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This morning we meet to hear testimony on Senate Resolution 220,
FEBRUARY 10 (legislative day, JANUARY 26), 1966
REORGANIZATION PLAN NO. 1 OF 1966, PROVIDING FOR REORGANIZATION OF COMMUNITY RELATIONS FUNCTIONS IN CIVIL RIGHTS AREA
FEBRUARY 10, 1966.-Referred to the Committee on Government Operations and
ordered to be printed with accompanying papers
To the Congress of the United States:
I transmit herewith Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1966, prepared in accordance with the Reorganization Act of 1949, as amended, and providing for reorganization of community relations functions in the area of civil rights.
After a careful review of the activities of the Federal agencies involved in the field of civil rights, it became clear that the elimination of duplication and undesirable overlap required the consolidation of certain functions.
As a first step, I issued Executive Orders 11246 and 11247 on September 24, 1965.
Executive Order 11246 simplified and clarified executive branch assignments of responsibility for enforcing civil rights policies and placed responsibility for the Government-wide coordination of the enforcement activities of executive agencies in the Secretary of Labor with respect to employment by Federal contractors and in the Civil Service Commission with respect to employment by Federal agencies.
Executive Order 11247 directed the Attorney General to assist Federal agencies in coordinating their enforcement activities with respect to title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in federally assisted programs.
As a further step for strengthening the operation and coordination of our civil rights programs, I now recommend transfer of the functions of the Community Relations Service, established in the Department of Commerce under title X of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to the Attorney General and transfer of the Service, including the Office of Director, to the Department of Justice.
The Community Relations Service was located in the Department of Commerce by the Congress on the assumption that a primary need would be the conciliation of disputes arising out of the public accommodations title of the act. That decision was appropriate on the basis of information available at that time. The need for conciliation in this area has not been as great as anticipated because of the voluntary progress that has been made by businessmen and business organizations.
To be effective, assistance to communities in the identification and conciliation of disputes should be closely and tightly coordinated. Thus, in any particular situation that arises within a community, representatives of Federal agencies whose programs are involved should coordinate their efforts through a single agency. In recent years, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department has played such a coordinating role in many situations, and has done so with great effectiveness.
Placing the Community Relations Service within the Justice Department will enhance the ability of the Justice Department to mediate and conciliate and will insure that the Federal Government speaks with a unified voice in those tense situations where the good offices of the Federal Government are called upon to assist.
In this, as in other areas of Federal operations, we will move more surely and rapidly toward our objectives if we improve Federal organization and the arrangements for interagency coordination. The accompanying reorganization plan has that purpose.
The present distribution of Federal civil rights responsibilities clearly indicates that the activities of the Community Relations Service will fit most appropriately in the Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice has primary program responsibilities in civil righus matters and deep and broad experience in the conciliation of civil rights disputes. Congress has assigned it a major role in the implementation of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Department of Justice performs related functions under other acts of Congress. Most of these responsibilities require not only litigation, but also efforts at persuasion, negotiation, and explanation, especially with local governments and law enforcement authorities. In addition, under the Law Enforcement Assistance Act the Department will be supporting local programs in the area of police-community relations.
The test of the effectiveness of an enforcement agency is not how many legal actions are initiated and won, but whether there is compliance with the law. Thus, every such agency necessarily engages in extensive efforts to obtain compliance with the law and the avoidance of disputes. In fact, title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires each agency concerned to attempt to obtain compliance by voluntary means before taking further action.
Among the heads of Cabinet departments the President looks principally to the Attorney General for advice and judgment on civil rights issues. The latter is expected to be familiar with civil rights problems in all parts of the Nation and to make recommendations for executive and legislative action.
The Attorney General already has responsibility with respect to a major portion of Federal conciliation efforts in the civil rights field. Under Executive Order 11247, he coordinates the Government-wide enforcement of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which relies heavily on the achievement of compliance through persuasion and negotiation.
În the light of these facts, the accompanying reorganization plan would transfer the functions of the Community Relations Service and of its Director to the Attorney General. In so providing, the plan, of course, follows the established pattern of Federal organization by vesting all the transferred powers in the head of the department. The Attorney General will provide for the organization of the Community Relations Service as a separate unit within tủe Department of Justice.
The functions transferred by the reorganization plan would be carried out with full regard for the provisions of section 1003 of title X of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 relating to (1) cooperation with appropriate State or local, public, or private agencies; (2) the confidentiality of information acquired with the understanding that it would be so held; and (3) the limitation on the performance of investigative or prosecutive functions by personnel of the Service.
This transfer will benefit both the Department of Justice and the Community Relations Service in the fulfillment of their existing functions.
The Attorney General will benefit in his role as the President's adviser by obtaining an opportunity to anticipate and meet problems before the need for legal action arises.
The Community Relations Service, brought into closer relationship with the Attorney General and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, will gain by becoming a primary resource in a coordinated effort in civil rights under the leadership of the Attorney General. The Community Relations Service will have direct access to the extensive information, experience, staff, and facilities within the Department and in other Federal agencies.
Finally, the responsibility for coordinating major government activities under the Civil Rights Act aimed at voluntary and peaceful resolution of discriminatory practices will be centered in one Department. Thus, the reorganization will permit the most efficient and effective utilization of resources in this field. Together the Service and the Department will have a larger capacity for accomplishment than they do apart.
Although the reorganizations provided for in the reorganization plan will not of themselves result in immediate savings, the improvement achieved in administration will permit a fuller and more effective utilization of manpower and will in the future allow the performance of the affected functions at lower costs than would otherwise be possible.
After investigation I have found and hereby declare that each reorganization included in Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1966 is