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MONDAY, JULY 16, 1917.
STATEMENT OF MR. JAMES L. WILMETH, CHIEF CLERK.
FILE HOLDERS, FILE CASES, FURNITURE, AND MISCELLANEOUS EXPENSES.
(See p. 653.) The Chairmax. For purchase of file holders and file cases, $4,000.
Mr. WILMETH. Mr. Chairman, those three items, purchase of file holders and cases and furniture and miscellaneous items we would like to discuss together. The Treasury Department has in two offices alone, the Auditor for the War Department and the Auditor for the Navy Department, 169 new employees, beginning the 1st of July. That increase was occasioned, of course, by the war. Now, the reason for asking for this money is to purchase equipment for those new employeees. Take, for instance, the item of ordinary desk chairs, which last year we bought under the contract for $5.98. We are paying this year $9.10 under contract, and it is the very best we could do. Take desks, flat-top oak desks; they have jumped from $31.80 to $38.40. Desks for 169 clerks will cost $6,489, and chairs for them $1,537, which makes a total of $8.027, and the other equipment, such as costumers and desk accessories, we thought would make up the difference. There will also be a large increase in the filing space of the department occasioned by new records, and that is the reason we put in for file holders and cases. On miscellaneous we have put in an item of $3,000 to take care of miscellaneous expenses, which we think will be necessary for this number of employees.
The CHAIRMAN. What happens to all the-I will not say obsolete, but discarded furniture in the department?
Mr. WILMETH. Well, occasionally we have a sale. We are not having any more now, because we are not buying any new desks to take the place of old ones. We have heretofore occasionally had sales—all the departments do once in a while—of old discarded furniture that has become useless, but we are making no displacements now at all.
Mr. SHERLEY. Do you buy furniture of a certain standard type? Mr. WILMETH. Yes, sir; on a definite specification and drawing.
Mr. SHERLEY. I do not know anything about it, but it looks to mo like $9 for a chair is going some.
Mr. WILMETH. It certainly is, sir.
Mr. SHERLEY. I mean not only on account of the present prices, but I would have said that $5 in the old days was a rather large sum to pay for a chair.
Mr. WILMETH. No, sir; that is very reasonable, comparatively.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you buy furniture out of the appropriation for the expenses of the bonds?
Mr. WILMETH. We bought a few desks out of that appropriation for clerks who were used entirely on liberty loan work, but not as long as we could find an old desk around the department anywhere that we could use. We bought furniture very sparingly out of that appropriation.
The CHAIRMAN. What have you done with all these new employees since the 1st of July? Are they without equipment, some of them?
Mr. WILHETH. We are just making out the best way we can. We have put in all the old equipment we could. We are just in process of appointing these clerks now.
The CHAIRMAN. And you say the additional force will be about 169?
Mr. WILMETU. There are 169 additional employees in those two offices alone.
Mosday, JULY 16, 1917.
STATEMENT OF MR. WALTER W. WARWICK, COMPTROLLER OF
The CHAIRMAN. “For additional employees during the fiscal year 1918, at annual rates of compensation as follows: Law clerks—four at $2,400 each, five at $2,100 each; clerks-three of class 4, two of class 3, two of class 1; messenger, $810; in all, $31,940.” Now, Mr. Warwick, will you explain the necessity for this?
Mr. WARWICK, The necessity for additional force in the office arises from the fact that the Army and the Navy appropriations have been so enlarged that it has already more than doubled the work coming from those two departments to our office. An increased force was granted for the Auditor for the War Department and the Auditor for the Navy Department, but the force in the comptroller's office is two men less than last year, and it will be impossible to do the work with that force. Of course, we could answer the inquiries of the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy by saying yes or no, but that would not furnish any guide for the disbursing officers nor establish precedents. These new appropriations are in different languages from former ones, and, due to the war emergency, there are more calls for decisions under appropriations and necessity to use them for different purposes.
