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The War Industries Board 1917

The War Industries Board which prospered the General Munitions Board evaded some of the more noticeable faults in the old organization. It was composed of seven instead of twenty-odd affiliates, all residents with the exception of one agent each of the defense force. Several loose ends were therefore assembled, and the original Board was much more nearly a dynamic planning board for industry than everything which had leaded it. Yet deemed as an industrial cabinet it still occupied a very inconsistent situation. Its murky authority could be checked in numerous ways.

As a secondary body of the Council of National Defense it very certainly required power to take the inventiveness in industrial strategy. It was even now a clearinghouse instead of a directorate. Again, considered from the standpoint of effectual administration, such ability as it possessed, whether handed over by members of the cabinet or supposed through the standing of its position, was conferred in the Board as one rather than in the chairman, simply as in the condition of the General Munitions Board, with a resultant failure in motivating force.

(Reagan, pp 174-179) At last, as in the instance of the final Board, its decisions could be quashed, not only by the leaders of the managerial departments of the regime, but also by heads and even assistant executives of the purchasing agencies, in whom legal responsibility and command over treaties still laid. The board was still a “directing” body which hinged for its effectiveness on the teamwork and approval of individual bureaus, and their disinclination in many cases to acknowledge its leadership was frequently a source of mortification both to the legislature plus to industry.

Aside from questions of policy the Board’s need of an unambiguous position recurrently produced unnecessary mystification in the procedure of the dealings between makers and the government. The War Industries Board early establish an institute under Judge Lovett to settle on questions of main concern in production among the purchasing units, and the priorities sector of the Board was competent to accomplish much effective work toward abolishing variance in war orders between the various departments and the associates.

Yet, chiefly in the starting months of its existence, it was much obstructed by special priority orders placed by individual manufacture departments, principally the Quartermaster Department, which in its fervor to accelerate shipment inducted its own special arrangement and caused ample of confusion before the plan was finally purged. Yet the obscurities of launching an effective mechanism for overseeing priorities in production were basically of a perfunctory nature.

(Breen, pp 134-141) The much bigger issue of determining priority in delivery as between martial and non-martial requirements, between food and oil and weapons and between steel for trade ships and steel for demolishers, absorbing the whole question of large war approach, was not discussed in the Board, nor indeed vested anywhere positively apart from the President. In the terms of the proclamation issued by the Council of National Defense forming the War Industries Board, the Board was to “think about price factors. ” The price was to be charged similar to the American administration, the populace, and the cronies.

While discussed through collective dealing, obviously these agreements had all the strength of a price-fixing tenet, and they exemplify possibly better than any other of the movements of the Board its proclivity to become a focal, executive, developed planning board.

Works Cited

Breen J. William, Labor Market Politics and the Great War: The Department of Labor, the States, and the First U. S. Employment Service, 1907-1933. Kent State University Press, Kent, OH. 1997, p-238. Reagan D. Patrick, Designing a New America: The Origins of New Deal Planning, 1890-1943. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 2000, p-364

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