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PRIVACY AND THE RIGHTS OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 1966

U.S. SENATE,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY,

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room 2228, New Senate Office Building, Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., presiding.

Present: Senator Ervin.

Also present: George B. Autry, chief counsel and staff director; Marcia MacNaughton, professional staff member; Lewis Evans, counsel; and Rufus L. Edmisten, research assistant.

Senator ERVIN. The subcommittee will come to order.

Mr. AUTRY. Mr. Chairman, today representing the Federal Professional Association we have Hon. Robert Ramspeck, consultant, and Mr. Vincent Jay, executive vice president.

Senator ERVIN. I want to specially welcome Mr. Ramspeck to the subcommittee. He is former chairman of the House Committee on Civil Service, and former Chairman of the U.S. Civil Service Commission. You are one of the leading authorities of the Federal service, on the merit system, and on the rights of employees. You bring to this subcommittee a special knowledge, and the country owes you a deep debt of gratitude for your contributions to the civil service system.

I recall with much pleasure the fact that I had the privilege of meeting you when I first came to the House, shortly after your retirement from the House.

We are delighted to have you and Mr. Jay with us on this occasion. STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT RAMSPECK, FORMER CHAIRMAN,

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, AND FORMER CHAIRMAN, HOUSE CIVIL SERVICE COMMITTEE, ACCOMPANIED BY VINCENT JAY, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION

Mr. RAMSPECK. Thank you very much, Senator. I am happy to be here. While I am now retired, I am still very much interested in the Federal Government personnel problems and particularly in what makes good government.

I have long believed that the best politics in the world is good government. People who do a good job get reelected.

My name is Robert Rampseck. I now live at 9516 West Stanhope Road, in Kensington, Md. I am a native of the State of Georgia, as you probably know, Senator, and represented the Fifth Georgia District in the House of Representatives.

I am consultant to the Federal Professional Association which I represent here in support of S. 3779.

I appreciate the invitation extended to Mr. Jay and me to appear before you on behalf of the association's members. They have indicated a clear and determined interest in eliminating the many invasions of their privacy that have occurred in the past. First, however, I want to provide some information about the FPA for the benefit of those who may not be familiar with this new and vigorous organiation.

Less than 4 years old, this new professional organization subscribes to the thesis that the Federal career service needs to be substantially reorganized and improved, in order to create a professional climate and an enthusiasm for excellence in the conduct of Government affairs and operations. Corollary to this thesis, the association takes the position that its worthy objectives will be attained only through the cooperative and organized efforts of professional and managerial employees in the career civil service. The association seeks to provide à united voice and appropriate representation for its members, who are employed exclusively in managerial and professional positions in the Federal service.

The FPA is not a labor union. The association's primary concern is to improve the professional climate in the Federal Government. It supports comparability as a means toward true professionalism and excellence in the Federal service. The founders, officers, and members of the association, all of whom serve the FPA on their own time without compensation, feel that it is essential to the well-being of professionalism itself, as well as to the management of the affairs of the Nation, that we recruit and retain in the Federal service the most competent and dedicated professionals available. It is in this context and with these objectives in mind that I appear before you today to represent the FPA and its members with regard to S. 3779.

Mr. Chairman, the association has received complaints from its members about the invasion of their privacy. Two recent ventures, in particular, undertaken by this administration in the form of questionnaires delving deeply into the private lives of employees, have raised serious questions of propriety.

The first of these questionnaires dealt with race and national origin. It inquired into the employee's racial background and was circulated to all employees in most departments and agencies. The fact that a few agencies apparently chose not to subject their employees to this questionnaire, but instead to rely on the previously used head count procedure, is to their credit.

The many years of determined and very difficult struggles to create and develop a career civil service based on the merit principle will have been in vain if we are going to inject other factors such as race and national origin and give them preference over merit. The so-called career service has more than enough problems now in recruiting and retaining the most desirable professionals and managers without requiring consideration of the race factor over merit.

The administration should be engaged in perpetuating, strengthening, and improving the merit principle as the controlling factor in

recruiting and in promoting. Merit falls by the wayside when other factors, such as race, sex, or creed receive primary consideration, and this does great damage to morale, to the career service, and to the interest of the Government and the public.

