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Mr. Smith. Now, that is a dangerous position in which to place the Federal finances. Since these things are inflexible, since you cannot cut them very well, they must be financed in some way. If there should be the slightest drop in the national income, 10 or 15 percent in the national income, this burden of $40,000,000,000, two-thirds of which or more is inflexible, is likely to be a stone upon the neck of the Federal Government. The Government will have to go into deficit financing with a will and that will increase the Federal debt from $256,000,000,000 to well over three hundred-some-odd-billion. It will be necessary to borrow for day-to-day maintenance of Government. How long could that continue before the very fiscal solvency of the Government is in danger? It was President Roosevelt himself who said that more governments have foundered on the rocks of loose fiscal policies than have lost their powers in any other way. And here we are rapidly approaching the stage where Federal finances are beyond control.
May I conclude my statement by saying that notwithstanding the evidence that a law of diminishing returns is actively at work in the field of Federal Government, the pressure for Congress to extend itself further continues unabated. Not a session of Congress occurs but what hundreds of bills are filed to extend Federal activities and some of these bills are passed.
Summarizing the condition Congress faces, I would say first, there are unmistakable evidences that the work load of Members of Congress has increased beyond the capacity to deal with it wisely and efficiently. The work load is beyond effective legislative control. Second, there are unmistakable evidences that the accumulation of Federal services and functions has increased beyond the capacity of the executive department to deal with the work load. The executive department is deteriorating in responsibility, efficiency and control. The two developments constitute a danger to the stability and welfare of the country:
This committee is definitely interested, in my mind, in good and efficient Government. I believe the committee is challenged to find ways and means not only of improving congressional machinery but also of reducing the magnitude of Federal operations.
To achieve an absolute reduction in the work load of Members of Congress, and at the same time to repair the deterioration in the responsibility and efficiency of the executive departments, simultaneous action may be taken along four lines.
1. Further improvement of Congress: Continue to improve congressional machinery and procedures as commenced with the Reorganization Act of 1946.
2. Eliminate or return functions now federalized: Commence a systematic series of studies on the services and functions undertaken by the Federal Government in the last 25 years to determine which of them can be eliminated, or returned to States, to localities and to private operations. (To what extent will the Hoover Commission on Organization of the Executive Department study this field?)
3. Develop new instruments of public administration: Commence another series of studies to explore the possibilities of developing new regional or functional instruments of public administration in fields not wholly Federal and yet not wholly State and local-instruments to be set up independent of Federal responsibility and thereby capable of removing part of the work load now on Members of Congress.
4. Advisory Council on Federal Legislation: Create a permanent Congressional Advisory Council on Federal Legislation to study and report on all bills which propose new Federal bureaus, agencies, services and functions. The Council may be composed of full-time experts in the field of agriculture, industry, labor, finance, natural resources, transportation, communications, education, veterans' services, public health and welfare. A staff member from each standing committee in House and Senate should be assigned to work with the Council. It should be the prime duty of the Council to screen Federal legislation which proposes new bureaus, agencies, services, and functions, and to recommend ways and means of dealing with the problems therein at regional, State, local and private levels.
I know Members of Congress work tremendously hard; you do miracles in the way of public business; and yet I think you will admit that a large number of these problems are getting beyond the attention that you would like to give to them.
Senator FERGUSON. Mr. Smith, would you say that the same thing is true in the international field? It seems to me some of the smaller nations must find it so difficult to provide personnel just to carry on their international obligations which we are also creating in a large volume. I think it is shown here on the record that we belong to 123 international organizations now. It is a problem to carry out those functions. Luxemburg may belong to the same number. We contribute to 44 of these international organizations. So we are not only increasing the size of Federal Government but of international government and we face all these problems from business to govern. ment to the international government of the question of bigness.
Mr. Smith. Yes. I say that just as overextension in any other quarter will threaten a break-down, the overcentralization of Government can produce the same result for a whole country with an irreparable loss to the security and welfare of its people.
Senators, I have no more to offer this morning. You have been very kind to let me have as inuch time as I have had, and I thank the committee.
Senator FERGUSON. We appreciate greatly your contribution here this morning.
(Mr. Smith submitted the following paper:) STATEMENT OF GEORGE H. E. SMITH, SECRETARY AND STAFF DIRECTOR, MAJORITY
Policy COMMITTEE, UNITED STATES SENATE, BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON EXECUTIVE EXPENDITURES, UNITED STATES SENATE, FEBRUARY 18, 1948
I am pleased to appear here today at the request of the committee for the purpose of offering such observations as I may have on congressional performance under the Legislative Reorganization Act.
I hold the office of secretary and staff director of the Majority Policy Committee, but I speak solely in my individual capacity and not on behalf of the Majority Policy Committee nor for any of its members.
