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Mr. HOPE. Unless it was developed at the hearing before the Senate, I don't know of any statements that have been made by the Secretary as to how he would carry out the plan.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. In point 4 on page 2 of your testimony, Congressman Hope, you put as one of the objectives to place the administration of farm programs close to State and local levels, and to adapt programs to regional, State, and local conditions.
Was there an inference in the statement of that objective, that these programs are now not close to State and local levels?
Mr. HOPE. No; I don't think that would carry that
Mr. HOLIFIELD. It was just a reaffirmation of the principles that are now contained in your county agricultural
Mr. Hope. Yes. I don't think there is any intimation there that they are not administered at local levels at the present time. I think there possibly are more powers that might be given some of the local committees, and there has always been some discussion of that. I realize there is a limit, of course, under any Federal program to the policymaking powers that could be given to local committees, but the objective here, as I understand it, would be to put as much of it in the hands of the local committees as could be done, and they have a lot of it already. To the extent they could be given more power I would be for it.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. Do you have any specific suggestions as to how they could be given more power than they have now in the determination of their program in the local areas?
Mr. HOPE. Well, I think that in the case of the farm committees; that is, the local and State committees, they could possibly be given some greater part in determining policy, within certain limits.
Mr. HOLIFIELD. You mean in determining national policy or the policy within their particular jurisdiction?
Mr. HOPE. Within their particular area. I know the complaint is always made by farmers- I have heard it made a great many times, and perhaps it is justified in some cases and perhaps it isn't in othersthat they are called in for consultation and are asked to give their views and their advice, but no one ever pays any attention to them after they give their views. As I say, I don't know how much justification there is for that, but farmers do feel, I think, in many cases, that although their advice is sought it is seldom taken.
Mr. HoliFIELD. Thank you, Mr. Hope. That is all.
Mr. Hope, what authority does this Reorganization Plan No. 2 give to Secretary Benson that he does not already have?
Mr. HOPE. Well, it gives him the authority over six of the agencies in the Department to distribute, to redistribute functions and make changes in the agency or subagency which carries out those functions.
Now, as I pointed out in my statement, he already has that authority over a majority of the agencies in the Department, but there are these six agencies: 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, where the basic legislation in some cases which created those agencies put the power in the head of the agency or put it in some official in the agency or puts the power in the agency itself rather than in the Secretary.
That is true of some of the activities of the Forest Service; some legislation has said the Forest Service should have the authority to do this or that thing, and in the case of the REA the agency was set up outside of the Department at one time and then moved into the Department, but there were certain powers which the head of the agency had when it was an independent agency that still exist, although it is a part of the Department and is supposed to be under the control and supervision of the Secretary.
Now, that is true to some extent of the Farmers' Home Administration. For instance, the Secretary of Agriculture does not appoint the head of the Farmers' Home Administration; he is appointed by the President.
That is true of the Administrator of the Rural Electrification Administration, also,
In the case of the Soil Conservation Service, the same thing is true as is of the Forest Service, that some of the powers possessed by that Service have been given to the Service rather than to the Secretary of Agriculture or Department of Agriculture.
Those are the main differences. I cannot tell you in detail what those powers are; but I am sure the Solicitor of the Department, who undoubtedly will accompany the Secretary when he is up here, can go into some detail as to what those powers are. But that is the situation.
Mr. BROWNSON. Isn't the authority which is granted under Reorganization Plan No. 2 to the Secretary of Agriculture held by virtually every other Cabinet officer now?
Mr. HOPE. It is my understanding that as of now there are six Cabinet departments which have been reorganized under identical or practically identical reorganization proposals which were approved by the Congress in 1949 and 1950. Those are the Treasury Department, the Attorney General's Department, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, the Post Office Department, and the Interior Department, and at the time previous to those reorganization orders I think there were some situations in those Departments that were very similar to those that exist in the Department of Agriculture now, but those reorganization acts gave the Secretaries of those Departments the same authority that this reorganization plan gives the Secretary of Agriculture if it is adopted.
Mr. BROWNSON. You have been here in Congress much longer than I have, Mr. Hope. This plan has been attacked because it is not more specific. There is some testimony to that effect in the Senate and, I understand, in some of the testimony earlier here today.
Do you feel that this plan is any less specific than reorganization plans which we have passed here in the House before, under other administrations?
Mr. HOPE. Well, it is no less specific than the six I have mentioned. It is practically the same in all six of those plans as it is in this plan.
Mr. BROWNSON. I can remember the Internal Revenue reorganization plan which went through this committee. It was even more vague than this in its original form as a plan, but we had certain statements by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Civil Service Commission, and additional testimony accompanied it not as part of the plan but as evidence of what would be done. Many of the provisions of these collateral statements which were made at that time subsequently were violated, so it seems to me that this plan is as specific in detail as any plan that we have considered since I have been on this committee.
Other plans have been accompanied by additional testimony, but that additional testimony has not been binding or a part of the actual plan.
Mr. HOPE. Well, I am not too familiar with all plans that have been submitted. There may be some cases where plans have been more specific where the objective was more limited, perhaps, but I have reviewed the six plans I am talking about now which are similar and, as I say, practically identical with this one, and I am certain they are just as general as this plan.
Mr. BROWNSON. And those plans, as I remember it, were all supported by a majority on both sides of the House.
Mr. HOPE. That is my understanding; yes.
Mr. BROWNSON. The point has also been raised that there is no time limit or termination date in connection with this particular reorganization plan.
Would you care to comment on the absence of a termination date?
Mr. HOPE. Well, of course, this plan has that feature, and all of the other six plans I have mentioned have the same lack of termination date, and as far as I know none of the plans have termination dates.
