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vise training facilities under the veterans' education training program.
The education training program for veterans in many States, of course, the departments of education or the superintendents of instruction handle the matter. In some States there are other agencies that handle it. We believe that we have had quite a bit of experience with it and know quite a bit about the operation of it. We have studied the program very carefully, and we find many features to which we object strenuously, and Mr. Robinson will present a prepared brief for our group,
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
Mr. ROBINSON. I request, Senator, that the brief be entered as testimony as it is presented, a statement of our position.
The National Association of State Approval Agencies appreciates this opportunity to appear before your committee to state its position with reference to Senate bill 1940, which seeks to amend section I, title I, Public Law 2 of the Seventy-third Congress to extend certain benefits, rights, and privileges to veterans of the Korean conflict.
In preparing this brief the association has stated its position in a general perfatory statement followed by specific points which set out what the association considers to be inadequacies of the proposed legislation.
In the light of more than 6 years' experience in the administration of Public Law 346, its several amendments, and multitudinous regulations, it is the studied opinion of the National Association of State Approval Agencies that further amendment of the present laws to provide benefits for Korean veterans is neither desirable nor feasible.
It is the opinion that certain educational and training benefits are justly due these veterans but that both the veterans and the Government may be better served by completely new legislation which takes into account what has been learned through errors which should be discarded and successes which should be incorporated.
Due consideration should also be given to the changed conditions in relation to the fiscal state of the Nation; the needs of the current and oncoming crop of veterans; the facility and practicability of administration of the program; and the elimination of errors, abuses, and fraudulent practices which have been the inescapable consequences under the current law.
To accomplish what is considered the optimum benefit to both veterans and the country as a whole, the National Association of State Approval Agencies opposes the passage of Senate 1940 as it is now written.
The enactment of new legislation so designed and written as to be equitable, workable, and purchasable at a reasonable price is recommended.
Senate bill 1940 proposes further amendment to section I, title I, Public Law 2, Seventy-third Congress. As an amendment to the existing veterans regulations the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs would retain the authority to make final administrative determinations on all questions which arise under the new amendment, since such authority is inherent in the original act.
The presence of the Administrator's unquestioned authority in today's program has resulted in continual dissatisfaction on the part of the State departments of education, the State boards for vocational education, the colleges and universities, and other educational institutions.
Under the present act there is no appeal and no recourse from the Administrator of Veterans Affairs; and even though millions of dollars are involved and the lives of thousands of veterans are affected, the Administrator and/or his designated officers are allowed to make the final determination which cannot be set aside by the courts, the GAO, or even the legislative body of the United States Government without formal action.
On August 27 this question was again raised in the Senate, and Senator Humphrey pointed out that the Senate of the United States was being required to act on Senate Resolution 124 to express legislative intent as a result of the continued failure of the legal counsel of the VA to interpret laws passed by the Congress in accordance with obvious and expressed intent.
It is believed that a program as vast as the veterans' education program, involving great amounts of money and large numbers of institutions, should have a channel of judicial review and that the final decision should not rest with the Administrator of Veterans'. Affairs. S. 1940 will allow the Administrator to retain final administrative authority.
The National Association of State Approval Agencies recommends that new legislation be enacted as a separate bill and that the bill shall establish a method of appeals and board of review where decisions of the Administrator can be contested in light of the law. The problems arising from the Administrator's final authority have been repeatedly refuted by legislative groups such as the House Committee on Executive Expenditures of the Federal Government, the Senate subcommittee which recently investigated the medical program of the VA, and the House Select Committee To Investigate Educational Training and Loan Guaranty Programs Under the GI Bill.
This problem has been a source of constant controversy between the VA and the GAO; and under the present act the decision of the GAO can be set aside by the Administrator of Veterans Affairs; and in fact the GAO, the watchdog of the Congress, is unable to make and enforce a final determination upon Veterans' affairs. This is in corroboration of testimony given yesterday.
Senate bill 1940 fails to clarify and describe the relationship which will exist between the educational program under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 and the educational program for the veterans of the Korean conflict in that for the period of time both laws will be in operation, one of which is more favorable to eligible veterans.
S. 1940 does not clearly describe the status of those veterans who will have dual eligibility under both acts. This problem is particularly important in view of the National Guard and Reserve personnel who were recalled prior to June 27, 1950, and those which are still being recalled.
Senate bill 1940 adopted the philosophy of a relatively small program, both in actual benefit and administration, for a limited number of veterans. Our Armed Forces consisted of approximately 21/2 million men and women on June 27, 1950. Most of those persons were regular service personnel obviously more than 23 years old.
. As a result of the Korean emergency hundreds of thousands of National Guard and Reserve personnel were recalled to service, and in most cases these individuals were more than 23 years old. During the entire period a limited number of young draftees were being recruited into the Armed Forces.
On the basis of present-day strength, which stands at 3,500,000 men, a vast majority of the present Armed Forces are over the 23 years and will be precluded from the maximum benefit of the act. These personnel will be eligible at least for 1 year. The philosophy of veteran's eligibility, based on proof of his eligibility for training, was adopted in 1944 and 1945 and discarded by the Congress as a result of the serious administrative problems involved.
It is virtually impossible to establish fair courts for determining what constitutes actual training and is grossly unfair to declare that the individual be removed from some sort of program. It is obvious that most young men and women between the ages of 18 and 26 are in a formulative stage of life and are attempting to learn an occupation, whether it be on-the-job training with benefit of formal agreement or actual experience in business.
