The conference report on the Omnibus Appropriations bill was agreed to in the House on 12/10/2009: On agreeing to the conference report Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: 221 – 202, 1 Present (Roll no. 949).
Today at 2pm ET, the Senate has scheduled a final vote on the $447 billion FY 2010 omnibus spending bill. [Updated 10:48 pm: Via Senatus: Senators have passed the 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.R. 3288) by a vote of 57 to 35. This was actually a vote on a conference report worked about in House/Senate negotiations. The bill, passed by the House 221-202, was not amended by the Senate which means it will now go to President Obama for his signature].
Below is the link to the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 3288 – Consolidated Appropriations Act 2010 (Division F – Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2010 | Legislative Text | Joint Explanatory Statement). The rest of the conference report broken up by relevant agency is posted by the House Rules Committee here.
Quick takes from the conference report on State Department appropriations:
The conference agreement includes $8,227,000,000 for Diplomatic and Consular Programs (D&CP), which is $2,300,000 below the House and the same as the Senate. Within the total, $6,640,786,000 is for ongoing operations, including public diplomacy activities, and $1,586,214,000 is for Worldwide Security Protection.
Enhancing Diplomatic Capacity and Readiness
Human Resources Initiative (HRI) .-The conference agreement does not include a provision specifying an amount for the HRI, as proposed by the Senate. Instead, the amount for the HRI is included in the table above.
The conference agreement includes $344,190,000 and a projected 745 positions to enhance the diplomatic capacity and readiness of the Department of State. Within the total, $118,279,000, and 565 new positions, is for phase II of the HRI, as proposed by the House and Senate. These additional funds provided in fiscal year 2010 will continue the expansion of the Department’s training capacity, increase representation on interagency and Defense staffs, and augment the overseas diplomatic presence at strategic posts worldwide. The balance, $225,911,000 and a projected 180 positions, is to meet workload demands and resource requirements at posts in Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, the Near East, South Central Asia, and the Western Hemisphere, as well as to begin to address the vacancy rate in domestic Foreign and Civil Service positions. The conferees agree that the Secretary of State should give priority to overseas assignments in allocating these positions.
Locally Employed Staff(LES).-The conference agreement does not include a provision regarding LES, as proposed by the Senate. However, the conferees recognize and appreciate the invaluable contributions of LES to overseas operations and programs, and note that they often serve without adequate salary increases and/or at less-than-prevailing wages and compensation packages..
The conferees recommend $695,000,000 for salary and compensation (including awards and special benefits) for LES, and endorse the directive in the Senate bill regarding the review/database, guidelines, and the definition of LES in section 7069(b), (c), and (d), respectively, except that the Department of State shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the appropriate length of periodic reviews of salary and compensation guidelines.
Personnel Strategy .-The conference agreement requires the Secretary of State to submit to the Committees on Appropriations a strategy for projected personnel requirements for the Department of State over the next three fiscal years, similar to that proposed by the Senate. This strategy should describe the resources required for hiring, training, and deploying new personnel to domestic and overseas positions, including resources necessary for office and housing facilities. Concurrent with the submission of this strategy, the Secretary of State is directed to submit a report describing the hiring, training, and deploying of new staff since fiscal year 2008, including resources expended for such purposes to date, and to update this report on a semiannual basis.
Worldwide Security Protection
The conference agreement provides $1,586,214,000 for Worldwide Security Protection, which is $8,787,000 above the House and $8,786,000 below the Senate. The conferees note that $13,375,000 requested for fiscal year 2010 was included in the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009 (Public Law 111-32), bringing the total available for Worldwide Security Protection in fiscal year 2010 to $1,599,589,000. Within the amount provided, $221,926,000, and a projected 200 security positions, are to strengthen the Department’s capacity to respond to the growing security challenges at posts around the world, including the requested positions for the second year of the Visa and Passport Security Plan.
Embassy Security Constructions and Maintenance
The conference agreement provides $1,724,150,000 for Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance, which is the same as the House and Senate, of which $847,300,000 is for priority worldwide security upgrades, acquisition, and construction and $876,850,000 is for other operations, maintenance and construction.