Now, there may be exceptions to that, but the general rule has been that there should be no termination date. I think there are arguments both ways on whether there should be a termination date, but it seems to me to be in harmony with the theory of these plans, which is that change is taking place in Government all the time and a department head should have the opportunity to reorganize his department whenever it seems to be desirable to do so.
Now, in the case of the Department of Agriculture, it seems to me that that is perhaps especially desirable. Agriculture is a great and growing industry and one which has changed tremendously in just the last 10 or 15 years, and it is dependent upon many outside influences; for instance, our policy on foreign trade is going to have a great effect
a on agriculture, just to mention one thing, and the consuming habits of our people, whether they are going to use cotton or rayon, is going to have a lot to do with what might be done as far as the Department of Agriculture, and what should be emphasized, and what agency should deal with what functions, so it seems to me that it is desirable particularly in a case of this kind to have that power in existence to be used as situations may arise.
Certainly there can be no abuse of that power, as long as the Secretary follows the provisions that are contained in this plan: That he should consult with Congress and have hearings on the matter; consult with Congress and the farm organizations and other interested parties.
Of course, I assume that whatever changes are made in any of these agencies are going to be made, ordinarily, in the first few months that the authority exists, and I don't think it is a matter of too much importance whether it exists after that time or not, but I can see some value in having it in existence indefinitely.
Mr. BROWNSON. In other words, if we can get the same support behind this bill that was available here in the House behind the other six reorganization plans that were essentially the same and granted essentially the same authority, it will result in the adoption of this reorganization plan?
Mr. HOPE. Yes.
Mr. Brownson. Don't you think that the Department of Agriculture and Veterans' Administration plans will be the most controversial of all reorganization plans because they affect so many people directly?
Mr. HOPE. Well, that is true, and also perhaps because the reorganization of the Department of Agriculture has been neglected for so long that there are some rather controversial matters that perhaps might be the subject of reorganization, although I am sure from Secretary Benson said in his statement before the Senate committee, the part of it that I heard, that he is going to proceed slowly in any changes that are made in the Department of Agriculture.
I think what you say about the fact that these agencies affect so many people does, of course, create a greater popular interest than would be the case otherwise.
Mr. BROWNSON. Thank you very much, both for your excellent prepared testimony and for your answers to these questions.
I hope that in considering this plan everybody can think a little bit more about the next generation than they do about the next election, and I think it can be passed.
Mr. RIEHLMAN. Mr. Karsten.
I would like to commend the chairman of the Committee on Agriculture for his very fine presentation. In view of his broad experience in agriculture, I give great weight to his testimony.
Mr. Hope, our jurisdiction is dependent upon bringing about economies and efficiency in Government departments. This plan is predicated, I assume, on bringing about the economy and efficiency.
I wonder if you could tell me how much money might be saved in the event this plan is adopted?
Mr. HOPE. No; I am sorry that I can't give you that information, I know the Secretary will have something to say on that in his statement.
Mr. KARSTEN. Do you think it will save any money if it is adopted?
Mr. HOPE. I would think some money would be saved. I think it is just as important, however, to consider the increased efficiency and the saving in duplication that might take place under a plan of this kind. Now
Mr. KARSTEN. Mary of us are very much interested in Government economy. Of course, that is a pertinent question that we want to pursue.
Mr. HOPE. Well, now, I would look for some savings in expenditures and some savings
in effectiveness; I think the plan would make the operations of the Department more effective.
Now, while I would not attempt to say what will be done under this plan, I think every Member of Congress is familiar with the fact that in every county seat town there is more than one agency of the Department of Agriculture operating, in some cases several agencies, and some efforts were made under Secretary Brannan to effect consolidations of local offices with State offices, and a great deal was done along that line toward housing these agencies in the same office buildings, so that if a farmer came in to make some inquiry or obtain some information about some Government program he would not have to go from one end of the town to the other to find out what he wanted to know.
Now, there can certainly be more done along those lines out in the field. There can be, certainly, some things done down here in the Department in the way of consolidation all of which will, in my opinion, result in saving money, as well as saving farmers from a lot of work and the expenditure of a lot of time in trying to find out the exact agency with which they have to deal.
Mr. KARSTEN. Well, we would expect the plan to bring about efficiencies, at least, and perhaps some economies, which you couldn't define at this time?
Mr. HOPE. Well, I am sure there would be some economy through the elimination of duplication and through better administration. I am sure there will be economy
Mr. KARSTEN. You always bring about economy when you can bring about efficiency?
Mr. HOPE. Yes; certainly.
Mr. KARSTEN. In the past we have had opposition in connection with plans before this committee because they don't go as far as they should in adopting all of the Hoover Commission recommendations. Now, in the Senate testimony I noticed there are about nine points in the Hoover Commission recommendations that were not included in this plan. I wonder if you would care to comment on that?
Mr. HOPE. Well, I think that, as I recall those provisions, I recall some of them, some of them actually change functions. Some of them eliminate functions; some create functions. As I understand it, the object of all these plans for the several departments that were sent up in 1949 and 1950, and this plan, was not to change or eliminate or create functions. It was merely to give the Secretary authority to move the functions of the Department into the places and into the hands of the people whom he thought could administer them the best. In the Hoover Commission recommendations it not only was a case of where functions were eliminated or changed on some very controversial matters, in fact, but they dealt with other agencies than Agriculture; that is for instance they recommended the removal of the Bureau of Land Management from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Agriculture.
Mr. KARSTEN. That would require some special legislation to accomplish that; would it not?
Mr. HOPE. I don't know; I presume under a reorganization plan of some kind that could be done. It might, I don't know, it might take legislation, but there are a number of matters of that kind that are among the nine that you mentioned, and I think the reason they were eliminated from this plan was because they do deal with the transfer of functions; they deal with other agencies than agriculture, and also because they deal with some controversial matters that probably would