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Harry S. Truman

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Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.
  127. Special Message to the Congress Upon Signing the Reorganization Act  
June 20, 1949

To the Congress of the United States:

I have today signed the Reorganization Act of 1949. The provisions of this Act depart from my recommendation and that of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch in that they permit the rejection of reorganization plans by action of either House of Congress, acting alone. Nevertheless, I am glad to proceed, under this measure, in cooperation with the Congress on the important task of improving the organization of the executive branch.

I am today transmitting to the Congress seven reorganization plans, each with a related message setting forth its purpose and effects. I shall also transmit an additional message recommending legislation to place the management and financing of the Post Office Department on a more business-like basis. These reorganization measures will contribute significantly to the more responsible and efficient administration of Federal programs. They are important steps in putting into effect several major recommendations of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government.

During this session of the Congress, I have made a number of recommendations for improvement in the organization and management of the executive branch. They are closely related to the proposals submitted today.

The recommendations presented to the Congress at this session, in response to the specific opportunity presented by the reports of the Commission on Organization and the passage of the Reorganization Act, are of two types. First are those dealing with the general management of the Government and affecting all or a large number of the agencies. Second are those dealing with the organization of individual major departments or agencies.

With respect to general management:

Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1949 rounds out the organization of the Executive Office of the President by transferring to it the National Security Council and the National Security Resources Board, two important over-all staff agencies of the executive branch.

Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1949 improves the organization of the Civil Service Commission by making the Chairman responsible for the operation of civil service programs within regulations made by the Commission. This will free the Commission as a body to concentrate upon matters of basic policy and on the determination of appeals.

I have previously recommended legislation for carrying out the proposals of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government that salaries of top officials be raised. This is essential if the Government is to retain and acquire men with the vigor, imagination and experience necessary to make these reorganization measures truly effective.

I have previously recommended enactment of the Federal property and administrative services legislation which has passed the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate. This legislation will create the General Services Administration and make fundamental improvements in the Government's system of procurement and property management.

Reorganization Plan No. 7 of 1949, which transfers the Public Roads Administration to the Department of Commerce, will facilitate the organization of the General Services Administration by enabling the new agency to focus its attention on perfecting central services and increasing the efficiency of the housekeeping activities of the Government. Furthermore, it will place the Public Roads Administration in its most appropriate location in the Government.

The Director of the Budget has been instructed to work with the departments and agencies in preparing budget estimates on a performance basis, as proposed by the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government. This should provide a more understandable statement of Federal activities and of their financial requirements in the annual budget.

Other important steps for improving fiscal administration are included in the pending legislative revisions of the National Security Act and the legislation I shall propose for the Post Office Department. In addition, the executive agencies are cooperating with the General Accounting Office in improving their accounting systems.

Each of these actions is in general accord with the recommendations of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government. They do not complete the task of reorganizing the general management of the executive branch, but they represent a very significant beginning.

With respect to particular Departments and Agencies:

I have recommended, and the Congress has enacted, legislation to permit the reorganization of the Department of State along lines approved by the Commission on Organization. The internal reorganization of that Department is proceeding.

I have recommended, and the Senate has acted upon, a bill to amend the National Security Act and improve the organization and administration of our defense activities. It is essential that action be completed on this measure in order to provide responsible leadership for our defense establishment. This legislation will not only strengthen the administration of our armed forces in the interest of national security, it will also make possible major economies in the execution of activities common to the several armed forces.

Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1949 and the legislation I shall recommend both deal with improvements in the operation and management of the Post Office. The plan and legislation would strengthen the top management of the Post Office and afford that Department greater financial and operating flexibility.

Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1949 will create a Department of Welfare to administer most of the programs now within the Federal Security Agency. The creation of this Department will meet a long standing need of the executive branch and recognize the importance of our social security, education, and related programs.

Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1949 strengthens the Department of Labor by transferring to it the employment service and unemployment compensation activities. This conforms to the recommendations of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch and reverses undesirable developments of recent years which have scattered various labor programs throughout the Executive Branch.

Reorganization Plan No. 6 of 1949 provides for the more effective administration of the operating activities of the U.S. Maritime Commission by vesting executive authority in the Chairman.

These are important moves affecting major areas of the Federal Government. Additional actions will be required to deal with other problems of Departmental organization and administration. I intend to submit other reorganization plans and legislative recommendations to the Congress from time to time.

It is important that the Congress and the people appreciate the significance of these legislative proposals and reorganization plans. The common objective is a government establishment which performs its authorized functions with effectiveness and economy. We are seeking to obtain this through improvements in organization and administrative arrangements.

The approval of a reorganization plan or the enactment of a statute dealing with organizational and administrative arrangements does not automatically produce efficiency and economy or reduce expenditures. Only the curtailment or abolition of Government programs can be expected to result in substantial immediate savings. The significance of reorganization plans or legislation is that they make it possible to work out improvements in administration which will increase efficiency and reduce expenditures over a period of time. Thus, they provide a necessary basis for increased economy and efficiency.

I intend to see that full advantage is taken of the opportunity for securing better operations which the reorganization plans afford. This will require a steady and sustained effort to achieve improved management. Without such an effort a major purpose of the reorganization actions will not be realized.

Taken together, the actions listed in this message place before the Congress an initial program of reorganization covering certain areas which the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch has stated hold great promise of increasing economy and efficiency. The Commission did not state the amount of savings which could be anticipated, nor is it possible for me to indicate their ultimate dollar effect. By enlarging the opportunity for effective management within the Government, however, they will lead to more efficient performance of services by the Government and lower costs. In addition to the potential economies, these actions will invigorate and promote better management within the Government.

They deserve the support of the Congress and the people.

NOTE: The Reorganization Act of 1949 is Public Law 109 (63 Stat. 203).

See also Items 128-134, 140, 143 and note.
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.