A Common Thread of Service . Legislation (1970)


During fiscal year 1970, 37 pieces of legislation were enacted, the most important of which were:

  • Public Law 91-41, July 9, 1969, repealed the freeze on the number of dependent children for whom Federal assistance would be available under the program of aid to families with dependent children.
  • Public Law 91-56, August 11, 1969, provided the States with greater flexibility in the form and scope of medical assistance coverage upon approval of the Secretary.
  • Public Law 91-61, August 20, 1969, authorized the Secretary to establish at an institution of higher education in the National Capital area a National Center on Educational Media and Materials for the Handicapped. The Center would provide a comprehensive program of activities for handicapped persons using new educational technology.
  • The Older Americans Act of 1969, P.L. 91-69, September 17, 1969, extended for three years Federal programs aimed at approximately 20 million older persons; substantially increased authority for community planning, services, and training grants; and authorized Statewide regional and metropolitan model projects. The law also transferred funding authority for the Foster Grandparents Program from OEO to HEW and establish a National Older Americans Volunteer Program for retired persons over 60.
  • The Child Protection Act of 1969, P.L. 91-113, November 6, 1969, empowered the Secretary to determine the hazardous character of toys and to ban as hazardous substances toys found to contain electrical, thermal, or mechanical hazards.
  • The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, P.L. 91-173, December 30, 1969, established a five-member Government panel to consider applications for non-compliance permits; established mandatory health and safety standards for coal mines; authorized enforcement of these standards by the Secretary, the Surgeon General, and their representatives; and provided for a trust fund for coal mine health and safety research.
  • The Tax Reform Act, P.L. 97-172, December 30, 1969, contained provisions which increased the minimum social security benefits for a retired worker from $55.40 to $64.00; the special benefit for persons 72 and over from $40 to $46; the benefit for a dependent spouse to one-half the amount of the primary retiree's benefits.
  • Public Law 91-206, March 10, 7970, established a National Credit Union Administration in the Executive Branch and transferred all functions and personnel of SSA's Bureau of Federal Credit Unions to the new agency.
  • Migrant Health Amendments, P.L. 91-209, March 12, 1970, extended through FY 1973 the program of health services for migrant agricultural workers and provided assistance for health services for other seasonal agricultural workers under the Public Health Service Act.
  • Community Mental Health Centers Amendments, P.L. 91-211, March 13, 1970, provided grants for the construction and staffing of community mental health centers and authorized matching arrangements from 75 percent to as high as 100 percent for grants in areas designated by the Secretary as urban or rural poverty.
  • Public Law 91-222, April 1, 1970, eliminated the termination date and made permanent the provisions of P.L. 89-92, which provided for health warnings on each package of cigarettes.
  • The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, P.L. 91-513 signed on October 27, provided for: (1) research into and prevention of drug abuse and drug dependence; (2) treatment and rehabilitation of drug abusers; (3) strengthening of existing drug abuse law enforcement authority. It authorized $75 million for treatment and rehabilitation programs relating to drug abuse and alcoholism; $29 million for drug abuse education; $85 million for special project grants for drug addicts and drug dependent persons. The Act also authorized $1 million for establishment of a Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse to study all aspects of marihuana use and the causes of drug abuse in general and report to the President and Congress.
  • The Environmental Education Act, P.L. 91-516, signed on October 30, authorized the development, demonstration, and dissemination of new and improved curricula and programs concerned with environmental quality and ecological balance.
  • The Developmental Disabilities Services and Facilities Construction Amendments of 1970, P.L. 91-517, also signed on October 30, extended and improved programs of grants for facilities, for staffing of such facilities, and for services for the mentally retarded and other persons with developmental disabilities.
  • The Drug Abuse Education Act, P.L. 91-527, signed on December 3, authorized funds for public education projects relating to drug abuse.
  • The Family Planning Service Amendments, P.L. 91-572, were signed into law on December 24. They amended the Public Health Service Act to provide special project grants for family planning services and related research, training, and technical assistance.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency Personnel Act, P.L. 91-604, became law on December 31. This act authorized the transfer of Public Health Service Commissioned Officers to the new Environmental Protection Agency, which assumed responsibility for many of the environmental programs formerly administered by the Department of HEW.
  • The Comprehensive Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Act, P.L. 91-616, signed by the President on December 31, provided for a comprehensive Federal alcoholism program including prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. The act authorized formula grants to the States and project grants and contracts, created a National Advisory Council to develop a national policy on alcoholism and alcohol abuse, and established a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


A new report by the Surgeon General on the health consequences of smoking which confirmed and strengthened conclusions of four previous such reports was published by HEW in January. It revealed stronger evidence of the adverse effect of smoking by pregnant women on the unborn child; it also cited additional evidence concerning cigarette smoking as a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. In addition, it confirmed earlier findings that cigarette smoking is the main cause of lung cancer in men.

