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and it attempts to standardize the entire administrative strueture of the farmer committee system in the light of experience. And I am very much in favor of the farmer committee system.
As an old county agent, I know how much it means to have a solid committee of farmers at your side to consult with you.
In substance, the memorandum I referred to will separate the policy-forming and policy-executing functions of the State and county committees. The former functions will be vested in the State and county committees, respectively, as in the past, the latter function, in the State executive officers and county office managers.
These State and county committees will retain full responsibility for administration in their respective areas of program operations as they have in the past. The farmer-committee experience indicated at the time memorandum 101 was issued, was that better administration results if the policy-forming functions are vested in the committee and the policy-executing functions are delegated to a full-time administrative officer who operates under the direction of the committee and is hired by them.
In 23 States the practice of using a full-time civil service administrative officer was already in operation. In the remaining 25 States, there were 14 in which the State PMA chairman or other State committeeman performed full time the functions of administrative officer. In the other 11 States all members of the State PMA committees served full time. This indicates that 25 administrative officers will have to be appointed. It will likewise be well to understand that 11 States had both a full-time administrative officer and a chairman of the State PMA committee serving full time.
We expect, through this change, to make an initial saving of $125,000 annually at the State level. At the county level, only 13 percent of the committeemen will be affected, since the other 87 percent have been serving but part time. Because most county officers have had full-time chief clerks, administrative officers, or office managers, we expect this move to save in the neighborhood of $500,000 at the county level.
So this tends to make it uniform, to separate the policymaking from the executive direction, but there is no intention at all to weaken the committees, but to strengthen them. We feel that we will get probably better qualified farmers to serve on the committees. Many of them have refused to serve in the past because they could not afford to give up their own operations to serve full time on a county committee, but they will come in and serve for a few days and help direct the program and help direct the activities of the full-time officer who serves as their executive officer in carrying out the policies.
Senator DwoRSHAK. You are actually trying to bring the Department of Agriculture closer to the farmer level?
Secretary BENSON. I do not believe that we can bring it too close, Senator. The closer the better.
Senator DWORSHAK. Thank you.
Senator Smith. Congressman Hope, do you feel that you have to leave?
Congressman HOPE. Yes, I am sorry. I do have an appointment I have to keep.
Senator Smith. Would you like to ask the Secretary any questions before you leave?
Mr. HOPE. No, I think not. Thank you very much.
Senator HUMPHREY. Madam Chairman, first of all I want to make it very clear that I have reserved my position on the reorganization plan. In general principle, I favor reorganization. My desire is to seek information, and as a result of communications and information that I have received, I feel it is necessary to get clarification. I believe the Secretary can be very helpful to us in this.
Secretary Benson. If I can, I shall be very happy to, Senator.
Senator HUMPHREY. I have believed in the broad recommendations of the Hoover Commission, and I think I cooperated pretty well in getting these reorganization plans through the Congress.
Now, Mr. Secretary, one of your present employees is Mr. Davis, I believe, the head of the Commodity Credit Corporation; is that correct?
Secretary BENSON. Yes, that is correct.
Senator HUMPHREY. Mr. Davis testified at the time that former President Truman submitted the Reorganization Plan No. 4 to Congress in 1950. Now, I recognize the limited differences that exist between these two plans as you have cited them, such as the Farm Credit Administration and the matter of hearings. I will just note that under section 4 (b), in the case of any proposed
b major change, appropriate advance public notice shall be given, and then the qualifying phrase, “to the extent deemed practicable."
The Secretary therefore has discretion insofar as these hearings are concerned; is that correct?
Secretary BENSON. Yes; I would assume that is correct, Senator.
Senator HUMPHREY. Now, Mr. Davis testified at that time as the executive secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and here is what he had to say:
We feel that it leaves too much open to discretion and too much latitude for the people who are carrying it out. * * *
At the present time our basic agricultural policy is in more or less of a state of flux. The farm plan that will be the basic structure for the next several years is not definitely crystallized. There are various plans up for discussion, and it seems to us that it is very difficult and unwise to try to organize the Department until we know what kind of farm plan the Department is to carry out.
