A recent report to President Truman by Howard Bruce, aide to General Somervell in procurement of war materiel, suggested a “vigorous disposal policy for government-owned surplus goods, more sales outlets and more flexible methods of disposal.”
In view of numerous criticisms and reports of obstacles confronting buyers of government surplus machine tools, we decided on a spot-check to gather the facts. Perhaps the most conclusive fact we obtained was that the real bottleneck in the whole disposal program can be laid in the laps of the government owning agencies that are slow in issuing the necessary declaration papers and are also burdened with a cumbersome and outdated routine.
After listening to a step-by-step story of the detail involved in processing a machine tool from the original war plant inventory record down through the multiple declarations filed with the War Assets Administration, we marveled that sales are ever consummated. We understand recent action has been taken to short circuit duplication of effort in paper work. This, together with the several hundred site sales scheduled, a number of which has been held, should go far toward speeding up the entire machine tool disposal program.
Here are a few suggestions made during the course of our investigation:
- Designate machinery to be scrapped before removal from its original foundation.
- Screen priority requests at the time declarations are being processed.
- Have owning agency write up duplicate declarations on each machine, retaining original for their own records and relaying copies to regional selling agency office (WAA).
- Keep surplus inventory up-to-date by immediate removal of record from available file when sale is made.
- Remove the obstacles to the approved dealer plan.
When the approved dealer plan was inaugurated, we felt it was one of the most progressive decisions made since the Surplus Property Act was passed by Congress. Anyone who ever sold a machine tool rightly expected it would help expedite the flow of idle tools into production lines and accelerate the manufacture of civilian goods. Unfortunately, however, this plan of selling hasn’t been too satisfactory. Due to the usual complications in government procedure, and misunderstandings, the program has not yet got off to a real start. Approved dealers have sold only $16,530,062 of machine tools since the plan was put into effect in December 1945. This was accomplished by only a small percentage of dealers listed as approved.
In spite of an apparently impressive record of sales, the approved dealer plan is not functioning to its fullest extent. Some of the reasons may be found in the following questions:
- Is it true that approved dealers are not getting ordinary cooperation in many regional offices?
- Are dealer requests for information on specific machine tools being shelved?
- Is favoritism being shown by withholding technical data requested by dealers from the inventory files?
- Is there a subversive plan to scuttle the approved dealer plan?
If any of these questions are true, then why approve and license 1,710 dealers to assist with the program? What ARE the answers?