« PreviousContinue »
Senator Young. The meeting will come to order. Senator KnowJand, chairman of the subcommittee, regrets very much that he is unable to be here when the hearings open this morning. But he is being detained at a White House Conference and has requested me to preside, until he arrives.
General Hastings, you have the honor of being the first witness in the 1955 Civil Functions Appropriation. We will be very happy to hear anything you want to say.
General HASTINGS. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee: The Army is charged by statute with responsibility for the procurement and distribution of headstones for various categories of authorized personnel who are interred in private, national or post cemeteries. The Army similarly is charged with responsibility for the maintenance and operation at the present time of 82 national cemeteries in the United States; three national cemeteries in overseas possessions; 24 soldiers' lots; 7 Confederate cemeteries or plots; 4 national monuments and 1 memorial park. The appropriation now to be considered covers funds for the procurement and distribution of headstones as well as for expenses incident to the maintenance and operation of the indicated cemeterial facilities.
The estimate for the fiscal year 1955 amounts to $5,635,000 as compared with $5,107,000 appropriated for fiscal year 1954, representing an increase of $528,000. However, this increase will only provide for essential services and it will still not be possible to reach the standard of care and maintenance of our national cemeteries that is desired.
There is a constant expansion necessary in the activities covered by this appropriation in order to keep pace with the steadily increasing burial requirements of our veteran population. An increasing number of interments must be handled, and enlarged burial areas maintained. In addition, there is a greater requirement for headstones.
MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION
Senator HAYDEN. Might I inquire, General; you state it is not possible to reach the standard and care of maintenance of our national cemeteries that is desired. How much money did you submit to the budget for this purpose ?
Colonel MARTZ. Sir, on the item of "Maintenance and operation," we submitted a request for $718,000, which was cut by $63,000 to a total of $655,000 for the item of maintenance. The overall amounts requested originally were $6,264,340, which was reduced by $629,340 to our present request of $5,635,000.
Senator HAYDEN. You did get a little increase?
Colonel MARTZ. But our request now is 10 percent less, approximately, than what we had originally asked the Bureau of the Bugdet for this year.
Senator HAYDEN. At that your original request was modest to really do the job that ought to be done? Colonel Martz. Yes, sir; our original request was what we honestly felt was necessary to do the job. In the present era of economy, we have tried to save something from what we originally felt was required to do the job.
Senator HAYDEN. Thank you.
PROCUREMENT OF HEADSTONES
General HASTINGS. The amount of funds required for the procurement of headstones is estimated to be $2,124,000 as compared with $2,127,000 estimated to be obligated in the fiscal year 1954. The anticipated number of applications to be received in the fiscal year 1955 is 87,340 which is 4,095 more than the number estimated for 1954. However, a decrease in the carryover of unfilled applications into 1955 permits a small reduction in funds requested for this item.
Senator HAYDEN. Which costs the most, a marble headstone or the bronze plate?
Colonel MARTZ. The bronze markers are the more expensive, sir.
Senator HAYDEN. I cannot understand that, because they are so small. They ought to be easily made. Is it because of the engraving on the bronze or inserting the name?
Colonel MARTZ. There are two basic reasons, sir. One is that in the last few years the cost of copper and tin has gone up tremendously on the open market, which has increased the cost to our contractors. The other items, of course, is that a considerable amount of handwork
is required in making the molds because the lettering has to be different for every single marker. This does increase the cost of labor.
Senator HAYDEN. And it must be accurate.
Senator HAYDEN. On the other hand, of course, somebody has to carve that same information on the stone, and that costs money, too.
Colonel Martz. The accuracy is required in both cases. There is no question about that.
Senator HAYDEN. What type of stone do you use mostly, marble or granite?
Colonel Martz. We use more granite, I believe, in recent years. The percentage has been going from marble, which was more popular in former years, to granite.
Senator HAYDEN. All of the markers that I saw in Europe were Carrara marble.
Colonel MARTZ. Yes, sir. I might explain, sir, the markers in the cemeteries in Europe are not represented in this budget. They are provided by the American Battle Monuments Commission, which operates the overseas United States military cemeteries and is not part of the request which we are presenting this morning.
COST OF MARKERS
Senator Young. Before you proceed, would you give us any new figures that you have on the cost of bronze markers as compared to others? Has not the cost of bronze markers gone down in the last year?
Colonel Martz. Yes, sir. Our bronze markers dropped from a price of $23.21 last year to a price of $21.82 this year.
Senator Young. How does that compare with others!
Colonel Martz. The others have varied slightly. Most of them have increased slightly in the past year.
Senator YOUNG. What is the cost of them now?
Colonel Martz. The general type upright marble marker, which was the original type used and probably the most popular originally, went up from $16.38 to $18.65. The most popular type which we are now using, as far as orders are concerned, is the flat granite type used primarily in civilian cemeteries. That price has gone up from $14.09 to $15.95.
Senator Young. Is that a delivered price?
Colonel Martz. This is a price without transportation; the price at the contractor's plant.
Senator Young. Where are you shipping them from now, mostly?
