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of the Government of the District of Columbia (including transfers between the Board of Commissioners and any other agency of the Government of the District of Columbia) as the Board may deem necessary in order to carry out the provisions of this reorganization plan.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS,
May 10, 1952. Staff Memorandum No. 82–2–33. Subject: Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1952—Reorganization of the Government
of the District of Columbia. Plan No. 5 of 1952 provides for the first significant reorganization of the Government of the District of Columbia since the act of 1874, which terminated self-government in the District and established the present Commission structure.
SUMMARY In brief, plan No. 5 authorizes the Board of Commissioners of the District to regroup the District's functions into a new organization structure, with certain exceptions as hereafter noted, in order to clarify responsibility, establish clearer lines of authority, and consolidate the functions now performed by almost 100 separate District agencies.
To accomplish this, plan No. 5 abolishes some 95 District boards, departments, commissions, and offices,' transfers their functions to the Board of Commissioners as a whole, authorizes the Board to redelegate those functions to any Board member, officer, employee, or agency of the District, except the courts thereof, and empowers the Board to establish a new department structure to discharge the regrouped functions.
The Board, however, may not redelegate to any individual member of the Board or to any District officer, employee, or agency the following functions: (1) Any regulatory functions vested in the Board by Congress except those pertaining to the administration of or procedure before any District agency ; (2) the function of approving any contract in excess of $25,000, which contracts must have the approval of the three-member Board acting as a whole; (3) the function of appointing or removing the head of any District agency responsible directly to the Board ; and (4) the function of approving the annual budget for the District of Columbia.
In addition to the District's judicial agencies which are not subject to the Reorganization Act of 1949, several other important District agencies are excluded from operation of plan No. 5. Principal among these are the National Guard, the Board of Library Trustees, the Board of Education, the Zoning Board, the Recreation Board, and the Public Utilities Commission.
Plan No. 5 also authorizes the Board to establish 15 executive positions without regard to the numerical limitations set forth in section 505 of the Classification Act of 1949 for which compensation in excess of the rates established for grade GS-15 ($10,800) may be paid whenever standards of the classification laws permit. Other details of plan No. 5 are covered in the section-by-section analysis which follows:
SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS Section 1.-Transfers to the Board of Commissioners all functions of 95 District boards, departments, commissions, and offices.
Section 2 (a).—Abolishes the 95 District boards, departments, commissions, and offices listed in section 1 at such time as the Board of Commissioners specifies after effectuation of plan No. 5 of 1952, but in no event later than June 30, 1953.
Section 2 (b).-Abolishes the office of the People's Counsel established by section 3 of the act of December 15, 1926 (D. C. Code, 1940 ed. sec. 43–205).
Section 2 (C).-Authorizes the Board of Commissioners to make necessary provisions for terminating the affairs of any office, department, or agency abolished by the provisions of section 2.
Section 3.-Authorizes the Board of Commissioners to redelegate the performance of any of its functions, including any function transferred to or otherwise vested in the Board of Commissioners by plan No. 5 of 1952 to any member of the Board of Commissioners or to any other officer, employee, or agency of the District of Columbia, except the courts thereof.
1 For list of abolished offices see appendix A, attached.
Section 3 (6).-Prohibits the Board of Commissioners from delegating any of the following functions to any individual member of the Board or to any other officer, employee, or agency of the District: (1) Any regulatory function vested in the Board by Congress except those pertaining to the administration of or procedure before any District agency; (2) the function of approving any contract in excess of $25,000, which contracts must have the approval of the Board of Commissioners as a whole; (3) the function of appointing or removing any District agency head responsible directly to the Board; or (4) the function of approving the budget for the District of Columbia.
Section 4.–Authorizes the Board of Commissioners to establish a new departmental structure consisting of so many agencies, departments, and offices with such titles as the Board of Commissioners shall determine necessary to discharge the functions abolished by section 2 and transferred to the Commissioners by section 1. Authorizes the Board of Commissioners to make appointments to the new agencies, departments, and offices created in accordance with the civil-service classification laws, and authorizes the appointment of 15 positions for which compensation in excess of the rates established for grade GS-15 (10,800) may be paid without regard to the numerical limitations on such positions set forth in section 505 of the Classification Act of 1949.
Section 4 (6).- Establishes two new offices in the District of Columbia to have the titles, respectively, of “Chief of Police” and “Fire Chief." Each officer shall be appointed by the Board of Commissioners at compensation to be determined by the Board at a rate not in excess of $12,800 per annum.
Section 5.-Authorizes the Board of Commissioners to transfer personnel, property, records, and funds between District agencies or between the Board of Commissioners and District agencies as the Board determines necessary to implement the provisions of plan No. 5 of 1952.
DEFECTS OF PLAN NO. 5 OF 1952 Some concern has been expressed over the broad grant of authority given the District Commissioners by plan No. 5. The plan is more of a carte blanche delegation of power, with certain afore-mentioned exceptions, than a comprehensive reorganization plan based upon accepted municipal organization principles. This "blank check” to the Commissioners, except for the exclusion of certain functions, leaves future reorganization entirely at the Commissioners' discretion.
Another objection of even greater significance is that plan No. 5 perpetuates the present commission form of government in the District. This form of government has been repeatedly condemned by a series of extensive authoritative reports over the last 25 years which unanimously described the present commission form of government as "defective," "outdated,” and “discredited."
