Fred Hayes (1923-2002) was one of the most gifted American public servants of the twentieth century, and possibly the most gifted in state and local government.
He had complete integrity. He understood the delicate connection between professional standards and the political system. He attracted and inspired talent. He was a polymath with a wry sense of humor. His imagination was limitless and his analytical powers incisive.
He was also modest, disheveled, and suffered from narcolepsy that occasionally caused him to fall asleep at important meetings.
Fred was, in fact, an American hero, but of the kind we don't often have the wit or commitment to recognize.
Fred Hayes was born in Utica in 1923 and returned to the city in 1997 after a half-century long career in government and consulting in Washington, New York City, and Lexington, MA. His parents were Fred L. and Leila Denniston Hayes. At the time of his birth, his father was in the sporting goods and auto supply business: the Hayes Supply Company. That business later became a casualty of the depression, after which the senior Mr. Hayes was appointed Executive Officer of the County Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, a position he held until his retirement, save for a three year absence for military service as a battalion commander in the 106th Infantry during World War II.
The Hayes family had a long history of involvement in politics and government. Hayes's great grandfather and grandfather were both members of the Board of Aldermen and chairmen of the Board's finance committee, and his father narrowly lost a 1931 race for City Treasurer to the 22-year incumbent of that office. His mother was born in Amsterdam, NY, where her father was an officer of a pearl button manufacturing company. Her family moved to Utica when she was in her early teens. Hayes married Anna C. Spears in 1948. Mrs. Hayes's father, E.A. Spears, was the longtime editorial page editor of the Utica Observer- Dispatch, and her mother, Mabel Yeomans Spears, was a teacher who had been heavily involved as a speaker on behalf of women's suffrage before the enactment of the 19th Amendment. Mrs. Hayes's parents separated and she was brought up in Oxford, NY by her mother. The couple had three children: Sara D. Hayes, married to Paul Bentz and a resident of Oakland, CA; Rose F. Hayes; and Christopher R. Hayes of Washington, DC; and one grandchild, Alexander Hayes Bentz. Hayes also had two sisters and brothers-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. William Gorton of Utica, and Mr. and Mrs. Earl Cunningham of New Hartford, and three brothers, Richard F. and Peter D., both of Utica, and J. Michael of Vernon Center, and his brother-in-law, Randolph Spears of Fort Lauderdale, FL.
I was not aware as a teenager of any orientation toward a career in government, which the Hayes family history would suggest. But my doing so is not surprising given that I grew up in a family where politics, government and baseball were the principal subjects of dinner table conversation. I think my father, like many others battered in the depression, preferred that his children choose careers with the high job security that government might offer. Digger Graves, my mentor at Hamilton, urged me to focus on government, because he believed that the only real alternative was academia where, as a Roman Catholic, my opportunities would be limited. He noted that Hamilton had no Catholic faculty members save in the Romance Languages—and this was then typical of the selective private colleges and universities. I paid no heed to the advice; I believe that I simply could not conceive of my being discriminated against!
Hayes was schooled in Utica at Our Lady of Lourdes and Utica Free Academy. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hamilton College and received an MPA and an MA in Political Economy and Government from Harvard. Hamilton awarded him an honorary L.L.D. in 1973..
What this doesn't say is that: (1) I reached my academic peak as valedictorian of my 8th grade class at Lourdes, after which it was all downhill; (2) I flunked out of Princeton after only a year, partially—but only partially—because I had miscast myself as an engineer; (3) I spent a semester at Emory redeeming myself before we moved back north and later a summer session at Wisconsin where I first encountered the American Left, including Trotskyites and other schismatics including a veteran of the Lincoln Brigade and a young Trotskyite beauty; and (4) those Harvard degrees were a consolation prize for not finishing my Ph.D. thesis.
