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Representative Mead. Not the Comptroller General in that case, for the reason that the Post Office Department had the right to acquire sites.
Mr. BROWNlow. Does not the Comptroller General audit all the accounts ?
Representative MEAD. Oh, yes; the Comptroller General audits all of those accounts.
Mr. BROWNLOW. He keeps the accounts of the Post Office ?
Representative Mead. I presume if the Post Office Department purchased a site across the street, and there was nothing wrong with it, the Comptroller General could not stop the purchase.
Mr. BROWNLOW. But the Auditor General, in the system we have provided, would have the power to go into that, not only into the legality, but into the fact, say, that here is an appropriation for chairs where there is no question about the legality of the use, and the Auditor General would be able to give you the information, whether those chairs were needed or whether they were ever bought and delivered.
Representative COCHRAN. Suppose he made an exception and he held the money could not be spent for that purpose, his power ends there?
Mr. BROWNLOW. Yes.
Representative COCHRAN. Therefore the administrative officer can spend the money if he desires, which he will do. It is not compulsory on the part of the administrative officer to ask the Attorney General for an opinion?
Mr. BROWNLOW. No.
Representative COCHRAN. How is Congress ever going to find out whether the Auditor General was correct or not to say whether it was an illegal expenditure?
Mr. BROWNLOW. The report would come immediately.
Mr. BROWNLOW. Then the Congress can send for the administrative officer involved and say, “Why was this?”
Representative COCHRAN. He can say, "We feel that it is legitimate and we spent the money.". Now, we cannot get a report from the Attorney General unless we pass an act of Congress, the Attorney General will not give an opinion to the Congress of the United States under any consideration.
Mr. BROWNLOW. But you would get your Auditor General's report, and you would get it at once.
Representative COCHRAN. We would have to decide ourselves. We would have to be the judge of whether or not the expenditure was legal or illegal.
Mr. BROWNLOW. I agree with the way Senator Robinson put it a while ago. You make the appropriation. The Congress makes the
. appropriation, and it puts any limitation it so desires on it. Then it is the responsibility of the Executive to expend that money in accordance with the law. Then it is, in my opinion, the obligation and the duty of the Congress thereafter to review in an orderly manner those expenditures to see whether or not those were made by the Executive in accordance with the law, and that cannot be done by what Mr. Vinson calls fishing expeditions, but there must be some regular orderly procedure by which to report all of the expenditures to the Congress, those to which the auditor has made no exception, and those to which he has made exception, as well.
Representative COCHRAN. The Congress is going to be the judge in the matter unless the administrative officer asks for an opinion from the Attorney General.
Mr. BROWNLOW. No; the Congress would be the judge of whether or not the administrative officer, the executive officer, had or had not obeyed its mandate, but it would not be in a position to interfere in the processes of that administration determination.
Representative COCHRAN. I understand that fully. It is not going to interfere, but just going to decide after the money is gone.
Mr. BROWNLOW. As is now the case in practically all the cases.
Representative CoCHRAN. We are going to decide ourselves and we are not to have the benefit of an opinion of the Attorney General unless it is asked for, that is my point.
Mr. BROWNLOW. I am not informed on that particular point.
Representative COCHRAN. I confirmed my own opinion with Mr. Hester a few minutes ago, and he says I am absolutely right. One other matter I would like to clear. You gave an example
I of the purchase of that typewriter. Is it not true, Mr. Hester, before a dollar is spent, either on personnel or for supplies, if a requisition is made for additional help or for supplies, before that is approved somebody says that the money is there to pay?
Mr. HESTER. Yes.
Mr. BROWNLOW. That is an administrative check. You have got the administrative checks, and the administrative checks as to the department would not be disturbed at all. That would be continued.
Representative COCHRAN. I was inclined to dismiss that control system from my mind, Mr. Brownlow.
Mr. BROWNLOW. I am glad you do.
I would like to say it is very useful to have this question brought up, but I would like later to submit for the record a brief summary, so it will appear in one place, the types of information that the Auditor General under the proposed plan could furnish to the Congress which it has not heretofore had.
Our committee thinks that one of the most important features of our whole report on administrative management in the entire Government, the entire executive branch of the Government, is the sharpness of the accountability of the executive to the Congress for the manner in which it has exercised its responsibility under laws and under the appropriations that have been made to it by the legislative.
Representative COCHRAN. Let me ask you one more question, not speaking of the merits of Mr. Vinson's suggestion at all in reference to investigations, if that plan was carried out would not we have the same complaint from the executive branch of the Government, about the investigators interfering with this administrative management?
Mr. BROWNLOW. You might get complaints, but I do not think complaints of investigation are warranted. I think that complaints of where there have been stoppages and changes in the administrative process, which is the responsibility of the administrative official, are warranted. I do not object to a little irritation on the way of investigation and audit.
Representative COCHRAN. The complaints that came to Congress of the activity of the Bureau of Efficiency were that their investigators were so numerous that it resulted in the Congress destroying or abolishing the Bureau of Efficiency.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, have we concluded this afternoon with Mr. Buck! I think in all possibility that is all, and we thank you, sir. I will confer with the House chairman and announce when the next meeting will be held. We will stand adjourned subject to the call of the chairman.
REORGANIZATION OF THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS
MONDAY, MARCH 29, 1937
JOINT COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION,
Washington, D. C. The joint committee met, Senator Robinson presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The hearings lately have dealt with that phase of the proposed legislation which relates to accounting. The President's committee and others representing that committee have expressed their views on the subject and explained the plan that is incorporated in the report and recommendation of the President's committee.
This morning we have with us representatives of the Brookings Institution, which, on behalf of the committee of which Senator Byrd is the chairman, have made a study of this subject, and I shall ask Senator Byrd, who is familiar with the state of the studies and reports by the Brookings Institution to call the witnesses.
Senator BYRD. The first witness will be Mr. Meriam.
STATEMENT OF LEWIS MERIAM AND DANIEL T. SELKO,
Senator BYRD. Will you give your position in the Brookings Institution?
Mr. MERIAM. I am a member of the staff of the Institute for Government Research of the Brookings Institution.
I will present at this time my colleague, Dr. Daniel T. Selko, and my colleague, Mr. Malcolm Merriam. We are all members of the staff of the Institute for Government Research of the Brookings Institution.
I should perhaps say a few words regarding our procedure at the Brookings Institution, which is dedicated to group research in the social sciences. To be brief, I shall use the present report of the financial administration of the National Government as an example. The primary research was done by Dr. Selko, assisted by Mr. Malcolm Merriam. They prepared a first draft of a report which was then read by almost all the members of the staff of the institute, who made criticisms and suggestions. The recommendations were then gone over in detail in what was virtually a committee of the whole, so that they represent the result of the group think of the institute.
When we were invited to appear before your committee our group elected me to what was called the office of chief spokesman of our own institute committee, with the understanding that I should be assisted by Dr. Selko and Mr. Merriam who have done the major work. Dr. Selko is entitled to the credit for the report.