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Mr. ROGERS (reading):
That for the purposes of this Act wherever a river basin has been divided into subbasins by an Act of Congress or by an interstate compact to which the consent of Congress has been given, each shall be treated as a separate basin.
Mr. Witmer suggested that perhaps the deletion of the word "shall” and the insertion of the word "may" could very well solve the problem.
Mr. STAATS. That might well do it. We felt that this simply injected a prescription, which could not be modified without coming back for a change in the law, which rendered some inflexibility here, which would be unreliable.
I might say on the general point, though, that our hope would be that we would not have too many of these river basin planning committees. There would be concern on our part, I am sure, if there was a tendency to have a large number of these.
We do not think that is likely to happen. We think that the real problem is going to center around some of the major rivers, like the Missouri River and the Ohio River, where they reach into many States and have many varying problems.
On a river like the Columbia River it would be relatively easy to define the basin. But some of these others are more difficult.
President Truman's Water Resources Policy Commission in 1950 had, I believe, defined something like 10 major river basins. There are some people who would define it as 12. And about the maximum number that we have heard would be 16 for the country.
But within that range, we would think that we could reach agreement on the definition of what constitutes river basins for purposes of planning under this type of legislation.
Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Štaats, your testimony on this subject matter, I presume, is an underwriting of this approach, this general approach, by this administration, in the same light as it was approached in the Kennedy administration.
Mr. STAATS. That is correct.
Mr. STAATS. It is not the intent, here--and I do not wish to be construed as saying—that we would say that we would immediately move to the establishment of a commission for every one of these basins.
This has to be worked out basin by basin, and has to depend, obviously, upon the wishes of the people
in the basin, as well as the judgment of the Water Resources Council and the President.
But we are searching here for an authority which would make it possible to move ahead and establish one of these commissions, where those conditions exist, and where the States themselves and the Federal agencies feel that a commission of this type, which was established pursuant to act of Congress, and has an independent chairman appointed by the President, would be a useful way to coordinate the river basin planning in that area.
So that we do not say that this is an automatic thing, or that it will all come about in the first year or the first 5 years. But it moves it in a direction that we think makes good sense, given the fact that we have four, five, or six agencies that have statutory responsibilities in these basins, and given the fact that there is not a single point in the Congress which can review the basin plans at the present time.
We have been moving, I think, in the direction of improvements in our river basin plans. We have made, I think, an important advance in the last 2 years, where we have had the budgets for the agencies concerned with river basin planning coordinated before they were reviewed by the Bureau of the Budget and a report on what has been developed for the total has been made available to the Congress, so that each subcommittee of Congress and each legislative committee has before it a total package of what each agency is doing in each of the river basins, what priorities they have established, and, in this process, we hope that each agency will get themselves on the same kind of a timetable, so that as individual project reports are developed by an individual agency, the other agencies are in a better position to comment on those reports and to relate their own operating programs to it.
So we think this is a desirable move forward. We think this would be another instrument by which we can improve that coordination.
Mr. ROGERS. Now, Mr. Staats, with regard to the commission itself, once that commission was established, would you be burning your bridges behind you insofar as losing jurisdiction in certain areas, or on certain points, that the commission itself would feel like it should assume with regard to the entire basin ?
Mr. STAATS. It is a planning commission.
Mr. STAATS. And I do not think it would be in a position to hold up any programs.
I would not have this concern about it, in the light of the language of this bill. It seems to me the bill is quite good in this respect, as reported by the Senate committee, and there would be some concern, I think, if there were any provisions put in which would enable a commission to lock up one agency's program because of lack of agreement. Mr. ROGERS. Yes.
Mr. STAATS. And we think this would be undesirable. We do not think that that would happen under the wording of this bill.
Mr. ROGERS. You feel, then, that this council or commission should then be left in more or less of an advisory capacity?
Mr. STAATS. I think it would be advisory. It would be a planning group. It could make recommendations on priorities. Their report can be, obviously, accepted or not accepted by the Governors of the States concerned and by the agency heads concerned.
Mr. ROGERS. Do you see any chance here for competition developing, as between the different agencies, the different basin councils, to simply perpetuate the use of funds or income in that particular basin forever in the basin ?
What I am talking about, Mr. Staats, is this, and it has been a matter concerning me for a long time, and I do not know whether this bill is designed to move foward on that plan or not. This is a situation going back to the basin account theory, utilizing all of the funds coming out of the basin to replow into the basin, whether the projects are feasible or not, standing on their own.
Mr. STAATS. I do not believe that there is anything in the bill, and certainly in terms of our thinking there is nothing behind this bill, which would bear directly on this substantive issue that you have mentioned.
What I think would be accomplished, here, I think, would be the fact that Congress would be informed through an annual report, and the President would be informed, of the status of the planning in a particular basin.
The trouble we have had with studies such as the one with the Texas Study Commission, the Southeast Study Commission, the ArkansasWhite-Red River Commissions—these are very difficult to get underway.
It has been difficult to get specific statutory authority in many cases to authorize them. And then, after they get underway, they soon go out of business, and after they go out of business, the reports are out of date, very shortly after they have finished their study.
We have spent a lot of money, and we do not have any way of keeping them up to date. Once you had a commission established, it would be easy to keep those reports up to date through this annual report device.
Mr. ROGERS. And you feel, then, that this would be a means of avoiding duplication by several agencies of Government that might have jurisdiction in the water development plans of one basin? You think with the Army Engineers, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of the Interior,
ere would be, by this means, ways of coordinating efforts so that there would not be duplication between these Departments?
Mr. STAATS. I think this is absolutely right, and I think also this is a more effective mechanism for bringing the State governments into the picture, and particularly when it is combined with the planning grant provision of this bill, it will enable some of the States to keep their planning in line with the planning that is taking place on the Federal Government side.