The second questionnaire to which I call your attention was recently issued by the administration, also without clear, precise, and uniform instructions. Called a confidential statement of employment and financial interest, it required the disclosure of creditors, the character of mortgages and other indebtedness outstanding, and type of property owned, other than residence. Because the administration neglected to spell out uniform and precise instructions, the separate departments and agencies interpreted the order differently. Some eager beavers required all or nearly all employees to submit the personal financial information. Other agencies required only employees in grade level GS-13 and above to submit the information. Few agencies correctly required only those employees personally involved in actual contracting responsibilities and contract approval for the Government to submit the financial questionnaire.

The point has been made with regard to the questionnaire on race and national origin that employees were not required to submit the completed questionnaire. This position is untenable, particularly as applied to professional and managerial employees. The nonprofessional can afford to be hard-nosed about it, because he can cry foul and run to his labor union, which can and will protect him.

The professional and the manager have no such protection; they do not want it. The professional and managerial employees in the Federal service believe that they should be able to rely on the propriety, honesty, integrity, and fairness of executives and supervisors, who interpret and administer the rules and regulations under which they, as professional and managerial employees, are hired, promoted, and supervised.

We heartily agree with the legislation drafted by the chairman, Senator Ervin, that invasions of privacy, as demonstrated in the two questionnaires on race and investments, are out of order, and should be prohibited. There is every reason why questionnaires dealing with the private lives of employees should be prohibited.

While the Government has an obligation to exercise reasonable care to avoid conflicts of interest on the part of its employees, I believe this reasonable care can be exercised in a much more reasonable and effective manner than is now being practiced. There is absolutely no reason why questionnaires of this sort should be required without far better judgment than was shown, as to who should complete such questionnaires and how the departments and agencies should process and act upon their completion.

The opportunity is ever present for abuse by using information collected in this way against an employee in ways never intended by the administration. In addition, the huge cost of preparing for a largescale collection of information, along with the large number of employees involved in processing, reviewing, transmitting, and confidential filing of the questionnaires, raises serious question as to whether the operation was not a great waste, particularly when matched against the very doubtful benefits resulting from it.

The Federal Professional Association endorses and strongly supports the enactment of S. 3779. The various sections of this legislation dealing with disclosure of race, religion, or national origin, with the instruction, indoctrination, or advice to employees on matters not related to their job, with informing employees that they have been noted attending meetings where the topic is not related to their job, with urging or requiring employees to participate in activities not directly related to their jobs, with requiring employees to report their activities or undertakings that are not directly related to their jobs, with advising employees what business establishments they should or should not patronize as private citizens, with requiring employees to submit to interrogation regarding personal matters or to take any psychological or polygraph tests, with attempts to require or request political support or cash contributions of employees, with attempts to coerce employees to invest in U. S. savings bonds, with requiring or requesting the disclosure of an employee's personal financial status with some exceptions; with requiring employees under investigation to submit to interrogation without benefit of counsel or other person or em. ployees' choice, and with the discharge or discipline of employees who fail to respond to unlawful requests and requirements, all appear necessary to this association.

However, provision (f) should be changed to read:

To require or request any employee of the United States to patronize or not patronize any business establishment offering goods and services.

The officers of the association feel that each of these provisions has merit and tends to reduce areas where an invasion of privacy occurs.

In addition, the association recommends several provisions as amendments to S. 3779 as follows:

(1) To require or approve the monitoring or tapping of the office telephones of career civil service employees, except in rare national security cases.

(2) To require or request, or to attempt to require or request, any employee of the United States to submit information relative to any outside employment in which he may be engaged, with rare exceptions where a clear conflict of interest or diminished productivity or quality can be shown.

(3) To require or request, or to attempt to require or request, secretive searches of any U.S. employee's desk, papers, or belongings without the employee's knowledge.

(4) To approve or to permit the opening of any U.S. employee's mail personally addressed to him, which may have been sent to his office in error, without his knowledge or consent.

(5) To approve or permit invasions of the privacy of professional and managerial employees of the United States which are not based on specific legislation.

(6) To require or permit professional and managerial employees of the United States to be included in representation by à labor union with "exclusive recognition” sanctioned by nonprofessional and nonmanagerial employees.

(7) To deny or prohibit or attempt to deny or prohibit any employees of the United States from the privilege and right of

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