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Enactment of this bill would increase the existing limitations on our ability to operate the two National Capital airports, and our other airports, on a businesslike and safe basis. When we find it necessary to restructure our projects or to reprogram funds of any magnitude, we customarily advise the Bureau of the Budget and the Appropriations Committees of our need and the projects deferred or canceled. This bill would require us to seek an act of Congress authorizing that action, each time we need to reprogram funds. While seeking this authorization, public service might deteriorate and necessary safety measures might be delayed. When Congress was not in session, our needs might become critical.
We do not believe that it is in the public interest to encumber the administration of federally operated airports with the requirement proposed in this bill. The National Capital airports are expected to be operated on a commercial basis. We feel that the public, and the airlines, the concessionaires, and the tenants who serve the public, foot the bill for our facilities. We believe that they have a right to expect, and should receive, a reasonable response to their needs for the improvement or expansion of our facilities.
We believe that the appropriation process, including the passage of an Appropriation Act, provides full and adequate means for congressional review and approval of FAA expenditures at the federally owned and operated airports.
That concludes my prepared statement, Mr. Chairman. I will be happy to try to answer any questions that the committee may
have. Mr. FRIEDEL. Mr. Saunders, there may be emergencies involving funds, and I can understand that this may come up and there could be an amendment to the bill to take care of emergencies. I notice you say here as many as 45 or 48 months may elapse between conception of an airport improvement and the actual improvement at the airport. What is your method now; do you go through committee each year?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes, sir.
Mr. FRIEDEL. You do not plan 48 months in advance or 2 or 3 months in advance. You go each year to the Appropriations Committee?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes, sir. But, Mr. Chairman, the lead time is longer than that. We recently prepared a construction cycle chart and presented it to the airlines and to others we deal with at the airports. We meant to emphasize the need for good planning, and for good facts as to what the future schedules and the future needs will be. Planning does involve this kind of timelag.
For example, at the present time we are in the standard Federal budget cycle. We have just finished the 5-year plan. That is part of the Federal cycle. We will have the fiscal year 1971 budget review this summer, and through the fall with Bureau of the Budget. Finally next January, the President will submit the fiscal year 1971 budget proposal to Congress.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Yes, but this bill would not interfere with your going ahead before the Bureau of the Budget. My bill would not interfere with that whatsoever.
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes, sir. I understand that, Mr. Chairman. But nonetheless, the planning that is involved in our requests takes this long, and it is not always possible for us to anticipate urgent needs.
Mr. FRIEDEL. This bill would not interfere with that whatsoever.
Mr. SAUNDERS. No. I understand that, sir. But neither would it change the length of time required to complete the Federal budget process. It is a long process, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FRIEDEL. You made another statement here. "When Congress is not in session our needs might become critical.” What do you do now when Congress is not in session?
Mr. SAUNDERS. If funds are available, Mr. Chairman, we do reprogram on an emergency basis.
Mr. FRIEDEL. I thought you said you notify tie Appropriations Committee?
Mr. SAUNDERS. We do. We have followed that practice in the past. Mr. FRIEDEL. They are not in session.
Mr. SAUNDERS. When that is true, the Chairman is usually available. I cannot recall any specific instance, but an attempt would be made to pass the information on to him as to the nature of the emergency or the need for expedited action.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Mr. Saunders, this bill would not interfere in any way, shape or form other than to put a limit on the amount you can spend for unauthorized projects. In 1965 you started a study of the National Airport. Was that in your program before the Appropriations Committee?
Mr. SAUNDERS. That was not in the budget, but it had been cleared in a number of ways with the various committees.
May I say, Mr. Chairman, that it has always been our practice to seek the counsel of Congress on our problems and our proposed solutions. We stand on that and wish to continue this. We have tried to do this in the past.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Here is a report of the contract in 1965, reporting back in 1968, and this report cost over $300,000.
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes, sir.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Did you ask the Appropriations Committee for $300,000 to make a study of Washington National Airport?
Mr. SAUNDERS. On March 2, 1965, Mr. Halaby, then the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency, appeared before the Subcommittee on Independent Offices of the House Committee on Appropriations. On May 14, 1965, Mr. Halaby appeared before a committee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. At that time, Mr. Halaby outlined the need for studies at National Airport, and he said this. If I may briefly, I will quote from his statements before both committees.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Before what committee?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Before the Subcommittee on Independent Offices of the House Committee on Appropriations, and a Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations in 1965, Vr. Chairman. At that time he said:
I would call your attention to a current effort wherein we are using the best assistance available to us from the FAA, the Bureau of the Budget, and private professionals to advise us on the best approach to modernization of the excellently situated, heavily used, but 25-year-old Washington National Airport. It is obvious that major capital expenditures will be necessary within the next few years to modernize this air terminal. Before proposing a full-scale modernization program involving large capital investments we are making a careful preliminary review of all economic, air traffic, and safety factors and are considering approaches to the physical layout and airport-operating concept. We must take full account of the fact that within a very few years almost all air carrier operations will be conducted by jet aircraft, and that there will be an increasing use of jet aircraft by general aviation. I am simply informing you
Mr. Halaby went on that we are seriously studying these matters and will within the next several months be developing firm proposals for modernization of this airport.
Mr. Chairman, the record continues. On March 22, 1966, the Administrator and various officials of FAA appeared before the Subcommittee on Independent Offices of the House Appropriations Committee, During this hearing we pointed out that economic feasibility studies relating to modernizing Washington Airport had been completed, and that a development of design alternatives leading to the acceptance of a concept of modernization was the next step. We advised the committee of our plan to reprogram funds for this purpose.
On April 13, 1966, the Administrator wrote Chairman Evins setting forth additional details of our plan. A contract was later awarded to Vincent Kling & Associates on May 5, 1966. Since then, Mr. Chairman, we have discussed this pending study at all appropriations hearings. In 1968, for example, the Committee on Appropriations noted that, for some time, a study had been underway on modernization of Washington National Airport. They stated that we should push harder to complete the necessary studies so that action on modernization of the airport could be completed.
In September 1968, we received the report from Kling. We promptly made copies available to you and to other Members of the Congress. We released it to the press and to the public on September 29, 1968.
Mr. Chairman, I want to emphasize as best I can that it has always been our intent to seek the counsel of Congress, to inform you of our problems, and to outline our proposed solutions.
Mr. FRIEDEL. The $300,000 was not mentioned in that report.
Mr. SAUNDERS. The letter to Chairman Evins, that I mentioned dated April 13, 1966, specifically mentioned approximately $300,000. I would be glad to read the letter to you, Mr. Chairman, if you wish.
Mr. FRIEDEL. And they approved that?
Mr. SAUNDERS. They had the information, and apparently approved it.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Where did you get the $300,000?
Mr. SAUNDERS. The funds were made available from two previously authorized projects. The first project was for repaving the runways and taxiways, for which appropriations were made in fiscal years 1962, 1963, and 1964. As it happened, an extremely favorable paving contract provided us with savings of $200,000 from the budgeted amounts.
The second project from which funds were available involved the construction of a sewage pretreatment plant and modernization of sewage and water lines, for which funds were appropriated in fiscal years 1961 and 1962. A savings of $100,000 was available from the funds appropriated for that project, based on the budget estimates at that time, and this, Mr. Chairman, was stated in the letter to Chairman Evins that I mentioned dated April 13, 1966.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Well, I do not want to take all the time here.
Mr. Adams, any questions?
Mr. DEVINE. Mr. Chairman, I am most confused here. We have legislation on the subject matter, and the only witness called is one in opposition to it. Are there any proponents of this legislation?
Mr. FRIEDEL. My purpose in the bill is to require authorization from this committee before they go to the Appropriations Committee. They bypassed the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee completely, and go before the Appropriations Committee and get their funds. What I want them to do is to come before our committee for the authorization.
Mr. DEVINE. Apparently 4 years ago they went to the Independent Offices Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee of the Independent Offices. This is a jurisdictional matter.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Right, at least for airports and runways. but the point is that they had $300,000 and they did not ask for it. They saved $200,000 on paving. Instead of going back into the Treasury, they just used it for this study, $300,000 for plans to spend $200 million just to improve Washington National. It is overcrowded now.
