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So, immediately following the date of that report, which was on March 17, we wrote to the chairman of this committee, Mr. Michener, and presented the matter to him with alternative drafts of legislation to take care of he matter if he deemed it appropriate to do so.
He introduced a bill and this hearing is on that bill.
A word about the statute involved. The statute in section 4450 of the Revised Statutes, which is found in section 239 of title 46 of the United States Code. This statute provides for hearings in cases involving charges against licensed and certificated merchant marine personnel. Merchant marine officers are licensed and seamen are certificated. It provides that, where they have been incompetent or negligent in their duties, or disobeyed the laws and regulations applicable to the merchant marine, investigation should be made and, if justified, charges should be preferred against them and hearings held on the charges.
Normally there are about 18,000 of these investigations a year and they go to hearing approximately at the rate of 5,000 a year. That is, about 5,000 hearings a year are actually held.
Mr. KEATING. Now held by the Coast Guard?
Mr. SPINGARN. Yes, sir.
Mr. KEFAUVER. May I ask a question?
Mr. GRAHAM. Yes, sir.
Mr. KEFAUVER. I cannot understand the saving feature if the Coast Guard does the work.
Mr. SPINGARN. That is an important point.
Mr. KEFAUVER. If the Coast Guard does the work you save $281,000, but that seems to be assuming you have extra personnel in the Coast Guard without interfering with your regular line of work.
Mr. SPINGARN. Here is the situation, Mr. Kefauver. At present these functions are carried out through 48 Coast Guard hearing units in the United States, and 11 overseas. In only a very few ports does this represent a majority amount of the time of the Coast Guard officers who carry it on. In some ports, like New York, there are personnel who would be engaged full time or virtually full time in this work, and in the smaller ports it might represent only 10, 20, or 30 percent of the time of the Coast Guard personnel.
However, under the Administrative Procedure Act civilian civil service examiners would carry on this work. The Administrative Procedure Act appears to contemplate this hearing work would be full time work for examiners. In any event this type of civilian personnel would obviously not be suitable for the ordinary work of the Coast Guard.
If Coast Guard commissioned officers carry it out, if it requires 10 percent of their time, the other 90 percent will be available for other work of the Coast Guard, whereas, as we understand the situation, the civilian civil service examiners will be sitting idle a great deal of the time in a great many of the ports where they will be used. We do not think Congress would consider this desirable.
It is not possible to docket these hearings in the usual way because you are confronted with a situation where a vessel comes in and the captain prefers charges against a seaman, or the seaman may have a complaint against an officer. An immediate investigation has to be made and a hearing has to be held very promptly because that ship may turn around within a few hours, or within a day and go out to sea
again, or the crew may disperse on shore, and unless the hearing is held promptly your witnesses will be gone.
Mr. KEATING. Well, now, I had in mind exactly the point that Congressman Kefauver has brought out here. If these officers had 10 or 20 or 30 percent of their time taken up with this work and they were relieved of that, they could devote 10 or 20 or 30 percent of their time to some other activities and thereby reduce the number of personnel, could they not?
Mr. SPINGARN. Well, some saving will result. I mean there would be some transfer of work of commissioned personnel. We think it would be a relatively small percentage of the $281,000 that would be required to have full time civilian civil service examiners.
Mr. KEATING. Have you any estimate?
Mr. SPINGARN. Have you, Captain Richmond?
Captain RICHMOND. No, sir. It is practically impossible. You are comparing officers who have attained permanent status in the Coast Guard. It would be very difficult to show, outside of one or two grades, where you would save in the over-all number of cases, except with one or two officers. The Coast Guard has many different functions for which the officers would be available. In dollars and cents. it would be very difficult to estimate savings.
Mr. KEATING. At how many ports outside of New York do you have personnel who are exclusively engaged in this work?
Captain RICHMOND. The three major ports right now are New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans.
Mr. KEATING. Do you have a record of the number?
Captain RICHMOND. We have 29 officers presently engaged in doing nothing but hearing cases.
Mr. KEATING. And then you have an over-all group probably in Washington to supervise their activities?
Captain RICHMOND. At the present time we have not, but we will have under the Administrative Procedure Act to establish such a group. We estimate it will take two or three.
