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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1941
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 a. m., the Honorable Guy L. Moser (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, I will call the committee to order. Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Jones, is here and he would like to testify, and I would like to have the committee's attention while he testifies, that he may return to his other duties. I gave him my word that we would not hold him any longer than absolutely necessary.
Secretary Jones, we will hear you.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JESSE H. JONES, SECRETARY
Secretary Jones. Mr. Chairman, I am here to stay as long as I can be of any service, and I am here to testify to something I do not know a great deal about, because there are men in the Department, particularly the Director of the Census Bureau, who are qualified to discuss the bill in detail.
It is my understanding that the bill does not give the Bureau any power it has not had for a good many years. It does add the right to make information available to national-defense agencies under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of Commerce. The bill will, I am informed, enable the Census Bureau to engage in current statistical work, which will make speedily available, rather than after some lapse of time, information which is badly needed by the 0. P. M. and the War and Navy Departments. As I understand, they inspired the legislation.
The bill provides that the Census of Manufactures, which is now taken every 2 years, will be taken every 5 years, and that the Census of Distribution and Mining, which is now taken every 10 years, will be taken every 5 years. The current statistics and the changed census period will give normal users of census figures more information than they now get and not less, as some people seem to think.
. R. 5232, introduced by Mr. Rankin, is identical in form with S. 1627, already passed by the Senate, with the exception, as I understand it, that the Senate bill somewhat lessens the penalty for violations of confidence. Our people do not seem to think that is particularly serious, but that would be for you gentlemen to consider.
The change made by the Senate in passing the bill is satisfactory to the Department of Commerce.
Officials of O. P. M. have discussed the bill in great detail with our Department, and it, I am informed, represents their views and they are very anxious to have it passed, because it will enable us to serve them better than we are now able to.
That is about a summary of my testimony, but I shall be glad to try to answer any questions that any of you may wish to ask me.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Jones, as chairman of the committee, naturally I have had some expressions of opposition to the bill. The chief opposition to the bill among my colleagues, I believe, can be boiled down to subparagraph (b) of the Senate bill, S. 1627, which would provide that the Director of the Census be authorized, when directed by the Secretary of Commerce, to collect and compile, collate and publish current or periodic statistical data supplemental to any census or other statistical inquiry authorized by law.
That is determined as a sample census.
Thé CHAIRMAN. What they call a sample census, subsequent to any other census. It further provides, "The collection of any such current or periodic statistical data shall be undertaken only if the Secretary of Commerce, after due investigation, shall find the inquiry necessary to serve a broad public need."
My question would therefore be just what in your capacity as Secretary of Commerce you would construe to be a sufficiently broad public need to authorize the Bureau of the Census to take a sample census at intermediate periods following the biennial census, as authorized by the Congress and the Constitution?
Secretary JONES. I should think that anything that appeared to be important in the public interest at the time.
The CHAIRMAN. Soine of the members of the committee, and Members of the House, have expressed their opposition to taking sample censuses, and I was just wondering what condition might arise to permit yourself, or any Secretary of Commerce who might be your successor, to construe a broad public need as sufficiently ample to have the Bureau of the Census take a supplementary or sample census in the interim between the decennial periods enacted by Congress?
Secretary JONES. I cannot speak of anything particular, but if in the defense effort certain information was needed, and that was presented to the Secretary of Commerce, and it was demonstrated to his satisfaction that it was desirable in the interest of the program that such a census should be taken it would be done.
Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Secretary, you have had broad business experience, From your very broad business experience, are you satisfied that 5 years is often enough to take this regular business census? You take them now every 2 years, and the bill proposes to spread them from 2 years to 5 years. As a businessman, will business get enough information each 5 years to enable it to go ahead and transact business in the regular way?
Secretary JONES. I think coupled with the current information that the Department gathers and feeds out to business they will get all the information they need.
Mr. ALLEN. I say that, Mr. Secretary, because that is the objection that has been made to me, that the business interests need the information more often than 5 years.
Now, let me ask you this; lengthening out the period from 2 years to five years, will that seriously affect or hamper small business? The administration is making an effort, and we are all making an effort to keep small business alive. We want to help small business. Will this stretching it from 2 years to 5 years be in favor of big business or small business, or will it affect them both the same?
Secretary Jones. I do not think it will affect either one of them seriously, and I think, if it affects either, it would be the same to one as the other.
Mr. ALLEN. The representation has been made to me that some of the larger concerns of the country have their own facilities for determining these matters, and they do not need this work done as badly as the small concerns do. I am therefore vitally concerned to know whether this would seriously affect small business.
Secretary Jones. I do not think it will. I think any businessman, however small, or regardless of his size, anywhere in the United States, can get good service from this Bureau if he will ask for it. I mean, if he wants something other than what he is getting regularly, he can get it by merely asking for it.
Mr. ÅLLEN. In other words, is the Secretary of Commerce to determine when this sampling should take place? If small business interests should come to you and say, "Mr. Secretary, we need certain information, and we would like the Director of the Census to get this information for us—".
Secretary Jones. We would endeavor to do it.
Mr. LELAND FORD. Mr. Secretary, in view of the many dislocations that are taking place, due to priorities and other things, with some businesses going out of business do you think the time is appropriate now to start this on a 5-year basis, rather than the 2-year? As you know, there will be a lot of businesses dislocated. Should not information be had of those who go out of business, in order that we may readjust ourselves at the time we may have to do it? You do not know when that will be, neither do I, but it seems to me there will have to be readjustment in all commercial lines of business. Considering those facts, do you think the time is appropriate to make that change now?
