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Both Mr. Larkin's testimony and the documents we have looked at raised some serious questions about whether the survey is complying with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, both in the disclosure of the subject matter and in the identification of the players involved. Last week, we asked Mr. Larkin for a list of the thousand or more corporate executives assigned to the task forces, So far, we do not have the list.
I want to make it clear to anybody in the room who has an interest in the continued good relationship between these task forces and this committee that I do not take lightly the fact that on the public record, both the executive director and Mr. Larkin said, “We will leave the list with you when we leave here today." They not only did not leave the list but they now refuse to acknowledge that they agreed to give it to us.
I cannot, for the life of me, imagine why a list of public-spirited citizens serving in the best interest of the Government should in any way be secret, certainly not from a congressional committee. While I do not like to talk about subpenas and the embarrassment it brings to all of us to have to resort to that, I would have absolutely no hesitation, with that witness or those who appear before this committee in the future, who refuse any legitimate request-in the opinion of the committee—for what should be public information. I find it absolutely extraordinary that prominent businessmen of the stature we are talking about are playing little childish games, like “We don't want to give you the list of our task force members."
We are not setting out to embarrass people because of conflicts of interest or other problems that were raised the other day, or the potential for other problems, but certainly the kind of cooperation that would have led this to be just a little passing inquiry is not forthcoming. I am becoming intrigued now about what is so great and mysterious about the list and who is assigned to what. By God, I am going to find out now, if it takes me the rest of the year and I have to abandon my campaign.
When somebody is afraid to tell a congressional committee something as simple as the names of the outstanding volunteers who are here to save our Government from fraud, abuse, and waste, there is something wrong. Either there is something wrong with the way in which the list was concocted, or there is something wrong with the makeup of the task force, or there is something wrong in the minds of the people operating this program, in the way they view their public responsibility. We will get that straightened out some place along the way.
Neither do we have task force work plans and agendas. Now, I have a number of them that have come to us in ways that I have no way to trace, so I had to assume they were public records and readily available. If copies were floating in here, they must be floating around elsewhere. We were told that the executive director does not have available the work plans to turn over to us. That raises additional questions with me and with other members of the committee.
Some questions of conflicts of interest or at least the appearance of such conflicts also have been raised. It may be possible that some corporations could benefit from certain inside information ob
tained by all these executives roaming freely throughout the Federal establishment. We have been told that this huge undertaking is being financed from the pockets of large business firms and that it will cost the public nothing. So far, corporations have given $1.8 million to conduct the survey, in itself a highly unusual method of financing a study of government. We cannot help but wonder, however, if these corporations are able to write off expenses and salaries of officials whose services have been volunteered. If this is the case, then there is a cost that the public is bearing. The subcommittee is also interested in knowing if there are any other hidden costs, such as special studies, equipment, and space.
So far, those conducting the survey have been proceeding with Congress and the public in the dark as to methods and procedures. In light of the documents obtained and testimony presented, some of the objectives themselves seem to be questionable. It seems to me that every committee of the Congress has a need and a right to know exactly what the survey is up to.
Mr. Pranger, we are happy to have you here today. I understand you have a prepared statement. You may either read or summarize it for the record, as you find most convenient, or add to it and supplement it in any way.
[The prepared statement follows:] STATEMENT OF S. B. PRANGER BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS, HOUSE
COMMITTEE ON Post OFFICE AND CIVIL SERVICE Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: My name is S. B. Pranger. I am Project Manager of the Personnel Task Force of the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control.
By way of background, I am a retired Federal Senior Executive. I worked in the field of Federal personnel management for over 25 years. During that period, I was Director of Personnel for the United States Department of Agriculture for eight years. Just prior to retiring I served three years as Associate Director of the Office of Personnel Management. I am currently self-employed as an independent consultant.
Our task force has three Co-Chairmen. They are Donald R. Keough, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Coca-Cola Company; John A. Puelicher, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Marshall and Ilsley Corporation; and Robert Hatfield, President of the New York Hospital. Task Force membership consists on 17 people from 16 different companies, most of whom are senior executives with experience and expertise in a broad range of personnel specialities.
