Frederick Lawton

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Fred Lawton
Truman and Lawton.jpg
Lawton (right) with Harry S. Truman
Member of the United States Civil Service Commission
In office
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Frances Perkins
Succeeded by L. J. Andolesk
Director of the Bureau of the Budget
In office
April 13, 1950 – January 21, 1953
President Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Frank Pace
Succeeded by Joseph Dodge
Personal details
Born Frederick Joseph Lawton
(1900-11-11)November 11, 1900
Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.
Died 1975 (aged 74–75)
Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Georgetown University (BA, LLB)

Frederick Joseph "Fred" Lawton (November 11, 1900 – 1975) was an American bureaucrat who served as the ninth Director of the Bureau of the Budget. Lawton was born in Washington, D.C., and became a lawyer and an accountant. He spent most of his professional career working with the government bureaucracy. He helped President Franklin D. Roosevelt wager with members of Congress to support the Fair Labor Standards Act. He first joined the Office of Management and Budget as an executive assistant in 1935. He also served as an adviser to Congress. In 1947, he became an administrative assistant to President Harry S. Truman. He was appointed to the post of Director of the Bureau of the Budget in 1950, and held the position until 1953. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Lawton to a term on the United States Civil Service Commission after he left the Bureau; he served from 1953 to 1963.

His economic policy consisted of making budget cuts among various departments of the federal government. One of his primary contributions was in helping to re-design the Bureau of Internal Revenue, action which led to the creation of the Internal Revenue Service. Lawton advocated a civil service, rather than a patronage system for tax agents. He opposed a number of plans in Congress, including a fair trade bill and attempts to decentralize the federal offices in Washington, D.C. to other areas of the country.


Lawton was born in Washington, D.C. on November 11, 1900,[1][2] and lived there throughout his life.[3] He graduated from Georgetown University in 1920.[2] Professionally, Lawton was a lawyer and an accountant.[3] He was a registered Democrat for much of his life.[4] He was married to the former Cecilia Walsh of Sussex County, New Jersey and had three children; Richard Lawton, an ARAMCO oil executive, Mary C. Lawton, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the US and Kathleen Lawton Kenna, a Department of the Army senior executive Civilian Personnel Officer.

Bureaucratic career[edit]

President Franklin D. Roosevelt used Lawton to build support Fair Labor Standards Act in the United States Congress. Roosevelt instructed him to go to a hotel room, where Roosevelt would send various members of Congress to visit. Once there, Lawton was to put into the budget whatever pork barrel projects the Congressmen required in order to buy a supporting vote for the bill.[5]

Lawton first meet President Harry S. Truman in 1938, during the consideration of the Roosevelt Reorganization Act in the United States Senate, in the cloakroom of the United States Capitol.[6] He only had one professional interaction with Truman before his Presidency, over the Canol Road project.[6]

Office of Management and Budget[edit]

Jobs held[edit]

Lawton first joined the Office of Management and Budget as an executive assistant in 1935. During this time, he also appeared as a consultant and adviser to the Senate's Select Committee on Government Organization.[6] Lawton landed the job of adviser to the Senate Select Committee when the Senate asked for a liaison and expert from the Budget Bureau; Lawton himself speculated that he received the job because his post did not have specific estimates assigned to it, leaving him free for new duties.[6] At the time of the assignment, he had been heading the Budget Bureau's Financial Records Division. However, after the federal budget was submitted to Congress every year, Lawton's job mainly consisted of various "spot jobs" and loans to other organizations.[6]

He served as an executive assistant until 1947, when he became an administrative assistant to President Harry S. Truman.[7] In 1949, after one year as an administrative assistant, he became the assistant director of the Bureau of the Budget,[7] taking the position vacated by Frank Pace when he became the Director of the Bureau.[8] He served as the Director of the Bureau from 1950 to 1953.[7] He received the job again upon vacation of Frank Pace, who was appointed the United States Secretary of the Army.[3] Eisenhower awarded him the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service in 1961 for his years of service in the federal government.[9]

Actions and economic policy[edit]

As Director, Lawton worked to cut departmental expenses in the federal budget.[10] However, as assistant director, he argued strongly against calls from Congress for large-scale budget cuts, claiming that such a thing would not be possible because of "fixed" expenses like paying down the public debt and giving promised veteran's benefits.[11] In the end, Lawton, under order of Congress, cut more than $500 million in operating costs within the government.[12]

Lawton called for reform within the Bureau of Internal Revenue, claiming that its "magnitude and complexity" required an overhaul.[13] His advocacy led the Bureau to be renamed the Internal Revenue Service, and a reorganization of the Bureau which established agents as career civil servants, rather than using the patronage system.[13]

