« PreviousContinue »
have resulted in the shrinking of the amount of real estate to be taken by the Defense Department. I assume that those changes that were made were responsive to the intent of the Congress and of the committee in proposing this legislation in the first place, and that if they had the merit of producing some results, that the practice ought not to be completely abandoned without due consideration.
Mr. BRYANT. I think that that could not be denied. Senator Case. Mr. Secretary, do you intend or do you want the different service representatives to discuss the implications of the modifications of the Defense program announced here last week?
Mr. BRYANT. This is the way I think it will appear. When you are briefed, you
you will be briefed I presume in the detail that you want by the cognizant services. However, this will not be done until there has been a determination made at the Department of Defense level, concurred in by the Budget Bureau, with respect to the planned program, and we will also have representation at that time. The problem is now getting-well, it has been worked on very seriously in the last 2 or 3 days and will be over the weekend and the first part of next week, and that is why I felt that I could give the chairman some real assurance that the determination of the Department would be available to this committee by the end of next week.
The matter of presentation might be delegated by the Secretarythis I am just assuming and it may change might be delegated to the cognizant service with endorsement by the Defense Department.
Senator CASE. In view of the fact that the final program is to be presented later, I see no particular profit in taking Mr. Bryant's time to discuss that this morning.
There is one other subject though I would like to have more comment on from the Secretary, and that is on the matter of housing. When General Power was before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Department the other day he expressed more concern than I had expected to hear him say about the housing, about Capehart housing projects and so forth, in this country.
I was not aware that we had what you would call a critical housing problem in this country at this time due to the fact that there have been considerable units built and the program is going forward.
How do you feel about it, the military housing, particularly within this country?
Mr. Bryant. I think that the restraints that have been imposed have been healthy. As you know, going back a year the amount of military housing that we developed under the Capehart program was something on the order of 23,000 or 24,000 units and the Congress reduced that to a maximum of 20,000 that could be let out for bids.
And in this particular bill as you have observed we have suggested something on the order of 8,700 houses in the Capehart program. My explanation of that in my own statement here is right along the lines that we have been talking about. I have felt that as we approached a reasonable degree of saturation of this requirement, that we should proceed with great caution. This is doubly so because of the uncertainties of the type of warfare that we are conducting and it changes as illustrated in our Air Defense here recently, affecting installations that we can't presently foresee.
So the degree to which we exercise extreme caution in the extension of the housing program I think is justified.
Now, of course, I will say that General Power is thinking—and I don't criticize him for this
of the SAC elements particularly having a high degree of housing protection, and we think that we should let communities demonstrate more opportunities for support. Certainly they will be foreclosed if we take care of everybody that is entitled to be taken care of at every military post, station, or installation, and this will always be an arguable ground. But my answer to your question is that I think that we are doing an adequate job.
I think we are doing a careful job at the same time. I would rather proceed with caution than to be found responsible for the construction of an unnecessary number of houses that are placed where they can't be used.
Senator STENNIS. All right, you have been restricting and curtailing these activities since your survey. That is the general summary of your position.
Mr. BRYANT. This is the general summary, but I think in an honest attempt to figure out adequate requirements, sir.
Senator CASE. With respect to the housing overseas, I have always felt we should proceed with a great deal of caution in the guaranteed rental housing; in areas where troop placement was uncertain and likely to change in its requirements from time to time. We should not make any heavy commitments there. At the same time, I have felt that there were certain key places where our occupancy was critical that we ought to provide the housing necessary to have important personnel, and I have reference particularly to the advance intelligence stations in places where you need to have people with skills able to stay there long enough to get good returns on the money that has been spent getting them there and getting them trained for their job.
I learned on my recent trip that there were a few places that we had where they felt the tenure of duty was limited by the fact that only single men were able to be there because there wasn't any local housing, and that the rules and regulations with regard to single men, or men separated from their families I should say, family men separated from their families, curtailed their assignment thereby from 6 months to a year.
That meant that you had to replace them more rapidly and, at a time when they were achieving considerable technical skill and were more familiar with their duties, it was about time for them to go home and bring the new recruit in.
Mr. BRYANT. Senator, I would like to comment about that. There are still divergent views about the propriety of sending families into some of these areas. This I think will always be a debatable ground because in some instances they are, of course, highly vulnerable to some immediate change and so forth.
The other one is that we have been trying, and this I have always felt personally was the philosophy of this committee, that we should build these if possible through commodity funds.
We have tried to do that. Unfortunately in many instances abroad the health of the economy has been such that we have been unable to generate funds under the Public Law 480 program in nation-to-nation sales. This has always affected any substitute arrangement. We are now asking for, and this bill will indicate, a higher degree, I mean a higher number of military construction authorization houses, the sort of thing that you are talking about, because of our inability to handle it in any other fashion. Now, whether we will build all that the local commander feels is necessary, I would not want to undertake to say, but certainly we have expanded considerably our original program.
Senator CASE. Mr. Chairman, I think you have heard me say before that at two places I visited in December, I was struck by the highly important character of the mission there and the absence of family housing which local people seemed to feel, and I confess they pretty well persuaded me, was a handicap in retaining skilled personnel for a suitable period of time. Some of their duties were of a very highly classified nature, and I don't care to discuss that too much here, but of all the people who ought to be on the job when they need to be on the job, some of them were at those places.
So I have some sympathy for providing housing there. In one of those places I was struck by the fact, too, that it was possible there to provide a hundred houses by bringing in the counterpart money that ħad been developed in still a third country.
Mr. BRYANT. Yes, sir. This is being done in one or two instances that I could go into here and elaborate on. But I can assure you that we have transferred, for example, we had some housing destined originally for erection in Morocco, prefabs out of Austria, out of Austrian currency.