Director, Finance Studies, NYS School Buildings Commission (1950-1951)
Only $200 a month but also, as a board member pointed out, a great title in a two man organization. Short as my time there was, it was a marvelous educational experience. Item: Sanitation crews who took the ash cans from the cellar and returned them empty, so sensitive an issue that when I asked the city's mayor about it sometime during the Lindsay administration, he said: "Don't ask. Nothing has changed." Item: When I convinced the City Manager and Corporation Counsel that the city had misinterpreted to its detriment a provision of the Local Finance Law, it required a meeting with the Republican boss, whose crushed stone business lived on city contracts, held in the boardroom of the biggest bank. Mr. Cushing listened and said he would take it up at lunch that week with the State Comptroller. I could not conceive of Utica's Democratic boss (who also lived on city construction contracts) being involved in such an issue but, if he were, the meeting would have been held at Marino's restaurant. Republicans, I thought, are a different breed!
Hayes' first job after Harvard was as director of finance studies for the Temporary NYS School Buildings Commission, chaired by Lt. Governor Frank Moore for whom he had worked in the summer of 1948 when Moore was state Comptroller. Much of his work was on measures of local fiscal capacity and one of its major products was the first distribution of income payments to individuals by county for New York State.
Several years after I left Albany, the about-to-be-released first solidly based equalization rates—a Moore reform—would show NYC with 48% rather then 60% of the state's taxable property values and thus generate a huge shift of formula aid from upstate to the City. Moore called me back for advice on an alternative measure. I proposed a model tax system calculus, but Moore didn't believe he could sell it. Much later, Moore was clearly delighted when Rockefeller appointed me to the Board of Equalization and Assessment, still chaired by Moore.
Fiscal Economist and (later) Principal Examiner, U.S. Bureau of the Budget (1951-1961)
After a year in Albany, Hayes became a fiscal economist with the Federal Bureau of the Budget in Washington, where he had for some years hoped to start his career in the public service. He would spend 10 years with the Bureau, the last six as principal examiner for the Housing and Home Finance Agency and some smaller agencies. He would later describe the Bureau as the premiere American graduate school in government and public administration. Hayes, like other young Bureau staff members, participated, even as a very junior employee, in the resolution of major budget, legislative and Presidential policy issues, often working directly with agency heads and top staff as well as White House staff. It was a heady and exciting experience and, even after ten years, Hayes was reluctant to leave.
The Bureau's bright young men (plus one female economist!) played far above their civil service grade levels. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox complained that a former second class seaman had more say over the Navy's budget than the Secretary! They were treated no less seriously within the Bureau. I believed that management functions were chronically underfunded and persuaded Maury Stans (Budget Director under Eisenhower) to give HHFA more money than requested for program supervision and coordination. (The agency rejected the largesse, unwilling to defend it before the appropriations committee.) I wrote a widely circulated and, within HHFA, widely condemned paper with the heretical but prescient view that HHFA's project grant programs would eventually have to be put into a block grant. When Kennedy promised an open space program during the campaign, we just sat down and, with no one's say so, drafted one. I hated to leave the place. It must be apparent, as it was not to me at the time, that I left with a mental organizational model that had some applicability to any government agency but, particularly, to a budget bureau!
Assistant Director, Schenectady Bureau of Municipal Research
Between his Hamilton graduation in January 1947 and his admission to Harvard in September of that year, Hayes spent six months as Assistant Director of the two-man Schenectady Bureau of Municipal Research. He valued that experience, despite its brevity, as his first exposure to the problems and foibles of American municipal government
Assistant Commissioner, Urban Renewal Administration (1961-1964)
As a principal budget examiner, Hayes had responsibility for review of the budget and legislative program of HHFA (later to become HUD), the Federal agency most concerned with the cities and urban problems. The position with URA, a component of HHFA, provided an opportunity to further pursue his interest in urban problems. His responsibilities included program planning and evaluation, legislative program development, and the administration of a demonstration grant program.
Later, he would transfer to the assistant commissionership responsible for administering the URA grant programs for planning and open space acquisition, the latter a new program authorized on the basis of proposed legislation he had helped develop in the Bureau of the Budget. Implementing change in the HHFA bureaucracy was a tortuously slow business but he did succeed in a restructuring of the URA planning grant programs. Above all, in his first operating agency experience, he acquired an invaluable education in the ways of Federal grant program administration. He also became acquainted with and educated by scores of urbanists all over the country.
