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REORGANIZATION PLAN NO. 1 OF 1966
(Community Relations Service)
FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 1966
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to recess, at 10 a.m., in room 3302, New Senate Office Building, Senator Abraham Ribicoff (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Ribicoff, Harris, and Javits.
Also present: Jerome Sonosky, staff director; Philip Cook, professional staff member, Subcommittee on Executive Reorganization, and Eli E. Nobleman, professional staff member, Committee on Government Operations.
Senator RIBICOFF. The committee will be in order. Senator Hart, who was to have been the first witness, will be somewhat delayed.
Mr. Wilkins, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF ROGER W. WILKINS, DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY
Mr. WILKINS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am pleased at this opportunity to testify in support of Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1966.
As I do, Mr. Chairman, I want to make it clear that I have nothing but praise for the sympathetic consideration and unwavering support which the Service has received from Secretary Hodges and from Secretary Connor in the Service's history in the Department of Com
The legislation passed in the last two sessions of Congress has given to the President greatly increased Executive and administrative responsibilities in a wide range of fields. It is clear that the President has been and continues to be deeply concerned about deploying resources within the executive branch in a way that will enable him to carry out these enlarged responsibilities as effectively and as efficiently as possible.
There is no area of responsibility which is of greater importance to this country or to the quality of the lives of its citizens than civil rights. There is no area of responsibility, including this one, in which effective operations are not substantially impaired by a proliferation of agencies, by overlap and by duplication.
My own views on this are clear. I want the civil rights activities of this Government and particularly those of the Community Relations Service to be as effective as possible. I believe that Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1966 will help achieve those purposes.
By January 1965, legislation passed by the Congress and Executive orders issued by President Johnson and President Kennedy had created the following organizations, which were responsible for one or another facet of civil rights activity: the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Community Relations Service, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the President's Committee on Equal Opportunity in Housing, and the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity.
Early in 1965, the President, by Executive order, created the President's Council on Equal Opportunity. That body was charged with the responsibility of coordinating civil rights activities within the Government. The President asked the Vice President to chair the Council and asked him to look for areas where tighter coordination and more effective operations could be achieved. As could be expected, areas where streamlining operations would be helpful soon became apparent.
Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1966 is one of the steps designed to achieve tighter coordination and more effective execution of policy.
The plan would place the Community Relations Service in the Department of Justice which, because of its statutory responsibilities and because of other assignments given to it by President Kennedy and by President Johnson, has far more knowledge, far more experience and far more responsibility in this field than any other department or agency in the Government. It is the Department to which the people in communities with racial problems of all kinds naturally gravitate. It is the Department which has more coordinating responsibility in this field than any other. The Attorney General is the Cabinet officer to whom the President looks as his principal adviser in this area. The Attorney General is the Cabinet officer with the broadest and deepest civil rights experience.
The Director of the Community Relations Service and his staff need the advice, guidance, and assistance of a Cabinet officer in order to carry out their programs most effectively. The agency also needs departmental support and assistance which is deeply involved in and knowledgeable about what we do. The Attorney General is in a much better position than the Secretary of any other department of the Government to give me and the staff of the Community Relations Service the support we need.
In turn, because of the greatest bulk of the civil rights problems do gravitate to the Department of Justice, it is important that the Department has as many and varied resources to deal with those issues as possible.
Clearly, I want the Community Relations Service to be as deeply and broadly involved in as as much of the civil rights activity of the Government as possible. Such involvement will occur if the agency is in the Department of Justice. It is less likely to occur if the agency is located elsewhere.
For the foregoing reasons, I believe it to be the Department in which the Community Relations Service can operate most effectively and most efficiently.
None of these advantages would accrue to us in the Executive Office.
I would also like to point out that it is not unusual for conciliation or mediation functions to be housed under the same roof as enforcement responsibilities. A number of cities and 28 States which have established civil rights agencies of one kind or another house both the enforcement and the conciliation functions in the same entity.
Moreover, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Community Relations Service have worked together over the last year and a half, and have developed a sound, cooperative relationship. I am convinced that this relationship will be enhanced when both units are housed within the same department.
Finally, as you know, the Attorney General clearly agrees that the proposed shift will enable the Community Relations Service to work more effectively and more efficiently. He wants the Service to become stronger and more effective, just as I do. Other members of the Community Relations Service staff and I have worked with the Attorney General and some of his principal assistants and we are greatly encouraged by the support and cooperation which we have received from the Department and by the spirit in which that cooperation has been tendered,
I therefore strongly support Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1966, and I urge you to reject Senate Resolution 220.
I will try to answer any questions you may have.
Senator RIBICOFF. Mr. Wilkins, we will defer questions until we hear from Senator Hart.
Would you mind stepping aside so that Senator Hart can testify?
STATEMENT OF HON. PHILIP A. HART, U.S. SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF MICHIGAN
Senator Hart. Mr. Chairman, let me attempt to summarize here.
First, I wish to thank you for the opportunity to come and express a point of view in disagreement with the reorganization that is proposed.
I am not persuaded, Mr. Chairman, that the reasoning which induced us to enact legislation placing this agency within the Department of Commerce yet has proved to be wrong.
