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demand by the printing of subsequent editions. For this reason books printed at private expense often run through many editions.
There is no valid reason why Congress can not pursue the same policy, especially in view of the costly experience through which Congress has already passed and the exhibition it has witnessed of waste and extravagance, having few parallels in the administration of public affairs. It is not extravagant to state, since it is practically true, that there are now stored in the Government warehouses 9,538 tons of public documents, most of which are obsolete, and this regardless of hundreds of tons that have been sold in past years to dealers in junk.
Under the present system, if 150,000 copies of a document are ordered to be printed, they are delivered to the folding rooms of the Senate and House in bulk, and allotted under prevailing custom in the proportion of 50,000 to the Senate and 100,000 to the House. These are prorated among the Senators and Members and placed to their credit accordingly on the books of the folding rooms. When a Member from California orders a copy it is taken from the same pile from which a copy would be delivered to a Member from Maine. It should be distinctly borne in mind that the allotment to the individual Member is simply a book record, and the pile is diminished only to tbe extent that individual Members draw therefrom. If, now, the pile can be originally made smaller and replenished as the necessities of the folding room may require, and the production of printed matter, in other words, kept more nearly on a parity with the demand, a solution of the problem will be reached.
An analogy would be found in a bank holding $5,000,000 on deposit received from 5,000 different depositors. The bank, of course, would not divide its $5,000,000 into 5,000 parts and hold the whole sum intact to be drawn upon by its depositors, but would simply retain such proportion of the whole, based upon past experience, as would satisfy the checks of depositors as presented for collection. The book records of the depositors would show $5,000,000 as being due them, while the bank actually would retain but a fraction for their depositors' immediate use.
The plan of the Commission would contemplate the delivery to the folding rooms of any given document in a number sufficient to meet the calls of Senators and Members, based upon the experience of the said folding rooms in meeting similar demands in the past. If the demands exceed the expectations of the folding rooms a means is provided under the plan of the Commission whereby the supply could be made to approach these demands, and at the same time, that the supply should cease when the demand ceases. The policy would be to meet the actual, rather than the possible, demand, and would be always subject to the limitations now fixed, unless Congress, by subsequent legislation, should see fit to provide otherwise.
The Joint Committee on Printing, with the assistance and coopera tion of those officers of Congress charged with the duty of making the distribution, would aim to ascertain in advance of the publication of any document what the probable requirements in its distribution would be, and to supply, if deemed expedient, only a limited edition of the whole number authorized by law, to be followed by a subsequent edition, if necessary, to maintain a supply equal to the legitimate demand.
If the plan recommended by the Commission should be adopted, the Joint Committee on Printing could place upon the officers charged with distribution the responsibility for excessive accumulation of documents in the folding rooms, as the committee would naturally rely for its estimates upon the judgment and experience of those charged with the distribution.
For instance, the superintendent of the folding room of the House, under date of December 5, 1905, reports on hand 2,598 copies of Commercial Relations, 1901, showing a manifest oversupply of this document, although many members have drawn their full quota. It would be a simple matter for the superintendent of the folding room, in advance of the printing of the next issue, to take into account the number of undistributed copies of previous reports and to estimate therefrom the probable demands upon his office for the proposed issue, in order that the Joint Committee on Printing may limit the first edition of such subsequent publication to the probable demand, and thereby save the enormous cost of printing copies which, in the light of past experience, will probably never be distributed. The theory is just as susceptible to practical application as the law of averages applied to the great commercial interests of the world, and to the entire scope of appropriations based upon estimated receipts which underlie all governmental operations.
One of the serious problems that has confronted Congress has been a suitable provision for the storing of public documents. The superintendent of the folding room of the House, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate, and the Superintendent of Documents of the Government Printing Office have all complained of their lack of storage capacity. Such complaints would cease if the proposed plan were adopted, since the unnecessary accumulation would be obviated by permitting these officers in advance of printing to express the actual needs of the two Houses of Congress.
While the printing of a document in more than one edition would necessarily involve a slight additional expense, the estimates furnished to the Commission by the Public Printer show this additional cost to be so trivial compared with the great economy following the proposed reduction in the volume of printing as to be unworthy of consideration. For instance, there were printed of the annual report of the Commissioner of Education for 1902, 38,680 copies, at a cost of $63,248.96. There are now in the folding rooms of the Senate and House, 9,483 sets, or 19,166 volumes, undistributed, and for which there will be in the future little, if any, demand. These undistributed copies cost the Government, aside from the cost of plates (typesetting, stereotyping, etc.), $11,758.92. The estimated cost of printing this report in two editions instead of one would have been only $150 additional, showing a net saving on this one report of $11,608.92.
