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109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                    109-158
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

 
PROVIDING FOR THE PARTICIPATION OF EMPLOYEES IN THE JUDICIAL BRANCH IN 
    THE FEDERAL LEAVE TRANSFER PROGRAM FOR DISASTERS AND EMERGENCIES

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                   COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND

                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                                S. 1736

PROVIDING FOR THE PARTICIPATION OF EMPLOYEES IN THE JUDICIAL BRANCH IN 
    THE FEDERAL LEAVE TRANSFER PROGRAM FOR DISASTERS AND EMERGENCIES




                October 20, 2005.--Ordered to be printed


        COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                   SUSAN M. COLLINS, Maine, Chairman
TED STEVENS, Alaska                  JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN, Connecticut
GEORGE V. VOINOVICH, Ohio            CARL LEVIN, Michigan
NORM COLEMAN, Minnesota              DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii
TOM COBURN, Oklahoma                 THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware
LINCOLN D. CHAFEE, Rhode Island      MARK DAYTON, Minnesota
ROBERT F. BENNETT, Utah              FRANK LAUTENBERG, New Jersey
PETE V. DOMENICI, New Mexico         MARK PRYOR, Arkansas
JOHN W. WARNER, Virginia
           Michael D. Bopp, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
            Jennifer A. Hemingway, Professional Staff Member
      Joyce A. Rechtschaffen, Minority Staff Director and Counsel
                  Lawrence B. Novey, Minority Counsel
                      Trina D. Tyrer, Chief Clerk


109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                    109-158

======================================================================


PROVIDING FOR THE PARTICIPATION OF EMPLOYEES IN THE JUDICIAL BRANCH IN 
    THE FEDERAL LEAVE TRANSFER PROGRAM FOR DISASTERS AND EMERGENCIES

                                _______
                                

                October 20, 2005.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Ms. Collins, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1736]

    The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, to which was referred the bill (S. 1736) to provide 
for the participation of employees in the judicial branch in 
the Federal leave transfer program for disasters and 
emergencies, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon without amendments and recommends that the bill do 
pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
  I.  Purpose and Summary.............................................1
 II.  Background......................................................2
III.  Legislative History.............................................3
 IV.  Section-by-Section Analysis.....................................3
  V.  Estimated Cost of Legislation...................................4
 VI.  Evaluation of Regulatory Impact.................................5
VII.  Changes in Existing Law.........................................5

                         I. Purpose and Summary

    The purpose of S. 1736 is to provide for the participation 
of judicial branch employees in the emergency leave transfer 
program for major disasters and emergencies, including natural 
disasters and emergency situations such as those caused by 
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

                             II. Background


         ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EMERGENCY LEAVE TRANSFER PROGRAM

    In 1988, Congress authorized a five-year test of voluntary 
leave transfer and leave bank programs within federal 
agencies.\1\ The voluntary leave programs were designed to help 
employees faced with a medical or family emergency who had 
already exhausted all available leave. The leave transfer pilot 
program allowed employees to donate their leave directly to 
other federal employees and the leave bank pilot program 
allowed employees to donate their annual leave to a leave bank, 
for use by any member of the bank stricken by a medical 
emergency. The five-year demonstration projects were deemed 
successful and were subsequently made permanent in 1994.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ Public Law No. 100-566.
    \2\ Public Law No. 103-103.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 1991, Congress created a special leave bank under which 
federal employees could donate leave for use by their fellow 
employees who, as members of the Armed Forces reserves, had 
been called to active duty and would benefit from donated leave 
upon their return.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\ Public Law No.102-25.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 1997, legislation was enacted to create a permanent 
emergency leave transfer program for federal employees.\4\ 
Under this legislation, the new program applied generally to 
executive branch agencies and to the Government Accountability 
Office. The legislation built upon special procedures that were 
developed to assist federal employees in the wake of the 
bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma 
City, Oklahoma, on April 19, 1995. The special procedures that 
were developed as part of the emergency leave transfer program 
after the Oklahoma City bombing did not require employees to 
exhaust all available existing leave before receiving donations 
of annual leave for their fellow employees.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\ Public Law No. 105-18.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

         ADMINISTRATION OF THE EMERGENCY LEAVE TRANSFER PROGRAM

    In the event of major disasters or emergencies declared by 
the President that result in adverse effects for a substantial 
number of federal employees, the President may direct the 
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to establish an emergency 
leave transfer program. Once an emergency leave transfer 
program is in place, employees in executive branch agencies 
(and the Government Accountability Office) may voluntarily 
donate annual leave for transfer to employees of his or her 
agency. Leave may be donated to approved recipients who, as a 
result of the major disaster or emergency, have been adversely 
affected to such a degree that the employee's absence from work 
is required. In addition, an employee who has a family member 
who has been adversely affected by a disaster or emergency and 
who does not have reasonable access to other forms of 
assistance may receive donated leave under the emergency leave 
transfer program. An employee is not required to exhaust other 
available leave before receiving donated leave under the 
emergency leave transfer program. Employees may not receive 
more than 240 hours of donated annual leave at any one time 
from an emergency leave transfer program.
    When a federal agency notifies OPM that the amount of 
annual leave donated by its employees is not sufficient to meet 
the needs of its approved emergency leave recipients, OPM has 
the authority to coordinate an inter-agency transfer of annual 
leave from donating agencies to affected agencies. Since the 
creation of the program, inter-agency transfers have not been 
necessary as agencies have met their need for emergency leave 
transfers internally.

