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Secretary MacVEAGH. Yes; the department can give all the attention required, and we do give it attention. The department is very active in this work; of course, it is through the Assistant Secretary and through the chief clerk mainly, but it comes to me, too, whenever it is necessary, and there is not much of it. For the most part the entire routine work goes on, and it is only in emergency matters that there is any call upon us at all, and the amount of call is not excessive. It is something that the department can very readily handle, but of course it amounts to a good deal of work.
Mr. BURLESON. How long has the General Supply Committee been in operation ?
Mr. WILMETH. Since June 17, 1910.
Mr. BURLESON. Nearly two years. Have you yet standardized typewriters!
Secretary MacVEAGH. That is one of the subjects up now.
Mr. BURLESON. Is there one lead pencil which is used by all the departments ?
Mr. WILMETH. Not one, because we have to have a great many on account of the different grades of work. You might take a lead pencil like the one you have here and it would not do for the fine drawing of the Supervising Architect, but we have standards of all the kinds necessary. When the supply committee was first organized there were 133 different kinds of pen points in use in the departments. They were paying one price for them in one department and for identically the same pen in another department they were paying another price. They have cut those down until you can count the different kinds of points used on the fingers of your two hands.
Mr. BURLESON. Then you have made progress in the standardization of lead pencils?
Mr. WILMETH. Yes, sir. The point I wish to make is as to where the Secretary of the Treasury should come in, or some controlling officer. The idea of standardization is not always a welcome matter with a department that has been buying just what it has wanted to buy, and it wants to continue that practice. Such being the case, there must be somebody who has the authority to make that standardization and to see that it is carried into force.
Mr. BURLESON. Can you bring each one of these matters up to the Secretary of the Treasury and let him look into all the facts and pass on it and finally determine it?
Mr. WILMETH. Just as much so as on any other subject. It would come up to him in perfect shape for his consideration, the facts having been previously considered by the organization in the department, and everything sifted out. A standardization made in that way would be stronger than one made by an independent commission.
Mr. GILLETT. Why would such a standardization by the Treasury Department be any stronger than one by an independent body, or have any more influence in getting the acquiescence of the department, because, of course, it must ultimately meet with the general concurrence of all the departments? Why would not an independent bureau be apt to accomplish that just as well as the Treasury Department?
Mr. WILMETH. Because the Treasury Department or any other department you might see fit to put it under is a part of the executive branch of the Government, and is in better position to handle these matters than any independent commission would be. It carries the weight of the executive behind it, whereas a commission might be in a continual row and probably would be.
Mr. GILLETT. I do not see why the Treasury Department would not be in just as much of a continual row as an independent bureau.
Secretary MacVEAGH. I presume what he means is that there is more authority acknowledged in the Secretary of the Treasury than would be acknowledged in the head of a small bureau.
Mr. BURLESON. There would be more ready acquiescence in a final decision by the Secretary of the Treasury than there would be in a final decision by a subordinate head of a bureau?
Mr. WILMETH. Yes, sir. The Secretary of the Treasury is receiving appeals continually from disappointed bidders. He is receiving requests continually from departments to know whether he intended to standardize a given article of a particular kind, a technical kind of an article. There have to be a great many final decisions given on those matters, and they must carry with them the weight of his authority.
Mr. JOHNSON. How many people do you think ought to be on this supply committee? There is now one man from each department. Would you suggest a smaller body of men!
Mr. WILMETH. No, sir; I think there ought to be a representative from each department. I believe it would be a good thing if Congress would appropriate for the services of these representatives on the General Supply Committee under each department as such, and let him devote his time to that work.
Mr. BURLESON. Will there be sufficient work to take all of his time? Mr. Wilmeth, when this work has been largely acted upon, the mere routine work after that would not take the time of but very few men, it seems to me.
