War Production Board

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WAR PRODUCTION BOARD


Federal War Production Board (WPB) was an executive branch office in charge of mobilizing the U.S. economy for World War II (19391945). Established within the Office of Emergency Management on January 16, 1942, WPB had authority to obtain financing, enter contracts for procurement of industrial materials, and issue directives to private enterprises. With this authority WPB allocated resources between the military and civilian production sectors. Civilian production that was wasteful or unnecessary was stopped, while scarce or valuable goods were rationed. Quotas on consumer purchases were created for a host of commodities. Commercial automobile manufacturing plants were expanded under the WPB's direction, and then converted for the production of armored vehicles, jeeps, and bombers. Although WPB was effective at first, its authority eventually became diluted by other agencies with overlapping power, including the Office of War Mobilization. WPB was officially replaced by the Civilian Production Administration on October 4, 1945.

See also: Office of Emergency Management, Rationing

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War Production Board (WPB), former U.S. government agency, established (Jan., 1942) by executive order to direct war production and the procurement of materials in World War II. The chairman (Donald M. Nelson, 1942–44; Julius A. Krug, 1944–45) was granted sweeping powers over the nation's economic life. The WPB converted and expanded the peacetime economy to maximum war production; controls included assignment of priorities to deliveries of scarce materials and prohibition of nonessential industrial activities. During its three-year existence the WPB supervised the production of $185 billion worth of weapons and supplies. Businessmen serving with the WPB were sharply criticized by a Senate committee headed by Harry S. Truman. WPB organization changed frequently, and disputes with the armed services occurred. After the defeat of Japan, most restrictions were quickly lifted, and the WPB was abolished in Nov., 1945. The Civilian Production Administration was set up to take over the remaining WPB reconversion functions.

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WPB (USA) War Production Board (in World War II)
• (or w.p.b.) wastepaper basket

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