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We would assume that the President would follow the letter and spirit of the act and that he would not make the REA Administrator a political appointee, whereas it is expected, I think, that he would make the Secretary of Agriculture a political appointee.
Senator Smith. That is not a requirement of law, is it? name whomever he chooses or can get approved by the Senate?
Mr. Ellis. As Secretary of Agriculture? Senator SMITH. Yes. Mr. Ellis. Yes. But we think it would be contrary to the spirit of the law for him to make a political appointment as head of REA.
Senator DWORSHAK. You do not think, Mr. Ellis, that that was done recently when Ancher Nelsen was named as Administrator of REA?
Mr. Ellis. I was afraid somebody would ask me that, Senator.
I would rather not comment on that. We are hoping that it is not true. Let me say that we have high regard for Ancher Nelsen. We have known him for a long time. He has been one of the rural electrification leaders in Minnesota.
Senator DWORSHAK. Did you not think, if you do not want to make a direct observation, that Mr. Nelsen's background is probably much better than that of any of his predecessors when they were named as heads of REA?
Mr. Ellis. Well, I had not thought of all of them. I would say that his background somewhat parallels that of his predecessor. Claude Wickard was a farm leader. So has Nelsen been in Minnesota. Both were dirt farmers. Both had served in their State legislatures.
Senator DWORSHAK. Was Mr. Wickard actually in REA prior to his appointment?
Mr. Ellis. Not in REA but he was a member of an electric co-op in Indiana, and as the Secretary of Agriculture for several years, he had taken an interest in REA and made decisions affecting it, for REA is one of the major agencies of the Department.
Senator DWORSHAK. I certainly do not want to raise a controversial point, but I do think that there is little, if any, justification at this time for making any claims that Mr. Nelsen's appointment was political and that the REA leaders and members throughout the country have any justification to fear that he will tamper with the bipartisan or nonpolitical background of REA or do anything that would jeopardize the continued functioning and service of that fine organization.
Mr. Ellis. I think our very presence here in asking that these powers not be taken away from him is evidence of our confidence in him, although we are consistent in the principle. We think Ancher Nelsen will be nonpolitical in his administration.
The Secretary of Agriculture is a political appointee and must always be, I should think, and that is not a criticism. It is fact with which we are confronted. We do not think he should be made the REA Administrator.
Senator DWORSHAK. You would probably prefer to see REA reestablished as an independent agency rather than being under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture?
Mr. Ellis. Our people have gone on record in favor of that, and I believe that would still be their prevailing view.
The Hoover task force proposal called for changing the name of REA to RES. The Rural Electrification people opposed that. This reorganization plan would make that possible again, as we read it. The task-force objective was to streamline the naming, also, of Government agencies to service groups. As we understood it, the Rural Electrification Administration is not a service. The farmers' rural electric systems themselves perform the service. It is a lending and service agency, and we would hope that that would not be done.
Section 4 provides:
(a) The Secretary of Agriculture may, from time to time, make such rrovisions as he shall deem apșropriate, authorizing the performance by any other officer or by any agency or employee, of the Department of Agriculture of any function of the secretary, including any function transferred to the Secretary by the provisions of this Reorganization Plan.
Section 5 of Reorganization Plan No. 2 gives the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to transfer records, property, and personnel * * * and unexpended balances * * of appropriations, allocations, and other funds of such departments, as he deems necessary to carry out the provisions of this Reorganization Plan; * * *
These provisions would make it possible to change the name, the organization, and functions of REA. They would give to the Secretary of Agriculture the power to transfer, reallocate, and abolish existing functions of REA. Whereas section 1, as noted above, makes the Secretary de facto Administrator of REA, these sections give him broad powers that currently rest only with the Congress. REA has been an integrated operation-an integration most vital to the rural electric systems. The loss of its legal division has led to delays and inefficiencies. We urge the Congress to authorize no such delegation of powers over REA.