The office has the rather difficult and unpleasant task daily of enforcing the limitations put by law upon the use of appropriations, such as the use of appropriations for rent in the District of Columbia and employment of personal services and many other limitations which are not pleasant always to the department spending the money. While I do not say they evade the law, I will say they want it construed liberally or an exception made wherever an appropriation is made for necessary expenses, they often insist that it should be construed as waiving all law. Therefore the work has grown enormously in the office, and in these times, if anything, it is of more importance than in the past. Out of nine law clerks we will have at least six changes in the last six months by the time the month of July is over.
Mr. GILLETT. Why is that?
Mr. WARWICK. Well, several of them are going into the Army. I would not refuse a man permission to leave the service to go into the Military Establishment. One young man goes into the Regular Army, in the Dental Corps, and two others are going in, one in the Ordnance Department and one in the Quartermaster Department, and one man has enlisted. He is the only man I know of around the building who has enlisted; a young man at a $1,400 salary has enlisted in the District Guard.
The CHAIRMAN. Do their salaries continue or do they go out?
Mr. WARWICK. Their salaries stop. This man will go on a salary of $30 a month, of course, and he has no provision for being returned to the service. The law has provided that members of the Officers' Reserve Corps going on active duty shall have their places back when they return, but nothing has been provided for enlisted men; but, of course, this particular man, if he comes back, we will want, because he is a fine stenographer. Then we have the difficulty that is always met of other departments wanting our men, and it is difficult in these times to refuse where it is the War and Navy Departments wanting experienced men for their work. Two of our law clerks have gone to the Navy Department.
Mr. GILLETT. At a higher salary!
Mr. WARWICK. Yes, sir; at a higher salary; $2,500. Of the nine law clerks four are left.
Mr. GILLETT. Did they go into the regular force of the Navy Department or some emergency force!
Mr. WARWICK. The extra force provided for the department.
Mr. GILLETT. Under which the compensation is fixed by the Secretary of the Navy and not by law?
Mr. WARWICK. It is fixed by the Secretary of the Navy. The salary of law clerks in the Comptroller's office has been $2,000 for some 22 years. The other departments have greatly increased the rate of pay so that they can take the men away. It is impossible to hold a man at $2,000 when another department of the Government offers him $2,500 on the statutory roll. The pay of law clerks runs up to $3,250 in the Agricultural Department, and the assistant attorneys in the Interior Department receive $3,250, the same as the law clerks.
The CHAIRMAX. It is proposed to promote four men?
The CHAIRMAN. You ask for five additional law clerks. You now have nine. You also ask for seven additional other clerks.
Mr. WARWICK. Seven other clerks and a messenger. That is on account of the clerical work done by the office. For instance, five bookkeepers who have handled the warrants in the past, I doubt if they can continue to handle them. It will take another man during these times of large appropriations.
Mr. GILLETT. How do you make the decisions? You are not able, personally, I suppose, to really render all the decisions?
Mr. WARWICK. The law clerks draft the decisions or briefs then, and I pass on every one.
Mr. GILLETT. You pass on every decision ?
Mr. WARWICK. Yes, sir. I do that work at night. The visitors I have during the day take about all the daytime, from 9. until 5 o'clock, and after 5 o'clock and at nights I decide the cases. I am satisfied that I do not decide them as well as if I had a more experienced force. The situation right now of getting in new men makes it impossible for those men to be of great value for at least a year.
Mr. GILLETT. The visitors discuss the cases before you, mainly?
Mr. WARWICK. Not only that, but they come from all the departments to make inquiries. They will ask, for instance, in reference to a certain question, and I tell them that it has been decided in another case and that they need not submit it. That could be done by the law clerks, but the heads of bureaus and others do not care to go to anyone except the head of the bureau. I am expected to know all the decisions of the office for 20 years back, and to tell them what the rule is. As I said before, it is an oflice that is jumped on all the time.
Mr. GILLETT. How long have you been there?
Mr. WARWICK. Under this administration-four years. law clerk in the office during the Cleveland administration. I have been connected with the Government out of the last 25 years about 15 years, off and on.
Mr. GILLETT. What were you before you came to this position?