Since this is the first official appraisal of the Legislative Reorganization Act, I should like to make a few general comments and then proceed with observations on (1) policy making; (2) committee operations; (3) the legislative budget; and (4) the question of seniority.
1. The act was the most sweeping reorganization in congressional history.
2. The Republician minority in the Seventy-ninth Congress overwhelmingly supported the original bill.
3. Many desirable features approved by the Senate were stricken from the final bill by administration leadership in the House (Rayburn).
4. The 1946 election placed the responsibility for putting the law into operation on the Republican majority which acted with sincerity, efficiency, and good faith.
5. Representative Mike Monroney, who piloted the bill in the House, declared congressional reforms to be 50 percent effective. My own feeling is that the measure of success is considerably greater.
If the most sweeping reorganization in congressional history is 50 percent effective in one session of Congress, it is a remarkable achievement.
Congress is a complex institution in which all the deep forces of human relations are at work. It is also governed by rules and customs tested by years of experi
Any material change in a body so complicated must of necessity go through a period of transition while adjustment is made between the old and the new. In these circumstances, a 50-percent improvement in one session is a genuine record of achievement.
One of the prime aims of those who sought to improve Congress was to provide machinery for determination of policy and for the formulation of a legislative program based on party responsibility.
The principal idea was to set up policy committees or a legislative cabinet in each house consisting of the majority leaders and the chairmen of committees. Liaison was to be effected between the policy committees of both houses and out of this leadership and procedure a clear legislative program was expected to emerge.
Provisions along these lines were contained in the proposed bills for reorganization, but were stricken from the House bill, and finally failed of enactment in the Reorganization Act.
In a subsequent deficiency appropriation act, the Senate managed to include a provision for majority and minority policy committees with $30,000 annually for staff operations.
These Senate policy committees are now active. The House has continued its informal “steering committees which are roughly comparable to the Senate policy committees. To provide staff assistance, the House provided for a "Coordinator of Information” with an appropriation of $60,000 annually:
The current situation on congressional policy making shapes up as follows: Majority and minority policy committees with adequate staffs are functioning satisfactorily in the Senate. They meet regularly each week. Any member of the Senate may appear before the committee to present his views. The policy committee coordinates its work with meetings of chairmen of standing committees and with party conferences. These meetings of chairmen of standing committees and of party caucuses or conferences are being held with increasing frequency. The Senate Majority Policy Committee has held meetings with the House Majority Steering Committee. Much progress has been made.
It is always easy to set up a perfect paper plan for congressional policy-making. It is quite another thing to make it work in practical conditions. I believe further advances in policy-making have to be left to time and informal experimentation. I would not at this time impede present progress by further legislation.
One thing in the Reorganization Act works against the principle of party responsibility and accountability for the legislative program. This is the situation relative to party ratios in committee memberships.
Committee membership before the Reorganization Act was sufficiently large to provide an adequate working margin for the party charged with responsibility for the legislative program.
The ratio of party representation (seven majority, six minority) under the Reorganization Act is too small to provide the control needed for party responsibility. The majority is held accountable for legislation which it does not have sufficient power in committee to develop.
To this extent present committee membership totals are not in accord with one of the principle aims of the Reorganization Act.
Committee total membership is also too small to provide working quorums. Yet the Reorganization Act prohibits proxies.
I do not know what the answer is to this problem. There is a meritorious conflict between the desirability of small committees and the need to fix responsibility for the legislative program. Present party ratios do reflect the total strength of cach party in the Senate, yet the defection of a single member of the majority deprives the majority of its power to execute its policies.
I hope this committee will obtain other views on this problem. Certainly, it is one of the first requirements of good administration that those who are charged with responsibility for making a program should have the power to carry the program through the preliminary stages to the floor where it can be presented to the entire lawmaking body.
I have very few comments to make on committee operations. I am sure this committee will hear in detail from committee chairmen on how the new committee system is working out. Special committees
Except where clearly desired by the Senate itself, the policy of the Majority Policy Committee is to dispense with special committees in accordance with the Reorganization Act. This policy has been and is being carried out. Space accommodations
One of the most annoying problems in committee operations is the lack of space for hearings. Everyone agrees that the Senate Office Building is bursting at its
The movement toward a new building has been started but progress will be dismally slow. Meanwhile, committee efficiency is hampered and tempers are constantly ruffled by the lack of space.