Lawton most often backed the policies of Truman. He joined with Truman in fighting a fair trade bill in Congress.[14] Lawton supported a requested merger of Pan American World Airways and American Overseas Airlines, a plan that Truman initially opposed, but then passed over the recommendation of the Civil Aeronautics Board.[15] Lawton vocally opposed plans to decentralize the federal offices in Washington, D.C., spreading them throughout the country so that an enemy attack would not cripple the entire national government. Lawton argued that there was a shortage of office space around the country that made the plans impossible to implement.[16] Lawton often removed himself from debates, treating his job as a technical and administrative one. While he advocated fiscal restraint, he mostly found ways of carrying out Truman's policies, rather than arguing for them. He sought less publicity than his predecessors.[17]

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower took office, Lawton remained skeptical that the Republican President could cut much money from the budget without completely overhauling then-current government programs.[18] Despite this, Lawton played an active role in preparing his successor Joseph Dodge for his assignment.[19]

Civil Service Commission[edit]

After leaving the Bureau of Budget, Lawton became a member of the United States Civil Service Commission.[7] Eisenhower nominated Lawton for the position, to fill the Democrat commission position vacated by Frances Perkins.[20] He was appointed to a six-year term,[4] but ultimately served from 1953 to 1963.[7] L. J. Andolesk succeeded him in 1963.[21] Lawton died in 1975.[22]


  • Lawton, Frederick (Summer 1953). "Legislative-Executive Relationships in Budgeting as Viewed by the Executive". Public Administration Review. 13 (3): 169–176.
  • Lawton, Frederick (Spring 1954). "The Role of the Administrator in the Federal Government". Public Administration Review. 14 (2): 112–118.
  • Lawton, Frederick (Spring 1956). "Review: Improving the Budgetary Process". Public Administration Review. 16 (2): 117–121.


  1. ^ Wetherby, Lawrence; John Kleber (1983). John Kleber, ed. The Public Papers of Governor Lawrence W. Wetherby, 1950-1955. University Press of Kentucky. p. 182. ISBN 0-8131-0606-0. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b "F.J. Lawton to Join Civil Service Unit". The New York Times. 11 April 1953. p. 8.
  3. ^ a b c "Lawton May Be Budget Chief in New Shakeup: Promotions Revealed By Secret Sources". The Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon. Associated Press. 29 March 1950. p. 1. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  4. ^ a b "President Shifts Civil Service Unit". The New York Times. 12 February 1957. p. 1.
  5. ^ Evans, Diana (2004). Greasing the Wheels: Using Pork Barrel Projects to Build Majority Coalitions in Congress. Cambridge University Press. p. 132. ISBN 0-521-54532-3. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e Morrissey, Charles (17 June 1963). "Oral History Interview with Frederick J. Lawton". Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Frederick J. Lawton Papers". Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  8. ^ "Frank Pace Given Budget Directorship in Capital Shake-Up". The Blade. Toledo, Ohio. United Press International. 7 January 1949. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  9. ^ "Civil Service Awards". The New York Times. 11 January 1961. p. 46.
  10. ^ "Will Plan For Transition of Administration". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Sarasota, Florida. Associated Press. 13 November 1952. p. 2. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  11. ^ Associated Press (16 June 1949). "Congress May Give President Task of Cutting Expenses". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. p. 37. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  12. ^ Edson, Peter (29 September 1950). "Congressional Buck - Passing Leaves Budget to Truman". Argus-Press. Owosso, Michigan. p. 4. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Tax Plan Supported: Rayburn Believes House Will Okay Bureau Shakeup". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. United Press International. 21 January 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  14. ^ Freedman, Morty (4 March 1952). "Truman Ready to Veto Proposed Fair Trade Law". St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Florida. p. 21. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  15. ^ Pearson, Drew (14 July 1950). "Capital Wonders Why President Switched on Airways Merger". St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Florida. p. 8. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  16. ^ Krugler, David (2006). This is Only a Test: How Washington, D.C. Prepared for Nuclear War. New York City: Macmillan Publishers. p. 25. ISBN 1-4039-6554-4. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  17. ^ Fordham, Benjamin (1998). Building the Cold War Consensus: The Political Economy of U.S. National Security 1949-51. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. p. 53. ISBN 0-472-10887-5. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  18. ^ "Dodge in Washington to Look, Listen; Meet Budget Chief". The Palm Beach Post. United Press International. 13 November 1952. p. 29. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  19. ^ United Press International (12 November 1952). "'Finance Man' for Ike in Washington". Pittsburgh Press. p. 6. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  20. ^ "Lawton May Get Civil Service Post: Eisenhower Sends Nomination to Senate". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. 10 April 1953. p. 1. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  21. ^ Wicker, Tom (13 April 1963). "President Calls for Flags at Half-Staff Today". The New York Times. p. 2.
  22. ^ Blanpied, William A. "Appendix: Dramatis Personae". Impacts of the Early Cold War on the Formulation of U.S. Science Policy. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
Political offices
Preceded by
Frank Pace
Director of the Bureau of the Budget
Succeeded by
Joseph Dodge