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very high priorities for national goals assuming more importance than ever before if we are to produce sufficient agricultural products for ourselves and for export while at the same time protecting our increasingly valuable soil and water base.
I also have with me Clete Gillman who is the Deputy Chief for State and Local Operations; Joe Haas, Deputy Chief for Natural Resource Projects including watershed and flood prevention work; Ralph McCracken who heads our Resource Assessment area, and Paul Newcombe who is the Director of our Financial Management activity.
We are pleased to be available for any questions the Committee may have at this point.
Mr. WHITTEN. Thank you very much. How many technicians do you have for the current year? Mr. BERG. Presently we are permitted to have 13,320. Mr. WHITTEN. How close to the ceiling are you? Mr. BERG. We are right at what is proposed for this year. Mr. WHITTEN. Is that your ceiling on total number of people? Mr. BERG. We are going to move into a new way of counting in that we will have a staff year equivalency that we will have to : as we move towards how many people are actually drawing arles. Mr. WHITTEN. I realize that at certain times of the year you can do much more work than at other times due to the weather. You need some temporary people—that is, people to work during the active season. How many temporaries do you have? Mr. BERG. This fiscal year we are allowed to have slightly over 1,500 staff years that we would consider temporary. Mr. WHITTEN. There have been increases in salaries over the years, although I would not say they have kept up with inflation. Have you been having to absorb those? Have you had the funds to keep the number of people up to your limit? Mr. BERG. Mr. Chairman, I think this is a very difficult problem for an administrator of an agency. This year because of the increased pay cost that came in October of last year, we will need an additional $32 million to fully fund that additional pay. The proposal for the supplemental is $20 million. We have partially absorbed that through the reductions we mentioned earlier in terms of the employment freeze, and reductions in travel and procurement. Mr. WHITTEN. Have you had an issuance from the Office of Budget and Management on employment ceilings? Mr. BERG. Yes. A year ago this month we were under an order from the previous Administration to fill only four out of the ten vacancies that occurred. Over my experience we have always had employee ceiling limitations. Mr. WHITTEN. Have you had the law cited to you whereby the Executive Branch imposes ceilings on personnel, or do they just notify you of your limitation? Mr. BERG. This is something that is assigned primarily to the Department and from there the Department makes the allocations to the agencies.
Mr. Dewhurst and his people have to give us the guidance as to how that is implemented.
Mr. WHITTEN. Mr. Dewhurst cannot issue checks but he can tell us what happens to the money. Who gets the money, Mr. Dewhurst?
Mr. DEWHURST. What happens is when the President submits his proposal to Congress for more money to pay salaries, he shows agency by agency how much of the cost is being absorbed and where that money will be taken from.
This year, the Department will absorb about 40 percent of the additional cost of the pay raise of last October and it is shown agency by agency.
Mr. WHITTEN. You are referring to the supplemental request? Mr. DEWHURST. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITTEN. When you and others get a salary increase, it comes at the expense of another fellow's job. That is one way of putting it.
Mr. MYERS. Maybe we ought to do that here. [Laughter.]
Mr. WHITTEN. Last year we on this side voted to earmark so much for personnel and so much for expenses. We yielded in conference; we did not intend to carry it through. But if this problem of redirecting funds becomes too prevalent, Congress may have to appropriate for salaries separately from administrative expenses so that you cannot take funding meant for personnel and spend it for hotel bills and other things.
Years ago the Department of Agriculture was appropriated so much for each individual employee and so much for each item.
I have a copy of the Appropriations Act for 1916. ' think it would be instructive to put a portion of it in the record. [The document follows:]
AGRICULTURAL APPROPRIATION ACT
[Public-No. 293—63D CONGRESS]
By the Act Making appropriations for the Department of Agriculture for the
fiscal year ending June thirtieth, nineteen hundred and sixteen, approved March 4, 1915.
Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of American in Congress assembled, That the following sums be, and they are hereby, appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, in full compensation for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, nineteen hundred and sixteen, for the purposes and objects hereinafter expressed, namely:
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BUREAU OF SOILS SALARIES, BUREAU OF SOILS: One soil physicist, who shall be chief of bureau, $4,000; one chief clerk, $2,000; one executive assistant, $2,000; four clerks, class four; two clerks, class three; five clerks, class two; one clerk, $1,260; eight clerks, class one; five clerks, at $1,000 each; three clerks, at $900 each; one soil cartographer, $1,800; one chief draftsman, $1,600; one soil bibliographer or draftsman, $1,400; one photographer, $1,200; five draftsmen, at $1,200 each; one clerk-draftsman, $1,200; one draftsman, $1,000; one messenger, $840; three messengers, messenger boys, or laborers, at $480 each; two laborers, at $600 each; one laborer, $300; one charwoman or laborer, $480; in all $62,420.
GENERAL EXPENSES, BUREAU OF Soils: For all necessary expenses connected with the investigations and experiments hereinafter authorized, including the employ. ment of investigators, local and special agents, assistants, experts, clerks, draftsmen, and labor in the city of Washington and elsewhere; official traveling expenses, materials, tools, instruments, apparatus, repairs to apparatus, chemicals, furniture, office fixtures, stationery, gas, electric current, telegraph and telephone service, express and freight charges, rent outside of the District of Columbia, and for all other necessary supplies and expenses, as follows:
For chemical investigations of soil types, soil composition and soil minerals, the soil solution, solubility of soil and all chemical properties of soils in their relation to soil formation, soil texture, and soil productivity, including all routine chemical work in connection with the soil survey, $22,350;
For physical investigations of the important properties of soil which determine productivity, such as moisture relations, aeration, heat conductivity, texture, and other physical investigations of the various soil classes and soil types, $15,265;
For exploration and investigation within the United States to determine possible sources of supply of potash, nitrates, and other natural fertilizers, $36,500;
For the investigation of soils, in cooperation with other branches of the Department of Agriculture, other departments of the Government, State agricultural experiment stations, and other State institutions, and for indicating upon maps and plats, by coloring or otherwise, the results of such investigations, $168,200;
For the examination and classification of agricultural lands in forest reserves, in cooperation with the Forest Service, $20,000;
For general administrative expenses connected with the above-mentioned lines of investigation, $3,200;
In all, for general expenses $265,515.
Mr. WHITTEN. Congress has not in recent years appropriated by item to that degree. The time may come when we will have to appropriate by item to get the job done, but in the meantime we can separate personnel and expenses so that an increase in one will not cripple the other.
CONSERVATION OPERATIONS For conservation operations you are showing a decrease of $3.3 million in technical assistance. You state that direct technical assistance to the Nation's conservation district cooperators would be reduced by about 137 staff-years below the 1981 level. How was this reduction determined?
Mr. BERG. This reduction simply reflects the need to restrain federal spending in addressing the national economic situation and was not based on any specific policy determination. The reduction in staff-years is based on the historical relationship of dollars and people for this program.
Mr. WHITTEN. How many permanent full-time employees are curently funded out of the conservation operations account?
Mr. BERG. For 1981 we have 10,106 permanent full-time staffyears funded out of the conservation operations account with 10,118 projected for fiscal year 1982.
Mr. WHITTEN. How many employees were funded out of the conservation operations account five years ago, ten years ago, and fifteen years ago?
Mr. BERG. Permanent full-time staff-years funded out of the conservation operations account were 9,990 in fiscal year 1977, 10,273 in fiscal year 1972, and 11,051 in fiscal year 1967. Mr. WHITTEN. What was permanent SCS employment five years
= years ago, and fifteen years ago?
Mr. BERG3,869 in fish
st has this
as umty level field of direct free the last the majoritam opera
Mr. BERG. Permanent full-time staff-years of employment for SCS were 13,869 in fiscal year 1977, 14,522 in fiscal year 1972, and 15,274 in fiscal year 1967.
Mr. WHITTEN: What impact has this gradual reduction in the number of people assigned to SCS had on your program operations?
