oversight

Public Information Activities Relating to the Atomic Energy Commission's Underground Nuclear Tests at Amchitka Island, Alaska

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-09-10.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

        lRTRICTIED -- Not to be released         e the General
      A&uunting Offloe exept ol the basis of qpeclfic approvel
          th Owfflee of Lgilatlva  Liaison, a roeord of whicl isi
      Dly the Dlitrtbutlan Section, Publilcations Branch, OAS




Public Information Activities
Relating To The
Atomic Energy Commission's
Underground Nuclear Tests
At Amchitka Island, Alaska .,16,,,,




BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL
OF THE UNITED STATES



    ¢7¥'73,_ J~                       SEPT. 1 O,1 97 1
     FILE COPY - CMP. GEN
                 COMPTROLLAeR GEHRAL OcF THE UKIT'ID STATUe
                             WAI4WN6rON. D.C.


B-164105



Dear Senator Gravel:

     This is our report in response to your letter of July 30, 1971,
which raised certain questions concerning the propriety of the manner
in which the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) had used public information
funds in connection with its underground nuclear test program at
Amchitka Island, Alaska.

     You specifically mentioned certain allegations concerning (1) the
renting of a hotel suite staffed by AEC public relations people in
Anchorage prior to public hearings on May 26, 1971, (2) the making of
numerous expensive films directly related to the underground test
program, (3) the hosting of 16 Alaska State officials at the Nevada
Test Site, and (4) the dispatching in 1969 of a party of AEC public
relations people to tour the State of Alaska to discuss the merits of
the proposed Milrow test.

     You stated that AEC's public information funds were being used to
promote the agency's programs rather than to explain them, to discredit
those who opposed the agency's programs rather than to assist them, and
to distort the purposes and the problems connected with the underground
test program in such a way as to create propaganda where the Congress
intended only public access to information.

     Information concerning the activities conducted by AEC which relate
to the above allegations and the cost of these activities is contained
in appendix I.

     Our review was conducted at AEC Headquarters, Germantown, Maryland,
and at AEC's Nevada Operations Office (NVOO), Las Vegas, Nevada. As
discussed with your staff, because of time limitations we did not conduct
an exhaustive examination to ensure that all expenditures related to
the Amchitka public information program were identified.

     For many years AEC has requested and has been authorized and appro-
priated funds to conduct a public information program. Section 508 of
the Public Works for Water, Pollution Control, and Power Development
and Atomic Energy Commission Appropriation Act, 1971 (84 Stat. 903)
is for consideration with respect to this matter. It provides that:




                       50TH ANNIVERSARY 1921-1971
B-164105



     "No part of any appropriation contained in this or any
     other Act, or of the funds available for expenditure by
     any corporation or agency, shall be used for publicity
     or propaganda puzposes designed to support or defeat
     legislation pending before Congress."

Similar provisions are contained in prior appropriation acts.

     We have on several occasions, in response to inquiries from
Members of Congress, construed the provisions of anti-propaganda
appropriation restrictions similar to section 508. The only case
in which we have concluded that the prohibition had been violated
involved an effort by the Post Office Department to defeat H. R. 12595
in the second session of the 86th Congress. There the violation was
clearly manifest. A copy of our decision to the Postmaster General,
B-116331, dated May 29$ 1961, is included as appendix II. Otherwise,
we have concluded that the particular activities questioned were
not sufficiently in the nature of propaganda or publicity designed
to influence legislation to warrant disallowance of the expenditures
involved.

     We viewed films made by AEC and reviewed transcripts and listened
to tapes of various presentations made by AEC and contractor repre-
sentatives concerning the Amchitka Island test program. In our opinion,
these films and presentations also were not sufficiently in the nature
of propaganda or publicity designed to influence legislation to warrant
disallowance of the expenditures involved.

     The above cited statute contains no guidelines for making exact
judgment distinctions between prohibited and allowed activities. In
the absence of guidelines it is extremely difficult to separate the two
on the basis of distinctions which could be applied uniformly and
impartially. We believe therefore that in order to apply the statutory
injunction there must be present circumstances which leave no room for
doubt as to the prohibited nature of the expenditures involved.

     In the Post Office Department case, referred to above, there was
a clear exhortation to the public for the purpose of applying pressure
on individual Con3ressmen. No such factors are evident with respect to
the activities here involved. The films and presentations, basically,
provided information concerning AEC's activities at Amchitka Island and
did not, in our opinion, suggest a purpose of incitement to the
application of pressure on the course of legislation.


