Page images

Senator Ives. That is my impression. I am very glad to know that because I think we have a fine educational set-up in New York State.

Mr. MATCHETT. New York State was one of the States covered in our survey.

Senator HILL. I think we can say that New York State was in the same class with Alabama.

Senator AIKEN. And Vermont.

Senator PASTORE. Does this bill provide for any appropriation to the States in order to supervise this program?

Mr. ECKERT. Yes, the bill would provide for the payment.
Senator PASTORE. Was that the case heretofore?

Mr. ECKERT. Yes, sir, under Public Law 346 certain expenses of these agencies for the work done for and on behalf of the Veterans' Administration was reimbursed.

Senator PASTORE. Does not the responsibility lie right there to see to it that these programs are effectively carried out and that these schools are accredited schools?

Mr. ECKERT. I think it would, sir, yes.
Senator PASTORE. Where has the dereliction been?

Mr. ECKERT. I think basically the legislation did not require any affirmative action on the part of the approval agency other than the agency to furnish a list of what they considered approved schools.

Senator PASTORE. Primarily I suppose it was all attributable to the looseness of the law, was it not?

Mr. ECKERT. Yes.

Senator PASTORE. I was Governor of my State at the time, and I think our record in Rhode Island was good because we had an excellent, exemplary commissioner of education in our State who was very much concerned with this, and there was constant pressure to bring in all these suspicious programs like dancing and that sort of thing, whether or not that came under the GI bill, and we had a lot of trouble with it. I think at the time there was a serious question as to whether or not the law was stringent enough. I am glad to see that you are correcting all this because it comes down to, I think, whether or not the law is stringent enough to confine these programs under what is generally considered a concept of education, either secondary or higher education.

Mr. ECKERT. I feel, Senator, that is true. Of course, there is a point beyond which you cannot go, and I do not think this committee would want to dictate the standards that the State may adopt. We felt that the bill could go so far as to require assuring that the State actually knew what the schools within its borders were teaching and actually knew that, well, take trade schools, for instance, that they had lathes to teach a man how to operate a lathe.

We found many instances of schools where they would have as an example 1 lathe and 50 students, and once a week the man got a chance to see if he could work out a piece of material on a lathe. That was our purpose here, to attempt to put the burden or put the onus upon the State in certifying these institutions that they actually had been inspected, actually were adequately equipped to do the job.

I think that the bill could well go that far.

Senator PASTORE. Does the bill furnish an appropriation to do exactly what you are talking about now or whose responsibility is it?

Mr. ECKERT. Basically it would be the State's responsibility. I feel that the bill would authorize the payment by the Veterans Administration

Senator PASTORE. Of the personnel to make these inspections? Mr. ECKERT. Yes. It was done under the present program, I am


Senator PASTORE. Because if you do not do that I am not speaking of my State, but you may have Štates that will not have the appropriation in order to carry that out—I am afraid that unless you have the provision that where the State does not carry it out the Federal Government will that there will be difficulty.

Senator AIKEN. There was a question as to whether the Veterans' Administration should stand part of the payment for the superintendent of schools because of the GI students who were attending these classes. I think as far as Vermont was concerned the Veterans' Administration did not finally contribute to the payment of the superintendents—that is, where several towns joined together and hired a supervisor and superintendent for all of the schools.

Mr. ECKERT. I would not know that.

Senator AIKEN. There was some complaint made that no contribution was made to offset the extra work and extra equipment. However, it was not serious, and the amount was not large.

Mr. ECKERT. I do not know about that, but I do feel that the bill would authorize assistance in that line.

Senator Hill. You may proceed, sir.

Mr. ECKERT. Also, the General Accounting Office recommends most strongly that the payments of subsistence be made in arrears. This is believed necessary to afford the Veterans' Administration needed time to receive and record notices of interruption or discontinuance of training, thus providing a means of eliminating overpayments of subsistence allowances, which overpayments have presented such a serious problem under the existing educational program.

There is one more matter which I feel should be brought to your attention at this time. This is a matter which is of serious concern to the General Accounting Office and to the Comptroller General himself. Under the bill, as under Public Law 346, broad authority is vested in the Administrator of Veterans Affairs to administer the program, and it would appear that, by implication at least, the bill would incorporate specific statutory authority to vest in the Administrator finality of decision as to all matters arising thereunder.

Senator HILL. In other words, he would have pretty much that same authority that he has under the existing statute!

