Special Message to the Congress Transmitting Reorganization Plan 2 of 1953 Concerning the Department of Agriculture.
To the Congress of the United States:
I transmit herewith Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953, prepared in accordance with the Reorganization Act of 1949, as amended, and providing for reorganizations in the Department of Agriculture.
Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 is designed to make it possible for the Secretary of Agriculture to simplify and improve the internal organization of the Department of Agriculture. It is substantially in accord with the recommendations made in 1949 by the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government.
With certain exceptions, Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 transfers to the Secretary of Agriculture the functions now vested by law in other officers, and in the agencies and employees, of the Department. It allows the Secretary to authorize any other officer, agency, or employee of the Department to perform any function vested in the Secretary. He is directed to utilize this delegation authority in such a way as to further certain objectives set forth in the reorganization plan. Those objectives are to simplify and make effective the operation of the Department of Agriculture, to place the administration of farm programs close to the State and local levels, and to adapt the administration of the programs of the Department to regional, State, and local conditions. Further, to the extent deemed practicable by the Secretary, he is required to give appropriate advance public notice and to afford appropriate opportunity for interested persons and groups to present to the Department of Agriculture their views on such proposed delegations of the Secretary as involve assignments of major functions or major groups of functions to major constituent organizational units of the Department or their officers.
Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 will permit the establishment of a clearer line of responsibility and authority from the President through the Secretary of Agriculture down to the lowest level of operations in the Department. It will make the Secretary responsible under law for activities within his Department for which he is now in fact held accountable by the President, the Congress, and the public. Also, it will enable the Secretary, from time to time, to adjust the organization of the Department in order to achieve continuous improvement in operations to meet changing conditions.
The Congress has in the past repeatedly followed the sound policy of vesting functions directly in department heads so that they can be held accountable for the performance of their agencies. In acting upon recommendations of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, the Congress approved, in 1949 and 1950, a series of statutes and reorganization plans which applied that policy to all the executive departments except the Department of Defense and the Department of Agriculture. While some laws vest important functions directly in the Secretary of Agriculture, others place major functions in subordinate officers and agencies of the Department. By transferring to the Secretary the latter functions, with certain exceptions, the reorganization plan corrects the present patchwork assignment of statutory functions in the Department.
The functions excepted from transfer to the Secretary are the functions of hearing examiners under the Administrative Procedure Act; of the corporations of the Department, including their boards of directors and officers; of the Advisory Board of the Commodity Credit Corporation; and of the Farm Credit Administration and the banks, corporations, and associations supervised by it.
The exception of the hearing examiners is in accordance with the intent of the Administrative Procedure Act, and is consistent with the status of hearing examiners in other departments and agencies.
The corporations of the Department, together with their boards of directors and officers, are excepted because they have a different legal status than other constituent agencies of the Department. Bodies corporate have independent legal personalities and act in their own name rather than in the name of the Department of Agriculture or of the United States.
The same reasons which prompt the exception of the corporations of the Department make desirable the exception of the entities supervised by the Farm Credit Administration. The Farm Credit Administration itself is also excepted, since it is anticipated that general legislation covering this field will be recommended to the Congress.
The Department of Agriculture now has only one Assistant Secretary. Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 provides the Secretary with two more Assistant Secretaries and an Administrative Assistant Secretary to aid him in supervising the Department. The Assistant Secretaries will be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Administrative Assistant Secretary will be appointed under the classified civil service by the Secretary, with the approval of the President. These methods of appointment are similar to those prevailing in other executive departments.
The Secretary will prescribe the functions to be performed by these new assistants. It is his intention to have the new Assistant Secretaries aid him in providing closer policy and program supervision over the Department of Agriculture, and to have the new Administrative Assistant Secretary perform substantially the same role as that performed by the Administrative Assistant Secretaries in other departments. Thus, the new officers will assist the Secretary in giving continuous attention to matters which are essential for the most efficient and economical operation of the Department.
The Secretary of Agriculture has advised me that the two new offices of Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, and the one new office of Administrative Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, provided for in the Reorganization Plan, will merely replace existing positions in the Department, and that hence the creation of these offices will not result in any net increase in the personnel in the Department of Agriculture. He has further advised me that both the number of officers and employees in the Office of the Secretary and the aggregate of their salaries will be less than those existing prior to January 1, 1953.
The Secretary of Agriculture, aided by the Interim Agricultural Advisory Committee, has been studying the organization and functions of the Department of Agriculture. Recently the Secretary rearranged the organizational units of the Department so as to form (in addition to the Office of the Solicitor and a reorganized Foreign Agricultural Service) four major groups of agencies, each with a supervising head to whom the agencies within the group report. By so doing, the Secretary sought both to reduce the number of separate officials reporting to him and to improve coordination within the Department. Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 will make it possible for the Secretary to make further internal adjustments within the Department as study and experience identify opportunities for improvement. It will thus further the better management of the affairs of the Department of Agriculture.
After investigation I have found and hereby declare that each reorganization included in Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 is necessary to accomplish one or more of the purposes set forth in section 2 (a) of the Reorganization Act of 1949, as amended.
I have found and hereby declare that it is necessary to include in the accompanying reorganization plan, by reason of reorganizations made thereby, provisions for the appointment and compensation of two Assistant Secretaries of Agriculture and an Administrative Assistant Secretary of Agriculture. The rates of compensation fixed for these officers are those which I have found to prevail in respect of comparable officers in the executive branch of the Government.
Reductions in expenditures will result from reorganizations of the Department of Agriculture made possible by the taking effect of Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953, but such reductions cannot be itemized at this time.
I recommend that the Congress allow the accompanying reorganization plan to become effective
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Note: Reorganization Plan 2 of 1953 is published in the U.S. Statutes at Large (67 Stat. 633) and in the 1949-1953 Compilation of title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations (p. 1024). It became effective on June 4, 1953.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Special Message to the Congress Transmitting Reorganization Plan 2 of 1953 Concerning the Department of Agriculture. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231568