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compensation awarded in satisfaction of any adverse title to the property of the corporation acquired by the United States under the provisions of this act.
The personnel now on duty at the various branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers shall be transferred to and given appointment in the United States Veterans' Bureau, subject to such change in designation and organization as the director of the bureau may deem necessary, and thereupon both the Board of Managers and the corporation shall cease to exist.
The Director of the United States Veterans' Bureau shall be vested with all of the functions, powers, and privileges heretofore conferred by law on the Board of Managers of said home and shall be charged with all administrative duties relating to the home and now imposed on the Secretary of War by the act of August 18, 1894 (Twenty-eighth Statutes, page 412; sections 84 and 94, title 24, United States Code); act of March 3, 1893 (Twenty-seventh Statutes, page 653; section 118, title 24, United States Code); act of March 3, 1875 (Eighteenth Statutes, page 359; section 122, title 24, United States Code); and the act of October 2, 1888 (Twenty-fifth Statutes, page 543; section 719, title 31, United States Code). Section 4835 of the Revised Statutes is hereby repealed.
All contracts and other valid and subsisting obligations of the corporation shall continue and be and become obligations of the United States, and the United States shall be considered as substituted for the corporation with respect to all such demands either by or against the corporation, unless and until they shall thereafter be superseded or discharged according to law. The outstanding obligations assumed by the United States by virtue of the provisions of this paragraph may be enforced in the Court of Claims or in the district courts of the United States according to the ordinary provisions of law governing actions against the United States, and such courts shall have the power to enter judgment against the United States, with interest, in the same manner and to the same extent that the corporation may now be sued. No such suit shall be maintained upon any cause of action existing at the time of the dissolution of the corporation or arising simultaneously therewith, unless brought within one year from the time of such dissolution.
SEC. 3. That for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this act the President is hereby authorized to transfer to the United States Veterans' Bureau any or all moneys heretofore or hereafter appropriated for the benefit of former members of the military or naval forces of the United States and all moneys heretofore or hereafter appropriated for the payment of administrative expenses, including salaries of officers and employees, traveling expenses, purchase of supplies, and so forth, under existing departments, bureaus, or gorernmental acivities the duties and powers of which are transferred to the United States Veterans' Bureau: Provided, That any money heretofore or hereafter appropriated for the use of any executive or administrative department, bureau, or other governmental agency transferred to the United States Veterans' Bureau under the authority of this act shall be expended only for the purpose for which it was appropriated, under the direction of the Director of the United States Veterans' Bureau, and as may be directed by the President.
SEC. 4. All laws relating to the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, the Pension Bureau, and other governmental bureaus, agencies, and activities herein authorized to be transferred to the United States Veterans' Bureau, so far as the same can be made applicable, shall remain in full force and effect, except as herein modified, and shall be administered by the Director of the Veterans' Bureau.
The CHAIRMAN. We have with us this morning Gen. Frank T. Hines, Director of the Veterans Bureau, who is here at the invitation of the committee to make a statement with reference to this bill. General, you may proceed to make your statement in your own way.
I might suggest to the members of the committee that I think it is more desirable to permit the witness to complete his statement as far as possible, and then to present any matters in the way of questions following his statement. We will try to follow this practice, so far as practicable, throughout the hearings.
STATEMENT OF GEN. FRANK T. HINES, DIRECTOR UNITED STATES
SUMMARY OF GENERAL HINES'S STATEMENT
There are three ways in which centralization of veterans' activities might be effected: First, by transfer of all activities to a new department; second, by consolidation of the activities in an independent bureau; and third, by consolidating the activities as a new bureau in one of the existing departments. Based on a study of the independent problems of the agencies concerned, the second of these plans, which is proposed in H. R. 6141, is definitely indicated. No difficulties in the administration of the civil service retirement division, if transferred to the Veterans' Bureau along with the Pension Bureau, are foreseen.
The time has come when there should be a single administrative responsibility for the utilization of Government facilities for the care of veterans, in order to eliminate duplication. The advantages to be obtained thereby are summarized as follows: (1) To enable the President to deal directly with one responsible head; (2) permit of consolidation of all legislation; (3) consolidation of Budget activities under one grouping; (4) eliminate duplication and enable veterans to apply to one agency for all forms of relief; (5) result in better legislative administrative control and enable the agency created to take better advantage of existing facilities; (6) to standardize treatment of all veterans, and decrease the need for additional hospital program. This entire program is interrelated and a new policy would of necessity be effected which would afford unifom treatment to all veterans.
An annual saving in administrative costs of $1,500,000 and an ultimate saving in construction costs of $10,000,000 is estimated under the plan proposed in H. R. 6141. General Hines invited the attention of the committee to his testimony given last year in connection with a similar bill and reiterated the stand taken at that time.