Mr. ECKERT. That is correct.
Senator Hill. Final authority?
Mr. ECKERT. Yes.

As this committee undoubtedly is aware, the Comptroller General and the Assistant Comptroller General have on many occasions voiced their strong opposition to the vesting of final authority over expenditures in administrative officers of the Government under other than extremely emergent conditions.

In the present instance it would appear that the bill might have the effect of making decisions of the Administrator, as to all matters covered by the bill including contracts and agreements with educational institutions, final and conclusive and not subject to review by the General Accounting Office or by the courts. This could circumvent the operations of the General Accounting Office, and might eliminate any possibility that the Office by direct action through its audit and investigative functions could recoup moneys erroneously expended.

In other words, it could reduce the functions of the Office to that of reporting any abuses to the Congress. The General Accounting Office would not be so concerned if this was purely a veterans' benefit bill providing for pensions or some form of gratuity to veterans. However, since the bill would authorize the negotiation and contracting with various institutions throughout the country, the General Accounting Office fails to perceive any necessity or cogent reason for vesting the final authority in connection with such matters in the administrative agency.

Senator AIKEN. Mr. Eckert, is there not a growing tendency to request final authority in this respect on the part of other agencies in the Government?

Mr. ECKERT. Indeed there is, sir.

Senator AIKEN. The effect of it really would be to make the executive agencies far less responsive to the intent of the Congress?

Mr. ECKERT. Well, we take that position. We feel that is absolutely true, sir, and that it has caused the Comptroller General much concern over the growing tendency, Senator.

Senator AIKEN. This problem is not confined to the Veterans' Administration?

Mr. ECKERT. No, indeed, Senator.

In our report on this bíll the Acting Comptroller General urged strongly that the bill be amended to vest final authority in the Administrator of Veterans Affairs as to matters concerning veterans' entitlement only and to provide that his decision on all other matters shall constitute final administrative action only and be subject to review in the usual manner.

Senator Hill. In other words, a contract with a school, that contract under your suggestion would be reviewable by the Comptroller General ?

Mr. ECKERT. By the courts in the same manner.

Senator HILL. And by the courts, just like a contract made by any other agency is subject to review by the Comptroller General, is that not right?

Mr. ECKERT. Generally speaking.

Senator Hill. I realize that there are exceptions, but generally speaking

Mr. ECKERT. Yes, sir.

Senator AIKEN. You have the trouble that was brought up yesterday in the resolution to investigate certain actions of the Department of Agriculture, undoubtedly brought about by the fact that the Comptroller General's office does not have authority to review contracts made by the Commodity Credit Corporation. If they did have they would be more in a position to make proper contracts.

I am not saying that any of the contracts are bad or that any of them are illegal, but I say that if they were subject to review by the General Accounting Office they would be more careful.


Mr. ECKERT. We feel very strongly, sir, that that is true. Of course I am speaking for the General Accounting Office in that matter and we feel that our record will show that.

Senator AIKEN. They not only would be more careful but in the long run probably would build up less trouble themselves.

Mr. ECKERT. I feel that is correct, Senator.

The report of September 17, 1951, contains one additional observation which I feel should be brought to your attention at this time. Therein it was stated that it must be realized that the program here contemplated will entail extensive administrative processes with their attendant expenses and in many cases will not prevent abuses found in the existing program.

It was suggested that serious consideration might be given by the committee to a program which would grant educational assistance to veterans by payment directly to the veteran of an amount designed to cover the cost or a portion of the cost of his education,

sed upon rates related to the type of education or training selected by the veteran.

It is believed that if such payments were made to veterans on an arrears basis with a requirement that endorsement or appropriate certification be made by the educational institution of actual attendance prior to payment, adequate protection would be afforded the Government while at the same time administrative detail and expense would be reduced to a considerable extent.

You may be assured that members of the staff of the General Accounting Office will be available at any time to furnish such assistance as the committee or its staff should desire.

Senator Hill. Any further questions, Senator Aiken?
Senator AIKEN. No questions.
Senator HILL. Senator Pastore?
Senator PASTORE. No questions.
Senator HILL. Senator Ives?
Senator Ives. No questions.
Senator Hill. Is there anything further, gentlemen ?

Mr. ECKERT. No, sir; that is the case for the Comptroller General. Thank you, gentlemen.

