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SUBCOMMITTEE OF HOUSE COMMITTEE
Messrs. JOHN J. FITZGERALD (CHAIRMAN), SWAGAR SHERLEY,
AND FRANK W. MONDELL
IN CHARGE OF
SUNDRY CIVIL APPROPRIATION BILL FOR 1917
(IN TWO PARTS)
Page 910-1719, inclusive
SUNDRY CIVIL APPROPRIATION BILL, 1917
CONDUCTED BY THE SUBCOMMITTEE, MESSRS.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, 1916.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.
STATEMENT OF MR. BERT HANSON, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY
GENERAL, CUSTOMS DIVISION.
CONDUCT OF CUSTOMS CASES.
The CHAIRMAN. Conduct of customs cases. The appropriation is $73,000 and you are asking for $77,.
Mr. Hanson. We are asking an increase of $4,500 for the restoration of a place which was cut out last year.
The CHAIRMAN. What has been done in this work during the past
Mr. Hanson. The thing which stands out in our work particularly is the great increase in reappraisement work under the new customs act. You see there are so many more ad valorem duties under the new act than there were before under earlier acts that the valuation of imported merchandise becomes more and more important. There has been a very great increase in that work. Not only has there been an increase in the amount, but we are giving much more attention to it than the office ever did in the past. I think in past years the office thought it was a comparatively unimportant feature of the work and paid more attention to the classification work. Would you like some figures showing the great increase?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; give us a comparative statement.
Mr. Hanson. There has been an increase of 50 or 60 per cent in the reappraisement cases. The CHAIRMAN. How
many cases did
have last Mr. Hanson. From July to December they run all the way from 567 to 1006 per month.
The CHAIRMAN. What was the total for the year 1915?
Mr. Hanson. The total for 1915 was something like 7,000. I will furnish the detailed figures.
The CHAIRMAN. What has been the number for the first six months of this year?
Mr. HANSON. For the first six months of the current fiscal year, 4,362; for the corresponding period of the preceding year, 3,969; for the corresponding period of the year before that, 2,802; that is, there has been an increase from 2,802 to 4,362 in two years. The importance of these casos does not depend upon the individual case. The individual case is tried and the decision not only determines the value of the merchandise in that case but it also fixes it for long periods of time for the local appraisers to act upon.
The CHAIRMAN. A great many of these cases are settled by one decision, are they not?
Mr. Hanson. Yes.
Mr. Hanson. Many of them are tried together, but the importance is in the hundreds and thousands of entries which do not come before the general appraisers. They are simply disposed of by the local appraisers following the decision of the general appraisers.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, the ones before the local appraisers do not affect your work?
Mr. Hanson. No; we do not touch the work of the local appraisers directly. There is a constantly increasing number of those reappraisements cases. Of course, this committee knows, Mr. Chairman, that our work covers the whole of the United States, although our office is in New York, and we send men out all over the United States. We go to the Pacific coast three or four times a year. We go to Chicago seven or eight times a year, Boston the samo, and Philadelphia the same. We go to 50 or 60 out-of-town ports having anywhere from one to seven or eight hoarings a year at each of those out-of-town ports. There is a hearing in a couple of months set in Honolulu in connection with our Pacific coast circuit. The Pacific coast circuit takes in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. That takes an attorney away from the office for five or six weeks, and if he has to go to Honolulu this year it will mean three or four weeks additional. I feel the cutting off of that man, who was cut off last year, has hampered the work of the office considerably.
The CHAIRMAN. In what respect? How many of the classification cases did you dispose of ?
Mr. HANSON. In the neighborhood of 20,000 to 25,000 protests per year are coming up to us now.
The CHAIRMAN. Protests?
Mr. Hanson. Yes. A protest now means much more than a protest did before the 1913 act became effective. We are not getting as many protests in number, but they involve just as much work. One protest now often covers several entries, anywhere from 2 to 20 entries made by a single importer on different ships.
The CHAIRMAN. They have to be filed within a certain time?
Mr. Hanson. They have to be filed within 30 days, so that in order to save his dollar fee the importer groups together all the entries he has made within 30 days and each entry covers all of the importer's merchandise on a particular ship. That one entry may cover various kinds of merchandise and have various issues in it.
The CHAIRMAN. How many protests were received in 1915?
Mr. Hasson. The number of protests received during the year 1915 was 32,546.
The CHAIRMAN. How many were disposed of?
Mr. Hanson. That is disposed of in every way-decided by the Board of General Appraisers.
The CHAIRMAN. How many were pending at the end of the fiscal year?
Mr. Hanson. On June 30, 1915, there were pending 76,007. On January 1, 1916, there were pending 74,258.
The CHAIRMAN. Then you have been gaining very rapidly, in spite of the fact that one protest means so much more than it did formerly?
Mr. Hanson. There was a reduction of a little less than 2,000.
Mr. Hanson. From July i, 1915, to January 1, 1916, there were received 10,450.