Mr. WILMETH. It will take at least 50 per cent of his time. We have men over there that have done that work and carried on their work in their respective departments at the same time, and it has worked a great hardship on them. There is enough work to take up 50 per cent of their time, and the other time could be spent with their departments. If we had a committee that could go out and consider these things and study standardization and study the needs of the departments, as they can not do now, as they do not have the time to do, it would work more beneficially. I do not insist that it would take all of their time, but it would take at least 50 per cent of it.
Mr. Johnson. How much power do you think that committee ought to have, and what legislation do you think is needed ?
Mr. WILMETH. I think that committee should have about the same powers they have now, if you please; that they should be able to recommend to the Secretary of the Treasury, or the head of any other department on whom the responsibility might be placed, the acceptance of awards and do all of the work leading up to that point; that that committee should have the time to consider all of these matters, and let them come up to the Secretary fully digested and completed in every respect. It is wholesome to have the representa
tion from the various departments, because then you get the departmental needs and you get the departmental experience. Mr. BURLESON. And also the departmental viewpoint. Mr. WILMETH. Yes, sir. If you get away from that, I think you will make a mistake. - Mr. JoHNSON. Let me ask you this question: The committee standardizes a particular article, they advertise for bids, the bidders have no knowledge how many of those articles the Government will take during the year, or whether they will take any—does not that result in the bids being very much higher than they would be if there was some method of advertising for a particular quantity of the given article? Mr. WILMETII. Mr. Chairman, the General Supply Committee is getting ready now—and it has done this heretofore—to call on the various departments for an estimation of the supplies they will need, iving an estimation of the amount of each kind and class of supplies. Those are tabulated and put together, and the bidders are notified that it is an estimate of what will be required for the next fiscal year. It may be more or it may be less. e can not in the absence of storehouse facilities just say we will take so much, but it usually approximates very closely that estimate. Mr. JoHNSON. That has not been done hitherto ? Mr. WILMETH. Yes, sir; it has. Mr. JoHNsoN. Did it result in the Government getting better proposals : Mr. WILMETH. Yes, sir; the record shows we have gotten better prices notwithstanding the increase in the cost of most articles; that is, generally speaking. Of course, some articles have been higher, but on the whole they have been lower. Mr. Joh NsoN. Mr. Wilmeth, in considering this whole scheme have you considered the further proposition of this committee, instead of standardizing the merchandise that the Government would need, being also a purchasing committee' Mr. WILMETH. Yes, sir. Mr. JoHNSON. What have you to say about that? Mr. WILMETH. I think that would be desirable under conditions different from what they are now. If they have storehouse facilities for handling the proposition, I think it would be desirable and would result in some further saving, because they could take advantage of Fo conditions. We have done that now in some of our contracts. ake forage, for instance; they have entered into contracts for definite periods in order to take advantage of the low prices just after crops have been gathered, and that resulted tool. If we had storehouse facilities we could take advantage of the market conditions, but it would require a considerable outlay of money to establish suitable storehouse facilities, and also to afford the capital necessary for them to buy in that way. They would probably have to do the buying and then be reimbursed by the department as the stock was issued. Under suitable conditions I think that would be an advantage over what we now have, but these other considerations would have to be borne in mind. I want to answer a question Mr. Burleson asked awhile ago with reference to typewriters. Mr. BURLESON. I just asked if they had been standardized.
