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and at the same time can be assured that their gifts will be wisely and effectively used. The success of almost every institution with which the cominittee has been called upon to deal can be traced to the devo. tion of one or more members of its board of management, and it would be a mistake for Congress to adopt any measures which will tend to make all of the charities of the District purely Government institutions. At the same time the District owes to certain of its dependents a duty which it should not seek to transfer to merely voluntary organizations supported by private gifts. The committee, therefore, would draw the line between the duty owed specifically to society in taking care of certain classes of dependents and that charity which may best be exercised by churches and benevolent organizations toward the poor and the needy with whom such organizations are brought into immediate contact.
THE PROBLEMS GRAVE, BUT NOT INCAPABLE OF SOLUTION.
The problems presented in the District of Columbia, while both numerous and grave, are by no means incapable of solution. Indeed, most of the difficulties that are now pressing for settlement here are essentially similar to those that either are pressing various States and cities, or that have already been met elsewhere. Moreover, the history of legislation in the District of Columbia since the present form of government came into operation shows conclusively that everyone who has been called upon to deal directly with the charities of the District has recognized the problems which have beset the committee, and has urged the solution which the committee now recommends.
THE COMMISSIONERS HAVE ALWAYS FAVORED A BOARD OF
The earliest reports of the Commissioners of the District of Columbia make appeals to Congress for a central board of charities to coordinate the various institutions, and to make suggestions for improvement, so that Congress might act intelligently in the matter of appropriations.
IN VAIN CONGRESS SEEKS INFORMATION.
Congress also has repeatedly called upon the Commissioners of the District for information which would enable that body to deal with District charities in a comprehensive manner, but hitherto the expected results have not been reached. In 1889 Congress did authorize the appointment of a superintendent of charities, and charged him with the duty of investigation and report. Unfortunately, however, the task was beyond the powers of any one man. The superintendent of charities, having behind him no board of influential citizens whom he could
1 See History, Chapter XV.
interest in the problems which he found pressing for solution and whose recommendations to Congress would carry weight, has often been compelled, seemingly, to antagonize the boards of trustees of the various charitable institutions, each of which boards was struggling to obtain for its particular institution the largest possible appropriation. The Commissioners of the District of Columbia, whose advisory and executive officer in the matter of charities the superintendent nominally is, have always found the multitude of their duties so pressing that they have never at any time been able to give to the subject any consideration whatever beyond urging Congress to place the whole matter in competent hands and confessing their own inability to do justice to so grave a subject. It is in this way that the committee accounts for the chaotic condition that at present exists in the District.
A BOARD OF CHARITIES RECOMMENDED.
The Committee therefore recommends, as the first step toward the efficient reorganization of the District charities, the appointment of a board of charities, to be composed of five residents of the District of Columbia. This board should have the power to visit and inspect all institutions that receive appropriations from Congress and that are of a charitable, eleemosynary, correctional, or reformatory character. This board should be appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and no payment for the care, support, and maintenance should be made to such charitable, eleemosy. nary, correctional, or reformatory institutions for any inmate of such institutions who is not received and retained therein pursuant to the rules established by the board of charities.
THE NEW YORK CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION.
The legislation herein proposed is that which has been incorporated in the new constitution of the State of New York, an instrument which undoubtedly represents the best thought of the day on such matters. This board should have the power to elect its own officers, and to appoint a secretary to take the place of the present superintendent of charities; and also to appoint such other officers, inspectors, and clerks as may be deemed necessary and proper and to fix their compensation, such officers to hold office during the pleasure of the board. The members of the board should serve without salary, but should be entitled to the expenses incurred while in the actual performance of their duties. The records of the board and its proceedings, and copies of all papers and documents in its possession and custody, when duly authenticated, should be received in evidence in the same manner and like effect as deeds regularly acknowledged and proven. The board should have power to issue subpenas which, when authenticated by its president and secretary, should be obeyed and enforced in the same manner as subpænas are enforced by the order or mandate of a court of record.
DUTIES OF THE BOARD OF CHARITIES.
The duties of the board should be to aid in securing the humane and economical administration of all institutions subject to its supervision; to advise the officers of such institutions in the performance of their various duties; to aid in the securing and erection of suitable buildings for the accommodation of the inmates of such institutions; to approve or disapprove the organization and incorporation of all institutions of a charitable, eleemosynary, correctional, or reformatory character which are, or shall be, subject to the supervision and inspection of the board; to investigate the management of all institutions made subject to the supervision of the board, and the conduct and efficiency of the officers or persons charged with their management, and the care and relief of the inmates of such institutions therein or in transit; to aid in securing the best sanitary condition of the buildings and grounds of such institutions, and advise measures for the preservation and protection of the health of the inmates; to aid in securing the establishment and maintenance of such industrial, educational, and moral training institutions having the care of children as are best suited to the needs of the inmates; to establish rules for the reception and retention of the inmates of all institutions subject to the supervision of the board; to investigate the condition of the poor seeking aid, and advise measures for their relief; to administer the laws providing for the care, support, and removal of the poor who are properly dependents of other States; to collect statistical information with respect to the receipts and expenditures of all institutions, societies, and associations subject to its supervision, and the condition of the inmates thereof, and the poor receiving public relief.
