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Public Statements

Hearing Of The Subcommittee On Financial Services Of The House Committee On Appropriations - SCOTUS FY2011 Budget


Location: Washington, DC

Chairman Serrano and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for your kind welcome. Justice Breyer and I are pleased to
appear before you, on behalf of the Supreme Court, to address the Court's
budgetary requirements and requests for the fiscal year 2011. We share your
appreciation that this hearing is one of the few occasions in which Members
of the Court meet with Members of Congress, and we are grateful for the
opportunity and consideration shown to us.

Several members of the Court's staff are also present here today,
including William Suter, Clerk of the Court; Pamela Talkin, Marshal of the
Court; Jeffrey Minear, Counselor to the Chief Justice; Kathy Arberg, our
Public Information Officer, and Venita Acker, our Acting Budget Manager.

Mr. Chairman, when we have appeared before this Subcommittee, you
and the Ranking Member have spoken generously of the important role that
the Supreme Court plays in our constitutional structure. We likewise
recognize the important role of Congress, including its responsibility to
make appropriations for the operation of the government. We also recognize
the important role of this Subcommittee in that process, and we would like
to express our thanks for your support in addressing the Court's needs in
fiscal year 2010.

The Supreme Court's budgetary needs are tiny compared to the whole
federal government. We nevertheless take very seriously our responsibility
to review carefully our needs and seek no more funding than necessary. We
are well aware that, in these difficult times, we must be especially vigilant in
maintaining budgetary discipline.

As is customary, the Supreme Court's budget request is set out in two
parts: first, "Salaries and Expenses of the Court"; and second, "Care of the
Building and Grounds." Justice Breyer and I will address the salaries and
expenses portion, while the Acting Architect of the Capitol, Stephen Ayers,
will present a statement to the Subcommittee concerning the budget request
for the Care of the Building and Grounds.

Before we turn to salaries and expenses, I would like to make some
brief observations on one subject pertaining to the Building and Grounds;
that is, our ongoing modernization of the Supreme Court building. We
expect that this project, which commenced in earnest in 2003, will be
completed this summer, with construction close-out activities extending
through the end of the year and into early 2011. Although the project
encountered delays in its early stages, and the scheduled completion is
behind the 2008 target date, the project remains within its original budget.
Throughout the project, Court personnel have met regularly with the staff of
the Architect of the Capitol and the construction contractors in order to
ensure that the project stays on budget and that no further slippage in the
schedule occurs.

The primary focus of my testimony today, however, is the Court's
appropriation request for salaries and expenses. The Court requests an
appropriation of $77,758,000 for fiscal year 2011. That sum reflects an
increase of $3,724,000, or 5%, over our appropriation for fiscal year 2010.
Most of the increase--more than 70%--represents base adjustments. Those
unavoidable adjustments include $2,665,000 for required increases in salary
and benefit costs, and $173,000 for inflationary increases in fixed costs of
the Court's necessary operations.

Last year, the Court sought a new appropriation, in addition to base
adjustments, of $799,000 to enable the Court to manage its own Website and
integrate it with the Court's other operations. We are grateful for the
Subcommittee's support of that request, which included $496,000 for five
new technology positions and $303,000 for required hardware and software.
Just six months into fiscal year 2010, we can already report concrete results.
On March 18, 2010, the Court commenced in-house hosting of its Website
and took over site management responsibilities from the Government
Printing Office. Our new, Court-managed Website has a variety of
innovative features that will appeal to the legal community and the general
public. In the first two weeks of operation, the Website received more than
25 million "hits" from users around the world. We have already received
positive response from our users and will continue to improve the Website in
the coming months.

This year, the Court's only program increase is directed to the Court's
security needs. Last year, when I appeared before the Subcommittee, you
asked whether the Court had adequate funding for security. At that time, I
alluded to the possibility of a need for additional security funding in fiscal
year 2011. The Court's security personnel have since studied the Court's
requirements and have determined that the police force should be increased
by 24 officers. But we are aware that Congress expects every agency of
government to do more with less. Therefore, we have limited our request to
twelve new officers, and will reevaluate our security needs once those new
officers are in place.

We request a modest additional appropriation of $886,000 to fund the
twelve new police officer positions. The Court would employ those new
officers primarily to supplement perimeter security for the Court building.
Those positions are necessary because the Court Modernization Project,
among other things, will result in new pedestrian entrances and the
reopening of one of the vehicle entrances that was closed during the
renovation. The Court needs to provide adequate security at those posts and
to enlarge the capacity of its Police Command Center, which coordinates
police activities throughout the building. While I do not wish to dwell on
security details in this public hearing, I do want to emphasize that those in
charge of Court security feel strongly that the Court needs the additional
manpower that we request today.

The Court's request for additional police officers comes only after a
careful evaluation of the Court's minimal needs. The Court has not
requested additional police positions since fiscal year 2006. Instead, the
Court has relied on existing strength to meet increased responsibilities. As I
pointed out earlier, our internal evaluation suggests that the request for
twelve new officer positions may in fact meet only half of the Court's
present needs. We will continue to monitor that matter and inform the
Subcommittee next year if we conclude that we still have essential but
unmet security requirements.

In closing, I would like to reiterate that we are aware of the severe
budgetary constraints facing the federal government, and we recognize that
the Committee must balance the needs of all the agencies under its
jurisdiction and make difficult decisions in applying available funds to the
most pressing needs. The budget request we submit, as in previous years,
represents only what we think is absolutely necessary to fulfill the Court's
mission. We appreciate your careful attention to our modest needs and will
be pleased to respond to your questions.

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