CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, April 15, 2013, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1246, the District of Columbia CFO Vacancy Act, as amended, under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on March 19, 2013 by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and referred to the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, which held a mark-up and reported the bill by voice vote.
In the event of a vacancy in the office of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the District of Columbia, H.R. 1246 authorizes two options to fill the vacancy on an interim basis. According to the bill, the District of Columbia Treasurer may serve as the CFO in an acting capacity, or the Mayor may direct one of the five Deputy CFOs to do so. In either circumstance, neither may serve as acting CFO for a period longer than 210 days, beginning on the date the vacancy occurs.
The position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the District of Columbia was statutorily created in the late 1990s in response to years of mismanagement of the city’s finances. The CFO is responsible for crafting, along with the Mayor, annual budgets for the city and for the city’s day-to-day financial operations. According to the 2005 District of Columbia Omnibus Authorization Act (P.L. 109-356), the CFO is appointed by the Mayor, approved by the D.C. Council, and then submitted to the House and Senate for a 30-day period of comment and review. Though appointed by the Mayor, the CFO is independent from the city’s elected officials, and the office has been instrumental in returning fiscal health to the District.
On February 1, 2013, Dr. Natwar Gandhi, announced that he would resign as CFO effective June 1, 2013, leaving an office he has held since 2000. Due to ambiguity in the law, there have been questions about whether or not the Mayor has the authority to appoint an interim CFO to ensure the duties of the office are carried out. H.R. 1246 is designed to remove this ambiguity by establishing a clear process for assigning the authority of the office of the CFO on an interim basis in the event of a vacancy.
CBO estimates that H.R. 1246 would “have no effect on the federal budget.”