                                   2
B-164105



     We plan to make no further distribution of this report unless c¢pies
are specifically requested, and then we shall make distribution only
after your agreement has been obtained or public announcPnent has been
made by youJ concerning the contents of the report.

                                     Sincerely yours,




                            ieting    omptroller General
                                     of the United States



The Honorable Mike Gravel
United States Senate




                                     3
                                                         APPENDIX I


                     PUBLIC INFORMATION ACTIVITIES
                           CONDUCTED BY THE
                       ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION
                 REGARDING UNDERGROUND NUCLEAR TESTING
                      AT AMCHITKA ISLAND. ALASKA

BACKGROUND

     In the middle 1960's AEC decided that its Nevada Test Site would
not be adequate for conducting certain high-yield underground nuclear
tests. The primary limitations at the Nevada Test Site were antici-
pated ground motion and its possible effect on structures in nearby
communities.  AEC selected Amchitka Island, Alaska, from several
possible locations because it was judged to best satisfy the criteria
established for a supplemental test site for high-yield tests.
Primarily on the basis of the results of the Milrow test, AEC plans
to conduct a higher yield test (Cannikin) in the Fall of 1971.

     AEC's Nevada Operations Office (NVOO) is responsible for coordi-
nating the planning and execution of nuclear-weapons tests and other
nuclear-explosive-related experiments. In carrying out its
responsibilities, NVOO utilizes the services of private contractors
for construction activities, maintenance and personnel services
operations, and technical services at its site locations.

     The tanager of NVOO is administratively responsible to the General
Manager of AEC.  NVOO, however, receives programmatic direction from
the Division of Military Application at AEC Headquarters, which has
the overall responsibility for the direction of AEC's weapons program.

PIUBLIC INFORMATION ACTIVITIES
PRIOR TO THE MILROW TEST

     From June 23 through June 28, 1969, AEC representatives and
representative from one of AEC's weapons laboratories visited Juneau,
Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Kodiak, Alaska, to discuss with and answer
questions from interested groups concerning the then proposed Milrow
test and its possible effects. The visiting team consisted of one of
the AEC Commissioners; the Manager of NVOO; the Deputy Director of the
Division of Military Application; the Assistant Manager for Engineering
and Logistics, NVOO; the Director of the Office of Public Affairs,
NVOO; and a representative from the Sandia Laboratory.

     The Manager of NVOO, in a report dated July 1, 1969, to the
Assistant General Manager for Military Application stated that:




                                  4
                                                        APPENDIX I


      "It appeared that the team's visit was worthwhile in
      providing actual facts where rumors and speculation
      had been spreading almost unchecked."

The report pointed out that the visiting team had told several of the
groups with which it had met that a public information office would
be opened in Anchorage a few weeks later and that it would remain
open until the Milrow test was conducted.

     On July 14, 1969, AEC opened an Alaskan Office of Information at
Spenard, Alaska (a suburb of Anchorage'. The Office of Information,
which was located at the offices of Holmes & Narver, Inc., an AEC
cost-plus-fixed-fee contractor, was established to provide information
to and answer requests from news media, individual citizens, groups
of citizens, and State and local officials. Tho office remained open
until October 8, 1969, or 6 days after the Milrow test was conducted.
Cost data provided by AEC showed that Holmes & Narver spent about
$61,200 in connection with the operation of the Alaskan Office of
Information.

     In addition to the office at Spenard, Alaska, AEC opened the
Anchorage Information Center at the Westward Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska,
8 days before the Milrow test was conducted. The center remained
open for several days after the test. Records provided by AEC showed
that Holmes & Narver incurred costs of about $4,500 for operation of
the center. These costs were incurred for room rental at the
Westward Hotel from September 21, 1969, through October 8, 1969, and
for other incidental items.

     NVOO advised us that the costs of $65,700 ($61,200 plus $4,500)
incurred for operation of the Alaskan Office of Information and the
Anchorage Information Center related to both public information and
operational activities but that it was unable to allocate the costs
between the two activities.

Preparation end distribution of a
report on information actions

     After the Milrow test was conducted, a report entitled "Information
Actions, Project Milrow, Amchitka, Alaska, 1967 - 1969" was prepared by
NVOO. This document, which contains a discussion of the events
surrounding the Milrow test, includes several references to Senator Gravel.
A copy of the document is being provided with this report.




