INTRODUCTION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RECEIVERSHIP ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 2000; Congressional Record Vol. 146, No. 29
(Extensions of Remarks - March 15, 2000)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E313-E314]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




 INTRODUCTION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RECEIVERSHIP ACCOUNTABILITY 
                              ACT OF 2000

                                 ______
                                 

                       HON. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

                      of the district of columbia

                    in the house of representatives

                       Wednesday, March 15, 2000

  Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the District of 
Columbia Receivership Accountability Act of 2000. This legislation 
became necessary because of information

[[Page E314]]

I have gathered that indicates that receiverships in the District of 
Columbia have been run largely unfettered by systematic supervision; 
guidelines for performance; monitoring to assure that promised actions 
are taken, and improvements achieved; cost and efficiency 
accountability; and other measures to assure that the agency is 
returned to the District promptly and in good condition.
  The only District of Columbia agency to go promptly through 
receivership and emerge in good condition has been the D.C. Housing 
Authority. Its receiver, David Gilmore, demonstrated rare management 
and human relations talent. A Superior Court decision appointing a 
receiver for special education services for the District's juvenile 
detention center has been overturned by the D.C. Court of Appeals. 
Information concerning the other agencies in receivership have raised 
such serious questions that D.C. Subcommittee Chairman Tom Davis and I 
have requested GAO reports on all of the outstanding receiverships: 
Child and Family Services, the Commission on Mental Health Services, 
and the Corrections Medical Receiver for the D.C. Jail. However, 
information that we now have has led Chairman Davis and I to conclude 
that immediate legislation to assure adequate supervision of the 
agencies involved cannot await the completion of the GAO reports on 
these three agencies. Additional legislation may be necessary after 
completion of the GAO reports, but the bill we propose today is clearly 
necessary now to assure the safety and well-being of D.C. residents and 
cost effective reform of the receivership agencies.
  Most of the outstanding receiverships appear to have similar 
problems, but the Child and Family Services receivership, appointed in 
1995 by the U.S. District Court, caused special concern by D.C. 
officials and congressional members after the death of the infant, 
Brianna Blackmond. Brianna who was returned to her mother, after a 
judgment found that she neglected Brianna and her seven siblings, with 
apparent signoff from the court, lawyers, the child's advocate, and the 
social workers involved. Since the baby's death, no fair assessment of 
what went wrong, or fact-finding hearing by a court, and no effective 
remedial action to correct the problem, or assurance that more deaths 
of children might not occur, has been forthcoming. Instead, there have 
been reports of chaos and further deterioration in the agency. Chairman 
Davis has set a hearing on the Child and Family Services Agency 
receivership for April 14, 2000.
  The Commission on Mental Health, charged with providing community-
based and institutional mental health care to indigent residents of the 
District, was placed in receivership in 1997. The receiver has resigned 
and not only have the services not improved, but the plaintiffs agreed 
in a negotiated settlement to terminate the receivership because the 
agency appears to be in worse condition than when it was placed in 
receivership. Consequently, the court and all of the parties have 
agreed to a transition plan, and an interim receiver has been appointed 
by the court to return control of the agency to the city by April 1, 
2001.
  Medical services in the D.C. Jail were placed in receivership by the 
U.S. District Court in 1995 for a period of five years. Recently, the 
receiver let a contract at a cost three times the national average 
without comparing program and cost estimates regionally or nationally, 
and over the objections of the Corrections Trustee appointed pursuant 
to the 1997 Revitalization Act. The contract was given to an entity 
consisting of employees of the present receiver who have never had a 
contract before and whose only contract and only revenue would come 
from this D.C.-financed contract. In response to concerns I expressed, 
the court-appointed monitor detailed services provided without 
indicating if other jurisdictions provide similar services and asserted 
that medical conditions in the District were worse than other 
jurisdictions. However, she made no mention of the nearest comparable 
jurisdiction, the Baltimore Jail medical services, which also are 
operated by a private contractor pursuant to District Court 
supervision. The court monitor cited diseases at the D.C. Jail, which 
undoubtedly are found in big city jail populations throughout the 
country, and did not indicate why the District should have the same 
elevated costs and staffing levels now with presumably revitalized 
systems as it had under emergency conditions in the first years of 
receivership. The court monitor did not indicate why comparative costs 
assessments were never undertaken or what standards should guide a cost 
effective system and what completion of the receivership and return of 
control to the District should entail. No comprehensive outside 
professional audit was undertaken before the receiver approved large, 
ongoing costs for jail medical services.
  Thus, three out of four of the existing receiverships present such 
substantial problems that Chairman Tom Davis and I have agreed that 
action to ensure higher standards and cost accountability cannot wait. 
The District of Columbia Receivership Accountability Act places 
affirmative duties on all receivers who are appointed by either Federal 
or D.C. courts to administer any department, agency, or office of the 
government of the District of the District of Columbia. These duties 
are:
  First, best practices: The bill places an affirmative duty on each 
receiver to conduct all operations consistent with the best practices 
and financial stability and management efficiency of the District of 
Columbia.
  Second, annual audit by the District's Inspector General: Each 
receiver must submit to an annual financial and program audit conducted 
by the Inspector General of the District of Columbia.
  Third, controlling costs: Each receiver must ensure that costs are 
consistent with applicable regional and national standards (including 
personnel costs), except that this requirement may be waived during any 
initial two-year emergency period of the receivership.
  Fourth, consultation with city officials on the budget: In preparing 
the annual budget for the entity in receivership, the receiver must 
consult with the Mayor and Chief Financial Officer of the District of 
Columbia. After this consultation, the receiver must prepare and submit 
her budget to the Mayor for inclusion in the city's annual budget. The 
Council may comment and make recommendations on the receiver's budget 
estimates.
  Fifth, procurement practices: When entering into contracts, each 
receiver must fully comply with the procurement procedures of the 
District of Columbia and work through the District's procurement 
officials.
  The bill applies to all receivers appointed beginning with 1995. 
Existing receivers must comply with the requirements of this bill 
beginning with fiscal year 2001. I urge my colleagues to support this 
important measure.

                          ____________________