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UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20548
FOR RELEASE ON DELIVERY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS
THE PRESIDENT'S PRIVATE SECTOR SURVEY ON COST CONTROL
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
I am pleased to be here today to provide a progress report on
the information you asked the General Accounting Office to obtain
about the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control.
President announced this effort in February of this year and es
tablished, by executive order on June 30, the Executive Committee
which is responsible for conducting this survey.
Committee's stated purpose is to conduct in-depth reviews to rec
ommend ways to improve management and reduce costs in the Federal
The Executive Committee plans to complete its work
and report to the President by the end of the year.
You asked us to collect the following information
--the backgrounds and responsibilities of all participants,
--the legal authority for such an effort,
--the organizational structure for conducting the survey.
--the process for doing the work through task forces-
especially the task forces on Federal personnel and the Social Security Administration,
--the involvement of Federal agencies and the White House,
--the source of funding and costs to the Government, and
--the clearance process to protect against conflicts of in
The organizations that help conduct the survey consist of a man
agement office to coordinate and manage day-to-day activities;
a nonprofit foundation that collects money and resources from
private sector firms to support the effort (as of July 31, 1982,
firms had contributed or pledged about $1.8 million in cash to
the foundation); the executive committee of about 150 members,
most of whom are leaders of large corporations; and 36 task for
ces, each of which is studying a particular organization (for
example, the Air Force or Department of Labor) or function (for
example, personnel management or ADP).
As of mid-August, there
appeared to be about 1,000 people in the above organizations.
Through a charter with the Department of Commerce, which may
accept gratuitous service, the executive committee is an advisory
committee as defined by the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
committee provides policy direction and oversees the 36 task for
Executive committee members are Special Government Employees
and are required to disclose their financial interests to the
White House General Counsel and to the agencies being reviewed
by the task forces that they cochair.
Task force members do not
have Federal employee status and do not have to disclose their
They are required to certify that they will
make no unauthorized use of information gained during their review.
At least two executive committee members serve as cochairs
for each task force.
Each task force studies its assigned Federal
area through four phases over a 16-week period.
Based on this
study, each task force will summarize its findings and recommenda
Through written requests, meetings, and interviews, we have
obtained some information that you requested giving us an under
standing of how this survey is being conducted and the involvement
of Federal agencies.
However, we have not yet collected all the
information that you requested. For example, the management office
has not provided :
--A complete list of all participants, their backgrounds,, and
their responsibilities. This information has been provided for only a small number of participants, primarily executive committee members.
--Legal guidance for establishing the organization, clearance
processes, authority, and conformance to Federal advisory committee provisions for this survey.
--Task force objectives, work plans, and progress reports.
--A full description of the role and function of all groups
shown in the management office's organization chart.
In response to our written requests for this and other infor
mation, the Director of the management office informed us on
August 13, 1982, that because of "certain legal implications
involved with respect" to our requests, the management office asked
for a legal opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Depart
ment of Justice, as to which data we should receive.
We have re
ceived no further response from the management office on the
status of our requests.
officials associated with the survey and many agency contacts
that we interviewed have been reluctant to discuss anything spe
cific about their efforts.
We informed these officials and agency
contacts that we only planned to collect the requested information
that such a status report or "snapshot" may be unfair and prema
--the survey is constantly evolving,
--someone might criticize or misuse the information.
The question of whether certain information in the possession of the management office should be generally available is, we believe, part of a larger issue about the Executive Committee's ob
ligations under the Federal Advisory Committee Act and Department
of Commerce administrative orders.
The act and the orders levy
several requirements on advisory committees in general. looking further at the extent to which these requirements are met.
That completes my testimony, Mr. Chairman. I would be happy to answer any questions based on the general material that we col
You have requested our opinion on whether the 35 task forces operating as part of the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control in the Federal Government are "subcommittee(s) or other subgroup[s]" of the survey's Executive Committee within the application of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The Executive Committee is recognized to be an advisory committee under the Act and, in accordance with the Act, it has been chartered as such by the Department of Commerce.
For the reasons stated hereafter, we conclude that the task forces are subcommittees or subgroups of the Executive Committee within the application of the Advisory Committee Act.
Section 3(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Pub. L. No. 92-463 (October 6, 1972), 86 Stat. 770, 5 U.S.C. App. I, provides in relevant part:
"The term 'advisory Committee' means any committee, board, commission, council, conference, panel, task force, or other similar group, or any subcommittee or other subgroup thereof (hereafter in this paragraph referred to as 'committee'), which is-
"(A) established by statute or reorganization plan, or
"(B) established or utilized by the President, or
(C) established or utilized by one or
in the interest of obtaining advice or