RE-ORGANIZATION OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT, INCREASE OF THE CAPTAINS AND ADDITIONAL SLOOPS OF WAR.
COMMUNICATED TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE, FEBRUARY 6, 1813.
Navy Department, February 2, 1813.
Permit me to revive the suggestions I had the honor to make to you in conversation relative to the better organization of the Navy Department; and though it would be premature in me to offer any general system of improvement, yet, in my view, there are some prominent detects in the establishment, which are susceptible of a simple remedy, similar to that of which necessity urged the adoption in relation to the War Department.
The vital error appears to me to consist in loading the chief of the Department with the cognizance of details, and with the execution of duties which divert his attention from the sound direction of the great and efficient objects of the establishment; or the inevitable alternative is to submit the execution of those duties to subordinate agents, whose responsibility does not afford a sufficient guarantee to the public for the judicious and faithful discharge of the trust. Of this nature is the duty of forming contracts, making purchases, and the effective, control and accountability of navy agents, now spread over the interior as well as the Atlantic coast, and which I conceive would employ to great public advantage a distinct department, directed by a responsible and able head. If, in the present state of our navy, this view of the subject is in any degree correct, the increase, as now provided for by law, must render it indispensable.
I would therefore respectfully suggest the idea of a naval purveyor's department, with deputies, as many as may be necessary, to be nominated by the President to the Senate. The purveyor to reside in some of our central seaport towns, where the state of the market, and the information necessary to form contracts to advantage, can be best known, and effected with the best security; the Secretary of the Navy retaining the control and general direction of all important contracts to be formed by the purveyor.