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My recollection is that the titles to these homes stand in the Board of Managers.
Mr. MONTET. Unconditionally?
The CHAIRMAN. There are certain conditions and concessions affecting a number of them, but not of a character that would prevent the transfer.
Mr. MONTET. That is what I mean.
The CHAIRMAN. If later it should seem desirable to get rid of these conditions and concessions it can be done under the terms of the bill pending before the committee anyway. We had these matters in mind when the bill was drafted and provided for setting at rest anything that might affect the validity of the titles.
Mr. DaLLINGER. There was not any case where the property was donated to the Home under certain conditions?
The CHAIRMAN. There are one or two cases where lands were donated by individuals, one case being in California, at Sawtelle, where the property was donated in part by Senator John P. Jones. This donation carried a reservation that in case the land should cease to be used for the purpose of the gift it should revert. But this bill does not contemplate a change of use, so the reservation is not of a character such as would prevent a transfer to the United States.
For the record, then, and by unanimous consent, I will insert the remarks of General Wood relating to the titles at this point.
(The statement referred to is as follows:) General WOOD. There are 10 branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, located at Togus, Me; Hampton, Va.; Johnson City, Tenn.; Dayton, Ohio; Marion, Ind.; Danville, Ill.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Leavenworth, Kans, ; Battlé Mountain Sanitarium, Hot Springs, S. Dak.; and the Pacific Branch at Los Angeles, Calif. These homes are practically created under the original act of incorporation passed in 1865–66. The board of managers are a body corporate instituted under said act, with the right to acquire real estate by purchase or gift for the purpose of carrying on the work delegated to them by Congress. The land upon which the 10 homes are situated was obtained in various ways, and it would be necessary for me, for the purpose of accuracy, to submit that to the committee by proper memorandum.
The CHAIRMAN. When you revise your remarks you may insert that.
"Central Branch, Dayton, Ohio: Established by Board of Managers under authority of organic act of March 21, 1866. Original tract purchased, $20,000 being contributed to assist in the purchase by the citizens of Dayton. Title held in the Board of Managers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The title is in no way qualified or encumbered.
“Northwestern Branch, Milwaukee, Wis.: Established by Board of Managers under authority of organic act of March 21, 1866. Original tract obtained by purchase, $95,000 being contributed by ladies of Milwaukee. Title is held in the Board of Managers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The title is in no way qualified or encumbered.
"Eastern Branch, Togus, Me.: Established by Board of Managers under authority of organic act of March 21, 1866. Original tract obtained by purchase, no local contribution being made. Title is held in the Board of Managers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The title is in no way qualified or encumbered.
“Southern Branch, Hampton Va.. Established by Board of Managers under authority of organic act of March 21, 1866. Original tract obtained by purchase, no local contributions being made. Title is held in the Board of Managers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The title is in no way qualified or encumbered.
“Western Branch, Leavenworth, Kans.: Established under specific act of July 5, 1884 (23 Stat. 120). Original tract obtained by purchase. The city of
Leavenworth made a contribution of $50,000 for the establishment of the home and the original deed gives as the consideration $1 and the agreement with the city of Leavenworth. The title is heald in the Board of Managers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The title is in no way qualified or encumbered.
“Pacific Branch, Sawtelle, Calif.: Established under specific act of March 2, 1887 (24 Stat. 444). One-half the original tract, the western portion thereof, was given by Senator John P. Jones, of California, in consideration of the location, establishment, construction, and perpetual maintanance of a branch of said National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The eastern portion of the tract was acquired by purchase, money being raised among citizens for this purpose. The title is held in the Board of Managers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The title to the west half of the grounds has a defeasance clause in favor of the heirs of Senator Jones in case the Government does not maintain the soldiers' home on these grounds.
“Marion Branch, Marion, Ind.: Established under specific act of July 23, 1888 (25 Stat. 341). Original tract obtained by purchase, no local contributions being made. Title is held in the Board of Managers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The title is in no way qualified or encumbered.
“Danville Branch, Danville, Ill.: Established under specific act of June 4, 1897 (30 Stat. 11). Original tract obtained by purchase, no local contributions being made. Title is held in the Board of Managers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The title is in no way qualified or encumbered.
“Mountain Branch, Johnson City, Tenn.: Established under specific act of January 28, 1901 (31 Stat. 745). Original tract obtained by purchase, no local contributions being made. Title is held in the Board of Managers. National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The title is no way qualified or encumbered.
“Battle Mountain Sanitarium, Hot Springs, S. Dak.: Established under specific act of May 29, 1902. Original tract obtained by purchase, no local contributions being made. Title is held in the Board of Managers, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The title is in no way qualified or encumbered.”
