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COMMISSION ON ORGANIZATION OF THE EXECUTIVE
BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT
THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 1947
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10:35 o'clock a. m., in room 357, Senate Office Building, Senator George D. Aiken (chairman), presiding.
Present: Senators Aiken (chairman), Ferguson, Hickenlooper, Bricker, Thye, McCarthy, Ives, Hoey, Robertson of Virginia, and O'Conor.
The CHAIRMAN. The hearing this morning is on S. 164, introduced by Senator Lodge of Massachusetts. As the Senator has asked to be heard on this bill, the committee agreed to hold the hearing at this time.
I think we will put the bill in the record of the hearing. (Senate bill, S. 164, is as follows:)
(S. 164, 80th Cong., 1st sess.) A BILL For the establishment of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Gove
ernment ne it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
DECLARATION OF POLICY
SECTION 1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress to promote economy, efficiency, and
service in the transaction of the public business in the departments, bureaus, agencies, boards, commissions, offices, independent establishments, and instrumentalities of the executive branch of the Government by
(1) limiting expenditures to the lowest amount consistent with the efficient performance of essential services, activities, and functions;
(2) eliminating duplication and overlapping of services, activities, and functions;
(3) consolidating services, activities, and functions of a similar nature;
(4) abolishing services, activities, and functions not necessary to the efficient conduct of government; and
(5) defining and limiting executive functions, services, and activities.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE COMMISSION ON ORGANIZATION OF THE EXECUTIVE
SEC. 2. For the purpose of carrying out the policy set forth in section 1 of this Act, there is hereby established a bipartisan commission to be known as the Commission on Organization of the Èxecutive Branch of the Government in this Act referred to as the “Commission”).
MEMBERSHIP OF THE COMMISSION
Sec. 3. (a) NUMBER AND APPOINTMENT.—The Commission shall be composed of twelve members as follows:
(1) Four appointed by the President of the United States, two from the executive branch of the Government and two from private life;
(2) Four appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate, two from the Senate and two from private life; and
(3) Four appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, two from the House of Representatives and two from private life.
(b) POLITICAL AFFILIATION.–Of each class of two members mentioned in subsection (a), not more than one member shall be from each of the two major political parties.
(c) VACANCIES.—Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.
ORGANIZATION OF THE COMMISSION
SEC. 4. The Commission shall elect a Chairman and a Vice Chairman from among its members.
SEC. 5. Seven members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum.
COMPENSATION OF MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION
SEC. 6. (a) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS.-Members of Congress who are members of the Commission shall serve without compensation in addition to that received for their services as Members of Congress; but they shall be reimbursed for travel, subsistence, and other necessary expenses incurred by them in the performance of the duties vested in the Commission.
(b) MEMBERS FROM THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH.—The members of the Commission who are in the executive branch of the Government shall each receive the compensation which he would receive if he were not a member of the Commission, plus such additional compensation, if any (notwithstanding section 6 of the Act of May 10, 1916, as amended; 39 Stat. 582; 5 U. S. C. 58), as is necessary to make his aggregate salary $12,500; and they shall be reimbursed for travel, subsistence, and other necessary expenses incurred by them in the performance of the duties vested in the Commission.
(c) MEMBERS FROM PRIVATE LIFE. - The members from private life shall each receive $50 per diem when engaged in the performance of duties vested in the Commission, plus reimbursement for travel, subsistence, and other necessary expenses incurred by them in the performance of such duties.
STAFF OF THE COMMISSION
Sec. 7. The Commission shall have power to appoint and fix the compensation of such personnel as it deems advisable, in accordance with the provisions of the civil-service laws and the Classification Act of 1923, as amended.
EXPENSES OF THE COMMISSION
Sec. 8. There is hereby authorized to be appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, so much as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.
EXPIRATION OF THE COMMISSION
Sec. 9. Ninety days after the submission to the Congress of the report provided for in section 10 (b), the Commission shall cease to exist.
DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION
Sec. 10. (a) INVESTIGATION.—The Commission shall study and investigate the present organization and methods of operation of all departments, bureaus, agencies, boards, commissions, offices, independent establishemts, and instrumentalities of the executive branch of the Government, to determine what changes therein are necessary in their opinion to accomplish the purposes set forth in section 1 of this Act.
(b) REPORT.-Within ten days after the Eighty-first Congress is convened and organized, the Commission shall make a report of its findings and recommendations to the Congress.
POWERS OF THE COMMISSION
Sec. 11. (a) HBARINGS AND SESSIONS.—The Commission, or any member thereof, may, for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act, hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and places, and take such testimony, as the Commission or such member may deem advisable. Any member of the Commission may administer oaths or affirmations to witnesses appearing before the Commission or before such member.
