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REORGANIZATION PLANS NOS. 2, 3, AND 4 OF 1952
WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 1952
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D.C. The committee met at 10 a. m., pursuant to call in room 357, Senate Office Building, Senator John L. McClellan (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators McClellan, Hoey, O'Conor, Mrs. Smith of Maine, Schoeppel, and Dworshak.
Also present: Walter L. Reynolds, chief clerk, Ann M. Grickis, assistant chief clerk, Eli E. Nobleman, Miles Scull, Jr., and Herman C. Loeffler, professional staff members.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. We have scheduled for this morning hearings on Reorganization Plans Nos. 2, 3, and 4. Instead of holding separate hearings on each plan, the committee, or the chairman at least, has felt, in view of the similarity in the plans, almost the same principle being involved in all three, and the fact that some witnesses will testify on all three, they might be considered together, with hearings held on them simultaneously. So far, at least, there has been no resolution of disapproval introduced with respect to any of the plans..
It is our thought that we might expedite the hearings and develop sufficient testimony, at least, to make a fair record on the plans.
Of course, in the event a resolution of disapproval is filed and opposition develops, we will hold further hearings and permit opposition witnesses to express their views.
Under the provisions of the Reorganization Act of 1949 the Senate has only 60 days in which to act, if action is going to be taken, and we wanted to make as much progress as possible in committee, so that we will be prepared to report to the Senate in the event a resolution of disapproval should be introduced.
We are glad this morning to have with us Postmaster General Jesse M. Donaldson.
At this point in the record, I should like to insert the general message of the President of the United States on reorganization plans for the Post Office Department, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice.
Second, we will insert in the record the message from the President transmitting Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1952 and Plan No. 2, prepared in accordance with the Reorganization Act of 1949, and providing for reorganizations in the Post Office Department.
Third, a message from the President transmitting Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1952 and Plan No. 3, providing for reorganizations in the Bureau of Customs of the Department of the Treasury.
1 Public Law 109, 81st Cong. See appendix, p. 222.
Fourth, a message from the President transmitting Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1952 and Plan No. 4, providing for reorganizations in the Department of Justice, authorizing the Attorney General to appoint United States marshals under the classified civil service.
Fifth, staff memorandum No. 82–2–28, regarding the legality of reorganization Plans Nos. 2, 3, and 4 of 1952.
Sixth, staff memorandum No. 82–2–29, Analysis of Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1952, providing for reorganizations in the Post Office Department.
Seventh, staff memorandum No. 82–2–30, Analysis of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1952, Bureau of Customs of the Treasury Department.
Eighth, staff memorandum No. 82–2–31, Analysis of Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1952, providing for the appointment of United States marshals under civil service regulation.
Ninth, insertion of letters from the National Association of Letter Carriers and Government Employees' Council, A. F. of L., in opposition to Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1952.
Those insertions will be made in the record following the opening statement of the chairman. (Insertions referred to are as follows:)
[H. Doc. No. 424, 820 Cong., 2d sess.) MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, TRANSMITTING RECOMMEN
DATIONS RELATIVE TO THREE PLANS PROVIDING FOR REORGANIZATIONS IN THE Post OFFICE DEPARTMENT, THE DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY, AND THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE To the Congress of the United States:
I am today transmitting to the Congress three plans providing for reorganizations in the Post Office Department, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice. These plans have been prepared under the authority of the Reorganization Act of 1949. Each plan is accompanied by the message required by that act.
The primary objective of these three reorganization plans is to make the executive branch of the Federal Government more efficient by permitting the Congress and the people to hold it more clearly accountable for the faithful execution of the laws. This objective is accomplished, in practical effect, by transferring from the President to the heads of the respective departments the function of appointment of numerous field offices who have heretofore been appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Reorganization Plan No. 2 vests in the Postmaster General the appointment of postmasters at first-, seconds, and third-class post offices; under Reorganization Plan No. 3, appointment of officials in the Bureau of Customs will be made by the Secretary of the Treasury; and under the terms of Reorganization Plan No. 4, the Attorney General is authorized to appoint United States marshals
A prime prerequisite for an efficient administration of the laws is the establishment of clear lines of accountability from the top to the bottom of the executive branch. This is a fundamental recommendation of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government. Since the report of that Commission, we have done much to establish the principle of accountability throughout the executive branch. Reorganization Plans Nos. 3 of 1949 and 2 and 26 of 1950 vested in the Postmaster General, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of the Treasury, respectively, substantially all of the functions of their departments and granted them authority to delegate those functions to their subordinates. The three reorganization plans transmitted today are a continuation of our efforts to increase the accountability of these department heads by giving them this essential additional authority-the power to appoint the officers for whose performance they are responsible. This step, like Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1952 affecting the Bureau of Internal Revenue in the Department of the Treasury, follows consistently and logically the steps already taken,
Both the President's Committee on Administrative Management and the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government have stressed the need of administrative reforms such as those which these plans will accomplish.
In 1937 the President's Committee on Administrative Management said “the continued appointment by the President of field officials, such as postmasters, United States marshals, collectors of internal revenue, and collectors of customs is not only antiquated, but prejudicial to good administration."
More recently, the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government has said, “the primary responsibility for personnel selection and management (in the Post Office Department] other than the Postmaster General and the Director of Posts should rest in the service" and "all officials of the Department [of the Treasury] below the rank of Assistant Secretary should preferably be appointed from the career service without Senate confirmation.” Although the Commission did not study the organization of the Department of Justice, these considerations apply with equal force to the office of United States marshal.
