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The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Fine?
Mr. MANSURE. I just want to be fair on it in answering your question. The CHAIRMAN. That is perfectly proper. I think that you
have been fair.
Mr. MANSURE. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you familiar with the testimony taken before this committee concerning the award by the Public Buildings Service of a contract in August 1954 to the New York City architectural firm of Serge Petroff ?
Mr. MANSURE. No; except to just hear about it, I am not familiar with it other than that.
The CHAIRMAN. The testimony indicates that Serge Petroff is an active client of Mr. Strobel's firm, and that this firm since 1953, Mr. Petroff's firm, has been retained by them for four different jobs on various dates. The testimony indicates that.
Mr. MANSURE. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, the testimony, Mr. Mansure, also indicated that Mr. Strobel personally recommended Petroff to Mr. Lawton, the New York deputy regional director of the General Services Administration, for what he termed a rush job in connection with the building at 70 Columbus Avenue, New York City. Are you aware of that?
Mr. MANSURE. I am. I was not, Mr. Chairman, aware of the other circumstances, but I was familiar with the situation at the time. The problem was to get anybody to do the job. But I knew nothing about the previous business connections between that firm and Mr. Strobel's firm.
A year ago, because time was so important, it was a question of whether anybody would take the job in the limited period which they had to do it in. So I looked at Lawton's testimony this morning, and I honestly feel that he didn't intend to convey it the way it reads. I don't think that Lawton felt that there was a specific instruction on the part of the Commissioner to give the job to these people, I think that he was trying to bring out the fact that they were qualified, and if they would do the job, give it to them.
The CHAIRMAN. Don't you think that in the light of the circumstances-here was a superior of Mr. Lawton who was telling about the Petroff firm, it was a rush job, and they could do the rush job—and in view of the fact that Mr. Lawton said while it was not an absolute instruction, he felt that he shouldn't deal with any other firm, don't you think that was a firm command, almost, to deal with Petroff?
Mr. MANSURE. Well, knowing our people I wouldn't so interpret it, because they are pretty independent. The thing was that we didn't have anyone else that showed a definite interest in taking that job, that is the problem we were up against at the time.
Of course, all of these other things have come in since then that I knew nothing about. But at that time, going back without the hindsight, and putting ourselves in the position of the negotiations then, which I was not a part of but which I heard about, here was a job that had to be done within a certain period of time, and we had to
have an architectural-engineering company on the job. Now, at one time we had that service within the Government, but due to the shortage, or due to the lag in building during the forties, our Engineering and Architectural Department has been greatly reduced, and we don't have that type of experience now for those rush jobs.
The CHAIRMAN. If you had known of the relationship of the Petroff firm with Strobel & Salzman, you would not have approved that job, or giving it to Petroff, would you?
Mr. MANSURE. I would rather put it this way: If I had known it, I would have checked into it very carefully, but I still would have been confronted by the practical approach of having to give it to this firm because we didn't have an alternative.
The CHAIRMAN. But Mr. Strobel didn't disclose to you his previous negotiations?
Mr. MANSURE. No; I was not in on those negotiations at the time, other than I knew the importance of them.
The CHAIRMAN. He didn't tell you that Petroff was a client?
Mr. FINE. Would it have made any difference, in the light of the rush job?
Mr. MANSURE. I am afraid that under the conditions, we didn't have any alternative. In other words, we were over the barrel on the job. But I certainly would have questioned, I will have to grant Congressman Fine I would have questioned any influence being used. And I still think there wasn't any influence used.
Mr. FINE. You still think there was not!
Mr. MALETZ. Now, Mr. Mansure, do you think that Mr. Strobel should have notified you at the time of recommending Petroff, that Petroff was a client at that very time, of his concern?
Mr. MANSURE. I will answer your question specifically, but I would like to preface my answer with this: That if I had been in Mr. Strobel's place I would have done that
Mr. MALETZ. You would have done what, Mr.Mansure ?
Mr. MANSURE. I would have notified the Administrator. However, his experience and my experience are entirely different. He is a professional man, with great engineering knowledge. I think it was a question of just not realizing the situation, which other people with a more practical approach would have realized.
Now, I haven't the ability in the engineering field that he has. So, for me to say whether he should have done that at the time, the answer would be "Yes." But I believe that the reason he didn't do it is, it never entered his mind that he should have done it.
