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can have no say-so about it, if you choose not to let them have any say-so about it. That is the way I see the plan.
You have your system now. It is a merit system. They have to qualify. You are not going to change the method of qualifying at all. You have that now, and it is a good system. And it is good, too, that it is an open competitive examination. Just because a fellow has served in the Post Office Department for years does not necessarily qualify him to make the best postmaster. There are other factors that have
. to be taken into account, as I see it.
But when you do open it up, under the present system, every employee of that Post Office who is under civil service, who aspires to be postmaster, has his chance to compete in a competitive examination to establish himself as the most eligible and the most competent and the most qualified in the community. So you are not changing that at all.
Postmaster General DONALDSON. No
The CHAIRMAN. We are retaining that. And you have that now. And so, as I see it, all this plan does is simply remove any influence, if you choose to do it, that a local representative elected by the people might have in helping to determine who will serve his people in that local capacity:
One other thought about this.
When you make this change, under Civil Service Regulations, can you transfer postmasters from one office to another as you can transfer all other civil service post office employees now!
Postmaster General DONALDSON. No, sir. I do not see that it eliminates from the law, Mr. Chairman, the residential requirements of eligibles at the present time. They cannot now be transferred from one office to another office.
The CHAIRMAN. Cannot now?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. No, and they couldn't under this change.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you a legal opinion on that?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. Yes, sir. There is nothing in the reorganization plan that does away with the residential requirements of postmasters. And there is a basic law, which has no relationship to your act of June 25, 1938 or any of this plan at all, which requires every postmaster to have residence in the area of his office.
The CHAIRMAN. Since you say all this plan does is change the manner of appointing the postmaster, taking the power out of the President and putting it in the Postmaster General, and eliminating confirmation, have you given any thought to the legality of this plan under the reorganization act, whether that change in substantive law can be made by reorganization plan rather than by legislation?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. Well, my understanding is that the Attorney General has ruled that it is legal.
The CHAIRMAN. When did he make that ruling?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. I presume you will have to get that information from the representative of the Bureau of the Budget.
The CHAIRMAN. You had entertained a different opinion about it heretofore, had you not?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. About the plan?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, about whether you could make this change by reorganization plan rather than by legislation.
Postmaster General Donaldson. No, I had not, Mr. Chairman.
When the thing was under discussion and under consideration, it was suggested that the matter be taken up with the Attorney General's office, and I think Mr. Frank may be able to answer you on that.
The CHAIRMAN. I am speaking of you personally now.
heretofore, that to make this change, that is, to carry out the Hoover Commission's recommendations with reference to eliminating confirmation—have you not entertained the view heretofore that that could not be done by reorganizaion plan, but would require legislation?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. I think originally, Mr. Chairman, when the nine recommendations of the Hoover Commission were submitted, I did make a statement that certain ones of those recommendations could be carried out through a reorganization plan, and certain ones of them would require legislation. And I probably said at that time that this recommendation No. 5, which was to do away with the confirmation of postmasters, would require legislation. And as a result of that, I submitted a draft of a bill to bring it about.
The CHAIRMAN. You so testified before the Post Office and Civil Service Committee.
Postmaster General DONALDSON. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. And at that time it was your view that this change which you now ask to be made by reorganization plan could not be made by reorganization plan, and therefore you did not include it.
Postmaster General DONALDSON. No; I didn't testify in that way, Mr. Chairman. I testified that this recommendation of the Hoover Commission, which recommended the abolishment of postmasters, would require legislation.
I made no cor ment about any reorganization plan at that time, because it wasn't in the picture.
But I did testify before the Subcommittee of the Senate Post Office Committee on this suggested legislation to do away with the confirmation of postmasters, that it would require legislation. That is the reason we submitted the legislation.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, when did you get legal advice that caused you to change your mind and conclude that it could be effectuated by a reorganization plan instead of legislation ?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. Well, the various recommendations of the Commission on Reorganization of the Executive Branch of the Government have been up from time to time, not only this one but many of them from time to time, as to which of these recommendations could be carried out by reorganization. And the conclusion was reached that this could be carried out by a reorganization plan, and the plan was submitted.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, I have a transcript of your testimony before me with respect to this point.
It is on S. 2212 and S. 2213. That was under consideration by the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service.
And S. 2213 was a bill relating to the appointment of postmasters, in which you said that it was not a reorganization matter, and its purposes could only be accomplished by legislation.
The following colloquy occurred between you and members of the committee:
Senator LONG. I would like to ask just a question, if I might. Would it be possible_and I wondered if you have been advised on this to accomplish the purposes of S. 2212 and S. 2213 by merely a reorganization plan of the President? Do you know of any legal impediment to the President sending down such a reorganization plan as this and simply letting it go into effect ?”
Mr. DONALDSON. I think S. 2212 and S. 2213 can only be accomplished by leg. islation.
Senator Long. It is not actually reorganization at all, but it is actually changing a way of doing business for the Federal Government. Mr. DONALDSON. That is correct. Then Senator Thye asked you:
Why had not the President's message embodied what is in the two legislative measures here?
That is the reorganization plan he is referring to.
Mr. DONALDSON. It did embody it, Senator Thye, and recommended it, but left up to the Post Office Departinei t. in cooperation with the Bureau of the Budget, to draft the suggested legis.ation to carry h.s recommendation into effect.
Senator THYE. In other words, they are in accordance, these two bills, with his message, and that is the legislation that was contemplated within his message.
Mr. DONALDSON. That is right.
Senator FREAR. But including his Reorganization Plan No. 3, that supplements it. Mr. DONALDSON. That is right, and that requires no legislation. That is, Reorganization Plan No. 3.
