« PreviousContinue »
if called upon, to respond to any questions that may arise at the hearing and may not already be covered by our reports on these bills.
ELLIOT L. RICHARDSON,
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE,
Hon. WILLIAM L. DAWSON,
Chairman, Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This letter is in response to your request for reports on the following bills:
H. R. 543, to amend the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 to permit the donation and other disposal of property to taxsupported public recreation agencies.
H. R. 5448, to amend the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 to make rehabilitation facilities and sheltered workshops eligible for donations of surplus real and personal property.
H. R. 5470, to amend the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 to make municipalities eligible for donations for surplus real and personal property.
H. R. 7067, to amend the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 to permit the donation and other disposal of property to taxsupported public recreation agencies.
These bills would amend sections 203 (j) and (k) of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 so as to authorize donations of surplus personal property, and disposals of surplus real property with a public benefit allowance, for certain purposes and to certain organizations not now eligible. H. R. 543 and H. R. 7067, identical bills, would extend eligibility to tax-supported public recreation agencies; H. R. 5448, to public and other nonprofit rehabilitation facilities and workshops (the property to be used for the rehabilitation of physically or mentally handicapped persons); and H. R. 5470, to municipalities for municipal purposes, including research, generally.
1. PERSONAL PROPERTY
Insofar as these bills would extend eligibility under the surplus personal property donation program, the reasons against enactment given in our recent adverse report on H. R. 242 and eight other bills are equally applicable to the present bills. (For your convenience, a copy of the other report is enclosed herewith.) We there pointed out that the extension of eligibility to municipalities for municipal purposes generally, let alone the additional adoption of other proposals, would require a return to the inordinately complex and expensive priority system prevailing under the Surplus Property Act of 1944, and that such proposals and others pending in the Congress posed the dilemma of either admitting to the program public and other nonprofit agencies of all types which were equally deserving, and thus diluting the program so as to be perhaps of little benefit to anyone, or, on the other hand, drawing new lines which would be difficult to justify on grounds of equity, and for that reason difficult to hold. We concluded that even to the extent that extension of the program might seem desirable and practicable at a future time the impact of the recent civil-defense donation amendment (Public Law 655, 84th Cong.) was not foreseeable at this time, and that, therefore, in any event, no recommendation for extension of the program should be made pending the accumulation of adequate experience under the civil-defense donation program. We estimated that this would require at least a year or two, in view of the newness of that program.
With respect to rehabilitation facilities, it should be noted, additionally, that these are now eligible for participation in the donation program if it is shown that they are of such a character as to qualify as "clinics" and, in some instances, as "schools." And municipalities, as a practical matter, are now beneficiaries of the donation programs for education, health, and civil defense.
2. REAL PROPERTY
The present act (sec. 203 (k)), in language derived from section 13 (a) (1) of the Surplus Property Act of 1944, permits us, with the approval of the Admin
istrator of General Services, to dispose of surplus real property which is suitable for schools, classroom, or other educational use (including buildings, fixtures, and equipment situated thereon) to the States and their political subdivisions and instrumentalities and to tax-supported and other nonprofit tax-exempt educational instituions, and likewise to dispose of real property for public health use to the States and their political subdivisions and instrumentalities and to taxsupported and other nonprofit tax-exempt medical institutions, hospitals, and similar institutions. In fixing the disposal value of real property to be transferred under this provision, we are directed to "take into consideration any benefit which has accrued or may accrue to the United States from the use of such property by any such State, political subdivision, instrumentality, or institution.” In practice, under our regulations, this public benefit allowance has ranged from 40 percent to 100 percent.
As above noted, these provisions and the organizations and purposes to which they apply are, as regards real property, essentially the same as they were in the Surplus Property Act of 1944. Under the earlier act, for purposes other than health or education, State and local public agencies and various tax-exempt nonprofit organizations had certain priorities, but had to pay fair value for realty, without public benefit allowance. It is significant that in enacting the 1949 act
the Congress, in the light of experience had under the 1944 act, chose not to extend the public benefit allowance feature to purposes other than those of an educational or of a health character, but eliminated the priorities for other public and nonprofit activities which had been established under the 1944 act. We cannot recommend the enlargement of the real property disposal provision recommended by the present bills.
In the first place, what we have said above with respect to the difficulty of drawing an appropriate line in attempting any extension of eligibility under the existing section 203 program applies to real property as well as to personal property. To single out these particular organizations and their activities for additional inclusion under section 203 (k) would not solve alleged inequities, but would create new claims of inequity as between them and other organizations equally worthy.
Moreover, it should be noted that rehabilitation facilities to a large extent can already qualify as eligible under the present provisions of section 203 (k) of the act. Municipalities benefit from this program in the field of education and public health. Moreover, under section 13 (g) of the Surplus Property Act of 1944, which was not repealed by the 1949 act, they continue to be eligible for the donation of property for airport purposes. Finally, tax-supported public recreation agencies, which are covered by H. R. 543 and H. R. 7067, are now eligible to receive, under section 13 (h) of the Surplus Property Act of 1944 which is still in force, conveyances of surplus land, including improvements and equipment located thereon, which the Secretary of the Interior finds to be suitable and desirable for use as a public recreational area, though such conveyances may be made only at a price equal to 50 percent of the fair value of the property.