In February, the Office of the Secretary announced the creation of two new offices:

  • The Women's Action Program was established to address women's rights and responsibilities throughout the Department, and to plan a long-range structure to meet HEW commitments to the President's Task Force on Women's Rights.
  • An Office of Community and Regional Development was established to enhance Washington support of regional directors and to hasten decentralization of grant approval authority,

In the health area, four significant actions were taken during February:

  • A National Commission on Venereal Disease was created to consider the problems of syphilis and gonorrhea from a national standpoint, study ways of bringing public health and private medicine into a closer working relationship, and make recommendations for bringing these diseases under control.
  • The President in his Health Message to Congress on February 18, directed the Secretary to convene a Commission on Medical Malpractice to undertake an intensive study on the growing problems of medical malpractice suits and malpractice insurance. The Commission was appointed in August; a final report was promised by March 1, 1972.
  • The first annual report on marihuana was sent to Congress on February 1 by the Secretary. The report was issued in accordance with the "Marihuana and Health Reporting Act" (Title V of P.L. 91-298). The report indicated that various forms of marihuana can have damaging effects on individuals, and that more research is needed before it can be ascertained how much of a threat marihuana will pose to the general populace if commonly used.
  • The Social and Rehabilitation Service announced a $2.5 million grant to build the Nation's first training and research center for deaf-blind people, plus an award of 25 acres of surplus government property. The funds will support the construction of a new National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults, which will be operated by the Industrial Home for the Blind under an agreement with the Social and Rehabilitation Service.

Early in March, a task force on higher education called for substantial overhaul of the American system of higher education. The "Newman Report" challenged the concept of continuing growth of the existing system of higher education without major reforms. The Report asserted that nearly all 2,500 institutions of higher learning have adopted the same mode of teaching and learning, and that it is no longer true that most students have real choices among differing institutions of higher education. Major recommendations of the report included eliminating locksteps; expanding non-college opportunities; vigorous efforts to achieve equality for women; strengthening institutional missions through elimination of non-educational activities; refocusing on high priority academic programs, and creation of new special-purpose institutions.

The White House Conference on Youth was held in Estes Park, Colo. April 18-22 in an effort to determine the needs of America's youth and develop a program of governmental response. Top officials of the Department were among the more than 1,500 delegates who attended, 1 ,000 of whom were 14-24 years of age. Ten task forces explored issues of special concern to youth.

Also in April, initial administrative steps were taken in the conversion of the Army's Pine Bluff Arsenal (Arkansas) to a unique facility for improving consumer protection. President Nixon had announced January 27, 1971 that FDA will establish and administer a new activity-the National Center for Toxological Research-at the Pine Bluff biological plant. The facility will occupy 504 acres of former Arsenal property and will include 33 buildings with 1.7 million square feet of floor space.

On May 11, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism was established within the National Institute of Mental Health, to develop and conduct comprehensive programs of research, training, development of community services and public education to help prevent and treat alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

An Office of Special Concerns was established in May in the Office of the Secretary to insure special priority for women employees of the Department, American Indians, Spanish-Surnamed Americans, migrant workers and the HEW Fellows.

The Food and Drug Administration warned the nation in May not to eat swordfish since FDA's testing program had revealed an excessive level of mercury contamination. To prevent health hazards to the public, FDA seized 832,000 pounds of swordfish and fish brokers withheld 4 million pounds from commercial markets.

In June, the Department established within the Office of Child Development, a National Center for Child Advocacy, a recommendation of the 1970 White House Conference on Children. A major mission of the new center was to follow up on other conference recommendations and work with State, local and private organizations. A children's concern center, which accepts inquiries and statements of concern from any parent or citizen about matters affecting children, was established within the national center.

In the first annual report by SSA on the operation of the black lung benefit program, it was announced that over 200,000 disabled miners, widows and dependents were receiving monthly black lung benefits under the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. Total benefits paid since the law was signed on December 30, 1969, exceeded $300 million. The law authorized payment of monthly benefits to coal miners totally disabled due to pneumonoconiosis arising out of the disease.