Pending a new building, much could be done to make the most of existing accommodations. There should certainly be a central clearinghouse (possibly in the custodian's office) for the daily use of committee rooms. scheduling, much of the present trouble over lack of space could be avoided. This is a problem I presume for the Rules Committee which has charge of room assignments, but indirectly the problem also affects committee staff morale and efficiency. Joint hearings
In the field of committee operations I would urge this committee to make every effort to increase joint hearings by twin committees in House and Senate. The identity and integrity of committees of each House can be preserved while much of the time waste and annoyance in duplicate hearings could be avoided. Twin committees could simply meet together for the purpose of hearing the evidence once, and then study and report their conclusions separately to their own Houses. Uniform records and reports
I should like to see this committee design a few simple forms which would be used by all committee chief clerks to report committee business and activities. A master report form, like a daily log, would be of inestimable value in the appraisal of committee work loads and for the future improvement of committee efficiency. Personnel adviser
In the interest of good staffing as well as sound personnel practices in professional and clerical help to Senators, I hope Congress will set up an office of personnel adviser.
This proposal was contained in the plans for reorganization, but was withdrawn in the face of small but spirited opposition. In my belief, the opposition was capricious and not well grounded.
There is a definite need for a skilled personnel adviser to build up a central reservoir of professional and clerical talent. His service would not go beyond the detailed administrative work necessary to find qualified persons, investigate their training and references, and make this information available to committee chairmen and other Members of Congress.
THE LEGISLATIVE BUDGET
The purpose of the legislative budget was to provide an over-all estimate of receipts and expenditures early in the session as a means of correlating the several appropriations measures and guiding the committees in their work.
While the majority will try a second time to comply with this provision of the act, the present form of the provision is unsatisfactory for these reasons:
(a) The time allowed for the job is too short. And yet if postponed too long, the purpose and usefulness of the legislative budget will be lost.
(6) The number of members on the four committees making up the joint committee is too large and unwieldy.
(c) It is a serious question whether the staff can or should be made large enough to do a thorough job. (Proper examination of the budget amounts almost to full appropriations hearings.)
(d) The idea of a legislative budget is not properly fitted to the appropriation process. No ceiling to Government expenditures can be set until a substantial body of fact is developed. This is the work of appropriations committees on individual appropriations bills. Many subcommittees are at work over many months. In other words, accurate facts for a budget ceiling are not developed early enough to substantiate a legislative budget in February. (e) Both the President and Congress add further requests as the session ad
This makes earlier budget estimates unrealistic. (1) Committee chairmen do not welcome arbitrary ceilings on appropriations for departments under their jurisdiction until they themselves develop the facts.
(g) Federal accounting and budget practices are so chaotic that accurate facts cannot be known until hearings develop the details. (Example: Improper accounting in the Maritime Commission and Interior Department led to serious appropriation mistakes in the House last spring.)
(h) Difficulties over the legislative budget report in 1947 resulted in needless and fruitless political controversy.
The combination of these difficulties make the legislative budget an impractical idea in its present form.
Many solutions have been offered but they require careful examination. Our present difficulties stem from an attempt to deal too naively with a very complicated situation. Hasty adoption of a new method may not improve present difficulties.
Some procedure for an expert study of the entire problem should be set up with a view to later reports.
Meanwhile, many of the present troubles with the legislative budget could be relieved merely by striking out section 138 (b) of the present act.
By the elimination of this subsection, the advantages of having an over-all legislative budget report as a guide would be retained, while the cause of much controversy would be removed.
I would urge this change at once if we are to avoid useless wrangling in the present session of Congress.
Advocates of cor gressional improvement will again raise before your committee the question of seniority.
Entirely too much emphasis is placed on the undesirability of ranking committee members and selecting chairmen by seniority.
Seniority is but one (although important) factor in the ranking of Congressmen for committee service. It is thus far the only tested device providing an impartial arbiter of conflicting claims to rank.
It is much overrated in the relation it bears to committee operations. This is particularly true in the light of changes made in the committee system by the Reorganization Act. It is my belief that the so-called evils of the seniority system are greatly reduced by the Reorganization Act and that if left alone, the problem will solve itself.
By reducing the number of committees the Reorganization Act not only reduced the number of chairmen but also made the subcommittees of each committee more important. The men chosen to head these important subcommittees are selected largely on the basis of talent and other considerations than mere seniority.
Under the Reorganization Act, moreover, the power of the chairman is shared by the committee as a whole. He cannot appoint the staff without committee approval, and all persons and salaries must be regularly reported. He cannot work by proxies. He must convene the committee at regular intervals. He cannot report a measure unless a majority of the committee were actually present. Any Member of Congress may appear and press for consideration of his bill. The chairman must report promptly any meesi re app oved by the c mmittee. He must conduct all hearings in public. A record m 'st be kept of all committee action including votes on any question on which a record vo e is demanded.
The present majority has adopted a practice under which Senators in charge of specific bills are given the opportunity to assume floor leadership when these