Code of the District of Columbia

§ 34–804. People’s Counsel — Appointment, compensation, qualifications; personnel; duties.

(a) There is hereby established within the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, established by § 34-801, an office to be known as the “Office of the People’s Counsel.” The Office shall be a party, as of right, in any investigation, valuation, revaluation, or proceeding of any nature by the Public Service Commission of or concerning any public utility operating in the District of Columbia.

(b) There shall be at the head of such Office the People’s Counsel who shall be appointed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia, by and with the advice and consent of the Council of the District of Columbia, and who shall serve for a term of 4 years. The People’s Counsel shall be entitled to receive compensation at the maximum rate for Level II of the Senior Executive Attorney Service, pursuant to §§ 1-608.53 and 1-608.58. No person shall be appointed to the position of People’s Counsel unless that person is admitted to practice before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Before entering upon the duties of such office, the People’s Counsel shall take and subscribe the same oaths as that required by the commissioners of the Commission, including an oath or affirmation before the Clerk of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia that he is not pecuniarily interested, voluntarily or involuntarily, directly or indirectly, in any public utility in the District of Columbia. The People’s Counsel shall be a District resident throughout his or her term and failure to maintain District residency shall result in a forfeiture of the position.

(c) The People’s Counsel is authorized to employ or to retain and fix the compensation of employees or independent contractors, including attorneys, necessary to perform the functions vested in the People’s Counsel by this section, § 34-2202.05a, and § 34-912 and prescribe their authority and duties.

(c-1)(1)(A) Notwithstanding the provisions of Unit A of Chapter 14 of Title 2, the People's Counsel shall use a ranking system based on a scale of 100 points for all employment decisions for positions within the Office of the People's Counsel.

(B) An individual who is a District resident at the time of application shall be awarded a 10-point hiring preference over a nonresident applicant; provided, that the individual claims the preference. This 10-point preference shall be in addition to any points awarded on the 100-point scale.

(C) At the time of appointment, an individual who claimed the 10-point residency preference shall agree, in writing, to maintain District residency for a period of 7 consecutive years from the effective date of appointment into the position for which the individual claimed the residency preference.

(D) An individual who claimed the residency preference and who fails to maintain District residency for 7 consecutive years from the individual's effective date of appointment shall forfeit the individual's District government employment.

(E) Each applicant for a position covered by this paragraph shall be informed in writing of the provisions of this paragraph at the time of application.

(2) The People's Counsel shall verify and enforce District residency requirements pursuant to § 1-515.04.

(3) By November 1 of each year and pursuant to § 1-515.06, the People's Counsel shall submit to the Mayor an annual report detailing, for the previous fiscal year, compliance with residency requirements.

(d) The People’s Counsel:

(1) Shall represent and appeal for the people of the District of Columbia at hearings of the Commission and in judicial proceedings in the District of Columbia courts when these proceedings and hearings involve the interests of users of the products of or services furnished by public utilities under the jurisdiction of the Commission;

(2) May represent and appeal for the people of the District of Columbia at proceedings before related federal regulatory agencies and commissions and federal courts when those proceedings involve the interests of users of the products of or services furnished by public utilities under the jurisdiction of the Commission;

(3) May represent and appear for petitioners appearing before the Commission for the purpose of complaining in matters of rates or services;

(4) May investigate independently, or within the context of formal proceedings before the Commission, the services given by, the rates charged by, and the valuation of the properties of the public utilities under the jurisdiction of the Commission;

(5) May develop means to otherwise assure that the interests of the users of the products of or services furnished by public utilities under the jurisdiction of the Commission are adequately represented in the course of proceedings before the Commission, federal or District of Columbia courts, or federal regulatory agencies and commissions involving those interests, including public information dissemination, consultative services, and technical assistance; and

(6) May perform the functions authorized by § 34-2202.05a.

(e) In defining its positions while advocating on matters pertaining to the operation of public utility or energy companies, the Office shall consider the public safety, the economy of the District of Columbia, the conservation of natural resources, and the preservation of environmental quality, including effects on global climate change and the District's public climate commitments.


(Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1975, Pub. L. 93-614, § 1; Mar. 3, 1979, D.C. Law 2-139, § 3205(gg), 25 DCR 5740; Mar. 14, 1985, D.C. Law 5-153, § 2, 31 DCR 6440; Oct. 20, 2005, D.C. Law 16-33, § 3017, 52 DCR 7503; Feb. 6, 2008, D.C. Law 17-108, § 212(a), 54 DCR 10993; Aug. 15, 2008, D.C. Law 17-210, § 2, 55 DCR 6982; Oct. 22, 2008, D.C. Law 17-250, § 402, 55 DCR 9225; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 212, 56 DCR 1117; May 3, 2014, D.C. Law 20-101, § 3, 61 DCR 1880; Mar. 22, 2019, D.C. Law 22-257, § 102, 66 DCR 1344; Apr. 11, 2019, D.C. Law 22-299, § 3, 66 DCR 2020; May 23, 2019, D.C. Law 22-315, § 12, 66 DCR 1983.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 43-406.

1973 Ed., § 43-205.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 1-604.06, § 1-636.02, § 34-805, § 34-1118, and § 34-2001.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-33 substituted “The People’s Counsel shall be entitled to receive compensation at the midpoint rate for Level III of the Senior Executive Attorney Service, pursuant to §§ 1-608.53 and 1-608.58.” for “The People’s Counsel shall be entitled to receive compensation at the maximum rate as may be established from time to time for GS-16 of the General Schedule under § 5332 of Title 5 of the United States Code or equivalent compensation pursuant to subchapter XI of Chapter 6 of Title 1.”.

D.C. Law 17-108, in subsec. (b), inserted “The People’s Counsel shall be a District resident throughout his or her term and failure to maintain District residency shall result in a forfeiture of the position.”; and added subsec. (c-1).

D.C. Law 17-210, in subsec. (b), substituted “Level II” for “Level III” and substituted “at the maximum rate” for “at the midpoint rate”.

D.C. Law 17-353 made a technical change in the enacting clause of D.C. Law 16-33, § 3017, which resulted in no change in text.

D.C. Law 17-250 added subsec. (e).

The 2014 amendment by D.C. Law 20-101 substituted “4 years” for “3 years”’ in (b).

Cross References

Investigations of public utilities, assessing expenses, see § 34-912.

Merit system, implementation task force, effective date provisions, see § 1-636.02.

Merit system, organization for personnel management, Public Service Commission and People’s Counsel employees, see § 1-604.06.

Office of the People’s Counsel, insurance rates, regulation, see § 31-2703.

Telecommunications competition, “People’s Counsel” defined, see § 34-2001.

Utility service, valuation and accounts, reports to Commission, notice to People’s Counsel, disclosure, see § 34-1118.

Applicability

Applicability of D.C. Law 22-299: § 7174 of D.C. Law 23-16 repealed § 4 of D.C. Law 22-299.

Applicability of D.C. Law 22-299: § 4 of D.C. Law 22-299 provided that the change made to this section by § 3 of D.C. Law 22-299 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) repeal of applicability provision of D.C. Law 22-299, see § 7174 of Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-112, Sept. 4, 2019, 66 DCR 11964).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of applicability provision of D.C. Law 22-299, see § 7174 of Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-91, July 22, 2019, 66 DCR 8497).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3017 of Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-168, July 26, 2005, 52 DCR 7667).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Office of the People’s Council Term Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-526, December 4, 2006, 53 DCR 9822).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 402 of Clean and Affordable Energy Emergency Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-508, September 25, 2008, 55 DCR 10856).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of People’s Counsel Holdover Extension Emergency Amendment Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-241, December 17, 2009, 56 DCR 9376).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of People’s Counsel Holdover Extension Emergency Amendment Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-345, March 23, 2010, 57 DCR 2858).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of (D.C. Law 16-248, March 8, 2007, law notification 54 DCR 3033).

References in Text

The “Utility Regulatory Assessment Clarification Act of 1984,” referred to in subsection (c) of this section, is D.C. Law 5-153.

Editor's Notes

This section was originally enacted Mar. 4, 1913, 37 Stat. 993, ch. 150, § 8. A new paragraph 91A was added establishing the People’s Counsel Dec. 15, 1926, 44 Stat. 921, ch. 8, § 3; the Office of People’s Counsel established by 44 Stat. 921 was abolished 1952 Reorg. Plan No. 5, § 2(b), 66 Stat. 824. A new Office of the People’s Counsel was established Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1975, Pub. L. 93-614, § 1.

Section 4 of D.C. Law 20-101 provided that §§ 2(a), 2(b) and 3 of the act shall apply to nominations made on or after May 3, 2014.