« PreviousContinue »
shall have transferred to him the executive and administrative functions of the Commission, including the appointment and supervision of personnel, the distribution of business among such personnel and among administrative units of the Commission, and the use and expenditure of funds. The plan specifically provides that the Director of Locomotive Inspection and the two assistant directors shall perform their functions subject to the direction and control of the Chairman.
We believe that in considering the provisions of this plan the Congress should carefully note the following important and pertinent factors: The Interstate Commerce Commission consists of 11 members, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. They serve a term of office of 7 years. Not more than 6 of the 11 Commissioners may be from one political party. The Commission is generally and properly regarded as an arm of the Congress rather than part of the executive branch of the Government.
This Commission was originally established in 1887 as a five-member body. The number of Commissioners was increased by the Congress to 7, then to 9 and in 1920 to 11 members. These changes were obviously made because of the increased volume and scope of the work that the Congress from time to time assigned to the Commission. With 11 members it was possible to divide the work among various Commissioners in such a way that one or more of them had primary responsibility for a designated portion of it and to become experts in that particular field. It would not be possible for any one man, no matter how competent, to efficiently exercise the power that this plan would give the Chairman. Such a Chairman would necessarily either delegate much of this power or be governed by recommendations made by one or more subordinates and these subordinates would have more authority in many respects than the other 10 members of the Commission.
The Congress certainly intended this very important Commission to be a completely nonpartisan and nonpolitical body. The term of 7 years was deliberately chosen, in our opinion, to insure a tenure of office that would not be affected by changing political considerations. The pending proposal would tend in the opposite direction. The executive branch of the Government would designate one man to serve as Chairman and could remove him and replace him with another at will and this one man would be given power and authority that could easily result in a reversal of the basic and traditional policy of keeping the Commission entirely free from partisan and political influences.
The CHAIRMAN. Can the President now, sir, remove any member of the Commission at will?
Mr. LYON. No, he cannot.
The CHAIRMAN. How would a member of the Commission be removed?
Mr. LYON. I presume that he would have charges filed against him to show that he was incompetent or perhaps dishonest. The CHAIRMAN. Who would prepare those charges?
Mr. LYON. I do not know that I can answer that. I recall that years ago one of our Presidents attempted to remove a member of the Federal Trade Commission and the courts overruled him. I presume the
same procedures and principles of law would apply in the Interstate Commerce Commission as they did in the Federal Trade Commission. I just do not know the correct answer to your question, Mr. Chairman, beyond that.
The CHAIRMAN. The President appoints the Chairman now, does he not?
Mr. LYON. He appoints the Commissioners and the Commissioners elect their Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it not provided that the chairmanship rotate among the members?
Mr. LYON. That is the practice of the 11 Commissioners. There is no provision in the law about that.
Mr. CHAIRMAN. Whichever man happens to be the Chairman, he is a man selected by the President, is he not?
Mr. LYON. All 11 of them are, so that would follow, yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you concede that all 11 of those men possess equal administrative ability?
Mr. LYON. I am not in position to judge. I do not imagine that any 11 men would be identical in ability in any field.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you not think they ought to have a good man, a good administrator, as Chairman? Do you not think that that would make for better administration?
Mr. LYON. All 11 of them should be good administrators, and they are. Some of them may be better than others.
The way they operate there, as I understand it, they have an administrative division of three commissioners. The Chairman of the Commission is an ex officio member of that division. Those three commissioners constitute the administrative division, establish certain policies about administrative policies and the Secretary of the Commission, who is a permanent employee and is entirely familiar with the administrative matters, carries out their program and policy.
