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people to work on any problem wouldn't be troublesome and disturbing? The main objective of organization, as I see it, is results, not sweetness and light. A few weeks ago, a newspaper columnist reported some examples of fractured English. 'One fits this plan quite well: "It fills a necessary void."
From time to time the argument has been brought forth that this system has worked in some 14 other cases. The evidence cited is that there haven't been any complaints. It is my experience that the absence of complaints does not necessarily prove anything. Men of good will will go to great extremes to keep their problems within the family, There are two good reasons for this. The first is idealistic: We would rather prove that we can work together and resolve our differences as honorable men and women than parade them in public. The second is pragmatic: Official or even unofficial-appeal to the outside (be it to Congress or to the White House, or even to the public) is really not very effective. And this kind of maneuver, either to score a point or to right a wrong, can get pretty messy and bloody. Things have to be quite wrong before a prudent person will deliberately take that road.
Commissioner Fenn has made an excellent point. The question is not whether a one-man agency would be more efficient–because Congress has decided on a multiman agency. You can't make the problem of a multiheaded agency go away by saying that this is not one, when it is. And, so long as individual Commissioners continue to believe that they were chosen by the President and approved by the Senate because they had something to contribute and act accordingly-no amount of management theory can make the operation match the theorists' ideals of a smooth-running, efficient, nontroublesome machine.
Along these lines I might observe that the analogy of the Commission-Chairman relationships under the new plan to a corporate board of directors-executive vice president, is sheer nonsense. Almost every corporation law provides that “the board of directors shall manage the corporation.” One of the most important ways in which the board fulfills this responsibility is by the board's selection of the administrative personnel. If such personnel does not do what the board wants or even does what it wants but is not successful—the common cure is to get someone else. This turns out to be a rather powerful sanction and one not available to a commission.
Finally, it appears to me that the apparently neat, yet fuzzy, distinction in the plan between routine administrative responsibility and the substantive work of the Commission suggests that a Commissioner's main job is to be wise when, and only when, some important substantive decision is about to be made; and that a Commissioner's opportunity to demonstrate his or her wisdom is eroded by worrying about the allocation of funds, the selection and rewarding of personnel, and anything more than a veto power over the appointment of division chiefs. I know from experience that this is a naive view of the Tariff Commissioner's job. If, however, this is what Congress wants of a Tariff Commissioner, I would hope it would repeal that part of the section of the 1930 Tariff Act (sec. 330) which provides, "No Commissioner shall actively engage in other business, vocation, or employment than that of serving as Commissioner.” My experience on the Commission has convinced me that being wise, under the proposed plan, would not constitute a full-time job.
I'd like to conclude with another appropriate quote from the anthology of fractured English: This plan “presents an insurmountable opportunity.”
I appreciate the opportunity to present my dissenting views. Senator RIBICOFF. Proceed, Mr. Culliton.
Mr. CULLITON. Thank you, sir. I think the thing at issue here is that ere are no differences of opinion as to the objectives of the reorganization plan. We are all in favor of more efficiency and that the questions arise with respect to the methods by which these are to be achieved. It is my opinion that the particular plan proposed is not well suited to the needs of the Tariff Commission.
My previous experience in the organizational structures makes it quite clear that an organization form has to be adapted to the needs of the particular organization to which it is applied. This one quite admittedly is a copy of many others, most of which were designed for regulatory agencies and for agencies which, in fact, have a large amount of routine and semiroutine responsibilities. These just do not fit the activities and responsibilities of the Tariff Commission.
Perhaps a little more subtle than that, I think, is what I view as a misunderstanding of what is meant by administrative responsibilities. The points that Commissioner Fenn made fit into this category, that the distinction between policies at a high level and what actually goes on at the Tariff Commission are in fact very hard to make.
The idea that administration is a kind of routine thing that takes our time does not fit my experience as being a Tariff Commissioner.
