Fiscal Impact Statements: A Guide for Council Staff
What is a fiscal impact statement?
A fiscal impact statement (FIS) analyzes the impact a bill or resolution has on the District government’s revenues and expenditures. It estimates the current year costs that would result from the enactment of the measure and the costs over the four-year financial plan and states whether funds are sufficient to implement the legislation.
What is the purpose of a FIS?
By law, the District’s budget must be balanced. Planned expenditures cannot exceed the certified revenue estimates provided by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The FIS requirement helps ensure that any legislative action taken after the annual budget process takes into consideration the budgeted resources. When a FIS states that “funds are not sufficient” this means that the cost of the measure cannot be supported by existing resources.
How is a FIS scored?
For expenditure issues, the analyst discusses the proposed activities with the agency, reviews experiences with similar programs, and researches the impact similar proposals have had in other jurisdictions.
What legislation requires a FIS?
All bills, emergency measures, amendments, revenue bonds, alley closings, and street designations require a FIS. For permanent legislation, per Council rules, a FIS from the CFO is required before the markup. For emergency legislation that conforms to a permanent measure, the FIS prepared for the permanent measure may be used. Similarly, congressional review emergencies do not require a new FIS, since these are merely gap-filling measures between the expiration of emergency legislation and the congressional approval of a temporary or permanent bill; attaching the FIS of the temporary or permanent bill that is pending congressional review is sufficient. For contract or reprogramming approval, attaching the Certification of Funding Availability supplied by the Agency Fiscal Officer satisfies the FIS requirement.
Emergency declaration resolutions, ceremonial resolutions, confirmation or appointment resolutions, sense of the Council resolutions, and resolutions that express simple determinations, decisions, or directions of the Council of a special or temporary character, are exempt from the FIS requirement.
What legislation is exempt from the FIS requirement?
When the Mayor submits permanent legislation to Council, a FIS provided by the CFO accompanies the transmittal. If a committee wants to move the bill forward with only technical and drafting style changes, the earlier FIS is likely acceptable. However, if any clarifying or substantive changes are made, a new FIS should be requested.
If the executive requests that a Councilmember move emergency legislation on the Mayor’s behalf, the executive is responsible for providing a FIS for that measure.
Can the FIS prepared for the introduced bill be used?
Depending on the type of measure, the FIS is prepared by either the CFO’s Office of Revenue Analysis (ORA) or the Council’s Office of the Budget Director. ORA prepares the FIS for a permanent measure. (Note that in the event of a sequential referral, a FIS is only required at markup by the last committee in the referral.) While either the CFO or the Budget Director may prepare the FIS for an amendment, emergency measure, or a temporary bill, typically the Budget Director handles these requests.
Who prepares a FIS?
Ideally, during the committee print drafting process the committee will communicate regularly with the ORA fiscal analyst assigned to that committee. Such discussions can help identify what implementation costs may exist for different choices. For permanent legislation, Council rules require that a FIS from the CFO must be circulated prior to markup. To accommodate this timing, the request for a FIS must be sent to ORA no later than 10 business days before the committee intends to markup the legislation. Please send your request to Deborah Freis, ORA’s Director of Fiscal and Legislative Analysis, at Deborah.Freis@dc.gov.
A request for a FIS on an emergency or temporary measure, an amendment to legislation, a revenue bond, alley closing, or street designation should be sent to the Budget Director as soon as possible, preferably no later than 48 hours prior to the time of consideration, unless the request is for an amendment to a measure that was circulated less than 48 hours before a scheduled vote. Please email your request to your assigned budget office analyst or to Jennifer Budoff, Budget Director, at email@example.com.
When do I request a FIS?
Yes, permanent legislation may be passed with a provision commonly referred to as a “subject to appropriations” clause. This means that the legislation will not be applicable until it receives certified funding through the budget process. All or part of a bill may be made subject to appropriations; any measure moving subject to appropriations should include an applicability provision to reflect this. Please work with the Council Budget Office and the Office of the General Counsel to ensure the applicability provision accurately represents the FIS and is properly drafted. Please note that legislation passed subject to appropriations that remains unfunded for two fiscal years shall be subject to repeal in the Budget Support Act on the third fiscal year following its enactment.
As a procedural matter, emergency acts that would be subject to appropriations have been ruled out of order if they are not likely to be funded during the 90-day effective period.
Can legislation be passed without funding to implement it?
Office of the Budget Director Fiscal Impact Statements (Coming Soon)
Where can I find copies of a FIS?