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RED TAPE—INQUIRING INTO DELAYS AND EXCES
SIVE PAPERWORK IN ADMINISTRATION OF PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAMS
THURSDAY, JUNE 24, 1971
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 1:35 p.m., pursuant to recess, in room 2253, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. James C. Wright (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. WRIGHT. The subcommittee will be in order.
Mr. D'Amico has a document which he wants to introduce for the record in that it relates to yesterday's hearings.
Mr. D'AMICO. I have a letter from John M. Ladd, executive director of the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, Inc., dated June 22, 1971. It includes some informative comments in reference to the positive action program, the affirmative action program, and other matters. I offer it for the record.
Mr. WRIGHT. Without objection, this document will be included in the record. (The document referred to follows:) MOHAWK VALLEY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT, INC.,
Mohawk, N.Y., June 22, 1971. Mr. SALVATORE J. D'AMICO, Associate Counsel, Special Subcommittee on the Federal-Aid Highway Program,
Committee on Public Works, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. DEAR SAL: Since your visit to our District in 1969–70, it would appear that the thinking of the decision-makers in Washington in relation to the Economic Development Act has changed. I really believe that many of the problems of the District, when they first were formulated, were due to the fact that the staff people in Washington who were making decisions as to policy were not really aware of what the problems were in the rural areas of America; therefore, they were not able to relate themselves to the solution of sometimes very complex problems.
In the last year, with the restructuring of regional offices in our area, the attitude of the regional directors and their staffs has changed and in most instances has been one of cooperation and complete knowledge of what we are doing in the District. In the last six months, the Economic Development Administration has been sending staff people into the districts on weekly visits and it is my honest opinion that this has been the most rewarding experience for them.
We have just recently had three men visit our District to evaluate our programs. I am not quite sure how many people they called on, but based on the appointments we made for them, I would assume that at least 40 people from all walks of life throughout our District were interviewed to some length concerning their opinion of our District operation and also their thoughts as to how the District program might better be used.
One of the men who played a key role in decisions on growth center designations had never been in the field and he was amazed that the problems which I had time and again brought to his attention were really true. Apparently, many of the former people in EDA Washington in the early years did not believe that most of us out in the field were quite truthful and frank as to our problems and were not looking for the old Uncle Sam handout unless it was justified.
I do still believe that there is too much red tape involved and that applications for grants and loans from EDA could be made easier, but regardless of that fact we are now able to process loans in a much more expedient manner and also find that the cooperation of the regional and Washington offices is excellent.
One of my main concerns still is the Positive Action Program which in my estimation does more to hurt the program than anything I know of. It requires the applicants, city or village or town, to guarantee that they will do many things to assist the minorities and the underprivileged in obtaining jobs. In most instances, these people who would be assisted through one of these programs live outside of the applicant area and, therefore, these resolutions and promises which they make to EDA in order to satisfy their requirements for assistance become a political bombshell and in most instances, probably have a significant effect on the man losing in the next political go-a round. Also, in my estimation, some of the Positive Action Programs should be submitted to the National Liars Club and I am sure that they would win first prize.
Also, in our last grant period from September 28, 1970 to September 27, 1971, we have had restrictions on travel. I realize that some districts in the country have misused the travel authorization but I do not believe that all districts in the country should be penalized. The districts in which this has happened should be warned by EDA and the board of directors or the executive committee of the particular district involved should be made to reform their travel authority and to straighten out their playboy traveller if he be such.
It is almost impossible for me in this type of operation to be limited as I am now, although I have never been refused any travel request that I have made. However, in many instances where I have been called to travel out of state, it happens on weekends and the permission which I am required to ask of the regional office is sent in after I return from my trip. This is sort of ridiculous and I do believe it is not necessarily the best for the operation of a district such as ours.
You must remember that our District is not a planning district per se, but is an action district and, therefore, what we might do here would be completely unorthodox to another district. I believe and based on all of the evaluations which have been done of our District, and there have been five made in the last four years, that we do have a succesful District as unique as it may be, in comparison to other districts in the country. Therefore, we can speak from experience that the restrictive special terms put out by EDA in our grant offers are not for the best.
Since your visit to our District, many of the problems which confronted us have been overcome. At present, project applications sent to the Atlantic regional office in Philadelphia are being processed very quickly. I know of one just recently which was processed within a week from the time it arrived in Philadelphia and was sent to Washington. In my estimation, this is fantastic and I would not wish for anything better. We have been very fortunate in the Mohawk Valley District in that we have never had an application turned down once the application was completely put together and sent to the regional office. I expect that one of the reasons for this is that we are quite particular when we start working on a project to be sure that it is a project which will do the most good for the least dollar invested and also that it will meet the requirements of EDA. In many instances, I am firmly convinced that the reason for the turndown is that they were poorly prepared ; did not have a good sound economic factor involved and did not really attempt to overcome the problems of the area. I would like to compliment the staff in Philadelphia, particularly the Public Works, Technical Support, Business Loans, Technical Assistance and Planning Department, for they have been of tremendous assistance to us and have been at our beck and call at all times. Mr. J. Gordon Berry, the regional director, has been very cooperative with our office and any inquiries that I make to the Philadelphia office I have always had straight answers. This is of great value when you are talking on serious problems.
