For Immediate Release:Contact: Ron Harris March 9, 1999 Sharon Snyder Ian Stirton Kelly Huff
FEC PRESENTS FY2000 BUDGET REQUEST TO HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS
WASHINGTON Federal Election Commission Vice Chairman Darryl R. Wold told a House Appropriations subcommittee today that the Commission is seeking a $38,516,000 budget for Fiscal Year 2000, a "modest increase (4.5 percent) over our current FY99 budget of $36,850,000."
Vice Chairman Wold, who also serves as Chairman of the FECs Finance Committee, testified before the Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government of the House Committee on Appropriations. He said that the requested increase in budget is due largely to inflation in the FECs cost of operations.
The Vice Chairman added, "I also am pleased to present this budget request in light of the recently-completed [January 29] study of the FEC by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), undertaken at the behest of the House and Senate Appropriations and House Oversight Committees. That study engaged in a detailed and comprehensive examination of how fairly and effectively the FEC carries out its statutory functions .We believe the PwC report has provided an invaluable service in identifying those areas in need of improvement, and in suggesting changes that should be considered."
The PwC audit report concluded, among other findings, that the FEC operates in a fair and ethical manner; routinely meets disclosure deadlines in providing detailed campaign finance information to the public; emphasizes voluntary compliance with the law; and achieves a high level of satisfaction among users of its services.
Some improvements the report recommended can be sought internally at the FEC, Vice Chairman Wold said, but others require Congressional action. He noted that in the FEC annual review of legislative recommendations, the Commission endorsed three recommendations for legislative action, two of which were identified in the PwC report. These are priority recommendations, he explained, unanimously agreed upon by the six FEC commissioners.
These priority recommendations are that: (1) Congress give the FEC authority to require electronic filing of campaign reports; (2) Congress revise the law to require authorized candidate committees to report on a campaign-to-date basis, rather than a calendar year cycle; and (3) Congress consider revising the provision that limits individual contributions to $25,000 per year so that contributions count against the individuals limit in the year in which they are made, not the year in which the recipients election is held.
Other points in the FEC Vice Chairmans testimony included:
-- "Campaign finance activity has nearly doubled in the last 12 years. Total disbursements for a non-Presidential election cycle have increased from $1.1 billion in 1986 to $2 billion for the 1998 Congressional cycle -- an 82 percent increase. The increase from the 1988 Presidential cycle to the 1996 cycle was from $1.6 billion to $2.7 billion, or 69 percent. We [FEC] have handled these rising workloads with increased productivity."
-- "With Congress support, the FEC has made the greatest technical strides in our disclosure program. We rapidly and successfully inaugurated an Internet service to enable anyone with access to the World Wide Web to view digital images of most campaign finance reports. We also developed software that enables committees to file electronically -- either by diskette, dial-up modem or over the Internet We are actively pursuing creative ways to encourage more filers to file electronically."
-- In the compliance area, the FEC is seeking an additional nine FTE (employees). Vice Chairman Wold pointed out that additional FEC staff approved by Congress for FY1999 " already have allowed us to move from an average active caseload of 93 in FY1998 to an average active caseload of 106 in FY1999, a 13.9 percent increase." On February 1, 1999, the FEC had 208 cases on its enforcement docket, dealing with 3,203 respondents. As of that date, 51 percent of the total caseload was actively assigned to enforcement staff. Total staff (including supervisory and support) assigned to the compliance function in FY1999 is projected at 109.
-- Concerning the Commissions responsibility for administering the Presidential Public Funding Program, the Vice Chairman testified, "Absent Congressional action, the public funding program faces shortfalls because of declining participation in the check-off program and the failure to index contributions to inflation, while the pay-outs are indexed. This shortfall will impact primary candidates. In fact, we project the fund will provide for only 40 percent, or less, of the eligible funds that candidates competing for their partys nomination will be entitled to receive in January of 2000."