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I understand that. If I were in charge of an agency, the only information I would want to supply is the information that made me look good. I would not want to be in a position of anyone seeing my warts. But, that should not be the position of the Congress. We are here to serve the American public. We are here as a separate and independent branch of the American Government to see that the executive branch performs its responsibilities to the American public and in this case to the American consumer. And I think one of the most useful functions we perform is in finding information at committee hearings, just finding out what the facts are, and as I said to the chairman of this subcommittee, I think the most fundamental and important engine to protect the American consumer is just public information. Thus, through the influence of this subcommittee, perhaps a more liberal policy and a more useful policy of public disclosure can be achieved in this issue.
HANDLING OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF INFORMATION
Senator HANSEN. I happened to be involved with the building of evidence in a court that seemingly ran counter to some recent Supreme Court decisions. So while there was no doubt at all about what had happened, judgments were set aside, convictions were reversed on the basis that the information had been gathered in a manner that did not square with our concept of the Constitution. Do you subscribe or do you inveigh against such a position by the Court?
Senator MONDALE. Of course, I think when we are talking about criminal proceedings we have an entirely different problem. I think where a man's life and liberty are involved, we should raise the highest standards of due process protections. However, we are here talking about obtaining information not for criminal prosecution purposes, but in order to advise the public of the relevant facts of the auto industry's pricing practices, and I think here we are entitled legally and by tradition to take a far more liberal approach in terms of obtaining that information.
Senator HANSEN. Do I understand you correctly to imply, then, that if the situation is serious enough, it is all right for the Government to do certain things on the one hand that could not be condoned on the other, if it is of lesser magnitude? Is that what you are saying?
Senator MondaLE. Well, if we have a law that prohibits disclosure of certain information, I think that everyone ought to obey it. However, I happen to think that most of the information we are talking about here does not fall within that prescription. But, I think Congress and everyone else ought to obey a law. I am not arguing that we have special license to disregard the product of our own efforts. But
, I think you are trying to compare my answer to this question to the answer to the criminal law question. I think in criminal law we have to be extraordinarily fastidious because where man's liberty and freedom and perhaps his life are concerned, I think we ought to walk the full mile and resolve any doubt in his favor.
THE LAW AND DISCLOSURE
Senator HANSEN. Just one or two further observations. In my State of Wyoming, theft is a misdemeanor unles the value of the object taken exceeds a certain amount. In that case it becomes a felony. Now,
do you feel that there is reason to apply this same general approach to this question before us now and questions of criminal procedure insofar as the disclosure of confidential information is concerned?
Senator MONDALE. Well, if we are talking about a Government agency, I do not think they should disclose any information that they are prohibited from disclosing by law, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor. I think the law is the law. We should not draw a different standard there. But, you will recall that last year and I think with your support and with others—we passed the Freedom of Information Act which was designed to make a whole host of previously undisclosed information available to the American public. I think the principle underlying that measure was the feeling of the Congress and of the news industry and others that far too much information that should be freely disclosed, that should not be protected, was nevertheless blanketed under one kind of security restriction or another. This was done more to protect the agency than for any other purpose. And, therefore, we passed this law to require the disclosure of this kind of information. I think most of the figures and information we are talking about here come within the meaning of the Freedom of Information law and ought to be disclosed. But nevertheless, it is not. I think it is more of a problem of the relative power of the executive versus the legislative branch, because despite what Congress passes in the public disclosure field, the executive continues to do what it pleases to do regardless of what administration is in power. It is the nature of a bureaucrat only to say what serves his interests, and I say this believing very much in our executive branch. But I just think human nature is biased in that direction, and it is our job to try, through the influence of our processes, to require a more candid disclosure by the executive
QUALITY OF DATA SUPPLIED BY BLS Senator HANSEN. Without attempting to infer that there was any intention on your part at all to impune the motives
Senator MONDALE. No.
Senator HANSEN (continuing). Of the BLS, may I ask a further question, then, on the basis of the information that the BLS had; I refer once more to your statement, the second full paragraph on page 5 where you say:
The agency seems to encounter little trouble producing statistics helpful to the industry year after year, but is unable to use its talents and resources to develop information beneficial to the customer.
My question is on the basis of the information it had, and without passing upon the good judgment or the wisdom of the BLS in employing the techniques and in giving the assurances that it did in gathering this information, in your judgment, has there been any distortion of fact by the BLS in the information it has put out?
Senator MONDALE. I do not know how we would know. They will not give us the information upon which such a judgment could be based. All we know is that despite a year's effort to determine the elements that go into their calculations, we are as uninformed today as we were then.
If this subcommittee can find out the details that go into their calculations, perhaps we can pass a judgment on that. My assumption would
be that they are responsible, honorable people, but I think they are in a bargain here, and unintentional one, by which the only way those statistics can be used is in a manner which serves the auto industry and its pricing practices. And I frankly think that their policy needs to be reviewed. I think they are wrong. I think they are at least unwittingly assisting the auto industry, and I believe it is a case where public pressure on the BLS in this regard is long overdue.
AUTO INDUSTRY, THE CONSUMER AND BLS
Senator Hansen. Well, if it is in your judgment a fact that the weight of the information released by the BLS seems to support the industry position and not the position of the public-would you—you do not care to imply that there has been any distortion of fact at all, that the facts have not supported industry? But I am not quite sure I understand what you are implying through your statement.
Senator Mondale. Yes. What I am implying is that despite over half a year's effort we cannot find out what they are doing. We get no answers time after time. The auto industry seems to be pleased with BLS's efforts but I do not see any reason why the American consumer should be. We are looking at a situation now where the auto industry increased the prices of cars by an average of $25 an auto, on top of a price increase of $116 per vehicle, and justified it on the grounds that the new shoulder harness safety standard required such an increase. We did our own digging and found out that one of the major manufacturers was buying these harnesses for $1.25 to $1.50 each, and so a $25 increase for safety alone seems to be completely out of line. It would be very helpful if BLS would provide these figures officially. We have to sneak around and find this information through the underground and withink that is a very unseemingly way for the Congress to have to protect the American public.
