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which is subject to change and improvement. I have no objection to giving them all, but I would like to have the guidance of counsel. Under our contract with the Commerce Department, the foundation itself is enjoined from giving out work papers or plans which include information from different agencies without the permission of the agencies. I am not thoroughly familiar with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and if counsel tell me that there is no problem giving them, you shall have them. But I want to make certain that I am on sure-footed ground.
I would like to comment a little further, Mr. Chairman-
The CHAIRMAN. Let me just stop right there. The Federal Advisory Committee Act, as we read it, is rather clear and unambiguous. We believe that your task forces are subcommittees of the advisory committee, and that clearly this is the kind of advisory committee that was intended to be covered by the act, and that is why I asked you the question about whether you are holding meetings and whether your meetings are public. It goes without saying that since the passage of that act, no advisory committee can amass any kind of material inside a Federal agency without making that available to the public. The minute you touch it, as an advisory committee, you turn it into a public record. Certainly your counsel has been aware that you have the capacity to take otherwise privileged information inside an agency and turn it into public information just by the fact that you have asked for it. I think that the legal impact of that is something you should not overlook. Now that you have turned it into a public record, I think you ought to be very hesitant about following anyone who advises you to hold it back, much less from the General Accounting Office.
Mr. LARKIN. I am not an expert, as you are, on this, sir. I do not know that by securing this information-particularly Federal employees who do so, or special ones—it is then dedicated to the public. As I said, we will be perfectly willing to give you all the work plans or anything else, as long as I find that counsel says I should or must. I would like to comment a little further, sir, for your information. I studied the California report about a week and a half after the President asked Mr. Grace to assume the chairmanship here. So I am reasonably familiar with most of it; I read the whole thing at that time. I must say, I am a little chagrined to hear you express the opinion that you think we are wasting our time, that we are confused, and so on. We have dedicated a lot of time, with a lot of people, to try to do our best to make a constructive effort here. All we can do, when we finally get to do it, is to recommend. We cannot do a single thing. It is up to you to decide whether you like it, whether you think it is meritorious, or whether you are going to turn it down; and the same thing is true of the administration. We are in no position to implement a single thing, and it is up to factors beyond our control. However, we will furnish you with the rationale of some of the areas we are looking at, and we will be glad to consult with you further.
The CHAIRMAN. I have not looked at the agriculture report yet. Who is running the agriculture study, the task force on the Department of Agriculture?
Mr. BOLDUC. That happens to be two gentlemen by the name of Bill Graham and Billy Prince, as cochairs.
The CHAIRMAN. Which corporations are they employed by? Mr. LARKIN. Billy Prince is retired. He is the former chief executive of the Armour Co. some years ago.
The CHAIRMAN. That is the meat packing company? Mr. LARKIN. That is right. The CHAIRMAN. And who is the other person? Mr. LARKIN. It has since been changed; I think they call it Esmark.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the other cochairman's firm? Mr. LARKIN. The other cochairman is a man by the name of Bill Graham, with Baxter Travenol, which is a laboratory research company.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not have anybody with the Pillsbury Co. there? Mr. LARKIN. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. These people were not selected because they come from businesses that are intimately intertwined with the Department of Agriculture, because of knowledge they would have of how the Department of Agriculture regulates meatpacking, for example, meat grading and inspection and all of the other multitude of regulations that they do in that industry. You said they were picked because of their business expertise and just by coincidence they happen to be in an agency that is, in the case of the gentleman from Armour, probably the principal Federal agency with which he had to tangle during his professional life with Armor & Co.
I have no quarrel with that-Mr. LARKIN. We have a fine line to draw, sir, between some acquaintanship with the area and a lack of conflict of interest.
The CHAIRMAN. I am not suggesting a conflict of interest.