Mr. MALETZ. Was it consistent with your code of ethics for him not to have made that disclosure!
Mr. MANSURE. I would say that it was not consistent, but again, I would like to qualify the answer. I don't think it ever entered his mind.
Mr. MALETZ. In other words, you regard Mr. Strobel's activities in connection with the Petroff case as naive; is that correct?
Mr. MANSURE. That is correct. I don't think there is anything deliberate about all of it. The job wasn't even of enough importance financially, it was headache job to begin with, whoever took it, of
course, they would make something out of it, but most of the firms weren't interested in it on account of the time limitation.
Mr. MALETZ. Let me turn to the Robert & Co. matter, Mr. Mansure, and specifically the selection of Robert & Co. by the Public Buildings Service to draw additional plans and specifications for the United States Communicable Diseases Center in Atlanta.
Do you recall the conversation with Mr. Strobel on August 4, 1955, concerning this matter.
Mr. MANSURE. Yes. That was the one that was reported in this transcript here. I read that. That is substantially correct.
Mr. MALETZ. That transcript of the telephone conversation which has been introduced in the record ?
Mr. MANSURE. Yes. I don't recall it verbatim, but that was the gist of it.
Mr. MALETZ. Do you recall telling Mr. Strobel that there was a lot of criticism about the possible selection of Robert & Co. because of Chip Robert?
Mr. MANSURE. Yes; I will be very frank. The criticism was that the Robert firm had received a number of jobs in the past, and many people felt it should be spread around a little bit. And then, frankly, they thought he was a pretty good fund raiser for the Democratic Party. That was what the whole conversation was about.
Mr. MALETZ. Who made that criticism?
Mr. MANSURE. It came from the local people in Georgia, and some criticism here in Washington.
Mr. MALETZ. Now, when you discussed this matter with Mr. Strobel, did you know—did Mr. Strobel advise you that his firm, Strobel & Salzman, had private business relationships with them?
Mr. MANSURE. No; I did not know about that at all.
Mr. MANSURE. Mr. Chairman, I approved the letting of that contract, and I took the responsibility upon myself of this criticism. I did it on the basis that it was merely an extension of a job that had already been completed and paid for. And I was advised that it would be really unethical to bring in another architectural firm on plans that had been completed and were all ready to be worked on. I was critical about it, because, frankly, I will say that I like to see this business spread around a little bit. I am not speaking politically, but I don't think that anyone, whether they are a Republican firm or a Democratic firm, should have all the Government business.
Mr. Malatz. Did you know, Mr. Mansure, that in March 1954, Robert & Co. had tried to steer some business to Strobel & Salzman?
Mr. MANSURE. No; I knew nothing about any connections between the firm and the partnership at all.
Mr. MALETZ. Do you think it was proper of Mr. Strobel not to have disqualified himself in the Robert matter?
Mr. MANSURE. Well, I made that decision myself, so he really didn't I didn't know about the other, but I made the decision because of the unique case that it was; it was the completion of a former job, there was criticism about giving it to this firm, nothing whatsoever about their professional competency at all. So although Mr. Strobel
signed the actual agreement, I made the decision, and he signed it
Mr. MALETZ. Do you or do you not think that Mr. Strobel should have disqualified himself completely in the Robert matter?
Mr. MANSURE. Under the conditions, yes. But there again, I think he just never thought of it. I don't think he did it deliberately.
The CHAIRMAN. You say he should have disqualified himself?
Mr. MANSURE. Yes; but practically he did, because although he signed it, he signed it at my direction.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, do you think he should have signed it, which was a recommendation
Mr. MANSURE. Yes; he would sign it at the direction of the Administrator, because that is the function of the Commissioner of Public Buildings.
The CHAIRMAN. And don't you think he should have disqualified himself!
Mr. MANSURE. I beg your pardon?
The CHAIRMAX. Nonetheless, don't you think he should have disqualified himself?
Mr. MANSURE. Mr. Chairman, actually he did disqualify himself as far as a decision was concerned. All he did was carry out the mechanics of signing the contract, but he signed it at my direction. I assumed the full responsibility of it.
Mr. MALETZ. Didn't Mr. Strobel send you a memorandum recommending the selection of Robert & Co.?