BLS DATA BENEFITS INDUSTRY
Senator Hansen. Without being able to disclose the sources of its information or the details of it-as I think has been pointed out here this morning by the BLS-would it be your feeling that despite whatever effect factual information might have, whether it helped industry or the public or labor or whomever--any Government agency, including BLS, should call them as they see them?
Senator MONDALE. I do not think that figures ought to be rigged or used so as to serve one interest over others, and what I am fearful of right now is that that is what is going on. Senator HANSEN. By whom? Senator MONDALE. But, it is in favor of the auto industry. Senator HANSEN. By whom? Senator MONDALE. The BLS has accepted auto industry figures and is using them in only one way, and this is a way which helps the auto industry justify" its price increases. I think a more candid detailed disclosure of information would help the American consumer, and would protect him against unjustified increases. Senator HANSEN. Thank you, Senator. I have no further questions. Senator RIBICOFF. Thank you very much, Senator Hansen.
Thank you very much, Senator Mondale.
STATEMENT OF LOWELL K. BRIDWELL, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL
HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTA-
Mr. BRIDWELL. Mr. Chairman, I am Lowell Bridwell, Federal Highway Administrator. Accompanying me today is Dr. William Haddon, the Director of the National Highway Safety Bureau, and Dr. Robert Brenner, the Deputy Director of
the Bureau. I have brought with me, Senator, the letter response to the legislation pending before the subcommittee and I would like, if I may, to introduce it for the record at this point.
Senator RIBICOFF. Without objection, so ordered. (The letter referred to follows:)
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION,
Washington, D.C., February 2, 1968.
DEAR SENATOR RIBICOFF: This will refer to S. 2865, a bill introduced by you on January 24, 1968:
"To amend the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 to require the disclosure of the cost of items of safety equipment in the procurement of motor vehicles."
Under 40 U.S.C. section 481, the Administrator of General Services is charged with the responsibility for the procurement of motor vehicles for civilian agencies of the United States Government. The proposed bill would amend section 302 of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (41 U.S.C. 252) by adding a new subsection (f), This new subsection would require the unit price of each item of motor vehicle safety equipment included pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Administrator to be disclosed in an itemized statement provided by the party furnishing the motor vehicles, whether the cars be obtained by bid or negotiation. Where an agency other than General Services procures vehicles, it would be obligated to obtain and convey this information promptly to the General Services Administrator.
There are a number of technical problems relating to the language of the proposed bill of which you should be aware. As we noted above, the bill would require the furnishing of price information regarding items of motor vehicle safety equipment included in motor vehicles in compliance with regulations promulgated by the Administrator of General Services. However, by notice effective September 29, 1967, the Administrator revoked that portion of the Federal Property Management Regulations which had theretofore prescribed safety devices for automotive vehicles procured by the Government. The Administrator did so in recognition of the issuance by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health Education and Welfare of standards for automotive vehicles. See 32 F.R. 13635. Although the Administrator in the same notice did reserve the right to issue additional motor vehicle standards not presently covered by the regulations and orders of those Departments, and has done so
in certain instances, we have been given to understand that he does not presently require any specific safety features on passenger cars in excess of those prescribed by DOT. Consequently, we wish to bring to your attention that there are no pending requirements for the inclusion of items of motor vehicle safety equipment in passenger vehicles imposed by regulations promulgated by the Administrator of General Services and, therefore, none for which the furnishing of ang price information would be required under the proposed bill.
Additionally, even if the reference in the proposed bill to regulations promulgated by the Administrator were to be construed as referring to safety standards issued by the Secretary of Transportation under provisions of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 (15 U.S.C. 1391, et seq.), a problem is presented. The proposed bill requires price information for items of
of or rehicle safety equipment, while the Secretary is required to set his standards in terms of vehicle or equipment "performance" (15 U.S.C. 1391 (2)). This discrepancy in terminology poses difficult problems of application and interpretatior both for the bidders and for the Government.
The principal effect of this bill would be upon the bidding and negotiating
The Bureau of the Budget advises that from the standpoint of the Adminis-
JOHN L. SWEENEY,
Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. Mr. BRIDWELL. Thank you, sir. I have a prepared statement which I would like to read.
Senator Ribicoff. Certainly. Why do you not proceed?
BRIDWELL COMMENDS SUBCOMMITTEE WORK
Jr. BRIDWELL. Mr. Chairman, Senator Hansen, we are particularly pleased to appear before this subcommittee today because of its key part in arousing national attention to the imperative need for increased auto safety. We congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, and the members of your subcommittee for the pioneer hearings which you held in 1965 and 1966 which dramatically emphasized the necessity for an active Federal role in sharply reducing the traffic toll of death and injured on our highways.
We would also like to refer at this point to the significant report
hich this subcommittee recently issued, and which recommended the I legislation before you today.
This bill, S. 2865, was introduced by you, Mr. Chairman, on Januart 24.
Its purpose: To amend the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 to require the disclosure of the cost of items of safety equipment in the procurement of motor vehicles.
Under 40 U.S.C. section 481, the Administrator of General Services is charged with the responsibility for the procurement of motor vehicles for civilian agencies of the U.S. Government. The proposed bill mould amend section 302 of the Federal Property and Administrative Serrices Act of 1949 (41 U.S.C. 252) by adding a new subsection (f). This subsection would require the unit price of each item of motor rehicle safety equipment included pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Administrator to be disclosed in an itemized statement pro