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The nature of the United States has changed significantly since it was founded as a small nation along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. One effort to help its government adapt to changing times and a growing country was the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, also known as the Hoover Commission. This was a joint effort between then President Harry Truman and former President Herbert Hoover to recommend ways in which the American government could operate more efficiently.
The Hoover Commission was formed in 1947 as a reaction to the rapid growth in the United States government after the Great Depression. This growth was the result of both President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal legislation — a series of government programs designed to get unemployed Americans back to work — and the nation's efforts in World War II. Many politicians, including presidents Truman and Hoover, thought that this expansion caused a number of bureaucratic inefficiencies in the way government. Even though Truman and Hoover were from different parties and had opposing views on the role of government, they shared a belief in the importance of government efficiency.
Bipartisan support for finding sources of governmental inefficiency lead to Congress passing the Lodge-Brown Act of 1947. This legislation created the Hoover Commission, a 12-member body lead by President Herbert Hoover. The commission's members, as well as staff members supporting the commission's work, was to recommend ways in which the United States government could run more efficiently. Presidents Truman and Hoover both believed in reducing government waste, but political concerns about appealing to voters who wanted a smaller government played a role in many members of President Truman's party supporting the legislation.
The Hoover Commission examined several aspects of government that fell under the purview of the executive branch, including matters related to the military and intelligence organizations. Among the commission's recommendations were that the country's older organizations that handled intelligence gathering and analysis, such as Army Intelligence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), needed to accept and work with the newly created Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This was a matter of both efficiency and national security. The commission also addressed the issue of budgeting within the military and different defense agencies, suggesting that the government adopt performance-based budgeting procedures. In this type of budgeting, the funding for specific organizations and projects is determined by how well they are accomplishing the goals for which they were created.
The first Hoover Commission submitted its last report to President Truman in 1952. In 1953, Congress authorized another commission, also headed by former President Hoover, to continue the work of suggesting ways to increase efficiency in government during President Eisenhower's administration. This second Hoover Commission continued its work until 1955.