Subsection (b) of section 4 provides that,
To the extent that the carrying out of subsection (a) ** * involves the assignment of major functions or inajor groups of functions * * * and to the extent deemed practicable by the Secretary, he shall give appropriate advance public notice of delegations of functions proposed to be made by him and shall afford appropriate opportunity for interested persons and groups to place before tlie Department of Agriculture their views with respect to such proposed delegations.
Subsection (b) does not reduce our opposition to this proposed reorganization plan. The phrasing is such that it only gives the blessing of the Congress to procedures which would be resorted to voluntarily by the Secretary without congressional approval.
It leaves any Secretary withh te last word on any proposed reorganization of the Rural Electrification Administration. This proviso does not mitigate our fears, nor does it protect the control of the Congress over Rural Electrification Administration affairs.
H. R. 292, introduced by Mr. Hoffman of Michigan, January 3, 1953, provides for the reorganization of the Department of Agriculture in accordance with the recommendations of the Hoover Commission, which would include changing the name of the Rural Electrification Administration to Rural Electrification Service. We are opposed to H. R. 292 and fear that the very provisions in that bill upon which we base our objections will be accomplished under Reorganization Plan No. 2 by administrative action.
Among other things, H. R. 292 provides for the name change which I have mentioned. Our people feel very strongly on the matter and
do not want the name of Rural Electrification Administration changed. Across the whole of this Nation, and even in foreign countries, those letters, REA, have come to symbolize the joint efforts of a democratic government and responsible local organizations of farmers which have brought electricity to many millions of American farmers. REA has become a kind of trade name for the rural electrics, a byword for efficiency and progress, and a symbol of a better life for rural people. We are vigorously opposed to any name change which would lead to the abandonment of that symbol which means so much to so many millions.
The farmers of this country and all other citizens, including the members of this committee, who understand the achievements of the Rural Electrification Administration since 1936, are proud of the record that has been made. We believe very strongly that that record has been good in part because of the independent and, later, semi-independent and semiautonomous status of REA in all these years of operation. There have been no evidences of corruption mismanagement, or abuse in REA. It was created to be a nonpolitical administration, independent and devoted to the electrification of rural America. Its accomplishments are a tribute to the wisdom of the Congress, the honesty and integrity of REA administrators and staff, and the perseverance and sense of responsibility of the locally elected rural electric leaders who operate the rural electric systems. The future of REA might well be seriously affected by reorganizations made possible by Reorganization Plan No. 2, if it becomes effective.
We urge this committee to recommend to the Senate that Reorganization Plan No. 2 be rejected, and we urge that any future reorganization plan affecting the Department of Agriculture exclude the Rural Electrification Administration in order that that fine agency may remain semi-independent, semiautonomous, dynamic, and nonpolitical.
Senator Smith. Your organization would approve the Reorganization plan if the REA was exempted?
Mr. Ellis. Madam Chairman, I wish I could answer that question. But since we are not a general farm organization, I doubt if our people would take that stand. But they would take this stand, I think, that they would not oppose it, then, if REA were exempt.
Senator SMITH. Senator Dworshak?
Senator DWORSHAK. Mr. Ellis, have you had an opportunity in the past 3 or 4 months to discuss the REA program with the new Secretary of Agriculture to ascertain his views?
Mr. Ellis. Not personally, I would say. He came before our national board about April 14, and discussed the program at some length, and various groups of our people have conferred with him. We have conferred with people whom he has named.
Senator DWORSHAK. You have had no occasion heretofore to question his attitude in any way toward REA and its present policies?
Mr. Ellis. No, sir.
Senator DWORSHAK. And you are justified in believing that he is in full accord with this program, and that there is nothing to jeopardize its effective functioning?
Mr. Ellis. I would say, Senator, that we do not know enough as yet to say that we believe he is in full accord. We are hoping that he is, and his general statements have been to that effect. Senator DWORSHAK. That is all. Senator Smith. Have you finisbed with your statement, Mr. Ellis? Mr. Ellis. Yes.
Senator Smith. Thank you very much, Mr. Ellis, for coming to the committee and giving us the benefit of your views.
Mr. Ellis. Thank you.
Senator Smith. Mr. Homer L. Brinkley, executive vice president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.
