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some of this work, which is now being performed by Army Engineers, over to this new bureau?
Colonel GRANT. Well, I think the bill provides that officers may still be detailed on this work from the Corps of Engineers, in the new administration, and I believe that is a very valuable thing to retain. It is a little more specifically stated in the Williamson bill than it is in H. R. 6670; but I do feel that Congress would make a great mistake if it eliminated the officers of the Army and Navy entirely from public work; because you have there a group of people who are sufficiently impermanent in their jobs not to want to build up the jobs, as it is only human nature for others to do.
Mr. SCHAFER. That is what I am trying to get at, but I asked the particular question do you not believe that under the set-up in the Cochran bill, with the language of the Cochran bill and with this new set-up as shown on the blueprint, there will necessarily have to be a decrease in the Army Engineer personnel?
Colonel GRANT. I had counted on certain parts of the work being retained in the hands of the officers who are trained to do that part of the work.
Mr. SCHAFER. Who is going to determine? You said they may be assigned. Who is going to determine whether they may be or whether they shall be ?
Colonel GRANT. We have to trust to the new administrator.
Mr. SCHAFER. Precisely; and the ultimate result will be when you get a civil engineer perhaps who is a politician at the head of this, that in the past has been yelling about Army Engineers performing engineering services, you are going to have fewer Army Engineer officers performing actual work under the new set-up. Therefore, you will either have to reduce your Army Engineer officer personnel and therefore reduce its effectiveness in time of emergency, or else assign them to Washington and let them attend teas and play polo.
Colonel GRANT. One of the dangers of any change of this kind is that somebody will do something that he ought not to do, sir; and that it will become a self-increasing organization.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Now, Colonel, have you any architects in the Army?
Colonel GRANT. Have we any architects in the Army?
Colonel GRANT. We have not any as graduate architects as commissioned officers, sir, if you mean from that standpoint; that is, who have taken a course in a school of architecture, that I know of; but we have at least one officer, whose name I can not recall at the present moment, who is a very proficient architect. Whether he is a graduate of an architect's school, or has done this as an avocation, I do not know for sure.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. You do not have the study at West Point and Annapolis, do you?
Colonel Grant. No, sir.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. You do not mean to say your Army Engineers had anything to do with the planning of the Library or the architectural features of it, do you?
Colonel GRANT. No, sir; but they built the building.
Mr. WILLIAMSON, As a matter of fact, you have no men in the Army to-day trained as architects, have you!
Colonel GRANT. As far as I know, there is nobody who is trained as an architect in the Army.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Who has anything to do with architecture as such ?
Colonel Grant. No, sir. There are architects employed by the Army.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. I understand.
Colonel GRANT. But, of course, you can get architectural services just as you can get legal services, when they are needed, sir.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Now, what is your idea of this new set-up, anyway! Do you look upon it as a service organization for other departments ?
Colonel GRANT. I feel that is what it ought to be, sir; that, if the results of economy are to be obtained, which you are sincerely seeking, the possibility has to be found in setting up a single office which will do certain kinds of work for the other departments and taking over the minimum of administrative work from them. That is why I particularly excluded the Reclamation Service. That should not be transferred from the Department of the Interior. It is a management of land and financing problems very largely. But such an administration could do the engineering and construction work for the Reclamation Service when it was needed and I have a feeling that the same thing could be done in connection with some of the other services. For instance, I am not clear in my mind what would be gained by transferring the National Park Service from the Interior Department to this administration, if this administration did all of the building for the National Parks and their construction work, as the Bureau of Public Roads is now building their roads. In other words, there is a line of demarcation in the construction service, as I know it, which needs adjustment by the person who is going to have charge of the work. That is why I was pleading for the greatest elasticity possible.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Do you think a department of this character should have anything to do with administrative work, outside of what is necessary in connection with construction and maintenance work for other departments?
Colonel GRANT. No; not generally; but there is one activity that it can do a great deal to bring into line, and that is the purchase of land. A great many different departments are purchasing land now with various measures of success, usually with a set-up for doing it that is organized in a hurry, because they need a certain piece of land for some purpose, and consequently it is not always well organized and not experienced in the purchase of land, which is a very complicated thing to do. The purchase of land should certainly go in, if you call that an administrative function, and the saving would be not to continue to assign money to other departments for the purchase of land; but, whenever anyone wants land purchased, that they would have to go, as they would to have a building built, to this new administration to do it.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Do you think a service organization such as the Public Works Administration should be tried up with any other department ? At the present time we have nine departments of the Government doing construction work of one kind or another.
Colonel GRANT. I think there is an objection to it, and there are reasons for not doing it, sir. I do not see any strictly economical reason one way or the other. I should say this, that if you are going to set up a new administration to do that, then it ought to be separate so that the head of it will have the liberty of action necessary to do the job and not be under and dependent on the chief clerk of the department and the tradition of some other department for a way of doing it. But if you are going to do what has been suggested—that is, to pick out these various activities and assign them to bureau already existing-why, then I can not see any great objection to their staying in the departments. There is no reason for taking an existing bureau out of a department that it already knows how to work with, unless you put it into a more efficient organization.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Now, can you see any inherent difficulty in the Army engineers being assigned to the public works administration and being required to perform nonmilitary construction under the direction of the administrator?
Colonel GRANT. Not at all, except the possibility that as a matter of human nature they would gradually be crowded out because they are not permanently in there, and we all know it is upsetting a little bit to one's administration to have personnel changed. At the same time, it is a very good thing for the Government, because it prevents a single line of ideas from becoming crystalized too long.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Supposing, then, Colonel, in place of limiting the service of the Army engineers to two years, as both bills do, that we make the connection of the Army engineers permanent, so that they can not be taken out of public works administration but will be left permanently in charge of work they are now doing; would that improve the situation?
