This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Preusse discusses the functions of the city administrator, he notes the many duties of the mayor to explain why the mayor needs an office to see to the day to day running of the city departments.
Preusse notes a new reporting system in his office to manage city departments and ensure they are using modern techniques and utilizing resources and man power correctly.
His goal for his administration is to eliminate non-necessary items in the budget. When asked about specific items that might be eliminated he recommends the sale of Washington Market, water meter inspection, and a private cartmen service, and potentially the physical consolidation of the physical courts.
Preusse answers questions relare to potential of turning over city services to private enterprise as well as the movement from "rails to rubber" - noting that use of the subway has fallen significantly. He is also asked about the Welfare Island [Roosevelt Island] ferry service.
He is asked and answers positively about a young administrator internship program. He is unable to answer questions about taxation. He notes that there are efforts to make New York a center for television production.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 70953
Municipal archives id: LT6343
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
This diversity what economy do you propose for the operation of the city is New York City budget too big is there any way to spot check with city departments for efficiency is New York City in danger of losing business and industry for the answers to these and other questions listen mild to Gap and press conference grants broad public service program in which probably janitors interview prominent personalities in the new and here to introduce our guest is award winning reporter for The New York Journal American Marvin sleeper Good evening and welcome to another edition of campus press conference our guest tonight is Charles approved see this week Mayor Wagner announced that Mr Percy would be the new city administrator as of January one this is the top administrative job in city government I'm going to prove he steps into the job with a wealth of background to help get this town and efficient economical government first He's an experienced attorney he was chief of the legal staff that handled the difficult liquidation of the bank of the United States then while serving as the city's first assistant Cooperation Council he had with negotiations for the United Nations site he also worked out the deal in which the Port of New York authority undertook the operation of the city's airport but most important I think is the fact that he was one of the original architects of the city's modern management concepts he served on the mayor's committee on management survey this was the body of experts who were nineteen fifty three made literally hundreds of recommendations to lubricate and streamline this town's operations it was on the basis of this report that the city administrators office with established by Mayor Wagner three years ago. At that time Mr Percy was appointed first deputy administrator of the department under Dr Luther Gillick when Dr Philip decided to return to his private management firm on January one Mayor Wagner felt Mr Percy was the logical manner to take over the job so let's find out from Mr Percy how the city's administrative office functions and perhaps a little bit about what he has planned for the future here to get that story our campus press conference reporters Larry Barrett of the N.Y.U. squared Journal carries a consequence of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Jim Farrel of the photo RAM and Bob Feinberg of Hunter College and how about the first question from you Larry Mr prove exactly what are the functions of the city administrator. As I see it the functions of the city administrator are primarily to how the man managed to day to day basis the great number of departments that are under his control through the charter now as you know the man has job in New York City is not a simple one it is a very complicated job and it is in amount of burden probably second only to the president the United States. First of all he has a large area in which he must work that are. Called ceremonial functions he must meet dignitaries from from other countries he must confer with all kinds of peoples and groups within the city he has a large section a work that has to do with his dealings with the Board of Estimate which has co-equal right with him in the financial management of the city and takes up every item with him that deals with the city's financial and the dispersal so that I was that he needs another department so if I had a lot of other things to handle the day to day administration of those departments and see that those departments and those department heads are probably carrying on their departments using and deploying their manpower correctly and getting the most that they can out of using modern techniques and modern management for the handling of these very difficult questions Is there any difficult task is there any way to spot check these departments as they perform their duties Well I'm glad you asked that question because I think that may very well be one of the great services that the city administrators office can contribute to New York City government we believe Dr Gilligan myself that you can only spot check. These big complicated departments and by the way you know including the people that we have in the thought of education and prances some two hundred thousand city employees we can only spot check them we can only find out whether they're doing what they should be doing by a proper report Tauriel system and right now in my office we are in the process of implementing a new and extensive reporting system for the city with this we hope that we will have what amounts to almost a day to day picture all look into the activities of every department from these. Reports we hope that we will able to see in a glance whether the departments are using the most up to date modern techniques for doing things and for managing their affairs we hope also to be able to ascertain almost at a glance whether or not they have the correct amount of manpower too much manpower and whether or not they are using what manpower they have to the best advantage have you decided what sanctions are used to obtain the reports Well I don't quite understand what your question is in the way of sanctions we are asking the departments and they are very enthusiastically cooperating whether as in formulating the basis upon which these reports will be made what will be some of the other specific goals. In your tenure as city administrator and I of course you know I'm not sworn in yet and I don't like to make any predictions or make any rosy promises about what I am going to do when I am actually sitting ministration But let me say this that it is my hope that I shall make the goal of the keystone of my administration to find out and recommend doing away with items in our budget which we no longer can afford because at the State of the kind of the budget we have in the city you have not with the items in mind for. I'd like to say one thing more before that and I will and talking about specific items what I'd like to say is that the New York city budgets are rising through natural process. Over which they don't always have too much control pension costs because of bad pension systems that were that were installed years and years ago that were not put up on a actuarial plan those costs are extremely high and they are rising and that causes an increase in the budget No nobody does anything in addition to that a lot of other increases in our budgets over recent years have come from salary increases now our budgets are getting just too big for us to be able to have any item in it except what is actually necessary and I'm not talking here now about the cutting wages I believe. That an audit of keep our wages up we're going to have to get rid of every unnecessary item I believe