Secretary JONES. I don't believe that we will make any change that will adversely affect our ability to serve business. I appreciate the point you raise, that is, about this dislocation, because we are beginning to feel it already. We are beginning to hear from all sections of the country about-well, a fellow, maybe, cannot get a keg of nails, and if he had it he could build a house. But that, I assume, will be adjusted as soon as the department in charge of priorities is able to formulate its plans and get these things into operation. It is a very big undertaking to do that. I mean, to establish a system of priorities and get it effective throughout the country, and I am sure that everybody in business, and not in business, those served by business, will probably have a great many irritations and inconveniences, at least for a time, but I think it will certainly, I hope it will—be ironed out soon.
Mr. LELAND FORD. I take it you mean that the time will be appropriate. I notice the regular census we have been taking before will be taken for 1943. As I understand the bill, after that it will be taken every 5 years. If we do take it in 1943, there will be many businesses that will go out before then. We do not know what kind of a mess, or what kind of a deal we may be in in 1943, and if we undertake not to take that census again for 5 years, it might result in lack of information. At the same time, I would like to see, not only this deparment, but many of our governmental departments, not do those things so often where they are not needed, resulting in duplication of work. I commend that attitude on the part of the Government as a good business attitude, but I also have in mind where the services are necessary we ought to have that information. Personally I am not qualified to say, and I have a good deal of confidence in your judgment of business affairs, and I was wondering if that had been fully considered, the effect of discontinuing that at this time, or whether this was an appropriate time to make the change.
Secretary Jones. I think if we found at any time that Congress was in session that we needed something we did not have, we would come and ask for it, and if we presented a good case you would give it to us.
Mr. LELAND FORD. In other words, the Government should take advantage of every savings that could be made, and if there is additional information needed, it will be made available to us upon request.
Secretary Jones. That is right. I have been here 9 years now and come into Congress frequently, and by laying the cards on the table and being frank with Congress, Congress accepts our suggestions pretty readily. We try not to make them except in a proper way. So I think there is never any danger that we cannot come to Congress with anything that is worthy, and get it.
Mr. LELAND FORD. May I ask one more question. It certainly should result, however, in some material savings, should it not? Especially when it goes into effect. That is, taking it over 5 years rather than 2 should result in considerable saving.
Secretary Jones. I think so. It should spread the work out, and we can use the money, particularly during the defense program, for some emergency.
Mr. LELAND FORD. If it is needed?
Mr. BISHOP. On page 2, subsection (b), it says, “The Director shall be authorized.” Who in the past has been authorized?
Secretary Jones. May I just read it?
Mr. Bishop. Yes; who has been authorized in the past? In other words, what I am trying to bring out is, is this loading some extra work on you, or has that been done by this department before? That is on line 7, page 2.
Mr. CAPT (Director of the Census). The Director of the Census, heretofore, under the supervision of the Secretary of Commerce, has had these duties. That will not entail any additional duty on either the Secretary of Commerce or the Director of the Census. This kind of work has been the duty of the Department of Commerce and the Bureau of the Census heretofore.
Mr. PETERSON. That is nothing new, then?
Mr. CApt. No; it adds no new duty to the Department or the Bureau.
Mr. KRAMER. How much additional help will it require?
Mr. Capt. It probably will require no additional help. That is something that goes on normally, year after year.
Mr. KRAMER. Your present organization will be able to carry on this work without adding any new ones?
Mr. CAPT. Except during the period of the canvass, the personnel will not be increased. At present, it would not be increased. If we got into the field work we would have to put on a field force and increase the local staff to such extent as will be required.
Mr. KRAMER. But that is merely temporary?
Mr. KINZER. Mr. Secretary, you have mentioned certain census information was needed now, which was the reason for this request for this measure. Could you advise us what you have in mind when you say certain information, because every 10 years you take the decennial, then you have the manufactures every 2 years, the agriculture every 5, as I understand, and together with your resources for securing information for the larger industries, what information to you now have that this would aid you in securing, and that you believe necessary?
Secretary JONES. Did I mention in connection with the defense work when I made that statement?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; you did.
Secretary JONES. Inasmuch as the defense officials have worked this out in detail with the Department, I should like to have Mr, Capt, or someone else, answer that question, because there are de I am not familiar with. But that is my understanding, it is to better enable us to serve the defense program.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any further questions of the Secretary?
Mr. GRANT. With reference to this paragraph (b), I am wondering if this supplemental census that is provided for at your discretion is not intended to indicate trends, and thus keep your 5-year census modern enough to fill the needs of business. I am wondering if perhaps that is not the reason for that particular paragraph in the bill,
Secretary Jones. Would you mind developing that with Mr. Capt and Mr. Taylor, the other gentlemen who are more familiar with the work than I?
Mr. GRANT. Certainly.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any further questions of Secretary Jones? If not, Mr. Secretary, we thank you for honoring us with your attend
Secretary Jones. I am honored to be here. It is my job and my responsibility, and I am at your service any time.
The CHAIRMAN. I think the committee agrees with you that your 9 years of service has been such that you have the confidence of Congress.
Secretary Jones. Thank you very much. We are trying to make the Department of Commerce a real service agency for the business of the country. We are trying to do that. We feel we understand the point of view of business, and we also feel we understand the point of view of the Government.