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Senator CASE. Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that that is important, because the plan, as such, provides no time limit within which the Commissioners may create agencies or offices. It places no limitation on the number of agencies or offices which they may create.
But there is in the third sentence of paragraph (a) of section 4 a limitation that each officer so appointed shall perform the functions delegated to him in accordance with this reorganization plan. And I take it, in my support of the reorganization plan, that that means that they are limited to the creation of offices or agencies to perform the functions covered by this reorganization plan.
Commissioner DONOHUE. Senator, I would like to say for the record that I concur wholly in your interpretation, and I am sure that General Robinson would like to add for the record that he concurs in your interpretation of section 4, paragraph (a).
(See statement of General Robinson on p. 72, May 20 hearing.)
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Case, I do not agree with the delegation of power in section 3, where it provides the Commissioners may make from time to time such provisions as they deem appropriate to authorize the performance of any of these functions. Perhaps I misunderstand it.
Suppose the Congress hereafter enacts a law creating some new duty, or some new responsibility, and places it in the Commission. If I interpret this reorganization plan the Commission could delegate that function to one of the agencies it has created within the District government. Is that your interpretation?
Senator CASE. That is one point. That is the point to which I first directed attention.
The CHAIRMAN. I know it is. I think it could do that. But if the Congress specifically directed that some agency that has been created by the Board should perform a function, I do not believe the Board would have the authority from time to time to transfer that function to some other agency.
Senator CASE. Mr. Chairman, I would agree with you that if Congress specifically says this function is vested in the Board of Commissioners
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose it provides the police commissioner or another officer shall perform a certain function, as an act of Congress. I do not think the Commissioners could delegate that function, although, of course, I may be mistaken.
Senator CASE. I think the chairman is correct, and I hope that that could be understood.
There is also another possibility of interpretation. That is that as I understand it there is a general principle in law that where you make a broad statement but then specify certain things, the specifications operate as a limitation. And it may be that the courts would hold that the last clause of section 3 operates as a limitation; for after the words “to authorize the performance of any of its functions,” the language says: including any function transferred to or otherwise vested in the Board of Commissioners by this reorganization plan, by any member of the Board of Commissioners, or by any other officer, employee, or agency of the government of the District of Columbia, except the courts thereof.
Now, if a specification of that inclusion excludes anything not recited there, then it seems to me they would be limited to this specific language.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not think there is any question that if the Congress enacts a statute creating new functions and placing them in the Board, that under this reorganization plan the Board would have power to delegate those functions to some agency that it has created.
Senator CASE. Well, Mr. Chairman, I suggest that we ask the Commissioners to make a specific statement on that point for the record.
The CHAIRMAN. What is your view about it?
Commissioner DONOHUE. My view, Senator, is in agreement with Senator Case, that the language, quoting from section 3 of the Commissioners' plan of reorganization: including any function transferred to or otherwise vested in the Board of Commissioners by this reorganization planwould be a limitation on the authority of the Board of Commissioners to transfer any authority given to it subsequent to the enactment of this reorganization plan unless the act of Congress gave us authority to do it.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, if the Congress, after this plan goes into effect, should enact a new statute creating some new function or service or duty on the part of the Board, which is not included in this reorganization plan, the Board would have no authority to delegate it to some other agency that it had created.
Commissioner DONOHUE. I believe that would be the limitation, unless the statute spelled out the opportunity.
The CHAIRMAN. Unless the statute specifically gave you the authority to delegate that function to some agency in the District government.
Commissioner DONOHUE. That is my impression of it, sir. General ROBINSON. That is also my view, sir. And there is one other thing I would like to bring out, which, of course, is well known to this committee, that this Reorganization Act can create no powers that are not now existent in law.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, I think that should be clarified, and I appreciate Senator Case bringing up the point, because we do not want to get into the position here of reaching the conclusion that the delegation of powers under this reorganization plan to the Board of Commissioners would automatically include the delegation of functions which may be vested in the Board of Commissioners by the Congress in the future without first having a legal interpretation of the provisions of the plan on that point.
Senator CASE. Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that the statement of the two Commissioners is satisfactory as far as their personal position is concerned.
