U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service   251 FW 1, Congressional Appropriations Hearings


FWM#:         335 (New)
Date:             December 4, 1998
Series:           Budget
Part 251:       Budget Justification
Originating Office:  Division of Budget   



1.1 Purpose. This chapter provides instructions for the preparation of materials required for the annual congressional appropriations hearings.

1.2 Policy. The policy of the Service is to actively support its headquarters, Regional Offices, and field stations in operating effectively and efficiently and in working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

1.3 Authorities.

A. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-11, Preparation and Submission of Budget Estimates.

B. The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921.

1.4 Responsibilities.

A. Director. The Director:

(1) Serves as the principal Service witness at congressional appropriations hearings.

(2) Ensures that all requests for information from committee members are satisfied within the prescribed deadlines.

B. Budget Officer. The Budget Officer (through the Assistant Director - Planning and Budget):

(1) Develops instructions for Service managers to follow when preparing issue papers, responses to committee questions, capability statements, effect statements, and other required information.

(2) Ensures that congressional hearing transcripts are grammatically correct and accurate.

(3) Serves as a supporting witness at the hearings.

C. Assistant Directors. The Assistant Directors:

(1) Provide responses to committee questions and other required information and, as required, coordinate the responses with Regional Directors.

(2) Prepare issue papers, coordinating preparation with Regional Directors, as required.

(3) Prepare capability and effect statements, coordinating preparation with Regional Directors.

(4) Serve as supporting witnesses at the hearings.

D. Regional Directors. The Regional Directors:

(1) Provide responses to committee questions and other required information from the Division of Budget and Assistant Directors.

(2) Prepare issue papers.

(3) Prepare capability and effect statements.

1.5 Submission of Congressional Budget Justifications. Shortly after the submission of the President's Budget in early February, the House and Senate Budget Committees begin hearings to examine the President's economic assumptions and spending priorities. Authorizing committees may hold oversight hearings to review the budget in preparing their reports to the budget committees of their views and estimates of new budget authority to be enacted for the new fiscal year. Also in February, the Service's Budget Justifications are forwarded to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations related to Interior Affairs.

1.6 Congressional Appropriations Hearings. Government funding bills start in the House of Representatives. Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution says, "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills." The Service budget is included in the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. Both House and Senate Committees on Appropriations have 13 subcommittees, each responsible for at least one regular appropriations bill on the budget on one or more agencies. The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations conduct a full inquiry into the President's Budget Request. This is accomplished through a series of hearings in which Department of the Interior and other Service officials present testimony to the Congress on the President's Budget. Generally, these hearings usually start in March and may continue through April or May.

1.7 Preparation for Appropriations Hearings. The Director and other Service officials who testify at the appropriations hearings must be prepared to quickly respond to questions asked by the House and committee members. The Division of Budget prepares briefing books for Service officials to ensure that the officials are adequately prepared for the hearings. These books consist mainly of issue papers and include other information including the Director's opening statement, witness list, budget summary tables, and crosscut issues.

A. Issue Papers. Issue papers are "one-page summaries" of key issues that are of current or continuing interest to House and Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee members. Issue papers generally focus on topics related to the budget and use "bullet points" to convey major facts in a succinct manner. About 5 weeks prior to the hearings, the Division of Budget will issue a request to the Assistant Directors and Regional Directors to submit issue papers on selected subject areas. The Division of Budget prepares the required briefing books. The format and instructions for submitting issue papers is shown in Exhibit 1. An example of a clear, concise issue paper is given in Exhibit 2.

1.8 Post Hearing Requirements

A. Hearing Transcripts and Inserts.

(1) After the hearings, the Division of Budget will review the hearing transcripts to correct any grammatical errors before the hearing records are printed. The Division of Budget will also review the transcript to ensure that the recorder has correctly transcribed all statements.

(2) Although witnesses are expected to provide on-the-spot answers to all substantive questions, they may not have immediate answers to requests for very detailed or technical information. In these instances, the chairman may allow this information to be provided "for the record." The Division of Budget will assign the requests for additional information, referred to as inserts, to the Assistant Directors or Regional Directors. The Division of Budget will be responsible for preparing the inserts in final form. Exhibit 3 is an example of an insert from a previous hearing.

B. Questions and Answers. Before the hearings end, the chairman may ask that certain questions be answered in writing and submitted for the hearing record. These may be questions that were not asked in the hearings for lack of time or questions requested by members not present at the hearings. The Division of Budget may prepare responses to some questions; the remaining questions will be assigned to the Assistant Directors or Regional Directors for preparation of the response. The answers should be clear, concise, and accurate. Answers will be fully responsive to the questions asked, and will not contain information that was not requested. Often, the responses to the questions require a quick response time. The Division of Budget will be responsible for the final submission of the responses. Exhibit 4 shows an example of a question and answer from a previous hearing.

C. Capability Statements. Members of Congress and special interest group representatives may give oral or written testimony to appropriations committees concerning a proposed adjustment to the Service budget. The adjustments usually involve increases in the proposed Service budget. The capability statement is a document that describes the capacity to do the additional work if additional funds are added. The House and Senate staffs use the statements to assess the merit and impact of the proposed adjustment to the Service's budget request. Capability statements, including the various formats for different accounts and examples of completed statements, are discussed in greater detail in the capability statement manual chapter. The Division of Budget will coordinate the preparation of capability statements with the Assistant Directors and Regional Directors.

D. Effect Statements. After the hearings, the House Interior Subcommittee meets to "mark up" the Service's budget request to reflect its own funding or other directional recommendations. The Subcommittee submits an appropriations bill accompanied by a detailed report to the House Appropriations Committee. The Committee then submits the bill to the House floor for a vote. After the House passes the appropriations bill, the Service responds to the House bill and report by submitting "effect statements" that explain the consequences of budget increases and decreases, and language that mandates certain actions. The Senate Interior Appropriation Subcommittee typically uses the House bill as the basis for its appropriation bill and report language that are brought forward to the Senate Appropriations Committee and later to the Senate floor for a vote. The Service responds by submitting "effect statements" for all conference items. These are items that are not identical in the House and Senate versions of the appropriations bills and reports and must be resolved by the Conference Committee. The Division of Budget will coordinate the preparation of all effect statements with the Assistant Directors and Regional Directors. Effect statements, including the format and examples of completed statements, are discussed in greater detail in 251 FW 3.

1.9 Congressional Deliberation and Action Flowsheet Exhibit. Exhibit 5 shows the major steps of the congressional deliberation process-from preparation of the Budget Justifications to signature of the final appropriation bill by the President. The exhibit also shows the responsibilities of the Service in the process.



For additional information regarding this Web page, contact Krista Bibb, in the Division of Policy and Directives Management, at Krista_Bibb@fws.gov.  For information on the content of this chapter, contact the Division of Budget. 


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