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I have a brief prepared statement which I would like to present to the committee. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to entitle the organist and choirmaster and the civilian instructors in the departments of foreign languages and tactics at the U.S. Military Academy to public quarters without charge when they are available and to fuel and light without charge when quarters are occupied.
The existing law, section 4339, title 10, United States Code, provides that the organist and choirmaster of the Academy and the civilian instructors in the departments of foreign languages and tactics are entitled to public quarters when they are available and to fuel and light therefor. Until January 1963 this law was interpreted by the Department of the Army to authorize quarters, fuel and light. without charge to the individuals in question.
On 17 January 1963 the Comptroller General of the United States ruled that the compensation of each of the employees in question must be reduced by the reasonable value of the Government quarters furnished. This was based on an interpretation that the effect of Public Law 429, 81st Congress, the Classification Act of 1949, was to require that the compensation of the Government employees in question be reduced by the reasonable value of quarters furnished sothat the total compensation, cash and value of allowances furnished in kind, does not exceed the Classification Act rate for the position. The civilian instructors and the organist were hired with the understanding that the quarters, heat and light would be furnished without charge, but since February 1963 thay have been losing the value of the quarters rental, heat and light from their pay. This situation has caused two employees to seek employment elsewhere, and others have indicated a desire to leave if they do not receive relief.
The Department of the Army on behalf of the Department of Defense assumes that the enactment of H.R. 7973 will reaffirm the congressional intent as established by section 4339, title 10, and provide authority to furnish quarters, heat and light without charge to the organist and choirmaster and the civilian instructors in the departments of foreign languages and tactics at the U.S. Military Academy. For the foregoing reasons, the Department of the Army on behalf of the Department of defense recommends that the bill be favorably considered.
I have appreciated the opportunity of appearing before the committee and shall be happy to answer any questions you may have on. this bill.
Chairman RUSSELL. I have one. I don't understand this section 2 on page 2, where it says "This amendatory act shall be effective as of October 29, 1949.” That is one of the most retroactive acts I have ever seen in my experience of the Congress.
Colonel RocKWELL. Yes, sir, I apprediate your concern. However, I think I can explain the technical language here. The Classification Act of 1949 is the basis for the Comptroller General's decision. Technically, we propose to make the bill retroactive to that date so that during the period 1949 to 1963, when these individuals in question did in fact receive quarters, heat and light free, based on the Army's determination, that they would not now be subject to payment to the Army to make up for this amount that they had received.
In other words, we just want to protect the individual, sir, during that period.
Chairman RussELL. I am not as much concerned about getting money out of the individual as I am the individual coming in and presenting some bill for commutation of quarters or allowances.
Colonel ROCKWELL. Yes, sir. For the period 1949 to 1963, the individuals were provided quarters, heat, and light.
Chairman RUSSELL. How about from 1963 to date?
Colonel ROCKWELL. From 1963 to the present date, based on the Comptroller General's decision, there could be a claim against the Government. This claim would amount to some $60,000 to $70,000 for that period.
Chairman RUSSELL. I can't approve of this bill with that retroactive provision. . I think they should have this right, but I am not going back to pay $60,000 or $70,000, so far as I am concerned.
Colonel ROCKWELL. Sir, if I may state, the basic rationale by the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense was that these people were hired with an understanding that they would receive free quarters, light, and heat. This has been, by administrative action, denied them. Hence they have been losing this money, since 1963. So, for those people who were hired prior to that time, it is in a sense a breech of contract on the part of the Department of the Army.
Chairman RUSSELL. They have known it and they didn't leave. They weren't enlisted. They weren't officers. They didn't have to resign from the Army. They could have quit any day they wanted to, couldn't they?
Colonel ROCKWELL. That is correct, sir. However, I believe that it is in the best interests of the Academy that they did remain, since these people are highly qualified individuals that we would have a hard time replacing. It is in our best interests to, in effect, talk them into staying there, because they perform a service to the Academy and to the cadets that would be very difficult to be performed by other personnel.
Chairman RUSSELL. Who is authorized to speak for the Government in promising they would get this rebate of $60,000, or $70,000?
