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I think that you will find, both in the matter of reports and inspections, that there is need for some study of this matter.
A third one that is of particular prominence is in that matter of the National Labor Relations Board where a great many firms can't determine in whose jurisdiction they come under, who they must report to, and what they may become involved in.
The previous speaker commented on this matter, and you commented on the matter of whether the report is required or is not required. To the average citizen and the average businessman, this is very difficult of determination.
I had the privilege of being consultant to the Office of Price Administration during its existence in Washington on behalf of the smaller retail portion of the industry, retailing generally, and at that particular time, as I am sure you know, there was a tremendous mass of reporting. This was required. It was under the law. They had full authority to require it.
It became so burdensome, so complex, that I think the majority of the smaller businessmen filed almost all communications from that Administration in the most convenient wastebasket. The actual percentage of returns became minimal.
However, as we contacted and talked with these smaller businessmen, and with the large businessmen, they find it impossible to determine, on the basis of the request for information, whether they are required to supply that or not.
And, very often, an innocent looking form requiring a great deal of work which they decide they don't have to supply, they receive recurring notices and demands and suddenly find out that under the law they can be compelled to do so and are compelled to supply the information.
This is also a factor when it comes to the matter of followup on reports and on inspections. It requires a great deal of temerity today for the average businessman, particularly the small businessman, to tell anyone who walks into his place from government that he isn't going to do what they tell him to, or supply the information they demand.
Government authority has assumed a very high status as far as the average businessman is concerned, because they don't dare go against it for fear of further pressures, and I wouldn't say intimidation, but certainly further interference with his business.
And I think that you gentlemen are starting on a field where you will find your explorations going in depth somewhat more than the mere question of which reports are required and which reports are not required, which reports are necessary to government functioning and which can be eliminated.
That is all I have to say, gentlemen. I would be glad to answer any questions.
Mr. OLSEN. Mr. Johansen?
Mr. JOHANSEN. I certainly commend you, Mr. Allanson, for that statement. Aside from the cost, aside from the burden, I am more disturbed by the comment you make of the fear of government or the apprehension of government.
I don't think it is a healthy attitude. I don't think it is good for the proper relationship between the citizen and what we used to euphemistically refer to as the citizens' public servants.
I think this aspect and just the matter of a little clarity as to what is clearly required and mandatory and what is optional, could go a long way toward relieving this problem.
It seems to me we ought to be able to muster enough English language in Washington to make understandable without a Philadelphia lawyer-I guess it is permissible to use that phrase in Albany-to interpret it. I think you have touched on an important side issue which is not a minor issue.
Mr. ALLANSON. I am deeply concerned over this because I encounter it daily in the flow of correspondence and the relationship with government. This is an attitude which is developing or which has developed, and I quite agree with you in the seriousness of it and the fact that it is highly unfortunate.
Mr. JOHANSEN. I think we need respect for government, but to have it, we ought to deserve it, and it ought to be on a basis that the average citizen can understand.
Mr. OLSEN. Mr. O'Brien?
Mr. O'BRIEN. Just one brief question. Mr. Allanson, you said you were going to file a report with the State ?
Mr. ALLANSON. Yes, sir. Mr. O'BRIEN. And that you would file copies with this committee. Will that touch on the subject mentioned by General Hunt? He has a small business. He knows exactly how much it is costing him in overtime, and so forth, in number of hours, number of employees.
Will you cover that in your report on the cost, number of employees required, and the amount of duplication?
Mr. ALLANSON. Yes. We intend to find out in as much detail as possible the exact reports required, let us say, during the past year from any agency of government, Federal, State, and local, and to get as near a computation or estimate of the cost of supplying those reports regardless of the size of the firm, running all the way from our largest retail institutions operating in New York State right down to the "pop" and "mom" store.
I would like to mention this, that it has gotten to the point where the small store no longer dares make out its own reports in most instances.
They usually must employ either an accountant or attorney, or both, in order to feel confident that they are not getting into trouble with the Government.
