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Mr. SCHAFER. Then you should change the Constitution and law and prevent Congressmen and Senators and the President, who are elected in political campaigns, from spending the money, because in the final analysis they make the expenditure.
Mr. COCHRAN. You had a pork-barrel method, which lasted for a long while, and the Public Building Commission was organized to take it out of that category. I want to keep it out. I will not vote for any bill that is going to permit contractors, architects, and others, through political influence, to get their hand in the pie in the spending of public money for the construction of public work of any character.
Mr. SCHAFER. Well, Congress, even under the present set-up, with the delegated authority to make selections, permits the Congress to determine what money shall be spent and how much shall be spent. We now have an example of a bureaucracy throttling the sixth installment of the public-building program which provided post-office buildings in every part of the country, and even under the existing situation Congress is the one that determines, because we still have the power to pass appropriation bills.
Mr. COCHRAN. It will be determined very soon; you are not going to have a sixth installment when you pass the Treasury bill.
Congress should lay down in the law what is to be done, and the administrator should do it without fear or favor.
Politics do not stop with the administrator in the Williamson bill. It is provided in section 3 that architects, engineers, and experts may be appointed, and this without regard to the civil service law. The Cochran bill permits of the appointment by the administrator of the seven directors, but transfers other civil-service employees to the administration of public works and provides, in effect, in section 14 that all of the employees except the administrator and seven directors shall be recruited through the civil service. It requires no argument to demonstrate that if the administrator under the Williamson bill is to be a politician, with millions and millions of dollars of public money to be expended, his principal subordinates will likewise be politicians, and there will thus be the blind leading the blind in the technical duties which will have to be performed by this administration of public works.
The Cochran bill provides exactly what services shall be transferred to the administration of public works. The Williamson bill, apparently in section 2, leaves such transfer to the discretion of the President, though it is noted in paragraph 6 (c) and (d) that the specific provision is made for the transfer to this administration of public works of the nonmilitary activities and duties concerning rivers and harbors and so forth. In other words, section 6 (c) and (d) of the Williamson bill is at least somewhat inconsistent with section 2 of that bill. If the President is to have authority to consolidate and coordinate the whole or any part of all agencies and so forth engaged in construction work, then there is no need for the requirement in section 6 (c) and (a) that certain activities be transferred. It is not believed that the law should leave such an important matter in the discretion of any official, but should provide, as in the Cochran bill, exactly what is to be done. It is a your
function of the Congress to make the law and not delegate broad discretion to some official, even though he be President, to consolidate the activities of the Government.
The Williamson bill in section 5 attempts to set up a method of making estimates and securing appropriations for public works. That section should be compared with section õ of the Cochran bill.
There are many other differences between the two bills, but enough has been pointed out to show that the Cochran bill is far the superior one and that even if it is not enacted into law the Williamson bill should not be permitted to become law in its present form.
Mr. MARTIN. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Williamson is not here to-day.
Mr. COCHRAN. I will show him this and let him answer me and be glad to have him answer me.
I want to say Mr. Britten has come down here and asked permission to appear before the committee with respect to some feature of the pending bill.
Mr. SCHAFER. I want to ask a question or two about bill.
Mr. COCHRAN. We will discuss that at a later date. I just told you what I had in mind.
Mr. SCHAFER. I just wanted to ascertain whether you believe your bill, with this new set-up, creating additional bureaus and increasing red tape, is a consolidation bill?
The CHAIRMAN. We will have to find that out as we go along.
Mr. SCHAFER. The blue print is evidence that it is an expansion bill, increasing red tape and bureaus.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Had you completed your statement?
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Mr. Chairman, in order to facilitate the hearing, it strikes me it would be a good idea, I trust you will appreciate the spirit in which I make the suggestion, not only for you, as the chairman, I think you did the proper thing to make the initial statement, but for all witnesses to be permitted to make their statements and then if there are any of the members of the committee who desire to do so, in their turn, they should be permitted to interrogate them for any questions that may occur to any of the members of the committee, by securing the permission of the chairman of the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. If that is the pleasure of the committee, that policy will be followed. Is there any objection? The Chair hears none. Mr. Britten, the committee will be glad to hear you.
