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We feel, further, that Congress should assume the responsibility for the laying out of the general outline of organization at the time Congress lays out the general outline of the basic policy.
I think that any future reorganizations will pretty much suffer from the same type of pressure within the Department. This being true, it seems to us it is going to be very difficult for any Secretary of Agriculture and this is no reflection upon any particular Secretary of Agriculture—to build and put into effect from within the Department the outline of a sound reorganization.
One further statement he made: The thing that we object to most is that plan No. 4 turns over to the Secretary the whole job of reorganization, and then it provides if, after experimentation with such plan, that does not work he is free to reorganize it again as he sees fit.
Now, Mr. Davis, I understand, will be appointed one of your Assistant Secretaries?
Secretary BENSON. Well, I hope he will be.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. And Mr. Short, I miglit say, was just as strong in his opposition and gave similar reasons at the time.
Do you feel that the reasoning, the arguments, against Reorganization Plan No. 4 have been eliminated by the additions which you described to plan No. 2 of 1953?
Secretary Benson. Of course, in presenting our plan today, and our evidence in support of plan No. 2, we have tried to be guided by what we consider sound public administration. At least that's basic to what we've tried to say.
I believe there are certain safeguards in the present plan that were not in plan 4, as I understand that plan. As I say, I haven't studied it in great detail; and, of course; Mr. Davis and Mr. Short were testifying in connection with plan No. 4, not plan No. 2.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. That is right.
Secretary Benson. I am quite sure that Mr. Davis had some rather strong feelings regarding Farm Credit Administration. As an example, under plan No. 4, Farm Credit Administration would have been included and the Secretary would have had very broad authority over Farm Credit; and I feel sure, in my own mind, from having served on a farm-credit committee years ago with representatives of the major farm organizations, that we felt there was danger in putting that credit agency under the full authority of the Secretary.
There probably was good reason for setting it up more or less as an autonomous agency, and I think Mr. Davis maybe had that in mind.
I don't know exactly what was in the minds of either Mr. Davis or Mr. Short. I do hold them in very high regard or I wouldn't have invited them—
Mr. FOUNTAIN. I am sure you do.
I am sure all members of the staff feel this requirement in the present plan to give public notice of what the Secretary intends to do, and inviting counsel and help, is a very great safeguard, and also this other provision that the Secretary is obligated in any reorganization to keep programs down close to the State and local levels, down close to the grassroots. Then, there is the other provision, which I think is a safeguard, that any unexpended balances shall be used only for the purpose for which they were provided by the Congress.
Now, I think there are other safeguards in the plan. In the first place, the Congress certainly has a very effective control through the purse strings, through appropriations.
I can't conceive that any Secretary would be permitted to get very far off the track without Congress slicing the appropriations pretty heavily, particularly for the agency for which he might be trying to affect adversely.
And then, of course, no Secretary, I'm sure, would be unwise enough to try and bring about any change in a great department that he knew went contrary to the will or the desire of the Members of Congress, the policymaking body of the Government.
Personally, I think there are safeguards that are very real, and I don't see in it any great danger. At the same time, it does give the Secretary certain authority; but I think he must have it if he is going to be held responsible for a great department. The responsibility is staggering
No man, I'm sure, from what I know of the Department, would seek the office. At least, I wouldn't.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. Well, I appreciate
Secretary BENSON. But we do want to do the best job we can. In order to do it, we must have the authority to do the job.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. I appreciate your position and they way you feel about it, because I know you are answering conscientiously.
The thing that has concerned me—and has concerned me as I have read and observed the happenings of history—is that oftentimes by the concentration of power in the hands of one individual, or a few individuals, you may bring about great efficiency and great economy for a while, but the time may well come when that one or more individuals may bring about our destruction-sometimes ruthlesslynot in this country, I most assuredly hope; but we have seen examples of it in other parts of the world, in which we have seen great efficiency, but we know the circumstances under which they are living at this time.
It is a trend or the tendency to assume that no one would be wise enough to take advantage of this authority or do anything detrimental to the welfare of the people; but we can take that attiude so long, that attitude of indifference, and say, "Certainly the Secretary of Agriculture or the head of the Department of Defense would not abuse his authority," and we can go so far in giving that authority that even the most honest man, the man with the most honest intentions, may ultimately abuse that power—and you never know who the man is who is going to be in that particular position, and I am one of those who feels where there is that possibility, and oftentimes probability; and Congress should have the opportunity of analyzing the proposals-not just committee members—but all 'should have a chance to give it thorough study. I think some form of resolution, either of approval or disapproval, ought to be offered every time, because we are all so busy we don't give it the study we ought to give it.
Secretary BENSON. Well, I should like to say, Congressman Fountain, if the time should come when the executive head of a great department was abusing the authority and power granted to him, I would certainly expect the Congress to act.
Now, as to the resolution, I hope you don't feel that I have any feeling of antipathy because you offered a resolution. I have felt
that the wider debate and discussion of this plan we could have, the greater the support for it; and I am always happy to have plans of this sort debated.
Not only that, I have advocated, since coming into office, a very wide discussion and debate of our farm program and the issues involved there.
I think there's always safety in a thorough discussion, a complete airing of all these important problems.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. Most assuredly, I think many of the statements you have made, regardless of the position anyone takes on this resolution, will give some of the Members of Congress a little better feeling, a greater satisfaction, because you have at least committed yourself definitely not to de certain things and in the doing of other things you will seek their advice, you say.