Colonel Martz. We are shipping, sir, from a number of locations. We have eight different contractors. Most of our marble and granite is coming from 2 localities, the New England States, both Vermont and Massachusetts, and from 1 large contractor in Columbus, Miss. Most of our bronze markers are furnished by 3 contractors, 1 from Cleveland, Ohio, 1 from Maple, Ill., and another from San Francisco.
Senator Young. I have had many complaints from the makers of markers in Minnesota. They operate on a big scale and make a very good marker. They claim that they are not able to bid on the markers because of some technicalities you have in the requirements which almost eliminate their type of marker. If you change your specifications just a little bit, they could comply and furnish markers. It seems to me to be foolish to pay freight on markers clear from the New England States to Minnesota, where they make them, or to Mississippi from that area.
Colonel Martz. Our specifications, sir, we felt were broad enough to cover most of the producers. If there is some small technicality in regard to the Minnesota producers, I am not aware of it as of this moment. But we shall certainly look into that situation as far as specifications are concerned.
Senator Young. I wish you would, because they are sizable makers and they should be able to make these markers for that area at any rate.
Let me ask another question on the granite markers as compared to bronze. When freight is considered, how much higher would the bronze marker be than the granite?
Colonel Martz. The cost of shipping the bronze marker is slightly less than granite due to the fact that we are able to ship the bronze by parcel post. We changed the specifications several years ago to get the weight of the bronze marker within the 20-pound postal regulation, so they can be shipped by parcel post, thus costing us about a dollar less for shipping charges for bronze than it does for the granite. The average cost of transportation this year is $3.60 compared to $3.92 paid last year. This reduction is attributable to an increase in carload lot shipments of stones and to greater percentage of bronze shipments at parcel-post rates.
May I mention one other point, Senator ? On our contracts, we sent requests for bids to 129 contractors scattered throughout the United States. I believe they covered some 26 different States. In other words, we attempted to get as wide a distribution as possible of prospective bidders. Then of course the contracts were let at the lowest net cost to the Government.
General HASTINGS. The estimate of $530,000 included for construction represents a net increase of $330,000 over fiscal year 1954. This increase is required to develop additional grave sites in the Beverly, N. J., Fort Logan, Colo., and Willamette, Oreg., National Cemeteries which will be needed to meet burial requirements. The amount requested will also provide for extension of roads and drainage facilities in burial areas in the Long Island National Cemetery, N. Y., and will permit essential repairs to the water supply system in the Golden Gate, Calif., Cemetery. In addition, it will provide necessary repairs to the foundation walls of the cemetery lodge at San Francisco National Cemetery; and will provide for minimum essential engineering investigations, planning and cost estimates preliminary to future construction to meet increasing burial requirements.
MAINTENANCE AND OPERATIONS, NATIONAL CEMETERIES For maintenance and operation of the national cemeteries, amounting to $655,000, there is an increase of $65,000 over fiscal year 1954. This requirement provides for utilities services, contractual services, communication services, supplies and equipment, and transportation. The increase indicated will provide for the cost of operations incident to increased interment activity, for additional maintenance and operations incident to increased interment activity, for additional mainteTiance of operational equipment, and for replacement of deteriorated equipment not economically repairable.
The estimate of $1,836,000 for field personnel includes an increase of $136,000 over the amount for this purpose in the fiscal year 1954. This is expected to provide 36 man-years over the total of 500 manyears anticipated in 1954. This increase will provide labor for approximately 2,447 additional interments expected in the fiscal year 1955, an increase of 12 percent over the 20,363 interments provided for in the fiscal year 1954. It will also allow for the reestablishment of a maintenance level to approximately that attained in fiscal year 1953, which is not being attained in the current year due to lack of necessary funds.
CIVILIAN PERSONNEL AT SEAT OF GOVERNMENT
Salaries for civilian personnel at the seat of government amount to $490,000, which is the same amount as for the fiscal year 1954. These funds are to provide a staff in the Office of the Quartermaster General for coordination, technical and staff supervision of all activities involved in the establishment, development, maintenance, operation, and administration of the national cemetery installations under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Army; the determination of eligibility for interment; the maintenance of permanent records of approximately 650,000 interments in the cemeteries; and furnishing headstones and markers for the graves of former members of the Armed Forces and other authorized personnel.
I wish to assure you that every effort is being, and will continue to be, directed toward providing the best possible care and operation of our national cemeteries within the funds made available for this purpose. As I have earlier indicated, a higher standard of care and maintenance is desirable, but in the interest of economy the estimate provides only for the minimum essential maintenance and care of our cemeteries.
ELIGIBILITY OF SERVICE PERSONNEL
Senator HAYDEN. Occasionally I have had to take up with you folks where the grave of a former Union or Confederate soldier is located. My recollection is that all that is required is that some organization like an American Legion post or something of that kind agree to receive the marker and place it. What has to be done in a case of that kind ?
Colonel MARTZ. Your statement is correct, Senator. Our law permits us to furnish a marker for any unmarked grave of a former service