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construction has been done, and such department, establishment, or agency shall enter the cost of such services, public work, or construction upon its books and the amount of such cost shall be treated as a part of its expenditures in making its annual report to the President and/or the Congress.
SEC. 6. (a) Quarters for the public works administration shall be provided by the President, and for this purpose he may shift and rearrange the quarters of existing services from which transfers may be made.
(b) It shall be the duty of the administrator to standardize designs, plans, and specifications, so far as practicable, with a view to effecting the utmost economy consistent with suitable and first-class construction.
(c) Hereafter the construction, improvement, maintenance, and administration by the United States of roads, bridges, ferries, barges, dams, irrigation works, drainage canals, dike, flood-control works, river and harbor improvements, railroads, public buildings, public monuments, lighthouses, prisons, storehouses, and other activities involving plans, specifications, and public construction, not of a military or national-defense character, shall be performed by and/or under the direction or supervision of the public works administration.
(a) All officers of the United States Army and/or Navy detailed to nonmilitary and/or nonnaval duties having to do with river and harbor improvements, the Mississippi River Commission, or other activities transferred to the public works administration shall continue to perform their duties in connection with such detail for a period not exceeding two years after such transfer, or until relieved by the Secretary of War or the Secretary of the Navy, as the case may be. With the approval of the administrator of public works, such secretaries may continue, as under existing law, to detail officers of their establishments to nonmilitary and/or nonnaval duties in the public works administration. When detailed for nonmilitary and/or nonnaval duties, as herein provided, such officers shall retain their military rank and succession, and receive the compensation, commutation, and emoluments provided by law in the case of Army and/or Navy officers of the same rank not detached from the regular service.
(e) The administrator, at the close of each fiscal year, shall make a report in writing to the Congress, which shall be printed. Such report shall (1) give an account of all moneys received and disbursed by him and the administration, and shall state for what purpose and on whose account expenditures have been made; (2) shall describe in detail what has been done under section 2 of this act, and shall insert a chart showing the set-up of his administration; and (3) shall make such recommendations with respect to legislation or other matters as to him shall seem appropriate.
The Chair feeling that, as one of the outstanding controversial sections in the bill has to do with the Engineers of the Army, he addressed a communication to the Secretary of War, and asked the Secretary of War if he would like to appear this morning; or, if not, to designate some official of the department to address the committee on the bill. Last evening, at a rather late hour, when I returned to my office from the Capitol, I found a communication from Secretary Hurley, a copy of which will be handed to each of you by the clerk, which communication reads as follows: (The communication above referred to is as follows:)
Washington, D. C., February 24, 1932. Hon. JOHN J. COCHRAN, Chairman Committee on Expenditures in the Erecutive Departments,
House of Representatives. DEAR MR. COCHRAN: Referring to your letter of January 7, 1932, containing a request for reports on the two bills providing for the creation of an administration of public works, H. R. 6665 and H. R. 6670, and to your further letter of February 20, 1932, advising of the date set for the hearings on the same, permit me to inform you that while the War Department favors the creation of such an administration in accordance with the suggestions contained in the message of the President on this subject, there are serious objections to the enactment of the proposed legislation in the form presented by these bills.
From a military standpoint the transfer of Army construction to another Government agency is considered entirely impracticable. The construction, maintenance, repair, and operation of War Department structures are so intimately related to the military control and administration of the Army that the responsibility for the proper execution of such work must be delegated through the established chain of command. The introduction of a civilian agency into this work would result in a divided responsibility that could never be successful in an effective military organization. Aside from this fundamental defect of the proposal there is the further objection that the removal of such construction from War Department control would render it impossible for the Secretary of War to prepare officers to discharge the extensive construction duties which would devolve upon them in time of war. In view of the foregoing, the War Department does not favor the enactment of either of these bills in their present forms.
After a thorough study of the features of the proposer legislation, it is believed that the recommendations for the reorganization of the executive departments contained in the President's message of February 17, 1932 (H. Doc. No. 254), are far superior to the proposals contained in the two bills under consideration, and would, if enacted into law, accomplish the desired end much more effectively.
