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Mr. STEED. Even if you were doing the work that a staff member could and should do and did not do, the end result would be to the Member's benefit because having a good job done for him is what he is after.
Mr. JAYSON. And it releases the staff to do other work for the Member.
Mr. STEED. The thing I have in mind is someone who occupies an important staff
' position and will take your material and put his name on it so he appears to be rendering a quality and quantity of servica which he is not performing. In this case, I suppose the chairman of the committee would be the person to become concerned about it, but I would hate to see this kind of thing going on because it could have some serious repercussions if it went too far. I do not know what system could be devised to minimize this.
Mr. Jayson. We have devised one very small way of safeguarding ourselves against our preparation of a report which a staff man may take and remove the cover page that carries the LRS identification, and submit it as his own. If you look at the pagination of our reports you will note that it states "LRS page 1” and so on. This at least prevents a man from taking the front page off of the report and substituting his own front page. He would have to retype the report to ofier it as his own. It is a small way of making practices of this kind more difficult, but as yet it is not a serious problem so far as we know.
Mr. STEED. Of course the reason committees have staffs is to enable response to the requests made, and I do not think the person you pass the information on to cares who got it in that shape. But somebody trying to palm himself off as a top research specialist, or where his personal talent is a key factor, if he is using this device to project: himself as being capable of doing more than he can do, this should not be permitted.
Mr. Jayson. Let me give you an illustration that occurred 2 weeko ago. May I go off the record ? Mr. STEED. Yes. (Discussion off the record.)
IMPROVEMENT OF THE BILL DIGEST
Mr. STEED. This speedup that you have mentioned in the analysis of bills-what do you call it, the Bill Digest? Would you like to make some reference as to how you have improved that situation and shortened the time lag? I have heard a lot of favorable comment on it.
Mr. Jayson. Yes. As you know, for some 30 years the Legislative Reference Service has been preparing the Digest of Public General Bills. We have a staff which very briefly summarizes the bills introduced and these digests are published in a publication that appears approximately every 2 weeks in pamphlet form. As you know, the number of bills introduced in any one session is growing.
Over 20,000 were introduced in the first session of the 90th Congress. Our staff briefly summarizes those bills, places them in this Bill Digest by number. The Digest indicates the number of the bill, the sponsor of the bill, the committee to which it was referred, and then
gives a brief summary of its salient features. Sometimes it is a paragraph, sometimes a sentence or sometimes a whole column, depending on its complexity. This publication is supplemented every 2 weeks, and on an average of five or six times a year the supplements are tossed away in favor of a consolidated issue, and so on. What I hold in my hand is the final issue of the Bill Digest for the first session of the 90th Congress. It is the size of a telephone book. This not only contains a summary of almost all bills introduced but also an index and an action section showing what happened to them. If a bill was reported by a committee, that is noted; if it was passed by one Ilonse. that is noted; and if it is enacted into public law, that is noted; and
During the past 2 years we have attempted to make it more useful to the Members. We have expanded the action section to include in that section not only the bill number but a summary of the bill and a digest of amendments and a legislative history of the bill, and the like, so that cross references to other parts of the digest are unnecessary. We have expanded the overall content by including for identification purposes all private bills. In the past, if you found H.R. 466 summarized and the next number summarized was H.R. 469, you wondered what was in between. They were private bills and we now include them.
We have enlarged the index very substantially. Also, we include in the index the popular names of bills. We have added an index of the sponsors of the bills, and we have changed the front cover to indicate the date on which the last bill summarized was introduced. We have added a bleed index in the front for easy reference.
Very recently, in the past 2 weeks, we have tried something else on a trial basis which I want to call to the attention of this committee. We hope that the committee will not consider this to be a “publication" within the prohibition whch generally appears in our appropriation act against our publishing anything other than the bill digest.
NEW LEGISLATIVE STATUS REPORT
In early April we distributed what we call a Legislative Status Report, together with a letter to the membership indicating we were doing this on a trial basis and seeking their views as to its usefulness The Legislative Status Report, which I have given you, is an informal checklist showing the status of major legislation broken down by category. It covers about 200 bills under a variety of headings such as Agriculture, Commerce, Consumer Affairs, District of Columbia, and so on. On the blue pages we have a “box score” that tells you at a glance what the status of the major bills may be.
The content which follows the blue "box score” is a very thumbnail indication of the bill for identification purposes, plus the legislative history to date. We prepared this Report on a trial basis in respon to at least three dozen requests from the membership for a report of this kind. I think it had its beginning in the fact that Mr. Sullivan office, the Coordinator of Information, was discontinued. He used to issue a very brief status report on certain bills. We were asked whether we were going to produce something like it. We looked at what he had put out and we felt that this Legislative Status Report of ours wouhl be more suitable, more useful to the Members.
We have had a surprisingly large number of responses from Members in answer to our letter that appears on the face of this trial report, almost unanimously suggesting that we go forward with it, that it would be useful to them if this
could be updated and distributed regularly, an in many instances there were other suggestions as to content.
Now, what I am asking of this committee, Mr. Chairman, is that if we do go forward with this, that it not be construed as a “publication" within the meaning of the prohibition that I mentioned. It is, of course, prepared in multilith form. It is another useful tool for the Members. Mr. STEED. The reason I made reference to this is
administrative assistant told me that he had found this so useful that his need for the other material had been greatly diminished and that the advantage of this was that it was more timely and therefore something that he got more good out of because it was available when he needed it.