                                    5
                                                       APPENDIX I


     Distribution of the document, according to AEC, was limited to
the Division of Military Application and the Division of Public
Information at AEC Headquarters; public information officers at nine
AEC field offices; the Manager and staff of NVOO; a former AEC
Commissioner; anld a briefing team of 11 persons who had worked on
the project. Members of the briefing team included representatives
of AEC contractors and other Government agencies. AEC stated that
the representatives of other Government agencies were under contract
to AEC and that AEC paid the cost of their work.

     We discussed the justification for and appropriateness of the
document with AEC officials. They advised us that the document,
which AEC considers to be an internal case study, was written by
members of the AEC public information staff who participated in the
Milrow program and issued as an informal document by NVOO several
months after the Milrow test was conducted. AEC stated that, while
the account of events is factual. some of the material attempts to
provide an analysis of events. AEC stated also that the report was
not reviewed by Headquarters management and that, since the material
was not reviewed, the editorial judgments reflect only the views of
the writers.

     In addition, AEC provided us with the following statement:

    "AEC management was not aware of this document until GAO
    called it to Headquarters' attention on or about September 1
    [19711. As was pointed out to the GAO representatives, the
    General Manager was unaware of the existence of the document
    until September 2, and the Commissioners were not aware until
    September 3 when the matter was discussed with them by the
    General Manager.

    "Upon learning of the existence of the document, the General
    Manager directed that all copies in the field be withdrawn
    immediately and destroyed. This instruction was issued
    September 2 and the recall action was taken immediately by
    telephone. Similar action will be taken at Headquarters
    except for retention of a record copy.

    "The personal views expressed (in the case study) were not
    known to agency management, and do not reflect the attitudes
    of nor are they condoned by AEC management. At the direction
    of the Commission, the General Manager is taking appropriate
    disciplinary action."




                                   6
                                                       APPENDIX I


PUBLIC INFORMATION ACTIVITIES
PRIOR TO CANNIKIN

     NVOO advised us that the need for information offices in connection
with the Cannikin test was demonstrated by the experience gained at the
time of the Milrow test.

     In two documents dated November 1, 1970 ("Public Information Plan
for Amchitka STS" and "Public Information Action Plan - Project
Cannikin"), AEC set forth its plans for public information actions to
be taken in connection with the Cannikin test. These plans were
approved by the Departments of State, Defense, and the Inte-ior and
were transmitted to the Executive Office of the President.

     The Cannikin public information plan provided for the establishment
of an Alaskan Office of Information at Anchorage about 180 days before
the planned test date to respond to news media and public inquiries,
to handle arrangements for visits, and to conduct the Cannikin public
affairs program within the State of Alaska.

     In addition the plan provided that:

     "A Project Cannikin Information Center will be established
     at an appropriate location in Anchorage to be ready for
     occupancy on D minus 3 days. *** This Information Center
     will be opened to the public and neiws media from D minus
     2 days to D plus 1 day and as much longer as needs dictate.
     It will be used for press conferences, press coverage of the
     D minus 1 day readiness briefing, and shot-day activities."

     As discussed previously, an Alaskan Office of Information had been
opened on July 14, 1969, prior to the Milrow test, at the Holmes & Narver
offices in Spenard, Alaska, and closed shortly after the test wan
conducted. NVOO advised us t at discussions which it held with
Holmes & Narver officials led to the conclusion that the Holmes & Narver
offices would not be available prior to Cannikin because of an increase
in workload.

     As a result, beginning on May 10, 1971, Holmes & Narver rented
space at the Royal Inn of Anchorage for use as an information office
and for other operational needs. NVOO stated that the Royal Inn was
selected from several other hotels in Anchorage because it had suitable
facilities available at the lowest cost.




                                     7
                                                        APPENDIX I


     A purchase order in the amount of $8,276 covering this rental was
issued to the Royal Inn of Anchorage by Holmes & Narver on May 19, 1971.
The purchase order identifies the space rented and notes the intended
use as follows:

     1.   A two-room suite for use as office space from
          May 10, 1971, through October 10, 1971, at a cost
          of $5,390.

     2.   One room, adjacent to the above, for use as sleeping
          quarters, from about August 1, 1971, through
          October 10, 1971, at a cost of $710.

     3.   A three-room suite located on a separate floor from
          the above, from about September 10, 1971, through
          October 10, 1971, at a cost of $1,395.

     4.   The Royal Room (a conference room) from about
          September 10, 1971, through October 10, 1971, at a
          cost of $775.

     A NVOO official advised us that, because classified materl.al was to
be stored in one of the rooms in the two-room suite, the room for sleeping
quarters was required for security guards. NVOO officials advised us
also that the three-room suite would be used as office space for
operational purposes.

