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Mr. Fitts. Mr. Chairman, I certainly do. If it stood alone, with the Fleet Corporation case standing there, there would be an arguable question, but when you take on top of that the passage of the Tennessee Valley Authority Act of 1933—and one more thing, Mr. Chairman—and legislative history is important in matters of this kindwhen you take into consideration that in 1935 this Congress twice refused to pass statutes which were offered by the Comptroller General to bring about that result
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). I have heard all that argument and I have read your brief and I have read their brief and the two opinions. I know all about that. Mr. Fitrs. Then, Mr. Chairman, we just disagree.
The CHAIRMAN. But that is not what I asked here of you. I asked you if the words "agency or other establishment of Government" included T. V. A.?
Mr. Frits. In the light of the Fleet Corporation case I think not.
The CHAIRMAN. Within the meaning of common understanding of English words, does it?
Mr. Fitts. Í am talking about an interpretation of the statute, and you have asked for my opinion, and it is no.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, in the meaning of the English language as commonly understood among people!
Mr. FITTS. That is right. The CHAIRMAN. All right. I am glad to get you down that far. The real difference of opinion between the T. V. A. and the Comptroller General's Office, without reference to personalities—put it that way—is the question of whether or not the Comptroller General will have power to say whether or not the expenditures of the T. V. A. have been within the law or outside of the law? Isn't that it?
Mr. Fitts. Not quite.
Mr. Fitts. I would say, it is that plus the power to control the way in which the business of the Corporation shall be administered, by disallowing payments and charging them back against the disbursing office. I think that expresses it.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, I am not talking about disallowing or control. I am talking about the question of auditing these accounts and passing on whether they are legal or illegal.
Mr. Fitts. He should audit them. Everybody agrees he should.
The CHAIRMAN. And pass upon the legality of them? Is not that right?
Mr. FITTS. And to enforce— let us add one more word—and to enforce his interpretations both of law and of policy. My answer is that it should not be done.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Now then, where does the T. V. A. get its money?
Mr. Fitts. It gets its money from Congress.
Mr. Fitrs. Yes; I presume it is. Either that or borrowed money. Of course, you cannot distinguish between the two.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, when it comes to appropriations, you come to the Appropriations Committee for appropriations, for an appropriation, we will say, of $40,000,000, that you got the other day, and you have a regular set-up and budget arranged for the T. V. A. ?
Mr. Fitts. That is correct.
The CHAIRMAN. And in that act, and in all of the acts appropriating to the T. V. A. heretofore, they have specified the uses for which the funds were appropriated ?
Mr. FITTS. No, sir; that is not true.
The CHAIRMAN. Did they not say that when they appropriated so many millions of dollars for the Gilbertsville Dam, that it was for the construction of the dam?
Mr. Fitts. No, sir. Let me tell you what it is.
The CHAIRMAN. The act, of course, will show. You do not need to go into that.
Mr. Fitts. If you want my answer, the annual appropriation act appropriates the money for all of the purposes of the Tennessee Valley Authority in a lump sum, and then says "including certain things, and names them. There is no itemization of funds. There is a lumpsum appropriation for all of the purposes of the Tennessee Valley Authority Act.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean to say that when they appropriated for the Gilbertsville Dam they did not specify that it was for the construction of the dam?
Mr. Fitts. Not a certain amount of money, no, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Did they say anything about it? Mr. Firts. They said this, let us say-I forget what the sum was— “We hereby appropriate $40,000 for the purposes of the Tennesse Valley Authority Act, including the construction of a dam known as Gilbertsville Dam, on the Tennessee River in Kentucky.” That is the way it reads.
The CHAIRMAN. “There is hereby appropriated” is the way it reads ? Mr. Fitts. I mean on the specifications.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, then, it is your position that, regardless of the amount of money that the Tennessee Valley Authority expends, or the purposes for which it expends it, that in the discretion and judgment of the Board of Directors, Congress should have no supervision over it whatsoever, other than to render an ordinary audit, and that the Comptroller General should not have anything to say about it?
Mr. Firts. That is not my position, Mr. Chairman. I tried to state this morning that I think Čongress should have, and does have, complete control over what this organization does
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Now, right there-
One is to get information and the other is the power to act. Now, you have two different ways of getting-you have three different ways
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Just a moment I know that
Mr. Fitts (interposing). Three different ways of getting information.
The CHAIRMAN. You have stated that-well, all right.
Mr. FITTS. You have the power to act, because all you have to do is cut off our appropriations, or tell us in any kind of language you want to that we can only spend it for such purposes.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, wait a minute
Mr. FITTS (interposing). Now, I think that is bad theory, but you can do it.
The CHAIRMAN. Just a moment, Mr. Fitts. You are going to get into trouble on this pretty quick if you do not stop when I ask you to.
Mr. FITTS. I stopped as fast as I could.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Now, if you answer my questions we will get along; if you do not, I will ask you to leave the witness stand.
You are resenting the power of control by the Congress through the Comptroller General. Is not that what you are doing?
Mr. Firms. I do not agree to that, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Fitts. My position is that Congress has set up an agency, given it charter powers in its act, and that the responsibility for administering the business of that agency rests on those who are appointed to do the job and who are responsible for doing it. That is my position.
The CHAIRMAN. And you are opposing any further action by the Congress in opposition to this bill which would seek to put any other restriction on that
Mr. Fitts (interposing). I am opposing any action that gives veto power over administration to the Comptroller General or anybody else.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, you are opposed to this bill, you say?