For instance, the tremendous amount of time involved in signing travel vouchers has been raised many times and as Commissioner Fenn told the House, the time involved in this is no problem at all. We have relatively few vouchers to sign. But we went through a session once of trying to eliminate this responsibility from the Commissioners, and the main reason why it was not eliminated was that there were certain Commissioners who said they liked to know where the staff was traveling and what they were doing. And this was a very efficient method of communicating that fact to them. Authorizing a travel voucher was secondary to their wanting information about what kind of travel was being done by the staff.
So for that reason, the few seconds it takes to sign these things was not eliminated.
From the Commissioner's point of view, the difficulty I have is that I am asked to approve things about which I am not particularly know). edgeable. I do not know whether staff member X should go to Chicago or not, but I put my initial on it, and this bothers me a little bit. Now. to solve that problem, my suggestion, and the one that I urge liere is that we evolve a democratic system of the Commission solving its own problems in the way that is appropriate at my particular time. So if Commissioners want to see travel vouchers, let them see them for a while, if they do not want to see them, cut it out for a while, so you have a flexible way of solving the real problems, rather than having one permanently imposed from the outside by an authority that is obviously not completely familiar with the actual functions of the Tariff Commission.
Senator RIBICOFF. Thank you very much.
I have some policy questions that I consider rather important. I assume that the first person who should answer is the Chairman. The others can comment as we go along.
Now, the basic responsibility for setting tariffs rests with the Congress, although delegated from time to time to the President. The basic function of the Tariff Commission is to give objective factual reports to the President and to Congress upon which policy decisions can be made. For this reason, the Tariff Commission has been set up as a uniquely balanced Commission with six members, no more than three from the same political party. Since the reports of the Commission are obviously based on the staff work and the instructions given to the staff, is not this balance and objectivity destroyed by placing complete control of the staff in one Commissioner?
Mr. KAPLOWITZ. I would not think so. I think that the staff would be our staff is trained in objectivity. In fact, they are sometimes independent to a point of irritation.
The alternative to that is what could happen, and what has happened in the past in my experience, that the staff does not know what the Commission wants. It has no directive from any source that it knows what to do with. I used to wander around-one Commissioner would say, "I would like you to do this.” I would say, “Does this mean the Commission wants it?"
Well, he would say, "I don't care what the other Commissioners want, but I want it to be done."
There is no central force to direct the staff and say, “This is what the Commission wants.” The intent of this reorganization plan is not to give the Chairman control over the staff so he can guide them in different ways from what the Commission wants. In this respect, he would be the means of communication, which is completely lacking, utterly lacking. One of the worst things that exists at the Tariff Commission is a lack of direction. I have been there a year and a half. One of the things we talk about is how to communicate with the staff. We have done nothing about it.
My answer to you, Mr. Chairman, is I do not believe that any Chairman who would attempt to control or influence the staff by any authority given to him under this plan could get away with it very long.
Senator RIBICOFF. As I read the plan, the Chairman has the power to hire and fire all staff, set salaries, promote and demote, except that the Chairman must get the approval of a majority of Commissioners for the appointment of a major administrative head. However, the Chairman can fire anyone, even one of these administrative heads, on his own authority.
Is this not enough to make a built-in bias in favor of the Chairman's position with the staff ?
Mr. KAPLOWITZ. I would say "No." Under the controls, the general policies are provided for in the plan, and in this respect, the Tariff Commission is no different from any other multiheaded agency. Other multiheaded agencies have operated under this kind of plan. So far as I know, it has worked.
Personally, I would say that there would be no fears to be had in this area.
Senator RIBICOFF. Would any of you other gentlemen like to comment on that?
Mr. CULLITON. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
I agree with our Chairman's analysis that the communication structure at the moment is not of the best. But I think that the risks implied in your question are extremely great, because the Chairman has so many of these powers which may subtly influence or not so subtly influence it. And as you pointed out, since our job is majorly concerned with factual investigations and not routine processing of a large number of things, like the Civil Service Commission, for instance, setting up examinations, the risk is very great.
Senator RIBICOFF. Is there not something else involved there, too? In giving the Chairman absolute power to give instructions to the staff, to assign work and priority, for all practical purposes, the effective control of all operations vests in the Chairman as against the other five, does it not?
In other words, does not this give you a built-in bias in favor of the Chairman's position !