The title to all of the branch homes is in the Board of Managers, as a corporation duly authorized and incorporated under act of Congress. Just how the title in two of the homes where land was given to the board for the purpose of a soldiers' home might be affected by the transfer, I would not be prepared to say specifically; but the most valuable part of the ground of the Pacific Branch, at Sawtelle, Calif., was given by ex-Senator Jones with a defeasance clause in the deed providing for the return to the donor or his heirs in case the soldiers' home was not maintained at that place. Of course, that raises a legel question which I would not feel I could pass on, being a question
The CHAIRMAN. Have you a legel division in connection with your homes? General Wood. No, sir; we have no legal division. It happens that two of the officers at headquarters are both lawyers, so we usually have been our own legal division.
Referring specifically to the act of March 3, 1901, affecting the home at Leavenworth, Kans., which reads as follows:
“2. Recession of jurisdiction to Wisconsin and Kansas (act March 3, 1901, C. 853, 31 Stat. 1133): That the jurisdiction over the places purchased and used for the location of the branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, under and by the authority of an act of Congress approved March twenty-first, eighteen hundred and sixty-six, in Milwaukee County, State of Wisconsin, and upon which said branch home is located, and by authority of an act of Congress approved July fifth, eighteen hundred and eighty-eight (sicshould be 1884), in the county of Leavenworth, State of Kansas, and upon which said branch home is located, is hereby ceded to the respective States in which said branches are located and relinquished by the United States, and the United States shall claim or exercise no jurisdiction over said places after the passage of this act: Provided, That nothing contained herein should be construed to impair the powers or rights heretofore conferred upon or exercised by the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in and on said places.
The CHAIRMAN. We have with us this morning Gen. Frank T. Hines, Director of the Veterans' Bureau, whom I have called to give some additional testimony, particularly with reference to the character of the organization or set-up that he has in mind in the
event that a consolidation along the lines suggested by this bill should be determined upon.
I have also asked him to submit in detail the economies which he thinks might be effected by the proposed consolidated organization contemplated by the bill under consideration. A request was made yesterday by one or two members of the committee that he also furnish us data with respect to the proportion of each dollar expended that went for veterans' relief and the amount that was consumed in overhead expenses, and so forth.
Now, General, you may proceed in your own way, but before you conclude I would like to have you discuss the various subject matters I have indicated.
ADDITIONAL STATEMENT OF BRIG. GEN. FRANK T. HINES,
DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES VETERANS' BUREAU
SUMMARY OF GENERAL HINES'S STATEMENT
In appearing before the committee in support of H. R. 6141 General Hines has tried to keep his testimony on the broad problem of finding a way to coordinate the agencies of the Government having to do with veterans' relief. It is not so important where this combined agency functions as it is to get them all together in a place where a definite, uniform program for the future can be worked out. The proposed set-up for the combined agency is submitted.
The expenditures for veterans relief for this fiscal year are approximately $780,000,000, or about 32 per cent of the amount the Government collects from income tax. Pending before various committees of Congress at this time are propositions that would add many millions. These matters must sooner or later receive careful consideration by one executive head who can speak not only to the President but also to the Congress on the united problems.
Several witnesses have challenged previous statements made by General Hines. There is a broad question of principle involved here and comparative data are not now given because it is felt that the Veterans' Bureau does these things better than the other agencies. Manifestly, a man would not be capable of occupying a position at the head of these combined activities if he would attempt to disrupt efficient agencies as they now exist. That would be disorganization, not organization. If it is assumed that they have in the Pension Bureau and Soldiers' Home more efficient men than in the Veterans' Bureau, is not that fact one more argument to get the advice and help of that personnel?
Administrative expense in the Veterans' Bureau takes up 3.72 per cent of the appropriation for that agency, leaving 96.28 per cent to go directly to the benefit of veterans. An annual saving of $1,500,000 in administrative overhead is felt to be a very conservative estimate and the items involved are pointed out in detail.
An evacuation of hospital beds equivalent to a saving of $3,500,000 in new construction, and actual saving of $9,000,000 by adding to existing plants are used to illustrate economies to be expected under consolidation.
It has been pointed out that a medical examination costs the Pension Bureau $5. A more complete examination, required by the laws under which it operates and including travel expense, costs the Veterans' Bureau $4.22, a saving of 78 cents per veteran.
1 See p. 207.
The average per capita cost for patients in Veterans' Bureau hospitals is $4.01 per day, compared with $2.39 in Soldiers' Home hospitals. The difference is due to service rendered. Although they are rated as class A, the Veterans' Bureau figure is 97 cents lower than that for civilian hospitals of a similar nature. The average in Veterans' Bureau neuropsychiatric hospitals is $2.42 as compared with $2.39 in the Soldiers' Home. The average cost in the Soldiers' Home for domiciliary care is given as 99 cents per day. The Veterans’ Bureau has not yet had particular experience with this activity, but figuring the established cost of the items involved gives a total of a fraction under $1.01 as the probable cost in that bureau.
