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In the interest of time and for the convenience of the witnesses who are prepared to testify today, with the committee's permission, I would like to reserve the right to make a more detailed statement of my position and convictions after Mr. Benson testifies on Monday. After all, I am testifying and also sitting on the jury. I should like to have the privilege of hearing all of the testimony and then making a more detailed statement thereafter.
At the appropriate time during this hearing, either this morning or Monday, I would like to give the members of this committee the benefit of some statements made before the Senate Committee on Government Operations or the Subcommittee on Reorganization of the Committee on Government Operations in behalf of this resolution.
In addition, I have several other statements which, time permitting, I would like to read to this committee and make a part of this record.
I understand that Mr. Clyde T. Ellis, executive manager of the National Rural Electrification Cooperative Association, is very much interested in appearing before this committee in support of this resolution. I assume arrangements have already been made for his appearance.
Very briefly in an outlined form for the benefit of those who will testify this morning, I might give to this committee a brief summary of some of the objections which I have.
First, in my opinion, it gives to the Secretary of Agriculture unlimited authority to delegate.
Secondly, I believe that when Congress has created functions for the various agencies it is entitled to know in advance where one of these functions will be abolished, when it is to be subordinated or when it is to be enlarged or when various functions are to be consolidated.
Thirdly, I believe the plan violates the spirit and the intent of the Reorganization Act, as I will attempt to elucidate upon in my final statement.
I believe it nullifies congressional influence on the nature of functions in the various agencies. There is no time limit to it. The Prı sident of the United States has until April 1, 1955, to submit various reorganization plans. Here he is permitting the Secretary to do the reorganizing, and there is absolutely no limitation upon the time within which the Secretary, whoever he may be in the years to come, may reorganize. The plan is not specific enough as is required by the Reorganization Act of 1949. As Senator Russell so well said, and I have already said in a different form, it gives power in perpetuity.
That is the outline of the major objections which I have to the plan, and as I said to begin with, there are a number of statements, which I would like to read to this committee, of Members of the Senate who will be unable to be here on Monday, and others I would like to insert in the record, and at this time I would like to forego the privilege of making any further statement, unless there are questions, and permit those who are here for their convenience to give their testimony, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RIEHLMAN. Well, in view of your interest in testifying at a later date in these hearings, and your desire to hear the testimony of the other gentlemen, I think it would be the pleasure, probably, of the committee to defer asking you any specific questions until a later time.
Mr. McCORMACK. May I ask a question?
Mr. RIEHLMAN. However, I would like to call to your attention, and I am sure you understand this, that the Secretary under this plan or under any reorganization plan cannot abolish any of the activities. I think they can merge the activities, but to abolish them I think that is not within the power of any reorganization plan; and, secondly, I am a bit confused, and I doubt very much whether there is a time limit for reorganization on any of the plans that we have had presented in the past in the House. There is,
There is, of course, limit on the reorganization plan permitting the President to send down plans, but once we pass à plan I don't think that we have put a restriction on the time that the department has to reorganize it.
I wish you would look into those two statements which you have made, and I am sure you would like to clarify them and, if I am wrong, I would like to be corrected, too.
Mr. FOUNTAIN. I would like to make one comment, and I will elucidate on it further Monday, with respect to the authority to abolish functions. There seems to be quite a bit of controversy as to whether or not the Secretary will have that authority.
I noticed in reading the testimony of those who appeared in the Senate committee, there seemed to be some controversy. Senator Russell very definitely feels that he does have that authority.
Now, I noticed in the Reorganization Plan No. 1 with respect to the Federal Security Administration there was a specific provision which said the Secretary does not have the authority and will not abolish any
functions. In this particular plan that statement is omitted, and I think that gives rise to controversies as to what was intended by the plan.
Mr. RIEHLMAN. Well, thank you, Mr. Fountain.
The gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. McCormack, has a question.
Mr. McCORMACK. I think you covered it in your observations, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RIEHLMAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. RIEHLMAN. The next witness will be, and we are delighted to have him here this morning, Hon. Clifford R. Hope, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.