By the end of June, the Department announced that 66 grants and contracts totalling $6.5 million had been awarded for health maintenance organizations (HMO's). HMO's are organized systems of health care, providing comprehensive health services to voluntarily enrolled members for a fixed, prepaid annual fee. The groups receiving awards included group practices, medical care foundations, hospitals, consumer groups, medical schools and neighborhood health centers.

The Food and Drug Administration on July 2 sounded an urgent warning to consumers not to eat cans of Bon Vivant Vichyssoise soup because of potential botulism contamination. On July 7, it ordered a recall of all soups, sauces, and other canned products by Bon Vivant Soups, Inc., as a precautionary measure to protect public health and safety.

In August, a National Advisory Committee was created to begin immediate planning on the President's accelerated program of research and treatment against sickle cell anemia, the painful and lifeshortening disease which afflicts an estimated 50,000 black Americans each year. Six contracts totaling more than half a million dollars were awarded by the National Institutes of Health for clinical studies.

The Office of Education reported in August that some 1,072,581 degrees were awarded by institutions of higher education during the 12 months ending June 30, 1971, a 50 per cent increase over 1966. There was a sharp percentage increase in the number of women earning degrees. During the 5-year period, the number of women receiving doctorates increased by 88 per cent, the number receiving master's degrees went up by 75 per cent, and the number receiving bachelors degrees increased by 54 per cent.

The Social and Rehabilitation Service announced in August the investment of $4.1 million toward the development of a national program of comprehensive social services for the elderly. The extensive efforts were aimed at helping aged citizens who suffer from isolation, nutritional problems and other unmet social needs. The program was expected to be a major breakthrough in the development of comprehensive social services for the elderly.

On August 23, Secretary Richardson announced the opportunity for employees to take college credit courses free of charge. The Upward Mobility College Program operated by D.C.'s Federal City College, would enable nearly 1,600 HEW employees who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, to work toward a college degree, with HEW paying for tuition and books, and releasing the employee from work for half the time spent in class. The program began in April of 1970 as a pilot demonstration in the Office of Education.

The Social and Rehabilitation Service announced that nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars was added to the Nation's economy as a result of rehabilitating a record number of disabled Americans to productive employment during FY 1971. Annual earnings of the 291,272 persons rehabilitated during the year increased by an estimated $770 million over what they earned the year before entering the State-Federal vocational rehabilitation program.

A Deputy Under Secretary for Welfare Reform Planning was appointed in September, to plan and organize welfare reform implementation, which has been described as the most complex management undertaking in the history of the Federal government.

Early in September the National Right to Read program developed a master plan for the next ten years aimed at eradicating illiteracy by 1980; 38 States submitted Right to Read plans, and a reading resources network of 80 information centers was established.

Also in September, the Food and Drug Administration completed inspections of 122 toy manufacturing firms. The action was one of a number of initiatives undertaken by FDA to improve toy safety. Since December of 1970, about 150 individual toy products had been banned, and some 60 types of toys had been voluntarily corrected by toy firms on the basis of FDA identification of potential mechanical hazards. The Agency's Bureau of Product Safety also had set up a Toy Review Committee, and had examined approximately 600 toys for mechanical hazards.

The Commissioner of Education announced October 1 the award of $2 million to the Children's Television Workshop to support the continuing development of educational programs for children. The amount awarded the producers of Sesame Street represented partial payment on a total commitment of $5 million during FY 1972, and would be used to support both Sesame Street and the Workshop's new reading series, The Electric Company, designed to supplement in-school reading instruction for 7- 10-year olds.

President Nixon formally announced on October 18 that the laboratory facilities of Fort Detrick, Md. would be converted from germ warfare research to an intensive program of cancer research. The laboratories were the U.S. Army's principal facility for chemical and biological research until the United States stopped production of such weapons in November of 1969. Cancer research at the laboratories will be conducted by private firms under contract with the National Institutes of Health and will be part of the accelerated Cancer Cure Program.

By October 31, a total of 24.4 million doses of a vaccine against rubella (German measles) had been administered under public programs and about 5 million by private physicians in the national campaign to vaccinate 60 million children which began in June 1969. It was the first time in the Nation's history that so many children received a vaccine so soon after its licensure.

In response to a Presidential mandate in August to upgrade the quality of nursing home care for some 1 million elderly persons confined to nursing homes, HEW expanded nursing home inspection efforts and announced a program to train 2,000 additional State inspectors over the next two years.

In an address to the 3,400 White House Conference on Aging delegates in late November, the Secretary announced that 38 States had "substantial deficiencies" in their nursing home certification process under Medicaid. The States were notified that unless improvements were made by February 1, 1972, all Federal Medicaid funds would be withheld.

