Richard Nixon photo

Remarks at a Ceremony Marking the 30th Anniversary of the Executive Office of the President.

June 30, 1969

I AM DELIGHTED to have the opportunity to attend this birthday party, not just for the Bureau of the Budget, because it is much older than 30 years, but because of the time 30 years ago when the Executive Office of the President was set up and the Bureau of the Budget became an integral part of that office.

I should say that this is the first time since becoming President that I have been in this room, the Indian Treaty Room, and I was reminded by the Budget Director, who, of course, knows everything-everything about history and everything else--almost everything--that President Eisenhower used to have his press conferences here.

This will not be a press conference, but I do want to speak quite directly to those who work in the Bureau of the Budget and also to pay a tribute to the former Budget Directors who are here, and to all of those who have something directly or indirectly to do with Budget, including the Secretary of the Treasury, who is here.

First, as one of the guests at the White House worship services last Sunday, the Director of the Budget, Mr. [Robert P.] Mayo, as I presented him to the distinguished man who had delivered the sermon that day, Rabbi Finkelstein, the Director of the Budget said, "I am known as the meanest man in town." I guess Budget Directors earn that by what they do and what they have to do.

I know that all of you who work in the Bureau of the Budget in this great historic building, as you make the decisions, the very hard ones you must make day after day, you must sometimes wonder if there could not be a more popular job to have than to say "no" nicely. That is what those who are in the Budget Bureau have to learn to do. At times you can say "yes" and, of course, that is one of those times you will appreciate.

But I realize that there is no department of this Government and no group working in the Office of the President that has a more difficult responsibility than those in the Bureau of the Budget. It is not simply a case of saying "no" when the amount that is requested is too great from a department, but it is also a case of attempting to have an orderly way of running a government in these days when many are wondering whether government as we know it today may have gotten to the point that it can no longer deliver what it is supposed to deliver.

I don't think any of us would go as far as Peter Drucker did when he said that Government had now become so inefficient that all it could really do was to inflate the currency and wage war, and there is some doubt as to whether it can wage war.

But certainly as far as the currency is concerned there seems to be little doubt about that at the present time. But what Peter Drucker did say in that article and in that book,1 which I know many of you have read, was quite relevant to the problem we have today, and I would like to emphasize it on the occasion of this birthday party.

1Peter F. Drucker, "Sickness of Government," The Public Interest, Winter 1969; and "The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to Our Changing Society" (Harper and Row, 1969).

Your job is bigger than simply determining how much. Your job has to do with the whole organization of government, how we do things, how this delivery system can be made to work.

The Congress must make the great decisions as to what the legislation will be. The President must make decisions and recommendations to the Congress with the hope they will execute them, but here at the Bureau of the Budget you have to take the various programs and see how they fit into this complex machinery of government, and your recommendations will have an enormous effect on whether those programs will work.

We know that government is much better than what many of its critics have suggested. But we do know that particularly in dealing with the problems of our cities, dealing with the great domestic crisis of our time, that the problem is not simply how much, but the problem is whether we are going to be able to develop a program that will work.

Men of very good intentions will vote for programs spending billions of dollars, and then at the end of those programs we look back and see that they have failed. So that is why your advice on not only how much, but how--how we can get away from the overlapping and all of the other inefficiencies, why that advice is very valuable to the President, very valuable to the Congress, and very valuable to the country.

I know that hanging in the Budget Director's office is the statement by Charles Dawes, who was the first Budget Director in 1921, 'to the effect that those who work in the Bureau of the Budget are like those who stoke the furnaces in a ship. The President and the Congress up on the bridge determine which way the ship will go, but those down there who stoke the furnaces in the Budget Bureau determine how far it will go.

Certainly there is another way that we could say that. There is an analogy between those who stoke the furnaces of a ship and those who work in the Bureau of the Budget. You take plenty of heat and so do they.

But I simply want you to know that as one who does not get over to this office where you work as often as I should, but as one who sees your Director and the others in the Budget Bureau many times in the Cabinet Room, I appreciate what you have done. All of us in Government know that your job is necessary; it is essential to the orderly working of Government. And on this 30th birthday party of your being part of the Executive Office of the President, you can be sure that the President of the United States, speaking for the people of the United States, is indeed grateful for the dedicated people, regardless of party, who year after year do the fine work that the Bureau of the Budget has done and is doing for this present administration. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4:50 p.m. in the Indian Treaty Room in the Executive Office Building.

The Executive Office of the President was established under the authority of the Reorganization Act of 1939 (53 Stat. 561) by Reorganization Plans I and II of 1939 (3 CFR, 1938-1943 Comp., pp. 1288--1298).

Richard Nixon, Remarks at a Ceremony Marking the 30th Anniversary of the Executive Office of the President. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives