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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1919

Wilson, Woodrow
Message of the president of the United States to Congress, December 2, 1919,   pp. IX-XIX ff. PDF (4.1 MB)

Page IX

I sincerely regret that I cannot be present at the opening of this
session of the Congress. I am thus prevented from presenting in as
direct a way as I could wish the many questions that are pressing for
solution at this time. Happily, I have had the advantage of the
advice of the heads of the several executive departments who have
kept in close touch with affairs in their detail and whose thoughtful
recommendations I earnestly second.
In the matter of the railroads and the readjustment of their affairs
growing out of federal control, I shall take the liberty at a later
date of addressing you.
I hope that Congress will bring to a conclusion at this session
legislation looking to the establishment of a budget system. That
there should be one single authority responsible for the making of
all appropriations and that appropriations should be made not inde-
pendently of each other, but with reference to one single compre-
hensive plan of expenditure properly related to the nation's income,
there can be no doubt. I believe the burden of preparing the budget
must, in the nature of the case, if the work is to be properly done
and responsibility concentrated instead of divided, rest upon the
executive. The budget so prepared should be submitted to and ap-
proved or amended by a single committee of each House of Con-
gress and no single appropriation should be made by the Congress,
except such as may have been included in the budget prepared by
the executive or added by the particular committee of Congress
charged with the budget legislation.
Another and not less important aspect of the problem is the ascer-
tainment of the economy and efficiency with which the moneys ap-
propriated are expended. Under existing law the only audit is for
the purpose of ascertaining whether expenditures have been lawfully
made within the appropriations. No one is authorized or equipped
to ascertain whether the money has been spent wisely, economically
and effectively. The auditors should be highly trained officials with
permanent tenure in the Treasury Department, free of obligations to
or motives of consideration for this or any subsequent administration,
and authorized and empowered to examine into and make report
upon the methods employed and the results obtained by the executive

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