The CHAIRMAN. Is not that opposing further action by the Congress?
Mr. Fitts. It is opposing this action, just as—does not any citizen have a right to oppose action!
The CHAIRMAN. Certainly, he has a right. Now, you mentioned some of the particular instances in which you had had experiences that convinced you that it would be hardship on the T. V. A. to have the Comptroller General have any supervision over its administrative activities, and you named one with respect to, I believe, Hardin County, Tenn. ?
Mr. Fitrs. I named that along with others; yes, sir.
Mr. Fitts. That was an agreement on their part to pay us a certain amount of money.
The CHAIRMAN. For what?
Mr Fitts. For letting some of the children of the county attend one of the construction-camp schools located at Pickwick Village, when we were building Pickwick Dam. Their schools were overcrowded, and they asked for permission to have some of their children attend the school that was being run there for our construction employes, and we said, "Certainly, they can attend, if you will agree to pay us what it is going to cost to take them in there.” That is what it was.
The CHAIRMAN. What kind of a school are you conducting at Pickwick Dam?
Mr. FITTS. None now.
Mr. Fitts. An ordinary elementary school to teach the children of the employees. There was no place else for them to go.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand that. Something similar to what they would have at any large industrial plant?
Mr. FITTS. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. Where a coal mine, for instance, is located where they do not have facilities for public schools?
Nr. FITTS. Yes; similar to the schools conducted in some of the other construction projects.
The CHAIRMAN. How do you get your teachers for those schools?
Mr. FITTS. Of course, that is a matter that I am not particularly acquainted with, Mr. Chairman, but I think they are hired through the regular personnel department of the Authority.
The CHAIRMAN. What I am trying to get at is, do you get them through the regular public school authorities of the country, or do you get them independent of that?
Mr. FITTS. That is a matter that the personnel department handles. I have no doubt, knowing their policies pretty well, that they consult with the public-school authorities and ask for their recommendation.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you require academic qualifications in the way of a teacher's certificate!
Mr. FITTS. I have no doubt of that. Of course, I do not know; I do not run that end of it, Mr. Chairman. But I am sure they do.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, is there any supervision of the schools by the public authorities in any way?
Mr. FITTS. You mean the State and county authorities?
The CHAIRMAN. And there is no regulation as to what shall be taught in the school and what shall not be taught!
Mr. Fitts. No; I do not think so. I imagine not.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you not think that the question of whether or not the operation of a public school should be conducted within the camps or on the properties of the T. V. A. is a question that Congress should know about?
Mr. Firts. Congress has known about it for years, Mr. Chairman. We have had to report that to the Congress every time we appear before the Appropriations Committee.
The CHAIRMAN. I have never found it in your annual report.
Mr. Fitts. It is in there, Mr. Chairman, I am sure. I have read it just recently. It is in the annual report. It is in the report before the Appropriations Committee and in the budget request. It has to be.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, you mentioned another claim of the Alabama Power Co. for repairs on the Sheffield steam plant?
Mr. FITTS. Correct.
The CHAIRMAN. Was there anything in the agreement between the power company and your company that could not have remained in status quo without injury to either party, until approval or disapproval had been obtained from the Comptroller General ?
Mr. Frrrs. Only this, Mr. Chairman, that, judging by my own experience with them, they would never have approved it, because we were accepting less than, apparently, on the face of things was due, and if they had approved it, it would have been months later.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, suppose you had, you would have been litigating in the courts, and in the meantime you would have sought the advice of the Comptroller General to make settlement, would you not!
Mr. FITTS. I do not know.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, you have just had what you regard as an unsatisfactory experience with the Comptroller General's office, and you just do not want to be subject to it?
Mr. Fitts. I am not the only person that has had an unsatisfactory experience with the Comptroller General's office. And it is not that. It is the principle of having people in the field who are supposed to do the job, and then having their decision on discretionary matters reviewed and overruled, so that they never know whether they are safe in taking a particular action or not.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know about how many Government agencies there are in existence that expend funds of the Federal Government that are subject to audit and control by the Comptroller General's office ?
Mr. Fitts. There must be hundreds, Mr. Chairman. I never have counted them.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, as a matter of fact, there are hundreds of them.
The CHAIRMAN. And it is your position that, regardless of how many there are that are spending billions, that are not clearly under the Comptroller General's office, they should not be put under the Budget and Accounting Act or subject to the control of the Comptroller General? Is that right?
Mr. Fitrs. Let me try to speak my own views on that. I thought I stated them this morning. I say that any agency that is engaged in what we ordinarily regard as commercial business operation, where it must use the practical methods of businessmen, should not be subject to that kind of administrative control. Typical examples are the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the Home Owners' Loan, Maritime Commission, Panama Railroad Co., Inland Waterways Corporation, and T. V. A.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; I know.
Mr. Fitts. As a matter of fact, none of them are subject, and they should not be, to control by the Comptroller General.
The CHAIRMAN. And you think then that all large-scale business activities by these bureaus and agencies of the Government, regardless of what they are, should be exempt from control by the Comptroller General ?
Mr. FITTS. I think so.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, what have you to suggest as to how Congress can keep up with it and say whether or not they should spend for this, that, or the other thing?
Mr. Fitrs. I think the Congress ought to exercise its undoubted power over the purse, which is by controlling the amount of money that they are going to permit those agencies to spend, and they ought to get the information through audits of the accounts of those agencies—and when I say "audit” I mean an audit.