Mr. O'BRIEN. I know in that connection—I won't mention any names I know one small store owner in Albany who can't afford to hire a boy to sweep out or relieve him, maybe, at noontime, who has to employ an accountant.
Mr. ALLANSON. This is not unusual.
Mr. JOHANSEN. Mr. Chairman, I would like to suggest that we have an understanding with Mr. Corcoran, the staff director of the submittee, that when this report is received, it be reviewed to determine on the basis of length whether it ought to be incorporated into our files, or if not too burdensome in our hearing itself, in our record.
Mr. CORCORAN. May I point out that the President also is requiring the Federal agencies to make a similar study? We think that Mr. Olsen's February 8 speech started a lot of activity in this area.
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Mr. ALLANSON. There is one virtue in the type of study we propose to make compared to the one from Government. Our retailers have no fear of expressing them freely to us.
Mr. OLSEN. The investigation Mr. Corcoran has spoken of is one that the President is requiring the Government agencies to do on their own, to examine every one of their questionnaires and every question, and to cull out and eliminate all unnecessary questionnaires and all unnecessary questions.
I might at this time say, too, that this area of voluntary reporting and the accuracy of it is going to be investigated.
If the Bureau of the Census is getting only scattered and low percentage returns on reporting, then the value is greatly damaged. Perhaps many of the voluntary reporting systems now being participated in should be abandoned entirely because of being so inaccurate and a waste of time.
Mr. ALLANSON. I think you will find this true in some instances. For example, on the report of the flow of sales volume as presently reported and as has been reported in the past by the Federal Reserve bank.
I am not critical. These have been the best sources of information available to us. But I think if you will explore some of these reports, you will find them so fragmentary as to not be indicative to the degree that they are presented.
Mr. OLSEN. We are really going to go into it very deeply with the Bureau of the Census concerning the business inventory and the business census practices. But I think in all defense of the Bureau of the Census, the demand upon them has come from the manufacturers.
They have made the demand for this service of obtaining the flow of merchandise, reports from retailers and wholesalers. I don't think that was inspired by the Bureau of the Census.
Mr. Allanson. I am not critical of the Bureau, Congressman. As a matter of fact, I think an accurate report, as accurate as they can achieve in this whole flow of sales volume, is of tremendous importance to retailers as well as to manufacturers.
I would like to see it more accurate. I merely mention it as a fact that in some cases these reports do become fragmentary.
Mr. Olsen. Certainly." In that regard, it might be interesting for you and for everyone to know that of all the paperwork in the Federal service, the experts estimate for us that only a very small percentage of it is generated by the Bureau of the Census.
I think about half of the paperwork is State and city, and of the remaining half, I think it is only about 2 or 4 percent that is the Bureau of the Census.
Mr. Corcoran reminds me that of the other half, 80 percent is regulatory and 20 percent is other, and in that 20 percent is the 4 percent which is the Bureau of the Census. But we are still talking about an awful lot of paperwork.
Mr. ALLANSON. As we move on with our own study, if the committee or if any member of the committee has any suggestions for specifics which they would like us to place emphasis on, please feel that your comments will be most helpful.
Mr. Olsen. Your survey will be throughout the State of New York !
Mr. ALLANSON. Throughout the State of New York but confined to retail only.
Mr. OLSEN. That is a big job.
Mr. ALLANSON. No. This is a private survey which we will make and be in contact with members of the retail industry. It will be done in cooperation with a State committee which has been appointed and which consists of heads or subheads of various departments of government.
Mr. JOHANSEN. I think, Mr. Chairman, in view of the generous comment and, if I understand correctly the invitation of Mr. Allanson, I think it might be most helpful for Mr. Corcoran to chat, possibly, on some occasion with some of their staff people as to their mutual benefit, if that is not being presumptuous on my part.
Mr. ALLANSON. Not in the slightest. I should be glad to cooperate to whatever extent I can.
Mr. OLSEN. I understand Mr. Corcoran wants to do so. Mr. Corcoran will be contacting you, Mr. Allanson.
