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Statement by the President Upon Receiving Final Report of the Hoover Commission

May 26, 1949

I WISH to express again my appreciation of the work of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government.

In its study of the executive branch, the Commission has been impressed by the size and complexity of our Government. This fact alone has led to the conclusion that only through good management can we weld the governmental organization into a mechanism for carrying on efficiently the public business.

The Commission has thought of good management not in terms of structural changes alone. Good management and good organization require far more than the transfer and consolidation of bureaus. The Commission's reports reflect this point of view. A major recommendation is that certain principles of good management be adopted for the purpose of achieving more efficient and responsible government. In striving for this goal, we all recognize that there are no easy shortcuts. The solution does not lie in any one action of the Congress or any one order of the President.

I personally concur in the recommendation that the administration of the executive branch be considered the responsibility of the President and, under him, the department heads. I also agree that to discharge this responsibility the President and department heads should have authority commensurate with their responsibility. Only when these conditions are established can there be effective accountability for the conduct of governmental affairs. These are necessary and desirable objectives which have proved intensely practical in their application. I intend to work for their adoption as guides to the effective organization of the Government.

Moreover, I am pressing for follow-up action on other specific recommendations of the Commission. Improvements in the facilities for the management of our military and foreign affairs have been among the first considerations of the Congress. These two functions are among the most vital in which our Government is engaged. On the subject of foreign affairs reorganization, legislation has already passed the Congress, and the State Department is now active in carrying out a reorganization. A bill to amend the National Security Act is now before the Congress; and although it does not go as far as the Commission or I have recommended, it will open the way for many improvements. Also before the Congress is legislation on the General Services Agency to create one of the major "housekeeping" units recommended by the Commission. Other bills implementing the Commission's recommendations-to create a National Science Foundation, to establish a Department of Welfare, and to provide for higher executive pay--are under congressional consideration.

Other actions carrying out the Commission's recommendations are planned for the near future. If a workable Reorganization Act passes the present Congress in time, I shall submit to this session of Congress a number of plans which, although they may not cover all the recommendations of the Commission, will nonetheless make a start in several important areas. I plan also to submit several additional recommendations for legislative action on matters recommended by the Commission.

In addition to submitting reorganization plans and legislation to the Congress, I have instituted a program within the executive branch for stimulating action to carry out the Commission's recommendations. I am asking each department and agency head to give special attention to the question: "Is your agency doing the best possible job at the lowest cost?" To answer this question each agency head must give that kind of attention to management and operating problems which was recommended by your Commission.

These actions--the requests for statutory changes to place Government officials in a position to do an effective job of management, and increased attention within the executive branch to management improvement-are tangible expressions of my general approval of the major principles underlying the Commission's work.

I have noted that the Commission has been cautious in attaching dollar figures to claims of saving. Anyone who is familiar with this problem realizes that savings which result from improvements in management will take time to achieve. Before substantial savings can be made, new relationships and new ways of doing business must be developed.

I recognize that the best economies which the Government can effect are those which allow the provision of the same or better service to the public at a lesser cost. This is what the Commission has worked for during the past year and a half; this is what I desire. Since it will take time to accomplish these savings, what is needed now is a redoubling of our efforts toward the objective which the Commission so clearly has set before us.

NOTE: A list of the members of the Commission and citations to their reports is given in the note to the President's message to the Congress on reorganization of the executive branch (Item 94).