Our work has been done in accordance with guidance and policies provided by the Management Office of the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control. We have completed two phases of the study and are currently involved in the third phase. These are:
Phase I: Organization and orientation of members.
Phase II: Identification of major issues to be studied in depth. It was at this stage that we developed our Work Plan which contained preliminary indicators of improvement opportunities subject to further review and analysis during Phase III.
Phase III: Detailed exploration of the issues identified in Phase II. The Personnel Task Force is currently in this phase. No final findings or recommendations have been drawn at this time.
Throughout each of these phases, we have gathered information from various sources including the following:
Interviews with Federal Managers (Office of Personnel Management, Office of Management and Budget, most cabinet level Departments and several independent agencies);
Reports of the General Accounting Office;
Various Congressional Reports such as the Mercer Report on Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; and
Statistical reports on the composition of the Federal work force.
Using this approach we are studying all major aspects of the Federal personnel system as well as the internal organization and operations of the Office of Personnel Management. This includes a review of personnel management operations, procedures, practices, methods and controls at the Office of Personnel Management and selected Federal agencies.
Mr. Chairman, from the very beginning of our work, we were aware of the sensitivity of our assignment. We knew that we would be dealing with issues affecting the working life of Federal employees. With this in mind, we developed a “Start Work Statement to Members of the Task Force on Personnel Management", to assure that our review and analysis gave due consideration to fair and equitable treatment of Federal employees. This statement, initially communicated to task force members within two weeks of work start-up was approved by each of our coChairmen and sets forth the principles which has guided our work throughout the life of our Project. Here is that Statement:
A START WORK STATEMENT TO MEMBERS OF THE TASK FORCE ON PERSONNEL
MANAGEMENT "Each of us has volunteered to be a part of one of the largest cooperative projects ever attempted; a survey on the Executive Branch of the United States Government in search of ways to improve efficiency and control costs.
“Our group carries a special burden of responsibility and a particularly acute need for sensitivity-not only to the ideals of government service in our democracy but also to the reality of government service as experiencd by over two million Executive Branch employees.
“While scholars are fond of saying things like: 'Ours is a government of law,' it is apparent that even the most perfect laws require people to administer them (just as they require people to abide by them). Governments cannot function without people and when a government is to serve all of its citizens, it must value different qualities in its employees than would a government intended to serve one class, caste, race, family, individual, or idea.
"If the best government attracts the best people and must be able to retain them, then government service must be made attractive for more than just patriotic reasons and in more than plain economic terms. Ideally, we should look for ways of assuring that people in government are neither underpaid, nor underappreciated, nor underutilized. We would seek to create a climate in which government service becomes a privilege as well as an obligation; a climate in which government employment is a satisfying and rewarding experience for those who serve and a cause for respect from those who are served.
"We should seek to provide competitive challenge and compensation, room for growth and paths for advancement, reasonable security, and sufficient opportunities for talented individuals to function and contribute that government itself can continue to improve. We would certainly do everything possible to retain our best, most experienced, and most creative public servants as long as possible.
"As we begin our task, it is important to remember that the government serving its citizenry and supported by that citizenry, must not violate the public's faith. Public funds, subscribed by taxpayer's dollars, must be used wisely. The Federal workforce must be used efficiently and effectively. The costs of government employment must be controlled as much as humanly possible without sacrificing the quality of government performance.
"Government employees are also citizens and taxpayers and they are no more in favor of unnecessary, inefficient, or ineffective government practices than we are. They, however, are better informed on those subjects, and in this cooperative effort, we will rely heavily upon their knowledge and experience.
“This project is vastly ambitious on the surface, but it is even more important than it appears. It has the potential of being a model of what can be achieved through cooperative effort in the private sector to aid the public sector and also by cooperation between government employees and government volunteers.
“We have no way of knowing at this point our efforts will produce suggestions for dramatic improvements in efficiency or in major cost savings. Each of us, however, is privileged to have been asked to participate in this endeavor."
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I will be pleased to answer questions by you and members of this Committee.
