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Washington, D. C., September 8, 1919. . Hon. BENEDICT CROWELL,
The Assistant Secretary of War, Washington, D. C. SIR: I hand you herewith the report of the board of review appointed by you to review the construction work rendered necessary by the war emergency and done by or under the War Department. Respectfully submitted,
FRANCIS BLOSSOM, Chairman Board of Review of Construction.
Washington, D. C., August 30, 1919. Hon. BENEDICT CROWELL,
The Assistant Secretary of War, Washington, D. C. SIR: Pursuant to the instructions contained in your letter appointing its members, this board has made a review from the standpoint of speed and economy of the construction work rendered necessary by the war emergency and done by or under the War Department. A report thereon to June 30, 1919, is presented herewith.
The board has endeavored to deal in its report with such facts as seem to be of special interest or importance and has covered particularly the methods, procedure, and results of the Construction Division of the Army under the general policies in effect.
It is recommended that consideration be given to the following
GENERAL CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENTS.
1. Retain the construction organizations, methods, and procedure that proved successful during the war and discard all others.
2. Utilize on war procurement and purchasing work the most experienced personnel securable irrespective of their business connections, grant large discretion and authority to the men who are specially qualified to grasp and handle the work and provide other competent men to check and pass upon their purchases and contracts.
3. Use for emergency conditions the standard form of cost-plus Contract for Emergency Work with such improvements as experience indicates to be desirable, and create corresponding standard forms of lump-sum and unit price construction contracts for ordinary peacetime use.
4. Employ labor on war construction according to the principles developed by the General Committee on War Labor Wage Adjustment in the fall of 1918.
5. Prepare and maintain standard and up-to-date plans and specifications for the primary construction work likely to be needed for War operations.
6. Consolidate Government inspection work under one competent bureau.
7. Encourage the development of the Officers' Reserve Corps and create a construction section of such corps in order to give some military instruction to the men whom the Government must call upon to perform its war construction work.
8. Give to students at engineering schools suitable military instruction and an opportunity for subsequent experience in a reserve corps and give to students at military schools suitable practical training and subsequent assignments to assist in a civilian capacity on commercial engineering and construction work.
9. Require that such War Department construction work as would be done in time of war by civil agencies or by a commissioned personnel drawn from civil life be done also in time of peace by the same agencies or personnel, thereby, so freeing the War Department of nonmilitary construction and engineering that it can devote its energies to educaping its military engineers for combat work.
The Board of Review indorses and commends the action of the War Department in placing its construction work under one bureau, entirely separated from the combatant units of the Army, conducted with the minimum of military control and according to modern business methods. The board is of the opinion that such construction so placed was done with remarkable speed, was superior in quality, was characterized by economy of design, and was as economically performed as the requirements for speed and other war conditions permitted. The facts ascertained and given in the accompanying report indicate that such construction performance contributed materially to the success of the Army operations. It is essential to the most effective work of this bureau that it be given full authority, responsibility, and control of its procurement, funds and accounting on construction, maintenance, repair and operation. The board finds that so long as the War Department is called by statutory requirement to do construction work, the best interests of the country require that it continue such bureau.
Suggestions have been received from those whose opinions are entitled to respect to the effect that Government engineering construction should be unified under competent control and adequate direction by assembling all construction activities, so far as possible, under one construction department charged with the construction and maintenance of all Government works intended for public use, this to include construction work of the Army and Navy of a civil character. The Board of Review considers that there is much merit in these suggestions and that they are in accord with the rapidly developing evidence that future wars will be fought by the entire Nation and not by a single department of the Government. Respectfully submitted,
CHARLES A. MORSE,
The Board of Review of Construction was appointed by the Assistant Secretary of War to review the war-emergency construction work of the War Department.
The review and report made in conformance with the instructions given relate to the results of inspections made of much War Department construction in the United States, but do not include any work in Alaska nor the insular possessions.
The task of reviewing the work, recording the facts, and applying the lessons of War Department emergency construction requires the study of matters of organization, design, administration, and execution within the range of recent experience, and also involves many broader subjects which are beyond the scope of such a review.
The objective of this report is to present the important facts that have been ascertained, to comment upon them from the viewpoint of experience, and to derive therefrom such conclusions and to make such suggestions for improvements as may contribute to better efficiency in Government construction work.