Page images
PDF
EPUB

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.

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 Mír. 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 reports whose recommendations are never implemented. We did a fairly exhaustive analysis to try to identify why. One of the things that we found was that frequently the findings and the conclusions and the recommendations lacked specific illustrative examples of what happened as a result of that managerial breakdown or an inefficient operation. We can cite the one that was in the newspaper here just recently, attesting to a computer error on the part of GSA that allegedly cost the taxpayer $35 million.

Granted, the use of the word "horror stories” perhaps was not a good choice, but the overall objective and the intent was to try to gather specific case examples that we could use to more fully support the findings and conclusions and recommendations that we came up with.

The CHAIRMAN. What puzzles me about this is that you are not asking a member of your staff to go through the product of your task forces and find the most horrifying and ridiculous events, anomalies, conditions, and practices found by that task force. You are writing to the task force, presumably before they have done the bulk of their investigation, saying, "We would like now to begin compiling an accounting of three to five of the most horrifying and ridiculous events.'

Now, multiplying by 35, that means you should now have a list of at least 105 horrifying and ridiculous events returned to you from the task forces, with or without regard to their final product.

Further in your memo, you say, "These need not be large dollar items, but rather should focus on the ridiculous and the absurd.” Now, what kind of credibility is your report going to have, if you are telling the task force project managers that you are not concerned with saving money or how much money can be saved with what they find but only in showing how ridiculous and horrifying the anomalies are in the operation of programs. Now, what is it that you are after? What is going to be productive and useful for the American people if you continue muddling around like this, with this kind of instruction to desk officers and project managers.

Mr. BOLDUC. First of all, Mr. Chairman, it is not an instruction; it was a request. Second, I think you will concur that a breakdown in administrative systems need not necessarily be tied into a monetary impact to be significant. It may be a precautionary measure, such as preventive maintenance, if you can identify the basic breakdown today and preclude excessive expenditure in future years. So it was not tied to dollar impact for that specific reason.

The CHAIRMAN. But that is not what you said. You asked them for these interesting tidbits. You asked them to produce some "sexy" examples, to use the vernacular, and then you said, "These need not be large dollar items.'

Mr. BOLDUC. That is right.

The CHAIRMAN. That, as has been suggested, sounds like the Golden Fleece Award. It does not matter how ludicrous; if it looks silly to the American public, that is more important than the substantive question of whether it is worthwhile to expend the Federal Government's money in this way. And what you are supposed to be doing, what the President asked you to do, is to find out about waste and inefficiency in the Government and better ways for the Government to conduct its business so as to assure taxpayers of efficient service at the lowest possible cost.

Now, given that kind of a charge, where do you come off now directing these people to shift their attention from the big dollar items to the ludicrous, horrifying, and ridiculous? Which is important to you: finding horrifying, ridiculous anomalies, or finding bigdollar ways to save money for the Government?

Mr. BOLDUC. Mr. Chairman, you are reading a lot more into that letter than what is there. There is nothing in that letter to suggest a refocus. It simply states

The CHAIRMAN. It is profoundly simple and direct. In 18 years here, I do not remember seeing a memo that was quite as bold and as direct and forthcoming as this one, and I have seen some dandies. I would expect that if I had written this memo, I would now be wishing that I had not distributed it. But the fact is that you are the chief executive in charge of this whole operation, and this displays your attitude about what it is that you are trying to find. That, to me, is a little bit distressing, because we have the assumption that all of the Federal agencies have been asked to open their doors and their records and their operations to your unlimited perusal. You are not, as they think, going in there to look at their operations to save big-dollar items; you are going in there to find out what they have done that is silly and ludicrous or horrifying.

If that word gets around to these people, I suspect that they are not going to be as cooperative as they might have been. I think you ought to issue a new memorandum, making it very clear that what you are interested in are operational efficiencies in the Federal Government, and saving the taxpayers' dollars, and not in embarrassing some individual who made a mistake at some time in the administration of a program.

Mr. LARKIN. I will undertake to clarify that, Mr. Chairman. Beyond that, I would say, however, that while our main goal is to try to find inefficiencies and save dollars, I believe that some of the examinations we make and some of the recommendations we will probably come forward with will probably cost a lot of money. They will not save any money through increased efficiencies, and we are hopeful there will be savings down the road. I am thinking particularly in terms of many of the computer activities of the Government. We find some of them to be quite obsolete. I think we indicated that a good deal more money needs to be spent. We have not concluded how much or what; Maybe the subject will be so complicated we cannot finish it. But I believe there will be areas where we will be spending money or recommending such, rather than saving it. We are hopeful it will be for future savings.

I think it is really a very mixed bag. We are not taking our eye off the idea of finding as much savings as we can.

The CHAIRMAN. I thank you. I must now yield to my colleague. We would like to submit some more general questions to you, and if you have any additional thoughts of your own, or anything you want to add to the record to supplement the record, please feel free to do so. The record will be open for you to do that.

You have identified Mr. Bolduc, in your opening statement here today, as the chief operating officer of the Survey. I do not know how you want to do it, but I think maybe Mr. Grace might want to

« PreviousContinue »