     Holmes & Narver rented office equipment from a commercial firm in
Anchorage for use at the Royal Inn. In a letter dated August 17, 1971,
initiated as a result of our inquiries, the Assistant Manager for
Engineering and Logistics, NVOO, advised the Director, Finance Division,
NVOO, that:

    "With respect to the furnishings for the public information
    suite in the Royal Inn, I have been informed by H&N
    [Holmes & Narverl that there was an inquiry made by H&N
    to three or four furniture rental stores in Anchorage, in
    addition to an inquiry being made to GSA supply in Alaska.
    The GSA did not have available suitable furniture for this
    suite at the time the inquiry was made and it was determined
    that rental was the only timely solution. The furniture was
    tentatively selected by H&N and was examined by a Public
    Information representative from NV [Nevada Operations Officel
    and was thus subsequently leased. There was a cheaper source
    of supply from a commercial firm in Anchorage than the one we
    chose; however, the conference table was not of adequate size,
    and so this source of supply was not used. ***"


                                   8
                                                        APPENDIX I


 On August 18, 1971, the Assistant Manager for Eng'neering and Logistics
 advised the Director, Finance Division, that:

      " *** research indicated that the Corps of Engineers,
      Anchorage, does currently have sufficient units of
      standard GSA metal furniture to allow us to change out
      che furniture in the Royal Inn Suite.

     "H&N has been directed to terminate the furniture lease
     and the furniture mentioned above from the Corps of
     Engineers will be installed upon the termination of the
     lease, approximately the end of the month, at no cost
     for the period of use other than for the drayage involved."

     The purchase order for the rental of the equipment provided for a
total rental cost for the 5-month period May 10 through October 10, 1971,
of $2,070, or $414 a month.

Public hearings regarding Cannikin

     On April 14, 1971, the Governor of Alaska. during a briefing by AEC
and in letters to the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality
and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, requested
that public hearings be conducted relating to the proposed Cannikin test.
The public heatings were subsequently conducted in Juneau on May 26, 1971,
and in Anchorage on May 28 and 29, 1971.

     The hearings, which were chaired by the Manager of NVOO, consisted
of technical presentations concerning the selection of Amchitka Island;
engineering, logistics, and the impact on the Alaskan economy; the
effects of the Milrow test; predictions on the containment and phenome-
nology of the Cannikin test; environmental effects of Cannikin; ground
motion effects of nuclear tests; predictions concerning the probability
of tsunamis; geological and hydrological considerations; and the
off-site radiological safety program. Also, presentations were made at
the hearings by opponents of the Cannikin test, and questions concerning
Cannikin were answered by the Cannikin project representatives.

Visits to the Nevada Test Site

     NVOO officials advised us that on several occasions individuals or
groups have been invited to the Nevada Test Site for the purpose of
acquainting them with the underground test program.




                                  9
                                                       APPENDIX I


     For example, the Governor of Alaska accepted an invitation from
NVOO to send a representative to observe the Jorum test on September 16,
1969. Records furnished by NVOO showed that AEC incurred costs of
about $359 for transportation and per diem in connection with this
representative's visit.

     YVOO advised us that, on another occasion, the Governors of eight
western States, whose citizens might be affected by existing or
projected nuclear test programs, accepted invitations to attend or send
representatives to a "Governors' Conference" at NVOO on April 1 and 2,
1969. The States represented were Nevada, California, Oregon, Idaho,
Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, and Colorado. In the invitations
sent to the Governors of these States, NVOO stated that it could fund
the transportation costs of up to five representatives from each State.
information provided concerning the conference showed that NVOO paid
the transportation costs for 29 representatives, which amounted to
about $2,500. NVOO also identified costs of about $1,045 for local
transportation and two luncheons held for the representatives. These
costs were incurred by the Visitors Bureau of the Reynolds Electrical
and Engineering Company, Inc., the principal AEC cost-plus-fixed-fee
support contractor at the Nevada Test Site.

     In another case, 21 members of the Nevada legislature visited
NVOO on May 20, 1969, and toured the Nevada Test Site on May 21, 1969.
NVOO stated that an airplane was provided to pick up members of the
legislature whose homes were in northern and central Nevada. The cost
of transporting these representatives was not available at NVOO because
the airplane used belonged to the Lawrance Livermore Laboratory, one
of AEC's nuclear laboratories. The airplane made frequent trips
between Las Vegas and the Central Nevada Supplemental Test Site. NVOO
advised that no other costs (except local transportation) were incurred
by AEC relating to this visit.

