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agencies of all laws coming within the jurisdiction of such committees. We have the appropriation power which in itself is probably sufficient to handle any situation which might arise. We have the power of legislation to correct any abuses.
Finally, if need be, we have the power of impeachment, but I consider it unlikely that a situation requiring any of these remedies would ever develop for the very good reason that under the plan now before us there can be no change which relates to functions, and no juggling of appropriations.
Mr. Chairman, I feel very strongly that the Secretary of Agriculture should have the same authority to put his house in order which is now possessed by every other Cabinet official. That is the only question which is involved here.
I believe that if he has the great responsibility for running this important Department he should also have the authority, and if we do not give him the authority which all experts on Government reorganization concede he should have, then we cannot well criticize the operation of the Department.
Finally, I believe that if this authority is granted it will result in efficiency, economy, and in better service to the people of this country, all of whom are affected by the policies and activities of this important department.
That concludes my statement.
If I recall correctly, in 1950 you opposed that reorganization plan for the Department of Agriculture. I wonder if you could tell the committee briefly the difference between this plan and the 1950 plan, and the reasons for your supporting this one at this time?
Mr. HOPE. Well, I do not agree with your statement, Mr. Chairman, that I opposed the 1950 plan.
Now, the House, as I understand it, did not consider the 1950 plan, and the only part of it that came before the House was that part which provided for some additional secretaries. That matter came before the Committee on Agriculture in the form of a bill, and the committee reported out a bill which I am just going by my recollection now-which I think gave the Department 2 additional Assistant Secretaries; 3 had been requested.
I supported that bill in the committee and on the floor of the House, and on the floor there was considerable opposition to it and finally we amended the bill by providing for one Assistant Secretary, and the bill passed the House in that form, and died in the Senate. No action was taken on it over there.
Now, that is the only occasion on which we had to deal with this question in the House, as far as I know, and I do not recall at any time I took any position on the reorganization plan, and I certainly did not study it or make any effort to discover its provisions because I simply did not get around to it since it did not come before the House.
Mr. RIEHLMAN. Well, I am sorry if I made an incorrect statement, Mr. Hope, but I was of the opinion—and I said if my recollection served me correctly—that you were opposed to it. I am sorry if I made an incorrect statement.
Mr. HOPE. I don't recall making any statement or forming any opinion on the matter at all, and had no occasion or opportunity to do so, as I recall it.
Now, in further reply to your question, there are some differences between this plan and the other plan which I mentioned in my statement here. There are four differences which I think are of some importance.
One of them is that it does not apply to the Farm Credit Administration.
I recall-I say I recall-I read the testimony over in the Senate before the committee there on plan No. 4 in 1950 and I noticed that some of the farm organizations, particularly the National Grange, opposed that reorganization plan then, among other reasons, because it deal with the Farm Credit Administration, that is, included the Farm Credit Administration as one of the agencies which might be reorganized.
Now, that agency in this resolution is excluded. The Farm Credit Administration is not subject to reorganization, and there is another bill pending in Congress which does deal with the Farm Credit Administration.
Now, another thing which this plan does, which was not in plan No. 4 in 1950, is that it prohibits the transferring of unexpended funds except for the purposes for which the appropriations were originally nade.
The third difference I would like to point out is that the Secretary is required to give public notice of important changes and to afford opportunity for interested persons to be heard.
Now, that, I understand, is not interpreted by the Secretary as requiring that he proceed under the acts of Congress which set up a forin for hearings of that kind, but it does mean, and I heard him say this the other day in the Senate, it means that there will be an opportunity for interested parties to be heard, ample opportunity, on all proposed reorganizations before the orders are actually made, and I think that is a considerable advantage that will be appreciated not only by Members of Congress but by farm organizations and others who might want the opportunity to present arguments in opposition or arguments for changes in proposed reorganization plans.
Now, the fourth difference that I referred to was that in redistributing functions under this plan the Secretary is given some guideposts to follow. In the first place, he is required to seek to simplify and make efficient the operation of the Department.