(b) OBTAINING OFFICIAL DATA.--The Commission is authorized to secure directly from any executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics for the purpose of this Act; and each such department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, establishemt, or instrumentality is authorized and directed to furnish such information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics directly to the Commission, upon request made by the Chairman or Vicę Chairman,
The CHAIRMAN (continuing). Then, I have a short report from the Bureau of the Budget. It is so short that I think I might well read it:
FEBRUARY 28, 1947. MY DEAR SENATOR AIKEN: This is in reply to your letter of January 20 requesting an expression of views by the Bureau of the Budget with respect to S. 164, a bill for the establishment of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government.
I am authorized to advise you that, if the Congress should see fit to enact legislation of this character, the President would extend his full cooperation to the end that the objectives sought may be attained. However, if past experience with methods generally similar to those contemplated by the present bill is a valid gage of its probable results, a substantial degree of success cannot be expected to attend the efforts of the proposed Commission.
May I also express a view on the type of organization proposed, particularly as it pertains to a one-time effort and single report. The executive branch must accept change as a continuous process of meeting new conditions. For this reason the establishment of effective organization for the executive branch cannot be a one-time affair.
The history of efforts to improve the organization of the Government indicates that considerable progress has been achieved under procedures similar to those provided for in the Reorganization Act of 1945, whereby the Chief Executive prepares and presents specific reorganization plans for congressional review. A continuation of this type of authority should assist in the solution of organization problems which will confront the Government during the next few years.
While reorganization is difficult under any method, progress toward it should not, in my judgment, be inhibited by the statutory designation of a time for presentation of reorganization proposals (as provided for in Š. 164), or by restriction of the scope or area of functions to be affected by them (as provided for in the Reorganization Act of 1945). Sincerely yours,
JAMES E. WEBB, Director. I also have an analysis and appraisal of S. 164, prepared by Mr. George B. Galloway, Advanced Research Section of the Library of Congress.
Has there been a summation of that?
Mr. Van HORN. A brief one in that one before you, but that is taken from a number of sources.
The CHAIRMAN. This analysis and appraisal by the Research Section of the Library of Congress will be included in the record.
(The report referred to is as follows:)
ANALYSIS AND APPRAISAL OF S. 164
S. 164 would establish a bipartisan, 12-man Commission or Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government. The President of the United States, the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House would each appoint four members. Of the 12 mcmbers, 2 would be Senators, 2 would be Representatives, 2 executive officers, and 6 would be private citizens. The members of the Commission would be equally divided in their political affiliation between the two major political parties. They would elect their chairman and vice chairman from among their members.
The duty of the Commission would be to study the organization and operation of all parts of the executive branch of the Government, and to report its findings and recommendations to the Eighty-first Congress in January 1949.
The Commission would be empowered to appoint and fix the compensation of its staff, hold hearings, take testimony, and obtain official data.
The urgent necessity for a thorough study looking toward reorganization of the administrative branch of the National Government is generally conceded. Since the reorganization efforts of 1936–38, between 500 and 700 committees, commissions, and boards have sprung up like mushrooms in the lush soil of wartime Washington. The structure and functions of the executive branch were greatly distorted and disarranged as a result of the impact of the Second World War. Much overlapping and inefficiency inevitably developed and the number of Federal employees grew by leaps and bounds.
Before the structure of the Federal administrative machine can be streamlined, surplus personnel and activities pruned, and essential functions and services consolidated and reorganized with a view to creating a more efficient and economical organization of the National Government, thorough research studies will have to be made of all the administrative problems involved.
What type of agency is best suited to the making of such a study? There are four conceivable alternatives.
1. Bureau of the Budget. -- Under the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 the Budget Bureau is authorized at any time, on direction of the President, to investigate the structure of the administrative branch of the Government and to make recommendations with respect to its reorganization. Thus, the President already has an administratiye agency, the Bureau of the Budget, authorized to aid him in such work. One of the divisions of the Bureau, the Division of Administrative Management, includes a Government Organization Branch whose professional staff (at present 17) devotes fall time to studies in this field. Here is a going concern, staffed with specialists familiar with the problems involved, which might be utilized to make, or assist in making, the study proposed by S. 164.
On the other hand, it is pointed out that, while the “Budget Bureau's investigative functions do enable it to keep a finger on the pulse of adminsitration and to detect conditions demanding major diagnosis
the Bureau should not be charged with extensive investigations and large-scale reorganization plans because it does not represent the lay expert whose services are invaluable, and Lbecause its day-to-day functions are of full-time character.” 1 Moreover, '“the Bureau of the Budget
tends to be immersed in administrative detail which, although important, leaves administration on the grand scale unattended."?