Mr. ĎEVINE. You are not suggesting any misappropriation?
Mr. DEVINE. Apparently the money was appropriated by a duly approved committee of the Congress.
Mr. FRIEDEL. That is true. I am not questioning that at all.
Mr. DEVINE. I was just seeking proponents of the legislation. I wondered what the purpose of the hearing was. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Mr. Pickle, do you have any questions?
Mr. PickLE. Mr. Chairman, I thank you. I have not yet had a chance to read the statement of Mr. Saunders, but I welcome you before the committee. I note that you appear in opposition to the bill. I will read this testimony and would like to reserve the right to ask any questions, Mr. Chairman.
I wonder if I might deviate from the bill before us for just a moment, Mr. Saunders. I wanted to ask you the status of the possibility of helicopter service between the airfield and downtown Washington, Dulles, and Friendship. Can you bring us up to date on the status of these applications?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes, sir, Mr. Pickle. As I understand it, the Civil Aeronautics Board has authorized a consortium of airlines, to begin helicopter service here in Washington serving the three area airportsFriendship, Dulles, and National—and the airlines are prepared to provide this service.
Up until now, they have been unable to locate suitable helipad or heliport services or facilities in the District. At the moment, the project is stymied by that obstacle. I am told that they are exploring several possibilities, and making plans for two or three locations. They are also exploring possible rezoning of a building, where a rooftop helipad is available in the District. I think it is fair to say that the airlines are pursuing this as vigorously as they can, and they are attempting to resolve the heliport problem.
Mr. PICKLE. It is a question of site selection, one that will be left to the airlines or is it something that has to be coordinated with the FAA or the District Committee? Who will make that decision about a proper
site? Mr. SAUNDERS. The area office of the FAA—I mention the area office of the FAA to distinguish it from the Bureau of National Capital Airports which I represent—will look into the heliport site, will coordinate with the airlines and with other interested parties, and will approve the site from the point of view of airworthiness and air traffic compatibility. The airlines will not make the decision alone. They will propose a site, and will work with the FAA area office, I
Mr. PICKLE. Mr. Saunders, I thank you for that information because I am keenly interested in that service being provided, and I want to be sure that we don't interfere specding that project along.
Mr. SAUNDERS. No, sir.
Mr. PICKLE. May I ask you one brief question about the bill before us now. The measure that has been proposed would be that
item that costs over $50,000 would have to have approval of the committee, and you are opposing that proposition. Do you propose any specific sum that would be reasonable, that would give us a limitation? Does your testimony cover that?
Mr. SAUNDERS. No, sir. We feel, Mr. Pickle, that the appropriation process, which is already in place and has been in effect for many years, is adequate with the passage of an appropriation act. That process as it now stands does provide full and adequate means for Congress to oversee.
Mr. PICKLE. You would not recommend any sum of minimum or maximum; would you?
Mr. SAUNDERS. No, sir. We would prefer to have the appropriation process remain as it is.
Mr. FRIEDEL. Would you be opposed to getting the authorization of this committee before you go to the Appropriations Committee?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. FRIEDEL. Would you be opposed to getting the authorization from this committee before you go to the Appropriations Committee?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Mr. Chairman, I do not believe that I would be able to comment on that properly, because I think it would involve, as Mr. Devine mentioned, the jurisdiction between committees, on which I would not be competent to speak. We would want to do what was asked of us. We would come to appear as requested, of course, and we would present information as requested.
Mr. PICKLE. That is all, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KUYKENDALL. What does a 100-foot section of Dulles runway cost, or 1 foot of Dulles runway cost?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Very roughly, Mr. Kuykendall, I think that the construction cost of the two long runways at Dulles, which are 11,500 feet in length, was about $3 million each, excluding taxiways.
Mr. KUYKENDALL. Have you got your arithmetic cap working?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Roughly calculating that would be $300 per foot, if the decimal point is in the right place, if we are right on that.
Mr. KUYKENDALL. All right, so an accumulation of water that suddenly accumulates under a runway could create the sudden neces