This week. Happy Memorial Day recess—both chambers are out this week, giving us (and hopefully you, too) a chance to take a break, or at least slow down.
Approps. We were expecting Senate Leg branch approps hearing with the USCP, GAO, and Library of Congress last week, but it was postponed. Stay tuned.
• Approps timeline. Here is our list of deadlines to submit appropriations requests and testimony. According to Bloomberg government ($): in the House expect June markups teeing up July floor votes; in the Senate expect markups in July and early August. The Senate timeline will depend heavily on whether senior Appropriators reach an agreement on the top line spending numbers for defense (wartime) and non-defense (peacetime) spending. Summer recess is currently scheduled to start July 29 (House) and August 5 (Senate).
• More appropriations. It’s possible there will be more supplemental appropriations bills, and of course there’s the upcoming markup of the (authorizing) National Defense Authorization Act, which means the calendar could go sideways.
• Earmarks? Appropriations bills could contain significantly more earmark requests than last year’s, and more people are requesting earmarks, according to Roll Call, although the total amount is kept as a constant percentage of federal discretionary spending.
Unionization timeline clarified. OCWR published a statement that regulations allowing House staff to unionize will go into effect on July 18, 2022 (not July 15, as we wrote last week). The regulations were published on May 16, 2022. The OCWR has the authority to shorten that time period for “good cause,” an authority it thus far has declined to exercise.
Next week. We’re planning on taking a week off from the newsletter, unless of course something big happens. Send us your tips!
Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for May 31, 2022: Capture the Flag”
Congress regularly requests reports on strengthening Congress but there’s no central place to keep track of what they’ve requested.
To help keep track of things, we built a public spreadsheet that maintains a catalog of projects, broken down by item due, entity responsible, and due date.
The catalog covers reforms and requests ordered by the House and Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittees, the Committee on House Rules, and the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. At the moment, the catalog includes major resolutions and measures: H. Res. 8, the House Rules for the 117th Congress, Legislative Branch Appropriations FY 2021, and H.Res. 756 from the 116th Congress.
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We continue to update this list each month for what’s due and what’s outstanding. Here are the February, March, and April, May, June, and July editions.
Continue reading “What Items Are Due to Congress: August 2021”
Complaints about U.S. Capitol Police operations, including accounts of racist misconduct within the department and managerial abuses of power, have recently been elevated in the wake of the January 6th attack on Congress. Hard information is hard to come by as it is nearly impossible to get any official data on employee misconduct from the department. There is, however, one small exception: the USCP Annual Statistical Summary Report on Office of Professional Responsibility Investigations.
The Annual Statistical Summary Report provides top line numbers on complaints made against US Capitol Police employees. The report indicates how many misconduct investigations occurred in a given year and how many total charges or allegations of misconduct were filed. Its data is broken out by the status of the individual filing the complaint: citizen, outside law enforcement, internal, or anonymous. Starting in 2019, USCP began including figures of how many individual charges/allegations of misconduct were sustained in Office of Professional Responsibility investigations.
Today we are publishing the newly obtained 2020 Annual Statistical Summary Report. (It is generous to call this a report: it is a one-page fact sheet.) We previously published reports dating back to 2009, which is when the first report of this type was published online. We asked for data from prior years, but our request was denied.
Continue reading “New Capitol Police Misconduct Complaint Report Obscures More Than it Reveals”
The U.S. Capitol Police is notoriously opaque; among the limited information they will provide to the public are summary statistics on employee misconduct, published in their Annual Statistical Summary Report. This report provides a high level summary of the number of complaints made against USCP employees.
We requested a copy of the 2019 data in June, and it arrived in August, which is par for the course with USCP. Here is what the statistics show:
- There were 228 complaints filed against USCP employees in 2019, of which nearly 140 charges were sustained.
- More than 80% of complaints were filed by department employees; by comparison 14% were citizen submissions, and 3% were filed by outside law enforcement.
Continue reading “Capitol Police Release 2019 Complaints Data With Significant Omissions That Reduce Clarity”
- There have been zero anonymous complaints filed in 2019, and the same was true in 2018. This suggests a problem with the way the anonymous complaints process works.
Not all twitter bots are bad.
We consolidated nearly 20 sources that announce Capitol Hill jobs into one twitter feed – https://twitter.com/opengovjobs. Here’s a list of what it covers:
Continue reading “New Tool: Capitol Hill Twitter Jobs Bot”
Congress is working on the federal government’s spending plan for Fiscal Year 2021. How will spending levels compare to the past? Here are the top line numbers for the last fifteen years. Here’s the upshot:
Continue reading “Changes In Discretionary Spending: 20+ Years of Data”
It can be hard to ascertain the specifics of U.S. Capitol Police activity; to make it easier we created a map reflecting almost a year and a half of arrest incidents reported by the department.
Check out the map embedded below (or online here) to see where Capitol Police officers were most active between January 1, 2019 and June 1, 2020.
by Jason Briefel and Maggi Molina
A president will appoint more than 4,000 individuals to serve in an administration, yet “there is no single source of data on political appointees serving in the executive branch that is publicly available, comprehensive, and timely,” according to the Government Accountability Office in a March 2019 report.
Instead, these positions are compiled and published exactly once every four years in a congressional document known as the Plum Book (officially the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions). This book is published only in December after a presidential election (before the president even gets sworn in) and includes important data for each position, including title, salary and location.
Continue reading “The PLUM Act: Transparency for Political Appointees”
Last year the House released a valuable report on staff pay, benefits, and diversity. We took a look at the data to answer the question, are better pay and benefits really correlated with staff staying on board? The short answer is yes.
We’ll be releasing a series of short articles focusing on different variables and their impact on staff longevity. This article, the first in that series, focuses on the impact of cost of living adjustments (COLAs) on staff retention.
Continue reading “Pay Study Data: Relationship of Cost of Living Adjustments & Staff Longevity”
Following up on our extensive review of US Capitol Police, we compiled the USCP’s Statement of Disbursements (the ones we could find). USCP is legally required to submit these statements to Congress, but they are not available online. Here’s our letter to USCP asking for the last five years of statements:
Continue reading “Capitol Police: Statement of Disbursements”