     According to NVOC, during briefings held for the Alaska legislature
on April 4, 1970, several of the legislators suggested that a tour of
the Nevada Test Site would be beneficial to acquaint members of the
legislature with the operations and procedures involved in the underground
nuclear test program.

     NVOO stated that initially the legislators had requested that,
because of the possibility of a change in the Alaska legislature after
elections in November 1970, such a tour be scheduled for sometime in
January 1971. NVOO explained, however, that somecime during November
or December 1970, in telephone conversations between NVOO repre-
sents ives and members of the Alaska legislature, the members requested
that the tour be scheduled after adjournment of the legislature.



                                  10
                                                       APPENDIX I


     On April 5, 1971, the Manager. NVOO, advised the President of
the Alaska Senate and the Speaker of the Alaska House of Representa-
tives that formal invitations for a visit would be extended by
Holmes & Narver. The Governor of Alaska was later invited to select
representatives to participate in the tour.

     A NVOO official advised us that no documentation was available
showing when the date for the tour was finally established; however,
the actual date set for the tour was coordinated by NVOO, Holmes &
Narver, and the legislators. NVOO officials stated that the
legislators were in control of setting the schedule and that it was
set for thnir convenience.

     The selection of the Alaskan representatives that visited Nevada
was made by the President of the Alaska Senate, the Speaker of the
Alaska House of Representatives, and the Governor of Alaska.

     The Alaskan representatives were briefed in Las Vegas on
May 18, 1971, and toured the Nevada Test Site on May 19, 1971. The
General Manager of Holmes & Narver acted offically as the host for
the Alaskans' visit to NVOO, and the Manager, NVOO, participated in
the visit. Records furnished by NVOO showed that Holmes & Narver
incurred costs in connection with the visit totaling about $8,200
which included transportation costs and per diem for the 16 repre-
sentatives. A NVOO official advised us that, in addition, the
Visitors Bureau of the Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company,
Inc., incurred costs related to the visit of about $670.

FIL.MS PRODUCED RELATING TO
THE AMCHITKA TESt PROGRAM

     NVOO stated that 10 films have been produced that relate to the
Amchitka test program. Seven of the films are of lectures similar to
technical presentations made at the May 1971 hearings in Alaska. A
teletype from the Nevada Operations Office to AEC Headquarters
requesting authority to produce the lecture films stat,.d that:

     "The films will be used to answer requests from Alaskan
     groups for programs on the various subjects covered. They
     could also be shown on armed forces and commercial
     television in Alaska. We anticipate many requests for
     programs on the various subjects and i. will not be
     possible to hLave the individuals pre ant the programs in
     person. The films would be shown by AEC personnel or
     others associated with the program.




                                  11
                                                       APPENDIX I


     "It is felt that the fact that these are films of the
     actual presentations to be given in Alaska hearings will
     help to establish the credibility of the presentation.
     The films will be used in the public affairs program to
     counter major opposition to Cannikin that appears to be
     developing in Alaska."

     The other three films are "Amchitka Revisited," "The Amchitka
Program," and "The Warm Coat." NVOO advised us that the "Amchitka
Revisited" film was produced prior to the Milrow test in 1969
because an earlier film concerning testing at the Nevada Test Site
was found useful in informing residents of Nevada and adjacent
States about the test program and about measures taken to ensure
public safety.

     NVOO stated that major questions on safety and conservation
issues had emerged during preparations for Milrow and that, in an
attempt to present factual information to answer such questions that
might arise concerning the proposed Cannikin test, the "Amchitka
Revisited" film was updated in the Spring of 1971 and named "The
Amchitka Program." The "Amchitka Revisited" film runs about
15 minutes and "The Amchitka Program" runs about 25 minutes.

     "The Warm Coat" film which runs about 12 minutes documents the
transplanting of sea otters from Amchitka to other locations. With
respect to "The Warm Coat," a booklet prepared by NVOO summarizing
the public iniormation actions taken in connection with the Milrow
test stated:

     "Originally it had been believed that possible injury
     to the sea otter population.would be of greatest concern
     to Alaskans and might provide the most serious problem
     in connection with the Amchitka program. Widespread
     publicity given to the sea otter transplant program, and
     hundreds of showings of the sea otter film in Alaska,
     appeared effective in convincing the public that the
     AEC-State cooperation in the transplant program was an
     important contribution and that the Amchitka sea otters
     would not be placed in jeopardy."

     NVOO advised us that Pan American World Airways, Inc., which
produced the seven lecture films under a Holmes & Narver purchase
order, estimated that the total cost of the seven films was about
$11,500.




