Category: Historical Documents

1948 Report of the Hoover Commission Task Force on Transportation

This is the final report of the Task Force on Transportation of the first Hoover Commission, dated October 15, 1948. The Commission had 24 task forces, two-thirds of which were contracted out. The Transportation report was contracted to the Brookings Institution and was prepared by their in-house transportation experts, Charles Dearing and Wilfred Owen. The report recommended the establishment of a new, Cabinet-level Department of Transportation.

The Hoover Commission never published this report, because their Task Force on Commerce (chaired by Herbert Hoover himself, a former Commerce Secretary) instead adopted conflicting recommendations to centralize all federal transportation functions within the Commerce Department. The final report of the first Hoover Commission made that recommendation.

Dearing and Owen then published a slightly edited version of the report as a book, National Transportation Policy, through Brookings Press in 1949. (So Brookings got paid twice for the same work.)

This PDF file contains volume I of the report. The much longer and data-centric Volume II was too big to scan, but interested parties can pick up National Transportation Policy at many libraries or buy a copy cheaply through

1949 Draft Hoover Commission Report on Reorganization of the Commerce Department

This is the fourth draft of the report on the reorganization of the Department of Commerce prepared by the Commission on Reorganization of the Executive Branch (the “Hoover Commission”). This fourth draft is dated January 8, 1949. It is the version that the Commission used when it considered and amended the draft report at a meeting on January 12, 1949 (see transcript here).

1949 Hoover Commission Debate on Transportation Reorganization

This is an 86-page unpublished transcript of the debate of the Commission on Reorganization of the Executive Branch (the “Hoover Commission”) on January 12, 1949 at which they approved their report to Congress on the reorganization of the Department of Commerce. The Commission rejected the report of their Task Force on Transportation (outsourced to the Brookings Institution) that recommended the creation of a Cabinet-level Department of Transportation.

Instead, the Commission decided to recommend that most federal transportation responsibilities be moved under the Department of Commerce as a Transportation Service, to be headed by an Assistant Secretary for Transportation. The Public Roads Administration, the Coast Guard, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the non-regulatory functions of the Maritime Commission, the safety functions of the Civil Aeronautics Board, and the rail and motor carrier safety and car service functions of the Interstate Commerce Commission would be transferred to Commerce from elsewhere in government.

At the January 12 meeting, the Commission was considering, page-by-page, the fourth draft of the Commerce Department report, dated January 8, 1949.

The final report, as submitted to Congress in March 1949, is here.

Document Compilation: Truman Administration Efforts to Reorganize Federal Transportation Functions in 1946

This 105-page PDF file contains 17 original source documents found in the Bureau of the Budget’s transportation reorganization subject file at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

  1. January 25, 1946 memo from Ernie Williams to Paul David proposing the creation of a Federal Transportation Agency. (8 pages.)
  2. January 30, 1946 memos from Paul David to J. Weldon Jones forwarding, and commenting on, the earlier Williams memo. (2 pages.)
  3. February 8, 1946 memo from C.H. Schwartz, Jr. to Paul David forwarding a February 6, 1946 memo on the topic from W.K. Holl. (3 pages.)
  4. February 11, 1946 memo from C.H. Schwartz, Jr. to a “Mr. Miles” commenting on transportation reorganization plans. (2 pages.)
  5. April 2, 1946 memo from D.C. Stone to Budget Director Smith transmitting a proposed decision memo to President Truman on transportation reorganization. (6 pages.)
  6. April 12, 1946 handwritten memo from Paul David forwarding an April 11, 1946 memo to David from Williams suggesting names for a Federal Transportation Agency head. (4 pages.)
  7. April 13, 1946 draft of a reorganization plan creating a Federal Maritime Agency. (9 pages.)
  8. April 17, 1946 draft of a reorganization plan creating a Federal Transportation Agency. (12 pages.)
  9. April 17, 1946 memo from Ralph Burton entitled “Issues Re Transportation Reorganization Plan. (2 pages.)
  10. April 18, 1946 draft message for President Truman to transmit to Congress to accompany a transportation reorganization plan. (7 pages.)
  11. April 26, 1946 draft of a maritime reorganization plan. (9 pages.)
  12. April 26, 1946 memo from Donald Stone to Budget Director Smith with three appendices: a decision matrix for maritime functions, a draft of the transportation reorganization plan with two alternative maritime sections, and a list of additional proposals for consideration. (19 pages.)
  13. April 27, 1946 draft of a revised section 6 (maritime) of a transportation reorganization plan. (2 pages.)
  14. April 29, 1946 summary of the transportation reorganization plan. (2 pages.)
  15. May 8, 1946 draft of the transportation reorganization plan. (9 pages.)
  16. May 8, 1946 summary of the transportation reorganization plan with discussion of maritime alternatives (8 pages.)
  17. May 21, 1946 memo from A.J. Horn to “Mr. Schaub” discussing maritime alternatives. (1 page.)


