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It is under that schedule, and it is under that comprehensive program, that this item falls.
For the current fiscal year, and for the succeeding fiscal year 1934, the budgets have been greatly reduced in amounts, but with recognition of the principle that there should be retained the experienced skeleton force that the Forest Service has had over the years in the handling of this important work.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Does it take $95,000 to maintain a skeleton force?
Major STUART. That indicates, Mr. Chairman, as shown on page 206, that while the personnel is 62 for the present fiscal year, that force will be cut in half, to 31, for the next fiscal year, so it is a very substantial reduction and a large elimination of personnel in connection with this item.
Practically, it means that we had available July 1, 1932—that is, July 1 last-in our appropriation balances the sum of $1,497,788.39. Our cash withdrawals for the fiscal year 1933 will approximate $1,200,000, leaving a balance carried over into the fiscal year 1934, all of it obligated, of $297,788.39.
This budget carries an appropriation of $200,000 so that, if approved, the land purchases to be consummated in the year beginning July 1, 1933, would total approximately $497,788.39.
In other words, this is not a type of project where your slate is wiped clean at the end of each 12 months. There are many carry
While we have had the money available, the ability to obligate these purchases under the very best procedure we could work out, including the examination of titles and other necessary routine, we will still have available, although obligated, as of July 1 next, some $297,000 worth of property requiring completion of the final processes of purchase and that takes the continuance of that process of cleaning up titles, particularly if there is available to us a small sum, such as this contemplates, of some $85,000 for small additional purchases. It means that we could keep this personnel very busy.
Mr. BUCHANAN. It looks like you contemplate having that personnel accumulate data on grants and titles on tracts of land you expect to purchase if Congress follows the policy of purchasing more land.
Major STUART. To the extent to which the time of this personnel would be available over what I have mentioned as their immediate task, I would have them do that for this reason, Mr. Chairman. Before making the purchase of any land, the National Forest Conservation Commission decides in the first instance as to the limit of the area within which they will purchase land; that is to say, the purchase area. In other words, the commission is unwilling to proceed on a purchase program which would accumulate shotgun areas, it must know in advance which areas it proposes to purchase. There is no intention to buy 100 per cent of the land in each purchase area, but the commission aims to approximate it as closely as it can. The project is not realized until you do approximate 80 to 90 per cent of the purchases.
Within some of these purchase areas no purchases have been made. In others only 25 to 40 per cent of the lands has been acquired to date.
In other words, it can be rightfully anticipated that the Government will appropriate sums of money for the continuation of that program.
Mr. BUCHANAN. What is this commission doing? Is it recommending any further purchases, or what?
Major STUART. This commission passed a resolution at its meeting last spring recommending that the Secretary of Agriculture submit an estimate, if the finances of the Government permitted, of $3,000,000 for forest-land purchase for the fiscal year 1934. Subsequently it was decided that the financial condition of the Government would not for the present permit submitting that estimate.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Now, Major, what would it take—what appropriation—what size appropriation would it take in this item to conclude the purchase of your obligations?
Major STUART. Well, we have not obligated much in excess of our ability to pay.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Well, you have to complete purchases on a little over $200,000 worth of land—that is what you just stated, is it not?
Major STUART. That is, we will carry over into the fiscal year 1934 obligations of about $297,000.
Mr. BUCHANAN. All right.
Major STUART. The payment for those lands is contingent upon clearing up the titles.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Is there any work to be done on that?
Major Stuart. That would be a part of the current work of the personnel that would be held over.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Certainly it would, but how much?
Mr. BUCHANAN. (interposing) Would it take one-half of the estimate?
Major STUART. Well, I do not believe you could complete that work to satisfaction if you further reduced your personnel because your personnel is made up of men who do various types of work. You have one set of men that do title examination work and another set of men that do surveying work. You can not complete that project if you just have title attorneys or if you just have survey men.
Mr. BUCHANAN. It could be completed in six months time with all of them.