Mr. MANSURE. No; I don't recall any memorandum. If he sent it, I have forgotten it. What he did was, we discussed the ethics of the case.
The CHAIRMAN. You discussed the what?
Mr. MANSURE. That is, bringing in another architectural firm on plans which had been drawn by-bringing in an architectural firm on plans which had been drawn by a firm which had had the contract.
Mr. MALETZ. Do you recall that on August 12, 1955, Mr. Strobel wrote you a memorandum recommending the selection of an award to Robert & Co.?
Mr. MANSURE. Well, he might have; I might have that memorandum, but it is very clear in my mind that he recommended them, because we discussed it on the telephone.
Mr. MALETZ. Now, at page 86 of the transcript-I don't believe you have the memorandum in your copy of the transcript—Mr. Strobel sent to you a memorandum reading:
During the week of August 15, I propose to call a principal of the firm of Robert & Co. Associates to Washington for the purpose of negotiating a supplemental contract for certain revisions in drawings completed by them in July 1954. The revisions are within the category of additions which have been requested by the Public Health Service subsequent to the completion of the drawings.
It would be impracticable to utilize the services of any other firm for this additional work for the following reasons:
1. No reputable architect would take the drawings of another architect at this stage and make the changes required by the Public Health Service.
2. If you could find a firm willing to undertake this work, the fee paid them would, of necessity, be much larger than a fee which we would pay to Robert
& Co. for the identical work. Robert & Co. has all the basic figures upon which they prepared their structural and mechanical designs. Any other firm taking on the project cold would be required to establish the basic figures prior to extending mechanical and structural systems already designed by Robert & Co.
The estimated cost of the additional work which includes air conditioning, animal runs, additional elevator, emergency generator, and an extension to one of the bays is estimated to cost approximately $488,000. This figure was included in the prospectus approved by the Bureau of the Budget and the congressional committees. Our fee curve indicates that Robert & Co. should receive a fee of between $23,000 and $25,000 for this work.
Mr. MANSURE. Yes; I recall the memorandum.
Mr. MALETZ. Would this indicate to you that Mr. Strobel had disqualified himself?
Mr. MANSURE. Well, I interpret that as purely information for me, because, as I say, in view of the circumstances, I really made the decision on that case.
The CHAIRMAN. But that is not a disqualification that you just heard; that doesn't say that “I disqualify myself for certain reasons,” and then have the reasons disclosed.
Mr. MANSURE. No; it is not a disqualification. But, after all, he didn't carry through the act; that is the thing.
Mr. MALETZ. Well, you carried through the act, predicated upon his recommendations; is that right?
Mr. MANSURE. Well, I wouldn't say recommendations, I would say I interpret those as facts of the case. I mean, I don't interpret that as much of a recommendation as the reasons for coming to the conclusion. I am not trying to evade the question, but I mean I try to take the facts on both sides and then come to a conclusion myself. I make my own decision on things of that type.
Mr. MALETZ. Didn't this memorandum of August 12, 1955, set forth reasons why in Mr. Strobel's judgment this contract should be given to Robert & Co.?
Mr. MANSURE. That is correct; yes.
Mr. MALETZ. Under those circumstances wasn't this memorandum in effect a recommendation to you?
Mr. MANSURE. Well, as I say again, I interpret it as a statement of facts and condition. And then I drew my conclusions from that. I didn't—to be honest with you, I did not take that as a recommendation from him, as a statement of a condition of more or less expert opinion or necessity to make the decision.
Mr. MALETZ. You are saying that this recommendation did not govern your final action?
Mr. MANSURE. That is correct.
I was very much concerned with outside objections—that is what I was concerned about—and I made the ruling on that basis. I felt it was fair and just for them to have the contract.
Mr. MALETZ. Now, you are familiar, Mr. Mansure, with the fact that Government officials should not prosecute claims on behalf of their private firm before Government agencies; is that correct?
Mr. FINE. Mr. Chairman, I just want to make sure I understand this. The question seems to imply that nobody could prosecute a claim for any purpose, and I don't think that is so. I think the question should be put more accurately; that is, put the fact.
Mr. MALETZ. All right.
The testimony here, Mr. Mansure, has indicated that Mr. Strobel, acting on behalf of the partnership of Strobel & Salzman, prosecuted