The personnel of the Veterans' Bureau would probably settle down to a number more in comparison with the Pension Bureau if its activities were narrowed down as they are in the latter. There is no hospital organization in the world equal to that of the Veterans' Bureau. It runs one of the largest insurance companies of the world. It is in the banking business and has more open bookkeeping accounts than any corporation in the United States. The average overhead expense incident to the complete adjudication of a claim, based on the fiscal year 1929, is $8.16, which, considering the fact that cases must be rehandled periodically, does not seem to be exorbitant.
An improved system of accounting is desirable as there is now needless duplication. It is beyond reason to put a governmental agency in the position of not knowing whether a check will be allowed by the General Accounting Office. Machinery can be set up making the decision of the agency binding on the Comptroller General.
General HINES. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, since I was granted the privilege of appearing before you before, you have had an opportunity to get the views of the other heads of departments who are interested in the veterans' problems, and at the start this morning I would like to again emphasize what I stated over a year ago, and what I stated when the hearings commenced this year, that I feel in regard to this matter solely in one way, and that is that the problem before the committee, the big problem before the committee, is the one of finding a way to coordinate the agencies having to do with veterans' relief under one head. If
you will recall, I endeavored to make it very clear that in my judgment it did not seem to be so important as to where this agency functioned as it was to get them together, for the reasons which I have indicated in the record.
With the passage of each day in dealing with these problems, in so far as they affect the Veterans' Bureau, and in my appearances before the various committees of Congress, I can see how important this consolidation will be in the future.
You all know now that the total expenditure for veterans' relief for this fiscal year is approximately $780,000,000. That is 32 per cent, approximately, of the amount that the Government collects in Federal income taxes.
Pending before the various committees of Congress at this time you have propositions first as affecting directly World War veterans, as dealt with by the Veterans' Bureau, which will—taking the bill that has probably the fewer changes in the laws—undoubtedly add between forty and fifty million dollars to the appropriations of that bureau. Second, certain pension increases are pending before the Congress, some of which have, I think, received favorable action of committees and been reported out. They, too, probably will be enacted at this session. Third, General Wood, representing the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, has bills pending before Congress for increased facilities, manifestly for the care of World War veterans; they could not be for the care of other veterans because that load is manifestly decreasing:
So, after all, the big problem of the future is the problem of the World War veterans.
The comparative size of the organization which you are considering, the Veterans' Bureau, as against the Soldiers' Home, it seems to me, would be significant.
I come before you simply as a manager of one of your subsidiary companies would come before a board of directors, and I look upon the Members of Congress as the board of directors of this great business of the United States Government. I gave to you solely my own views. I did not quote the President, although I had discussed this problem with him. But I gave you, or intended to give you on the broader issue, some of the best advice I could, as I see it, in dealing with the problem daily.
It might be well for me to emphasize the fact that, as I have previously indicated, there is nothing personal in this; that I have no desire to be a Cabinet member or to take on more work, or to take on more trouble, I might say, because I have all I can do.
But I do feel that the matters we are all dealing with must sooner or later receive the careful consideration of one executive head, who can speak not only to the President, but also speak to the Congress on the united problem.
I made some statements that have been challenged before the committee by the other witnesses. I tried to keep my testimony on the important problem, the broad problem, and not on the question of the deficiencies of any of the organizations. I think I can safely admit, and maybe that might be challenged, that I have a personal feeling that the Pension Bureau, with its long years of experience and its employees who have been there for many years, must have men that in that particular line know more about the business than we know at the Veterans' Bureau, although we have some men who have also served for a long time in the Pension Bureau.
We must admit that you have in the personnel of the Soldiers' Home, dealing with the problem of domiciliary care, men who are expert along that line; men who have had more experience and can better handle the problem than anyone in the Veterans' Bureau. It may be that in handling matters before the Pension Bureau, because of their longer experience, they give more satisfactory service.
We can all look back and remember the time, I can just recall it, when the Pension Bureau was criticized very much as the Veterans' Bureau is being criticized now for delay. But they had, too, a problem which was difficult to handle.
And after we assume that we have in the Pension Bureau and in the Soldiers' Home more efficient men than we have in the Veterans' Bureau, is not that fact one more argument to get the advice and the help of that personnel?
There has been a statement made by the committee appointed by the President that this would result in a scrambling of the eggs. Of course, that would be disorganization and not organization. Manifestly, a man would not be an efficient executive and neither