Senator Hill. The letter of the Comptroller General dated September 17, 1951, will be inserted in the record at this point. (The letter referred to is as follows:)


Washington, September 17, 1951. Hon. JAMES E. MURRAY,

Chairman Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, United States Senate. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I have your letter of August 23, 1951, enclosing a copy of S. 1940, Eighty-second Congress, entitled “A bill to provide certain educational and training benefits to veterans who served in the active military, naval, or air service on or after June 27, 1950." Your letter states that hearings have been scheduled on this bill for September 17, 18, and 19 and you request that this Office report on the legislation at the earliest date possible.

The bill is designed to authorize the furnishing of education and training benefits to persons serving in the active service of the Armed Forces subsequent to June 27, 1950, and prior to a date to be declared by the President, or by concurrent resolution of the Congress. The program authorized by the bill follows generally the program inaugurated for veterans of World War II by Public Law 346, June 22, 1944, commonly known as the GI bill. However, consideration has been given in the drafting of the bill to the experience resulting from the operation of the existing program, as determined by conferences between the Bureau of the Budget and the various agencies of the Government having an interest in such program, including the General Accounting Office. As a result, numerous safeguards have been included in the proposed bill which will eliminate many of the problems which arose under the program provided for by Public Law 346.

The bill would authorize educational and training benefits to persons serving in the active military, naval, or air service during the periods prescribed for a period equal to their active service not to exceed 48 months of actual instruction, All veterans would be given a right to 12 months education and training, and as a prerequisite for further education or training it would be required that the veteran's education or training had been interrupted by his entrance into the service. However, such interruption would be presumed in the case of any veteran who had not passed his twenty-third birthday as of June 27, 1950, or the date he entered the service, whichever is later.

The bill establishes standards to be met by educational institutions in order to qualify for furnishing education and training to veterans. Like Public Law 546, approval of schools and institutions is left to the appropriate agencies of the State. However, it is believed that the bill would be strengthened materially by inserting in paragraph 4 thereof a provision requiring the certification by the State of its educational institutions to be based upon actual inspection and determination that the schools certified are qualified and equipped to furnish the education and training needed. This could be accomplished by eliminating in paragraph 4, line 12, page 7, following the word “jurisdiction" the words “which are,” and inserting language substantially as follows: "for which appropriate educational standards have been prescribed and which by inspection and certification prior to acceptance of students under this act have been found to be.” Similar provision should be made in the case of approval of new institutions as provided for in the last proviso of paragraph 4. This could be accomplished by inserting after the word “State” in line 20, page 8, language substantially as follows: "and that such institution is qualified as otherwise provided in this section.” While the proposed bill would authorize the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs to refuse approval to, or to disapprove, any school or course—other than public or tax-supported institutions—if it be found that the courses offered fail to meet established requirements and/or that the conduct or progress of a veteran is unsatisfactory, it is felt that better certification of schools at the State level would materially benefit the program. Experience under the existing program shows that State approval of educational institutions has in many instances been no more than a “rubber stamp” process.

Under the bill, the Administrator would be authorized to pay to institutions one-half of the charges made by the institution to nonveterans not to exceed $300 for a full-time course for an ordinary school year or all such charges not to exceed $600 in any instance where no subsistence allowance is granted. Unlike the existing program, this would require the veteran to pay one-half of the cost of education. It is felt that such a provision is desirable in that it would give to the veteran a stake in his education, would be an incentive to the veteran to see that the charges made were fair and reasonable, and would result in having the veteran aware of the cost and charges being paid for his education. The General Accounting Office would recommend that this provision contain also a limitation that the amount authorized to be paid by the Government shall not exceed the amount actually paid by the veteran student. This could be accomplished by inserting in the first proviso to paragraph 5 (a) after the word “exceed” in line 7 on page 9, language substantially as follows: "the amount actually paid by the veteran student up to.” It is believed that such a limitation is desirable to insure that the Government will be required to assume an obligation to educational institutions only in those instances where a veteran is required to pay for his education and that consideration will be given to scholarships, grants, or similar forms of educational aid.

It is noted that the general provisions of paragraph 5 are stated to be inapplicable in the case of correspondence courses as provided for by paragraph 3 (b) of the bill. This would remove all limitations on the amount which could be expended by the Veterans' Administration for such courses. It is recommended that said paragraph 3 (b) be amended by adding at the end of the last proviso a limitation substantially as follows: “not to exceed the rates charged nonveteran students for such courses and in no event shall the payment exceed $600 for any such course.” Also it is noted that under the third proviso to paragraph 5 (a) the Administrator is authorized to determine a

« PreviousContinue »