THE POWER OF INVESTIGATION.
The board should further be empowered to take proofs and hear testimony relating to any matter before it, or before any member of the board upon any visit of inspection. The members of the board should have full access to the grounds, buildings, books, and papers of all institutions subject to the care of the board, and should have the power to require from the officers and persons in charge thereof any information that may be deemed necessary in the discharge of its duties; also the board should prepare regulations according to which, and provide blank forms upon which, such information shall be furnished in a clear, uniform, and prompt manner for the use of the board. Provision should be made for the punishment of any officer or employee of an institution who shall unlawfully refuse to admit any member, officer, or inspector of the board for the purpose of visitation and inspection, or who shall refuse or neglect to furnish the information required by the board or any of its members, officers, or inspectors.
The members and officers of the board should be prohibited from being interested, directly or indirectly, in the furnishing of materials, labor, or supplies for the use of any District charitable institution. The board should make to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia an annual report covering its work for the year, and also suggestions for the improvement of the work of charitable and reformatory institutions, which report should be submitted to Cougress with such recommendations as the Commissioners might suggest.
THE BOARD A HELP TO CONGRESS.
In advocating the creation of a general board of supervision the committee has had in view, as one object, the gathering and presenting of such information as will enable the committees of Congress to have an intelligent survey of the whole field. This result Congress has often striven for in the past, but has never attained. As a consequence the appropriation committees liave been compelled annually to organize themselves into committees on charities, and to hear presented the claims of each individual organization. Without knowledge of local conditions and needs, with a membership changing from time to time, and without having given to the subject that study of systems and methods absolutely essential to obtain the best results, the appropriation committees have given or withheld aid as moved by temporary considerations. The result has been often to stifle private benevolence by ill directed appropriations; often to lead institutions to place upon their boards persons whose influence in Congress, rather than their knowledge of or interest in charities, was the first consideration in the selection.
WHERE THE PRESENT SYSTEM IS FAULTY.
The present organization of the office of superintendent of charities does not satisfy this need. The superintendent may be a thoroughly trained and efficient officer; or on the other hand he may be a man appointed primarily for political considerations. He may have an adequate system, or again, he may be the advocate of some system that has been a failure elsewhere. Still again, he may prefer to draw his salary and let matters run along as they have been going, knowing that any attempt on his part to make a change would result in making enemies for himself. In any event, he has to take his place before the appropriation committees, and in the hurry and bustle of the consider. ation of appropriation bills to present, in the fraction of an hour, principles and their applications on which he has spent months of study; and such presentation must often be made in seeming antagonism to the boards of the particular institution with which he is dealing. Such have been the disadvantages under which the office of the superintendent of charities has been laboring ever since it was created, and such, in part, are the reasons why it has proved inadequate to its duties.
Another reason for the ineffectiveness of the present office of superintendent of charities is the fact that the superintendent has no power to inforce proper methods in the conduct of institutions and in the admission of inmates. Such a power is too great to intrust to any one man, but it might as properly be intrusted to a board as the power to regulate the admission to the public schools is intrusted to a board.
SELF-GOVERNMENT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
Moreover, the committee believes that the District of Columbia is entitled to the largest amount of self-governinent consistent with the supervision of Congress over all the concerns of the capital city. In the case of charities, where the appropriations already amount to nearly half a million dollars a year, it is quite as proper to have a board of charities as it is to have a board of school inspectors. The people of the District are keenly alive to the importance of such a centralizing agency to promote efficiency and to correct the present abuses. Before the committee came the secretary of the associated charities (a most efficient organization, wholly supported by residents of the District, that is constantly providing for the poor), who strongly advocated a board of charities, such as is in now in operation in New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Minnesota, and other States.
The charities committee of the Washington Board of Trade also advocated the establishment of a board of charities, and presented the draft of a bill that is less comprehensive and less definite than that proposed by this committee. A committee from the Washington Civic Center also appeared before the committee to advocate the establishment of a board, citing instances of lack of care for real dependents.) The Medical Society of the District of Columbia, in a communication printed in connection with this report, urge the establishment of such a board to correct the serious abuses they point out in the administration of medical charities. The Board of Children's Guardians discuss the same question in its relation to their work among the dependent children and present strong arguments to prove the advantages of a general supervision of the instrumentalities for child-caring:
THE NEED OF REGULATION SHOWN BY THE NUMBERS SEEKING AID.
The need of some system for dealing with the entire subject of District charities is made apparent by the size of the figures representing the dependent population of Washington. During 1896 no fewer than 26,600 persons were treated in District hospitals, supported wholly or in part from the public treasury. Adding the number treated in dispensaries and by the physicians to the poor, the total number of persons receiving medical treatment in public institutions was 58,180, or about 21 per cent of the population. To this number should be
Hearings, p. 11.
+ See Appendix B.