Mr. CULLITON. I would think so; yes, sir. Mr. FENN. Mr. Chairman, I think we are here in one of those areas where substantive and the administrative tend to overlap. The concern which our Chairman has expressed about conflicting directions from the Commission to the staff have, I would say, been primarily in the substantive area, where the exact shape of a report is going to be affected by the different views of different Commissioners. This is a rather messy process.
Commissioner Culliton may have one view on how a report should be put together, I may have another, Commissioner Thunberg may have a third. Theoretically, the plan is not to affect the substantive decisions of the Commission or the substantive shape of reports.
My own view is that the principal answer to confusion of staff over substantive instructions and requests from individual Commissioners lies in the Commission disciplining itself. And I am sure the Chairman would be very uncomfortable with a plan which forced him into the position of being the only channel of communication between the individual Commissioners and staff on the makeup of one of our reports.
Mr. KAPLOWITZ. If I may speak to that, Mr. Chairman, it is not a question of the Chairman being the only source of communication. The Chairman would always be speaking and relating to the staff the policies and programs and wishes of the Commission. These experts, this firm, as it studied the Commission, found that there was a great void between the staff and the Commission so far as learning what the Commission wants. When we say that we can develop things, we can do things, the fact remains that the Commission has been going on for years and years
years, and now there has been a period of a good many years when we have had Commissioners who are intensely interested in improving our management, but because there are six of us, I think it is just impossible to make very much progress.
Senator RIBICOFF. The thing that is worrying me here is this: This is not really a regulatory agency. You are, to a great extent, a servant of the Congress as well as of the Executive. It was set up that way, three Republicans and three Democrats, for that purpose. Now, suddenly, the right to hire and fire and assign work goes into one man.
For all practical purposes, does not the Chairman become the absolute boss, and whatever he wants, whatever he does, becomes a reflection of the President who appoints him, rather than an impartial point of view that Congress can rely upon!
Mrs. THUNBERG. Mr. Chairman, may I respond to that?
Senator RIBICOFF. Would you identify yourself for the record, please?
Mr. KAPLOWITZ. Mr. Chairman, this is Commissioner Penelope Thunberg
STATEMENT OF PENELOPE THUNBERG, COMMISSIONER,
U.S. TARIFF COMMISSION
Mrs. THUNBERG. The way the Tariff Commission operates now is, I think, relevant. We have staff experts. These are people who are economists or commodity industry experts. In the course of an investigation, these experts collect information relating to the subject under consideration from all sources. They prepare for the Commission, then, a factual report which gathers together all of the information related to the investigation.
On the basis of all information, the Commission then comes to a decision.
As I understand the proposed plan, certain new responsibilities will be assigned to the Chairman which have not been assigned to him before. But the Chairman will be governed by the general policies of the Commission in performing these new responsibilities. I would think that this provision—that the Chairman will be governed by the general policies of the Commission-would be sufficient to prohibit any packing of the staff of the Commission at any time.
Senator RIBICOFF. He does not have to. I mean, when all is said and done, the staff, or a group of civil servants, has integrity. Yet there is a certain form and a certain momentum that a bureaucracy takes of the man that comes in when an administration changes. The President appoints a Cabinet or different commissions with very few changes, I remember.
I think when I became Secretary of HEW, out of some 70,000 employees, I had 12 appointments. Practically, every one who had been there since its inception during the various administrations and various Secretaries, remained. There was no intention to change that, and I am sure if a Republican administration comes in to replace this one at some future time, and the President appoints a new Cabinet, the vast majority of the people in the agencies will remain. Then the new Secretary will have another dozen appointments, but the basic staff remains. Therefore, the role of the civil servant is to carry out and reflect the thinking of the administration in the executive branch. No one quarrels with that. That is your job. You are a professional; that is how you do your work.
Now, suddenly, a staff that feels their decisions will be handled by a majority suddenly finds there is really only one boss and that is the Chairman. When that Chairman hands down policies and assigns work, is not the Chairman the man who will determine whether you make a study in one field or another? The Chairman is the one who is going to decide.