President Eisenhower said it: "The time will again come when there will be need for a new, comprehensive review such as inspired Mr. Hoover's monumental missions."
The time has come. The need is here. And Congress is responding with proposals for another bipartisan commission to make government work better like the two launched under Herbert Hoover in 1947 and 1953.
But to achieve equivalent success a new commission will need both to take lessons from the Hoover days and to understand a changed America. It has to produce a report so compelling as to win organized citizen support, as Mr. Hoover did. It has to consider the view of the Citizens Committee for the Hoover Report that the second commission offered more recommendations of fundamental importance because it was authorized to discuss policy as well as organization.
To take but one instance of change: the well-known growth of the federal impact on states, localities, and private enterprise has been accompanied by a less-noticed growth in decentralized community and individual self-help -- something that becomes ever more important in housing, energy, work satisfaction as well as democratic governmental relations. Already suggested are such tests of federal operations as their fiscal weight on each level of government. A new commission also ought to measure reforms by their "dependency impact," their effect on fostering or deterring the new self-reliance.
Within five years of each Hoover report, its effect was being calculated in billions of dollars of savings that looked big at the time. A new commission should be judged not only on saving money but on preserving values.