Hoover Commissions

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HOOVER COMMISSIONS. In the mid-1900s, two commissions on organization of the executive branch of government were set up by unanimous votes of the two chambers of the U.S. Congress. Appointed by President Harry S. Truman, former president Herbert Hoover served as chairman of the first commission, which functioned from 1947 to 1949 to deal with the growth of government during World War II. Under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Hoover chaired the second commission (1953–1955), dealing with government growth during the Korean War. Both commissions sought to reduce expenditures to the lowest amount consistent with essential services and to end duplication and overlapping of government services and activities. The commissions were nonpartisan. Of the personnel for each, four were named by the president, four by the vice president, and four by the Speaker of the House.

The first commission created twenty-four task forces of experts to study as many phases of government; the second created nineteen. Task forces reported to the commission, which, after studies by their staffs and members, reported their findings to Congress. The first commission made 273 recommendations; the second, 314. Of these, about half could be carried out by administrative action; the rest required legislation. More than 70 percent of the recommendations were put into effect.

Hoover estimated that the first commission brought a total savings of $7 billion and the second more than $3 billion yearly. Among reforms resulting from the commissions' studies were passage of the Military Unification Act of 1949; creation of the General Services Agency; formation of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; cost accounting and modernized budgeting; reduction of government competition with private business; development of a federal career service; coordination of federal research; and a general reduction of red tape.


Best, Gary Dean. Herbert Hoover: The Postpresidential Years, 1933–1964. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1983.

Smith, Richard Norton. An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984.

NeilMacNeil/a. g.

See alsoBureaucracy .