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I am submitting herewith a chart showing the organization of the Office of the Supervising Architect in Washington; also statements showing the make-up of the custodial field force and the construction field force of that office. Generally speaking, it may be said that the Supervising Architect's Office is in charge of the Federal Government's public building construction, though other departments do conduct building operations of a similar character. For instance, the Veterans Administration is responsible for the construction of veterans' hospitals; the War Department builds the barracks and officers' quarters at various Army posts; the State Department, through a commission of which the Secretary of the Treasury is a member, is responsible for the construction of embassies and legations; the Department of Justice builds some of the penal institutions; the Department of Commerce builds lighthouses; the Interior Department builds some Indian schools; and the Navy Department does building work of the same general character.
All of this work relating to the construction of public buildings could most properly be consolidated in the Office of the Supervising Architect, particularly as in many cases the Supervising Architect is making the services of his organization available to the other departments. In so far as the custody, maintenance, and care of our public buildings are concerned, again generally speaking, it may be said that this duty falls upon the Office of the Supervising Architect. That office is responsible for the custody, maintenance, and care of post offices, courthouses, customhouses, appraisers' stores, mints, assay offices, marine hospitals, quarantine station, borderpatrol stations, and some immigration stations. With the exception of the War and Navy Departments, there would seem to be no reason why this entire service should not be consolidated in the Office of the Supervising Architect.
That, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I think, gives you a general picture of the situation in so far as our public buildings are concerned.
I think I can say that the work assigned to the Supervising Architect's Office has, over a long period of years, been well and efficiently performed. In recent years, the bureau has been greatly expanded in order to take care of the vast building program authorized by Congress. The expedition and efficiency with which the building program has been and is being carried out is, I think, the best proof that no need exists certainly for internal reorganization.
The question as to whether the organization belonging to the Office of the Supervising Architect should be lifted in its entirety out of the Treasury Department and placed under an administration of public works, is a very different question. It is difficult for me to see how such'a transfer would, in and of itself, effect any economy or result in greater efficiency, since the construction and the care and maintenance of public buildings is an administrative function which has a character of its own and seems to differ fundamentally from such activities as road construction, river and harbor work, or reclamation projects. However, as the Treasury Department can only view the problem from vro stanupoint of the particular activity over which it has jurisdiction, and is not in a position to view the picture as a whole, we do not feel that we should go further in expressing an opinion than I have already done.
May I say, however, that it seems to me that the wise course to pursue would be to create an administration of public works and then authorize the Chief Executive who, after all, has a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the whole problem of administration than any one else, to decide which one of the construction and engineering activities can, with benefit to the public service, be consolidated in the new bureau. Such a course has the additional advantage that it can be done gradually, without the serious interruption of the important work now in progress that any abrupt change would necessarily involve.
Now, I submit here, Mr. Chairman, a chart showing the organization in the Architect's Office in Washington and a brief statement covering the organization of the field services. (The papers above referred to are as follows :)
MARCH 11, 1932.
CONSTRUCTION FIELD FORCE, SUPERVISING ARCHITECT'S OFFICE
Engaged in supervision of construction work in the field on March 11, 1932.
One hundred and forty-six associate construction engineers, salaries range from $3,200 to $3,700.
Eighty-seven assistant construction engineers' salaries range from $2,600 to $2,900.
One junior construction engineer at $2,100.
Two hundred and ninety-six, total number employed with annual payroll of $833,926.
CUSTODIAL FIELD FORCE—TREASURY DEPARTMENT, AS OF FEBRUARY 29, 1932
The custodial fiel force assigned fo the operation of Federal buildings under the control of the Treasury Department, and perform duties in connection with the care, maintenance, and repair of such buildings, such as operation and repair of mechanical equipment, heating apparatus, plumbing, motors, fans, etc.; operation of elevators and their adjustment; guarding the building; cleaning floors, windows, etc.; general care of grounds and sidewalks, and so forth.
There are connected with this force 7,592 employees, under the following designations: Supervising chief engineer_
2 Assistant supervising chief engineer
2 Assistant superintendent of repairs.
1 Associate construction engineer..
1 Building maintenance inspector
6 Furniture inspector
2 Vault and safe inspector Inspector of repairs_
5 Assistant custodian..
46 Assistant custodian engineman.
42 Chief engineer-
20 Assistant mechanical engineer.
1 Architectural draftsman.
2 Supervising engineer
! ! !