Secretary Richardson announced on November 16 a ban on Federal government use of lead-based paint in residual structures. Leadbased paint is defined as paint containing more than one percent of lead by weight. The prohibition was required by the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act (P.L. 91-695, Section 401).

The Secretary also announced in November plans to eventually merge the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the civil service system into a single, unified civilian personnel system. The action was based upon recommendations of a Secretary's Committee to Study the PHS Commissioned Corps.

Secretary Richardson issued on November 29, 1971, a memorandum, "Policy Development and Implementation in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare," establishing a policy management system.

The system provided for two principal policy development and implementation procedures: The Baton-Passing Model, in which the responsibility is passed from office to office as policy alternatives are developed, decisions made and implemented, and programs executed and evaluated; and the Project Management Model for those special policies and issues of such complexity and overriding importance that a full-time project manager is needed to facilitate their development and implementation. Policy coordination was assigned to the ASPE and the monitoring of the process to the Executive Secretariat.

On December 23, 1971, the Secretary issued a memorandum establishing, as a further step in the new management system, the Master Planning Calendar. This concept was to fit policy development and implementation into a workable schedule of activities based on an annual framework. The planning cycle would begin every year in August and carry a policy initiative through a series of key milestones for 24 months. The Calendar would schedule all planning functions, establish sequences of centralized direction of activities, and relate decisionmaking in planning, budget, legislation and other key functions.

The Office of Education announced on December 31 that more than one million postsecondary students borrowed more than $1 billion through the Guaranteed Student Loan Program in 1971. It was the first time in the 6-year history of the program that the number of borrowers exceeded one million and the number of dollars borrowed exceeded one billion. The amount loaned during 1971 was greater than the total loaned in the first three years of the program's operation.

In December, Secretary Richardson made a talk before several groups of HEW employees in which he discussed the responsibilities of the Department and what he felt must be done to make HEW "a more responsible and responsive instrument for serving the American people."

The Secretary summarized his views as follows: "We in HEW are charged with a fourfold task-to identify the problems of the people and of the institutions with which we are concerned; to eliminate the gaps between promise and performance by setting and meeting attainable goals; to make the best possible use of the resources we have; and to fight for the additional resources we know how to use well."

Organizational changes in 1971 included the following:

The Office of State Merit Systems was transferred on January 5, 1971 from the Office of the Secretary to the U.S. Civil Service Commission under authority of P.L. 91-648.

In March, the first Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the 18-year history of the Department was appointed to assure a more integrated and effective Department-wide communications program. In mid-June, Deputy Assistant Secretaries for Communications and Operations were named.

The remaining elements of the Environmental Health Service which did not become part of the new Environmental Protection Agency were transferred May 25 to HEW agencies as follows: The Bureau of Occupational Safety and Health to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, HSMHA; the Bureau of Community and Environmental Management to HSMHA; and the Bureau of Radiological Health to FDA.

The Office of Education was completely reorganized on October 13, 1971. Six Deputy Commissioners were appointed to achieve more effective management of the agency. The Executive Deputy Commissioner was designated as the principal deputy to the Commissioner of Education. In addition:

The Deputy Commissioner for Management was given responsibility for the Office of Administration, the Office of Regional Office Coordination, and the Office of Program Planning and Evaluation.

The Deputy Commissioner for School Systems assumed responsibility for the Bureau of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped, and the Bureau of Adult, Vocational, and Technical Education.

The Deputy Commissioner for Development would direct activities of the National Center for Educational Research, the National Center for Educational Communication, the Experimental Schools Program Staff, the National Center for Educational Statistics, and the Bureau of Educational Personnel Development.

The Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education was given responsibility for the Bureau of Higher Education, the Institute of International Studies, and the Bureau of Libraries and Educational Technology.

While the Office of Education reorganization was the most sweeping organizational change during the year, a number of bureaus and subagencies were reorganized as follows: SRS's Community Services Administration, February 10; The Office of Child Development, OS, February 11 ; SSA's Bureau of Health Insurance, February 17; HSMHA's Indian Health Service, March 10, the Community Health Service, HSMHA, May 10; Regional Medical Program Service, HSMHA, June 12; SSA's Bureau of Disability Insurance, September 1; and SSA 's Bureau of Retirement and Survivors Insurance, November 26.

In addition, the Health Maintenance Organization Service (October 12) and the Comprehensive Health Planning Service (November 12) were established in HSMHA.