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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; I think in some form or another in all departments, excepting Agriculture.
Two of these plans were adopted in 1949, 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. 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, as I see it, is to make the Secretary of Agriculture. Secretary in fact as well as in name. It will enable him actually to 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:
1. 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.
2. It creates two new positions of Assistant Secretary of Agriculture to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
3. It creates the position of Administrative Assistant Secretary.
4. 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.
5. 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 submitted in 1950 in the following particulars:
1. It prohibits the use of transferred unexpended balances except for the purposes for which the appropriation was originally made.
2. It does not apply to the Farm Credit Administration.
3. The Secretary is required to give public notice of important changes and to afford opportunity for interested persons to be heard.
4. In redistributing functions the Secretary is required to seek to 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, in my opinion, are important improvements to 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 by this committee and the Senate. That criticism has now been met.
The important thing to remember about this plan is that it does not permit the Secretary or anyone 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 purely 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, no matter how many changes are made.
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 extravagent.
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 functions 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: The Agricultural Research Administration, the Production and Marketing Administration, the Commodity Exchange Authority, Extension Service, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the Office of Budget and Finance, the Office of Information, the Office of Personnel, the Office of Plant and Operations, and Library.
Take for instance the Production and Marketing Administrationby far the largest and most controversial agency in the Department. It is the result of a reorganization plan carried out by the present distinguished Senator from New Mexico who was Secretary of Agriculture at that time. He has already described this morning some of the problems with which he was confronted in making that change. 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 the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, for instance, than he already has over the PMA?
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 other Departments. Yet one would think from some of the criticism which has occurred that this plan went far beyond the Hoover recommendations.
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. He is a part of an administration which is leaning over backward 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 this 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 do not think we will have, but even in that unlikely event Congress has plenty of recourse. Under section 136 of the Legislative Reorganization Act, congressional committees have the duty of exercising continuous watchfulness of the execution by administrative agencies of all laws coming within the jurisdiction of such committees. We have the appropriation power, which has already been mentioned this morning and so graphically illustrated by the distinguished Senator from New Mexico, and which in itself is probably sufficient to handle any situation which might arise, and finally we have the power of legislation to correct any abuses, and if need be, the power of impeachment. But I consider it unlikely that a situation such as this would ever develop for the very good reason that under this act there can be no change which relates to functions and no juggling of appropriation.
Madam Chairman, I feel very strongly that the Secretary of Agriculture should have the same authority to put his house in order that is now possessed by every other Cabinet official. That is the only question that 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.
Thank you very much, Madam Chairman.
Senator DIRKSEN. I have no questions at the moment, Madam Chairman.
Senator Smith. Senator Humphrey?
Senator HUMPHREY. I was very interested in Congressman Hope's delineation of those areas of the Department of Agriculture which are presently covered by the reorganization authority.
Congressman, would you help me and just cite the law on that? I just want it for the record, because I am sure it will be a matter of some discussion.
Mr. HOPE. I am very sorry, I cannot give the Senator the law, because you would have to go back through all the laws affecting agriculture, probably 25 or 30 years ago. The laws which established the agencies in many cases would have to be studied.
But I know as a practical matter that that is true, that the Secretary does have that authority, and I would suggest that if the committee desires it, the Solicitor for the Department of Agriculture is here, and he no doubt can give that authority. But I am sorry to say that I cannot give it.
Senator HUMPHREY. Madam Chairman, may I suggest that, just for the purpose of the record, we might get some citation on that to corroborate the Congressman's statement?
I accept your statement, of course, and I just thought it would be well to have the documentation.
Senator Smith. Mr. Reynolds, will you obtain the information that Senator Humphrey refers to.
(The material referred to appears at the conclusion of Secretary Benson's testimony, p. 184.)
Senator HUMPHREY. As I understand it, Congressman Hope, the Agricultural Research Administration, the Production and Marketing Administration, the Commodity Exchange Authority, the Extension Service, the Foreign Agricultural Service, the Office of Budget Finance, the Office of Information, and the Office of Personnel and the Office of Plant and Operations, and the Library—those offices are presently under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture for all purposes, including purposes of reorganization.
Mr. HOPE. Yes, that is my understanding, and I am sure that that is correct.
Senator HUMPHREY. So that the reorganization plan that we are now considering would neither limit nor supplement nor in any way alter the powers of the Secretary of Agriculture in relationship to those units or bureaus that are mentioned in the paragraph that I have just read; is that correct?
Mr. HOPE. No; not in the least.
Mr. Hope. The only way that they would be affected would be the authority of the Secretary to transfer functions of other agencies which are not under his control to those particular agencies and vice versa.
Senator HUMPHREY. Yes. But as it is now, he can reorganize those and regroup them without either adding to or taking away any functions?
Mr. HOPE. Yes; he can and he has.
Mr. Hope. It has been done in many cases. I think in the case of most if not all of those agencies some reorganization plans have been put into effect in recent years.
Senator HUMPHREY. So what we are really talking about, once you have taken into consideration the area of exclusion which includes the Farm Credit Administration and the Department corporations and the advisory boards of the Farm Credit Corporation, and the hearing examiners, which are provided for under the Administrative Procedure Act--what is left over, then, is the REA and the Soil Conservation Service, as two of the bigger units, and the Forest Service and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Farmers Home Administration.
Is that the complete list, Congressman?
Mr. HOPE. I think there were six. I believe that you named only five.
Senator HUMPHREY. Pardon me. I may have left one out.
Mr. Hope. I will have to look in my list here to see which one was left out.
Senator HUMPHREY. Yes; the Bureau of Agricultural Economics; the Forest Service
Mr. HOPE. The Office of the Solicitor is the other one.
The purpose, then, of this reorganization plan would be to extend the reorganization powers to those bureaus or units within the Department so as to place the Department under one general reorganization authority.
Mr. Hope. Yes; that is my understanding.
Senator SYMINGTON. Yes, I would like to ask Congressman Hope a question, if I may.
In your testimony, you made the point several times that in effect this would put the Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Congressman, on an equal level of control of his Department with the other members of the Cabinet; is that correct?
Mr. HOPE. Yes, that is correct.
Senator SYMINGTON. Are you familiar with the National Security Act of 1947, as amended in 1949?
Mr. HOPE. I am not too familiar with that. And I did not include that in the list of Cabinet positions
Senator SYMINGTON. Did you detail the Cabinet positions that you were referring to, sir?
Mr. Hope. Yes. The ones that I referred to were the Treasury Department, the Interior Department, the Commerce Department, the Labor Department
Senator DIRKSEN. The Justice Department.
Mr. Hope. The Jusice Department, and I think one other. There were six that I mentioned.
Senator SYMINGTON. Thank you very much.