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True bipartisan cooperation

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Doing some research last week, I came across a remarkable piece of history I either didn’t know or had forgotten (sometimes it is hard to tell these days). It is worth sharing.

In 1947, President Harry Truman appointed the Hoover Commission. The Hoover Commission was headed by former President Herbert Hoover – a Republican – who had lost the election of 1932 to Franklin Roosevelt, Truman’s predecessor.

Herbert Hoover had always been known as a great organizer. As an example, when Hoover was head of the Department of Commerce from 1921-28, he examined and acted upon many issues.

One of the tasks he completed during this time was standardization of the sizes of doors and windows for your home. Before this, all manufacturers made them in all sorts of oddball sizes. Although following these standards was voluntary, manufacturers soon adopted them, and they are still used today, effecting great savings in building and remodeling houses and, indeed, all buildings.

The Hoover Commission, officially named the “Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government” was appointed by Truman to recommend administrative changes to the executive branch of the federal government to eliminate waste, fraud and inefficiency, consolidate agencies and strengthen White House control of policies.

In 1949, the commission made 273 recommendations for the reorganization of the executive branch to Congress. Congress turned this into the Reorganization Act of 1949.

This act did not adopt all the commission’s recommendations, but most of them. The work was so massive that implementation extended into the Eisenhower administration.

A second Hoover Commission was created in 1953 during Eisenhower’s first administration to continue the work.

Imagine this happening today.

Imagine President Trump asking President Obama to head a commission to study waste in the White House. Or President Biden asking President Trump to do the same thing.

President Truman issued a statement on May 26, 1949, when he received the report of the Hoover Commission.

From that statement, I found this comment particularly refreshing: “The commission has thought of good management not in terms of structural changes alone. Good management and good organization require far more than the transfer and consolidation of bureaus. The commission's reports reflect this point of view. A major recommendation is that certain principles of good management be adopted for the purpose of achieving more efficient and responsible government.”

Wow! If we could have government like this today.

(Note: I relied on Wikipedia and the Harry S. Truman National Archives to research this column.)

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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