Coming Up: Public Hearings on D.C. Agencies
By January 27, 2016 0 950•
The role of the D.C. Council involves both crafting legislation and providing oversight to the various agencies in the District government. During January, February and March, that oversight comes front and center, as each of the Council’s committees undertakes a comprehensive and rigorous review of agency performance.
This performance oversight process includes the compilation of questions regarding issues that have arisen over the past year. The committees send these questions to the agencies in advance of public hearings, at which Council members listen to responses from agency leaders and further engage them about their respective agency’s accomplishments, shortcomings and plans for improvement.
As chair of the Committee on Finance and Revenue, I take the lead in overseeing and questioning nine agencies, including the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
My committee will hold two performance oversight hearings. On Feb. 18, leaders from WMATA, EventsDC, DestinationDC, the Office of Partnerships and Grant Services and the Commission on the Arts and Humanities will appear before the committee. Then, on March 2, the CFO, the DC Lottery, the Real Property Tax Appeals Commission and the Inspector General will testify.
These oversight hearings are an opportunity for Council members to dig deep into how your tax dollars can be better spent. They are also an ideal time for members of the public to speak about their positive and negative experiences with agencies throughout the year. Every year I hear at least one comment or suggestion from a public witness during these hearings that influences legislation or further oversight.
The full list of hearings and agencies, and information on how to sign up to testify, is available at dccouncil.us. Members of the public can arrange to testify about the Metropolitan Police Department (Feb. 23), DC Public Schools (Feb. 24), the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (Feb. 29), the Department of Transportation (Feb. 29) and other agencies by contacting the relevant committees and asking to be put on the witness list.
After the performance oversight hearings conclude, the mayor will submit her budget request to the Council around April 1. The Council will then undertake a second round of hearings to delve into agencies’ budget requests and plans for the upcoming fiscal year. These initial oversight hearings are critical to crafting and right-sizing the District’s budget. I encourage all residents to watch the hearings, review the answers from agencies and, if so inclined, sign up to testify.
Jack Evans is the District Council member for Ward 2, representing Georgetown and other neighborhoods since 1991.