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mighty fine group on this—are working on something that will not be of significance, in terms of recommendations, in any area we are looking at.
The CHAIRMAN. What about the question of limiting COLA's to estimated private-sector COLA's? Mr. PRANGER. The same answer, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. And that answer is that you assume they are working on that?
Mr. PRANGER. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Again quoting from the work plan, "placing a 50 percent cap on future COLA's for those who retired since 1970?'' Mr. PRANGET I have no idea what is going on in that area, sir. The CHAIRM. J. You do not know?
Mr. PRANGER. They are looking, as I indicated, sir, at all of the major aspects of personnel. Now, once again, you are leading me back into the work plan itself on it. I repeat, again, we have nothing but draft issue papers developed now, the people are working on it, they are continuing to work on what will ultimately be the draft recommendations on it, and I am in no position to even discuss those because we are not even at the point of knowing basically what we are going to recommend on these areas. So you have got me too early for that or too soon in the timetable.
The CHAIRMAN. Not too soon, if you are going to have this by October, the first week in October. That is only a couple of weeks away.
Mr. PRANGER. Well, there are weekends and there are nights to work, sir. We will very probably be working on them.
The CHAIRMAN. So the task force is now working on these things?
Mr. PRANGER. They are drafting all kinds of papers right nowbackground papers, issue papers, summaries of the information that they have gathered, sir. We will repeat, we will go into intense discussions on it. You are too early to try to pin me down, in terms of where this is coming out, sir. I would hope, seriously, and I would hope I would promise you-
The CHAIRMAN. I hope I am not giving you the impression that I am trying to pin you down to anything. I am trying to learn and find out what is going on here. I am having some difficulty understanding the role of the task forces. We have floating around here the idea that 150 top executives, who are accompanied by a whole phalanx of executive talent from their private endeavors, are doing something for us. We expect that report before the end of the year. Then we find that in an area that is very sensitive to this committee, instead of studying particularly the operation of the Office of Personnel Management and the management techniques and strategies that they employ in the administration of numerous programs, you are studying the content of the programs.
I do not think that anybody has any difficulty understanding that both OMB and CBO can develop all kinds of numbers on how you would save billions of dollars in pension payments. But there is a difference, it seems to me, between what the public has been led to believe and the Congress has been led to believe you are looking at and going to give us, and what the Congress, through its committee structure, ought to be looking at in trying to make policy
decisions. I find that you are, in your work plan, outlining a program that deals with the most sensitive policy matters presently pending before this committee.
You suggest to me that you are not at liberty to discuss why you are into policy rather than procedure and also suggest that you have never been really instructed to restrict your recommendations to procedure and avoid the pitfall. You have had experience over there and are very much aware of the way in which the community known as the Capitol operates. You smiled a little bit when I asked you if there was any significance in having a report from your task force. Would you not be a little bit uneasy about a report coming out in October, in an election year, a reality that we must take notice of, that had a lot to say about these basic policy issues such as capping COLA's and changing social security coverage?
Mr. PRANGER. Mr. Chairman, the report will not be coming out publicly from the personnel task force. It will be going to the overall executive committee of the PPSSC, and any report that is released will come out of there. It could well be that they do not agree with some of the recommendations we make. So I have no idea on the timing and when that will come out or anything else.
The CHAIRMAN. It was indicated the other day by the witness that the members of the task force were not picked with respect to or because of any particular expertise in the area of program content in the Federal agencies but more because of their experience generally with management in a large organization. You were the Director of Personnel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 8 years, and you say, “Just prior to retiring I served 3 years as Associate Director of the Office of Personnel Management. I am currently self-employed as an independent consultant.”
You are doing all of this work at the expense of your consulting firm, I take it?
Mr. PRANGER. No. I am on the payroll of the M&I bank corporation for this particular job. I have a list, once again, of the task force members, which indicates the company with which they are working on this.
The CHAIRMAN. You are an employee of whom?
Mr. PRANGER. The Marshall and Ilsley Corp., which is a bank holding company out of Milwaukee. One of our cochairs is Jack Puelicher, who is the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of that corporation.
The CHAIRMAN. How many OPM employees are assigned to work with you over there?
Mr. PRANGER. None.
Mr. PRANGER. We set up interviews, predominantly through the key people on there. If we are interested in a given area, the classification system or something, we set up interviews. They are resources we are talking to; they are not assigned to me in any way. We have received from Dr. Þevine carte blanche to talk to any person in the Office of Personnel Management in their area of expertise, but we have none assigned to us.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you have some place from which you operate? Mr. PRANGER. Yes, sir. We have space in the Office of Personnel Management building.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you have some people who are employees of your task force either employed by members of the task force employed in that portion, who are paid employees of the task force assigned to your task force, sitting in OPM?
Mr. PRANGER. Yes, we have our task force over there, which consists of 17 professional members, and we now have 3 clerical support people. The clerical support people have been hired by private companies for our use; they are at no cost to the Government, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. So OPM provides you with space for 17 professionals? Mr. PRANGER. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. And how many support people do they have? Mr. PRANGER. We have a total of 3 support people, so there is a total of 20 people on the task force, sir.
I might also remark, and I do not mean it facetiously, we are two to three to a small room, too. We have not taken over a major portion of the space in the Office of Personnel Management.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, that parallels a complaint of successive Directors of that Office over there about our penurious treatment of their budget for personnel and professionals. That is one of the reasons why I would like to have, when you finish, some opinion from you as business experts on whether we give them enough money to operate an agency like that. That is a very important consideration. I think that this committee has considered, over the last half dozen years, at least that many cuts aimed specifically at their budget, for a whole variety of reasons, but nevertheless, we have been cutting back ever since I guess Scotty Campbell's time. That is the kind of thing that we had hoped your task force was going to be able to give us an outside, nonpolitical, independent appraisal of.
