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Letter to Bernard M. Baruch Requesting Acceptance of Nomination as Chair of the War Industries Board

March 04, 1918

THE WHITE HOUSE, March 4, 1918.

MY DEAR MR. BARUCH:

I am writing to ask if you will not accept appointment as Chairman of the War Industries Board, and I am going to take the liberty at the same time of outlining the functions, the constitution, and action of the board as I think they should now be established.

The functions of the Board should be:

1. The creation of new facilities and the disclosing, if necessary the opening up, of new or additional sources of supply.

2. The conversion of existing facilities where necessary to new uses.

3. The studious conservation of resources and facilities by scientific, commercial, and industrial economies.

4. Advice to the several purchasing agencies of the Government with regard to the prices to be paid.

5. The determination, wherever necessary, of priorities of production and of delivery and of the proportions of any given article to be made immediately accessible to the several purchasing agencies when the supply of that article is insufficient, either temporarily or permanently.

6. The making of purchases for the Allies.

The board should be constituted as at present, and should retain, so far as necessary and so far as consistent with the character and purposes of the reorganization, its present advisory agencies, but the ultimate decision of all questions, except the determination of prices, should rest always with the Chairman, the other members acting in a cooperative and advisory capacity. The further organization of advice I will indicate below.

In the determination of priorities of production, when it is not possible to have the full supply of any article that is needed produced at once, the Chairman should be assisted, and so far as practicable guided, by the present priorities organization or its equivalent.

In the determination of priorities of delivery, when they must be determined, he should be assisted when necessary, in addition to the present advisory priorities organization, by the advice and cooperation of a committee constituted for the purpose and consisting of official representatives of the Food Administration, the Fuel Administration, the Railway Administration, the Shipping Board, and the War Trade Board, in order that when a priority of delivery has been determined there may be common, consistent, and concerted action to carry it into effect.

In the determination of prices the Chairman should be governed by the advice of a committee consisting, besides himself, of the members of the board immediately charged with the study of raw materials and of manufactured products, of the Labor member of the board, of the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, and the Fuel Administrator.

The Chairman should be constantly and systematically informed of all contracts, purchases, and deliveries, in order that he may have always before him a schematized analysis of the progress of business in the several supply divisions of the Government in all departments.

The duties of the Chairman are:

1. To act for the joint and several benefit of all the supply departments of the Government.

2. To let alone what is being successfully done and interfere as little as possible with the present normal processes of purchase and delivery in the several departments.

3. To guide and assist wherever the need for guidance or assistance may be revealed. For example, in the allocation of contracts, in obtaining access to materials in any way pre-empted, or in the disclosure of the sources of supply.

4. To determine what is to be done when there is any competitive or other conflict of interest between departments in the matter of supplies; for example, when there is not a sufficient immediate supply for all and there must be a decision as to priority of need or delivery, or when there is competition for the same sources of manufacture or supply, or when contracts have not been placed in such a way as to get advantage of the full productive capacity of the country.

5. To see that contracts and deliveries arc followed up where such assistance as is indicated under (3) and (4) above has proved to be necessary.

6. To anticipate the prospective needs of the several supply departments of the Government and their feasible adjustment to the industry of the country as far in advance as possible, in order that as definite an outlook and opportunity for planning as possible may be afforded the business men of the country.

In brief, he should act as the general eye of all supply departments in the field of industry.

Cordially and sincerely yours,

WOODROW WILSON.

Woodrow Wilson, Letter to Bernard M. Baruch Requesting Acceptance of Nomination as Chair of the War Industries Board Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/353055

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