Senator CASE. Some Austrian shillings were used. There was some delay here in getting clearance on using them, but it did provide a hundred houses.
Mr. BRYANT. We are transferring those Austrian prefabs to other sites of the type you are thinking about now.
Senator STENNIS. Where were these 100 houses built?
Senator Case. They were in Trieste. The houses were at Trieste but they were moved to another place where we ordinarily had not thought of using Austrian schillings. But in addition to that, I flet that some of those places might be served, and I bow to the chairman here when I say it, if they would acquire some trailers. There were some places where there was certainly no suitable local housing.
Mr. BRYANT. We have a considerable number of trailers now in use. Just to be explicit about housing in the area that I think you are particularly thinking about, which for classified purposes we are not saying too much about here in this open hearing, we have 137 housing units for our forces in that particular area to which I think you are addressing yourself, in this suggested bill. We have got other programs that are coming along involving the possible use of trailers, but that becomes extraordinarily expensive when you get into the transportation fields as well as the location of these on site. Our efforts my efforts have been to try and find a solution which would not necessarily involve the type of money expenditures that we are speaking about in the Capehart program or in MCA program or housing in this country, but something which would be reasonably temporary and yet livable because of the extreme uncertainty of the length of time that some of these particular locations might be useful or be susceptible of American occupation.
Senator CASE. That is all, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Senator STENNIS. We are glad to have you here. The Secretary has submitted a complete statement, and summarized it orally. I am glad Senator Case brought up the housing matter, for several reasons. He knows a great deal about it in the first place, and has followed through on these matters, and Secretary Bryant knows a great deal about it and his staff follows through on it.
I was looking here at some questions prepared by the staff that are going to be submitted to you. One of the questions states that the General Accounting Office has called to the attention of this committee the fact that in several instances the Air Force is constructing housing for upper grade officers under the Capehart program which average 30 percent more than the amount specified in the above-cited act.
They cited the act of military construction appropriation bill for the fiscal year 1959. Do you know about that, Mr. Secretary, and have you
Mr. BRYANT. Yes, sir.
Senator STENNIS. What have you done about it if it is true? Is it correct according to the General Accounting Office ?
Mr. BRYANT. It is correct as stated but it is not correct when you get into all the particulars. I mean there is a little gimmick in here. We have been told about this, and we have consulted with the services. The services have responded, and we as an agency of the Department of Defense have responded to the GAO inquiry, and the criticisms involved.
One peculiar aspect of this extreme cost in, we will say, flag officers' quarters that you are speaking about or general officers' quarters, apropos of the individual cost of the house versus the normal MCA money spent is this: That they are built within the $16,500 average for the project, obviously to the possible detriment of some of the smaller units in that project.
But they still, in order to equal—and this is a peculiarity of our own statutes—the square footage which the Congress has set as being adequate for and proper for that type of officer, they can't be built within the normal moneys that have been heretofore appropriated for that type of quarters. Do you follow me! In other words, we have not exceeded, or rather the Air Force in particular in this instance to which you refer, has not exceeded, the limitations as to the amount of room.
Senator STENNIS. The square footage?
Mr. BRYANT. The square footage. But the costs have perhaps exceeded under present circumstances that which is under your MCA authorization a limitation on price. So that the question is to what extent do you accommodate the apparent intent of the Congress with respect to the amount of room space involved ?
Senator STENNIS. Did you give your consent for this to go over that amount?
Mr. BRYANT. No, sir; we posed the question as to which of these should prevail. I would believe it might be appropriate, if it has not been done, and this perhaps is an oversight also on my part, that this committee should be provided with the responses both of the services and of the Office of the Secretary of Defense in connection with the GAO inquiry, and
Senator STENNIS. Pardon me now. Mr. Clerk, make a note of that, and we will make that very specific, we will make that request very specific.
Now here is an appropriated act, a congressional act, and the General Accounting Office, which represents the congressional branch of the Government, reports this 30-percent overage. That is a very serious matter.
Mr. BRYANT. I would say that here is probably one serious aspect, the most serious aspect of the total review. I think the committee here will be happy to learn that many of the assertions have been adequately answered, and that they were of less significance than they were presumed to be at the time they were made. It is not very difficult I would say to go out and find some aberrations in these programs, but generally speaking my feeling about our response was that it was complete and almost sufficient to answer all of the questions, with the exception perhaps of this one that you are speaking about in the report.
Senator STENNIS. Is that your answer now? We are asking you what is your answer? We are going to ask the Air Force later.
Mr. BRYANT. My answer as to this specific question!
Senator STENNIS. I don't want to take you by surprise if you not familiar enough with it to answer it now, that will be all right.
Mr. BRYANT. I would prefer, if you give me the opportunity, to respond to this question in more detail by a statement written or oral, whichever you prefer.
Senator STENNIS. When did this come to your attention about this 30 percent?
Mr. BRYANT. Well, it has been within the last couple of weeks, I think, that we got our material together, sir, and responded.
Senator STENNIS. All right, I don't want to take you by surprise.
Senator CASE. Mr. Chairman, would you yield before you pass from that?
Senator STENNIS. Certainly.
Senator CASE. It is my feeling that probably there has been a little delinquency on the part of our statutes. We have had a flat amount that is applied to different climates. I noticed in my observations that the services apparently have been able to find a little velvet that they could get by paring the level for the enlisted men's housing more easily in a mild climate. If you go to Vandenberg and Hawaii and places like that, they were able to stay within our ceiling limitation, and yet provide housing for field officers, and apparently stay within the total average for that more readily than they could if you were dealing with an installation where they had to provide for heating facilities.