Committee on Economic Security (CES)

Volume VI. Social Insurance

K. Miscellaneous Studies


Prepared by Edwin E. Witte

1. The most important functions of the Social Security Board are those connected with old-age benefits and unemployment insurance. Both of these social insurance measures concern principally industrial workers and their employers. The Labor Department is the branch of the Government which logically should have jurisdiction over all matters of industrial relations.

2. Unemployment insurance, the world over, is administered locally through the Public Employment Offices. In the Social Security Act it is provided that unemployment insurance shall be paid through the Public Employment Offices. The Public Employment Offices are under the control of the United States Employment Service, a bureau of the Department of Labor. To leave the United States Employment Service in the Department of Labor and the Social Security Board outside of the Department is almost certain to lead to friction and is utterly illogical. To take the Employment Service out of the Department of Labor and make it subordinate to the Social Security Board would be equivalent to dismembering the Department of Labor.

3. Other bureaus of the Department of Labor, besides the United States Employment Service, will have close relations with parts of the work to be performed by the Social Security Board. In the administration of the Federal grants-in-aid for dependent children, the Social Security Board will find it necessary to make constant use of the statistical data and other studies of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

4. All foreign unemployment insurance laws are administered by the Labor Departments. This is true of nearly all foreign old-age insurance acts. The only exceptions being Great Britain, Luxemburg, and Russia. In Great Britain old-age insurance is combined with health insurance, and is administered by the Health Department; in Russia, by the Trade Unions, independent of the government. Only Luxemburg has an independent Social Insurance Board.

5. The creation of any new independent agency of the Government is generally recognized to be undesirable. The number of independent agencies should be reduced, rather than increased.

6. It will prove advantageous to the Social Security Board to be connected with a cabinet department. Only through a cabinet officer can it have access to the President. The President, on his part, will, through this arrangement, be able to keep in closer touch with the work of the Social Security Board than is possible in the case of an independent agency. 

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