Mr. BERG. There is no question that the major impact of declining employment levels over the last fifteen years has been the gradual reduction of direct technical assistance to land users at the county level field office. We have attempted to soften this impact as much as possible by more efficiently utilizing existing staff through such management improvements as creating multi-state watershed planning units, consolidating other field offices, contracting soil survey map printing services, and other similar actions. We have also seen some productivity increases in terms of program outputs per staff-years of input. In addition, increases in state and local contributions of funds and personnel have helped to offset some of the decrease in SCS employees. However, the need to meet new administrative and legislative requirements initiated in the past several years has resulted in a redirection of staff efforts away from on-the-ground conservation work. Some of these initiatives include the preparation of various environmental and economic statements, health and safety activities, equal opportunity activities, reclamation of rural abandoned surface mines, resource appraisal, and program development under the Resources Conservation Act and the experimental Rural Clean Water Program.
Mr. WHITTEN. If the Congress were to provide 500 additional people to SCS, where would they be assigned and why?
Mr. BERG. Assuming that supporting funds were also available, all of these 500 employees would be assigned to the field with most of them going to the district level offices where our programs are delivered to the public. This distribution would help to restore some of the 2,200 permanent staff-years that have been lost, primarily at the district level, over the past fifteen years as we noted earlier.
Mr. WHITTEN. What would be the highest priorities for additional staff?
Mr. BERG. There would be three high priority areas receiving these employees. One would be the Watershed Planning activity, where we would restore the proposed reduction of 85 employees in order to maintain a planning program to support a long-term viable construction program. A second high priority would be to provide additional SCS staffing for the accelerated conservation technical assistance program in targeted geographical areas. We would assign between 175 to 200 employees to these areas to address the erosion and water problems concentrated there. The remaining 215 to 240 employees would be assigned to other areas to work on high priority resource problems including erosion, water quality and supply, and others.
REVIEW OF WATERSHED PROJECT PLANS We agreed last year in Public Law 96-528, under which we are presently operating, that Public Law 83-566 watershed projects be exempted from the requirements of Executive Orders 12113 and 12141. Has that enabled you to speed up your operations? What has been the effect of that? Mr. BERG. Mr. Chairman, the effect of that exemption was to call the eight watershed plans that were in the Water Resources Council back to the Department and resubmit them to the OMB for transmittal to the Congress. According to our General Counsel the law clearly has exempted these plans from the requirement for an independent review by the Water Resources Council. At the present time these projects are pending at OMB for their decision. The 1982 appropriation language suggested that until this independent review was properly done, these projects would be held up. That matter has not yet been resolved. Mr. WHITTEN. The Office of Management and Budget is bringing about the same degree of delay. Mr. BERG. We have always had the Office of Management and Budget as the final stage representing the President before the plans came to the congressional committees for approval. Within the last couple of years the independent review activity came into the picture and that is where the plans were being held. The independent review was prohibited by Congress so it is presently at an impasse, except that the appropriation language exempts our particular projects from that independent review. Mr. WHITTEN. How long has OMB held them up? Give us a list. Mr. BERG. We can provide that for the record, Mr. Chairman. Mr. WHITTEN. Let us know when they went there, how long they have been delayed, and what the outlook is. [The information follows:]
WATERSHED PROJECT PLANS
Date transmitted to
Pending in OMB
Piney Creek-Soak Creek Watershed, West Virginia.......................................................... August 1979.............. December 1980
Mozingo Creek Watershed, Missouri......................
"These plans were called from WRC and forwarded to OMB following enactment of the Agriculture, Rural Development and Related Agences Appropriation Act (Public Law 96-528) signed on Dec. 15, 1980
Transmittal of the following project plans is being held pending policy decision on Executive review process: Hoyle 8. Watershed, Oklahoma; East Carroll Watershed, Louisiana; South Fork Licking River Watershed, Ohio; Calapooya Creek Watershed, Oregon.
Mr. BERG. We have no idea as to what might be the future on this. We do understand the revised budget that came forward in March will not fund the Water Resources Council.
Mr. MYERs. You can depend on that.
Mr. BERG. I think the people who represent the Assistant Secretary's level in Interior and Mr. Crowell are very familiar with the