Referring to the report of the commission appointed by President Hoover to study the important problems of consolidation, General Hines stated that the commission had recommended that the President be given authority to bring together under a common head all the forces of the Government for veteran relief. The commission did not, as such, submit a bill with its report, but a bill was drawn in the commission, in connection with a subcommittee report. The commission agreed to submit a bill in the event the President requested it. Such a request was not made and no bill was transmitted by the President to Congress. The bill drawn in subcommittee forms a part of General Hines' testimony.
Mr. HINES. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, H. R. 6141 is very similar to the bill on which hearings were held last year, and at which time the committee gave me an opportunity to present a statement as to the advantages or disadvantages of the consolidation of activities dealing with veterans' affairs. My statement appears commencing on page 58 of the hearings on H. R. 16722, Seventieth Congress, and with certain tabulations and charts, continues over to almost the end of the hearing.
It is my understanding that H. R. 6141, if it becomes a law, will bring about, in substance, this effect:
First, the bill authorizes the President under Executive order to transfer, to consolidate, and to coordinate under the United States Veterans' Bureau any hospitals, or executive or administrative bureaus, agencies, or offices especially created for or concerned in the
administration of the laws relating to the relief and other benefits provided for former members of the Military and Naval Establishments of the United States, including the Bureau of Pensions.
Second, the bill also authorizes the President under Executive order to transfer any duties or powers incident to the activity transferred.
Third, the bill provides that the Director of the United States Veterans' Bureau, under the direction of the President, shall have the control, direction, and management of the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.
Fourth, the bill also provides that the president of the Board of Managers of the Soldiers' Homes is mandated to convey to the United States all property and equipment now held and used by said corporation, such conveyance to be subject to the approval of the Attorney General.
Fifth, provision is made in the bill for condemnation proceedings by the Attorney General, upon request of the President, wherever same may be necessary to perfect the title in the United States.
Sixth, the Director of the United States Veterans' Bureau is vested with the functions, powers, and privileges heretofore conferred by law on the board of managers, and is charged with all of the administrative duties relating to the home now imposed on the Secretary of War.
Seventh, the personnel on duty at the various branches of the home are transferred to and given appointment in the United States Veterans' Bureau, subject to such change in designation and organization as the Director of the United States Veterans' Bureau may deem necessary.
Eighth, under the provisions of the bill the board of managers and the corporation, after the transfers above referred to are effected, shall cease to exist.
At the invitation of the committee, the bureau submitted a report on the bill, and that report is favorable to the bill with one exception, as to the amendment to bring about a little more definite procedure. I would ask at this point, Mr. Chairman, that our report be entered in the record of the hearing.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, that report may be inserted at this place. (The report referred to is as follows:)
JANUARY 3, 1930. Hon. WILLIAM WILLIAMSON, Chairman Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. WILLIAMSON: Further reference is made to your letter of December 23, 1929, forwarding copy of H. R. 6141, “A bill to authorize the President to consolidate and coordinate governmental activities affecting war veterans,” and requesting a report thereon.
Section 1 of the bill proposes to authorize the President, by Executive order, to transfer to, consolidate and coordinate in the United States Veterans' Bureau any hospitals or executive or administrative bureaus, agencies, or offices especially created for or concerned in the administration of the laws relating to the relief and other benefits provided for former members of the military and naval establishments of the United States, including the Bureau of Pensions, and to transfer any duties or powers from such department, bureau, or other governmental activity to said United States Veterans' Bureau. with the personnel or any part of it, together with the records and public property belonging thereto.
Section 2 of the bill places under the Director of the United States Veterans' Bureau the control, direction, and management of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, and directs the board of managers of that organization to convey to the United States all property and equipment now held and used by it. Provision is made for condemnation proceedings by the Attorney General on request of the President wherever same may be necessary to perfect the title in the United States. The personnel on duty at the various branches of the home is transferred to the United States Veterans' Bureau, subject to such change in designation and organization as the director may deem necessary, and it is provided that the board of managers and the corpo ration shall “thereupon cease to exist. At this point I deem it not improper to say that some consideration might well be given to the advisability of making the date of dissolution more definite. This same section vests the director with the functions, powers, and privileges heretofore conferred by law on the board of managers and charges him with all administrative duties relating to the home now imposed upon the Secretary of War. Contracts and other obligations of the corporation are made the obligations of the United States, which is substituted for the corporation with respect to all demands by or against the corporation, and it is provided that they shall be enforceable in the Court of Claims or in the district courts of the United States, a limitation of one year from date of dissolution of the corporation being provided for suits on causes of action existing at the time of dissolution.
Section 3 of the bill provides that all appropriations heretofore or hereafter made for the use of any agency transferred shall be available for expenditure under the direction of the director for the purposes for which they were appropriated, as may be directed by the President.