That is a kind of appraisal that has a great deal of value, because it is impossible for the committee to totally separate the personalities currently incumbent in that office and practices currently causing tensions from a fair analysis of what the optimum size and personnel complement of an office of personnel ought to be. The work plan that I have, which you indicated may not be complete, does not indicate that you are spending any time or considering that type of examination of the office to be a priority, and I would like to know whether or not you are going to be looking at that.
Mr. PRANGER. We are looking at the major operational units of the Office of Personnel Management with regard to about several things: The authorities that are delegated to them in other words, the program areas they are working on the size of their budget, the size of their program. We, I think I can safely state, will make several recommendations concerning what we think will be good efficiencies, in terms of both the organization, the staffing, and the operation of OPM. Now, whether or not we can satisfy you from a complete indepth study of the 5,000 and some odd full-time permanent employees there, I do not know yet, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. It is your view at this point that although we may be operating off of something that has been updated in the way of a work plan, you are under instructions not to share the real work plan with this committee?
Mr. PRANGER. Yes, I am, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. In your 8 years with Agriculture and your 3 years with OPM, did you ever run into a situation where anybody was in doubt about sharing with the Agriculture Committee or this committee the contents of any work plan or people stationed within the agency? Mr. PRANGER. No. I can honestly say I have not, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I would not like to speculate in a vacuum. Would you care to speculate with me on what public interest is being protected by not sharing that information with us?
Mr. PRANGER. Sir, I am in no position really to respond or even to speculate on it. I am, if I may be blunt about it, one of the workers down in the fields on this thing; I have nothing to do with the policy implications or anything else of this, sir. I prefer not to talk about it.
The CHAIRMAN. Can you suggest, from your perspective, as one of the people down in the field, as you describe it, any way in which sharing that work plan with this committee would be deleterious to or expected to interfere with the efficient carrying out of your mission?
Mr. PRANGER. No, I cannot speculate on that, sir. I have no thoughts one way or the other on it, very frankly.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there any reason why there will not be a convening of your task force for the purpose of accepting these drafts that are being proposed. I assume you will do that by having some kind of meeting, won't you?
Mr. PRANGER. We will have the individual members. I doubt very much if we will be able to get the cochairs. It may well be that we will sit down and the people involved in the given areas and I will sit down and argue back and forth in terms of where they are going on it.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not expect any kind of a formal meeting to occur before that work product goes to Mr. Grace? Mr. PRANGER. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. So, if you do not have to have a meeting to decide anything, how do you then identify that product as the consensus or majority view of the task force?
Mr. PRANGER. Obviously, the task forces are working on different functions on the thing. In terms of what happens on the clearance of the draft report, once again, that will be handled by the management office of the PPSSC. I will repeat, once again, our report is to that group up there, and I have no idea how they are going to handle it, whether they intend to convene meetings or anything else on it.
The CHAIRMAN. Hov: do you reach a conclusion? You have four cochairmen here.
Mr. PRANGER. Three cochairmen, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Three. How do you reach a conclusion to forward? By what process?
Mr. PRANGER. We normally send them copies. We give them a weekly update on where we are, sir. We give them what we call a Fridaygram. With regard to the ultimate draft document that goes out, the current plan probably will be that we will send it out to them by Air Express, and then they will have a chance to come back and argue and comment on it. I would make one point on it: The three cochairs have, to a very great extent, allowed me to really run the operations. They have been obviously available for guidance, when I call them on the phone and things like that, and they have been very helpful, in terms of getting the people onboard from the private sector. But to a great extent, it will ultimately be a product that I will have to accept the primary responsibility for, sir.
Once again, I am not in any way downgrading the action of the three cochairs.
The CHAIRMAN. But you are expected to make recommendations to the executive committee. Mr. PRANGER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. And so, those recommendations will, by and large, be your recommendations?
Mr. PRANGER. Yes, with copies going to each of the three cochairs, before it goes up there, and then I will expect either telephonic or some kind of a “Yes, you may go with them” on it.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you tell me who, specifically, and howby writing, orally, or how you were ordered by the management office not to-Mr. PRANGER. It was orally in a meeting, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Orally? Mr. PRANGER. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. How long ago? Mr. PRANGER. Yesterday.
The CHAIRMAN. Yesterday? In anticipation of your testimony here? Mr. PRANGER. Yes, sir..
The CHAIRMAN. You were called in and given specific instructions about how to-
Mr. PRANGER. I was not called in. I was in there, in a meeting with them, sir. But I was basically told that I was not at liberty to discuss what was in the work plan nor reveal it, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. And who told you that?
The CHAIRMAN. That is almost embarrassing to me, because Mr. Larkin told me just last week that he had no objection to sharing the work plans with us at all. He just did not think they had all been gathered together yet.
Mr. PRANGER. I don't even know what went on. I was not up here, sir, so I cannot comment on that.
The CHAIRMAN. He has not been completely candid with one of us, then.
I want to thank you very much for your cooperation and for your statement. We will have some additional questions to submit to you as time goes on. I am sure that we will be interested in visiting with you as you move ahead with your work and hope that you will be able to share with us some very positive suggestions on how we can improve the efficiency of that department over there. It never has been one of the departments recognized for its great efficiency, at least in my years on this committee, and it certainly is no better now, if not worse, than it has ever been. You could not be doing your work at a better time, at least for me as chairman of