STATEMENT OF SY PRANGER, PROJECT MANAGER, PERSONNEL TASK FORCE, PRESIDENT'S PRIVATE SECTOR SURVEY ON COST CONTROL
Mr. PRANGER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you indicated, I have submitted copies of my opening statement. I would much prefer that it be entered in the record, rather than to try to read it. I believe it is rather self-explanatory, in terms of my background and an indication of the makeup of the personnel task force. I would much prefer to go directly to any questions that you may have, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I wonder if you would like to summarize the key points that you have made in your statement for the record, before we go into questions.
Mr. PRANGER. I will. My name is Sy Pranger. I am Project Manager of the Personnel Task Force of the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control. I am a retired senior Federal executive. I worked in the field of personnel management for about 25 years, sir, including 8 years as director of personnel of the Department of Agriculture and my last 3 years as associate director of the Office of Personnel Management.
I have listed in the testimony our three cochairs of the task force. Quickly, they are Don Keough of Coca-Cola; Jack Puelicher of M&I Corp., and Bob Hatfield of New York Hospital.
As I indicated in the testimony, we have completed two phases of the task force review, the first being the basic organization and orientation of the members, the second was the initial identification of items that we could go into in-depth review during the third phase. It was during this phase two that the work plan was developed for the task force. We are currently in the middle of phase three.
The CHAIRMAN. Excuse me. Would you mind if I interrupted you with some questions as we go along.
Mr. PRANGER. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. One of the things we asked the other day, for which I gained no understanding at all, is who develops the work plan?
Mr. PRANGER. The work plan, sir, was developed by the personnel task force, which included myself taking the lead on it, with input from basically all of the professional members of the task force.
The CHAIRMAN. So that was done by your task force, separate from any involvement of the overall—
Mr. PRANGER. No involvement whatsoever of the management group. It came out of the task force, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that pursuant to some instruction or understanding you have with respect to the operation of your task force that is common to all of the task forces?
Mr. PRANGER. I cannot talk about the other task forces. It is my understanding that this is what they expected me to do, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. But is there not some common agreed-upon time schedule and sequence of events that includes development of a work plan? Mr. PRANGER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. The words "work plan" seem, in ways that have been described to me, to be words of art now, in terms of the environment of this Commission. A work plan is a specific step in the process.
Mr. PRANGER. I was instructed that it was a specific step in the process.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there a set of criteria developed by the commission for you to follow in setting up your work plan?
Mr. PRANGER. No. There was no format or anything else given to us, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. You had no guidelines as a task force on what they wanted you to look at?
Mr. PRANGER. I have received guidance from both J. P. Bolduc and the other people in the management office of the President's Private Sector Survey, in terms that they are well aware of what is in that work plan, they have given us the basic guidance that we are to use as we proceed on the study.
The CHAIRMAN. Please go ahead. Mr. PRANGER. As I indicated, we are in phase three, which is the in-depth review. I have listed the kind of approaches we are using including numerous interviews of Federal managers, all throughout the Government, both career and noncareer, budget documents, reports of GAO, some of the reports of the Congress, including an in-depth review of the so-called Mercer report. We have obviously looked at the CBO reports concerning budget strategies and things like that, as well as statistical information which is currently on the shelf and available from OPM, in terms of the composition of the Federal work force.
The CHAIRMAN. CBO reports? Mr. PRANGER. The main CBO report was the report, “Reducing the Federal Deficit: A Strategy and Options," which was a report to the House and Senate committees on the budget, the congressional budget.
The CHAIRMAN. When you say Reducing the Federal Deficit, does that report deal with greater efficiency in the operation of OPM?
Mr. PRANGER. That report contains several cost control or cost reduction items in it, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that where your work plan picked up the $23 billion in savings-
Mr. PRANGER. Sir, may I make a statement on the work plan? I realize the fact that you have requested copies from Mr. Larkin of the management office of the PPSSCC.
The CHAIRMAN. Please let me make one thing clear to you. I do not quarrel with any of the numbers in the work plan. I do not quarrel with OMB's strategy. Mr. PRANGER. This is just CBO reports, sir, not OMB.
The CHAIRMAN. The Congressional Budget Office, yes. What I am concerned about is how numbers and the reduction of $23 billion in pension costs get up front as an objective of your task force, when everything setting up the task force says that you are going to look at process and administration, and that is substance.
Mr. PRANGER. You are questioning the wrong person on the question of policy versus operations, Mr. Chairman.