In 1929, the Brookings Institution in a full-length report described the defects of the present system and recommended abolition of the Board of Commissioners and creation of a council-manager system. In 1937, the Jacobs report stated that “the commission form of municipal organization * * * has been eclipsed in the last 20 years by the more effective managerial type of government. During the last 60 years, however, the form of the District government has undergone no material changes. * * * The present departmental organization and administrative and fiscal procedures in the District government are not conducive to the highest standards of service and economy." In 1939, the Griffenhagen report described the "weaknesses and deficiencies of the existing organization of the government of the District.” It said that "the present Board of Commissioners is not unlike a city commission under the outdated and rather generally discredited commission form of city government." And in 1948 the Auchincloss report again described the defects of the present form of District government and stated that “the present Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia should be abolished."
Aside from the splintering of the District government into three divisions under as many Commissioners, as has been the tendency in the past, the fusion of executive authority, ordinance-making powers, and administrative responsibility in an appointed three-member board violates not only the constitutional principle of separation of powers, but also generally accepted principles of good government organization, management, and practices.
Of particular concern to authorities on government management is the failure of plan No. 5 to provide an administrative officer to relieve the Board of Commissioners, who are vested with executive, legislative, and regulatory powers, from the heavy, time-consuming burden of administrative responsibility for the day-to-day conduct of the District's extremely complicated affairs.
A proposed reorganization plan, drafted by the Bureau of the Budget, which incorporated the major recommendations of the four authoritative management reports made over the last quarter of a century on the District of Columbia government and which would have eliminated the fundamental weaknesses inherent in the present District government was rejected by President Truman in preference to the District Commissioners' recommendations, which are incorporated in plan No. 5 of 1952.
PRESENT ORGANIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The District of Columbia has one of the most complicated local government organization structures in the Nation.
The governing body in the existing government is the Board of Commissioners which consists of two residents of the District appointed by the President, with the consent of the Senate, and an officer detailed from the United States Corps of Engineers.
Beneath this top layer of authority is a confusing maze of approximately 100 separate agencies, departments, and offices—some of them independent, some of them policy-making, and many of them duplicative resulting in a chaotic municipal structure probably unparalleled in American government.
The District government at present has one-third more than the total number of agencies in the executive branch of the Federal Government including the temporary emergency agencies.
The Board of Commissioners is both the local policy-making body and the chief executive agency of the District government. While limited, its policy-making authority is substantial and includes power to promulgate regulations comparable to city-council ordinances. Its executive power is vested by Congress in the Board, but is abridged in many instances by subsequent statutory authority to various District agencies.
The Board supervises preparation of the District budget, which amounted to $144,459,557 for fiscal 1952, including an $11,400,000 appropriation by the Congress; is responsible for the supervision of District agencies to the extent that they report to any higher authority in the District; appoints the heads and some of the subordinate personnel of most District agencies; and passes upon a great variety of administrative matters ranging from approval of contracts for publicworks projects to authorization of the retirement of individual District employees.
Although legal responsibility is vested in the Board of Commissioners as a body, in the past the Board has traditionally divided the District's agencies among its members; for example, one Commissioner supervising the Fire Department, Police Department, the District's financial agencies, and other units; another the Health Department, the Board of Public Welfare, the public schools, etc.; and the Engineer Commissioner, zoning, public works, public utilities, highways, etc. Such a practice has resulted in a tendency to divide the District into three parts, with administrative authority clearly delineated in each.
Such a disorganized arrangement is hardly conducive to efficient administration of the District's affairs. The commingling of policy making with day-to-day administration, the mushroom growth of approximately 100 subordinate agencies to administer the District's affairs, plus the traditional separation of administrative responsibility among the Commissioners has created an incredibly cumbersome, complicated, and confused scheme of government.
(For a summary of major defects in the District of Columbia's complicated organization, see appendix B, attached.)
HISTORY OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The present commission government of the District of Columbia had its origins in the act of 1874 which abolished self-government for the District and established a temporary appointive Commission of three citizens.
Four years later, by act of Congress approved July 11, 1878, that temporary arrangement was made permanent, with an officer detailed from the United States Corps of Engineers replacing one of the three citizen members of the Board. Since that date, despite tremendous growth in functions, responsibilities, and population, the District's complex affairs have been governed under this charter adopted almost 75 years ago.
The act of 1874 which created the temporary Commission failed to provide the right of local suffrage which District residents had exercised for threequarters of a century, nor did the act of 1878 make provision for the franchise. The District; therefore, has been without local self-government since 1874.
(For the earlier history of the government of the District of Columbia since 1790 when Congress originally established the District, see appendix C.)
THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF PLAN NO. 5 Plan No. 5 of 1952 was submitted to the Congress by the President on May 1, 1952, under the authority of the Reorganization Act of 1949. Under the provisions of that act, the plan shall take effect upon the expiration of the first period of 60 calendar days of continuous session of the Congress following the date upon which the plan was submitted unless by affirmative vote by a majority of the authorized membership of either of the two Houses of Congress a resolution of disapproval is passed. The plan will therefore become effective 12:01 a. m., July 1, 1952, unless disapproved by the House or the Senate.
MILES SCULL, Jr.,
Professional Staff Member. Approved :
WALTER L. REYNOLDS, Staff Director.
List of agencies in the District of Columbia Government which would be abolished
by Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1952 Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Anatomical Board Board of Accountancy Board of Assistant Assessors Board of Barber Examiners for the District of Columbia Board for the Condemnation of Dangerous and Unsafe Buildins Board for the Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings in the District of
District of Columbia Board of Registration for Professional Engineers
MAJOR DEFECTS IN THE ORGANIZATION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT
1. There are far too many separate agencies for efficient administration.-The existing maze of some 100 agencies is one-third more than the number of agencies in the entire executive branch of the Federal Government, including the temporary emergency agencies. No executive can effectively supervise the number of agencies that are supposed to report to the Board of Commissioners.