It is therefore believed unnecessary to submit any further statement in the matter as requested in your letter of February 20, 1932, or to present any witnesses to represent the War Department before the committee. However, if the committee in the course of its hearings should desire the presence of anyone specifically, the Secretary of War will be pleased to send such witness at such time as the committee may designate. Sincerely yours,
PATRICK J. HURLEY, Secretary of War. Mr. SCHAFER. In this request, Mr. Chairman, that you made of Secretary of War, you requested him to appear here or send somebody
The CHAIRMAN. I left it optional.
Mr. SCHAFER. I make the motion, Mr. Chairman, that we request the Secretary of War to appear before this committee.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. I think it very much more to the point, gentlemen, to invite the Chief of Engineers of the Army. I can see the point in the Secretary's objections here. He seems to have the fear that this bill would take away from the Army work and construction of a strictly military character. Now, the bills do not do that; at least my draft does not, and I do not thing Mr. Cochran's does, as we except work of a purely military character from the bills.
The main objection to these bills comes from the fact that the rivers and harbors work is now being done under the supervision of the Army engineers, which, in any logical set-up, should be taken out of the War Department and transferred to the administration of public works. Under the provisions of both bills the Army engineers will be detailed to do the work under the supervision of the public works administration. The fear of the Army engineers seems to be that they will gradually be euchered out of river and harbor construction work entirely.
However, I believe the proposed set-up, in place of reducing the work of the Army engineers, will increase their usefulness, in utilizing their services in the large amount of work that is now being done by civilians, such as the construction of dams now conducted by civilian engineers in the Reclamation Service. It may be that this provision should be rewritten in the bill. Neither Mr. Cochran nor myself will insist on the phraseology carried in the bills, but it seems to me it would be illogical to leave out as important a function as rivers and harbors, because rivers and harbors is one of the most important activities of the public works construction program. For my part, I think we should have the Chief of Engineers here, and others, who are intimately acquainted with these works, and let them state their objections. I know what their objections are, but new members who have not read the old hearings may prefer to hear them rather than read the old testimony. I suggest, therefore, that the chairman call over the Chief of Engineers and one or two others who are closely in contact with the rivers and harbors work, so as to get their views on the bill as written.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Mr. Williamson, I am just reminded that that was the agreement and that was the understanding when we adjourned the other day, that the Secretary of War might be asked to appear.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me read to the committee the first paragraph of the President's message, to which the Secretary refers:
Public works administration.-It will be partially a central agency to the other departments of the Government executing certain construction work, the subsequent operation of which should be carried on by those departments. It should be also partially an agency administering certain contract work, which can not be delegated to any one department. Naval, military, and some of the other highly specialized construction work should not be transferred to this agency.
And I might say here, that I do not think either Mr. Williamson or myself proposes to take work of a purely military character or naval character away from them.
Mr. WILSON. What about rivers and harbors?
The construction of rivers and harbors should be continued under the direction of the Army engineers, who should be delegated by the Secretary of War and the administrator of public works for this purpose.
I am anxious to help the President get a law creating an administrator of public works but I am not willing to take the Army Engineers out of the picture.
Mr. SCHAFER. I want to speak on my motion, before it is over- looked.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. I think I know what the President has in mind with reference to the proposed public works administration. While the bill is my own draft, I prepared it after a conference with the President. When finished, it was submitted to the White House which suggested some slight changes which have been incorporated in the bill before the committee.
The bill differs in one respect from the suggestion of the President. The President's idea is to bring the rivers and harbors work under the jurisdiction of the administration of public works, but he suggested that the provision with reference to the employment of the Army engineers be made compulsory, in place of optional, with the administrator. My bill provides that the Army engineers shall be retained for a period of two years, unless sooner withdrawn by the War Department. During this period they would be in full charge of the work they are now carrying on. So, this bill, if passed, would not, for the time being, materially change the present situation. The Army engineers would go right ahead with the work.
I have the feeling that if we should create a department of public works, that the administrator should be in a position to run his administration. If any friction, for any reason, should develop between the Army engineers and the administrator of public works during the 2-year period the Secretary of War could withdraw them. Congress could then take such action as might seem appropriate.
