adding staff for those purposes. We expect new record levels of campaign finance activity in the 2000 election cycle. The FEC anticipates over $3 billion in total disbursements for federal campaigns, from over 8,000 committees, filing 85,000 reports in the 2000 election cycle, and generating over 2 million itemized transactions in the FEC Disclosure Database. Additional efficiencies realized from the mandatory electronic filing explained above will help keep staffing needs at current levels in the disclosure program.

As previously noted, the addition of 4 FTE in the Commissionersí immediate offices will provide each Commissioner with a second EA who will aid the Commissioner with implementation of the PwC recommendations and with the day-to-day activities relating to enforcement and other policy changes generated internally at the Commission.

Budgetary History

Table 3 depicts the FEC staffing by Office and Division from FY 1995 through FY 2000 (planned). Past staff levels are compared to the FY 2001 budget request.

 

* Staff Director staffing includes 2 FTE for the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) project in FY 2001.

 

 

Table 4A provides an historical view of the FECís budget, allocated among its organizational units.

 

 

 

* FY 2000 includes a carryover of $270,000 from FY 1999, per approval of Congress and OMB.

Table 4B is an historical summary of the Commissionís budget, by object class.

 

 

* FY 2000 includes a carryover of $270,000 from FY 1999, per approval of Congress and OMB.

 

 

Program/Objective Analysis

Mission

The Commissionís budget stems from its fundamental mission: to administer and enforce the three main components of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (FECA):

Additionally, following the mandate of the statute, the Commissionís mission includes serving as a clearinghouse for the compilation of information and review of procedures with respect to the administration of federal elections.

Programs

To accomplish this mission, the Commission has established six major programsócore programs and management programs.

The core programs are:

The management programs are:

Within each of the core programs, the Commission has defined specific objectives. To achieve these objectives, the Commission must accomplish certain goals, which are also defined. To the extent that the agency succeeds in reaching these goals and objectives, it will fulfill its fundamental mission.

The next few pages describe the core programs in terms of their objectives (and related goals), and explain how the requested budget will enable the Commission to reach those objectives. A series of tables supplement the explanation.

A discussion of the management programs follow.

 

Overview of FEC Programs

Tables 5A, 5B, and 5C provide an overview of the FECís budget, by program. Table 5A shows the total dollars budgeted for each program; Table 5B distinguishes between personnel and nonpersonnel costs; and Table 5C shows the personnel (FTE) for each program. tables 5A and 5C indicate what percentage of the total budget request each program represents.

 

 

Program I: Disclosure (Core Program)

Objectives

With regard to the Disclosure Program, the Federal Election Commission seeks to:

Goals

To achieve the objectives described above, the Commission will strive to accomplish the goals listed below.

Review and Processing of Reports

To achieve the accurate and timely review and processing of all reports, the Commission will:

Public Disclosure and Dissemination of Campaign Finance Data

To ensure that the campaign finance data are widely distributed, the FEC will:

Education About the Law

To ensure that the public, the media and the campaign community fully understand the federal election law, and that information about the law is readily available, the FEC will:

Summary

The resources needed to meet the objectives and goals of the Disclosure Program in FY 2001 are summarized in Tables 6A and 6B.

 

Program II: Compliance (Core Program)

Objectives

The FECís compliance program is premised on the belief that the Commissionís first responsibility is to foster a willingness, on the part of the regulated community, to voluntarily comply with the lawís reporting requirements, fundraising restrictions and public funding statutes. The Commission encourages voluntary compliance through education (described under the Disclosure Program, p. 15). To buttress its educational efforts, the Commission carries out a Compliance Program whose objectives are:

Goals

For each of these objectives, the Commission defines the following associated goals.

Desk Audits

The Commission will:

Audits

In those cases where reports indicate that committees have failed to meet the threshold requirements for substantial compliance with the FECAóand have failed to voluntarily correct errors or omissions on their reportsóthe Commission will conduct about 40-45 audits "for cause" for the 2001 election cycle, pursuant to 2 U.S.C. ß438(b).

As noted on page 8, three additional auditors are needed in FY 2001 to implement the PwC recommendation for a Title 2 Audit "For Cause" Program. Two FTEís will allow the Audit Division to hire eight part-time student interns; one FTE is for a permanent auditor position. These part-time staff also will assist the auditors in performing Title 26 audits of Presidential committees that receive public funds. This proposal, along with other procedural changes, will allow the Audit Division to conduct approximately 40-45 Title 2 audits per cycle as opposed to current resources allowing 20-25 per cycle. In contrast, over the last four cycles (1991-92 through 1997-98) an average of 9 authorized and 12 non-authorized committees have been slated for audit. This budget also will allow the Commission to meet its goal of completing the Title 26 Presidential audits within two years after the 2000 elections.