                        NEED FOR THE LEGISLATION

    On September 2, 2005, the President authorized OPM to 
establish an emergency leave transfer program for employees 
affected by Hurricane Katrina.\5\ The Judicial Conference of 
the United States subsequently requested legislative authority 
in order to provide the judicial branch with the same 
flexibility and authority available to the executive branch. 
The judicial branch has an existing voluntary leave bank 
program and has donated leave to the executive branch.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\ U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Memorandum for Heads of 
Executive Departments and Agencies: Emergency Leave Transfer for 
Federal Employees Affected by Hurricane Katrina, from Linda M. 
Springer, Director, Sept. 2, 2005.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Most judicial branch employees affected by Hurricane 
Katrina have been granted excused absences to cope with the 
immediate aftermath of the emergency. The weather-related 
administrative absences will be curtailed as the circuits and 
districts affected by Hurricane Katrina slowly resume 
operations. S. 1736 will ensure an emergency leave transfer 
program is in place to assist approved judicial branch leave 
recipients as their need for donated leave increases when the 
affected courts resume operations and many of the employees who 
evacuated in response to Hurricane Katrina remain unable to 
return to work.
    The Judicial Conference of the United States estimates 
several hundred judicial branch employees could potentially 
benefit immediately from the emergency leave transfer program. 
The Committee is hopeful that Congress will enact the requisite 
authority so that the Judicial Conference can work with OPM to 
implement the necessary procedures immediately before the 
judiciary's existing leave policies are no longer sufficient to 
meet the needs of the employees in the circuits and districts 
affected by Hurricane Katrina.

                        III. Legislative History

    S. 1736 was introduced on September 20, 2005, and was 
referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs. The legislation is sponsored by Senators Collins, 
Lieberman, Voinovich, Akaka, Landrieu, and Vitter. On September 
22, 2005, the Committee considered S. 1736 and ordered the bill 
favorably reported without amendment by voice vote. Members 
present were Senators Collins, Voinovich, Coleman, Chafee, 
Lieberman, Levin, Akaka, Lautenberg, and Pryor.

                    IV. Section-by-Section Analysis

    Section 1 amends section 6391 of title 5, United States 
Code, to require that the Office of Personnel Management 
provide for the participation of judicial branch employees in 
any emergency leave transfer program established after a 
Presidential declaration of a major disaster or emergency. The 
section requires the Office of Personnel Management to consult 
with the Administrative Office of the Courts in establishing 
procedures to facilitate participation of judicial branch 
employees.

                    V. Estimated Cost of Legislation


S. 1736--A bill to provide for the participation of employees in the 
        judicial branch in the federal leave program for disasters and 
        emergencies

    S. 1736 would provide for the participation of employees of 
the judicial branch in the federal emergency leave transfer 
program. CBO estimates that the legislation would have no 
significant budgetary impact. Enacting the bill would not 
affect direct spending or revenues. S. 1736 contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on 
state, local, or tribal governments.
    Under current law, judicial branch employees are allowed to 
donate annual leave through a leave bank to co-workers who have 
exhausted their annual and sick leave as a result of a personal 
or family medical emergency. Any unused donated annual leave is 
returned to the leave bank. Emergency leave transfer programs 
within the executive branch also allow employees to donate 
annual leave to be transferred to employees of their own agency 
or other agencies in the event of a major disaster or emergency 
declared by the President. However, unlike the leave bank 
program, any unused annual leave donated to the emergency leave 
transfer program is returned to the donor.
    S. 1736 would provide the judicial branch with the same 
emergency leave transfer authority as the executive branch. The 
cost of expanding this authority to the judicial branch would 
depend upon the number of times a major disaster or emergency 
occurs that results in a Presidential request for a special 
leave program and whether the leave donated would have been 
donated under current law.
    Since 1997, emergency leave transfer authority has been 
used for the executive branch three times. It was used after 
the African Embassy bombings in 1998, the terrorist attacks of 
September 11, 2001, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina 
in 2005. Most of the leave donations after the first two events 
were returned to their donors.
    According to the Administrative Office of the United States 
Courts, about 400 displaced judicial branch employees have been 
on paid administrative leave for an indeterminate amount of 
time since hurricane Katrina struck. CBO expects that any 
annual leave donations made under S. 1736 would largely be 
annual leave that would otherwise be donated for medical 
emergencies. Thus, we expect that enacting S. 1736 would not 
have a significant cost.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Matthew 
Pickford and Gregory Waring. This estimate was approved by 
Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget 
Analysis.

                  VI. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this bill. The 
Congressional Budget Office states that there are no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and no costs on state, local or 
tribal governments. The legislation contains no other 
regulatory impact.

                      VII. Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic and existing law, in which no 
change is proposed, is shown in roman):

                      TITLE 5, UNITED STATES CODE

                 GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION AND EMPLOYEES

                          PART III--EMPLOYEES


                    Subpart E--Attendance and Leave

                           CHAPTER 63--LEAVE


       Subchapter VI--Leave Transfer in Disasters and Emergencies


SEC. 6391. AUTHORITY FOR LEAVE TRANSFER PROGRAM IN DISASTERS AND 
                    EMERGENCIES.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


    (e) Except to the extent that the Office may prescribe by 
regulation, nothing in section 7351 shall apply to any 
solicitation, donation, or acceptance of leave under this 
section.
    (f) After consultation with the Administrative Office of 
the United States Courts, the Office of Personnel Management 
shall provide for the participation of employees in the 
judicial branch in any emergency leave transfer program under 
this section.
    [(f)] (g) The Office shall prescribe regulations necessary 
for the administration of this section.