that our people should be paid whatever the going rate is for a similar job and government but to in order to achieve that I think we're going to have to really do a fine tooth comb job of looking for right now what am I talking about one of these items that I've talked about and I'll tell you the kind I'm talking about I'm talking about items like the recommendation that we recently made for the sale of Washington my this is an old market that no longer serves any useful purpose from the point of view of the city or the people and it is costing the city about one hundred thirty eight thousand dollars a year to run and we recommended that that be abolished another right in the fall of the same category as one that recently one that has to do with the war to see that we recently recommended the tightening up and increasing inspect Tauriel services it is possible that we might be able to. Save. And get bring into the city treasure money that's now not being received because of defective need is a non-factor some three million dollars of which I'm proud to million dollars could be represented as savings another thing of the same character is the recommendations we made for the job for a private service which we think can bring a lot of money into the city one in the future that we may recommend probably well as a physical consolidation of the. Minister caught a lot of the save rent put the koch one building where we can fire where that's feasible and get more efficient methods of handling. Duplications and save back the cost of rent that's all of the courts in the city minutes because although we're not talking only now about the minutes for gods which is spread all the way all of five are we all centered not not in Manhattan in the. Process let us say possibly and I'm not definitely not because no final have been run but there are a great many of them and we think that some of them can be physically consolidated and thereby get greater efficiency under study now would you recommend turning over any city property such as peers transfer facilities to private agencies. I I can't answer your question in that form and it's too general as to that it would depend in each case upon what the circumstances were by way of a return that the city was going to get and the types and kinds of control that it would be able to have over these vital facilities even if they weren't in their own one of the many cases must be treated by itself one of the future of the subways. Well Fred again your question is a little bit broad and I and I have all want to leave soon to say I predict what the future is I can tell you this about and if that's any indication I mean your goals on the future what would you think the future should I have none at this time I have no definite proposal because of the new transit authority in there and it's trying to work out its problems the best of its ability and I'm not making any gratuitous proposals to the knowledge to run their business but you should be cosmic consciousness. Of the fact that since the fair was raised in one thousand nine hundred eighty seven there has been a very very lodge for law in traffic on the rapid transit lines and on the other it's gone up to almost thirty three percent so a lot of predictions about the future Fayaz in the future running of those facilities must be made in the light of the changing pattern traffic patterns and there is a terrific movement since the end of the war from what you call rails to rubble and you must take all those things I things into consideration before passing upon any specific item or getting back to some of the economies that you can bring about in your. I understand there's something in the works concerning the welfare Island Ferry operation could you tell us something about that sure that's an I don't exactly the kind of sleeper that I was talking about but I think our office can be useful to the city and help money we've had that item under study now for some months and we conclude. With the opening of the new Metropolitan Hospital in. Manhattan and the transfer of all the patients there and the been some transfers of others from there and they'll be some future transfers out to win that the necessity for that transportation has greatly diminished now it must be premised on this however is just not a slap down item there must be an alternate method of transportation provided to get there because you've got to get your hospital employees over on the island a great many of them still use that facility but at the bus lines that run across the bridge. Can possibly be given extended franchises that will distribute the people both visitors and employees all over the island we believe that is saving running up to close to two hundred thousand dollars a year can be affected and city operations and we will obviate the necessity for any repairs or even possible future outlays for ferries that could run up into sums of a million dollars or so that's specifically the type of thing that I think that is our function to look around find out survey and make recommendations about taking a bus lines are supposed to do you think the city will sell its municipally owned bus lines. Well I can't answer your questions as to whether I think they will or not because there again you're getting into an area of negotiations and what people are willing to do in the way of what they're going to pay the city for franchises you're getting into questions also in that as to whether or not pension rights may be so very sickly affected the you can't cut off people who are on city payroll but. I can say this that I believe that a very sincere effort is being made to try to negotiate a deal to dispose of the bus lines that are now not owned by the city to private industry and all manner of factors before the Board of Estimate I want before the last thirty Thursday the proposition was presented by the private bus lines before the transfer advisory committee right now is correct but as to whether it will be consummated he says I can't tell because it's kind of fun so many factors are and what the opinion of the board may be and I cannot predict what seven or eight men sitting collectively and using their own best judgment and trying to measure these in terms of what they think are best for the public are going to come out with in the final question Larry now well I was going to say that in your opinion without trying to predict what will happen if these questions that you mentioned can be settled equitably do you think that it would be desirable for the city to take this action with the bus lines I think it would you think would save money yes. I was approved to do advocate of an internship program for young administrators similar to the wrong one run by Westchester County and the federal government I think some sort of a program of that kind is a very desirable thing in other words what I think you're trying to talk about say now is some program under which people could command of the city government on a higher level possibly through competitive examinations and stay for a short period to decide whether or not they want to make government a career but as I understand it the people you're really talking about now are high level college graduates who would be specialists in various forms of administration yes I would advocate some such program without at this moment saying what the precise terms of it ought to be along that line yes the our department has been studying the problem of learning commercial television producing companies use the files of the police and other city departments the story material how is that report coming along I have had nothing to do with that you have a lot and I can't tell you I'm sorry but I just said hasn't been within my purview so. Some time ago city councilman City Council President Abe Stark said on the show that New York City was in danger of losing business and industry and the city ought to take vigorous action to prevent this and also to bring new business in he recommended perhaps tax exemptions and such what are your opinions on that. I don't w