In conclusion, for the reasons above stated, we recommend against enactment of any of the above-mentioned bills. We have therefore not analyzed these bills from the point of view of their technical adequacy; nor have we explored the question whether in the event of the enactment of bills such as H. R. 5470, which would permit transfers of real property under section 203 (k) to municipalities for municipal purposes generally and would thus involve activities outside the field of interest of this Department, administration of the donation and disposal program for surplus property by this Department would still be appropriate. The Bureau of the Budget advises that it perceives no objection to the submission of this report to your committee.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE,
Hon. WILLIAM L. DAWSON,
Chairman, Committee on Government Operations,
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This letter is in response to your request of March 6, 1958, for a report on H. R. 11115, a bill to amend the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 to permit the donation of surplus property to volunteer fire-fighting organizations.
This bill is identical with H. R. 2552, H. R. 3406, and H. R. 7929, on which we submitted a report to you on August 1, 1957. (That report also covered 6 other bills, i. e., H. R. 242, H. R. 2504, H. R. 4007, H. R. 4107, H. R. 5451, and H. R. 6316.)
For the reasons stated in our report of August 1, 1957, we recommend against enactment of H. R. 11115.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This letter is in response to your request of March 4, 1957, for a report on H. R. 5460, a bill to amend section 203 (j) of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 to provide that surplus property which is not used in the donable property program shall be offered for sale to States and political subdivisions thereof.
The bill would provide that, in the case of surplus personal property which is not donated for purposes of education, public health, or civil defense, or for research for such purposes, the Administrator of General Services, before offering such property for sale to the public, shall provide that States and political subdivisions thereof (including municipalities) shall be afforded an opportunity to purchase such property at a price not in excess of that at which such property was made available to Federal agencies before it was declared surplus. The bill would also provide that the Administrator of General Services may impose reasonable terms, conditions, reservations, and restrictions upon the use of any single item of personal property sold under these provisions which has an acquisition cost of $2,500 or more.
Since the sale of surplus personal property not suitable for donation under section 203 (j) of the act is the primary responsibility of the General Services Administration, this Department defers to the views of that Administration. The Bureau of the Budget advises that it perceives no objection to the submission of this report to your committee.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This letter is in response to your request of June 19, 1957, for a report on H. R. 6537, a bill to authorize the disposition of certain obsolete and excess property to the United States Volunteer Life Saving Corps. Subject to regulations under section 205 of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, the bill would, under nonuniform provisions, authorize the Secretaries of the military departments and the Commandant of the Coast Guard to dispose of certain material to the United States Volunteer Life Saving Corps. In the case of the Army and Air Force Departments, the material referred to is "obsolete or excess material," which they could sell to the corps at "fair value to the Department," including the cost of packing, handling, and transportation. In the case of the Navy, "obsolete material not needed for naval purposes" could be donated to the corps, and "other material that may be spared" could be sold to it at "fair value," subject in each case to recovery of the cost of transportation and delivery. And, in the case of the Coast Guard, "all such obsolete or other material as may not be needed for the Coast Guard" could be "disposed of" to the corps "with or without charge."
While these diverse provisions are not free from ambiguity, they would seem to authorize the disposal of personal property by the military departments and the Coast Guard to the United States Volunteer Life Saving Corps if the property is not needed by the using agency, even though it might be usable and needed by the executive department of which the using agency is a part or by other Federal
agencies, or though it might, if not so needed, be suitable for donation for educational, health, or civil defense purposes under section 203 (j) of the act. As you know, section 203 (j) permits the donation of surplus personal property the control of the Department of Defense to educational activities of special interest to the armed services, and the donation of any Federal surplus personal property not so disposed of to educational, public health, or civil defense agencies if suitable for use by such agencies.
Thus, the corps would be accorded a privileged status, with respect to the acquisition of such property, which is at least equal to that of Federal agencies and is above that of organizations engaged in educational activities of special interest to the armed services or in other educational, health, or civil defense activities falling under section 203 (j). Further, the enactment of the proposed legislation would invite numerous additional proposals to extend eligibility along the lines of this bill, or at least, by a broadening of section 203 (j), to other worthy and equally deserving activities which are currently ineligible to receive donable property. In reports on a number of bills proposing to make additional categories of organizations eligible for receipt of Federal surplus property by donation, we set forth at length the reasons why such an extension of existing law was undesirable. (See, especially, our report of August 1, 1957, on H. R. 242 and eight other bills.) Those reasons apply even more cogently to the
We therefore recommend against enactment of this bill.
The Bureau of the Budget advises that it perceives no objection to the submission of this report to your committee.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This letter is in response to your request of September 10, 1957, for a report on H. R. 9522, a bill to amend the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 to authorize the disposal of surplus property to certain welfare agencies.