Ir. ALLANSON. Thank you. Thank you, gentlemen. Mr. OLSEN. Our next witness is Mrs. Booth. STATEMENT OF MRS. ELIZABETH M. BOOTH, OWNER AND OPER
ATOR OF H. W. ANTEMAN, JEWELERS, ALBANY, N.Y. Mr. OLSEN. Will you give your full name and business to the clerk, please?
Mrs. BOOTH. Mrs. Elizabeth M. Booth, owner and operator of a retail jewelery store. Mr. OLSEN. What is the name of your store!
Mrs. BOOTH. H. W. Anteman, Jewelers, which has existed in Albany since 1856. I am the third generation. And over that period of years, from owning and operating our own mechanical shop and having a tremendous inventory, we have come down to me, the third generation. But in the 1920's the depression and everything, and then labor laws have changed, we had to let our employees go and operate with an outside-owned shop. That is mechanics.
Later on it just became, as I say, this bookwork and paperwork, and employee situation. The turnover in the jewelry business is very slow. In fact I have pieces in my inventory that were there 40 years ago and that my grandfather made.
So it is a constant situation where you have to be prepared to answer the request of your customer, and very often they don't want anything you have. You have to either invest in more inventory or get on memorandum from some other shop what you need. All of this is bookwork, bookwork, bookwork. And I have to employ constantly an outside accountant to monthly review what I have accomplished, and at the end of the year when tax time comes to review it again.
This costs me a monthly payment also at the end of the year of between $200 or $300 to review the whole thing and get it straight, and I don't trust myself to do it. I was investigated once, and the way they investigated was amazing. They said, "Give me all of your invoices for the year 1956." Well, this represented a whole file. I never throw anything away, fortunately. But it represented tons of
paper. I turned it over. They said this is ridiculous, a small business Îike this simply couldn't have this much paperwork. I said there it is, and that is what you asked me for. Now what you are to do with it I don't know.
The investigation was that I had an employee that had put over from one period to another, asked for time to make a report at a future date, and that upset them and upset me, too, and they came to investigate about that.
As I say, they were absolutely flabbergasted and amazed at the amount of paperwork, reports, and detail that I had to handle for them to get the information they were looking for.
I have been doubly dilligent since then to keep a more comprehensive line on everything we do.
It has also inspired me to cut down, cut down a great deal, because, well, I don't know. You are not going to go overboard for that when you have to pay for investigations and things like that.
It is costly. It is costly to do business. And sometimes I feel like the captain of a ship of state, still hanging on and hoping it won't sink.
I closed up for 2 years and came back by popular request that my shop be opened again. I went to California to retire, and 2 years ago I came back because I met people on the street, “I have a whole handful of repairs to do and I wouldn't let anyone handle them but you." This confidence calls for you to come back and do your best. Also I belong to the business and professional women's clubs, and Zonta, International. There are two groups of women that are sincerely and honestly trying to make business more honest, and, of course, it is for the women of the country.
I find this is not only in my business, it is in every women's business, the woman who keeps the lingerie shop, the woman who has another type of shop is up against it, too.
Mr. OLSEN. Are you concerned mostly with the Internal Revenue Service reports? Is it the tax agency?
Mrs. Boorh. I have eliminated all the employer's reports and everything by letting the employees go. I feel that I have contributed to unemployment also because I had a bookkeeper, stenographer, and at one point she did nothing but string pearls and all the bookwork that went with that. Really her salary didn't warrant it. She had a minimum salary.
Mr. OLSEN. How many hours do you think you in your present business are engaged in bookwork?
Mrs. Booth. The accountant I employed to come in once a month usually spends from 3 to 5 hours going over what we have done before. Then at the end of the year she takes the books and things home with her, and does the tax reports. I don't know really how much actual time she spends on that.
Mr. OLSEN. There is an extraordinary amount of reporting in the jewelry business?
Mrs. Booth. Yes, there is, because of the detail and the many, many objects you have to have, especially in your repairing.