Colonel RocKWELL. Sir, we have not promised them anything.
Senator SYMINGTON. But you said that you did. In other words, you said when you hired them you promised them something.
Colonel ROCKWELL. They were hired prior to 1963, sir.
Senator SYMINGTON. Whenever they were hired, somebody promised them something that they are not getting; did they not?
Colonel ROCKWELL. That is correct, sir.
Colonel RockWELL. The Department of the Army. When they were hired prior to the Classification Act, and prior to the decision by the Comptroller General, they were hired specifically with the understanding they would receive quarters, light, and heat.
Senator SÝMINGTON. Have they been receiving it?
Colonel ROCKWELL. Not since 1963, sir. They have been paying for their quarters, heat, and lights since 1963. Prior to that time they were furnished free. This historically goes back to the 1940's.
Senator SYMINGTON. So what you are saying then is whoever did promise them kept the promise until the General Accounting Office said it was illegal to keep the promise; is that right?
Colonel ROCKWELL. That is correct.
Senator SYMINGTON. Thank you.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask two questions. Why do you draw a distinction between the choirmaster and the civilian instructors in the departments of foreign language? The organist and choirmasters are entitled to quarters without charge when they are available, and yet you don't make that distinction with relation to the civilian instructors. They are entitled to privat quarters. If the choirmaster is going to be given public quarters why shouldn't you strike out “when they are available”?
Colonel Rockwell. Sir, when the bill was introduced, it was intended to reaffirm that which is presently stated in the law, and the law reads just as you have indicated. There is a distinction at pres
The only addition provided by this bill is the inclusion of "without charge." But as far as a distinction between whether he is given quarters when available or entitled to quarters as in the case of the foreign language instructors and
Senator SALTONSTALL. Mr. Chairman, it simply seems to me that if we are going to change the law because of the necessity, we ought to make it clear that he either is going to get the quarters or he is not. Are there quarters available for the choirmaster up there now?
Colonel ROCKWELL. There are none at this time because the complement of the Military Academy is full.
Senator SALTONSTALL. They are available now?
Colonel ROCKWELL. They would have to be made available by the Superintendent, sir. There are no empty quarters as such there now
Senator SALTONSTALL. Where is the choirmaster living now?
Colonel RocKWELL. He, in fact, had quarters on the post and elected to move off the post when he had to start paying rent, because he could, I believe, find cheaper quarters off the post.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Now this other question. In the committee report, the Bureau of the Budget is opposed to this in its present form. Is that because of what the chairman has brought out?
Colonel ROCKWELL. Sir, I am not sure specifically as to the position of the Bureau of the Budget. However, they indicated in their comments that this would establish, in the future, not in retroactive respect but in the future, a different category of civil service personnel—that is, instructors at the Military Academy, civilian instructors, professors, of which there are some 16 at present.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Do the laws of civil service come into this question then? If we give these quarters, are we going to run into the question of civil service?
Colonel ROCKWELL. These are civil service employees, sir.
Senator SALTONSTALL. And so, if we do this, then we are making a distinction from other civil service employees?
Colonel ROCKWELL. In that sense, yes, sir.
Senator SALTONSTALL. And have you consulted the Civil Service Commission on this?
Colonel ROCKWELL. To my knowledge, no, sir-not the Commission as such.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Now, Mr. Chairman, shouldn't we, in view of what the lieutenant colonel has said, get some statement from the Civil Service Commission? It seems to me we should. If this is going to draw a distinction between the organist and the foreign
language instructors who are civil service employees, if they are going to be in a different group from their colleagues who are under the civil service laws, shouldn't we get some ruling from them?
Colonel ROCKWELL. Sir, I am sure we could. I would like to interject a thought, sir, as to why we consider that they are different. First of all, these individuals wear a uniform at the Academy and perform the duties of an officer. They are civilians only because they have a specific talent that is very difficult, if not impossible, to obtain from the officer corps. In physical education, for example, they are specialists in this field.
Senator SALTONSTALL. I agree with all of that.