There were printed of the Annual Report of the Geological Survey, 1902–3, 13,680 copies, at a total cost of $12,032.98. There are now undistributed in the Senate and House folding rooms 4,421 copies, which cost the Government, aside from the making of the plates, $3,303.19. The cost incident to printing this report in two editions instead of one would bave been only $125, a net saving of $3,178.19.
There were printed of the Special Report on Diseases of the Horse 200,642 copies, at a cost of $100,862.75. There are now in the folding rooms of the Senate and House 70.094 copies, costing, exclusive of cost of plates, etc., $33,645.12. The cost of printing in two editions instead of one would have been only $600, showing a net saying of $33,045.12.
There were printed of the proceedings in the Senate incident to the impeachment of Judge Swayne 10,642 copies, at a total cost of $5,729.90. There are now on hand in the folding rooms of the Senate and House 7,100 copies, for which there will probably be no future demand. The cost of these undistributed copies, exclusive of typesetting, etc., was $2,769. The additional cost incident to the printing in two editions instead of one would have been only $85, showing a saving of $2,684.
To illustrate this principle by application to a proposal now before Congress, quite parallel to the publication of the Swayne impeachment proceedings, a resolution is pending which provides for the printing of 10,000 copies of the hearings before the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce and a digest of said testimony. Each set comprises seren volumes, making a total of 70,000 volumes. The estimated cost of this publication is $26,922. It is quite probable that the demand for these hearings, after the existing wave of public interest has receded, will cease as surely as the interest in the Swayne impeachment proceedings subsided, and, in the judgment of the Commission, the printing of 5,000, or even 4,000, copies will meet all the requirements. If the plan proposed by the Commission were now operative, a very large saving could be effected and, at the same time, the quota of no Senator or Member who might require his full quota would be disturbed in the slightest degree.
The bound edition of the Congressional Record for the second session of the Fifty-eighth Congress aggregated 13,300 sets, or 93,100 volumes, costing $122,323.69. There remain in the folding rooms of the Senate and House 8,795 sets, or 61,565 volumes, costing the Government $76,310.60. The additional cost of printing the bound edition of the Congressional Record for the aforesaid session in two editions instead of one would have been only $1,225, showing a net saving of $75,115.60.
This does not take into account the large number of copies sent out by the Superintendent of Documents and by many Senators and Members without assurance that they were either desired or appreciated.
The slight additional expense incident to printing in two or more editions instead of one, to which allusion has been made, would, in the judgment of the Commission, be completely offset by the facility afforded the Public Printer in economically arranging and distributing his work.
L’nder the plan proposed by the Commission no Senator or Member will receive any smaller number than now of any document whatever, if he desires them for distribution. The plan simply prevents the surplus printing which follows a uniform and arbitrary supply to all Senators and Members of all documents, regardless of their demands or requirements.
It is not contemplated by the Commission that the policy of printing in two or more editions, instead of one, shall apply to all publications. In fact, many reports printed as mere leatlets can be printed to the full number authorized at but small expense; but with reference to all important and expensive publications there should be careful regard for the probable demand.
ALLOTMENT OF APPROPRIATIONS
In the general annual and deficiency appropriations for printing and binding for Congress and the Executive Departments for the last fiscal year there was carried $6,081,395.82. Of this amount $2,745,750 was allotted to the Departments, and $3,335,645.82 was allotted for the printing and binding for Congress.
Upon this showing Congress stands charged with spending more money for printing then is expended by all the Departments and independent offices of the Government combined. This showing is not only erroneous, but conceals one of the chief sources of extravagance. Under the system in vogue, all reports to Congress from the various Executive Departments, bureaus, and independent offices of the Government are printed as Congressional documents and charged to the allotment for printing and binding for Congress.
