President Obama today signed into law Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton's (D-DC) District of Columbia Chief Financial Officer Vacancy Act, to clarify the authority of the Mayor of the District to fill a vacancy in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on an interim basis. The mayor has had authority to appoint, with council approval, the permanent CFO since the office was created. Under the bill, which Norton drafted in consultation with the District, if there is a vacancy in the Office of the CFO because the CFO has died, resigned or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office, the D.C. Treasurer becomes the acting CFO unless the mayor appoints a Deputy CFO to serve as the acting CFO. In either case, there may not be an acting CFO for more than 210 days. The CFO, an independent official created by Congress, oversees the financial operations of the District. The city may not obligate or expend funds without the CFO's approval.
"Considering the CFO's responsibility for financial matters, it was prudent to leave no uncertainty," said Norton. "I particularly appreciate the rapid response of Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who put the bill on an already scheduled markup and immediately afterwards, helped us get an early vote on the floor of the House."
The bill was necessary because Congress created uncertainty about the mayor's authority to appoint an interim CFO in the fiscal year 2001 District of Columbia Appropriations Act, which added a 30-day congressional review and comment period before the appointment of a CFO takes effect. In the event of a vacancy, before Norton's bill, this review and comment period could have left the District without a CFO for at least 30 days. This bill is only the eighth bill to be signed into law by the President this Congress.