Bushs 2006 OSHA Budget Eliminates Training Grants

At a time when the Bush administration is seeking to reduce non-defense discretionary spending by nearly 1 percent, OSHA's 2006 budget is to increase by $2.8 million almost 1 percent of its current $464.2 million spending authority. Details of OSHA's proposed budget were released at a Feb. 7 press briefing in Washington, D.C.

The agency's current staff of 2,208 full-time equivalents would be preserved as the administration calls for few major changes to OSHA programs, with the exception of the elimination of the agency's $10.2 million training grant program.

For years the Bush administration has been asking Congress to reduce funding of the training grant program, but each time the Senate has restored all the proposed cuts to the popular program. This is the first year the administration has sought to abolish training grants altogether.

At the press briefing a reporter asked Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jonathan Snare if he had any reason to believe the Republican-controlled Congress would break with tradition and honor the president's request this year to do away with OSHA training grants.

"It's difficult to predict what Congress will ultimately do," Snare replied. "We made our judgment based on what we thought was the best way to conduct this type training and reach that type of audience." In response to several other questions on this point, Snare maintained that OSHA has a variety of outreach and compliance assistance programs that offer training to employers and employees.

The $10 million saved by eliminating training grants made it possible for the administration to avoid cutting OSHA staff even though the agency's total budget increased by an amount insufficient to keep up with inflation.

The proposed budget calls for new spending in two areas: $1 million to expand compliance assistance programs of states operating their own OSHA programs and another $1 million to enhance OSHA's data collection and analysis capabilities.

In explaining why OSHA wants to spend more money on data collection, Snare said currently by the time the agency obtains injury, illness and fatality data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics the information is more than 1 year old. OSHA will use the money spent on data collection to shorten this "lag time."

Snare said the sooner OSHA obtains this information, the sooner it can judge how well OSHA's various enforcement, compliance assistance and cooperative programs are reducing injuries and deaths.

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