Colonel GRANT. I really think it would be a very good thing, of course, and it would be easier not to have to change the law later, if their work was not consolidated with such a department. Yes, sir; I think such a measure would be a protection to the Government, because I really sincerely believe that the officers who do work of this kind are less open to local pressure and local associations and local influence of one kind and another than almost anybody who is just a permanent employee can be.
The CHAIRMAN. Along the line of Mr. Williamson's question, the Bureau of Public Roads now has an engineer supervising the construction of roads?
Colonel GRANT. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you see any reason in the world why an Army engineer could not do that work and at the same time receive a great deal of training that would be valuable to him in the construction of roads in time of war?
Colonel GRANT. I should say that road construction would be one of the most valuable things that an Army engineer could have.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, if we assigned Army engineers by law and made it mandatory that they use them, the experience they would get would be valuable to the Army engineers in time of war?
Colonel GRANT. It would be very valuable; yes, sir.
Mr. DAVENPORT. You see, Colonel, our attitude here, as the testimony develops, toward the Corps of Engineers and our knowledge of the integrity and ability of those men rather wrecks our theoretical conception of consolidation in certain fields. Now, do you think the Corps of Engineers organization is capable of expansion so that it could take in all of those matters of public construction that would normally and naturally center themselves around it?
Colonel GRANT. Yes, sir; I think it could, but there are perhaps one or two of the activities that have been spoken of in here that might better go to other departments. I feel really that the National Park Service would fare better if it were left in the Interior Department and its kind of work assigned to it, rather than if it was put in the War Department; but I feel that roads and rivers and harbors, which is already there—and building construction could be taken over by the Corps of Engineers with its present organization, and with very little additional expense to handle it, excepting the actual expense of designing the additional work, which you have to pay for wherever it is done.
Mr. DAVENPORT. Well, I suppose the particular construction that is intimately associated with the Navy would be carried on by the Navy; that would not be a normal thing for the Army to take over, would it, or could that be done?
Colonel GRANT. I was somewhat in the dark as to what work the Navy is doing, outside of the construction of quarters in navy yards, and so forth, which was assigned to this administration by this bill, because it hinged on the interpretation of what is necessary in the national defense, and my interpretation is that the whole navy yard is a part of the national defense and must be handled as a unit. So that I did not see that very much of the Navy's work was going to be assigned to the new administration; but I could see that the Navy might utilize the services of such an administration, just as I have used the help of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury at times, where I did not have the people to work on something and they did have; for instance, they made a design for us for the reconstruction of the attic in the White House roof several years ago before the public-buildings program started, which we revised and for which we then wrote our specifications, as they had the people to do the work for us and we did not have the people to do that part of the work. And we went ahead and let the contract and did the job. And such an administration, whether it is in the hands of a department or not, could do service for other departments along those lines if Congress made it understood that the appropriation made for a building to the Post Office Department or to some other department was available by reimbursement for use by this service.
Mr. DAVENPORT. How would it seem to you, Colonel Grant, if we should go at it in this way: To make a careful survey of the different kinds of construction that we have started in every direction and then see where they would fit into the existing departments—for example, the Corps of Engineers, the Interior—and try to attach them to those greater departments first before we undertook to establish a new unit of administration?
Colonel GRANT. Well, I believe that something of that sort could be done. I do not believe you are going to get any great economy right away, because that will take time; but I do feel very strongly
that this is not something that can be done between midnight June 30 and the morning of July 1. In other words, it is a thing that has to be put in the hands of a competent person and let that person work the problem out. And that was the plea I was making, Mr. Chairman, that any legislation passed should be sufficiently elastic for the job to be done by the man upon whose shoulders it is put.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I have not understood you to suggest any greater efficiency or any economy in the river and harbor and floodcontrol work now done by the Corps of Engineers that could be accomplished by putting that corps under the direction of the administrator of public works, and I repeat the question to see if I caught any concrete case or idea as to economy and efficiency?
Colonel GRANT. Well, of course, I am an officer of the Corps of Engineers, sir, and you may want to discount anything I say on the subject.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. No; I just want an answer.
Colonel GRANT. But I do believe that the Corps of Engineers now has as efficient or a more efficient organization to do this work than anybody else in the Government service. And if there was any way we could find of doing it more efficiently, we would have put that into practice. We have very much the kind of set-up for our civil work that is proposed in this measure; that is to say, we have a single head that administers all of it, but the field work is all subdivided and done locally, so that you have both supervision and decentralization and a strong control. And I believe you will find that our administrative costs are as low as those of any department of the Government.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. So that, so far as that work is concerned, as I understand you have not pointed out in any instance where that could be more efficiently handled, or handled with greater economy, by putting this work under the administrator set up in either one of these two bills?
Colonel GRANT. As far as work of the Corps of Engineers is concerned, the civil work, I do not believe it can be done any cheaper if it was done by and under a different head; but I believe if it is put under a different head, or if by law you permit it to do work for others which is not being done now, in such a systematic way-work of the same kind for others—that there is room for economy.
That is my understanding of the intention in this whole matter is to permit in some way the assignment of all the different things of the same kind to one office.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Yes; but is it not better to have a certainty as to the future of this esprit de corps and this work that has been done by the Corps of Engineers, rather than risk the uncertainty of it being inefficiently done with no scandal of any kind?
Colonel GRANT. That is a question that will depend on who is selected to head this new service.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. It is at least problematical, is it not, as to how it will work out?
Colonel' GRANT. It is a question of policy which seems to me is essentially one which you gentlemen have to decide. It is rather difficult for me to give a personal opinion offhand on that question.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You will understand by recurring to my question I was asking you if you had any concrete cases where efficiency