We believe that the Congress, in considering Reorganization Plan No. 7, should give very careful attention and weight to the views that have been expressed by the able and experienced members of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Commissioner Mahaffie, then serving as Chairman of the Commission, expressed such views in behalf of the Commission as late as July 5, 1949, in a letter to Chairman McClellan of the Senate Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments in connection with section 2 of Senate bill 2073. Section 2 was similar to the provisions of the pending plan and the Commission strongly recommended that it be deleted. The letter referred to pointed out among other things that under the Inter-. state Commerce Act the Commission is free to select its own Chairman to serve for such period as it determines; that it has given continuous and intensive consideration to the duties assigned to the Chairman and to his length of office from the beginning of the Commission. in 1887; that in 1910 it unanimously adopted a policy of annual rotation of the chairmanship as grave weaknesses had developed in the system of a continuing or permanent chairmanship; that it would be wholly impracticable to transfer to the Chairman the duties now in large part performed by the Secretary of the Commission under the supervision of the administrative division of the Commission; that it would be an undue burden on one Commissioner to ask him to supervise all the personnel in all the bureaus of the Commission; that
supervision of one or two bureaus by a single Commissioner is much more thorough and satisfactory than could possibly follow from assigning all such supervision of every bureau to a single Commissioner designated as Chairman.
Railroad employees have always had great concern about the proper and impartial administration of the various safety laws which the Congress has enacted and which are administered by the Interstate Commerce Commission. Railway labor urged the Congress to enact these laws and their provisions and the fair application of them by an impartial Commission has been largely responsible for the betterment in railway safety conditions over a long period of years. For at least 30 years there has been at least one member of the Interstate Commerce Commission who, in addition to other qualifications, has had practical and actual railroad experience and who has been a specialist and an expert in matters relating to railway safety. The departments of the Commission that have to do with these matters have been under the supervision of this expert Commissioner. It would be most unwise and very detrimental to the effective carrying out of the policies adopted by the Congress when it enacted these safety laws if this technical and specialized safety work should have to be performed under the direction and control of a Chairman appointed by the President. There would be 10 chances out of 11 that the Chairman so appointed would have neither the knowledge or experience to competently perform these duties.
We call special attention to the provisions of paragraph (c) of the pending plan. It states that the director of locomotive inspection and the two assistant directors shall perform their functions subject to the direction and control of the Chairman. All three of these positions are filled by Presidential appointment, with confirmation by the Senate. The Locomotive Inspection Act, which provides for these positions, specifically requires that they be filled from persons having specialized knowledge and training in the field of construction, inspection, and repair of railroad locomotives. In other words, they must be technical experts, and must have special qualifications and the fitness and ability to systematize and carry out the provisions of the law and the safety rules and standards adopted in accordance with the law. The Sixty-first Congress which enacted the Locomotive Inspection Act did so only after exhaustive hearings and investigation. The Congress deliberately established the Bureau of Locomotive Inspection in a quasi-independent status with the director and the assistant directors free with their special qualifications to direct activities to the end that the utmost improvement in locomotive safety would prevail. It is clear to us that it would be a most unwise move and it would reverse a carefully considered decision of the Congress to now permit a program to go into effect which would place the functions of these experts under the direction and control of a person who would almost surely be lacking in competence in this important field of work. At best the initial result of adoption of this plan would be the relegation of the Bureau of Locomotive Inspection to a status of minor importance, subject to direction of a busy official whose many other duties would prevent his consideration of the problems involved.
The CHAIRMAN. Would the law be changed by the adoption of this law?
Mr. LYON. The plan itself would not change the functions of those three positions.
The CHAIRMAN. What qualifications?
Mr. LYON. It would place their function under the direction and control of another man, which would be contrary to the intent of the law.
The CHAIRMAN. What qualifications are set out in the basic law which created this inspection division would be changed by this plan?
Mr. LYON. Well, the men appointed by the President as director and assistant directors would still have to have the same basic qualifications. The law requires that until Congress changes the law. That would change
The CHAIRMAN. To whom are they now accountable?
