ONE of us wish to take away from Congress the power of appointing investigating committees, but it appears that sometimes these committees are influenced by the front page publicity they get when trying to bring to light a suspected scandal. The report of the Senate War Investigating Committee has revealed some irregularities about surplus property disposal which have held the publicity spotlight, but the main accomplishment of this body, to our way of thinking, was bringing to public attention the fact that the disposition of surplus is in a confused state. The committee recommends that the Surplus Property Board take active control of sales instead of functioning only as a policy-making body. The recommendation also calls for a single information center where interested parties may get all of their information on all surpluses in one place.
In reviewing the proposed legislation and recommendations made during the past two years, it is no wonder that a state of confusion does exist today, because both Congress and government agencies have made literally dozens of proposals and most of them contained plans that were diametrically opposed to some other plan. We can appreciate that confusion is bound to result when Congressmen are endeavoring to please constituents and the personnel of government agencies are hamstrung by red tape
Now this Senate committee is talking about a central bureau where one could get information about machinery or material that is scattered in every state in the Union! From all reports this would mean another tabulation of millions of individual items. It would take a force of clerks greater than the city of Washington could possibly accommodate to assemble and distribute this information. We can see no objection to the work of the six principal agencies which have been designated to handle various classifications of surplus war goods and properties. These agencies have been functioning after a fashion since the Surplus Property Act was passed, and in view of the tremendous merchandising job confronting them, must set up sizable organizations and a work program. This is a Herculean task in itself for a national headquarters office in Washington and it must also be done on a regional basis.
It seems to us that Congress fulfilled its job in setting up the Surplus Property Act and it would be advisable now to let the Surplus Property Board go to work and do what the act requires it to do. After all, there are hundreds of business men in the country who have given considerable thought and made numerous recommendations regarding surplus property disposal and the majority have agreed that the provisions incorporated in the Surplus Property Act are sufficient to enable the present government agencies to carry out their functions with a minimum of effect upon our national economy.