Buying Power Maintenance Account
The conference agreement provides $8,500,000 for the Buying Power Maintenance Account to manage exchange rate losses in the cost of Department of State operations overseas, which is $1,000,000 above the House and $1,500,000 below the Senate.
The following provisions are new, modified from the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (Public Law 111-8), or further clarified in this joint statement.
Sec. 7004. Embassy Construction.
The provision is modified by including subsection (c), which requires the Department of State to consult with the Committees on Appropriations prior to the obligation of funds to acquire property for diplomatic facilities in Kabul, Afghanistan, similar to that proposed by the Senate.
Sec. 7006. Local Guard Contracts.
The conference agreement includes a new provision which allows the Secretary of State flexibility to award local guard contracts on the basis of either lowest price that is technically acceptable or the best value cost-technical tradeoff (as defined in the Federal Acquisition Regulation part 15.101) when awarding such contracts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.
Current law requires that all local guard contracts must be awarded on the basis of the lowest price that is technically acceptable, and if other factors had been considered, the problems reported earlier this year involving the local guard contract in Kabul, Afghanistan may have been prevented. The conferees understand that providing the Secretary with authority to make awards through the best value approach can enhance the guard force’s effectiveness and justify the additional cost, particularly in countries with dangerous or hostile environments.
Sec. 7008. Coups d’Etat.
The conference agreement changes the heading from “Military Coups” to “Coups d’Etat”. While there is no substantive change to the provision, the conferees are concerned that the previous title implied an unintended limitation of the provision’s application, and direct the Department of State’s Office of the Legal Advisor to undertake a review of events necessary to trigger the provisions of this section and submit a report on such events to the Committees on Appropriations not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act.
UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Funds Appropriated to the President
Operating Expenses (Including transfer of funds)
The conference agreement provides $1,388,800,000 for Operating Expenses, which is the same as the House and Senate.
The conference agreement provides funding to support the hiring of an estimated 300 additional USAID Foreign Service Officers under the Development Leadership Initiative (DLI). The conference agreement includes a provision requiring the USAID Administrator to submit a strategy for projected personnel requirements over the next three fiscal years, similar to that proposed by the Senate. This strategy should describe the resources required for hiring, training, and deploying new personnel to domestic and overseas positions, including resources necessary for office and housing facilities. Concurrent with the submission of this strategy, the USAID Administrator is directed to submit a report describing the hiring, training, and deploying of new staff since the DLI began in fiscal year 2008, including resources expended for such purposes to date. This report should be updated on a semi-annual basis. The conferees intend that one of the outcomes of the personnel expansion at USAID will be increased oversight of programs and activities.
The conferees are aware of concerns with civilian capacity necessary to effectively administer programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan and have provided funds in this Act and prior Acts to support a civilian ·surge. The conferees direct the USAID Administrator to provide a report the Committees on Appropriations on a semi-annual basis that describes the USAID workforce in both countries, including geographical distribution, skill sets, and training, as well as the physical space and capacity to absorb additional personnel.
The conferees believe that USAID’s increased reliance on sole source contract awards, indefinite quantity contracts, and large umbrella awards undermines competitive processes, inhibits the participation of small organizations with niche expertise, limits creative and innovative approaches to programming, and is neither cost effective nor consistent with sustainable development. The conferees endorse the notification requirements in the House Report and the reporting requirement in the Senate Report, and require the USAID Administrator to consult with the Committees on Appropriations on steps that will be taken to reduce reliance on these mechanisms in the future and increase support for building capacity of local organizations and institutions, including the training that will be provided to new personnel hired under the DLI.
The conferees endorse the small minority-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises reporting requirement, as proposed in the House Report.
The conference agreement provides up to $1,000,000 for special compensation for LES in section 7059(n), as proposed by the Senate, and requires the USAID Administrator to consult with the Committees on Appropriations on proposed guidelines for special compensation of these employees.
Updated: 12/17: The omnibus spending bill was signed by President Obama into law yesterday, December 16, 2009.