Through the years the following reasons for these proposals, given in the report of the President's Committee on Administrative Management, have become more compelling:
"The multiplicity of Presidential appointments defeats the power of the Chief Executive to control his establishment. Instead of increasing his control over personnel, it operates to weaken and dissipate his authority. It places him in a position of direct responsibility for many appointments which he has little time to consider and robs him of time urgently needed for attention to important executive duties. It interferes with the authority that should be vested in the heads of the several departments for the proper discharge of their responsibilities. It is difficult for them to maintain appropriate relationships, discipline, and morale when their subordinates feel that they have direct and immediate responsibility to the President who appointed them. Conflicts of interest and jurisdiction within departments frequently result."
In addition to the primary objective of making the executive branch more efficient by providing greater accountability in these executive departments, these reorganization plans will gain for us the benefits which will come from filling these offices strictly on the basis of merit under the classified civil service.
In the earliest days of the Republic when these offices were first created, there was no organized merit system in the Federal Government. The First Congress in 1789 determined the method, unchanged to this day, for appointing collectors of customs and United States marshals. The civil-service alternative was not available in 1836 when Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation were first prescribed for top postmaster appointments.
Today, in contrast, we have developed a civil-service system which has proved eminently satisfactory for examining Government employees and which now embraces 93 percent of all Federal positions in the United States. The magnitude and complexity of governmental operations requires many skills—skills which must be found and fostered through a professional career service, in which employees are unencumbered by allegiances or obligations outside the Government which distract them from official duties. We have proved beyond all doubt, since the passage of the Pendleton Act in 1883, that the best government is obtained when the tasks of a non-policy-forming nature are placed in the hands of civil servants who get and hold their jobs solely on merit. This principle, applied gradually over the years to a widening group of employees, now needs to be extended.
As I have stated on numerous occasions, the present method of appointing postmasters has been a matter of special concern to me. Under Presidential orders beginning in 1917, and now under a statute enacted in 1938, postmasters in the first-, second-, and third-class post offices are examined by the Civil Service Commission but are required to be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. This procedure injects a hybrid mixture of political and merit considerations into appointments to offices which should be in the career service. It discourages many able persons from applying for these posts because they believe political preferment is the determining factor in appointment.
Another and vitally important advantage will be gained from these three reorganization plans. The development of national policy is a complex and crush'ing task. The problems which we must jointly solve deserve our very best efforts. Relations between the President and the Congress ought not to be complicated by the need for coming to agreement on the selection of a host of field officials in posts where policy is not made. I know, from personal experience in both the Congress and the Presidency, how much time and effort is lost and how we have been distracted from the consideration of issues of paramount national importance by the present method of appointing the officials covered by these reorganization plans. We must relieve ourselves of this burden of minor personnel actions in order to devote our efforts to the greater issues confronting our Government today.
We are indeed fortunate that the framers of the Constitution, in their wisdom, provided in article II, section 2, alternative methods for appointing inferior officers of the executive branch. What I am proposing today is that we cast off the now outmoded method of appointing these more than 20,000 suhordinate officials and vest their appointment in the heads of departments,
It should be emphasized that these plans are not the result of hasty action nor do they provide for an immediate separation from Government service of the thousands of incumbents now on the job. The proposed reforms are not aimed at them as individuals or as groups; rather they are aimed at modernizing a system which is no longer useful. Each reorganization plan contains specific provision for the gradual application of the changes. As a general rule these changes in appointing officials will occur at such times as the present offices become vacant. The United States marshals and the officers affected in the Bureau of Customs, with certain exceptions, now serve for a stated number of years, while present postmaster appointments are for an indefinite tenure. The complete change-over to the new method of appointment, therefore, will require several years. I want it clearly understood that this gradual application of the full merit system to these offices as they become vacant grants no partisan advantage or disadvantage to any political party. These plans cannot, therefore, rightfully be opposed on the ground that they help or harm any political group.
We must at all times endeavor to take every step to assure the people that their Government is effectively organized and managed. We must increase efficiency; we must adopt every true economy; we must eliminate overlappings and duplications; we must improve accountability; we must promote the better execution of the laws. It is indeed significant that the Reorganization Act of 1949 specifically sets forth these broad objectives for Government reorganization. In proposing reorganization plans under that act, I seek to accommodate all these coordinate purposes. The reorganization plans which I am transmitting today aim primarily at making the executive branch more efficient by increasing the accountability of three department heads. They will fully extend the merit system to cover more than 20,000 non-policy-making officers of the Government. They will relieve the Presidency and the Congress of the unnecessary burden of appointing and confirming a host of subordinate officers. I highly commend these reorganization plans to the Congress.
HARRY S. TRUMAN. THE WHITE HOUSE, April 10, 1952.
[H. Doc. No. 425, 82d Cong., 2d sess.) MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, TRANSMITTING REORGANIZA
TION PLAN No. 2 OF 1952, PREPARED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REORGANIZATION
ACT OF 1949 AND PROVIDING FOR REORGANIZATION IN THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT To the Congress of the United State:
I transmit herewith Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1952, prepared in accordance with the Reorganization Act of 1949 and providing for reorganization in the Post Office Department. My reasons for transmitting this plan are stated in another message transmitting to the Congress today.
This reorganization plan provides for the gradual elimination of Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation of postmasters at post offices of the first, second, and third class and the institution of appointment by the Postmaster General under the classified civil service. This is accomplished by abolishing each present office of postmaster at post offices of the first, second, and third class at such time as it next becomes vacant, except that each such office vacant on the date determined under the provisions of section 6 (a) of the Reorganization Act of 1949 is abolished on that date, and by establishing a new office entitled “Postmaster” to be filled by the Postmaster General. The complete transition to the new method of appointment is expected to require a period of several years.