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Section 5 (a) (6) of the law provides that no reorganization shall have the effect of “imposing in connection with the exercise of any quasi-judicial function possessed by an independent agency any greater limitation upon the exercise of independent judgment and discretion to the full extent authorized by law than present law authorizes.
The plan violates this statutory prohibition. The abolition of a three-member bipartisan commission, in favor of a single administrator, with a board of appeals appointed by such administrator to hear and decide cases, directly imposes a greater limitation on judgment than present law authorizes. Employees at present are entitled, first, to bipartisan judgment upon their claims, and, second, to the judgment of a three-member body. This safety device upon judgment and discretion is abolished, and a single individual would control results in the deciding of claims. Also, an appeal body would be created, not authorized by law; this newly created body would exercise a superior function in respect to judgment and discretion not authorized by statute.
The case-deciding functions given under the statute would not be final; hence, a new limitation on judgment and discretion.
Our position is that we do not want to see a bipartisan board eliminated. The question of economy cannot be proved, as has been testified here, in the opening of these sessions by the chairman of the Budget, and I would like to present the balance of my argument and file it with the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. You may do so.
STATEMENT OF ALBERT H. LADNER, JR., Esq., MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES EM
PLOYEES COMPENSATION COMMISSION, OF PHILADELPHIA, BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON EXPENDITURES IN EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS IN SUPPORT OF HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 154, TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 1946, AT 10 A. M.
Albert H. Ladner, Jr., one of the Commissioners of the United States Employees Compensation Commission, told the Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments that Reorganization Plan No. 2, which would abolish the Commission, could not be justified under the Act of Congress of December 1945, which authorized the President to consolidate and merge various Government agencies.
"The Commission was established by Congress as an independent agency 30 years ago,” Commissioner Ladner said, and "its early function was to adjudicate workmen's compensation claims of Federal employees, but in intervening years the enactment of the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, the District of Columbia Compensation Act, and other legislation has extended the jurisdiction of the Commission,” he declared. Strongly contending that the Commission performed a quasi-judicial function and was, therefore, not intended to be abolished when Congress passed the law, Commissioner Ladner said:
"In its administration of other workmen's compensation law the Commission performs a quasi-judicial function in determining substantive rights. It must receive and weigh the evidence, and make its decisions through the combined judgments of its three-member, bipartisan, commission-form of tribunal."
Commissioner Ladner pointed out to the House committee that the Commission has established high standards of efficiency and economy. "Groups representing different organizations of Federal employees, the International Longshoremen's Union, private employers, and insurance carriers and others have endorsed the Commission for its fairness and efficient handling of compensation cases,” Mr. Ladner stated, and “the proponents of this consolidation cannot point to any criticism of a responsible character from Federal employees or interested private employers and employees, relating to the character of our work."
Commissioner Ladner pointed out that two members of the Commission, namely, Mrs. Jewell W. Swofford, of Missouri, and former Senator Hattie W. Caraway, of Arkansas, were recognized as outstanding women in governmental
service. “Many people have expressed the opinion to me,” the Commisisoner said, “that the abolishment of the Commission reflects upon the ability of women who have had governmental backgrounds to take part in the administration of the affairs of the Government and it has been suggested by responsible people that the consolidation plan, whether so intended or not, is a discrimination against career women in public service."
He concluded his statement by pointing out that this was a bipartisan board which was better able to adjudicate claims of injured Government employees; that the Commission had a trained and experienced staff of employees which would be discharged from Government service; that the highly specialized character of the work would require training of long duration of a new group of persons to handle the functions of the Commission, and that there would be no saving of money, which was one of the main objects in passing the Reorganization Act of 1945. He pointed out that under the present independent Commission, administrative decisions affecting any substantial rights of every claimant for compensation are made personally by members of the Commisison themselves and that under the departmentalized form of administration this would be delegated to some unidentified clerks or subordinates of the Federal Security Administrator.
COMMENT A. “By abolishing the Commission, A. This reason bears no relation to the plan eliminates a small agency and the purposes stated in the Reorganlightens the burden on the President." ization Act. In the past 30 years not
more than five matters have arisen which have required the personal attention of a President. The "burden"
is nonexistent. B. “The Federal Security Adminis B. The Commission has no insurance trator as the head of the Federal agency program which necessitates guidance or with the greatest experience in insur- furtherance. The Commission's funcance is in the best position to guide tion is purely quasi-judicial. Experiand further the program of the Com- ence "in insurance” is of no value in mission."
the highly specialized field of workmen's compensation. The only experience of value is adequate knowledge in claims, hearings and adjudications involving workmen's compensation, a field of activity not within the experience of the Federal Security Agency. The Commission's function is more nearly akin to that of a court than of
an administrative agency. it is essentially the plan C. This is contrary to fact. In 36 employed by many States in their work- of 47 States workmen's compensation men's compensation programs.”
laws are administered by independent commissions. Only 8 States have departmentalized administration, while 3 States have court administration. In no State is the administration diffused into an agency comparable with the
Federal Security Agency. D. The functions of the Commission D. This is contrary to the policy of are to be carried out by "a single official Congress when the Commission was in charge of operations” under rules established. It was to avoid Departand regulations of the Federal Security mental interference with a law vitally Agency.
affecting Government employees that a separate and independent Commission was established. The policy of Congress was expressed in the House Judiciary Report of May 11, 1916 (bill
H. R. 15316, the Compensation Act). The CHAIRMAN. You have touched upon the legality of section 5 of the Reorganization Act of 1945, paragraph 6.
Mr. LADNER. I touched on that subject matter in my brief.