So that we feel that for both of these reasons, this would be regarded as a good step forward.
From our personal experiences-and, as you know, we have responsibility for reviewing agency projects we find that in many cases one agency will be well advanced with their plans. They will have projects to submit. We refer these projects to the other agencies, and, unless their planning is up to date, they either cannot make intelligent comments, or they have to say, "We haven't had time.”
So that we feel that this is one way that we can keep all of the agencies in step. We feel that Interior is out of step with Agriculture or Agriculture is out of step with Interior, or maybe both are out of step with the Army Engineers.
To be sure, there are efforts, and I do not want to cast any reflections on the efforts of the agencies to try to coordinate. But this is a big company, and these are busy people, and unless there is some machinery, there, this is not going to always work.
Mr. ROGERS. And you feel, then, that this administration is supporting this type of approach, in order to accentuate coordination regarding existing powers and authorities of the different agencies already in being, rather than a means of promoting further develop
ment of these agencies by these separate commissions that are set up?
Mr. STAATS. Oh, yes. Yes, indeed.
I think that these special study commissions that have been established have made useful contributions. But I would like to emphasize again that these get out of date awfully fast. And unless some continuing machinery there, these reports that we have invested lots of money into are virtually without value.
Mr. ROGERS. Of course, I would like very much to see coordination, and I think we ought to have it, but I certainly think that it is to the best interests of the country to create a situation for the promotion of one basin as against another; that is, a competitive force.
Of course, we want to develop the natural resources to the fullest extent, but I believe we can do that with the least possible cost by cooperation.
Mr. STAATS. Getting back to the question a moment ago, one of the values of the Water Resources Council would be that they could give some coordinated guidance on that.
I would be the first to recognize the limitations of any commission or council in terms of decisionmaking, because that is not what these bodies are best equipped to do. But I do think that a great deal of value can come if you have a body of this kind charged with the responsibility, for which the Congress can hold them accountable and for which the President can hold them accountable, in an area of this kind, where you cannot put all of the functions in a single agency.
We are going to have more agencies involved, I am afraid, as time goes along, rather than fewer, in this water resource development field.
Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Hosmer.
Mr. HOSMER. Mr. Staats, I was impressed with your testimony relative to the importance of this subject and this legislation, and your assurances of how the top people would be functioning all the time with regard to it.
Is that what you intend to tell us?
Mr. STAATS. Yes, sir; and we would make every effort we could make to be sure on that.
Mr. HOSMER. And yet the top man of the Bureau of the Budget is not here testifying today, is he?
Mr. STAATS. I do not
Mr. HOSMER. You do have a superior in the Bureau of the Budget, do you not?
Mr. STAATS. Yes, that is true, but I do not know what conclusion you would have. I am also a Presidential appointee, and I have worked with the President in the past.
Mr. HOSMER. But what I am getting at is that what we have here before us is a bill to establish a council which will eventually be an organization of faceless names operating behind unnumbered doors in unnamed buildings, and I am not too certain that that is the way to go about tackling this problem. I think we can fairly well establish that the principals are going to employ to a very great extent agents in operating the Council, plus employees, and some of these employees, according to the bill, may be compensated at rates not to exceed $100 per diem. Is that the intention here?
Mr. STAATS. I do not find any place here which indicates that this would be operating behind closed doors or in secret. There is provision on page 5 of the bill that the Council would transmit their plan to the Congress. The Chairman of that Council and the members of that Council would all be available for testimony before committees of Congress
Mr. #OSMER. But as you know, this whole business is going to be in the hands of someone who is a bureaucrat who maintains his position by maintaining his anonymity.
Now, what about this $100 a day that this Council can compensate people for, for their service!
Mr. Staats. This is for consultants, Mr. Hosmer, and this is a fairly standard per diem rate for consultants. It is a maximum.
As you note, there, it is not to exceed $100 a day. It could be $25 or $50.
Mr. HOSMER. It could make a good stab at being a minimum, if you want to look at it like that.
Mr. Staats. This is pretty generally now provided by Congress to agencies for the appointment of experts and consultants.
Mr. HOSMER. And that is what people are complaining about, this big Government business, with $100 here and $100 there, and these $100 for consultant fees are passed around to the same groups all the time.
Mr. Staats. That is a fairly modest amount of consultants at the present time.
Mr. HosMER. That depends on how hungry they are, I guess.
It can use the U.S. mail at any time. And here is something else that this Council can do. It can incur such necessary expenses and exercise such other powers as are consistent with and reasonably required for the performance of functions under this act.
Now, would that vest in this Council a power of condemnation for dams?
Mr. STAATS. I am sorry. I did not hear you.
Mr. HOSMER. Would that vest in this Council the power of condemnation for a dam?
Mr. STAATS. No, sir.
Mr. HOSMER. How much less, then, is the power that is conferred by this broad language?
Mr. Staats. I am not sure that I understand your question, sir.
Mr. HOSMER. I want to find out what this Council can do when it is authorized to incur expenses and exercise such powers as are consistent with and reasonably required for the performance of its functions.
Mr. Staats. I think it is all limited, Mr. Hosmer, by the responsibilities of the Council set forth in sections 102 and 103 and 104.
I think all 105 does is to prescribe the procedure under which it functions. There is no vesting of powers per se in 105. All of that is vested in the Council, under these other three sections, which I have just mentioned.
Mr. HOSMER. Is it to have power to go out and take a plan to the public by way of informational activities?
Mr. STAATS. Take a plan to the public? I would assume that this report would have a value in terms of public information. One of the thoughts of the River Basin Planning Commission is that it would