It occurs to me to suggest that the committee might ask the Commissioners by resolution, by brief resolution, to make that as a statement, a resolution of the Commissioners, if that is their interpretation, and might include that in the report of the committee on the reorganization plan should it be the subject of a report to the Congress, or if not at least to be incorporated in these hearings, so that it would be available for the advice of the court should the question ever later arise,
The CHAIRMAN. I think we might very well do that. Without objection on the part of the members of the committee, we will suggest, Commissioner Donohue, that your Board prepare a memorandum of your interpretation of the relevant sections of the bill, as to the sub
ject we have discussed here, so that that may be placed in the record as a part of the legislative history of this reorganization plan, to enable the courts or the Congress, as well as your Board, to make interpretations in future.
Commissioner DONOHUE. We would be happy to do that, Senator.
(See resolution presented by General Robinson at hearing of May 20, 1952, p. 67.)
The CHAIRMAN. General Robinson, you have a prepared statement, I believe.
STATEMENT OF BRIG. GEN. BERNARD L. ROBINSON, ENGINEER
COMMISSIONER, GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The CHAIRMAN. The full statement may be printed in the record, and you may read such parts of it as you desire.
General ROBINSON. I wanted to state at the outset that I asked Colonel Hayes to sit with me because he has some reference material that might be valuable in answering your questions, and also because he has had a heavy hand in formulating this plan and advising me on it, and he has done a splendid job. Without his assistance this plan could not be presented to you today in the form in which it is.
The CHAIRMAN. I would like to make this observation:
The CHAIRMAN. And also details as to the amount of power delegated, I hope. I trust, General, you can give us a clear presentation of what is contemplated under the authority that is being delegated here by this plan.
General ROBINSON. I would like to read from the first paragraph.
Gentlemen, it was an historic occasion when the President of the United States on May 1, 1952, transmitted to the Congress a short document of three pages entitled "Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1952.” That document is of vital importance to the citizens of the Nation's Capital, for it represents the most important opportunity for improving the operation of our city's government in 74 years. It permits the first comprehensive reorganization that government has seen since it was established in its present form in 1878 on a permanent basis.
Its major features are designed to improve the existing municipal structure. These features are (a) bringing under control of the Board of Commissioners a number of municipal activities now partially or almost wholly independent; (6) centralization of control with clear delineation of authority and responsibility at all levels; (c) granting of permanent authority to the Board of Commissioners to effect sound reorganization within the government on a continuing basis to meet changing conditions.
As you gentlemen are thoroughly familiar with the Reorganization Act and with some of the history of the District government, I would like to jump to the bottom of page 3, starting with the words, “During this period"; that period being 1874 to 1878.
The CHAIRMAN. For the record, Mr. Reporter, you will supply the portions that General Robinson does not read.
(The unread portion of General Robinson's statement is as follows:)
2. Reorganization Act: This plan has been developed pursuant to the provisions of the Reorganization Act of 1949 (Public Law 109, 81st Cong.), which specifically includes provision for a reorganization of the District of Columbia government. This reorganization is necessary to accomplish the purposes stated in section 2 (a) of this act, which are as follows:
(1) To promote the better execution of the laws, more effective management of the government and of its agencies and functions, and the expeditious administration of the public business ;
(2) To reduce expenditures and promote economy, to the fullest extent consistent with the efficient operation of the government;
(3) To increase the efficiency of the operations of the government to the fullest extent practicable;
(4) To group, coordinate, and consolidate agencies and functions of the government, as nearly as may be, according to major purposes ;
(5) To reduce the number of agencies by consolidating those having similar functions under a single head, and to abolish such agencies or functions thereof as may not be necessary for the efficient conduct of the government; and
(6) To eliminate overlapping and duplication of effort.
3. History: The District of Columbia owes both its origin and unusual form of government to the Constitution which gives Congress the powers to "exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding 10 miles square) as may, by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States * * *."
