I AM TODAY appointing a commission of 15 distinguished American citizens to make a thorough study of the Federal budget and the manner in which it is presented to the Congress and the public.
Mr. David M. Kennedy, chairman of the board of the Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust Company of Chicago, will be chairman of the commission. The chairmen and the ranking minority members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees have also agreed to serve on the commission. In addition, the commission will include the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, and the Comptroller General. The other members are private citizens, all recognized experts in the fields of finance and economics, some of whom have served previously in high Government .positions. I may appoint one or two other private citizens to the commission in the near future.
In my Budget Message last January, I pointed out that:
"For many years--under many administrations-particularly aspects of the overall budget presentation, or the treatment of individual accounts, have been questioned on one ground or another.
"In the light of these facts, I believe a thorough and objective review of budgetary concepts is warranted. I therefore intend to seek advice on this subject from a bipartisan group of informed individuals with a background in budgetary matters."
It is my hope that the group I am appointing today--outstanding and informed men with wide-ranging experience in business, government, economics, and budgetary matters-can advise me on the best approaches to the presentation of the Federal budget.
Tradition and precedent have played an important role over the years in the shaping of our budgetary rules and presentation. The fact is that today all are agreed that some of our traditional budget concepts do not adequately portray how the Federal Government's activities affect the health of the American economy and the lives of the American people.
The Federal budget is a vital document. The Federal budget is a complex document. It is vital because it affects the lives of every man, woman, and child in this Nation. It is complex because it encompasses the full scope of the Federal Government's activities. Yet, because of its complexity and scope, there are few who understand it. The study this group is to undertake should assist both public and congressional understanding of this important document.
I am asking the commission to prepare its recommendations by September. If it appears necessary to extend the deliberations beyond this date, the September report can be in the nature of a progress report. It is my hope that at least some of the recommendations of the commission can be incorporated in my next year's budget.
We are fortunate in having assembled so able and distinguished a group of citizens to undertake this task.