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Letter to the Speaker of the House Transmitting a Supplemental Estimate of Appropriation for Emergency Construction Funds.

December 04, 1930

I have the honor to transmit herewith for the consideration of Congress an estimate of appropriation for the fiscal year 1931, amounting to $150,000,000, for an emergency construction fund to enable the Chief Executive to accelerate work on construction projects already authorized by law so as to increase employment.

In my annual message to the Congress, I requested that an appropriation of from $100,000,000 to $150,000,000 be granted for this purpose, and this estimate is in furtherance of that request. As I stated in that message, the application of this money to work already authorized by the Congress not only limits its application to work already directed by Congress but assures its use in directions, the economic importance of which has already been determined by Congress. This plan also avoids the long delays incident to selection of new projects by Congress and the further long delays in technical preparation which new projects would require, both of which would render such action of no purpose in emergency relief of unemployment.

I suggested in my message that the allocation of the monies between the different authorized projects should be made upon recommendation of a committee of the Cabinet. Such a committee should comprise the Secretaries of the Treasury, War, Navy, Commerce, and Agriculture, and may be established in the terms of the appropriation or appointed by me.

The test of the value of such relief is the ability to pay wages between now and the end of the fiscal year, and I therefore urge .that this estimate be given early consideration.

The details concerning this estimate are set forth in the letter of the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, transmitted herewith



[The Speaker of the House of Representatives ]

Note: The Budget Director's letter, dated December 4, 1930, follows:


By your direction, I have the honor to submit herewith a supplemental estimate of appropriation for the fiscal year 1931 for the purpose of accelerating during the remainder of the current fiscal year such work on authorized governmental construction projects as will increase employment during the present emergency, as follows:

Emergency Construction Fund ...............................$150,000,000

In response to your request I have canvassed the departments with a view to ascertaining how much money could be spent during the next six months with a view to aiding the unemployment situation if additional funds could be provided.

This canvass has been conducted with the limitations which you indicated kept clearly in mind, namely, (1) items which would require additional Congressional authorization have been eliminated, (2) items which do not afford direct benefit to the employment situation within the next six months have been eliminated, (3) only such items have been included as are believed to be justified on their merits and for which money would be provided within the next few years as Government finances would permit, and (4) while some of these projects cannot be fully completed within the next six months and will necessarily involve some additional future expenditure to complete them, the emphasis has been laid in every case upon the relief which would be afforded to the unemployment situation during the next six months and projects which would involve materially larger expenditures in the future to complete them have been eliminated, except in those cases where the commencement of the project is contemplated in the 1932 estimates now before Congress.

In view of the necessary technical work in the preparation of plans and estimates, the acquisition of sites, etc., it is impossible at this time to make an absolute determination of all the projects upon which money can be effectively and efficiently spent for the purpose of aiding employment within the next six months. I am still conducting hearings on these proposals of the departments in order to be in a position to recommend to you from time to time the projects to which I believe money should be allocated if an appropriation for this purpose is provided.

For your information, I append a list by departments and bureaus of the amounts which it is believed could effectively be spent during the next six months for aid to the employment situation.

By far the greater part of these projects are not provided for in the estimates of appropriations for the fiscal year 1932 transmitted in the Budget, but there are some items in the list which have been so included in the 1932 Budget. It is my understanding that should it be practicable and advisable to allocate part of the emergency appropriation to these items, any money appropriated in the 1932 appropriation acts for the same purpose could be impounded by the department concerned under instruction from you unless required for the continuation of the same project.

It is pertinent to mention a fact which has been repeatedly developed in the course of the hearings upon these items, namely, that the amount of benefit to the employment situation during the next six months is not fully reflected in the amount of money expended by the Government during that period, as on contracting work where there is a lag of from one to two months or more between the actual execution of the work and the Federal payment for it. This is particularly true with regard to Federal Aid highway construction, where the lag frequently exceeds three months. In other words, the contractor is paying the wages of the workmen and buying material for a particular job a month or two before money is paid out of the Federal treasury to reimburse him.