Major STUART. That would be true if the situation were controlled by the Forest Service, but our difficulty lies in the snags we run into in following through titles, in following through the settlement of estates and whatnot.
Mr. Hart. It resolves itself into a question of how many title experts we have.
Major STUART. Well, you would be surprised at the delays that are occasioned in trying to bring these cases through to the point where the Attorney General will accept title.
Take the matter of surveys alone, in some instances our cases are tied up for two or three years in order to get a really satisfactory and acceptable survey.
Mr. Hart. Does you department pass upon the title or does the Attorney General's department do that?
Major STUART. The title work is handled through the Solicitor of the Department of Agriculture.
Mr. HART. Then, it is again checked by the Attorney General?
Major STUART. The Attorney General's office must be satisfied as to the sufficiency of that work, yes, sir, but there is every tendency to accept the work that has been done by the solicitor's representatives in agriculture.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Major Stuart, this estimate puts this committee in this position: That here is $95,000 that they are appropriating to keep a skeleton organization in existence, to consummate the purchase of $200,000 worth of land.
Major STUART. It is well understood in the Budget, Mr. Buchanan, that that sum would do more than that.
Mr. BUCHANAN. It would do more than that on the future acquisitions of land, but it is not now, at least, a settled policy of Congress and which Congress will not take up, in my judgment, as long as this depression lasts. Where you are going to investigate a lot of titles when the depression is over you may not be able to buy the land within reason, and you would have the investigation of a lot of titles that would be absolutely useless. I do not like the appropriation of money to investigate titles and grants and surveys and things that we may never utilize. That is the condition this estimate puts us in.
Major STUART. Your remarks, Mr. Buchanan, are applicable, I take it, only to the funds which would be used to acquire further land. Certainly you would be willing to grant the money to protect titles to such lands as the commission has approved for purchase?
Mr. BUCHANAN. I would not say that the commission has already approved. I would say for lands that you have not the money to purchase. The commission may approve a lot of tracts of land, but we refused to appropriate the money to purchase last session of Congress. You know we cut this appropriation the last session of Congress?
Major STUART. Yes; but you understand that this holdover of $297,000 is obligated, and that wipes out the amounts appropriated up to the end of the fiscal year 1933.
Mr. BUCHANAN. I asked you how much it would take to consummate all obligations during the next fiscal year. I do not mean all titles. It might go over the next fiscal year, but how much would it take during the next fiscal year to carry on the necessary work of your obligations to purchase land in the amount of $297,000?
Major STUART. You would have to approach that in this way: If it is the intent of Congress--and that has not been implied in this Budget—to terminate this acquisition program at the end of the fiscal year 1933, then there would be required the sum of $15,700 out of this
acquisition project to terminate all acquisition work, and there would be required $52,800 in addition to other available funds to make it possible properly to manage the areas purchased to date, which has been otherwise plăced under administration. In other words, the sum of $68,500, of which $15,700 would fall under this acquisition item, and $52,800 would fall under our protection and administration
Mr. BUCHANAN. Would that conclude all of the obligations during the next fiscal year? I do not mean conclude them, because they may not be concluded then. But sufficient to pay your work for the next fiscal year 1934?
Major STUART. That is the best estimate I can now give you, and if we fall short of it we would simply have to rest on the explanation that we did the best we could with the personnel. I would regret exceedingly if Congress would take that position, that it anticipated the stopping of this project.
Mr. BUCHANAN. I do not know what Congress will do, and I might as well be frank, I have not any light on what this committee expects along this line. I am going to have before this is over with. I am preparing for it either way it turns on this question. I am not only questioning you, but another man that was before us. It is useless for this subcommittee to take a position that is not going to be sustained before the whole committee.
Major STUART. Is that the figure you wanted?
