Before the U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations, Ralph Regula, Chairman
April 24, 2001
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:
It is my pleasure to appear before you on behalf of the Special Institutions for Persons with Disabilities, which include the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), and Gallaudet University.
These special institutions provide specialized programs and services to students with disabilities. The Department helps ensure that each institution provides services and programs in compliance with the requirements of its respective authorizing legislation and that these activities meet the needs of the students for whom they are intended.
I am pleased to present the Department's testimony on behalf of the President's fiscal year 2002 budget for these institutions. I would like to take a few minutes to summarize the budget request and to comment on several key issues. Then representatives of each of the Institutions will provide specific testimony in support of the budget request for their respective programs.
The total budget request for the Special Institutions is $154 million. This includes a request of $12 million for the American Printing House for the Blind; $52.57 million for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf; and $89.4 million for Gallaudet University. The Department is pleased to be able to provide support for these important programs and for the children and adults with disabilities who will benefit from their services.
Operations and Initiatives
The Administration's request of $12 million for the American Printing House for the Blind would maintain this program at the fiscal year 2001 appropriation level. This request provides $8.8 million for educational materials; $1.7 million for advisory services; and $1.5 million for educational and technical research. Over the past four years, funding for the Printing House has increased by $5.32 million or just under 80 percent. Advisory Services and Educational and Technical Research utilize approximately 28 percent of the APH appropriation and approximately 30 percent of the funds available for special projects in these areas becomes available for new projects each year. Our request for fiscal year 2002 would retain these funds for use in expanding ongoing projects and to fund a variety of new initiatives. For example, at the request level, APH would use $250,000 in freed-up funds for an initiative to develop a Test and Assessment Collaboration Team (INTACT). This initiative would increase the Printing House's ability to respond to requests from States for APH to provide standardized tests in alternative formats, including braille, large print, recorded, and electronic media. The number of requests to put State and national standardized tests into accessible formats has greatly increased in recent years. The Department agrees that this is a high priority for the American Printing House.
Our request of $52.57 million for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf maintains the fiscal year 2001 level for NTID operations at $48 million. The fiscal year 2001 appropriation included $2.5 million more for operations, or 5.5 percent, than the fiscal year 2000 level. These funds are retained in our fiscal year 2002 request. Within this level, the Institute would have the flexibility to allocate funds to its highest priorities. The request also includes $4.6 million for the final year of the NTID dormitory construction project.
For Gallaudet University, our requested level of $89.4 million is the same as the fiscal year 2001 appropriation. This request provides funding for University level programs, the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD), and the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES). The fiscal year 2001 appropriation included $5.92 million more for Gallaudet operations, or 7.1 percent, than the fiscal year 2000 level. These funds are retained in our fiscal year 2002 request and include $2.5 million that the previous Administration requested in 2001 as a permanent addition to Gallaudet's base for deferred maintenance activities. The University would have the flexibility to establish priorities for the use of appropriated funds.
As in previous years, the Administration's request would provide NTID and Gallaudet the flexibility to use current-year program funds for their endowment grant programs. Each Institution would have the discretion to determine whether and how much of the appropriation to use for matching purposes. Our request, however, continues to include $586,000 for NTID and $1 million for Gallaudet University, amounts that were incorporated into each of the Institution's operations budgets from prior years for endowment purposes. In fiscal year 2000, NTID matched $590,000 from private fund raising, and the University matched $2 million, twice the amount usually used for this purpose. The Administration believes that the endowment grant program helps promote the financial independence of the Institutions and provides a permanent and increasing source of funds for special projects.
The Administration is requesting $4.57 million for fiscal year 2002 for the final phase of a major project to renovate the NTID dormitories. As a result of a number of expansions and construction cost overruns, the total cost of the dormitory project has risen from $12.4 million to $14.972 million. Over the last several years, Congress has provided a total of $9.595 million toward the cost of this project. In this final phase of the project, we believe that it is reasonable to ask NTID to bear some responsibility for raising funds to cover a minimal portion of the total cost of this project, including the projected expansions and overruns associated with the project. Therefore, our request requires NTID to match a minimal $806,000. This represents less than 5.4 percent of the total cost of the project. NTID has proven its ability to fund raise, and we believe that it is capable of raising less than $1 million toward a $14.972 million project.
The Department has worked closely with the Special Institutions to monitor and update their Annual Program Performance Plans and Reports to comply with the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA). The integrated performance plans and reports that have been submitted to Congress for the Institutions include the key performance measures the Department believes are appropriate for inclusion in the GPRA plans. In addition, there are more extensive plans that we refer to as "master plans" for each institution. These plans contain other measures not included in the annual performance plans submitted to Congress that will be used by the institutions to oversee internal operations, and by the Department for monitoring purposes.
We are pleased with the efforts the institutions have made in working with the Department to develop, track and report on these measures, which we believe are vitally important to the missions of their respective programs.
In fiscal year 2002, the Department plans to continue to work closely with the Special Institutions for Persons with Disabilities to ensure that Federal funds are being used efficiently and effectively to expand educational opportunities for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and individuals who are blind.
My colleagues and I will be happy to respond to any questions you may have.