Mr. WARWICK. I was the auditor for the Panama Canal and then on the President's Economy Commission. The necessity for the increase of force is for the same reason as applies to the force given to the Auditor for the War Department and the Auditor for the Navy Department. The claims for the pay of enlisted men are going to come along in great numbers very soon and they must be settled right, because they will establish precedents for the guidance of the auditors. It would be very unfortunate if we lost all the law clerks in the oflice, and they can leave when they want to.
Mr. GILLETT. If the War and Navy Departments with these emergency funds are going to take away the best men from the other departments with higher salaries, I do not see how you can keep them.
Mr. WARWICK. They would stay in the office they are in for less than they can get in the War or Navy Departments.
FIVE AND TEN PER CENT INCREASE IN PAY.
The CHAIRMAN. There have been a number of decisions on the 5 and 10 per cent increase provisions which have been carried in all the appropriation bills. My understanding is that they are based upon the fact that it makes no difference how much money a man receives in the year, if the rate of compensation is a per diem one it would result in him receiving certain sums by being paid for all but the four holidays?
Mr. WARWICK. Seven holidays.
Mr. WARWICK. The basis is that the increased compensation has no reference to what a man received last year or what he may receive the coming year. It has to be paid to him on each day commencing the 1st of July. It has to be paid at the rate fixed by the law. It refers only to the rate of $1,200 per annum and the rate of $1,800 per annum. The rate of $1,200 per annum is reduced under the salary table to $100 a month, or $3.33 a day. That is fixed as the equivalent of $1,200 per annum in the law of 1906, the salary table. We found it impossible to take the case of a per diem man and build up from the per diem to an annual rate, because the law fixes the annual rate as the basis. If you start to build up from what a man earns a day you would have to take each man's case separately, as to how many days he is expected to work during the coming year. It is 312 days during the present year, because there are 53 Sundays this year. He gets, of course, 30 days vacation—that is, the employees in the navy yards, arsenals, and so on and he also gets the seven holidays and the half holidays in summer, the equivalent of about 43 working days, which he is paid for as vacation. To say that he works 312 days is equivalent to saying that he expects to be in a pay status at least 312 days. There are a great many now working on Sundays. So you have to work on 365 days this year. There is no other basis on which you can calculate unless it were fixed by law. A great many Government employees get the equivalent to pay for every day in the year, 365 days, such as internal revenue inspectors and agents.
The CHAIRMAN. Are they paid extra for Sunday work—any increased compensation?
Mr. WARWICK. The per diem employee who is paid only for working days gets paid extra for Sundays and for overtime work. We count that overtime as a separate day. So if a man receives $3 a day regularly he would get, if he worked overtime, 10 per cent on that. Considering $1,200 per annum as the equivalent of $3.33} a day, it has reference to his regular work and not to this unusual compensation, such as Sundays and overtime. The rulings are not quite as bad as has been stated, because when you consider the overtime as not a part of his day's compensation it gives him the 10 per cent or 5 per cent when otherwise he would not receive it. A man might draw $6 in one day from the Government and still get two 10 per cents on it, but it is impossible to fix a standard rate per day and then multiply that.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you given a number of decisions on these laws already?
Mr. WARWICK. Quite a number.
The CHAIRMAN. Please send us copies of the decisions. There are a great many inquiries in regard to them.
Mr. WARWICK. We have the printed decisions for May and June and I will send them to you.
MONDAY, JULY 16, 1917.
STATEMENTS OF MR. B. R. NEWTON, ASSISTANT SECRETARY;
MR. JAMES A. WETMORE, EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SUPERVISING ARCHITECT'S OFFICE; AND MR. L. A. SIMON.
The CHAIRMAN. The first item under “Public buildings" is * Evansville, Ind., rent of building. For additional for rent of temporary quarters for Government officials and moving expenses incident thereto, $3,500.” What is the necessity for this?
Mr. NEWTON. That is an ordinary charge, where it is necessary to have an amount for rent covering a longer period than we estimated for.