[update] “Shutdown Deal” Funds OSC at White House Proposed Levels, Removes Increase to Address Backlog

Update: the final legislation indicates that the deleted provision for $1.7 million and the specific amount for $20.6M are apparently the same thing. Section 129 was the deleted provision, meaning that OSC’s budget did not increase to $20.6M as a result of the shutdown deal. The Washington Times has named Nebraska senator Mike Johanns as the one responsible for removing the increase.

Early drafts of the bill floated around online, including special projects that senators ended up striking.

One of those would have approved building an additional Coast Guard cutter, at a cost of nearly $600 million.

Another section that would have specifically spent $20.6 million on the Office of Special Counsel was dropped later in the process. That office protects federal employees from whistleblower retaliation, political pressure and other prohibited practices.

A Senate aide said the provision was dropped at the insistence of Sen. Mike Johanns, Nebraska Republican. Mr. Johanns’ office didn’t respond to messages left seeking comment Thursday evening.

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The now-enacted[proposed] legislation that will reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling includes the following provision:

SEC. 129. Notwithstanding section 101, amounts are provided for the “Office of Special Counsel” at a rate for operations of $20,639,000.

However, a review of the GOP website summary (.pdf here) of the legislation includes the following:

Sec. 129 – Provision deletedProvides an increase in the rate of operations of $1.7 million for the Office of Special Counsel because of a backlog in whistleblower cases.

It appears to be the only deletion noted on the webpage. A comparable summary on the Democratic side could not be found at the time of publication.

The final figure, $20.639M, matches the number proposed by the White House in April 2013 for OSC’s 2014 budget:

White House 2014 Budget Proposes $20.6M for OSC, $42.4M for MSPB

This is a modest increase over last year’s proposal for OSC ($18.7M), which accounts for an estimated $2M required to implement the new Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. Experts have said that such an increase is “conservative.” Insufficient funding for OSC has been a problem for decades.

The requested amount for MSPB seems to be flat-lining, if not slightly lower than in FY 2013.

Last year’s proposals can be found here.

Source: White House Budget for 2014.

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