STATEMENT OF HON. FRED A. BRITTEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM ILLINOIS
Mr. BRITTEN. My name is Fred A. Britten, and I am a Member of Congress from the ninth congressional district of Illinois.
Mr. SCHAFER. Former chairman of Naval Affairs Committee?
Mr. MARTIN. I have known the gentleman by reputation; I never had the pleasure of meeting him before.
Mr. BRITTEN. My object in coming before the committee this morning is to determine just how seriously this bill of Mr, Cochran's, H. R. 6670, affects the Naval Establishment. It is my impression that as it now reads it will include a large part of the public works now being performed for the Navy Department under the Bureau of Yards and Docks of the Navy Department, where a specially equipped personnel now exists. My thought is that such buildings as dry docks, piers, retaining walls, aviation activities, hangars, and so forth, that come directly under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department and are military or naval construction, should not in good sound business reasoning be turned over to some inexperienced public-building administrator. I think that men who have given their lives to the service, let us say, of civil engineering in the Navy Department know the Navy's requirements better than any civilian who might be brought in from the outside, temporarily, to supervise their work or to administer their construction. I think, quite generally, that same condition might apply to certain activities of the Army, but I know it does apply to the Navy Department.
For instance, some of the outstanding civil engineers, who have been chiefs of the Bureau of Yards and Docks in the Navy Department since my tenure of office, and I have been here 20
have developed into the outstanding engineers of their profession in all of the world. I refer to such men as Admiral Fred Harris and the present chief of the bureau, Admiral Parsons, who will come before you this morning. I do not think there is a man in the United States better equipped, more capable, more sincere, or of greater ability than Admiral Parsons in the promotion of the construction work, the civil engineering work that is required by the Navy Department. I think it would be a very great mistake to dislodge a man like Parsons or the activities of his office, which are highly organized and very sensitive to the Navy's requirements—everything they do is done under competitive bid-I suppose they are about as economical and painstaking an organization as you might find in any business organization in the United States. Now, to talk of removing or destroying that organization, to my mind, would promote bad results and not good results. Just how far this bill affects the Army I am not so prepared to say, because my interest in the past 20
years here on the Committee on Naval Affairs has been more or less directed to the Navy and not to the Army.
My reason for coming here is not by any agreement with the Navy. I just happened to meet Admiral Parsons and Captain Allen, who also is a very efficient engineer in the Bureau of Yards and Docks of the Navy Department. I happened to meet them this morning without knowing they were coming here; they did not know I was coming. My reason for coming is to lay before you a letter which I have just received from an authority on rivers and harbors work, particularly on dredging, as it applies to the Army. The letter is from Mr. J. F. Cushing, president of the Great Lakes Dredging & Docks Co. If there is one outstanding dredging company in the United States, it is the Great Lakes Dredging & Docks Co. It has enormous equipment on the Pacific coast and on the Atlantic coast and in the Great Lakes area; just how much Federal work they are doing I am not sure, but I would very much like the chairman's per
mission to read this letter to the committee for the benefit of the record.
The CHAIRMAN. All right. Mr. BRITTEN. The letter reads: I was very glad to receive your letters of the 9th and 16th instant regarding H. R. 6665 and H. R. 6670, both of which I now have copies. I had rather expected to see you here some time this week according to yours of the 16th, and accordingly this morning called up the Parkway Hotel, and learning that you were not there, concluded that you had not made the visit to Chicago you intended.
I note in this morning's Herald and Examiner that Secretary Hurley and many of the other department heads, are registering their natural opposition to these bills.
The construction industry is of course opposed to any department of the Government being in business and I have naturally been brought in close contact with the opposition to the very large fleet of marine equipment owned by the Federal Government and operated by the Corps of Engineers, but outside of this one objection, there is scarcely none of importance that I know of to the Corps of Engineers in its long history of administering extensive public funds in the execution of the many great projects it has handled and it is believed that the many fundamental arguments in favor of the Corps of Engineers continuing to handle the rivers and harbors work as they have in the past, in a very large measure outweighs the advantage of any reorganiz::tion, merging the engineer department with some others not in any practical sense related to it.
It is certain that there is no occasion for a change of administration in these functions on account of any dereliction of duties or inefficiency under the present arrangement nor from any standpoint of high costs or of poor quality workmanship resulting from the present administration.