STATEMENT OF HON. CLIFFORD R. HOPE, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF KANSAS, AND CHAIRMAN, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
Mr. HOPE. Mr. Chairman, I am very happy to be here this morning and make a brief statement on behalf of Reorganization Plan No. 2.
I have a prepared statement which I think has been distributed to the members of the committee I am not sure of that—and in this statement I have anticipated some of the arguments that undoubtedly will be made against the plan; that is, they have been made against it in the Senate.
Mr. RIEHLMAN. Mr. Hope, will you refrain just a moment?
Do we have copies of that statement?
Mr. HOPE. Mr. Chairman, I started to say that it will be noted in my statement that I have anticipated some arguments that undoubtedly will be made on behalf of the resolution of disapproval. I say that because, normally, I assume that those who favored the resolution would be heard first and those who would be opposed to this resolution would be heard later, and since there has not been a complete presentation of the arguments of the opposition I mention that fact here because I am sure that the arguments which I discuss will be presented sometime during the course of the hearing.
I think this reorganization plan is not only a desirable but a necessary measure if the Department of Agriculture is to function as an economical and efficient organization. I know of no one who is at all familiar with the situation who does not agree that a reorganization is in order. Whatever differences of opinion may exist are on the question of the form which reorganization should take.
All of us know of the expansion which has taken place in the Department within the last 20 years. Many entirely new agencies have been established. Other agencies have been expanded or otherwise changed. In most cases the Secretary has direct control over these agencies and their functions. With respect to a few agencies he does not have this power which means that while he is assumed to have authority over the entire Department and its functions, such is not actually the case.
This was not an unusual situation with respect to Cabinet departments prior to the report of the Hoover Commission and the enactment of the Reorganization Act of 1949. However, under the provisions of the Reorganization Act of 1949 reorganization plans have been submitted to Congress and agreed to in the case of most departments. Two of these plans were adopted in 1949, and the remainder in 1950.
In that year a reorganization plan for Agriculture similar to that for the other departments was rejected by Congress. In the meantime, reorganization bills for the Department of Agriculture based upon the recommendations of the Hoover Commission have been introduced but no action has been taken. I think at the present time we have pending before the House Committee on Agriculture a bill to reorganize, introduced by the chairman of this committee. Thus, today the Secretary of Agriculture is the only member of the Cabinet who does not have full authority over all the agencies which are presumed to be under him.
Furthermore, the Department is woefully understaffed as far as Assistant Secretaries are concerned. Whereas most departments have from 3 to 8 assistant secretaries, Agriculture has but 1. This puts a tremendous load on the Secretary, the Under Secretary, and the one Assistant Secretary.
The purpose of Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 is to make the Secretary of Agriculture Secretary in fact as well as in name. It will enable him to actually exercise the responsibility for which he is held accountable as Secretary and will enable him to adjust and improve the organization of the Department in the interest of efficiency and economy. It will make it possible for him to better the service which the Department is expected to render the people of this country.
The plan itself is simple. It does five things:
First, with the exception of certain agencies noted in section 1 (b), including the Farm Credit Administration, it transfers to the Secretary of Agriculture all functions not now vested in him, of all other officers and all agencies and employees of the Department of Agriculture.
Second, it creates two new positions of Assistant Secretary of Agriculture to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
Third, it creates the position of Administrative Assistant Secretary.
Fourth, it authorizes the Secretary to delegate the functions vested in him to any officer, agency, or employee of the Department, subject to giving public notice with opportunity for interested parties to be heard. It also sets up guideposts to be followed in the delegation of functions.
Fifth, it authorizes the transfer within the Department of records, property, and personnel as well as unexpended balances of appropriations with the proviso that funds transferred may be used only for purposes for which appropriations were originally made.
This plan differs from plan No. 4 to reorganize the Department, which was submitted in 1950, in the following particulars:
First, it prohibits the use of transferred unexpended balances except for the purposes for which the appropriation was originally made.