This supplemental estimate of appropriation is required to meet an emergency which has arisen since the transmission of the Budget for the fiscal year 1931.
Very respectfully,

Director of the Bureau of the Budget

[The President, The White House]


Office of the Secretary $83, 480
Animal Industry 57, 995
Biological Survey 489, 505
Dairy Industry 114, 000
Forest Service 540, 000
Plant Quarantine and Control 35, 000

Weather Bureau $5, 000
Federal Aid Highway System 80, 000, 000

.............................................................................................. Total, Department of Agriculture........................................................................... $84, 324, 980


Air Navigation Facilities 325, 000
Public Works, Aids to Navigation 538, 000
Repair of Vessels, Coast Survey 70, 000
Construction of Stations, Bureau of Fisheries 150, 000
Total, Department of Commerce $1, 083, 000


Bureau of Indian Affairs 1,083, 000
National Park Service 1,650, 000
Office of Education 250, 000
St. Elizabeths Hospital 495, 000
Howard University 229, 000
Freedmen's Hospital 50, 000
Total, Department of the Interior $3, 757, 000


United States Reformatory (to be located west of the Mississippi River) $100, 000
National Training School for Boys, Washington, D.C 155, 000
Hospital for defective delinquents 100, 000
Total, Department of Justice 355, 000


Bureau of Yards and Docks--Public Works $4, 620, 000


Coast Guard $170, 000


Military Activities--
Quartermaster Corps $9, 694, 500
Seacoast Defenses 3, 161, 000
Signal Corps 393, 000
Air Corps 751, 000
Ordnance Department 6, 902, 000
Chemical Warfare Service 1, 447, 000
United States Military Academy 1, 465, 000
National Guard 2, 042, 000
Reserve Officers' Training Corps 672, 000
Total, Military Activities $30, 527, 500


Nonmilitary Activities --
Quartermaster Corps $1,266, 300
Corps of Engineers 25, 500, 000
Total, Nonmilitary Activities 26, 766, 300
Grand total, War Department $57, 293, 800


Department of Agriculture $84, 324, 980
Department of Commerce 1,083, 000
Department of the Interior 3, 757, 000
Department of Justice 355, 000
Navy Department 4, 620, 000
Treasury Department 170, 000
War Department 57, 293, 800
Total $151, 603, 780


Emergency Construction Fund

For the purpose of accelerating during the remainder of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1931, such governmental construction projects as have already been authorized by law and will increase public employment during the present emergency, including repairs and alterations and the expedition of work on rivers and harbors, flood control, buildings, utilities and appurtenances at military posts, the United States Supreme Court Building, hospitals and domiciliary facilities of the Veterans' Administration, the Federal aid highway system, roads and trails in the National Forests and National Parks, air-navigation facilities, aids to navigation under the Lighthouse Service, naval vessels and buildings and appurtenances at navy yards and naval stations, penitentiaries, reformatories, jails, and prison camps, the public buildings program under the Act of May 25, 1926, as amended, and the Arlington Memorial Bridge Commission, $150,000,000, to be allocated by the President, in such amounts as he may determine the public interest requires, to the several executive departments and independent establishments charged with the prosecution of such enterprises. Allocations made hereunder shall be to specific projects in stated amounts and each allocation shall be accounted for separately. Allotments, when so specified by the President, shall be available for employment, by contract or otherwise, of outside professional or technical services of persons, firms, or corporations, without reference to the Classification Act of 1923, as amended, or Section 3709 of the Revised Statutes (U.S.C., title 41, sec. 5) and also for the employment in any department or establishment in the District of Columbia and/or in the field of such other personal services as may be necessary hereunder, to be procured and compensated in accordance with existing law. The President is authorized to apportion to the several States under the provisions of the Federal Highway Act, as amended, any part of the appropriation herein made, as a temporary advance of funds to meet the provisions of such Act as to State funds required on Federal aid projects, the sums so advanced to be reimbursed to the Federal Government over a period of five years, commencing with the fiscal year 1933, by making deductions from regular apportionments made from future authorizations for carrying out the provisions of such Act, as amended and supplemented: Provided, That the amounts apportioned in consequence hereof shall be limited in each case to the sum actually paid out by a State for work performed before July 1, 1931, for the construction of Federal aid projects: Provided further, That should any State fail to claim any part of its allotment hereunder the President may reapportion such unclaimed funds to States capable of using them prior to July 1, 1931.

Herbert Hoover, Letter to the Speaker of the House Transmitting a Supplemental Estimate of Appropriation for Emergency Construction Funds. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/210929

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