Now, as a result of consultation with several of those from the agricultural sections of the country, such as mine, and members of the Agricultural Committee, here are several questions I will ask you rather hurriedly, and you can answer them as briefly as you can.
What do you intend to do with respect to the Farmers' Home Administration?
Secretary BENSON. I think I have answered that Congressmanmaybe not to your satisfaction.
I have no immediate plans to make any radical change in Farmers' Home Administration." We do expect to study it very carefully, as we will all other agencies.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. I just wanted to know if you had any definite plans. Secretary BENSON. No definite plans.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. Do you intend to transfer the Farmers' Home Administration to the Farm Credit Administration?
Secretary BENSON. I think, as Congressman Hope has pointed out, that would be impossible even if a Secretary wanted to do it, because Farm Credit is outside this plan; but I would have no intention of doing a thing of that sort even if both agencies were included in the plan.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. Do you intend to transfer the REA to the Farmers' Credit Administration?
Secretary BENSON. No; I have no plans of that sort whatever.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. Do you intend to transfer the functions of the Soil Conservation Service to the Extension Service?
Secretary BENSON. I have covered that also, I think.
Do you intend to transfer the functions of the Production and Marketing Administration along with the Soil Conservation Service to the Extension Service?
Secretary BENSON. No; I have no intention of doing that.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. I know there has been a lot of pressure along that line.
Secretary BENSON. Yes.
I have always felt an action agency and an educational agency probably ought to be separate. However, we're going to study the Production and Marketing Administration very carefully. We've already made some changes, and there will probably be others that will be needed in the interest of a more efficient service to the farmer.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. Do you want to control-
Mr. FOUNTAIN. Do you feel you ought to be in a position where you
I I think my first job is to get the very best men we can to head up
these agencies; then give them the responsibility and the authority to do a job-and if they don't do the job as I feel it should be done, then I think it is my responsibility to make a change in the leadership of that agency.
I certainly would hope that we could get men that you wouldn't have to tell from day to day what to do; you could probably outline some of the general objectives and consult with them, but give them the authority to do the job—and I certainly hope to keep my eye on every agency in the Department so far as I can.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. One other question-I will ask you. These matters concern a lot of people. Do you intend to change the name of the REA to the RES?
Secretary BENSON. I don't know what the "S" stands for.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. I ask that question because that name has become
Secretary BENSON. Until this morning, until you mentioned it just now.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. I think that is all I have, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BROWNSON. The ranking minority member of the committee Mr. Dawson, do you have some questions?
Mr. Dawson. I have no questions of Mr. Benson, except to tell him how much I appreciated his very lucid statements made here today and to wish him a very successful administration.
Mr. Chairman, I would ask that we let the record show that our colleague, Congressman Dodd, is absent today because of the death of his father on Saturday last.
Secretary BENSON. Thank you, Mr. Dawson.
Here is the thing that disturbs me a little bit: Supposing that in the course of your future development of your agency you decided that some of the functions, let's say, of the Forest Service should be taken away from it and transferred over to, say, the Soil Conservation. Now, why at that time couldn't the President submit us a reorganization plan, taking these functions away from the Forest
Service and putting them over in the Soil Conservation and have it come up as a reorganization plan?
In other words, you are contemplating holding some sort of administrative hearings, wherein you will solicit points of view before you transfer functions; but you are not giving Congress the veto power when you transfer functions, and I think under the reorganization plan theory, at least. There was the idea that Congress should have the veto power on these reorganizations. What we are doing in effect is giving the authority which you may use at some future time and we cannot at that time take a look at what functions are going to be transferred as a reorganization plan.
Now, if your plan just did two things-giving you the authority over the agencies and giving you the Assistant Secretaries I couldn't see any objection to it. It is that procedure of future reorganizations, transfers of functions from agency to agency, without giving Congress the right to veto the power, that concerns me.
Secretary BENSON. Well, of course, it would be a great burden to put upon the Congress if we had to come to you with every detail of proposed changes in the Department, wouldn't it?
Mr. Condon. Well, you are going to have to formulate some specific change of function, as a condition of your hearing. I mean, you are going to hold your hearing, for example, when you anticipate taking this group of functions out of this agency and putting them over here. At that time,
why couldn't you send the plan up to us? Secretary BENSON. It could be done. Mr. Condon. I mean, unless there is a disapproving resolution, the plan becomes effective in 60 days. So, the mere fact you send the plan over doesn't necessarily mean there will be a hearing held. No one may
be that much interested in it, in putting in a disapproving resolution.
Secretary BENSON. I don't believe, from an administrative standpoint, it would be very practical. I am sure it would cause great delay and put an added burden upon the Congress.
I think enough safeguards are here so that no Secretary is going to get very far afield; and if the Congress saw that he was doing something that was entirely out of harmony with their thinking, certainly they have ways of calling him to'a halt.
Mr. CONDON. Well, how?
For example, the Forest Service, among other things, regulates these grazing permits for stock, does it not?
Secretary BENSON. Yes; on the national forests.
Mr. CONDON. Supposing you decided to take that away from the Forest Service and give it to some other department in the Department of Agriculture. How could we stop you, even if we thought Forest Service had been doing a good job and should continue to do it?
Secretary BENSON. Well, in the first place, I wouldn't know where to put it.
Mr. CONDON. Well, I am just using that as an illustration.
Mr. Condon. Supposing you decided to take away a certain service from Forest Service, and Congress thought Forest Service was doing