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Supply Priorities and Allocation Board

Henry A. Wallace, Chairman, and Donald M. Nelson, Executive Director, of SPAB after its first meeting

The Supply Priorities and Allocation Board (SPAB) was a United States administrative entity within the Office for Emergency Management which was created and dissolved during World War II. The Board was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt via Executive Order 8875 on August 28, 1941 and dissolved less than four months later.[1] The purpose of the Supply Priorities and Allocation Board was to coordinate the distribution of materials and commodities related to national defense[2] and to assist the Office of Production Management (OPM) in carrying out their overlapping duties.[3] The Board's membership consisted of the Director General (William S. Knudsen) and Associate Director General (Sidney Hillman) of the OPM, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Administrator of the Office of Price Administration Leon Henderson, Chairman of the Economic Defense Board Henry A. Wallace (who was also the Vice President of the United States) and the Special Assistant to the President supervising the Lend-Lease program, Edward Stettinius, Jr..[1][4] The President retained the power to appoint an Executive Director and to select the Chairman of the Board from its members.[1] The only Chairman of SPAB during its short lifespan was Vice President Wallace and its sole Executive Director was businessman Donald M. Nelson.[5]

The Board's duties were essentially to determine how to best allocate the resources of the United States among the American public, allied militaries and the United States military which, at the time of SPAB's creation, had not yet entered the war.[6] Critics complained that the Board's membership created several conflicts in the chain of command. For example, Henderson was Knudsen's inferior as director of a subdivision of the OPM but was his equal as a fellow Board member of SPAB.[7] Regardless, SPAB was successful in increasing military aid to the Soviet Union, consistent with President Roosevelt's stated policy on Russia, despite strong opposition from the Office of Production Management and others.[8]

Less than four months after SPAB was created, the United States formally entered World War II when it declared war upon Japan on December 8, 1941. SPAB seemed poised to dramatically increase in importance.[9] However, this increased significance was short-lived; on January 16, 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9024, establishing the War Production Board (WPB). The War Production Board superseded the Supply Priorities and Allocation Board and the Office of Production Management and absorbed both boards' duties.[10] Donald M. Nelson, the former Executive Director of SPAB, became the first Chairman of the WPB.[11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Exec. Order No. 8875 (August 28, 1941; in English) President of the United States of America. Retrieved on May 29, 2015.
  2. ^ "United States. War Production Board. Records, 1941-1945: Finding Aid". Harvard Law School Library. January 2000. Retrieved 29 May 2015. 
  3. ^ The United States at war; development and administration of the war program by the federal government (Report). Bureau of the Budget. 1946. pp. 73, 77. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 
  4. ^ The United States at war; development and administration of the war program by the federal government (Report). Bureau of the Budget. 1946. pp. 53, 67, 77–78, 87. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Henry A. Wallace, Chairman, Supply Priorities and Allocations Board and Vice-President of the United States, and Donald M. Nelson, Executive Director, Supply Priorities and Allocations Board and Director of the Priorities Division, Office of Production Management (OPM). Photograph taken at a joint press conference held directly after the first meeting of the Supply Priorities and Allocations Board on September 2, 1941". Library of Congress. Retrieved 29 May 2015. 
  6. ^ The United States at war; development and administration of the war program by the federal government (Report). Bureau of the Budget. 1946. p. 76. Retrieved May 29, 2015. To what extent, for example, should we devote our materials and manufacturing capacity to meet the needs of railroads; and how should their needs be weighed against that for automobiles? How should domestic civilian and military requirements be treated in relation to those of friendly nations in this hemisphere and elsewhere? 
  7. ^ The United States at war; development and administration of the war program by the federal government (Report). Bureau of the Budget. 1946. pp. 78–79. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 
  8. ^ The United States at war; development and administration of the war program by the federal government (Report). Bureau of the Budget. 1946. pp. 79, 82. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 
  9. ^ Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 152-3, 155, 162-4, 196, Random House, New York, NY, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
  10. ^ Exec. Order No. 9024 (January 16, 1942; in English) President of the United States of America. Retrieved on May 29, 2015.
  11. ^ "JANUARY 13, 1942 : ALLIES PROMISE PROSECUTION OF WAR CRIMINALS". History Channel. 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2015.