PURCHASE OF MOTOR VEHICLES
Major STUART. The next item is motor vehicles. This item is a recommended amendment to the bill, which provides not to exceed $26,835 of the funds available to the Forest Service shall be available for the purchase of motor-propelled and horse-drawn passengercarrying vehicles necessary in the conduct of field work outside of the District of Columbia; and, in addition thereto, it authorizes for expenditure, from funds provided for carrying out the provisions of the Federal highway act of November 9, 1921, not to exceed $4,250 for the purchase of motor-propelled, passenger-carrying, vehicles for use by the Forest Service in the construction and maintenance of national forests roads.
It is estimated that we will have on hand in the Forest Service as of July 1, 1933, 223 motor vehicles. That includes, by the way, 41 railroad speeders and 3 motor cycles. If this authorization is made available to us for the fiscal year 1934 (and the authorization is less by $15,655 than the amount set up for the current fiscal year), we would make 58 purchases of motor vehicles. Twenty-five of them would be replacements. That would be a net increase of 33 vehicles.
Mr. BUCHANAN. What was your net increase for this year?
Major STUART. Our estimated net increase for 1933, the net addition to the fleet in the fiscal year 1933, is 39. This provides for a net increase, in 1934, of 33—6 less machines, 1 of the 33 being a railroad speeder.
This statement should be made, Mr. Chairman: We find, as a rule, where considerable mileage is covered, it is much more economical for our men to use Government-owned vehicles of the type that we are permitted to purchase under this appropriation, than it is to operate their own cars. We have some 1,500 cars being used that are personally owned and they may draw mileage. It costs about 5 cents a mile, as an average, for personally-owned cars; whereas, we can operate Government-owned cars for 4 cents. It is, therefore, strongly
to our advantage financially, so far as we can bring it about, to have Government-owned cars used.
We estimate there should be at least 400 more cars purchased, as we can, replacing these personally-owned cars that are drawing mileage.
Mr. BUCHANAN. You mean your entire fleet should be 400?
Major STUART. Our entire fleet should be 400. We now have, as I previously stated, eliminating the railroad speeders and motorcycles, 140 cars. Adding the 1933 accretion of 39 and the estimated accretion, for 1934, we would have 211 cars. I think it is one of the most economical expenditures we can make. These cars average in price some $535. To my mind it is an economical thing to do, instead of paying a man who has to use a car 5 cents a mile to operate his own car
Mr. BUCHANAN. What is the average life of a car out there in the Forest Service?
Major STUART. Has that been figured out?
Mr. MAHURIN. We trade in and secure, a new car, generally, once in three to four years.
Mr. BUCHANAN. What is the average mileage?
Mr. MAHURIN. I would say about 40,000 to 50,000 miles for the life of the car before trade-in. The average annual mileage of Government-owned cars in the Forest Service for the fiscal year 1932, according to the report prepared by the Bureau of Efficiency, as required by the act of July 5, 1932, was approximately 10,000 miles.
Mr. SUMMERS. What is the average per annum mileage of the hired cars?
Major STUART. The average annual mileage per car is 2,500 miles on Government business for personally owned cars. Some will be used from 5,000 to 10,000 miles and it would be more economical to operate Government-owned cars in these instances.
Mr. SUMMERS. Annually.
Mr. SUMMERS. Well, if there is a cent a mile more there is an addtional
Major STUART. An additional $25 to $100. It does pile up; there is no question about the economy of it, granted that the man has to use a car, and that is inevitable with us.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Well one reason you can operate these cars for 4 cents, if Government-owned, is because you purchase your oil and gas wholesale and get your cars for a cheaper price than the individual
Major STUART. That is one reason.
Major STUART. Our officers are able to take advantage of those contracts to buy oil and gas on the Government rate. The main difference is in the question of depreciation on a higher purhase price, license fees, and taxes.
Mr. Jump. And no insurance is paid on Government cars.
Mr. JUMP. None on the cars. Our men now, in many cases, are carrying and paying insurance out of their own pockets when driving Government cars, so that, when they have an accident and are sued, they will have a surety to protect them against personal damage suits.