In the second place, it is required the plan shall place administration of farm programs close to State and local levels, that is, that that is the objective; and the third requirement is that the program should be adapted to regional, State, and local conditions.
Now, those are some differences between the two plans which I think are important.
Mr. RIEHLMAN. One of the important questions, and I am sure that my colleague here, Mr. Fountain, raised it in the first instance when he was testifying, is that there was a possibility that he could abolish some of the functions of the Department. I see that you have covered that in your statement, and you agree with what I had to say in that respect, that he cannot abolish any of the functions; is that your feeling in the matter?
Mr. Hope. Yes; that was my opinion and my judgment, and I notice in reviewing the hearings before the Senate committee 3 years ago on plan No. 4, which was exactly similar to this as far as the power
to do anything with functions was concerned, that was the interpretation which all of the witnesses, including the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, Mr. Lawton, placed upon the plan at that time, and I am sure that no one can successfully contend that there is any legal authority in this plan to change functions or to eliminate functions or to create new functions.
Mr. RIEHLMAN. Mr. Bender, do you have some questions?
I am wondering, Mr. Hope, if you can tell us how many positions would be eliminated in the Department as a result of this reorganization plan?
Mr. HOPE. No; I cannot give the committee any information on that. I think that is a subject, however, which the Secretary will discuss. I do not know how specifically, but when he is before the committee I am sure he will be pleased to answer questions on that point.
Mr. BENDER. In your judgment, is this a device to eliminate holdover employees, since there is no other device available, in order to put the responsibility in the Secretary of Agriculture, as was determined by the voters last November?
Mr. HOPE. Well, I hadn't thought of it being used in that connection. Of course, the Secretary has authority to abolish jobs now, as far as that is concerned.
Mr. BENDER. He has authority to abolish any position that he so desires through Executive order; is that correct?
Mr. HOPE. Yes; he has that authority. Of course, that still does. not do away with certain rights that employees have when the job is abolished, but he can abolish any position that is not considered necessary, as I understand it.
Mr. BENDER. So that any interpretation or implication that this is a political device or is used as a device for the purpose of eliminating certain jobs in order to turn over the Department to people who are friendly to the administration is not correct?
Mr. HOPE. Well, I don't understand that that is the purpose.
There are, as I understand it, some orders being made to the Civil Service Commission which will make it possible for all Cabinet officials to deal with policymaking jobs, some of which have been heretofore placed in civil service.
That is an entirely different matter that does not enter into this plan at all, as I understand it.
Mr. BENDER. Isn't it your judgment that a Cabinet officer, since he has the responsibility, should have the authority to organize his Department on a basis that would make it most efficient so that the charge that he is not doing a good job could not hold as a result of having been surrounded by people who were calling the shots, who have no disposition to go along with the program that the administration desires to adopt?
Mr. HOPE. Well, I think that any positions which involve policymaking in any substantial degree should be subject to filling by the Secretary or head of the Department without any restrictions. I think he should have that privilege if he is to take the responsibility for the activities of the Department.
Now, I am sure that whatever is done in the way of orders that are coming through the Civil Service Commission, that they won't go down to all policymaking jobs becau at thresume thousands of officials in the Department of Agriculture hahave bitle something to say about policy; they exercise judgment thatan. policy; but certainly all of the positions where there is a suge 2 of 1 policymaking authority should be subject to appointmentectives s head of the department without restrictions.
ad local Mr. BENDER. While you were varying one of my colleagues on the Democratic side said, I thought I understood, “You wouldn't fire Democracts; would you?”
Am I correct?
I am not particularly interested in firing anyone, except I don't want to have a secretary who is charged with the responsibility of doing the job to be hampered by people, whether they are Republicans or Democrats or Mugwumps—a secretary whose responsibility is administration of that Department in an efficient manner, and I believe that any Member of Congress feel that he has the right to name his own personnel and his own office staff and, by the same token, apart from any political implication, and that implication obviously is there and that is why I, as a Republican, raised the question before some of my worthy colleagues could raise the question themselves.