It will be impossible for a Federal agency to fairly evaluate each case and determine whether the veteran did interrupt or postpone his present plans as a result of his impending duty of serving in the Armed Forces. "If such a plan is written in the law, congressional offices will again be swamped with complaints, many of which will be justified, and there will never be a fair settlement of these complaints.
Senate bill 1940 makes reference to the State approval agency by stating: from time to time the Administrator shall secure from the appropriate agency of each State a list of educational institutions
which are qualified and equipped to furnish education and training. Throughout the act reference is made to the State approving agency. Neither the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 nor S. 1940 clearly established a legal basis for the existence of a State approving agency, and neither act clearly defined the responsibility and the authority of these agencies.
The VA has repeatedly raised the question of divided responsibility and has implied that this divided responsibility is a source of weakness. The principle of divided responsibility in a joint Federal and State program is not an erroneous or unproved principle.
We have many State-Federal and State programs, such as the Smith-Hughes Act, the State highway and Federal works program, the Extension Service of the Agricultural Department, which are
financed by the Federal Government and administered by the State and are presumably operated to the satisfaction of the State and the Federal Government and the public.
The veterans' training program has experienced difficulty as a result of the inadequate definition of authority and responsibility in the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944. S. 1940 makes no improvement on this situation.
The matter of related authority and responsibility of the VA and the State approving agency should be treated in detail in the act establishing eligibility for Korean veterans. The NASAA finds Senate bill 1940 inadequate and silent on this vital question.
The mandate appearing in section 4 which states that the Administrator shall utilize [State apprenticeship agencies] such existing facilities and services in training on the job when such training is of a year's duration or more. This proviso represents an interference with the prerogative of the State's administration to delegate approval responsibility to those agencies, boards, or the bodies which should logically assume the approval obligation in the State.
Further, it is inconsistent with the historical responsibility of State apprenticeship agencies in that it lowers the training time from 2 years
to 1 year.
With reference to the proviso that any school operating for profit shall not be deemed qualified and approved for enrollment of veterans “when the Administrator finds that the 25 full-time equivalent or onethird of the equivalent full-time students enrolled (whichever is larger) paying their own tuition", the NASAA does not object to the principle involved in this proviso in that we are aware that steps must be taken to assure that there is a substantial nonveteran enrollment in any proprietary profit or nonprofit school in order that the customary charge for tuition and fees will be established based on nonveteran participation.
The proviso proposed by S. 1940 is unfair and discriminatory in that it represents an absolute bar against enrollments of veterans in any school which has less than 25 students. The Nation has witnessed the growth of huge veteran schools during the past 7 years. Many of these schools have no nonveteran enrollment whatsoever, and it was not uncommon for a school to have several hundred veteran students enrolled.
It should be the objective of the Congress to restore our educational system to a semblance of normal operation and preclude the possibility of schools with excessive veteran enrollments capitalizing on the veterans' training program.
Before World War II a vast majority of the privately owned schools in the United States were small schools such as barbering, cosmetology schools, art and music schools, small-business schools, and small trade and technical schools, many of which had enrollments of 25 or less and enjoyed good reputations and participated as good institutions.
The proviso of Senate bill 1940 proposes an absolute bar to the enrollment of a veteran student in one of these small schools. It is believed that the objection to this proviso can be accomplished by requiring that the school have one-fourth of its total enrollment as nonveteran students paying their own way regardless of the number enrolled.
In analyzing S. 1940 it is stated that it was the objective of section 5 to (1) eliminate a substantial part of the administrative burden, both upon the VA and the schools, (2) give the veteran a financial interest in his own training. The accomplishment of these two objectives is highly desirable and should be the fundamental purpose of any piece of legislation. However, Senate bill 1940 promises little certainty of accomplishing either of the stated objectives.
It is difficult to determine how a substantial amount of administrative burden upon the schools and the VA would be removed when the school is required to maintain two separate accounts, namely, an account on tuition paid into the school by the veteran and an account on tuition received by the school through reimbursement by the VA. The necessity of maintaining two separate accounts will create an increased burden on the educational institutions; and the task of determining the fair and reasonable tuition rate in order that the VA may know what is legally half of the fair and reasonable tuition rate and the task of negotiating a contract, preparing vouchers, paying vouchers, and maintaining school accounts will in no way be reduced.
It appears that if these objectives are to be accomplished more success is promised by a plan whereby the individual veteran would receive the total benefit directly from the VA and would in turn pay all of his own tuition fees and other charges, including books, tools, and supplies.
Such a plan would eliminate the necessity for a contract between the school and the VA, and would make the veteran his own agent in conducting his own affairs. The Federal Government would have no obligation concerning the financial relationship which exists between the veteran and the school. If the veteran is required to pay his total tuition cost out of funds which he receives from the VA, he will have an incentive to seek training at a reasonable price and question the quality of training he receives as well as question the values and amounts of books, tools, and supplies which he is required to buy from his own funds.
Such a procedure will reestablish a normal relationship between the student and the educational institution, and the only obligation of the VA will be to determine (1) that a customary cost of tuition and fees exists through virtue of presence of substantial numbers of nonveteran students; (2) that the student actually attends the educational institution, makes satisfactory progress, and complies with the institution's regulations; and (3) that the institution does not charge the veteran a greater fee than is charged the nonveterans.
Paragraph 6 of Senate bill 1940 (starting p. 10, line 20, of the bill as printed August 1, 1951) apparently seeks to simplify the administrative procedures of the Administration in determining the amounts