It would seem that the promise of satisfactory accomplishment under temporary detail would not be as great as in a permanent organization. At present the record of accomplishment of any officer under detail is a permanent record in the department. It constitutes his life's work and furnishes the necessary urge, the same as with any subordinate, that ability and accomplishment would be recognized. Under a temporary detail much of this urge is lost. The temporary superior is not, under the proposed legislation, in a position to make any award for exceptional ability or service and contrariwise not in a position to exercise discipline for the lack of it. The operation as proposed, is merely that the Secretary of War, with the consent and approval of the administrator, may detail certain officers to the service and presumably return them to their military status at any time upon his request.
One of the principal arguments set forth for changes proposed by the administrating functions of the Government are benefits to be obtained by accomplishing single-headed authority. This argument defeats itself when it is proposed to transfer officers from their own department to a temporary detail under another authority.
It has been for many years an accepted principle that in the interest of national defense the Corps of Engineers should keep abreast of the times in the nonmilitary or civil branches of their profession in order to maintain the professional and business ability of its members at a level consistent with the times. A well organized and active body of proven ability may be transferred immediately in an emergency to military accomplishment.
Likewise in the interest of national defense, it is necessary that the military organization be thoroughly acquainted with the commercial and industrial potentialities of the country as a whole. The present arrangement of detail in the Corps of Engineers makes it possible to have many men who are intimately conversant with the natural commercial and industrial resources of the entire country, which information becomes of great value in a national emergency. Further, it provides a point of contact in business and contractual relations between the Military Establishment and the civilian population which is of great value.
Under the arrangement as constituted at present, the proceedings upon any matter whatsoever are particularly free from externál pressure. Political administrations change, popular opinion changes, but the fundamental principles of economics under the activities of the Corps of Engineers are carried on, are influenced very little, if at all, by these periodic reversals.
The present system of investigation, reports and reviews made upon the various projects under the Federal control, are of inestimable value to the commerce and industry of the Nation. In general, they represent facts unbiased and uncolored by any propaganda or political expedients because they are prepared by technically trained minds and founded upon sound economic principals in an atmosphere free from external pressure or inducement.
It is believed that the weight of such fundamental arguments as these far overbalances any apparent financial economy in the transfer of these functions to another authority.
Improvement of rivers and harbors has a very definite military value in providing a supplemental system of transportation in cases of emergency, which fact alone should establish the necessity of retaining this function of the Federal Government under the military branch of the administration.
There are without doubt many other sound reasons for leaving the corps as is, but the above occurred to me from a long and close observation of the activities of the Corps of Engineers. I feel in duty bound and am happy to report them at this time when at least some consideration is being given to substitute something in its place of positive less intrinsic value and with no record of experience by which to gage this substitute by.
(Signed) JOHN F. CUSHING. Mr. Cushing, I am quite sure, would be very glad to come from Chicago to testify before your committee, if you would like to have him talk to you, from a practical engineering standpoint. That may or may not be necessary. I do not know how much opposition there is to these bills, but, as I say
The CHAIRMAN. We will let you know at a later date, as the hearings develop.
Mr. BRITTEN. The opposition to these bills from a military viewpoint, is quite different from what it might be in the Department of Agriculture or Department of Commerce; there might be good ground for passage of such legislation as this, as affecting these other departments. I have not read your report, but I believe you should give very serious consideration to the manner in which either of these bills, preferably H. R. 6670, affects the Military Establishments, both the Army and Navy. I think that might be very, very serious.
Mr. SCHAFER. I would like to ask a question.
Mr. SCHAFER. Did I understand that the letter from Mr. Cushing, indicated as one argument against consolidation or partial consolidation, as provided in the bill, was that under the set-up, in so far as the Navy is concerned, it would be a temporary assignment of officers?
Mr. BRITTEN. No; that was the Army he was talking about.
Mr. SCHAFER. Is it not a fact that at present, to-day, the officers in charge of these activities in the Navy and the War Departments are switched around in the service, and do not have permanent positions? Is it also not a fact that the man in charge of the engineering work in the Navy Department and the Army engineering work is only in charge for a certain tour of duty-three or four years?
Mr. BRITTEN. That is true, but under this bill-
Mr. BRITTEN. Let me answer your question, please. Under this bill there are certain superior officers who will be connected with