Remarks to State Directors of P.W.A.
I have seen a number of the other State representatives, but not P.W.A. Directors up to this time, and I am glad you came here for this conference. You know, of course, that we have spent a great deal of money during the past two years, but we find now not only that there are additional funds at our disposal but also that the need of permanent work all over the United States is not yet ended. We find that the deeper we go into it, the more opportunities we have to do constructive work in almost every community in the country.
You have been pioneers in what is really a new field. It is not merely construction, it is also the coordination of construction to the needs of various parts of the country. I know the obstacles you have had to face, the trying situations you have had to contend with.
As we view that public works program, I think we can take a pardonable pride in what we have done. We have given to the country useful projects of an enduring value. There is no question about that. You know the type of these projects better than anybody else; and I hope you will personally make every effort within your own States to show the people the usefulness and the enduring qualities of the work done.
We are faced by a kind of false information in regard to the expenditure of money. The actual listing of the projects we have worked on and completed or are at work on today—the mere telling to the people what we have accomplished- will dispel the false information that has been given out in many cases. We are going to repay many times over the money we have spent. We have increased the capital assets of the Nation.
The way in which you good people carried on this work is a source of great gratification. One thing we know. It is that we have kept the public works projects free from partisan politics. We have lived up to that obligation, undertaken two years ago, and we believe the money has been wisely, efficiently and honestly expended. The P.W.A. has set up a standard and an example for integrity in administration and disinterested public service.
You are now an important part of an even greater effort—one to be made during the next year which will provide quick employment so that we can attain, if possible, the goal we have set within this year 1935. Before the year is ended, we will end the dole we have been paying to employable persons during the last two years. In other words, we must give useful work to three and one-half million people and I believe we are going to do it.
In order to do it, of course, we are faced by a problem of arithmetic which is comparatively simple. We have four billion dollars and three and one-half million people to put to work with it. That means we have to average things up. It means that we have on the average about $1,140 per man year. That has to include the cost of the material, so that the four billion dollars includes not only the amount we pay the men but also the cost of the material. It is a perfectly simple arithmetical problem—we have to work out an average that will come within the sum of money divided by the number of people we have to put to work.
As you know, the P.W.A. grant has been changed, having been increased from 30 percent of the cost of labor and material involved in the project t|o 45 percent of the total cost. This means that the way is open for cities and towns and other municipal organizations to join with the Federal Government in getting these workers off the relief rolls. There is quite an incentive—being able to obtain a grant of 45 percent of the project.
Local public bodies willing to put up their share of 55 percent of the total cost of the project must, of course, be given first consideration. Some are going to try to prove to you that they cannot finance their share of the costs and it is up to you to find whether that proof is adequate.
Last week I approved and issued a statement that defines very clearly, I think, what shall be regarded as Public Works Administration projects and what shall be regarded as projects coming within the jurisdiction of the Works Progress Administration.
The importance of cooperative effort on the part of all these agencies of the Government is something we have to keep before us all the time. Besides yourselves, there are representatives of the National Emergency Council and the Works Progress Administration in each of the States. And so, I am asking you to remember that all three of you, the P.W.A. Directors, the National Emergency Council and Works Progress Administration men, are representatives of the Federal Government and that the responsibility for the success of the program in each State, at least in the first instance, is on these three representatives in each State.
While it is a Federal program and the Federal Government is ultimately responsible, the whole effort, of course, will depend in a very large measure upon close cooperation with the local authorities everywhere—Governors, mayors, county officials and other municipal agents.
Remember that speed is of the essence. We want the work done but we want it done now. We don't want it to run over into 1937 and 1938. This money was given to us by the Congress to spend during the fiscal year.
I am glad to have had this opportunity of seeing you and I know that you have important discussions ahead that you are eager to conclude so you can get back to your States. I am very sure that the fine spirit the P.W.A. has shown in the past and the very great success it has had in carrying out what it had undertaken-with efficiency and very definitely with honesty—are going to continue throughout the coming year.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks to State Directors of P.W.A. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208897