Now, both on the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Commerce I had an opportunity to listen to most of what was said as the legislation developed. I was persuaded then that it made good sense perhaps I should be more precise—it made good sense that not be in Justice, and I think it made good sense that it be in Commerce.
I think it is not a question alone of efficiency or better coordination or economy. I think it gets down to the basic philosophical reaction or instinctive reaction that one has as to the wisdom of placing the delicate function of mediating disputes in areas of high emotional intensity, in the years ahead, as communities adjust in the varied areas of civil rights, under a Cabinet officer-the Attorney General—when he is the principal agent of enforcement. There is no question about
the sensitivity and awareness and the civil rights conviction and dedication of the Attorney General and everyone in that department.
But with all of the assurances of additional personnel, and the separation within the Department of the Civil Rights Division and the Community Relations Service, and the confidentiality of the work of the Community Relations Service, it is pretty tough to avoid the basic fact that into this setting of dispute and concern and unrest there arrives a man from the Justice Department.
Now, he can have a separate credential and a separate badge, but to the parties in a situation of unrest, not all of them thoroughly familiar with the organization of the federal system, here is the man from the police department. And I am not at all persuaded that we were wrong in having this agency initiated some place besides the police department–because of all the fellows likely to generate confidence and tranquillity in that setting, it seemed to us the policeman ran last.
My suggestion, Mr. Chairman, is that we leave, for the time being at least, this agency in the Department of Commerce.
I think you can make a perfectly sound case for making the Service an independent agency-simply attaching it to a department for support, much as the Labor Mediation Service is.
Indeed, when then Senator Lyndon Johnson introduced this proposal initially in 1959, it is my understanding that is the way it was meant-and some of the comment he made at that time which I have included here makes even better sense now than then.
As the committee in the very excellent staff memorandum, 89-2-5, which you have, has quoted, President Kennedy, when he presented the legislation to the Congress in 1963, supported the concept of an independent Community Relations Service separate from the Department of Justice.
I have prepared other remarks, Mr. Chairman, which I shall not burden you with. But I would wind up by reminding those of the committee who had a management responsibility for any title of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that we carried to the floor every day for the many days of that debate a rather carefully done question and answer book. And in connection with title 10, one of the questions that we anticipated being required to answer, and indeed were, read this way: Why not leave these duties
Those of the Community Relations Serviceup to the Department of Justice?
The answer was:
The Department has in individual cases attempted to work along this line as necessary on an emergency basis, but a mediating agency separate from the Department of Justice whose duties are chiefly investigation and litigation would be preferable.
There is some additional information which I would like to have incorporated.
It is, therefore, logical that the Service be established in the Department of Commerce.
We stated that in good faith to the Congress at the time we were arguing that the bill should be adopted.
There are many areas that will be brought within the reach of that omnibus bill, where the penetration is just beginning.
I say this in response to the suggestion that we put the Community Relations Service in the Department of Commerce largely for the reason we anticipated difficulty under the public accommodations section.
We have yet to discover what kind of difficulties, in their full bloom, we will discover involved in the employment section. Indeed, we have no experience under the Voting Rights Act yet, no national election under the new Voting Rights Act.
It seems to me, Mr. Chairman-I admit I state this rather tentatively because we are dealing with something that none of us ought to be too absolute and pompous about: but I have a feeling that we would be wise to permit another few years to run in order that additional experience can develop with the agency in the Commerce Department.
I repeat, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, and acknowledge that my feeling and my presence here in support of Senator Javits' position results largely, almost entirely, from this basic notion that surely we can do better than at this stage of the game having the man who has to mediate, with all the confidentiality required, coming from the Department of Justice.
You and I know that he will be sympathetic, and that the Attorney General will support him and respect the line of demarcation. But can we be very sure that the parties to that situation, in whatever area it may be, will have that same measure of confidence, and lacking that kind of confidence, aren't we undercutting the effectiveness of the Community Relations Service?
Senator RIBICOFF. Senator Hart, thank you very much. Of course all of us involved in the battle for civil rights owe a great debt to you for your leadership role, your knowledge, and your sincerity through this entire fight. And I think there is no other Senator whose opinions are entitled to more respect than yours.
Do I understand that you feel that if this transfer is made to the Justice Department it would have a deleterious effect on the Community Relations Service?
Senator Hart. First, thanks for the kind remarks. They certainly entitle you to a direct answer to your question—and I am afraid I will duck that answer.
I have a fear that it might be a disservice to the function of the Community Relations Service, and under those circumstances suggest that a prudent course would be to continue with the agency in Commerce for a little while longer, when all of us would be in a position to make a more direct answer to that question.
Senator RIBICOFF. You were one of the authors of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. What did you have in mind in using the words "in confidence” or “confidentiality"? Do you think that the concept of confidentiality as it appears in the act is in jeopardy because of the transfer of CRS to the Justice Department?
Senator HART. I think that it would not be abused, diluted, in any respect. I say that knowing the quality and integrity of those who would be administering it within the Department of Justice.
My fear is that the mayor, or the head of the parents association in the school dispute, or the registrar in an elections contest, or the employer or employee or trade union would not be convinced that he could talk as freely to the man from Justice as he could talk to the man from Commerce.