When you read the article, “Target for Today: Bureaucracy,” on page 20, you will be getting a first-hand, inside report by a former government executive who spent several years beating his brains out trying to give the taxpayers a run for their money.
The author, Gordon T. Burke, concedes that some government bureaus are run in the manner of private organizations, but we all know that they are the exceptions and not the rule. The tendency for most of us is to take for granted the inefficiencies generally accepted in a democracy and let it go at that.
We have expressed our opinion in this column about the things that have been wrong with the whole surplus disposal program. And we have criticized Congress for not being more vigilant with respect to some of the waste and inefficiency which has existed for three years. At the same time, we have tried to be tolerant in view of the fact that the surplus ball is not an easy one to handle. We still hold fast to one of our original recommendations, which seemingly was overlooked when the Surplus Property Act was written—that men of experience in surplus disposal fields be retained by the government for the job.
The mishandling so far probably must be considered water over the dam, because the major part of the goods sold has been scattered to the four winds, and only in a few isolated cases could machines and material disposed of too cheaply be reclaimed for resale.
Last month we cited a typical example of how an experienced auctioneer was able to recover for a private firm more than double the average return which the disposal agencies have brought back to the U. S. Treasury. This is only one case in many . . . there are hundreds of experienced machinery men as well as auctioneers who could just as efficiently obtain a greater net return to the government than is being obtained today.
Congress would do well to spend more time untangling the surplus situation where there still are billions of dollars in taxpayers’ monies tied up, rather than digging in the boneyard of already-renegotiated war contracts which at the outside would amount to only a fraction of what can be salvaged in war surplus.
We repeat that the Congressional Committees responsible could render a real service to their constituents by putting the entire surplus program on a sound business basis immediately!