                                   12
                                                      APPENDIX I


     NVOO advised us also that Pan American World Airways, which is
an AEC cost-plus-fixed-fee contractor, filmed, for record and
historical purposes, most of the AEC activities on Amchitka and that
the films "Amchitka Revisited" and "The Amchitka Program" were
produced by Pan American from this stock footage and other footage
shot specifically for the films. AEC officials stated that "The
Warm Coat" film was produced at AEC Headquarters from stock footage
taken by Pan American. NVOO officials provided us with Pan American's
estimates of the cost of producing the films but stated that the
estimates had not been reviewed. The information provided by NVOO
showed the cost of the "Amchitka Revisited" film as $15,000, "The
Amchitka Program" as $10,000, and "The Warm Coat" as $5,900.




                                 13
                                  COPY                       APPENDIX II


                COMPTRO LLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES
                           WASHINGTON. D.C. 2dO4




B-116331                                                    May 29, 1961



Dear Mr. Postmaster General:

     By letter of May 8, 1961, reference 3-B, the Acting General
Counsel of your Department submitted a report to this Office in the
matter of allegations by Representative Glenn Cunningham, Member
of Congress, that certain Postal employees violated section 401 of
Public Law 86-561, approved June 30, 1960, 74 Stat. 283.

     Section 401 provides that:

          "No part of any appropriation contained in this Act,
     or of the funds available for expenditure by any individual,
     corporation, or agency included in this Act, shall be used
     for publicity or propaganda purposes designed to support
     or defeat legislation proposed or pending before Congress."

     In the second session of the 86th Congress, Congressman Cunningham
introduced H. R. 12595, designed to prohibit the Post Office Department
from transporting by aircraft, on a space available basis, first class
mail bearing surface postage. The Department was vigorously opposed
to the provisions of H. R. 12595. The activities of Department
officials questioned in the light of section 401 consist of various
statements, both oral and written, issued with the apparent purpose
of arousing sentiment against H. R. 12595. Several such written
statements were enclosed with the Acting General Counsel's letter.

     The Acting General Counsel advises us that numerous requests were
received from Members of Congress for clarification of its position
regarding the airlift program and the effect of H. R. 12595; that the
former Postmaster General responded by addressing a letter dated
June 29, 1960, to each Member of the House of Representatives; and
that the former Assistant Postmaster General, Mr. George M. Moore,
furnished Regional Operations Directors and approximately 200
postmasters with background information, including the Pos'master
General's letter of June 29, requesting them to rike every effort to
acquaint the public with the Department's airlift program. The
following letter sent on June 29, 1960, to various postmasters is
illustrative of the instructions given by the Department;




                                      14
                                 COPY                   APPENDIX II

B-116331




          "The enclosed copy of a letter from Postmaster
     General Summerfield to all Members of the House of
     Repvesentativea is being fmrnished for your use and
     information.

          "The letter should not be furnished in its entirety
     to anyone but you are free to use any of the information
     and data contained therein to explain the benefits of the
     airlift program tc postal patrons of your area and to point
     out that the enactment of H. R. 12595 can only serve to
     deprive them of the airlift service now being received.

           "Best wishes for success in our current project."

And the following letters were written in the course of carrying out
the above and similar instructions:

     "Dear Patron and Friend:

          "WOULD YOU PAY FOR TWO SEATS ABOARD AN AIRLINER AND
     USE ONLY ONE????

         "Of course you wouldn't but that's just what Congress
    will ask you to do should it enact the Cunningham Bill -
    H. R. 9488. [H. R. 9488 was replaced by H. R. 12595.]

         "For some seven years the Post Office Department has
    placed ordinary first class mail aboard air liners when-
    ever the volume of air mail failed to fill that space
    already paid for. This resulted in improved mail service
    for one and one-half billion pieces of mail per year with-
    out additional cost to our taxpayers.

         "The proposed legislation would require your Postal
    Service to abandon this space - even though paid for in
    advance resulting in a slower movement of your mail at a
    possible increased cost.

         "Won't you write or wire your senator, urging his
    opposition to this bill - H. R. 9488! Your Postmaster
    would appreciate a copy of your efforts, that he might
    show his Postal People that others do care for improved
    mail service.




                                  15
                                      COPY                       APPENDIX II

B-116331



          "The need is for immediate action as the senate may
     have bill under consideration in next day or two.

           "PLEASE HELP US TO HELP YOU!