Mr. KEATING. And what will be the approximate total number of that group of people?
Mr. KEFAUVER. 29 officers, plus two or three.
Mr. KEATING. Yes.
Captain RICHMOND. There is one point I want to make on this 29. That is not a complete list because in some ports, at the present time we have not appointed officers as examiners. We originally estimated we would need 43 to cover both domestic and foreign ports. It may be in the near future we will abandon any disciplinary proceedings in foreign ports, which would reduce it from 43 to 31. We would need 31 examiners which would reduce the original estimate.
Now, on your question of the present officers, I can only use an average figure for it. The salaries of those officers would run about $145,000 to $150,000.
Mr. KEFAUVER. I assume you have stenographers and court reporters.
Captain RICHMOND. Yes, but we plan to absorb that cost in some cases. If these examiners are appointed it is going to be mighty difficult to run under the Administrative Procedure Act. You are really setting up a separate corps.
Mr. KEATING. I do not understand you will absorb it. If you do not have work to do you will not need the personnel to do the work.
Captain RICHMOND. Maybe I can explain it. Before the advent of the Administrative Procedure Act we established the hearing units which were administered as a combined unit. That is to say, the investigative work and hearing examiner's work were all administered through the same unit. Therefore, you could use your stenographic help and clerical help much more economically, because the man who wrote up the charges and specifications was available to also act as reporter.
Mr. KEATING. You had a figure you presented to the Bureau of the Budget.
Captain RICHMOND. $281,000 for 43 examiners.
Mr. KEATING. That is the figure you are estimating it will cost the civil service to do the job?
Mr. SPINGARN. It would cost us. We would actually have to pay them. They would be on our pay roll.
Mr. KEATING. It would come out of your pay roll anyway?
Mr. SPINGARN. Yes, sir.
Mr. KEATING. You think you can do it more economically with your own personnel?
Mr. SPINGARN. I do not think there is any question about that.
Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. Springarn, do you base that on the fact you are more familiar with the terms and things of that kind?
Mr. SPINGARN. No, sir; not entirely. We base it on the fact the civil service examiners in many ports would have little of their time occupied on these hearings and they could not be used for other Coast Guard work, partly because they are not qualified for it and the rules do not provide for it, whereas the Coast Guard officer would do other Coast Guard duties.
Mr. KEFAUVER. May I ask one more question?
Mr. GRAHAM. Yes, sir.
Mr. KEFAUVER. The seaman or someone who is entitled to a hearing under section 4450, can he get that hearing at any port of entry in the United States?
Mr. SPINGARN. The hearing would be at a port.
Mr. KEFAUVER. At how many places in the United States can hearings be held?
Mr. SPINGARN. Forty-eight.
Mr. KEFAUVER. But there are three places you say where the majority will be held.
Captain RICHMOND. That relates to districts. That does not necessarily mean the port. The Coast Guard organization has 14 districts, and in 5 of our districts there are relatively few cases, so we have not designated anyone to act as examiner.
Mr. KEFAUVER. One more question, Mr. Chairman. Is there ever any conflict in position between the officers of the Coast Guard and the officers of the Merchant Marine?
Captain RICHMOND. Maybe I do not quite understand your question, sir.
Mr. KEFAUVER. That is, are the Coast Guard officers in every case competent? Of course, I know they are officers, but is there ever any
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situation where their position might make them an incompetent court to hear the charges?
Captain RICHMOND. We do not feel that it is, sir. Of course, obviously, where you sit in a quasi-judicial position, the person who is being heard may feel that the decision is unjust.
Mr. KEFAUVER. Assume you have a Coast Guard officer. Suppose a charge is preferred against a Merchant Marine officer and you have a Coast Guard officer hearing his case. Do you think it is in keeping with our judicial system to have an officer of one branch of the service pass judgment on officers of another branch of the service?
Captain RICHMOND. We feel that it is; yes. It is not, strictly speaking, another branch of the service. It is a question whether a man has the qualifications to resolve the case before him and we feel that has been amply justified in 5 years. It was in 1943 that we instituted this system. I think the Coast Guard has handled over 30,000 cases, officers and men, and I think that an examination of those cases will demonstrate that the decisions have been uniformly fair and those people who have, as I say, felt that any particular decision was unfair, have the right of appeal.