Although I went to URA because my chief interest was in the problems of the cities, I soon became more and more interested in program management, a field I had all to my self, whereas everyone in URA was interested in cities. I had a great time partially because Bill Slayton and I became good friends.
I learned a few things; (1) in an organization so thinly staffed, just one poor choice in filling positions, especially in the field, could kill you; (2) we could, as a practical matter, do little with applications processed in the field and sent to us for review and approval. It was practically and politically impossible to reject or return applications months after initial submission on the basis of issues never discussed with the applicant; decentralization and post-review was the only way to go; (3) more on the under financing of management functions, not just information systems and program analysis. (Our redesign of the planning programs took six months because we had to detail senior operations staff to put it in systematic form but it was a full year after that before URA's first rate procedures shop had the time to put it into manual form); (4) we were beset with unproductive time consuming routines that, lawyers permitting, could easily be simplified or omitted. (I never found a single case where a funds requisition was modified in processing!) I wasn't talking like Carter Bales but management was becoming an obsession.
Assistant Director and (later) Deputy Director, Community Action (1964-1966)
While still an Assistant Commissioner of Urban Renewal, Hayes was enlisted to work with the President's Task Force on the War on Poverty, where he was a senior member of the group that developed the Community Action Program. After the passage of the Economic Opportunity Act, he joined the newly-created Office of Economic Opportunity, under Sargent Shriver, as assistant director of the Community Action Program. He was later promoted to Deputy Director of CAP. Hayes was known in OEO for the extraordinary effort he made to recruit a staff of the highest caliber and, ultimately, for the success of that recruitment. A special effort was made to find qualified blacks and Hispanics.
The caliber the staff is demonstrated by the distinguished subsequent careers of many of them including, for example, Peter Goldmark who would later serve in many high posts including that of executive director of the Port Authority of NY and NJ and President of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Vernon Jordan, who would later become president of the Urban League and subsequently a close friend and advisor of President Clinton. Hayes and his colleagues in CAP developed a model streamlined grant application and approval process, combining grant application and grant award documents and eliminating the tedious and unproductive fund requisition process by setting up accounts for the grantees in the Federal Reserve Banks. One of his regrets was that OEO Director Sargent Shriver could not be persuaded to decentralize application approval to the field offices, the essential linchpin of an expeditious and efficient processing system, but, instead, insisted on personally reviewing and signing every grant.
Community Action was a genuine innovation the potential importance of which was obscured and, perhaps, reduced by the tumultuous experience of the program in the field. I have no idea whether or not the model was ever used in any other program. I suspect it wasn't.
Although community action in cities throughout the country became beset by tumultuous mass demonstrations that alienated many of the program's supporters, CAP was an exciting and gratifying experience for Hayes and most of his colleagues. It had helped focus the nation's attention for the first time on the problems of poverty and racial inequality and it marked the beginning of an effort to ameliorate those problems that has resulted in continuing progress, admittedly painfully slow, for over 30 years.
This was where the fun began! The opportunity to do talent search and personnel screening not just to fill a few vacancies but to staff a whole brand new organization. A chance to set up sensible procedures for a new program without the tedious and difficult fight to clear out the Mickey Mouse that was already there. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—and I was ready for it. And did a pretty good job with one colossal omission: not setting specific standards for participation, particularly for governing board representation. It also would have been better and easier if Dick Boone and I had realized the advantages of having some optional pre-designed program components (àla Head Start) that our grantees could pick up.
In writing about CAP today, I am also struck by our failure to recognize the increasing feistiness of a black population inspired and emboldened by civil rights victories. We also didn't realize that CAP in the cities would be an overwhelmingly black and Hispanic program, because most neighborhoods of concentrated poverty were predominantly minority whereas the white poor tended to be more widely dispersed. Ann once asked why I stayed, given the backbreaking work schedule, the problems with management and leadership and the repercussions of the turmoil in the communities; I told her that I thought after a year or two of this, I could do anything!
