Congress finished work on its fiscal year 2000 budget months behind schedule this year, and final details are still not worked out, but at least for OSHA it appears to have been worth the wait. In a year when there were almost no increases in federal discretionary spending, the agency received a $27.6 million increase to bring its 2000 funding up to $382 million, an increase of almost 8 percent.
Despite the rhetoric coming from the Republican controlled Congress, OSHA must have some friends on Capitol Hill, as it fared far better than the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) of which it is a part. The DOL's budget was increased a little more than 2 percent and federal discretionary spending as a whole increased even less, according to the House Appropriations Committee.
Federal enforcement remains the biggest item in OSHA's budget, at $141 million, up five percent from last year. Compliance assistance won the largest dollar increase from 1999 spending levels, rising more than $10 million to $97.3 million.
The largest percentage increase (51 percent) was in safety and health statistics. The money here is intended to speed the transmission of data into and out of OSHA's Washington, D.C. office, according to an agency spokesperson. The spokesperson said the money will be used for Internet support and the upgrading of computers receiving information from area offices and consultation programs.
Attached to Congress's 2000 appropriations bill is a provision requiring a .38 percent cut in every federal department, but it is not yet clear how -- or whether -- this will affect OSHA.