                                "R.    L.    McLester,   Postmaster

                                            "Your Postal Employees"

                                                    "August 8,   1960
     "Dear Postmaster:
          "The Cunningham Bill, H. R. 12595, which was passed
     by the House of Representatives in July, 1960 is to be
     considered when the Senate reconvenes. This bill
     prohibits the airlifting of ordinary first-class mail.

          "Although first-class mail in New England is at
     present airlifted only between Boston, Cleveland and
     Chicago, it can be expected that this service will be
     exrunded to other larger cities of the Region in the
     near future if the Department is allowed to do so. The
     advantages to businessmen and large users of the mails
     are obvious.

          "Please exert every effort to have the attached
     suggested editorial brought to the attention of your local
     newspapers. In addition the problem itself should be
     brought to the attention of large users of the mail.
     Many such users are at present benefiting by the airlift-
     ing of first-class mail between New York and various
     points in the country.

          "It will be appreciated if a copy of this editorial,
     should it appear in print, be sent to this office.

                                      "Sincerely,

                                        (Signed) "J. B. Demott

                                   "J. B. DeMott
                             "Regional Operations Director

"Attachment




                                      16
                                 COPY                   APPENDIX II
B-116331



         "Since 1.953, the Post Office Department
                                                  has been
    transporting 4¢ letter mail between
                                         certain areas of the
    country on an experimental basis.
                                        The air lines have
    been carrying this mail when and to
                                         the extent that space
    is available.

          'This has meant that an ever-growing
                                               volume of
    ordinary first-class mail has been delivered
                                                   to its
    destination up to 48 hours earlier
                                        than would otherwise
    have been the case. Since business
                                         mail comprises
    about 80% of all first-class mail the
                                           boon to
    businessmen is readil, apparent. About
                                             five million
    regular first-class letters are now
                                         being 'airlifted'
    each day.

        "This is progress toward the Post Office
                                                 Depart-
   ment's announced goal of next-day
                                     delivery of first-class
   mail anywhere within the Continental
                                        United States.
         "Realization of this goal will be prevented
    bill, which passed the House of Representatives if a
                                                     last July,
    should achieve passage in the Senate
                                         and should escape or
   overcome the Presidential veto. The
                                         Cunningham Bill,
   H. R. 12595 would specifically forbid
   of regular first-class mail by air.    the transportation
                                         The basis for this
   action was alleged loss of revenue
                                       to the railroads, a
   specious argument as the Post Office
                                         Department pays the
   railroads 340 million dollars annually
                                           in transportation
   costs and less than 3 1/2 million dollars
                                              annually to
   -he air lines for this service.

        "Airlifting of first-class
   in mid-June 1960 giving service mail  in New England began
                                   for Bostc   mailers to
  Cleveland and Chicago. It can be
                                     expected that this
  service will be expanded to include
                                        other larger cities
  in New England if the Department is
                                       allowed to continue
  and expand this service.

       "In addition many large users of the
                                            mail have been
  benefiting by the airlifting of first-class
  New York and various points in the country. mail between




                                17
                                 COPY                    APPENDIX II

B-116331



          "We urge all those who are interested in providing
     quicker and better mail service to communicate with
     their Senators in opposition to the passage of the
     Cunningham Bill, H. R. 12595.

                              "END"

     On August 19, 1960, CongreEsman Cunningham wrote to the Postmaster
General pointing out that certain employees were engaged in activities
against his bill in violation of section 401. In answer, the
Congressman was advised that the Department had not instructed its
field personnel to engage in any activities that would violate the
statute and that it had not allocated any portion of its funds for
publicity or propaganda purposes to support or defeat legislation
proposed or pending before the Congress. On August 25, 1960, a notice
was published on page 2 of Postal Bulletin No. 20213 as follows:

          "In view of widespread public interest recently
     expressed in the Post Office Department's program to
     airlift first-class mail, attention is called to the
     following provisicn- f   '-   Law 86-561:

          "'No part o ...  appropriation contained in this
     act, or of the funds ~,vailable for expenditure by any
     individual, corporation, or agency included in this
     act, shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes
     designed to support or defeat legislation proposed or
     pending before Congress.'

          "When acquainting the piblic with the Department's
     position on postal service masters, postal employees
     should not employ any postal funds for publicity or
     propaganda for the purpose of requesting postal patrons
     to influence Members of Congress with respect to their
     votes on any pending legislation."

