Office of Price Administration
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The Office of Price Administration (OPA) was established within the Office for Emergency Management of the United States government by Executive Order 8875 on August 28, 1941. The functions of the OPA were originally to control money (price controls) and rents after the outbreak of World War II.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt revived the Advisory Commission to World War I Council on National Defense on May 29, 1940, to include Price Stabilization and Consumer Protection Divisions. Both divisions merged to become the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply (OPACS) within the Office for Emergency Management by Executive Order 8734, April 11, 1941. Civil supply functions were transferred to the Office of Production Management.
It became an independent agency under the Emergency Price Control Act, January 30, 1942. The OPA had the power to place ceilings on all prices except agricultural commodities, and to ration scarce supplies of other items, including tires, automobiles, shoes, nylon, sugar, gasoline, fuel oil, coffee, meats and processed foods. At the peak, almost 90% of retail food prices were frozen. It could also authorize subsidies for production of some of those commodities.
Most functions of the OPA were transferred to the to newly established Office of Temporary Controls (OTC) by Executive Order 9809, December 12, 1946. The Financial Reporting Division was transferred to the Federal Trade Commission.
The OPA was abolished effective May 29, 1947, by the General Liquidation Order issued March 14, 1947, by the OPA Administrator. Some of its functions were taken up by successor agencies:
- Sugar and sugar products distribution by the Sugar Rationing Administration in the Department of Agriculture pursuant to the Sugar Control Extension Act (61 Stat. 36), March 31, 1947
- Price controls over rice by the Department of Agriculture by Executive Order 9841, on April 23, 1947, effective May 4, 1947
- Food subsidies by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, effective May 4, 1947
- Rent control by the Office of the Housing Expediter, effective May 4, 1947
- Price violation litigation by the Department of Justice, effective June 1, 1947
- All other OPA functions by the Division of Liquidation, Department of Commerce, effective June 1, 1947.
Administrators of the office
- Auerbach, Alfred. The OPA and Its Pricing Polices. New York: Fairchild, 1945.
- Bartels, Andrew H. The Office of Price Administration and the Legacy of the New Deal, 1939-1946. Public Historian, (1983) 5:3 pp. 5–29. JSTOR
- Bartels, Andrew H. The Politics of Price Control: The Office of Price Administration and the Dilemmas of Economic Stabilization, 1940-1946. (Ph.D. dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University, 1980.)
- Galbraith, J. K. The Selection and Timing of Inflation Controls. Review of Economics and Statistics, (1941) 23:2 pp. 82–85. JSTOR
- Galbraith, John Kenneth. A Theory of Price Control. Boston, Harvard University Press, 1952.
- Galbraith, John Kenneth. A Life in Our Times: Memoirs. 1981.
- Hirsch, Julius. Price Control in the War Economy. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1943.
- Mansfield, Harvey. A Short History of OPA. Washington, 1947.
- Office of Temporary Controls. The Beginnings of OPA. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1947.
- Thompson, Victor A. The Regulatory Process in OPA Rationing. New York: King's Crown Press, 1950.
- Wilson, William Jerome, and Mabel Randolph. OPA Bibliography, 1940–1947. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1948.