This bill would extend to tax-supported or tax-exempt welfare or recreation agencies (as defined in the bill) the benefits of section 203 (j) of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act relating to donation of Federal surplus personal property.
For the reasons stated below, we cannot recommend enactment of this bill. Under section 203 (j) of the act, Federal surplus personal property determined by this Department to be usable and necessary for educational or public health purposes, including research, may be donated by the Administrator of General Services through State surplus property distribution agencies to tax-supported or nonprofit tax-exempt medical institutions, hospitals, clinics, health centers, school systems, schools, colleges, and universities. Under the latest amendment (Public Law 655, 84th Cong.), surplus personal property usable and necessary for civil-defense purposes may in like manner be donated to civil-defense organizations of States or political subdivisions and instrumentalities thereof. With respect to both of these programs-by delegation from the Federal Civil Defense Administration in the latter case-such property is allocated among the several States by this Department, although within the several States distribution to eligible activities and organizations is made by the State distribution agencies subject to basic Federal regulations and standards.
Also, surplus personal property under the control of the Defense Department which is determined by the Secretary of Defense to be usable and necessary for "educational activities which are of special interest to the armed services”—a phrase which has been very broadly interpreted-may be donated for such activities pursuant to allocation by the Secretary of Defense. Such defense-related donations are given priority over donations under the other two programs.
This bill would add to the eligible list for donation of Federal surplus personal property a large number of organizations, such as the Salvation Army, YMCA, YWCA, Travelers Aid, settlement houses, homes for the aged, youth centers, character-building agencies, adoption centers, and similar organizations.
The considerations bearing upon the wisdom and desirability of extending this donation program at this time were analyzed in our adverse report of August 1, 1957, on nine bills (H. R. 242, etc) proposing to make various types of community, public, or municipal organizations eligible under that program.
We there pointed out (a) that any such proposal at once raised the question of admitting other types of organizations equally deserving, thus calling either for unlimited dilution of the program or the drawing of new lines difficult to justify on equitable grounds, and, hence, difficult to hold; (b) that to let into the program a substantial spectrum of organizations or activities not now eligible would necessitate the reinstitution of a complex priority system which in the past had proved to be highly undesirable and was discarded by the present act; and (c) that it would take some time—at least a year or two-to learn the full impact of the recently enacted civil-defense donation provisions on the donation program as a whole, so that, either for the purposes of the above-mentioned extension in the welfare field or for the purposes of the specific bills then before us, forecasts could not be made respecting the increased costs of administration, the extent of dilution of the amount of property available, and the dimensions of the conflict of interest between groups competing for the same property, which might result from such an extension of the program.
What we said on that occasion is equally applicable here, and we, therefore, are constrained to recommend against enactment of H. R. 9522. Hence, we have not analyzed this bill from the point of view of its technical adequacy.
The Bureau of the Budget advises that it perceives no objection to the submission of the report to your committee.
M. B. FOLSOM, Secretary.
THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE,
Hon. JOHN W. MCCORMACK,
Chairman, Special Subcommittee on Donable Property,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
DEAR MR. MCCORMACK: This is in further reference to your letter of March 14, 1958, which transmitted a communication from the Honorable A. Sidney Herlong, Jr., and requested our comments thereon. Congressman Herlong's letter commented on H. R. 10010, which he has introduced, and explained the basis for his support of the proposed legislation.
We have not, so far, been favored with a copy of the Budget Bureau's report, to which Mr. Herlong's report refers. Our own report to the Government Operations Committee on H. R. 10010 and an identical bill, H. R. 10118, sets forth our reasons for recommending against enactment of these bills, and we shall, therefore, not reiterate these reasons here. The adverse recommendation in that report is in line with the position we have taken on the numerous pending bills proposing to extend eligibility to other equally deserving public-interest activities in the fields of health, education, welfare, and recreation.
Before commenting on Mr. Herlong's letter, we may note in passing that, in view of the basically adverse position taken in our report on these bills, we did not there attempt to resolve certain subordinate policy issues which should be dealt with if the proposal were to be favorably considered. For example, should, as the bills seem to imply, mosquito- and insect-control districts and programs be considered eligible as public-health agencies and activities, even where there is no substantial problem arising from the presence of mosquitoes and other insects which are disease vectors and where the primary purpose of these districts and programs is the control of pest mosquitoes and other insect pests? Again, should drainage districts and programs be eligible for donations as health agencies and activities, even where they do not primarily serve a health objective? Finally, should State and local health departments be eligible for donation for any activity which directly or indirectly promotes the public health, such as central-office work?
Nor did we, in our report, analyze the bills with a view to perfecting them technically. One point that might here be noted in that connection is that the phrase "public health agencies of the State, and its political subdivisions and instrumentalities," on lines 7 and 8 of page 1 of the bill, would more clearly carry out the intent of the proposal if it were changed to read "public health agencies of the State and of its political subdivisions and instrumentalities," 30975-58-10