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There is listed below, by grades, the presently budgeted and proposed employees of the United States Information Service. Also attached is a break-down by sections of the proposed expanded United States Information Service and classification sheets detailing the duties of all positions which have been allocated by the Civil Service Commission.
The actual increase in employees, though, is 341, is it not?
Mr. MELLETT. You understand, Senator, that goes to the opening of our State offices that are closed now, and to all the other expansion, but this refers to the United States Information Service.
Mr. HAMBLET. The detail in reference to each of these positions is attached, which we would like to put in the record.
Mr. TREADWAY. Mr. Mellett, you spoke of your State branches. As I understand it, your department is to furnish information to people in Washington.
Mr. MELLETT. That is just one of our functions.
Mr. TREADWAY. I was wondering about the State organizations. Take my own State of Massachusetts; what is your set-up there? What do you do?
Mr. MELLETT. We have a State director. That is the information I proposed to give you from our other hearings, if I might. It is all explained in detail.
Mr. TREADWAY. Is their occupation explained?
Mr. TREADWAY. I am not on the Appropriations Committee, so I do not know what happened in those hearings.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Mellett, would you be in a position to answer this question: Did you mention this building to the President first, or did he mention it to
first? Mr. MELLETT. I do not believe that would be betraying a state secret, Senator. He mentioned it to me first.
Mr. TREADWAY. Including the location?
Senator GLASS. Who in the world mentioned it to him first? (Laughter.]
Mr. MELLETT. I do not know about that. I do not care to make secret also the fact as to the person who is responsible for my getting the job to do this thing, which is not giving me any great pleasure. That is the Postmaster General, Frank Walker. This matter of coordinating this type of information work has been discussed apparently a good deal and not discussed with me. It was Mr. Walker's suggestion, and he made inquiries of our office as to what we are doing with this United States Information Service with which he was quite familiar, since he was Director of the National Emergency Council of which it was then a part, and of which the Office of Government Reports is now the successor, he was familiar with this work in previous years, and he suggested this was the proper agency to undertake this coordination. Now we are trying to do it.
The CAAIRMAN. The President first suggested that the building be built for you? That is the first suggestion which came to you?
Mr. MELLETT. Yes; and the location, as to the ideal central location.
· The CHAIRMAN. He did that without asking you whether you needed an additional building?
Mr. MELLETT. When the proposal was made that they have the building on that location, I suggested then that we transfer our whole operation there rather than to separate it.
The CHAIRMAN. Who made the first suggestion that this new building be built? That is what I would like to know.
Mr. TABER. You have been pressing for a new building for a long time, haven't you?
Mr. MELLETT. We have asked for better space for a long time.
The CHAIRMAN. Who originated the idea first to put the building up in the present location?
Mr. MELLETT. The President of the United States, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Who suggested first to build it there? Did the President first suggest to build it there?
Mr. MELLETT. The two things were simultaneous. That is to say, we would have had to have a building for this.
The CHAIRMAN. You had to have the space to put the building on.
Mr. MELLETT. If you ask me who suggested that there be a building, that was the President. .. The CHAIRMAN. And you built it?
Mr. MELLETT. I am guilty of suggesting if we had this work to do and a building was to be built, that the building be built so that it would take in our present operation, I mean our whole operation, not merely this information office.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, you have some other figures. - Mr. MELLETT. The seventh question was: “A complete statement as to the need for the service you propose to render, in view of the fact that practically every department and agency of the Government now has a more or less costly and well-manned information bureau.”
The CHAIRMAN. Before you get that, did not one of the questions ask you for the total cost of this enlarged activity?
Mr. MELLETT. That was the information we gave Senator McKellar a moment ago, an increase of 102 persons at the cost of $253,560.
Mr. HAMBLET. That is per year.
The CHAIRMAN. I thought one of the questions I asked you was the total cost of all the activities, or did it include that?
Mr. HAMBLET. It did not include that.
The CHAIRMAN. What will be the total cost from the direct appropriations and from allocation by the President for your plans?
Mr. MELLETT. For this year?