All in all, to summarize, I would have about three recommendations; that the Positive Action Program be either eliminated or changed drastically, that the Affirmative Action Program, which any company involved with EDA loan or public works grant is forced to sign if it has over 50 employees, be eliminated. This portion is absolutely asinine and ridiculous. Any company in their right mind would not sign this. In some instances we probably had to leave out companies with over 50 employees because if we put them into the application they would have refused to sign the affirmative action program and as you are well aware, when you are talking public works loans or grants, the more job projections you can make the better for an application, so we are subverting the truth. I would also recommend that the special terms on grants to districts be patterned after the particular district and not on a blank form. If I can be of further assistance to you, please feel free to call me. Sincerely,
John M. LADD,
Executive Director. Mr. Wright. General, the formalities require the administering of an oath, if that is agreeable to you, sir.
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give to the subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. LINCOLN. I do.
Mr. WRIGHT. Our witness is General George A. Lincoln, who is Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and we are honored to have you with us today. General, you have a prepared statement, and a very good one. You may proceed in such fashion as you so desire.
TESTIMONY OF GEORGE A. LINCOLN, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF EMER
GENCY PREPAREDNESS; ACCOMPANIED BY JAMES L. LEWIS, CHIEF, DISASTER ASSISTANCE DIVISION; RICHARD MURRAY, ACTING GENERAL COUNSEL; ROBERT F. KEARNEY, ACTING COMPTROLLER; AND GORDON GILLIS, CONGRESSIONAL LIAISON
Mr. LINCOLN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the subcommittee, I do thank you for the invitation to appear before your subcommittee. From the standpoint of the interest in my office, I do applaud the actions that you are taking at these subcommittee hearings.
While I do not apologize in any way for the administration of my own organization, the preparation of this testimony has given me some new and additional insights into our own administration, and I propose to pursue those insights vigorously.
I have brought with me members of my staff, and at this time I will introduce James L. Lewis, who is Chief, Disaster Assistance Division, and whom I will have to lean on probably for technical detail.
I did submit a prepared statement. With your permission, I ask that I may make some remarks preliminary to that prepared statement that came to my mind after it was submitted to our committee, and then go through the prepared statement somewhat more summarily than the text thereof, showing the charts that go with it and attempting to answer any questions. I am going to confine my remarks to that portion on responsibilities of my office that has to do with the area of interest to the Public Works Committee.
(Prepared statement follows:) STATEMENT OF GEN. G. A. LINCOLN, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to tell you about our program and procedures. We
commend the Subcommittee on its efforts to identify and reduce or eliminate red tape. This certainly is and should be an objective of our agency as well as all government agencies.
As background for my description of our administrative procedures, I believe it necessary to describe in brief our disaster organization and functions.
Federal disaster assistance is a broad nation-wide program coordinated and directed by the Office of Emergency Preparedness under the authority of the Disaster Relief Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-606) and Executive Order 11575.
The Act established a permanent, comprehensive program to provide emergency relief and recovery assistance to individuals, businesses, States, and local communities suffering from major disasters. It also strengthens the administration and coordination of Federal disaster assistance efforts. The new Act repealed Public Law 81-875, as amended, PL 89–769, and PL 91–79. Practically all disaster relief activities authorized in these statutes were continued in the new law, some authorizations were made explicit, and new provisions were added. OEP (and its predecessor agencies) has administered this—what is commonly known as the President's disaster program—since 1953.
ODP's disaster mission involves both preparedness for and response to disaster emergencies. Today we shall direct our attention to the response aspects
UNDER PUBLIC LAW 91-606
Fire Suppression Grants
Clearance of Debris and Wreckage
of the program, to disaster relief and recovery actions and the steps involved to deliver the Federal help to State and local governments and to the ultimate beneficiary, the disaster victim.
The principal types of supplemental assistance available under PL 91-606, funded by the President's disaster relief appropriation, are shown on this chart.
When a major disaster is declared by the President, many types of assistance become available. The types of assistance listed here are fairly well defined by themselves.
The scope of the program is outlined by chart 2 showing major disaster declarations in the past 10 years. We have averaged 19 major disasters per year in that time, although a record 29 declarations were made in calendar 1969. At this point in time in 1969, there had been 10 declarations, but 15 more were made in July and August. In 1970, the first half of the year produced seven declarations, the second half 13. To date this year, there have been nine major disasters. California and Texas were especially hard hit during the past decade. You will note that only six states did not have any declared major disasters in the 10-year period.
În the full 21 years of the program, in fact, of the entire United States only the District of Columbia has never suffered a declared major disaster.
Our organization to administer these disaster-assistance functions is shown on the next two charts: the blocks on the organization chart (chart 3] identify the principal agency components involved in the disaster assistance program. We have a current ceiling of 81 personnel in this program.
The next chart (chart 4) shows our regional boundaries. We operate out of 8 regional offices, staffed on the average with 8 people, including clerical staff. Our OEP Regional Directors are delegated contracting responsibilities for administering the disaster assistance program. Generally, a Regional Director is designated as the Federal Coordinating Officer in a major-disaster situation.
With this background, let me turn to the administrative procedures and the real detail of the program.