1 53 1 1 1 24 1
69 1 1 7 11 2 40 4
91 45 1 6 7 9 15 18 1 2 2 70
8 1, 472 204 82 4
76 2, 760
10 1, 468
7, 592 Mr. WILLIAMSON. I should like to ask just one question, Mr. Secretary: In setting up a department of public works, which is intended as a service organization for Government departments, do you think it
should be independent, as is the case with the Veterans' Bureau, or do you think it would be better to put it under some department head?
Secretary Mills. If I were actually going to create an administration of public works?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Yes.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. What advantage can you see in an independent agency?
Secretary Mills. I can see this advantage: The present department heads have all they can do as it is, according to my observation, to carry on the fundamental duties of their offices. It would be very difficult to take any one of the existing departments and get the head of that department to devote the time and attention necessary to administer a great department of public works. Take the Treasury Department, for instance. If it were not for the very long tradition and the fact that for over a hundred years, I guess, as a matter of practice the Treasury Department has taken care of the construction of public buildings and has been custodian of public buildings, the ordinary man assuming the duties of Secretary of the Treasury would not assume that he was
to be in charge of public building construction or the care of public buildings. When a man becomes Secretary of the Treasury he rather assumes his duties are confined to looking after the finances of the Government, and that is the way his mind runs and that is the way his experience runs. And I fancy there have been a good many Secretaries of the Treasury who when they assumed office were surprised to find, for instance, they had to administer the Public Health Service and public works department. I think if you are going to create a department of public works you should make it an independent agency and put one man in charge of it and make that his main job and not a side issue.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, you feel there is enough work there for one man?
Secretary Mills. There is enough work there for one man. The reason it has functioned so well in the Treasury is because there is this long tradition; it is an integral part of our Treasury organization. But if you were starting as an original proposition, why, there would be no more reason for putting it in the Treasury Department than there would be for putting it in the Department of Agriculture.
Mr. Cross. Mr. Secretary, if you were going to switch to some department, what do you think about the Department of the Interior?
Secretary Mills. I can not see any reason why the Department of the Interior would be particularly qualified—any more qualified than the Treasury Department—to carry on these public-building operations.
Mr. Cross. It does not have as much to absorb and look after, does it, and of such a different nature?
Secretary MILLs. You would have to ask Doctor Wilbur how busy he is; I do not know.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Secretary, if an administrator of public works was created, do not
you think it advisable still to maintain the Public Buildings Commission that selects the sites, and so forth?
Secretary Mills. Oh, most decidedly.
Secretary Mills. Yes. That has functioned very well and I think it has the confidence of Congress.
Mr. SCHAFER. Then you would also retain in each one of the present departments the skeleton of a construction division as a liaison office ?
Secretary Mills. Well, I would not want to speak for the other departments. I am not sure, as I have said in this statement, that it is the wise thing to lift the architect's office bodily out of the Treasury, and I am very much influenced by the fact it has been there a very long time; it has taken root; it functions very satisfactorily. And, after all, the Treasury has a great organization extending all over the country that is available, when it comes to custodial service, and you use them to a very great extent, do you not, Judge ?
Mr. WETMORE. Yes.
Secretary Mills. I do not think you want to view the problem, taking the long view, as a building operation necessarily. When this great building program on which we are now embarked is completed we hope for many years it won't be necessary to do a great deal of building on the part of the Federal Government. Then it will largely be a matter of taking care of those buildings all over the country. When you have an organization such as the Treasury, which does reach into practically every State and locality in the country, why it is a great convenience to have those offices available around which to build a custodial organization.
Mr. SCHAFER. Mr. Secretary, we have a great many independent organizations, bureaus, and departments. Many people have claimed that we have too many, and that they should all be consolidated under a single administrative head under a Cabinet officer. If we take your position that the Cabinet officers have too many duties to perform now, so that they could not properly take care of a department of public works, if it was consolidated under their department, what are we going to do with all of these independent agencies which we now have-leave them to run wild the way they have been running?
Secretary Mills. Mr. Schafer, I do not want to go that far. What I said was I did not see what you gained by lifting the architect's office out of the Treasury Department, where it has been for a century and more, and transferring it to another department. I can not see the economy and I can not see what you gain by transferring it to Interior, for instance.
Mr. SCHAFER. How about transferring it to the War Department ? The War Department engineers have performed wonderful service with reference to rivers and harbors. Extensive engineering problems have been met and overcome.
Secretary Mills. Well, building post offices is a very different problem from dredging a river or a harbor. And then again, when you come to look after these buildings that is a major proposition.
Mr. SCHAFER. Of course, if we consolidate the activities under the War Department, we do not expect the present War Department engineers to take care of the post offices. Naturally, your force or part of the force you have now under the Supervising Architect will go over there, just the same as a part of the force in the Veterans' Bureau will go over.