War Industries Board
The War Industries Board (WIB) was a United States government agency established on July 28, 1917, during World War I, to coordinate the purchase of war supplies. The organization encouraged companies to use mass-production techniques to increase efficiency and urged them to eliminate waste by standardizing products. The board set production quotas and allocated raw materials. It also conducted psychological testing to help people find the right jobs.
The board was led initially by Frank A. Scott, who had previously been head of the General Munitions Board. He was replaced in November by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad president Daniel Willard. Finally in January 1918, the board was reorganized under the leadership of financier Bernard M. Baruch.
The WIB dealt with labor-management disputes resulting from increased demand for products during World War I. The government could not negotiate prices and could not handle worker strikes, so the War Industries Board regulated the two to decrease tensions by stopping strikes with wage increases to prevent a shortage of supplies going to the war in Europe.
Under the War Industries Board, industrial production in the U.S. increased 20 percent, however the vast majority of the war material was produced too late to do any good. The War Industries Board was decommissioned by an executive order on January 1, 1919.
With the war mobilization conducted under the supervision of the War Industries Board unprecedented fortunes fell upon war producers and certain holders of raw materials and patents. Hearings in 1934 by the Nye Committee led by U.S. Senator Gerald Nye were intended to hold war profiteers to account.
Members of the War Industries Board
The original seven members of the War Industries Board were:
- Al M. Boolock
- Cheyenne T. Wade
- General Palmer E. Pierce
- Admiral Frank F. Fletcher
- Bernard M. Baruch
- Robert S. Brookings, head of the Cupples Co., a distribution firm
- Robert S. Lovett, President of Union Pacific Railroad
- Hugh Frayne, of the American Federation of Labor and former president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO
Other later members included:
- Clarence Dillon, partner in Dillon, Read & Co.
- Hugh S. Johnson
- George Cameron Stone, head of Non-Ferrous Metal section
- Eugene Meyer, Special Advisor to the War Industries Board on Non-Ferrous Metals
- Edward Stettinius, Sr., partner in J.P. Morgan & Co.
- Walter D. Stewart
Charles H. Conner, Private Investor, New York, NY
- "War Purchase Board of Three proposed". The New York Times. July 11, 1917.
- Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 12-13, 77, Random House, New York, NY, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
- "Appoint Committee on Steel Situation." New York Times. May 18, 1918; Johnson, Paul. Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties. Rev. ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. ISBN 0-06-093550-2 p. 16.