Mr. WILMETH. They have been so far as the Treasury Department itself is concerned. - o Mr. BURLESON. Why did not the other departments acquiesce in it? Mr. WILMETH. Our department acted independently in that matter. The general supply committee took up the question of typewriters ji asked for bids on them for two different years, and the companies all came in and bid the same price—all the representative companies—and so long as there is a difference of opinion as to the durability of the various kinds of machines, and there was no advantage in selecting any particular one, and there was an advantage in keeping everybody in a good humor by letting them buy what they wanted, the department did not make an award. Mr. BURLESON. But the purpose of this supply committee is not to keep everybody in a good humor, but its purpose is to effect economy. Mr. WILMETH. Yes. Mr. ALLEN. Some of these departments were buying typewriters at a less price than those the committee could get. Mr. BURLESON. Mr. Secretary, suppose you prepare a draft embodying your ideas of the legislation that should be had on this subject vesting this purchasing committee with such powers as you think will make it most efficient, and submit it to us for consideration. Secretary MACWEAGH. The suggestion has been made, Mr. Burleson, that as the new superintendent has not had a chance yet to consider that question, we would require a little time for him to get in touch with it. Mr. BURLEsoN. You mean you would want to confer with him about it? : Secretary MACVEAGH. Yes; and give him a little time to become familiar with the work. He is not unfamiliar with the general subject, but still is new in his position there, and we ought to have the benefit of his judgment and advice in the matter. Mr. BURLEsoN. You mean you would want a delay? Secretary MACVEAGH. Yes; not a very long delay. How soon would you want the information? Mr. BURLEsoN. We want to report this bill on the 3d or 4th of December. Secretary MACVEAGH. He is not familiar with the general subject. While he is new in his office, we ought to have the benefit of his judgment and advice in the matter. Mr. BURLEsoN. Do you mean that you want to delay it? Secretary MACVEAGH. Yes, sir; we want to delay it. We do not want a very long delay. How soon do you need that information? Mr. BURLEsoN. Well, we want to report this bill on the 5th of December. Mr. GILLETT. We want to make it up this week. Suppose you confer with him promptly and insert such a paragraph as you think best, and we will embody it in the bill and put it through if we can. If it does not go through, it could be submitted at the other end of the Capitol. Secretary MACVEAGH. I agree with you that we ought to try to do that, but there is a little hesitation on the part of Mr. Allen about it. However, we will take it up. Mr. GILLETT. We would be obliged to have that immediately.
Mr. ALLEN. My feeling is this: That as they have just put in a new superintendent of supplies, and as we expect him to reorganize the purchasing methods of that committee, before we undertake to make any suggestions as to a change in the law we ought to have the benefit of his advice and of his practical suggestions, based on his experience in the work of the General Supply
Committee. Mr. GILLETT. That means that the matter will have to go over for another year.
Secretary MacVEAGH. It would; yes, sir.
Mr. BURLESON. That is substantially just the condition you were in when you were here before the committee the last time.
Secretary MacVEAGH. Then the matter had just come up and had not matured as much as it is now in the department. Mr. Bailey, the Assistant Secretary, then in charge of the work under the position that Mr. Allen now holds, had thought a good deal about it. He is out of town now, and will be for the entire week. It makes it a little lame with a new superintendent to undertake to deal with the details and questions involved here. However, we will give immediate consideration to the matter and see what we can do.
I would like to say a word about that point raised with Mr. Allen in reference to the clerks. You can see, I think, that they have a clerical force which is merely detailed from the department, and it is not anything like having an appropriation for a regular experienced force. The committee is handicapped in that respect tremendously. Moreover, when you get details of clerks you do not get the best people. The departments do not give up their best men on details, but they send over there men that they can get along without. I referred to that in my report, and it is an important matter.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1912. SUPERVISING ARCHITECT'S OFFICE. STATEMENT OF MR. SHERMAN ALLEN, ASSISTANT SECRETARY,
AND MR. OSCAR WENDEROTH, SUPERVISING ARCHITECT. Mr. JOHNSON. On pages 73 and 74 I find the items for the office of the Supervising Architect in the current law, and on page 75 is what you are asking for the next fiscal year.
Mr. ALLEN. That has been superseded, Mr. Chairman, by this new estimate which you will find on these two pages, as follows: SALARIES, OFFICE OF THE SUPERVISING ARCHITECT, 1914.
(Statutory roll, as estimated.) The statutory salary roll for the year 1914, as submitted, is made up of the following items: 1. Salaries and positions, legislative act approved Aug. 23, 1912, for the office of the Supervising Architect.
$83, 850 Transfer of part salary of Supervising Architect... $1,000 Increase in salary of executive officer--Increase in salary of superintendent, accounts division -
250 Increase in salary of superintendent, maintenance division -
250 Increase, one clerk, class 4, title changed to administrative clerk