Mr. LYON. They report through the Commission to the Congress. The CHAIRMAN. Every law passed by the Congress and every change made in a plan is made through a law passed by the Congress. That was given equal consideration at the time those laws were passed. Congress realized that through the years it had set up a very unwieldy structure with poor accountability and in order to change, authorized the President to make those changes within the executive department that would carry out in main the principles of the Hoover Commission which had been found on study were necessary in order to make our streamlining successful in our executive department and make it less unwieldy in order to centralize responsibility. So the question that you raise pertaining to locomotive inspection would be applicable to every plan made by the President. It will make changes in some existing law. The Congress gave consideration to that.
Mr. LYON. There is no showing whatever and no thoughts which I have ever heard about that the Locomotive Inspection Division is unwieldy or inefficient or that there is anything wrong with it. It has been operated very efficiently over a period of many years, since 1911. The CHAIRMAN. Nor is it changed as to its functions.
Mr. LYONS. But it would place the functions of the experts who operated it under the control of a man who might be neither competent nor qualified to fill one of the positions himself.
The CHAIRMAN. Probably no Member of Congress is capable, is qualified to fill the positions held by this Board.
Mr. LYON. That is probably true, sir, and therefore I would say that no Member of Congress should have the task of directing and controlling all of their activities because it is an expert function. That ought to be done by experts.
The CHAIRMAN. Then, in your opinion, none of these members should be accountable to anyone?
Mr. LYON. I would not say that.
The CHAIRMAN. To whom would you make them accountable?
The CHAIRMAN. We are changing the law and making them accountable to the head of the Commission, the head of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Mr. LYON. I say that is a serious mistake to do that.
I say that would be a serious mistake. If the locomotive-inspection law needs amendment to that extent, I think they ought to have legislation introduced to accomplish that and we ought to give it full and
exhaustive consideration, the same as the law received when it was first enacted.
The CHAIRMAN. We are doing that.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. Mr. Chairman, may I question the witness just a moment?
The CHAIRMAN. Indeed you may, sir.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. Now, Mr. Lyon, under the present situation, who are the locomotive inspectors responsible to?
Mr. LYON. They are responsible to the Director of the Locomotive Inspection Bureau.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. That is true; and he is responsible to whom?
Mr. LYON. Well, he is responsible to the Congress, as I understand it.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. That is right.
Now, under this particular change in plans, would he not still be responsible to the Bureau chairman, one of the five basic divisions, who in turn would be responsible to the chairman, who in turn is responsible to the Congress?
Mr. LYON. I think not, Mr. Holifield. The reorganization plan specifically says that these three men will function under the direction and control of the Chairman, whoever he may be.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. But of course that is as to administrative detail and it is evident that your Chairman must have his five basic divisions with heads of those divisions, that is the divisions of general administration, enforcement, safety, certificates of convenience and necessity, and the Motor Carriers Act, which I believe is the fifth basic division.
Now, that is not changed and they all have heads at the present time and it would only be concentrating in the Chairman the responsibility in one head to Congress. In other words, Congress instead of trying to go to the heads of all these different divisions to find out what was happening in the administration of the laws which are passed by Congress, they would go to the Chairman and the Chairman would in turn require responsibility from the head of his division, as I understand it.
Mr. LYON. Well, the plan says just the opposite.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. Now, you have to put the control and the poweradministrative control and power-of all the divisions in the head of the Chairman just like, for instance, we have done in the Maritime Commission and in other agencies where we put the complete power and the responsibility in the head of the agency. But in turn, he delegates, it is obvious that no one man can do all of that himself. It is merely a structural arrangement whereby you can require responsibility from one man in the place of Congress having to go to all the different heads of the different subdivisions of an agency and require that responsibility, and it does not change the basic obligation under the law for those locomotive inspectors to do the work just exactly like they are doing it now. It is not an interference with the duties required by the laws which Congress has passed. It is merely a concentrating of responsibility and power so that Congress itself can ascertain where the responsibility lies.
Mr. LYON. I am sorry I cannot agree with you. As far as delegating the authority there, the Chairman could or could not delegate under this language.