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that has grown more and more militaristie, and the question that arises is whether the actual work that may be added to the Army group in connection with public works that are not predominantly militaristic, may not on the whole have a balancing effect upon the military mind itself, with no loss to military efficiency.
Secretary WILBUR. I think that is a problem that is well worth consideration. As I say, I would prefer to have the Secretary of War give you his judgment about that.
Mr. DALLINGER. In view of what you said in case of war, of their being called into actual military service, during the war an Army engineer still continued to have charge of the public works of the District of Columbia, as I remember.
Secretary WILBUR. That may be, but I am not familiar with that.
Mr. DALLINGER. The law provides that an Army engineer shall be in charge of public works in the District of Columbia, and an Army engineer took care of those public works during the war.
Secretary WILBUR. As a matter of fact, I think you will agree that every future war is going to won by engineers, and not by anybody else; it is all a matter of engineering now. It is mechanical, it is cold blooded planning. That is where the war is going to be won, and our engineering ability is a vital thing.
Mr. DALLINGER. Of course I appreciate what has been said, that this bureau would have a lot of civilian engineers connected with it, and they would not be subject to be drafted.
Secretary WILBUR. I want you to understand I am not opposing it at all.
Mr. DALLINGER. It was simply that the idea occurred to me it might save expense, rather than to have an independent bureau; because our experience with independent bureaus in Congress is that no matter how small they are when they start they increase very rapidly, and it is a very natural thing.
Secretary WILBUR. Iam very sympathetic with the idea of getting each one of these independent organizations classified with a department represented in the Cabinet, and not having great establishments not connected up with the orderly and ordinary processes of Government.
Mr. SCHAFER. I agree with you that in the future wars the engineers are the people who will play a dominant part: Therefore, if we consider consolidating these agencies under the War Department I can figure where it would add to the security of the Republic and increase the efficiency of our national defense; because we have to have a nucleus to expand with reference to the engineers, just the same as the other branches of the Army and Navy service. Now if we increase the number of engineer officers and have something for them to do, instead of playing polo and attending teas, we have a greater nucleus from which to expand in time of emergency.
Secretary WILBUR. That is certainly so.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. As I understand, the major constructive works in the Department of the Interior are reclamation and forest service?
Secretary WILBUR. No; road construction and dam construction and building construction.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Well, in the Reclamation Service, it is the dam construction.
Secretary WILBUR. Dams and ditches.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Outside of those two, reclamation and national parks, what major construction work is done in your department ?
Secretary WILBUR. Buildings for the various Indian schools and hospitals and that sort of thing; additions to the Howard University, the St. Elizabeth Hospital, and so on.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I see. What concrete economies have you in mind that could be effected by transferring part of those works and retaining the administrative features, particularly of Reclamation as you have suggested ?
Secretary WILBUR. We decided it was real economy for us to use the Bureau of Public Roads, instead of setting up a group of engineers and road builders of our own, and we think that kind of economy would go all through the Government if everybody did what we have done in public roads.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Then you have no suggestions with respect to economics in public roads in your department, because you have done the best you could and transferred public-road construction ?
Secretary WILBUR. We have practically transferred that responsibility now.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Now, what concrete economies have you in mind that could be effected in the other construction work?
Secretary WILBUR. We will have to put it this way: We know that by larger units we get less overhead and better results, and we feel, if we could have an Indian hospital built by a body that was building hundreds of buildings, that we would get the economies coming from their organization, from purchasing and so on. But it is indefinite; it is a percentage question.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I appreciate that.
Secretary WILBUR. Some people will say your saving will be 3 per cent; some say 15. When the steel companies brought their various organizations together, the economies I have seen measured as high as 50 per cent that they were able to make by the larger units. So we can only give a rough percentage saving in cost. I figured it myself in an amateurish sort of way and thought it would probably run between 7 and 10. per cent economy in public construction, if we had larger units, larger purchasing, and larger mechanism to work with.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Take the matter of your constructions in the Indian Service: Are those constructions by public bids!
Secretary WILBUR. Public bids, for the most part.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Would it be your thought to eliminate that feature?
Secretary WILBUR. No; but instead of our having to work it out, to develop the engineers, to lay out the plans, and to work the thing all out, if you have a permanent office, you will have it done by a group that is working 365 days in the year handling that sort of thing.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. What do your engineers do in other lines except to plan all of the Indian construction?
Secretary WILBUR. Oh, they plan all construction, practically; whatever construction there is going on, we try to use them; but we can not turn from one thing to the other. We have to work inside of our own department and on our own problems, while in a larger organization you can deviate the work and plan it all out
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Take, for instance, your dam construction in Reclamation : Are those works not done by contract?
Secretary WILBUR. Most of them are done by contract.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Take, again, the Boulder Dam work: That is pretty nearly all done by contract, is it not?
Secretary WILBUR. Yes; but we have a body of engineers in Denver, a very large and expensive office, working on all the plans, making the studies of the cement and the methods of handling it; so that we carry and have to have a body of engineers right alongside of the contractors, checking them.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Would not the public works administrator have to do the same thing?
Secretary WILBUR. Yes.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. What concrete economies can you suggest in that construction, then?
Secretary WILBUR. Why, simply because we bring this whole group of engineers together for that specific purpose and then dissipate them. We can not develop a body of a thousand engineers that can be used for the whole Nation seasonally.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. The public works administrator would use them for other services?
Secretary WILBUR. For everything; he would take the figures worked out by the stabilization board, showing the building program of the Government for the next six years, as they have gotten these figures together, and on that basis he would prepare his organization to meet all those and to handle them in the most economical way.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Would not the public works administrator have to have, for the type of construction that obtains at Boulder Dam, a different and peculiar type of engineer from what is ordinarily used in public buildings?