C. “ *
Mr. WHITTINGTON. How long have you been a member of the Commission?
Mr. LADNER. I succeeded former Congressman Morin 412 years ago.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Prior to that time what work were you engaged in ?
Mr. LADNER. A practicing attorney in the city of Philadelphia.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You were not connected with the Commission prior to that time?
Mr. LADNER. No, I was not. I handled a considerable number of State compensation cases before my appointment to this Federal board.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. How many States have a commissioner form instead of the board form for the adjudication of compensation cases?
Mr. LADNER. To my knowledge, 34 out of 44.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. When I say “commissioner," I mean a single commissioner rather than a board, so that there may be no misunderstanding.
Mr. LADNER. I do not want to be misunderstood, nor do I want to make a definite statement, but I think there are only 10 of the 44 States that have commissioners.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. How many members of the board are there!
Mr. LADNER. Some States have three; some five and some seven. Thirty-four of the States have the commission form similar to the Federal form.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. With either three to seven on them?
Mr. WHITTINGTON. With respect to the adjudication by the commission, how many applications were handled by your commission during the last fiscal year!
Mr. LADNER. Well, I have not figured out the past year.
Mr. LADNER. May I cover it in this way: In the 412 years that I have been on the commission we have handled more than 2,000,000 cases.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You have been there 412 years. That would make an average of around 500,000 cases a year.
Mr. LADNER. At least.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Now, is each of those cases handled by the board and adjudicated by the board ?
Mr. LADNER. Not all of them. Many cases are handled by our deputy commissioners in the field. There are 18 of those and they handle the longshoremen litigation and claims. We handle all the Federal employees' claims and nearly every one of them comes to our personal attention.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. If I understand you now, all of the Federal employees' cases are handled by the members of the board!
Mr. LADNER. Yes.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You do not have any investigations made by examiners? Mr. LADNER. Oh, yes.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Then before any adjudication is made, each of those cases is handled by the members of your board ?
Mr. LADNER. Finally reviewed by our board. They are investigated in the field and then examined and then a report is made. Finally it comes to our desk for consideration, and the board adjudicates those cases.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Why do you not handle those of the longshoremen and other cases under your jurisdiction?
Mr. LADNER. The law provides otherwise. Regarding the longshoremen, the original claim is presented to the deputy commissioner and the Commission of which I am a member does not have any right to review those cases. All we pass on is the administration of the act. That is properly taken care of.
Mr. WHHITTINGTON. So there are some matters not reviewed by your Commission ?
Mr. LADNER. That is correct, except that we finally pass on settlements, such as lump-sum settlements where it is required that we review the work of the deputy commissioner.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. About how many of the 500,000 average for the year, by way of an estimate, would be cases that are handled by your board and reviewed by the members of your board ?
Mr. LADNER. I would say 75 to 80 percent of them.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. What percentage of the cases under the acts of 1941 and 1942, growing out of the war, are handled in the same way by your board?
Mr. LADNER. We handled all those cases.
Mr. LADNER. The enemy-action cases, we call them. We handled all of them. There was something like 1,300 which resulted practically in death cases, and several thousand others where the men returned.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. This is a quasi-judicial board ?
Mr. WHITTINGTON. So you have a quasi-judicial board and it is administered by a majority of the board being laymen?
Mr. LADNER. They are very, very capable and experienced women. Mr. WHITTINGTON. I did not say anything about that, with all due deference. They are laymen. Mrs. Caraway was a former Member of the Senate, and very able. Mrs. Swofford-how long has she been on the Commission?
Mr. LADNER. I think 16 years.
Mr. LADNER. I do not recall. I had not had the pleasure of knowing her until I came on the Board.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You do not know whether she was connected with it or not?
Mr. LADNER. No.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Classed as an examiner or secretary?
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Is it not true now that practically all adjudications, unless there is an application for review, are virtually handled by your examiners?
Nr. LADNER. Of course, the cases are naturally prepared by investigators and examiners and come to us for final decision.
Mr. WHITTINGTON.. I can understand that; but is it not true that they are virtually handled and conclusions are reached by your examiners?
Mr. LADNER. Naturally; but the final determination comes through us. Surely, the preparation must be done by those in the field and those in the office, and so on.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Unless it is an application for review, is it not true that the Board accepts the findings of your examiners?
Mr. LADNER. Usually our Board finds on the findings of the examiners.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. On the average, how many applications would you say you have had a year since you have been on the Board ? I mean out of the two and a half million cases how many have you reviewed ?
Mr. LADNER. That we passed upon ?
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I said applications for review. Can you give me an estimate?
Mr. LADNER. They run into the thousands. I would not know, unless I gathered it together statistically.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. You can understand now that I am asking you that because I would personally like to know how many of the 2,000,000 cases this Board of three members really does anything about, except approve the findings of the examiners. I take it that is generally true from my experience with the Board—that they follow the examiners unless an application for review is presented.
Mr. LADNER. Yes. Mr. WHITTINGTON. I would like to have an estimate that you could give as a lawyer and one who is familiar with the procedure. I would like to know about what is the average number of cases that you
review and you are called upon to give your personal attention to.
Mr. LADNER. I would say that it would run probably 20 to 50, depending upon how they accumulate. At our Board meetings we discuss those matters. They run 25 to 30 a week. Perhaps some weeks they will run 100. I cannot tell exactly.
* Mr. WHITTINGTON. I can understand they might run up to 1,000, and I am asking
you for an estimate. Mr. LADNER. I am giving you a general guess. Mr. WHITTINGTON. That is what?
Mr. LADNER. We would probably run about 10 a day, or 50 or more a week.