Knowing of the high esteem for Mr. Benson in agricultural circles, I am sure it is not his purpose to use this as a vehicle to do anything other than to improve the functioning of his Department.
Mr. McCORMACK. In thinking of what we Democrats might be thinking about, you haven't a guilty conscience; have you?
Mr. BENDER. Well, all I want to say about that, John, is that there have been too few jobs eliminated thus far. These jobs should be eliminated as soon as possible. The Secretary of Agriculture should not be hampered with boldover employees who are not at all sympathetic with the program of the Eisenhower administration.
Mr. McCORMACK. Now, you are coming out.
Mr. BENDER. No; I say we have the responsibility, and I say, certainly we ought to have the right, since we are going to be charged by my good friend and his colleagues, or held responsible on the basis of our power-certainly you wouldn't object to a reorganization plan that would help us to make good; would you?
Mr. McCORMACK. I think you ought to wait until we ask the questions to find out what is in our mind before showing a guilty conscience.
Mr. BENDER. I think it is well to bring all this out in the open and have a thorough discussion of the whole question on the basis of reality, and not go beating around the bush.
As far as I am concerned, I have supported reorganization plans here under previous administrations when I thought that greater efficiency would be had, and I don't believe it is desirable for our friends on the other side, to consider this from a political standpoint but rather on a high plane as we Republicans have always considered reorganization legislation that was brought out when you were in the majority.
That is all.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. Well, I hesitate to question the witness after such a brilliant piece of testimony from my colleague on the other side; nevertheless, I do wish to question Congressman Hope on the clear and concise statement you have placed before us on this plan.
Might I ask if the Commins wa Agriculture has discussed this plan within their own circles andmesses, e is substantial opposition from the members of the Committeon, placriculture to this plan?
Mr. Hope. The Commitsuccessi Agriculture has not discussed the plan. We have on 2 or 3 gange fu planned to go into it, and we had asked the Secretary to come the committee at a date 30 days or more ago, I don't remember me exact time, and had made all arrangements for hearing him. That arrangement was made at just about the time the chairman of this committee—the Committee on Government Reorganization-had announced that this committee would have hearings on the matter.
In discussing the matter with the Secretary he felt and I felt that it would be better if he did not appear before our committee until after he had appeared before this committee, which has jurisdiction of the matter.
We just wanted to have an informal meeting with him, and so it was agreed that we would postpone the date which was set.
Subsequently, the chairman of this committee called off the hearings and I then again suggested to the Secretary we would like to hear him. He felt at that time, however, that since the Senate Committee on Government Reorganization had set a date for him to appear before that committee, perhaps it would be better for him to make that appearance before a committee which had jurisdiction prior to appearing before our committee, and for that reason we did not try to get the Secretary before the committee prior to the date of the hearing before the Senate committee.
Now, we do intend to bave the Secretary come before our committee, and we are trying to set a date now when the committee can hear him and when he can be present, and we do intend to discuss the matter, but it has not been discussed by our committee so far.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. I notice that several members of our Agricultural Committee are present here this morning, and I am glad they are, because many of the members of this committee feel that on a specialized plan such as this the advice of the members of the Agricultural Committee is particularly valuable to us, and I hope, Mr. Chairman, that they will be given the full privilege of the committee in the way of questioning in bringing out any facts that can be of value to this committee.
Mr. Riehlman. I would like to say, Mr. Holifield, that I made that statement at the outset of the hearing, that they would be permitted to ask questions and participate in the hearing.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. Did the Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Benson, testify before the Senate committee on this matter?
Mr. HOPE. Yes; he testified there last week-no; it was Monday of this week, I believe.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. Was he able to come forth with any details as to implementation of this program?
Mr. HOPE. I did not hear all of the Secretary's statement. I was there when he made his prepared statement, but I left shortly after the questions began, but I understand he did answer a number of questions as to details, but I can't say how far he went into it.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. This seems, then, to be just a general plan but lacking as yet in any publicly known details of implementation.