     Your Department's position in the matter of whether section 401
was violated is summed up in the following paragraphs:

          "Congressman Cunningham implies it is a violation
     of section 401 to teke any action either explaining or
     opposing a bill on official time. Adoption of
     Mr. Cunningham's position would mean, for example, that




                                   18
                                    COPY                   APPENDIX It

B-116331



      !lo press conference could be held during cfficial
                                                          working
      hours; no statements could be given to the press during
      such hours, after either a visit to a Congressional
      Committee, or to the White House, and no press releases
      could be given out, in which the position of the Depart-
      ment, either factually or on the merits of a particular
      bill would be stated. Accordingly, we do not agree
     Congressman Cunningham's implied interpretation is the
     proper one. We believe it more proper to interpret
     section 401 as inhibiting activities by which other
                                                            than
     normal and usual expenditures are incurred. Talks before
     civic organizations and interviews with the press do
                                                              not
     have the effect of incurring other than normal and
                                                           usual
     expenditures. We further believe section 401 may
     properly be interpreted as prohibiting the expenditure
     of appropriated funds where the primary purpose of
                                                          such
     expenditure is to bring direct Dressure to bear upon
     Members of the Congress, either to support or defeat
     legislation. This Department has not, and does not
     interpret section 401 as precluding it from acquainting
     the public with its position on various matters which
    may be before the Ccn ress. Rather, this Department
    believes it has a duty to make its views known and to
    present facts to the public in order that the public
    may be enabled to make intelligent and sound decisions.
    It is a truism that the working of our form of Government
    is dependent upon an intelligent and well-informed
    electorate. However, this Department also recognizes
    efforts to acquaint the public with its position and
                                                             the
    presenting of facts in support of its position may have
    the effect of creating a climate which is either favor-
   able or unfavorable towards pending or proposed
    legislation, and that as an indirect result, people may
   write to Members of Congress urging them to vote either
   for or against pending or proposed legislation. The
   Department, therefore, recognizes that care must be
   taken to prevent a legitimate program of informing
                                                         the
   public and presenting facts from gradually becoming a
   prescribed lobbying campaign.     In this case, when it came
   to attention that certain of its field service
   personnel were misunderstanding and misinterpreting
                                                           the
   instructions from Headquarters, quick and effective action
   was taken to remedy the situation.




                                 19
                                  COPY                  APPENDIX II

B-116331



          "In summary, the Department does .not believe
     section 401 was violated because no instructions were
     given to engage in a propaganda campaign nor were any
     funds allocated for that purpose.  If it is decided
     there was a violation of section 401 by certain officials
     in the postal field service, the violation ae.sinnocent
     and resulted from a misunderstanding and a misinterpreta-
     tion of instructions which such officials were duly bound
     to comply with or suffer disciplinary action. Further,
     the funds expended were so small as ought to be within the
     de minimus rule."

     We agree that the Department has a legitimate interest in keeping
the public informed as to its various mail programs. But in light of
section 401, we cannot agree that the concerted effort, as exemplified
by the letters quotea above, which was directed against H. R. 12595
was within the legitimate ends of the Department's information program;
and to the extent that appropriated funds were used to finance any of
the costs involved, it is our opinion that the provisions of section
401 were violated.

     However, the action to be taken by our Office with respect to such
improper use of appropriated funds is limited to recovery of the amounts
improperly expended. While appropriated funds were used in connection
with the Department's activities directed toward defeating legislation
proposed, it appears that the amount was amall and commingled with
proper expenditures. Essentially, there is involved the cost of paper
and printing and the time of personnel devoted to drafting the various
letters disseminated. Also, it appears that several telephone calls
were made which included discussion of the matter. In view of the
nominal costs involved, we believe that the cost of auditing the
Department's records for the purpose of segregating and stating
exception to the improper expenditures involved and to effect their
recovery would greatly exceed the amount to be recovered.

     Accordingly, and since your Department reports that after the
clarifying instructions referred to above were issued, so far as is
known, postal field service personnel did not engage in any further
activity in connection with the bill, we do not propose to take any
further action in the matter. We understand that the question of the
violation of the provisions of section 1913, Title 18, United States
Code, a criminal statute prohibiting generally the use of appropriated
funds to pay, directly or indirectly, for expenses in connection with




                                   20
                                  COPY                    APPENDIX II

B-116331



any device intended or designed to influence a Member of Congress to
favor or oppose any legislation or appropriation by Conress, has been
referred to the Department of Justice for appropriate d'sposition.

     A copy of this letter is being sent to Congressmawl/ Cunningham.

                                         Sincerely yours,


                                         /s/   Joseph (ampbell


                                         Comptroller General
                                         of the United States

The Honorable
The Postmaster General




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