The CHAIRMAN. I am trying to develop with you why I would like to look at these work outlines for the task forces, because I would like to see whether the intimate association that the people on the task force have had with that agency would lead them, as it has this task force, into policy questions rather than into administrative questions with regard to the Department of Agriculture. I would like to see if they are undertaking to study the wisdom and the value of farm price support programs, marketing order systems, and so on, and the way in which they are administered. There is a big difference, a real big difference. I suggest that my friend, the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, if he sees the same kind of outline that you have here for the Office of Personnel Management with respect to Federal employees outlined for programs under his jurisdiction in agriculture, is going to want to talk to your task force about how they relate that to the administration of the Department. I think now, at this point, it is essential that we have a look at the counterparts of this document for all of the task forces, and maybe you would have some consultation with your committee. You might want to caution them about going too broadly into policy areas, outside of the charter of your advisory committee.
I do not want to quarrel with you about the niceties, if you will, of the Yederal Advisory Committee Act. It is very clear. It is very
explicit. It has been enforced in the past, and it did not exist in the State of California at the time that that task force existed, so you cannot work the same way they did in California. It was passed at a time when this country was overwhelmingly concerned about any kind of governmental or quasi-governmental activity, particularly with regard to the gathering of information of importance to the public being withheld from the public. That is why the act is replete with procedures that make it somewhat difficult for you to proceed, but at the same time guarantees that you will proceed as if you were elected or appointed public officials in the public eye, so that the public can see in effect what it is you are doing.
We take that rather seriously, and I would hope, if we look at these other task force papers, we will find that the people on the personnel task force just went overboard, and it is not typical of what your study is doing, because that will raise other questions.
Mr. LARKIN. May I ask a question at that point, Mr. Chairman? The CHAIRMAN. Certainly. Mr. LARKIN. Are you suggesting that you require all the work plans of every other subject, in addition to personnel?
The CHAIRMAN. We thought we did it the easy way. We asked GAO, among other things, to get those for us. They reported back to us that they have not yet been able to get them. We are getting some of them from a variety of sources. It is a very unsatisfactory way to get this material. I can read you some of your internal memos. You know, people are sending these things to us. But that is not the way to do this. Let's put it on the table and look at it.
Mr. LARKIN. I still would like instructions, if I may. I understand you to say, you wish them all?
The CHAIRMAN, I would like to have each of the task force work plans to look at, at this point.
For the record, did any committee meet and agree to this? Who has the responsibility for the content of this work plan?
Mr. LARKIN. The different task forces themselves.
The CHAIRMAN. But did they do that by having a meeting and agreeing that this is the form of their study?
Mr. LARKIN. They reviewed all these background recommendations that have heretofore been made and not implemented, they discussed areas and issues with the different agencies with whom they work
The CHAIRMAN. Who is they? Who sat down and agreed that this particular task force work product would
Mr. LARKIN. The project manager, on the input he got from the investigative people he has, made a recommendation which was considered by the cochairman of the task force, who agreed that this was a good work pian, presumably. They have been submitted to us, and we have been reading them. They are proceeding along these lines.
But I get back to my question. Are you telling me that you are instructing me or requiring me to turn over all the work plans on all the departments, to the extent we have them? We do not have them all yet; we only have about 20 out of 35. Am I instructed to turn them over to other committees as well? This is getting to be a very complex situation. We have a lot of problems.
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The CHAIRMAN. I do not want to instruct you to do anything. I am asking you, in as warm and friendly and cooperative a way as I can to do that for me. Mr. LARKIN. Then would you give me some guidance?
The CHAIRMAN. If you would rather find a central place to make them available to all the other committees that are going to have an interest, just give them to GAO. Then they can, like we, ask for a summary of the contents.
Mr. LARKIN. I will immediately check with counsel, sir, and if they say so, you will get them all.
The CHAIRMAN. If you find from your counsel that he or she has any difficulty with this, I wish you would let me know right away.
Mr. LARKIN. Yes, I will. And if you do not trust us to tell you, why I would urge you to go and ask counsel yourself.
The CHAIRMAN. No, no, no. It is not a question of trust. I do not want you to be placed in a position, on the advice of counsel, where it looks as if we have a problem. I do not want to have a problem. I am just asking for public information, and I do not see why there should be any hesitation in giving the chairman of any committee of this Congress public information. Once that information comes to your task force and goes into your files, it is public; that is my view. If your counsel disagrees with that, we would appreciate knowing it.