Colonel ROCKWELL. Yes, sir; so we feel that in essence they are separated by their duties, by the fact that they are required to work with cadets, not only on the 8-hour day, but as any officer at the Academy works with them.
Senator SalToNSTALL. But they aren't differentiated. Certainly, every member of this committee knows that mighty few people in this country can play the organ and play it well.
Mr. Chairman, I don't know why that is funny. I know it is true.
And I don't believe there are many people around this table who can talk a foreign language, but that doesn't mean that the Civil Service Commission, with whom we have a great deal of trouble all along on changing laws, and so on, would put them in a separate category. That is all I am trying to bring out.
Chairman Russell. To state this in its simplest terms, Colonel, the other instructors there are military personnel.
Colonel ROCKWELL. That is correct, sir.
. Colonel ROCKWELL. Yes, sir.
Chairman RUSSELL. These people who are specialists are not military personnel, though they perform the same services as the military personnel, and the object of this bill is to let them enjoy the same benefits.
Senator SALTONSTALL. That is right.
Chairman RUSSELL. As their fellow faculty members who are military personnel.
Colonel ROCKWELL. That is correct.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Mr. Chairman, may I ask one more question?
Chairman RUSSELL. Yes.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Assuming everything that the Chairman has said is true, and I know it is true, why do you still make a distinction by saying to the organist that he is entitled, when they are available? Shouldn't we, if we are going to change the law, why shouldn't we strike those words out?
Colonel ROCKWELL. Sir, I don't believe there would be any objection to doing so. The only reason I can give you, sir, for it being that way is that the bill attempts to reaffirm the law as it now is stated in title 10.
Senator SALTONSTALL. But that isn't fair to him as compared to the foreign-language instructors.
Colonel ROCKWELL. That is true sir. There is a distinction there.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator SYMINGTON. Why do you limit it to civilian instructors of foreign language and civilian instructors in tactics? How about history instructors, English instructors?
Colonel ROCKWELL. Sir, these are in sum total all the civilian instructors at the Military Academy.
Senator SYMINGTON. The rest are officers?
Colonel ROCKWELL. In other words, these are specialists in their particular field that we consider over the long haul we cannot provide continuing input from the officer corps for them.
Senator SYMINGTON. You say $70,000. How much does this amount to per family?
Colonel ROCKWELL. Sir, it is around-it depends on the size of the quarters—around $1,000 to $1,500 a year.
Senator SYMINGTON. $1,000 to $1,500 per year per family, is that right?
Colonel ROCKWELL. Yes, sir; which they are presently paying back to the Government for their quarters, heat, and light.
Senator SYMINGTON. Then I think the suggestion of taking it up with civil service is a good suggestion. You could solve this problem without legislation if you could get the civil service rating of the people in question increased to take care of the broken promise, couldn't you?
Colonel RocKWELL. That is correct, sir. However, I feel that the basic reason for not doing this artificially is
Senator SYMINGTON. That wouldn't be artificial. You would just get their rating increased.
Colonel ROCKWELL. Yes, sir.
Colonel ROCKWELL. Yes, sir. The problem is, under the Classification Act which establishes specific pay for a specific job, no matter where the job is done, these people are classified in a certain grade. Now, true, we have but one Military Academy and we have but one corps of civilian instructors there. But still the job has been classified across the board.
Senator SYMINGTON. What is the rating of a civil service instructor in a foreign language, and how much salary does he get?
Colonel ROCKWELL. Sir, there is a variance depending on the number of years they have been there. But within the Foreign Language Department we have GS-11's whose annual pay is something around $10,800.
Senator SYMINGTON. And you could handle this if you could get the civil service to increase that to $11,800 or $12,300, is that right?
Colonel ROCKWELL. Yes, sir. However, I am not familiar with the steps through which the civil service would have to go and what grade we would have to give this man to do it.
Senator SYMINGTON. Don't you think it might be a good idea to look into that with the Civil Service Commission instead of coming up with a new law, sort of a restrictive law?
Colonel ROCKWELL. Sir, the reason for not doing so is this. In a sense the law exists. The problem is that the Comptroller General