Mr. KEFAUVER. To what?
Mr. KEATING. To whom?
Captain RICHMOND. To the Commandant of the Coast Guard.
Captain RICHMOND. Yes, sir.
Mr. KEATING. What did they do before 1943?
Captain RICHMOND. It was under the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation and exactly under the same statute it is administered under now.
Mr. KEATING. Were the merchant marine officers then the ones hearing the charge in the first instance?
Captain RICHMOND. The inspectors, the employees of the former Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, were merchant marine officers, but also a great majority of the Coast Guard officers are the same inspectors who heard the cases before.
Mr. KEFAUVER. Is there ever any opportunity to get to a civilian court through this present procedure?
Captain RICHMOND. It has never been done, sir.
Mr. KEFAUVER. What is the ultimate route?
Captain RICHMOND. I would rather you answer that, Captain Harrison.
Captain HARRISON. You mean the present system?
Mr. KEFAUVER. Yes.
Captain HARRISON. They would go into court and have the case reviewed for errors of law.
Mr. KEFAUVER. What court would they go into?
Captain HARRISON. The district court.
Mr. KEATING. Errors of law. They get no review of the facts? Captain HARRISON. No, sir.
Mr. GRAHAM. It would not be an action de novo, would it?
Captain HARRISON. No, sir. Under the old system the Director of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation made the decision in the first instance and passed on evidence presented to him by these marine boards. Then, there was an appeal from the decision of the
Director to the Secretary of Commerce, and under Reorganization Plan No. 3 the functions of the Director of the Bureau and of the Secretary with respect to this type of case were transferred to the Commandant of the Coast Guard.
Mr. SPINGARN. Well, actually would not the situation be this, Captain Harrison: The Administrative Procedure Act itself, section 10, would provide for the scope of the review. That is the review provision.
Mr. KEFAUVER. It does not apply to the armed services. Is this part of the armed services? I presume it is. We are still in war.
Mr. SPINGARN. The Coast Guard is back under the Treasury and is not to be included under that. What do you think, Captain Harrison? Captain HARRISON. I agree with you on that. It is a military organization.
Mr. KEFAUVER. You think there is a right of review?
Captain HARRISON. Yes. Even with this amendment the provision for appeal would not be affected.
Mr. KEFAUVER. May I ask one more question.
Mr. GRAHAM. Certainly.
Mr. KEFAUVER, You stated, or the Captain stated, Mr. Spingarn, you had 29 officers doing this work exclusively. Is that right?
Mr. SPINGARN. Yes, sir.
Captain RICHMOND. That is right, the hearing boards.
Mr. KEFAUVER. Suppose you had to follow the present law and get civilian personnel to take care of those hearings, what would you plan to do with those 29 officers?
Captain RICHMOND. That would be a very difficult question to answer. They would take their places for allocation of duty along with other officers. Some of those officers are former inspectors of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation who would revert to doing regular inspection work as distinguished from this hearing work, and there are a few reserve officers who presumably would be placed on the inactive duty list. I could not give you a categoric answer. Mr. GRAHAM. Is that all, Mr. Kefauver?
MI. KEFAUVER. That is all.
Mr. GRAHAM. Any questions, Mr. Lewis?
Mr. LEWIS. I would like to know why these civilians were put in this work by the act of last year.
Mr. SPINGARN. They have not actually entered on the job, Mr. Lewis. Mr. LEWIS. I understand that.
Mr. SPINGARN. Section 7 of the Administrative Procedure Act, and I think I have a copy here, provides that all cases of adjudication which are within the scope of section 5 of the act, and these are such hearings that shall be held either by the agency, and in this case that would be the Commandant of the Coast Guard, who obviously cannot hold 5,000 hearings, not personally, or by a civil service examiner appointed pursuant to section 11 under standards laid down by the Civil Service Commission. That is the provision in the Administrative Procedure Act.
Mr. LEWIS. That covers not only your agency but many others? Mr. SPINGARN. It covers all hearings falling within the same provision throughout the government.
Mr. LEWIS. Do you know how many agencies to which that is applicable?