Secretary WILBUR. Yes; he will have to set up different kinds of engineers in his organization; he will have to have dam engineers, road engineers, construction engineers, architects; he will have to have all these divisions. But he can assign different tasks as they come along, after Congress has made its appropriation, to this division or that division.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. What department of the Government, in your judgment, has the best set-up of a nucleus to which could be added from time to time the agencies needed for public-works construction?
Secretary WILBUR. The nuclei, as I see them, are the Army, just as has been described, with its work on flood control; the Department of the Interior, with its Reclamation Service and dam building; the Department of Agriculture, with road building; and the organization for construction here in Washington, that is building these buildings, in the Treasury Department. There you have, you see, the construction in those different departments, and whether you throw it one place or the other or make it independent depends on where you think the emphasis should go.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Is it not true there would probably be more efficiency and certainly more economy by putting the so-called public works administrator under an executive officer, a Cabinet officer, and would not you eliminate the additional cost and promote economy by doing that rather than establishing a separate, independent bureau?
Secretary WILBUR. As Congressman Schafer said, my point of view on this is somewhat different, perhaps, than that of others, and I believe the best set-up of the Government, outside of judicial bodies, those that act and decide questions that have in them the element of a judgment, such as a judge has to make, say, like the Radio Commission, and so on—that everything else should be classified under a departmental head and represented in the Cabinet rather than having individual units scattered all over the place directly dealing with the President. I think that is not the most satisfactory form of government.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. How many employees, engineers particularly, have you dispensed with in the past 12 months because of the inability of your department to transfer them from one work to another!
Secretary WILBUR. Well, I would have to get those figures looked up; but right along we are constantly being appealed to by men we have had to say are surplus and we can not use them, because we necessarily take men on and put them off.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. How many men have you been unable to use now in the Reclamation Service, the dam service, including Boulder Dam, in the last 12 months because of inability to transfer?
Secretary WILBUR. Would you be kind enough to let me get that and add it to the record ?
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Certainly; I am just asking for information. Have you in mind any engineers in the Indian Service that you have been unable to use efficiently and you have had to discharge because of your inability to transfer them to any other work?
Secretary WILBUR. Well, I have had that, too. There we are trying to reorganize the engineering service in the Indian Office, and we are all ready, under the present legislation, to get that brought under our reclamation engineering service.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Finally, it would be helpful to me, certainly, if
you could give us some concrete cases to show that in a department such as yours, during the period, say, of the past 12 months, you have been unable to use or to transfer and have had to discharge engineers
Secretary WILBUR. All right.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. That would help this theoretical economy and efficiency we have in mind.
Secretary WILBUR. We will be very glad to get that for you.
ENGINEERS DROPPED WITHIN THE LAST YEAR DUE TO CURTAILMENT OF ACTIVITIES
Bureau of Reclamation; 1 at $2,300; 1 at $2,400; 1 at $2,600; 1 probationer dropped during probation, at $3,800, May 23, 1931, position never filled; 1 at $3,000 furloughed January 1, 1932.
Indian Service: 1 at $2,900.
Geological survey: 1 at $3,400. Furloughs: 11 at $2,000; 7 at $2,200; 4 at -$2,300; 1 at $3,200; 1 at $2,100. About 30 engineering field aids, $1,260 to $1,500, also were furloughed.
Mr. SCHAFER. Do you keep any of your engineering personnel on the pay roll when you do not have work for them to do? I notice in the Veterans Administration that some of their $5,600 men have been kept on the pay roll at that salary while they were doing nothing, waiting for a job to be created for them, perhaps, because of the political influence that was behind them.
Secretary WILBUR. That is one thing we try not to do, but we know that in all of this sort of thing the work is fanned up over and over again, if it is not going very actively, so that it will last. There is no question about it.
Mr. SCHAFER. There is one more point that Brother Whittington brought out. I do not believe that the answer was clear and definite. I would like to obtain this information. You named the different departments which could be considered as nuclei for this construction work.
Secretary WILBUR. Yes; it might not have been complete.
Mr. SCHAFFR. Now in your judgment, if we are going to consider this legislation from a real point of consolidation under an existing Cabinet head and not one opposed to consolidation, but of expansion, as provided in this independent superbureau, which one of the present departments in charge of a Cabinet officer has the officers and the personnel and the experience to render the best service?
Secretary WILBUR. Well, I would put it this way, that in the Treasury Department we have the best experience on building construction; in the War Department, the best experience on flood control and the handling of streams; in the Agricultural Department, the best road-building experience; in the Interior Department, the best dam-building experience.
Mr. SCHAFER. Yes; but you could not very well put rivers and harbors work and inland waterways under the Treasury Department. Which one, if you were the man to determine under which Cabinet head this consolidation should go, when considering the established organizations, the experience, the standing in the communities, and the economies during past operations under which Cabinet head would you say it should go if it was the policy to put it under a Cabinet officer—the War Department, the Interior Department, the Treasury Department, or the Agricultural Department?
Secretary WILBUR. Well, that is a difficult question. It is the kind of question that a Congressman has to answer; that a Cabinet officer usually can get out of. [Laughter.]
Mr. SCHAFER. I know where I would put it; I would put it in under the War Department, and I believe you agree with me.
Secretary WILBUR. I do not disagree with you. The CHAIRMAN. As I stated at the outset of the hearing, I take all of the blame for getting mixed on the dates when the Secretary was to come.
He was to come yesterday, instead of this morning, but he agreed to come this morning, but would have only an hour to spend with us. He has another engagement and, if there are no other questions, we will let the Secretary go.
Mr. Cross. I would like to ask one question, right on the line of Mr. Schafer, but somewhat different from his. Now, Mr. Secretary, it seems to me that the War Department has a specific work to do; the Treasury Department has another entirely different business to