Mr. LARKIN. Very good. We will do so.
May I ask if the reporter would furnish us, as quickly as possible, with your exact words, your statement of your request, so that I have no misunderstanding?
The CHAIRMAN. Let me state it for you again. I would like to have available for this committee to examine all of the existing task force work programs comparable to the one I am looking at now, which is labeled “Personnel Task Force, Opportunities/Tasks, Summaries and Work Plans, Employee Benefits.” I think, in the lexicon of your committee, you are referring to these as the task force work plans; is that right? Mr. LARKIN. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. So I am asking to examine all of the work plans that you presently have-a copy of them.
Mr. LARKIN. You further asked that we furnish you, as expeditiously as possible, the rationale-
The CHAIRMAN. That was on the specific question of the rationale for exceeding the stated purpose of the July 15 release from the White House, which said that you would not get into programs or policy, when in fact this work plan here, on its very first page, has you going into both program and policy and not at all into structure.
In particular, I called your attention to the fact that you, in the work plan, call attention to the fact that there are 2.7 million Federal workers not now covered by social security, and that the economic impact on the Federal Government of that has some importance. That, clearly, is a question of policy: whether we are going to make social security universal or not. It is not even going to be decided by this committee. But what you are doing here, in our area of concern, civil service retirement systems, which are under this committee, is talking about a policy question as to whether or not
something else ought to be substituted for them, rather than the question of whether they are efficiently operated.
You will find on the White House, Office of the Press Secretary, July 15, 1982, "For Immediate Release, Fact Sheet on the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control in the Federal Government: Concept, Objective, Organization, Scope, Funding, and Schedule." Under the title of "Scope," the second paragraph says, "The survey will concentrate on eliminating duplication and inefficiency. Policy, programs, and organizational structure will not be specifically addressed, unless special circumstances so dictate." I am not suggesting that special circumstances do not dictate it, but I want to know what the special circumstances are that dictate that you go outside the stated scope of your inquiry in the case of Federal employee health benefits and Federal employee pension systems. That is all. That is what I mean by rationale.
Why did you decide to go outside the limited scope for those, and what are the special circumstances that led you in that direction? Now, here is something else I suppose would be interesting; I am looking at an item on the letterhead of the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, dated September 7, 1982, "Memorandum to Desk Officers and Project Managers," from J. P. Bolduc, initialed “J.P.”
We would like to begin compiling a listing or an accounting of three to five of the most horrifying and ridiculous events, anomalies, conditions, and practices found by your task force. These need not be large dollar items but rather should focus on the ridiculous and the absurd. We would like to have these available to support and reinforce our final product. While I am asking for three to five, I will gladly take more. Try to limit their description to no more than one page. You may feel free to submit these to me through your desk officer on an ongoing basis. Thank you.
It shows a carbon copy for distribution to J. Colson, J. Nance, J. Peter Grace, L. Kamsky, and F. Larkin. Are you the Larkin on there?
Mr. LARKIN. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Were you not a little disturbed when you got this?
Mr. LARKIN. Let me ask Mr. Bolduc-The CHAIRMAN. No. I am asking you. You got a copy of this, and Mr. Grace got a copy of this.
Mr. LARKIN. Yes, I did.
The CHAIRMAN. Did this language not bother you, as a successful and respected businessman here with a responsible job to perform, coming from your top professional?
Mr. LARKIN. Yes. I was not aware of the issuance of that before I saw it. I have inquired that the ideas and what the plan, if any, is to use such things, whether this is scheduled to be or somebody thought it might be a Senator Proxmire's Golden Fleece Award or just what. I do not know, and I have already told several task forces to ignore it.
The CHAIRMAN. Maybe Mr. Bolduc would like to comment on it.
Mr. BOLDUC. Mr. Chairman, as one who has lived as a public official for a number of years, in not only the public sector but the private sector, and as one who has paid a fair amount of attention to studies of this nature that have been done over the course of the last several years, you will find that there are large numbers of re