Senator McKELLAR. For the coming year beginning July 1, I would like to know that, too.
Mr. HAMBLET. Until this additional expansion of the information service camp up, we were operating at the rate of $2,400,000 per year, or would have been had all our positions been filled. The additional personnel for the increased information services will add $253,000 a year to the total cost of operation.
The CHAIRMAN. But the total appropriation is only about $1,093,000 plus $800,000. Have you spent more than your appropriation? : Mr. HAMBLET. No; we have not. We had $1,093,000 appropriated to us this fiscal year. In December, we were given an authorization
for an allocation from the President's executive funds not to exceed $800,000.
The CHAIRMAN. That is what I say. That is $1,893,000.
Mr. HAMBLET. That $800,000 was not available to us until after the 1st of January, and will be spent largely during the last 5 months of this fiscal year. So with the original $1,093,000 which was appropriated, and the $800,000 which was allocated, we will be operating, when our staff is complete, at the rate of $2,400,000 a year. Mr. MELLETT. At the rate, but not at that expense this
year. The CHAIRMAN. As a matter of fact, today you have $1,893,000. Mr. HAMBLET. That is right, Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. For the next fiscal year, what will it cost to operate, under your recommendation?
Mr. HAMBLET. If the recommendations were approved as of the beginning of the next fiscal year, including the expanded information service, we would be operating at an annual rate of $2,653,000 a year.
The CHAIRMAN. That includes the new employees?
The CHAIRMAN. An increase of about $800,000 over the past fiscal year, or the present fiscal year.
Mr. HAMBLET. That is right.
Senator McKELLAR. But it does not, of course, include the building at $600,000.
Mr. HAMBLET. No, it does not, sir. Of course, our expenses for this year do not include the rental which is being paid for our present quarters.
Senator MCKELLAR. And your rental is about $42,000?
Mr. HAMBLET. It is $13,000 for 1405 G Street; $9,500, plus maintenance and heat, for the H Street property.
Senator MCKELLAR. What is the total?
Mr. Hamblet. I will have to submit that, sir, if I may, because I do not know what the maintenance costs are. (The statement requested is as follows:)
MARCH 14, 1942.
MAINTENANCE Cost, 1510 H STREET NW. July 1, 1940 to June 30, 1941.
$13, 523. 19 July 1, 1941 to January 31, 1942
8, 379. 90 The figures above are for full maintenance, which includes cleaning and char service (toilets, etc.), repair of lights and electrical fixtures, heat and protection. For the fiscal year 1941 (July 1, 1940, to June 30, 1941) maintenance work was on a reimbursable basis to the Public Buildings Administration. For the fiscal year 1942 the Public Buildings Administration, by act of Congress, assumed the maintenance of all Government-owned or leased buildings unless otherwise provided for by contract.
The average monthly charge for the fiscal year 1941 of $1,126.93 is about $70 per month less than the monthly average for the first 7 months of the fiscal year 1942. This is accounted for by the fuel charge, which is high during the winter months. By the end of the fiscal year 1942 the average monthly charge should be approximately the same as for the fiscal year 1941.
Senator McKELLAR. It is not out of your regular appropriation?
Mr. HAMBLET. No, it is not out of our regular appropriation; it is from the Public Buildings Administration.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you classed as a defense or nondefense agency? Mr. MELLETT. We have a defense classification,
The CHAIRMAN. Are your disbursements included by the Budget as being a defense disbursement?
Mr. MELLETT. Yes, sir.
Mr. MELLETT. Question 7: "A complete statement as to the need for the service you propose to render, in view of the fact that practically every department and agency of the Government now has a more or less costly and well-manned information bureau.'
The answer is: There are two types of information offices in many Government agencies. One is that which prepares information for use by newspapers, radio, and other media of general dissemination. The other is designed to answer questions of individual callers and give directions to visitors seeking specific offices or officials.
The United States Information Service does not engage in any of the activities of the first kind-nor does any other division of the Office of Government Reports. Briefly, we issue no press releases. Our operation is solely of the second kind. It differs from those in other agencies in that it deals with inquiries concerning, not a single Government department or agency, but concerning any or all Government activities.