2. Presidential commission.-Studies of the organization and improvement of the administrative branch have frequently been made by advisory commissions appointed by and responsible to the President. These commissions have included a number of lay experts and the President has been free tɔ accept or reject their recommendations. The outstanding example of the use of this device to discover methods by which administrative organization can be improved was the President's Committee on Administrative Management (1936-37), made up of 3 lay experts in public administration and a staff of 27 specialists. Its report led to the most thorough overhaul of the executive branch since 1921, many of its recommendations being embodied in the Reorganization Act of 1939.
Investigations of a research rather than an inquisitorial character are “most appropriately conducted by the Executive,” according to Marcy.3 The Budget
I Carl Marcy, Presidential Commissions (1945), p. 78.
and Accounting Act of 1921 and the 1939 Reorganization Act had their origins in the work of Presidential commissions. After a careful study of the use of Presidential commissions for the purpose of a research investigation of administration, Marcy concluded that they should be used more often. "Since the President is the man responsible for effective administration, he needs a regularized method for discovering inefficiencies.
A wider acceptance of the idea that it is the province of the President to keep administration modern and up to date would go a long way toward improving the effectiveness of the executive branch of government.
On the other hand, “the principal criticisms of research investigations conducted under the guidance of the Chief Executive are: (1) The danger that the investigations will be only reluctantly critical of the administration which created them. This danger can largely be avoided by selecting a personnel and staff of experienced men having no official connection with the Government; and (2) the difficulty of getting the recommendations of
such commissions adopted by the Congress.”' 5 3. Čongressional committee.-Congress has set up select and standing committees to investigate executive agencies and Government organization. The Senate created a Select Committee to Investigate the Executive Agencies (the Byrd committee) in 1936. The Byrd committee retained the Brookings Institution to aid its uiry In the same year the House also set up a Select Committee to Investigate Executive Agencies (the Buchanan committee), which also contracted for the services of the Brookings Institution. In 1937 à Joint Committee on Government Organization was created by law.8 And in 1946 Congress assigned the task of studying the operation of Government activities at all levels and of evaluating the effects of laws enacted to reorganize the legislative and executive branches of the Government to the standing Committees on Expenditures in the Executive Departments (Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946). "
Armed with this authority and operating under this directive, the Committees on Expenditures, acting jointly, could themselves undertake the study contemplated by S. 164. Such action would be justified by the definition of the jurisdiction and duties of the Expenditure Committees contained in the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. In addition to their own professional staffs, the Expenditure Committees could retain temporarily a special staff of experts in administrative management for the purpose of such an over-all study.
Administrative investigations of an inquisitorial character, which involve a search for wrong-doing or malfeasance, are considered properly the responsibility of Congress.? Such an inquiry might be conducted by a regular standing committee or by a special committee of Congress. Regular standing committees, however, are subject to the disadvantage of having a full load to carry in the ordinary conduct of their work, while special committees impair the integrity of the reformed committee structure and tend to become self-perpetuating. 8 Moreover, it is considered difficult to secure "a thoroughly nonpartisan and independent investigation if conducted under legislative auspices.
4. Mixed commission.—Another type of agency that might be used to make the study proposed in S. 164 is the so-called mixed commission. The commission proposed by Senator Lodge is an example of this type. Mixed commissions are composed of legislators, administrators, and private citizens. They resemble the British royal commission which has been used for several centuries in Great Britain with notable success. The Temporary National Economic Committee (1938-41) was the closest approach to the royal commission device in recent American experience. Inquiries conducted by mixed commissions have the advantage of utilizing specialized and authoritative personnel. Robert Heller has recommended that Congress "make more frequent formal and organized inquiries into basic national affairs” by means of mixed commissions.10
4 Ibid., p. 88. o Ibid., p. 78. 6 Lewis Meriam and Laurence F. Schmeckebier, Reorganization of the National Government (1939), ch. XI.
7 Marcy, op. cit., p. 76. 8 Robert Heller, Strengthening the Congress-A Progress Report (January 1947), p. 13. See also objections to creation of certain select committees listed by Senator Wayne Morse, Congressional Record, Janu. ary 13, 1947, pp. 302-3.
• Gustavus Weber, Organized Efforts for Improvement of Administration (1919), p. 21. See also George B. Galloway, article on Government Investigations,” Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (1937), vol. IV, pp. 251-59.
16 Robert Heller, Strengthening the Congress (1945), p. 29.