Second, it does not apply to the Farm Credit Administration.
Third, the Secretary is required to give public notice of important changes and to afford opportunity for interested persons to be heard.
Fourth, in redistributing functions the Secretary is required to seek to simplify and make efficient the operation of the Department, to place administration of farm programs close to State and local levels, and to adapt programs to regional, State, and local conditions.
These are important improvements in the 1950 plan. They make it stronger and more effective. The lack of these improved proposals now contained in this plan was properly the subject of criticism when the 1950 plan was under discussion in Congress. That criticism has has now been met. The important thing to remember about this
plan is that it does not permit the Secretary or any one else in the Department to change functions. What it does is to transfer to the Secretary all functions not now possessed by him and to authorize him to delegate these functions to officers, agencies and employees of the Department. It is a management plan.
The Secretary can transfer the administration of a function to other agencies but he cannot change a function. He cannot abolish a function, nor can he create a function. Neither the Secretary nor any of his subordinates can expend funds except for the purposes and in the amounts previously authorized by Congress. When these facts are considered most of the criticism which has been made of this plan simply does not stand up. It becomes unrealistic and extravagant.
If this plan is bad, then the similar and, in fact, practically identical plans approved by Congress in 1949 and 1950 for the Post Office, Treasury, Justice, Interior, Commerce, and Labor Departments are bad and should be repealed.
If this plan, which in practical effect applies only to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the Forest Service, the Soil Conservation
Service, the Farmers Home Administration, the Rural Electrification Administration, and the Office of the Solicitor, is bad, then it must be said that the power which the Secretary already has to transfer funetions in 10 other agencies in the Department is bad and should be taken away from him.
The agencies over which he already has this power are some of the most important in the Department and include the following: Agricultural Research Administration, Production and Marketing Administration, Commodity Exchange Authority, Extension Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, Office of Budget and Finance, Office of Information, Office of Personnel, Office of Plant and Operations, and Library.
Take, for instance, the Production and Marketing Administration, by far the largest and most controversial agency in the Department. Here is the result of a reorganization plan carried out by the Secretary in 1945: At that time the Secretary was Clinton P. Anderson, former Member of the House, and at present a distinguished Member of the Senate. It was originally a merger of 14 agencies, and since that time agencies have been moved into it and moved out of it. No matter what we do with this plan the Secretary could abolish the PMA tomorrow. He could break it up into a dozen agencies and transfer its functions wherever he pleased. This is the agency which deals with price supports and many other subjects allied thereto. Is it contended now that the Secretary should have any less power over an agency like the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, for instance, than he does over a great and powerful agency like the Production and Marketing Administration?
The proposal before us does not go nearly as far as the specific recommendations for reorganization of the Department of Agriculture made by the Hoover Commission, because many of those recommendations involve important changes in the functions of the Department and even deal with functions of other departments. Yet one would think from some of the criticism which has occurred that this plan went far beyond the Hoover recommendations.
Now, this plan is in the spirit of the Hoover Commission recommendations, but it does not go nearly as far in certain particulars.
I have implicit confidence in the present Secretary of Agriculture. I know that he will not make important changes under this authority without consulting Congress, farm organizations, and representative farmers, and I am sure he will tell this committee that when he appears before it next Monday. He is a part of an administration which is leaning over backwards in its efforts to recognize Congress as an equal and coordinate branch of Government and to see that it fully retains its place as the policymaking branch. On many occasions Secretary Benson has affirmed his full concurrence in the viewpoint of the Eisenhower administration.
But it is said, "Suppose we have a Secretary of Agriculture with an inclination to ignore or flout Congress?" I don't think we will have; but, even in that unlikely event, Congress has plenty of recourse. There is this committee, the Committee on Government Operations, which has almost unlimited power to investigate the operations of all Government agencies. Then under section 136 of the Legislative Reorganization Act all congressional committees have the duty of exercising continuous watchfulness of the execution by administrative