Mr. Brinkley, the Senate opened its session at 12 o'clock, but the Chair and the subcommittee members hope to remain in session until about 12:30 and then come back this afternoon. We would like to hear from you, Mr. Brinkley, at this time.
Mr. BRINKLEY. Thank you, Madam Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity.
STATEMENT OF HOMER L. BRINKLEY, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESI
DENT, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF FARMER COOPERATIVES Mr. BRINKLEY. My name is Homer L. Brinkley. I am executive vice president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.
The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives strongly recommends approval of Reorganization Plan No. 2 for the United States Department of Agriculture.
This plan has been developed after thorough study by qualified persons both within and outside the Department of Agriculture. Its provisions envisage an organizational approach designed to meet the changing conditions within the agricultural industry-both those having occurred during the past 18 months or so and those which may reasonably be expected.
Within the past year or 18 months there have been significant changes in our general farm picture and it is safe to say that more are to come. To meet those situations the Department of Agriculture should be reorganized in such manner as to be able to meet those rapid shifts in a changing pattern. An outmoded structure such as presently exists, constitutes an unnecessary handicap in the adjustment of the Department of Agriculture services to the modern needs of agriculture.
An organization which has been characterized as aloose confederation of autonomous bureaus with a strong tendency to develop independent, overlapping, and duplicating programsand which has grown to its present size without sufficient attention being given to integrating its parts into a wholeseems to us an undependable tool having doubtful capacity to serve agriculture in the manner in which it must be served in the critical situation in which we now find ourselves and in the troubled days which loom ahead.
While it is not entirely appropriate to exactly compare the administrative problems of a Government agency with those of industry, neither should we conclude that the basic principles are entirely different. In many respects they are identical. For example, it is
difficult to imagine the head of a giant industrial organization permitting the growth of branches and divisions, sections and units with virtually complete autonomy, and yet be charged with full responsibility for their commitments and operations. Substantially that situation has developed over the years in the Department of Agriculture. Responsibility without authority is an impossible position in which to place a principal executive in or out of Government.
Carrying the parallel further, it is equally burdensome for a chief executive to be deprived of straight line administrative authority without ample power to delegate responsibility to trusted subordinates. Furthermore, such subordinates should be clothed with authority and organizational standing commensurate with their responsibility. For this reason, there is needed in the Department authorization for additional top-level assistants to assume on behalf of the Secretary the burden of the rapidly multiplying duties and responsibilities of the Department. Grouping of various activities into related functions, reporting to the Secretary through such assistants would release the Secretary for broader duties and more constructive toinking and planning. This pattern, again, is in direct line with that generally pursued in other large-scale enterprises.
Simplification of administration seems to us to be mandatory if efficiency is to be improved. Much has been made in recent years of coordination in various governmental activities. We have seen attempts at coordination result in piling one coordinating agency on top of another without ever achieving the desired purpose.
We suggest that the only really effective coordination is that which comes to focus in one person with final authority over all the work for which he is responsible. By this we do not mean to imply that dictatorial methods should be resorted to. Such authority is not contemplated in Reorganization Plan No. 2. The reverse is true. Under the plan provision is made for hearings before changes can be made, with ample opportunity for interested persons to present their views and objections as to any detail of proposed changes. Appropriations for specific projects are to be administered for their particular purpose under the reorganization plan, just as they were before. Provision is made for administration of programs close to state, local, and regional levels, and they are required to be adapted to conditions at those levels. We deem it most desirable that those to be served by a program should have more to say as to the manner in which they are to be served and in the administration of that service.
An additional favorable factor is that the general pattern of the proposed reorganization is already generally known, with any further changes subject to review by interested persons before final adoption.
In the recent past the Congress has followed the sound policy of vesting functions directly in department heads so that they can be held accountable for the operations of their agencies. In the Department of Agriculture, however, we find a different policy having been pursued with major functions of the Department vested directly in subordinate officials and branches. We believe there are many valid reasons for correcting this patchwork of authority and responsibility in the Department of Agriculture thereby following previous patterns established for other departments of the Government.