1945 Burden Memo on Postwar Civil Aviation Policy

This is a “white paper” dated April 25, 1945 written by William A.M. Burden, an aviation consultant and the special assistant to the Secretary of War for Air. It appears to be a response to March 22, 1945 memo from the new Secretary of Commerce, Henry Wallace, regarding the future of post-war civil aviation in the United States.

The paper states that:

…a good case can be made for such expenditure on the part of the Federal government. Our past government expenditures on civil aviation have proved a good investment. The accumulate deficit on domestic air mail since 1917 (which at one time reached $200 million) has been wiped out and the Post Office Department is currently reaping an annual profit of $70 million on the service. It is believed that over the long term the necessary additional “seed corn” expenditures on civil aviation – for airports, airways, and civil pilot training – will be returned through taxation on the growing new industry. On the intangible side it is certain that more rapid transportation will bring important if less exactly measurable benefits to the country by quickening our channels of distribution and by facilitating the social intercourse and recreational activities of our citizens.

(The paper also mentions, as an aside, that “The creation of a Department of Transportation perhaps 10 to 20 years hence should be considered” which is probably why we found this copy of the paper as the first item in the Bureau of the Budget’s subject files on federal government transportation reorganization at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.)

1932 Treasury Letter Recommending First Gasoline Tax

This is a letter marked “CONFIDENTIAL” from Treasury Secretary Ogden L. Mills to Acting House Ways and Means chairman Charles L. Crisp dated February 16, 1932 recommending that Congress enact a new excise tax on gasoline to help eliminate the projected federal deficit.

The letter was associated with updated deficit estimates that would have required an extra $337 million in taxes in order to get the budget to a state of balance. The letter proposed to get that $337 million as follows:

  • Increase of 1/2 of 1 percent in the corporate tax rate – $17 million
  • Increase in the income surtax rates for wealthy individuals – $50 million
  • A tax of 1 cent per gallon on gasoline – $165 million
  • A 7 percent tax on domestic consumption of electricity and natural gas – $94 million
  • An additional cent on capital stock sales and transfers – $11 million

Although the letter from the Treasury Secretary to the Acting Ways and Means chairman was marked “confidential,” its contents made it into the New York Times the following day.

Source: Records of the United States Senate, Committee on Finance, 72nd Congress, Box 67, Folder 72A-F9, National Archives.

Sept. 1978 Letter to US House Members from Transportation Stakeholders

This is a September 15, 1978 letter from various surface transportation stakeholder groups to all members of the US House of Representatives opposing an amendment to the highway bill to be offered by Budget Committee chairman Bob Giamo (D-CT) that would have reduced annual Highway Trust Fund authorization levels to levels that could be indefinitely supported by existing tax rates without extensive balance drawdowns.

Sept. 1978 “Dear Colleague” Letter from House Public Works Against Giamo Amendment

This is a “Dear Colleague” letter to House members sent by members of the Public Works and Transportation Committee on September 19, 1978 in opposition to an amendment by Budget chairman Bob Giamo (D-CT) that would have reduced annual highway funding levels from the Highway Trust Fund to the levels that could be indefinitely sustained by existing tax revenues without extensive drawdown of balances.

1978 Conable-Gibbons Amendment to the Highway Bill

This PDF is a series of documents relating to a proposed amendment in the House Ways and Means Committee to the revenue title of the highway bill in 1978. Drafted (at the Department of Transportation’s request) by Reps. Barber Conable (R-NY) and Sam Gibbons (D-FL), the amendment would have put the Highway Trust Fund on a form of “accrual accounting” and ensured that each year’s new funding authorizations were reduced to that upcoming year’s estimated excise tax revenues.