Reorganization should be geared to the evolving farm policy. We feel further that Congress should assume the responsibility for laying out the general outline of organization at the time Congress lays out the general outline of basic farm policy.
I just note here that this was after the passage of the amendments in 1949, the amendments to the basic farm law.
Mr. Davis continues:
It seems to us that it is going to be very difficult for any Secretary of Agriculture, and this is no reflection upon any particular Secretary of Agriculture, to build and put into effect from within the Department the outline of a sound reorganization. That is further reason why we think that the general pattern, the overall pattern, should be laid down by the Congress. We think that the task of organizing or reorganizing the Department is so basic to the welfare of the farmers and so much a part of the overall farm policy that that job ought to be done by the Congress.
If I were Secretarysaid Mr. DavisI certainly would prefer to have Congress outline the organization structure, rather than attempt to do it myself.
Now, Mr. Davis was a very convincing witness, Mr. Secretary. He convinced the majority, he along with
others, a majority of the Senate of the United States. What is it that has transpired between the time that Mr. Davis testified and now which has changed Mr. Davis' point of view or which has changed the Department's point of view?
Secretary BENSON. Senator, in the first place, I was not here on the sceae, of course, when those bearings were held before. I have not read the hearings. I did glance through them at one time, but I have not studied them and read them. I am sure I am not in a position to say what was in Mr. Davis' mind when he made his statement here before.
On the other hand, I do feel that all the members of my staff are in sympathy with the statement which I made this morning. We have had some discussion of it, and several members of the staff have participated in some discussion of it with the National Agricultural Advisory Committee which the President appointed, and also with some Members of Congress.
So I believe that we are in agreement. Mr. Davis, of course, may have changed his mind. Apparently he has. Apparently a lot of people have. And I presume that is one of our privileges.
Senator HUMPHREY. That is correct.
Secretary BENSON. I do think that there is a safeguard now which was not in existence then.
In the first place, we are using, to an unusual degree, I believe, advisory committees from the grassroots, and then we have the bipartisan National Agricultural Advisory Committee appointed by the President which has been serving the Secretary, and I might say very effectively and very helpfully. That committee devoted a fuil day and almost a night to this plan which we are now considering, and approved the plan unanimously. As I said, it is a bipartisan committee of agricultural leaders, and I feel that that is a safeguard to the Secretary. No doubt that has influenced Mr. Davis.
Then he has also served on a committee established before I took office that gave further study to this whole question. And I do not know but what some further study may have had something to do with it.
But further than that, I think I cannot go in analyzing the reasons why he has changed his position.
Senator HUMPHREY. Mr. Secretary, I read your testimony—I have it here—before the House Committee on Appropriations of the 83d Congress, page 856. I believe Mr. H. Carl Andersen, Congressman from my home State, was the chairman of that subcommittee that received your testimony. There you noticed that, as you pointed out here, a great deal of study went into this plan. I have made note from your testimony here that several advance committees worked on it, that your National Agricultural Advisory Committee spent, as you pointed out, a full day and most of the night studying it, and that it was studied by the President's Reorganization Committee and was reviewed by the Bureau of the Budget and finally discussed by the Cabinet itself. I believe that is the record of your testimony. Secretary BENSON. I think that is correct. Senator HUMPHREY. Now, you indicate, therefore, that a great deal of time and study went into it.
Am I to understand that in all of that discussion and study, you just came to the same conclusion that President Truman did in 1950, that the Secretary should have had greater authority, or did you get into details?
Secretary BENSON. We did not get into a lot of detail, Senator. We feel, of course, that this must be a continuing study. I am sure you recognize that.
Senator HUMPHREY. I recognize that.
Secretary BENSON. As the President's Committee did way back in 1937.
From an administrative standpoint, it must be a continuing thing. We have discussed some details. We have some details under study at the present time. But I think it is going to be a gradual process, any changes that are made. I do not have in mind anything revolutionary in the immediate future at all.
Senator HUMPHREY. Is it true that the Advisory Committees have at least at this stage some general outlines or detailed plans for the reorganization?