Mr. Jayson. The distinction between the Legislative Status Report and the Bill Digest is that the Digest of Public General Bills is encyclopedic; it covers every bill that is pending, whereas this little Legislative Status Report only covers what we believe to be the major bills, the one on which the Members and their staffs get most inquiries, such as, what is the status of this particular bill?
Additionally, this one, the Legislative Status Report, lists the bills by category.
Now, most of the letters of response from the Members asked us to get it out rather frequently. We hope to put this on automation equipment just as the Bill Digest is already in automation. What we plan to do is to put the content of the Status Report on tape so that as a bill is amended or as somehing happens to the bill we will not have to retype the thing. We will simply run the tape through the machines, that we can rent for this purpose, make insertions into the text which is already on the tape, and in this way we can update the report with a minimum of work and a minimum of typing time.
We think that if we do that, it can be done at a very modest expense and we will probably be able to get the report out monthly. I should mention at the same time that when we go forward with our full automation program, the Bill Digest conceivably could be put out on a very frequent interval basis, perhaps weekly or even on a daily basis. This is something for the future. I can explain further if you want.
COMPUTERIZING VARIOUS CONGRESSIONAL FUNCTIONS
Mr. STEED. There has been some conversation about computerizing the appropriation bills to make accessible at least to the committees and to any other Members who are interested, a more rapid and accurate insight into the budget itself, and the various ways in which it breaks down, the various actions taken on it, so that at any given time we could have access to what it is in total, what it is in part, and what the effects of action already taken is in relationship not only to the individual bills but to the total. I would think that once this has been attempted that it would have to reduce itself to something like what your program here is.
Mr. Jayson. May I make two points? Specifically with regard to appropriation bills and oversight of appropriations, expenditures and the like, the Reorganization Act that we spoke about a little while ago has provisions which would impose some duty of that kind on the Comptroller General. His office would have an ADP setup, as I understand it, which would put into the machines materials or data such as you were talking about.
The other point I would like to make is that from the point of view of LRS and of any user for research purposes, one of the most useful things we could have would be to have an automated data bank or access to other data banks. By that I mean it is well known that many executive agencies have extremely useful materials—information, data, statistics—in computers within their own agencies, none of which is classified or even subject to a claim of executive privilege. For example, information concerning the census, unemployment, employment, educational programs, et cetera.
If the Congress itself had its own data bank, that is, had the tapes which are available to the various executive agencies or other research institutions which have put their information on tapes, if we had that material available to us, we could dip into it when needed and provide the information very quickly.
Many people have spoken about the usefulness of something like that.
Mr. STEED. One of the things that I have become impressed with in the hearings, we are constantly asking questions: “All right, here is the increase, what did you do last year? What was it the year before! What was left over?” We have quite a large sum in the pipeline and the Congress does not have a very handy way of knowing where its segments stand.
This is information that would be very useful now when we are in this agony of trying to make these very substantial budget cuts in the new obligational authority, the expenditures, and the recision of old appropriations. Presently, the only way this information can be attained is through the old-fashioned, cumbersome way.
I think that this whole area is something that we are going to have to find some way to get into because just by sheer magnitude ard volume, we are not going to be able to go on interminably being old fashioned because our work will overwhelm us.
Mr. Jayson. Let me give you a little illustration of one small seament of its usefulness.
For a period of 6 weeks and on a pilot basis, we entered on a tape the titles, authors, and brief annotations of all LRS reports. I am not talking merely about these multilith reports, which represent only a small percentage of our total work, but all LRS reports. Then we took a printout from the computer as to what we had. What I am hand ing you here is this printout. It is divided into two parts covering a period of 6 weeks. The first part lists the LRS authors; the second part arranges the reports by subject matter. This is a very small sam pling of our work. There you see listed all LRS reports for that 6week period. We could pull out anything we have done on, for irstance, foreign affairs, agriculture, or any breakdown that we may have.
This is important not only from our immediate research point of view but from the point of view of a Member who wants to be kept currently aware of any information available to us in his own particular field. A man who is a specialist on the Commerce Committee may be interested in fisheries, for example, and may want to know the latest information about that subject or its related subjects. He could, through our printouts, instantaneously obtain information about any material that we have put into our tapes not only about LRS reports but also about pertinent articles from newspapers and magazines which our staff clips regularly, about Government publications, publications of other organizations, and so forth. Our people who do the clipping and filing also prepare a little notation of what each item is so that our own researchers will be alerted and kept current as to the latest events and writings in their fields. This, translated to a Member as user of our tapes, would give him the same currency, awareness of latest writings in his field of interest, and would do it very quickly
I might also add, just to close the subject, that the technology is here, I am told, wherein we could have a terminal in a committee office or in each of the House and Senate buildings, or even in a Member's own office, which would be connected to our computer so that it could be queried in a very simple way, such as by putting the inquiry through a typewriter.
Mr. STEED. Thank you.
Total personnel compensation. 2.0 Personnel benefits.. 1.0 Travel and transportation of persons 2.0 Transportation things. 3.0 Rent, communications, and utilities 4.0 Printing and reproduction 5. 1 Other services. 6.0 Supplies and materials. 2.0 Contingency fund.. 9.0
43 1, 267
99 2, 355
2 30 200
3 104 2,774
2 56 200
otal number of permanent positions.
5.3 $6, 146