Director of the Budget, City of New York (1966-1970)
In 1966, Hayes found, to his surprise, that the Budget Bureau's two top professionals, Elmer Staats (soon to be Comptroller-General) and Bill Carey had both independently recommended him to NYC's new mayor, John Lindsay, for the position as Budget Director. Lindsay offered the job and, after a great deal of soul searching, Hayes accepted. He would later regard that position as the crowning point of his career. He regarded the following as his major achievements:
A spectacularly successful talent search operation that brought into city government scores of brainy young men and women from the highest-rated graduate and professional schools who would have otherwise never considered city government jobs. Some of the new recruits later held high positions in later mayoralties or in the various independent state and city authorities and nonprofit organizations and many others went on to distinguished careers in other fields or cities.
Better budget and policy decisions through the introduction of cost-effectiveness analysis. This resulted in significant improvements in productivity as well increases in some city revenues. Analysis of this kind has since become accepted institutionalized as standard practice in the city government.
Acceleration of the hitherto glacial progress of city construction and other capital projects through the use of project management systems. Project management, like systems analysis, has since become routine practice in the city. (By the time Hayes left office, the Bureau of the Budget had been transformed and modernized by new blood and new systems and similar changes were well along in the management of the most of the operating agencies.)
Balancing the budget for Lindsay's first two years and financing a shortfall in the third year with reserves accumulated in the first two years. The three consecutive years without issuing budget notes were unprecedented in modern New York City financial experience. The accomplishment, unfortunately, proved transitory due to a severe recession in the city economy that made the city's budget situation precarious in 1970 and subsequent years.
The above description is polluted by neither ambiguity nor modesty—but I don't think the claims are exaggerated. I myself am still astonished and impressed that so much could be done in only four years. I think it would have been impossible in the absence of two critical factors. One was the continuing, virtually unqualified support of John Lindsay. The second was the city's loose accountability system, coupled with Harry Bronstein who could create overnight new positions never in the budget enacted by the Board and Council, promulgate new job classifications and set salaries for them without a peep from the Civil Service Commission.
Consulting, Research and Teaching (1970-1998)
After leaving the Bureau of the Budget, Hayes spent the remainder of his professional career—nearly 30 years—as a consultant on public policy and management issues. During this period, he was also able to pursue his longtime interest in the curricula of public policy programs in the universities, serve on a variety government and nonprofit commissions and committees, and author a number of published books and articles.
His consulting assignments were extraordinarily varied. He carried out a dozen and a half evaluations of foundation-financed experimental projects, served as an expert witness on financial capacity in labor impasse proceedings for government agencies in three different states, conducted a variety of economic studies including two on the impact of casino gambling and an extensive analysis of the effects of New Jersey's Pinelands Plan, and participated in a study of the economics of Major League Baseball.
Hayes taught public policy and finance courses under adjunct appointments at Yale, the New School for Social Research, SUNY at Stony Brook, and Boston University. He served as a member of the visiting committees at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School and the School of Architecture and Urban Studies at MIT and of the Board of the City University of New York. He was also a member of the committee funded by the Ford Foundation to develop public policy curricular materials, and he chaired the committee charged with the design of the curriculum for Boston University's newly established public management program.
Governor Rockefeller appointed him as a member of the Board of Equalization and Assessment and of the temporary Commission on the Powers of Local Government, chaired by former Mayor Robert Wagner. He was also a member of the Committee on Social Policy Research of the National Academy of Sciences.
Hayes was the author of Research Institutions for the Cities and States (with John Rasmussen), Productivity in Local Government and, with David Grossman, Linkages, an Urban Institute book on financial management in local governments. He also wrote many articles. His research on productivity in state governments and on the process of change and innovation in government never reached the stage of publication, and his planned book on the Lindsay administration remains unfinished.
Hayes was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Public Administration and was a former member of the Century Club.
For remembrances of Fred Hayes by some of his closest friends and colleagues, please go here.