Enforcement

Because the bulk of the Commissionís caseload arises from complaints filed by parties outside the agency, the total caseload figure is not affected by the number of FTE in enforcement. The number of FTE affects the proportion of the total enforcement caseload that can be handled substantively, as well as the proportion of the caseload that is active vs. inactive. (A substantive finding is a finding based on the merits of the matter [other than dismissal], including findings of "no reason to believe the FECA has been violated.")

In past budget requests, the Commission has asked for additional resources for its compliance program. During FY 2000, Congress provided 4 additional FTE for complianceó3 FTE were allocated to OGC and 1 to Audit.

The Commission is not seeking additional staff resources, above 352 FTE, for its compliance programs in this budget request. Instead, OGC expects to maintain current performance levels. It is important to note, however, that maintaining staffing levels from FY 2000 will limit OGCís capability to handle new major cases that may arise from the 2000 cycle. We anticipate that some unresolved major cases from the 1996 cycle will be dropped due to statute of limitation considerations, but that work on 4 or 5 major cases will continue through FY 2000 and FY 2001.

To reach the objective of enforcing the law in a timely and fair way, the Commission plans to:

Summary

the resources needed to meet the objectives and goals of the Compliance Program in FY 2001 are summarized in Tables 7A and 7B. We are requesting resources to maintain current performance levels; no additional resources are sought for the compliance program.

*OGC PFESP stands for the General Counselís Public Financing, Ethics, and Special Projects staff.

**Department of Justice contract for legal document imaging and indexing.

 

 

Program III: Public Financing (Core Program)

Objectives

Under the Public Financing Program, the Commission seeks to:

Goals

To reach the objectives described above, the Commission will:

Summary

For FY 2001, the resources needed to implement the public financing program in the 2000 election cycle are summarized in Tables 8A and 8B.

Program IV: Election Administration (Core Program)

Objectives

Through the FECís Office of Election Administration, the agency will:

Goals

To realize the objectives described above the Commission, through the FECís Office of Election Administration, will:

Summary

Resources needed to reach these goals in FY 2001 are summarized in Table 9A and 9B.

 

Program V: IT and Electronic Filing Projects (Management Program)

The Commission will allocate $4,689,500 of its FY 2001 budget request to fund enhanced IT initiatives and the electronic filing program. This amount, which is provided for in the FECís IT Strategic Plan, represents a decrease of $307,000 from the FY 2000 IT budget of $4,996,500 (original budget of $4,866,500 supplemented by $130,000 in carryover funds from FY 1999).

Internal IT Enhancements

Under the current Budget Request, the agency will continue to implement and expand upon the IT enhancements initiated in previous years, including IT initiatives in the following four areas:

Computer Security

Under the FY 2001 budget, the agency will further develop the security protecting the agencyís computer operations (originally contracted in FY 2000), particularly those operations that are Web-based. As these operations expand through the World Wide Web, the Commission must be vigilant about ensuring the integrity of the data.

World Wide Web

In FY 2001, the Commission will continue its work on its web site upgrade (originally contracted in FY 2000). The agencyís current web site comprises two parts: a static part and an interactive part. In the static part, the agency posts its publications, documents, press releases and other announcements. The interactive part permits all users to select and view images of financial reports filed with the FEC, and it allows the public to search a database consisting of information filed by political committees. For example, with the interactive inquiry system, initiated in FY 1998, anyone with a computer and modem can search for and identify contributions to specific candidates by the name of the contributor and the date and amount of the contribution.

Under the FY 2001 initiative, the agency will continue its efforts to make the site more user friendly in terms of convenience, scope and depth.

Document Management

Document management involves several components:

The process involves scanning images of documents into the computer and then organizing the imaged documents so they can be easily retrieved and reviewed

Client/Server Strategy, Development and Data Conversion

For many years, the Commission relied on a terminal-based computer system. Under this system, one central location served as the site where all data was stored and where all processing occurred. In 1995, the Commission took its first steps to migrate from a terminal-based system to a Client/Server environment.