Section 4 of the bill is a provision that all existing laws relating to the National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, the Pension Bureau, and other governmental agencies authorized to be transferred to the United States Veterans' Bureau shall remain in full force and effect except as modified by the bill, and shall be administered by the Director of the United States Veterans' Bureau.
As I have heretofore advised the Congress, it is my opinion that the time has come when all governmental agencies engaged in the administration of veteran relief should be consolidated in one agency. Under the present organization of the Government, matters having to do with the relief of veterans of all wars are handled by the following Government agencies: The Bureau of Pensions, Department of the Interior, the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, and the United States Veterans' Bureau. mind the centralization of these activities in one department would be a great advantage, not only to the veterans themselves, but to the Government and the people generally. It would make possible the handling of all legislative matters relating to veterans by one committee in each House of Congress, unify the Budget activities, and so far as the administration of the laws is concerned, it would, in my opinion, curtail overhead expenditures and result in a more complete utilization of existing governmental facilities in the field for hospital and domiciliary care of veterans, which would in turn achieve a standardization of treatment for veterans of all wars and thus eliminate unfavorable comparisons between the types of services now being accorded in the several institutions operated under the control of separate governmental agencies. The placing of the management of all institutions for the care and treatment of disabled veterans under one head would, I believe, tend to decrease the need for additional hospital construction by individual agencies in order to carry out the duties reposed in them by law, and would especially lessen the pressure now being brought upon Congress for the construction of bureau hospitals in certain areas where none now exists but which are well served by soldiers' homes.
Some of the institutions at present operated by the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers as domiciliary institutions, with certain hospital facilities attached, are admirably situated and could be equipped, with small expenditures for renovation, as hospitals. Likewise, some of the hospitals now operated by the United States Veterans' Bureau could be transformed into domiciliary institutions. A better segregation of hospital cases as contrasted with domiciliary cases could thus be accomplished, but I do not wish it to be understood that it would be the plan to entirely segregate any great number of these institutions upon domiciliary or hospital lines. Each institution should be developed to give the maximum service for both domiciliary and hospital cases, with certain ones used exclusively for each type.
I have heretofore recommended the establishment of a separate department, but I by no means feel that such a step is indispensable to the accomplishment of the main plan. It is my belief that the activities affected should be transferred in their entirety to the bureau in which they are to be centralized, and that after such transfer there should be a gradual assimilation. The personnel of all agencies should be treated alike on the basis of efficiency, so that there would be no injustices as a result of the transfers. Certainly if these agencies are transferred to the Veterans' Bureau, as contemplated by the present bill, this phase of the matter will be given every consideration when changes in the organization are made.
Many of the activities of both the Pension Bureau and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, together with the personnel engaged therein, could be assimilated by the present services of the bureau, with a consequent reduction in the total number of employees. For example, the finance service of the Veterans' Bureau could take over the disbursing work of both agencies. Similarly, the adjudication service, which has charge of the allowance of claims for compensation, insurance, adjusted compensation, etc., might assume the responsibility of handling pension claims, with a resulting reduction in total personnel.
I believe that the services of the present Board of Managers, who were appointed by joint resolution of Congress, should be utilized, in order that the bureau might have the benefit of their advice, based on their experience in domiciliary care. It would, indeed, be unwise to deprive the Government of the experience gained by these men in years of operation of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. A question was raised as to the heads of the various branches, especially concerning the qualifications of such officials. I stated at the hearings last year that in my opinion the best men should be selected to head these institutions, irrespective of whether they are physicians. If the transfer to the Veterans' Bureau should be accomplished during my administration this would be my policy.
In addition to the relief now extended to veterans by the United States Veterans' Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and its branches, there are certain other benefits and services extended to former members of the Military and Naval Establishments by a few independent homes now under the jurisdiction of the War Department, and also by the War and Navy Departments in the administration of the laws relating to retirement of officers and men of the Regular Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. While it is not possible to tell from the context of the bill whether or not the transfer of these functions is also contemplated, I nevertheless take occasion to invite attention to the fact that such a step would be thoroughly consistent with the consolidation proposed.
As I stated before the committee, it is my opinion that the saving under a consolidation such as is proposed by the bill would amount to several million dollars per annum.
The enactment of this legislation is recommended.
FRANK T. HINES, Director. Mr. HiNEs. I will cover the points in our report in my discussion of the bill.
At this point, for the information of the committee, I would like to invite attention to the map that I have there [indicating map exhibited in committee room], which shows the activities of the United States Veterans' Bureau, the soldiers' homes, the Pension Bureau, and other Government facilities used for veterans as they now exist in the field; and I would like to call attention to that at this time, because in my statement I will make reference to some of the advantages by having the greater distribution of facilities under one head in dealing with the veterans' relief problem.
Here [indicating on map] we have an outline of the meaning of the various symbols that you see throughout the chart; the United States Public Health Service hospitals, both for tubercular and psychiatric—which are mental and nervous cases—and the general