The President's idea was to make the employment of the Army engineers obligatory upon the administrator without limitation as to time. I do not think we should do that and I have not drafted the bill that way. In that respect the bill is not quite in line with the President's suggestion. However, if the committee prefers to make the retention of the Army engineers compulsory, I shall interpose no objection.
Mr. WILSON. His position is that the rivers and harbors work now under the direction of the Secretary of War and the corps of engineers of the Army should not be transferred at all?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. No; that is not his position. Mr. Wilson. That is what it says. It says: The military, naval, and some other highly specialized construction work should not be transferred to this agency.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Yes; but the point is that the rivers and harbors work is not military construction. It is civilian in character, but is carried on by the military branch.
Mr. WILSON. I read on: The construction of rivers and harbors work should be continued under the direction of the Army engineers, who shall be delegated by the Secretary of War to do the service.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Yes; but they would carry on the work under the general direction of the public works administration.
Mr. WILSON. I think this should be continued as it is now. Mr. SCHAFER. Will you yield? Mr. WILSON. Yes. Mr. SCHAFER. Everybody talks about consolidation to eliminate. If we are really in favor of consolidation and elimination, how can you contend that we are following that course if we create a new commission? Now, we admit that as far as the public work is concerned, the rivers and harbors work, now under the Army engineers, is one of the most important and major activities. There has been no criticism about the way the Army engineers have handled this work. Why should we create this new bureau, if we really want to consolidate and eliminate independent establishments? If we consolidate the public works under the War Department and under the Chief of Army Engineers, then we will have a consolidation and not an expansion.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. I evidently failed to make myself clear to Mr. Schafer. I think a demarcation should be maintained between military activities and purely civilian activities. That is why the rivers and harbors work placed in the War Department is wholly illogical, because it is not of a military character.
Mr. SCHAFER. What are you going to do with these Army engineers? We have to have Army engineer officers for national defense. What are we going to do with them? Send them all to Washington to run around and go out riding and attend teas, and things like that?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Both bills provide that the Army officers or Army engineers shall continue the same work they are doing now, under the administration of public works, so that they will not take away from the Army engineers one single thing. Any fear in this respect, I think, is without foundation. If the Army engineers are willing to operate under the public works administrator, their work, in place of being reduced, will be expanded, in my judgment.
Mr. SCHAFER. These Army engineers have rendered fine services on the rivers and harbors work; and I wish to say I have not been interviewed by any of the Army engineers, or any generals, or admirals on this pending consolidation bill. What I want to say to our friend, Mr. Williamson, is: You are one of the strongest advocates of consolidation and elimination; and in the name of consolidation, we are asked to support this bill which creates new independent bureaus; and I can not, for the life of me, find out
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Public works construction to-day is carried on by no less than nine of the Government departments. We are trying to bring them all under one head.
Mr. GASQUE. The convictions I have gotten from these whole arguments and hearings we have been having here is that it strikes me that the President and those who are in favor of consolidation, so-called consolidation, is not to consolidate and eliminate, but to establish new agencies. Now, if we are to establish a department of public works, the public work ought to go under that department; but when the President comes here and says that we want all of the most important phases of public works left out, then is the President sincere in what he is requesting? If you are going to leave out all of the work that he wants out, what is the set-up?
Mr. WILLIAMSON. The new bill does not leave out anything, nor does the President want anything left out, but he would place the Army engineers under the Public Works administration when engaged in civilian work.
Mr. Martin. The rivers and harbors work principally would be under this public works administrator; he would be the man that would manage it.
Mr. SCHAFER. Some politician.
Mr. MARTIN. When I read the first paragraph of this bill, my mind is made up that you are creating a new bureau, spread all over Washington, creating the bureau of public works, and giving the tsar $15,000 a year, and you are creating the very thing you are trying to avoid, another one of these independent offices, he is responsible to nobody; you are putting him in for 12 years, and nobody has control of him. You are putting a new dictator here in Washington. You are just doing what you are trying to avoid. I do not give a darn who is in favor of it, the President or anybody else, I am opposed to it.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. Why does not the gentleman take time to study the bill? If the gentleman had made any study of the situation which exists in the Government to-day, with respect to construction, and had followed these hearings in the past, he would know that, if there is any plan on earth whereby we can make a tremendous saving, it is by consolidating the public works of this Government