Secretary BENSON. No, that is not true. We have had a number of commodity committees in, as you know.
Senator HUMPHREY. Yes.
Secretary BENSON. They have dealt largely with the surplus and price and price support problems more than with organization. However, there have been some very definite recommendations made with reference to research, as an example.
And from the study we have made of that particular problem, we feel probably that the intent of Congress, when the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 was passed, is not being carried out. We have a study under way along that line now in an effort more clearly to carry out what we believe was the intent of Congress and what Members of Congress have indicated to us was their intention when that act was passed.
Senator HUMPHREY. Mr. Secretary, I ask you this question because I recall at another hearing on the Department of Health, Welfare, and Education, I asked a number of witnesses as to whether or not any job description had ever been drawn up for a particular position of assistant secretary pertaining to health. I was told several times that no such job description had been drawn up. I was told that
I there was no prepared documentation.
I regret to say that at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, a member of the house of delegates of the medical association, a gentleman that I knew, was kind enough to present me with a mimeographed sheet which had a job description upon it. I took a little exception to that, because I felt that we ought to have been told what was the fact.
Now, I accept your statement, sir. If you say that there are no detailed plans of reorganization, that it is still in a stage of flux and general study, that is good enough for me. Yet I have felt that it was incumbent upon me to interrogate along that line, because I just did not like the other procedure, to be very honest with you.
Secretary Benson. I am sure that I would not be sympathetic with it, either.
I do not know that I could give you the details as to what job descriptions we have in Agriculture. I know there are a lot of them.
Senator HUMPHREY. I do not mean job descriptions as such, but I mean a general program of reorganization. I will ask you a question or two on that.
Before I do that, however, I just want to point out again that I think one of the problems we have here is the vigorous opposition that was manifested toward this reorganization proposal before. And I shall be very candid. I was not one of them. But it amazes me to see now the sudden change.
Here is Mr. Short. Mr. Short, I believe, is in charge of your Foreign
Secretary BENSON. The Foreign Agricultural Service. Senator HUMPHREY. The Foreign Agricultural Service. Secretary BENSON. That is right. Senator HUMPHREY. At the time I excerpted from the testimony, Mr. Short testified as vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Here is what he said:
The reorganization plan constitutes a general grant of authority to the Secretary of Agriculture without direction or guidance to him to carry out any phase of reorganization recommended either by the Hoover Commission or its task force on agriculture. Since it is without guide or direction, we regard the plan as an unwise grant of general authority and power. Reorganization Plan No. 4 this is speaking of the prior planis really not a plan. A plan should have recommendations, framework, and structure. Plan 4 does not have these.
Parenthetically, I say that plan 2 does not have them, either.
It is therefore not a plan. We would like to call attention to the fact that the legislative history of the Reorganization Act indicates that the reorganization plan submitted to Congress would be in some detail so that the Congress would know and everyone else would know something about the direction of the reorganization it was taking. Reorganization plans are supposed to go into considerable detail, thus enabling the Congress to have some check on authority granted in the Reorganization Act.
Therefore, we want to again say that by reason of the fact that plan 4 is really not a plan-just a grant of authority without congressional check--we feel it should be rejected.
Now, Mr. Secretary, what is there about this plan that is so fundamentally different from plan 4, that Mr. Short should have changed his mind?
Secretary BENSON. I think there are several rather fundamental things, Senator Humphrey. In the first place, I feel that the Secretary, under this plan, is under definite obligation to consult with farmers, leaders of farm organizations, Members of the Congress, and other interested groups, and to serve notice of any plan he intends to put into operation before he takes such action, and get their views and their recommendations. And I think that is a very real safeguard.
I would feel under obligation to consult with Members of the Congress before I took any major step in that direction.
In the second place, I think this item regarding the use of funds is an additional safeguard. Then I have felt that the appointment of the National Agricultural Advisory Committee, which is a bipartisan body, will serve as a pretty good check on the Secretary. Certainly I would not think of putting into effect any major change in that great Department without taking that committee into my confidence and discussing it with them frankly and wholeheartedly.
It seems to me those are very definite safeguards which were not available when the other plan was under consideration.