The file includes:

  • The undated original text of the Conable-Gibbons amendment from spring 1978.
  • Projected Highway Trust Fund cash flow under the highway bill (H.R. 11733) as reported by the House Public Works and Transportation Committee.
  • A May 16, 1978 version of the Conable-Gibbons amendment, with Ways and Means staff analysis.
  • A May 17, 1978 letter from Transportation Secretary Adams, Treasury Secretary Blumenthal, and OMB Director McIntyre to Ways and Means chairman Ullman supporting Conable-Gibbons.
  • A May 19, 1978 letter from Public Works and Transportation chairman Johnson and ranking minority member Harsha opposing Conable-Gibbons.
  • The May 31, 1978 final version of the Conable-Gibbons amendment, with Ways and Means staff analysis.
  • A May 31, 1978 letter from Public Works chairman Johnson to Ways and Means chairman Ullman again opposing Conable-Gibbons.
  • A June 22, 1978 letter from Johnson, Harsha, Highways Subcommittee chairman Howard and ranking minority member Shuster to Ullman opposing Conable-Gibbons and including several pages of arguments against the amendment.
  • A July 12, 178 letter from Howard to Ullman explaining how he was going to offer an amendment reducing funding in H.R. 11733 and providing Public Works staff re-estimates of future Trust Fund cash flow under the amended bill.
  • Congressional Budget Office projected Trust Fund cash flow under Howard’s amendment.
  • Congressional Budget Office projected Trust Fund cash flow under the Conable-Gibbons amendment.
  • A July 31, 1978 letter from OMB Director McIntyre to Gibbons reiterating support for the Conable-Gibbons amendment.

Readers are encouraged to download the file and open it in a PDF reader so they can use the bookmark tab to move between documents.

Reproduced from the files of the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Public Works and Transportation at the National Archives.

1958 FAA Act – White House Enrolled Bill File

This is the enrolled bill file prepared by the Bureau of the Budget on the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. The file contains a summary of the bill prepared by BoB and letters from all relevant federal agencies expressing their opinions on whether or not President Eisenhower should sign the bill into law. He did sign it into law, on August 23, 1958, creating an independent Federal Aviation Agency.


Petroleum Product Tax Options for World War II

This is a February 1942 analysis by the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Analysis of the pros and cons of a variety of potential excise tax increases on gasoline, fuel oil, lubricating oil, and other petroleum products. The analysis weighs the need for extra federal revenue to fight the war against the need to conserve petroleum, rubber, and other war materiel and how taxes dovetailed with the rationing of those products.

The Roosevelt Administration eventually recommended that Congress double the gasoline tax, from 1.5 cents per gallon to 3.0 cents per gallon, but Congress rejected that request (however, Congress did increase the lubricating oil tax).

Source: National Archives, College Park.

1933 Letter Advocating a Federal Mandate for Ethanol Content in Gasoline

This is a May 16, 1933 letter to the U.S. Treasury Secretary from the head of the Farm Products Chemical Company of America (and its lawyers/lobbyists) advocating federal legislation to levy an additional surtax on gasoline unless that gasoline includes a minimum percentage of ethanol that would quickly rise to 10 percent of the total.

Congress did not enact tax-related legislation for ethanol use until the Energy Tax Act of 1978, which created a federal tax credit for gasoline blended with ethanol. The cost of this tax credit was originally borne by the Highway Trust Fund, but the burden was switched to the general fund in 2004. The ethanol tax credit was allowed to expire in 2012, but only after Congress had enacted the Renewable Fuels Standard, which mandates that a certain minimum number of gallons of ethanol be blended into U.S. gasoline each year, as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

1971 Nixon Proposal to Create a Department of Community Development

This is the full justification document for President Nixon’s 1971 proposal to create a new Cabinet-level Department of Community Development which would have contained all of the previous Department of Housing and Urban Development, plus the Federal Highway Administration, the Urban Mass Transit Administration, the highway safety grant program of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the rural development programs of the Agriculture Department, and sundry other programs and agencies.