It seemed at that time, in June 1949, shortly after the Reorganization Act went into effect, that all of you were under the opinion, including the Bureau of the Budget, that to effectuate this change and carry out this recommendation of the Hoover Commission, legislattion was required, and it could not be accomplished by reorganization plan.
Postmaster General DONALDSON. Mr. Chairman, that is true, because at that time we submitted suggested legislation for it.
The CHAIRMAN. That is right.
But now, since that legislation has not been enacted, apparently your views have been changed. The administration viewpoint has been changed, including yours. And you have concluded now that it can be done by reorganization plan.
I am not saying it can or cannot. But in the beginning when you first submitted plans for reorganization of the Post Office Department and so forth, the conclusion was reached that this could not be effectuated by a reorganization plan and would require legislation.
Now, what I want to develop for the record is when that change of view came about, and how, and under what legal advice.
What legal advice or legal opinion was obtained, that a reorganization plan would accomplish this?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. I think, Mr. Chairman, there has been a lot of criticism that the executive branch of the Government has not tried to carry out all of the recommendations of the Hoover Commission or those that they could. So a more careful study has been made of all of these recommendations, not only as it applies to the Post Office Department but as it applies to other departments, to see whether or not some of these recommendations could be carried out by reorganization plan.
And I think they reached the decision in consulting with the Attorney General's Office that this could be carried out through reorganization plan.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, subsequent to the time you gave this testimony, and subsequent to the submission of the original planPlan No. 3 of 1949—for reorganization of the Department, you gave it further study, or the administrations' legal advisers did, and concluded that it can now be effectuated by a reorganization plan.
Postmaster General DONALDSON. Yes; ou are right, Mr. Chairman. It was my impression, and bear in mind I am not an attorney
The CHAIRMAN. I understand.
Postmaster General DONALDSON. It was my impression that certain of these recommendations of the so-called Hoover Commission could be carried into effect through a reorganization plan, and certain of them would require legislation.
And it was the feeling that what was known as recommendation No. 5 of the Hoover Commission, which recommendation reads:
We recommend that the confirmation of postmasters by the Senate should be abolished it was our feeling at the time that that was one of the recommendations that would require legislation.
And then you are right again when you say that some investigation has been made in an effort to determine what recommendations could be carried out through reorganization plans, and the decision was reached that this one could.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, have you an opinion from the Attorney General that this can be effectuated by a reorganization plan? If so, I would like to have it placed in the record.
Postmaster General DONALDSON. I do not have that opinion. I think the Bureau of the Budget has that.
The CHAIRMAN. Maybe the Bureau of the Budget has that opinion. Do you have an opinion from the Attorney General with respect to the requirement of residence which you spoke of a while ago, and which you thought would not be changed, whether this plan would change the requirement of residence-of being a patron of the office, to make one eligible for appointment as postmaster?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. No, I have no legal opinion on that, Mr. Chairman, but I am convinced in my own mind that the reorganization plan does not abrogate the requirement of present law that an applicant for postmaster must have been a patron of the office or a resident at least 1 year prior to the closing date for receipt of applications.
The CHAIRMAN. And do you have any opinion for us with respect to whether they can be transferred from one post office to another? Do we have any legal opinion on that from the Department of Justice ?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. The present law does not permit it, and I see nothing in the reorganization plan that changes the present law.
The CHAIRMAN. I do think it is important for the record, or for future guidance with respect to what Congress is doing and what the intent of this plan is, that this record be made very clear on those points, and the highest opinion we can get, which would be from the Department of Justice- from the Attorney General-should be incorporated in this record. There is going to be concern about it.
I personally would like to be assured. I would like to know from the highest legal source in our Government that the Government's highest legal authority takes the position, and it will be put in the record, that, first, an applicant for postmaster must be a resident of that community as now provided by law; second, that once he becomes postmaster, or a vacancy is in office occurs, another civil-service postmaster from some other place cannot be transferred into that office; and third, I think we should have an opinion from the Attorney General with respect to whether this plan conforms to the authority contained in the Reorganization Act with respect to whether this change can be effectuated by a plan rather than by legislation.
I think we ought to make the record complete on that, General. Postmaster General DONALDSON. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman.
gave you my opinion on the first two points that you raised. Because I can see nothing in the reorganization plan that abrogates the law with reference to residential requirements, and I can see nothing in the plan that permits the Post Office Department to transfer postmasters.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, this is something there may be some question about.
You have an office of postmaster now. We have legislated regarding that office. The statutes now apply to that office. Now, that office is abolished, completely abolished. When this plan goes into effect, that office no longer exists. But the plan sets up a new office and gives it the same name. It is an entirely new creature of statute.
Now, without any provision in the plan, making the statutes that are applicable to the existing office now, applicable to the new office created, I think serious doubt is raised about it.
I think those points should be thoroughly cleared up as we consider this plan.
This plan abolishes an office that is now in existence.
It sets up a new one. There is nothing in the plan that ties it back to the statute.
Postmaster General DONALDSON. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to (all your
attention to the fact that in this reorganization plan, on page 3 at the top, it says:
Each postmaster provided for in this reorganization plan shall be appointed by the Postmaster General from the classified civil service and in accordance with the provisions of section 2 of the act of June 25, 1938. Now, section 2 of the act of June 25, 1938, requires a residence of at
least 1 year.
The CHAIRMAN. Subject to that. And you think it is covered by reference to that act?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. It is covered.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there anything in that act that would prevent a postmaster from going from one city to another in that section?
Postmaster General DONALDSON. I think the act itself and the law itself does prevent that, because a postmaster is appointed postmaster at a particular city. He can't be transferred as postmaster to another city without moving over there and establishing a residence and being appointed.