In FY 2002, the Commission will complete the transition from the terminal-based software to the new Client/Server-based system, which was initiated in FY 1999. It will also complete the conversion of data to the new system. This process involves conversion of several million data records, along with thousands of programs used to retrieve and display information contained in the Commissionís data bases.

Electronic Filing

Progress to Date

By the start of 1998, the Commissionís full electronic filing system was in place, and has been optional for any political committee, other than Senate committees and the national partiesí Senate campaign committees. The mandatory electronic filing provision in the FY 2000 Treasury and General Government Appropriations bill requires the FEC to establish thresholds for mandatory electronic filing for committees effective for the 2002 election cycle. This means activity beginning on January 1, 2001. The Commission anticipates that the related rulemaking will be implemented by December 2000. In the meantime, the FEC has developed the capability to handle all electronically filed reports.

More precisely, the agency has :

Future Efforts

During FYs 2000 and 2001 the agency will continue to develop incentives to encourage committees to voluntarily file their reports electronically. Creating these incentives will involve a series of steps, including:

Development of new processes to improve internal document flow in this new "electronic filing" environment will continue into FY 2001, as well. This will enable internal FEC users to integrate electronic filings into processes such as reports review, audits, and enforcement. Spending on this initiative during FY 2001 also includes funds for on-going operation and maintenance of the electronic filing system during the 2000 election cycle.

Data Input

The Commissionís electronic filing system presently is capable of handling all filers. For those committees currently filing electronically, the process of transferring the data into the disclosure database is automatic. However, even with mandatory electronic filing in place, the Commission will continue to manually input the data taken from reports filed by committees that do not meet the established threshold and choose not to file electronically. As an alternative to manual input, the FEC is reviewing other alternatives, such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, and will further investigate the possibility of instituting this type of technology in FY 2001.

Y2K

The Commission is confident that all FEC processes will be Y2K compliant. This means that in the year 2000 and beyond, both the public and FEC staff will be able to access and use the FEC's database of campaign finance information.

Past IT Initiatives

The Commission has been working on electronic filing and a series of other IT enhancements since 1995. These initiatives have clearly benefited the American taxpayer by significantly improving the FECís disclosure services while holding to a minimum the need for additional staff to provide these services.

Response to Growing Demand for Information

Enhanced computer technology has enabled the FEC to respond to a growing demand for informationóand to deliver the information fasterówithout adding staff for this purpose. Through the Commissionís automated fax system and the Internet, the public can instantaneously access FEC forms, publications and campaign finance data.

Larger Audience Using Data

Additionally, the new technology has broadened the audience for existing services. In the past, for example, a limited community of campaign finance specialists accessed the FECís database through the Direct Access Program (DAP), a fee-for-service program. The agency has now made it possible for these same expertsóand the public as a wholeóto access the data cost-free on the Internet. During FY 2001, the agency will continue its conversion from the DAP to the FEC website.

Point of Entry Completed

The Commission successfully completed its Point-of-Entry initiative in 1998. Under this program, all political committees (except Senate committees and the national partiesí Senate campaign committees) file their reports with the Commission (either on paper or electronically). The Commission then scans the documents to make images that are available for review on FEC computers and on the World Wide Web. Further, our electronically filed documents are imaged and retrievable from the Website, in the same format as if filed on paper, for calendar years 1993 through the present cycle.

Lower Costs

Finally, the agency successfully contracted for some of its IT initiatives at a lower cost than initially anticipated. The design of the electronic filing system came in under budget. Similarly, the cost of making images of reports available to the public through the FEC Website was nearly 37 percent lower than the amount Congress appropriated for the initiative.

Summary: Electronic Filing and IT Enhancements

the total request for IT enhancements and electronic filing in FY 2001 is $4,689,500. Tables 10A and 10B summarize the costs contained in the FY 2001 budget.

 

 

 

Program VI: Commission Policy and Administration (Management Program)

Tables 11A and 11B depict the costs and corresponding FTE for central policy guidance, management and staff support for all Commission operations that do not otherwise fit under the previously identified programs. The 4 FTE requested for FY 2001 are for this management program. Besides the offices of the six Commissioners and the Secretariat, this budget category includes all basic administrative overhead, such as rent, phones, postage, etc., and support functions, such as management, budget, accounting and personnel. Direct support costs for program-related items, such as travel, training, printing, etc., are allocated to specific Commission objectives and programs.

 

FY 2001 Performance Plan

FY 98-2003 Strategic Plan

IT Strategic Plan