This constitutes by far the largest part of the public printing aside from blank books and stationery. The appropriations for printing and binding for the Executive Departments, bureaus, etc., are not drawn upon in the printing of these reports and documents which are now charged to the Congressional allotment for pri iting and binding. It follows, as a matter of course, that in the compilation of these documents and reports there is an absence of the restraint which would exist if the Department from which the publication emanated were required to draw from an appropriation definitely made for the printing of that Department.
Over the appropriation or allotment to a Department stands the head of that Department, with power and authority to protect the allotment against encroachment by any of its bureaus at the expense of others, and to check any tendency toward extravagance. There is no officer of the Government who stands in this relation to the Congressional allotment with power of veto upon extravagant tendency. But under the plan of the Commission the necessity which now exists of appropriating blindly will be changed in the respect that the Departments will include in their estimates the probable cost of all their publications. The very necessity for scrutiny by Congress over the estimates of the Departments and the coequal necessity of scrutiny by the Departments themselves in estimating will impel a curtailment of unnecessary appropriation. The difference will be tantamount to that between a guess and a practical certainty.
As it stands, the Congressional allotment for printing and binding constitutes a common fund from which all Departments and independent offices reporting to Congress may draw. The Congressional allotment must needs be sufficiently large to-day to meet the rapacity of all without discrimination or limitation. This system affords no incentive to brevity, condensation, elimination, or economy in illustration. For example, in one of the Departments during the last fiscal year the reports charged to the Congressional allotment amounted to $139,764.63; in another it amounted to $151,605; in another it amounted to $256,678, and in another it amounted to $19,982.
In the preparation of the reports and documents involving these and other enormous expenditures, amounting in all to $1,206,088.44, Congress per se had no voice whatever. In the examination of witnesses this Commission made particular inquiry of the officials of Executive Departments charged with the responsibility of the preparation of these documents and reports as to their knowledge of and familiarity with the cost of publication of these documents; and while they appeared to be entirely familiar with the cost of publication of documents printed under their own allotments they, in many
instances, displayed a complete lack of knowledge of the cost of that portion of their printing which was charged to the Congressional allotment, in the preparation of which they were immediately concerned.
In one case a bureau chief was asked to state the cost of printing the publications of his bureau for the last fiscal year, for the preparation of which he was personally and directly responsible. After some hesitation he was finally induced to attempt to guess at the amount. His guess was 40 per cent of the actual expenditure, the actual expenditure being about $190,000. The bulk of this expenditure was drawn from the Congressional allotment. In the various reports submitted to the Commission, in response to an inquiry addressed to the Executive Departments under date of March 10, 1905, some of the Departments were unable from their own data to supply the Commission with information covering the cost of their own publications, aggregating millions of dollars, but paid for out of the appropriation for printing and binding for Congress.
On the face of the record the printing of documents for a certain Executive Department in the last fiscal year amounted to $236,211.35 only, while the actual cost of the publications of this Department amounted to $192,889.45. The cost of printing of documents for another Department, on the face of the record, was only $207,983.71, whereas the actual cost was $654,914.71, the difference being the amount paid for the printing of the documents of those departments out of the appropriation for Congressional printing.
The Commission believes that in many instances expensive printing has been embodied in reports to Congress without serving any useful end and for no other purpose than to escape the cost of typesetting, etc., and illustration, which would have otherwise been charged against the allotment to the Department or Bureau from which such matter emanated. This belief is strengthened by the fact that the total number of reprinted pages obtained from these plates in the last tiscal year exceeded the total number of pages in the original editions, some parts of the originals being used in more than one subsequent departmental publication.
The total number of pages in the original editions of departmental documents charged to Congress in the last fiscal year amounted to 89,482; the number of pages reprinted from the said plates, as nearly as can be determined, amounted to 93,874, the reprints exceeding the originals by 4,392 pages, which shows that the departmental allotments were protected at the expense of the Congressional allotment to the extent of the enormous expense involved in the typesetting, etc., of this number of pages, the Lurden of the cost thereby falling upon Congress.
To correct these conditions and to check this tendency to extravagance in the public printing the Commission proposes that the Congressional allotment of appropriations for public printing shall be charged only with its pro rata share of the expense of these publications, based upon the number of copies actually furnished to Congress for distribution, regardless of the cost of typesetting, stereotyping, and illustration, and that the Executive Departments, bureaus, and independent offices from which the reports and documents emanate shall be charged with the cost of plates and illustrations, plus their proportionate share of the cost of printing, based upon the number of copies distributed by them.