Washington is the city of the Union, created, largely owned and exclusively controlled by the Nation; and thus is identified in its fortunes with the Union itself. Its growth since 1791 has kept pace with that of the Nation and the city is the embodiment of the national principle. The Civil War confirmed the Union as a legal entity, strengthened immensely the national sentiment; and in 1871 the District of Columbia for the first time achieved comprehensive unification when the charters of Georgetown, Washington, and Washington County were repealed and all “that part of the territory of the United States included within the limits of the District of Columbia" was "created into a government by the name of the District of Columbia," by which name it was constituted a body corporate for municipal purposes. Executive power was vested in a Governor appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Legislative power was vested in a legislative assembly. A Board of Health and a Board of Public Works were created, with both executive and ordinance-making power.
The accomplishments of the Board of Public Works were the outstanding features of the work of this new government, but these same accomplishments contributed to its undoing. Cost was high, the debt increased greatly, special assessments for street work aroused resentment and there were charges of financial irregularities..
Accordingly, following a congressional investigation, the act of June 30, 1874, ended the territorial government and replaced it with a commission of three civilian members, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The act also provided for the appointment of an officer from the Corps of Engineers to have control and charge of public works, under the direction of the Commissioners. The Commission was assigned the powers and authority previously held by the governor and the Board of Public Works. Generally the legislative powers reverted to Congress.
The Commission was set up as a temporary expedient, while a suitable governmental framework was being developed. Most of the legislative efforts of the next few years were devoted to straightening out the affairs of the previous government, and meeting the initial needs of the Commission.
General ROBINSON. During this period other forms of government were considered for the District, but, largely upon the representations of the citizens of the District, it was decided to formalize and adopt an improved commission form in which an officer of the Corps of Engineers, formerly in charge of public works under three civilian Commissioners, was given full membership on the Board in lieu of one of these civilian members; and he was provided with officers of the Corps of Engineers as assistants. This was provided on June 11, 1878, by "an act providing a permanent form of government for the District of
Columbia.” The District was created a municipal corporation with the Commissioners the officers of the corporation. These consisted of two civilians appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for a 3-year term; and an officer of the Corps of Engineers, of at least 15 years' experience, detailed by the President. The Commissioners succeeded to all the powers and duties of their predecessors and were granted somewhat broader authority, including those of the Board of Police and Board of Health, which were abolished.
Would you be interested in our comments on the present organization, sir?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; I believe we had better consider that as we go along, so that we can better tell what impact this reorganization plan will have.
General ROBINSON. I will continue with paragraph 4.
4. Present organization: The District Government is organized basically in accordance with the organic act, as amended, which has been described above. Many of the powers commonly exercised by municipalities elsewhere are assigned to Federal agencies, or semiindependent agencies, or are retained by Congress. In addition, Congress also legislates matters which are or should be within the ordinance-making power of the Commissioners.
As various responsibilities for District or National Capital affairs have been assigned or reassigned to existing or newly created independent or semi-independent agencies of the District or agencies of the Federal Government, a complex situation has developed which is somewhat difficult to analyze. The picture is complicated by the large number of such agencies involved, the multiplicity of independent or quasi-independent boards, and the lack of centralized control of administrative responsibility for many important District functions. Today, over 100 separate agencies are concerned in whole or in part with District affairs. Some are Federal offices with National responsibilities, but performing certain specific functions for the District. However, most are concerned exclusively with District or National Capital affairs. They vary in size and responsibility from small boards to large departments. They are controlled in varying degrees by the Board of Commissioners. However, the degree of such control, the source of funds, and the method of appointment vary considerably, as is indicated by the attached chart.
I have the chart here, Mr. Chairman, which I should eventually like to introduce into the record. A copy of this I believe has been furnished to the members of your committee.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well. It might be included in the record. (The chart referred to faces this page.) General ROBINSON. For the efficient handling of the business of the District government the various municipal functions are divided among the Commissioners as committees of one, and all actions are approved by the Commissioners sitting as a Board.
The heads of the various departments make recommendations to the Commissioner in charge of their respective departments and each Commissioner brings these recommendations to meetings of the Board of Commissioners, which are generally held on Tuesdays and Thursdays of each week. The secretary to the Board of Commissioners records the action on these recommendations and acts as executive officer of the Board by issuing orders and carrying on correspondence.