As to the press releases, if I might say parenthetically, I violated that rule today by giving the press my letter to you, sir. That is the first press
release in 4 years. The operation now planned will also go much further. It will maintain at one point a clearing house of information for the service of the public; departments and agencies of the Federal Government, and Members of Congress. The service will be designed to eliminate the present need to call on or telephone many offices before reaching the proper person in Government to handle inquiries or give decisions in some instances.
In the new building, a large information room is provided on the first floor, staffed by clerks. The public's first contact will be with these clerks, who will be competent to answer the great majority of questions.
Individuals with questions too complex for these clerks will be directed to offices adjoining the main reception room, staffed by specialists whose jobs will be to analyze their problems. The staff specialists will be able to give conclusive information or direct the inquirers, by appointments, to the person or persons who can take final action on this problem. Furthermore, liaison men from the principal Government departments and agencies will be located in the central information office. In many cases these men will be able to take this final action.
Two benefits are expected to result: First, the inquirer coming to Washington will not find it necessary to go from one office to another throughout the Government for an answer to his problems; and, secondly, the time of the busy officials of the various departments will not be taken up by individuals whose problems do not involve them.
As to the need for the service, I believe the President summarized it in his letter directing us to expand the facilities of the United States Information Service. The President's instructions contained in a letter dated February 2 are attached.
I have concluded, Senator, with the attachment of the President's letter of instructions.
(The letter referred to is as follows:)
THE WHITE HOUSE,
Washington, February 2, 1942. MY DEAR MR. MELLETT: Citizens are coming to Washington in increasing numbers seeking information and the assistance of their Government. Many businessmen are attempting to obtain advice and direction for the utilization of their facilities in the war effort. It has become more and more difficult for those coming to Washington on specific business to locate the Government officials who can give authoritative answers to their questions.
As a result many of the departments and agencies have expanded their information divisions. It is now necessary that there be an integration of the various offices having direct contact with the public and that their activities be coordinated under the direction of a central office. As President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the armed forces, I, therefore, direct you as Director of the Office of Government Reports to (1) expand the facilities of the United States Information Service so that visitors shall have one central place to which they can go for direction and information; (2) inform department and agency heads of my desire that they each assign such of their personnel to duty in this central office as may be necessary to carry out this general purpose.
I further direct that you transmit a copy of this letter to the heads of all Federal agencies. Sincerely yours,
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT. Mr. LOWELL MELLETT, Direct, Office of Government Reports,
Washington, D. C. The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions of Mr. Mellett? I just want to say, Mr. Mellett, what has disturbed me about this matter is the very evident purpose to bypass Congress and not give Congress an opportunity to pass upon this appropriation. I want to ask again as to whether you expect to ask Congress and permit Congress to pass on it for any future appropriations you may need to operate this building which is being built?
Mr. MELLETT. We do indeed, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. If you get the limitation of $800,000 removed then the practical effect of it is that Congress will not have an opportunity to pass upon it.
Mr. MELLETT. We are operating under an appropriation of fifteen hundred thousand-I mean budgeted for next year, and passed by the House. Of course we would much prefer to have our whole appropriation rather than the fifteen hundred thousand and the allocation.
The CHAIRMAN. I understood you, in the earlier part of the hearing, to insist that the $800,000 limitation be removed, so that the President will then have an unlimited power to present to you all the funds he might desire to out of these lump-sum appropriations. Is that your desire?
Mr. MELLETT. Well, we would like to be on the same basis as other executive offices that are operated with those funds, just because of work given us by the President that we cannot anticipate always; of course, we can take the other step of always coming up and asking for another $100,000 or $150,000, or whatever amount there might be, as he asks us to do different things.
The CHAIRMAN. Just assuming that Congress is opposed to building the building, do you think that the will of Congress should prevail, as the appropriating agency of the Government?
Mr. MELLETT. As a matter of fact, I do; yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there any way that Congress can act on it, to stop this building, if they choose to do it?