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and economy would result. Now, I will ask you the same question with reference to construction work of the Navy, to which you have referred: Have you any idea or any suggestions either as to greater efficiency or more economy in those constructions, for the benefit of this committee, to enable them to reach their conclusions with respect to the establishment of the administrator of public works?
Colonel GRANT. I know very little, sir, about the work of the Navy and am really not competent to speak on it at all.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. What would you think, Colonel, of this idea of utilizing the Corps of Engineers in highway construction, which might be placed under the corps and definitely to determine, in any proposed public-works legislation, that the work now and heretofore done by the Corps of Engineers and by the naval operations construction be continued in those two departments, and add to that the public highways to the Corps of Engineers, and then for the other governmental activities to have an administrator of public works?
Colonel GRANT. Well, I think that would be one very good way of making a start, sir—one very good way of doing it. Then, later, if you found you wanted to combine them with the public works you could do so.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Just this further and final question: Eliminating the Corps of Engineers and the work of the Navy and highway construction, what greater efficiency and. what concrete cases in a material way have you in mind that would make for greater efficiency and economy by a public works administrator in other construction?
Colonel GRANT. Well, I feel from the contact I have had with it that a good deal could be done, particularly in connection with this public-building program and with the smaller jobs that are done by various different departments, in gathering them up and putting them into one bureau under a thoroughly competent construction executive to do that kind of work exclusively.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Now, you take your public buildings; how many folks are hammering at that job, if I may be permitted to put it that way?
Colonel Grant. The regular public-buildings program is intrusted entirely to the Treasury Department; but there are other people who are building buildings, of course, in considerable numbers.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. What departments, for instance?
Colonel GRANT. Well, of course, the Quartermaster Corps builds quarters for the Army to live in; the Architect of the Capitol is building many millions of dollars worth of buildings right up here near the Capitol; my office is building two buildings at the present time besides the Arlington Memorial Bridge project, the Veterans' Bureau is building hospitals, the Department of Justice additions to prisons, and so forth.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Now, I will stop right there, with your permission. Would you advocate the consolidation of those your Quartermaster, your Architect of the Capitol here, and the work of the Treasury Department in public buildings?
Colonel GRANT. Now, the Bureau of Yards and Docks in the Navy is building quarters, as well as docks and navy yards.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Yes.
Colonel Grant. Now, your question was whether all of that could best be done by one office.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Yes; that is right. Now, where is there any duplication you would eliminate or any economy that would be effected by putting all that work under one administrator and stopping right there?
Colonel GRANT. There might be some economy to be gained by doing it, sir, because the better type of supervision and overhead which such a bureau or department would command would be available for the less-good type or cheaper type of work, and such professional services might result in a standardization of design along better lines than is possible now with so many organizations doing the work.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. By using the words“ might” and “possible” it is rather speculative, is it not, even in your mind?
Colonel GRANT. It is distinctly possible, and it will depend on whoever is running the new office and his assistants as to whether it is done or not.
The CHAIRMAN. I want to call attention of the committee to the fact that we have a most important bill before the House, and the House is now in session, and unless there are some more questions, we will adjourn.
Mr. Wilson. I have just one question to ask Colonel Grant. The Secretary of Agriculture's testimony a few days ago indicated there might be economy and efficiency with greater liberality being given in the interdepartmental transfer of forces, and the question came up, if the Department of Agriculture should call upon the Secretary of War in road construction, or some construction affecting highways, to assign a member of the Corps of Engineers, could that be done under the law now?
Colonel GRANT. I do not think it could, sir.
Mr. Wilson. And if it could, of course it would be a temporary assignment ?
Colonel GRANT. The Secretary of Agriculture could ask the War *Department to supervise certain road work, and if Congress authorized him to transfer the appropriation it could be done in that way; but under the existing law the Army is limited as to what duties officers can be assigned to, and I do not think the Chief of Engineers could detail any additional officers to such work without specific legislative authority.
Mr. Wilson. Even though it might be important at times, especially as to highway construction or some work in connection with it, that might have a bearing on national defense.
Colonel GRANT. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. Colonel, we greatly appreciate your kindness in coming down and talking to us.
(The committee thereupon adjourned until Thursday, March 10, 1932, at 10 o'clock a. m.)
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 o'clock a. m., Hon. John J. Cochran (chairman) presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. RAY LYMAN WILBUR, SECRETARY OF THE
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Secretary, there are two bills before the committee. The bill I offered was introduced solely for the purpose of getting the question before the committee. The President had expressed himself as favoring the consolidation of the public-works activities of the Government under one head. Your department is affected to some extent and the committee would like to have your view as to what you would be willing to let us take away from you and what you would like to keep, or we would be glad to hear any statement you desire to make. You may proceed without interruption, if you please.
Secretary WILBUR. I will appreciate it. I have prepared, in order to save the time of everybody, a little statement which I have here, and I will start in with that. As indicated in my reports on H. R. 6665 and H. R. 6670, I am in favor of consolidating the public-works functions of the Government. Because of the magnitude of Federal construction, I believe that economy lies in this direction. A distinction should be made, however, between operating and technical bureaus which have incidental construction activities, and those bureaus where construction work is the major responsibility. If actual construction operations were combined under one head, we would have in effect an engineering and construction service organization which, under appropriate divisional organizations, could render valuable service to those branches of the Government requiring construction work.
There are only a few Government agencies interested primarily in construction, including the War Department, which may be listed as follows: Bureau of Public Roads, Supervising Architect's Office, Army Engineers, District of Columbia, Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, Commission of Fine Arts, Architect of the Capitol, and Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Commission. There are many bureaus and offices, however, concerned with construction, maintenance, repairs, and alterations, according to the following list furnished by the Federal Stabilization Board. I need not go into all of them, but it shows Agriculture and Commerce have various functions, and in the Interior Department we have the Alaska Railroad, Columbia Institution for the Deaf, Freedman's Hospital, Geological Survey, Howard University, Indian Affairs, National Parks Service, Reclamation, St. Elizabeths Hospital, and Virgin Islands all with some construction activities.