September 1968 DOT-HUD Memorandum of Understanding

This is the text of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Transportation Secretary Alan Boyd and HUD Secretary Robert Weaver on September 9 and 10, 1968 (respectively) and announced by DOT in a September 13 press release.

The MOU outlined the new cooperative relationship between DOT and HUD on urban transportation planning and project approvals necessitated by the transfer of the federal mass transit program from HUD to DOT earlier that year pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1968.

April 1968 House Hearings on Moving Mass Transit from HUD to DOT

This is a copy of the printed hearings held by a subcommittee of the House Government Operations Committee on April 22, 1968. The subject was Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1968, which proposed to move responsibility for federal mass transit activities from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Department of Transportation.

Witnesses include Deputy Director of the Bureau of the Budget Phillip Hughes, Secretary of Transportation Alan Boyd, and Under Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Robert Wood.


January 1966 Proposed Division of Urban Transportation Responsibilities

This is a January 28, 1966 memo from Cecil Mackey of the Commerce Department to Alan Boyd, Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation, transmitting the latest for how the White House task force on creating DOT was thinking of handling urban transportation issues. Mackey encloses a short issue paper from Charles Zwick of the Budget Bureau with a proposed division of responsibilities between HUD and the proposed new DOT, based on a high-level White House meeting on the issue that had taken place on January 25.

However, Zwick  later remembered in an April 1969 oral history interview that: “In fact we had a meeting in Califano’s office one night I remember very clearly, with Califano, Schultze., Weaver, Boyd and myself, in which I outlined a solution which I insist to this day that they all agreed to. We then had a subsequent meeting over in the Bureau, an expanded meeting in which Schultze was there, Boyd was there, Lee White came over–he was still in the White House at that point and interested in transportation matters. When I outlined the solution I had evolved, all of them disowned it–Boyd, Schultze–so I gave up.”

Moving Mass Transit from DOT to HUD – The Documentary Record

This is a PDF compilation of 55 original documents relating to the decision in 1968 to move federal responsibility for urban mass transportation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Department of Transportation. The original documents are from the National Archives and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library.

This is a very large PDF file (76 MB). We recommend you download it to your computer (it may take a little time to download) and open it in a PDF reader, not your web browser. You can skip to an individual document by clicking on its name in the (chronological) table of contents or else by using the bookmark sidebar in the PDF reader.

March 1963 Senate Vote Count on Mass Transit Bill

This is an unofficial estimate of Senate support for Senator Harrison Williams’ (D-NJ) mass transit bill, dated March 6, 1963, taken by “a hastily convened meeting, including municipal people, [the American Transit Association], railroad, county, suppliers…” It was sent from Williams’ staffer Ardee Ames to White House Senate liaison Mike Manatos.

Instead of “yes” or “no,” the check sheet was filled out in terms of “R” (right) or “W” (wrong) from Williams’ perspective. The vote count shows 45 solid and 13 leaning Williams’ way in favor of final passage of the mass transit bill and also showed 38 solid and 16 leaning towards Williams’ position on whether or not the bill should make its funding guaranteed contract authority (which Williams favored) instead of leaving it up to future appropriations.

(The final bill passed by the Senate on April 4, did not have contract authority but the final passage vote was 52 to 41. Senators that the staff count had down as a lean or hard “yes” who wound up voting “no” were Boggs (R-DE), Bayh (D-IN), Cooper (R-KY), Muskie (D-ME), McIntyre (D-NH), Edmondson (D-OK) and McGee (D-WY). Senators who were down as “no” on the staff count but wound up voting for the bill were Russell (D-GA) and Andersen (D-NM).

From the folder “Transportation” in Box 10 of the Office Files of Mike Manatos in the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library.

March 1963 White House Vote Count on Mass Transit Bill in Senate Banking Committee

This is a memo from White House staffer Mike Manatos (their legislative affairs contact for Senate offices) to his boss Larry O’Brien (the overall head of legislative affairs) dated March 13, 1963 regarding the pending mass transit bill. The memo contains an estimated vote count in the Senate Banking Committee and discussion of how to keep Commerce Committee chairman Warren Magnuson (D-WA) on board.

From the “Mass Transit” folder in Box 9-1 of the Office Files of Mike Manatos collection in the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library.

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