Report of the National Resources Planning BoardNote: All files in Adobe PDF format.
SECURITY, WORK, AND RELIEF POLICIES
A Report by the National Resources Planning Board
In 1933 the Department of the Interior created what it called the National Planning Board (NPB), which was intended to plan public works initiatives for the Depression-era relief projects undertaken as part of the New Deal. In 1939, the federal government underwent a large reorganization, one result of which was to transfer the NPB to the Executive Office of the President, and to rename it the National Resources Planning Board (NRPB). (U.S. Code documenting creation of NRPB.)
The NRPB was a small executive group, headed by the President's uncle Frederic A. Delano, and staffed by a small group of academic and government experts. The Research Director for the Committee on Long-Range Work and Relief Policies was Eveline Burns, an economist associated with Columbia University and a former adviser to the Committee on Economic Security. Professor Burns was an expert on Social Security and related social insurance programs and she had a close working relationship with the Social Security Board in its early years. Other important members of the Committee who had Social Security connections were: Katherine Lenroot (of the Children's Bureau); Mary Switzer (who would later head the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation); and Ellen Winston (who would later be the Commissioner of Welfare in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare).
The NRPB produced a large collection of reports and pamphlets, and published a massive three-part report in 1943 (which appeared in separate pieces and various formats). Of special interest here is Part 3 of that report--authored principally by Professor Burns--which was on the status and prospects for the nation's social welfare programs. This 640-page report--entitled "Security, Work, and Relief Policies"-- is reproduced here in full.
The report by the social welfare group began as an effort to craft the blueprint for continuing to expand the government's social welfare programs in the years after the New Deal. It began as an enormously ambitious project, that ultimately ended in the report being, for all practical purposes, completely ignored. And yet, the report had value in that it was the most thorough documentation then available of the nation's social welfare programs, and some of its recommendations would actually come to pass, after the NRPB itself had passed from the scene.
Although the report was actually completed and submitted to the President three days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the subsequent sudden entry of the U.S. into the War caused the report to languish for attention. Indeed, the President did not release the report until late in 1942, and it was not actually published until early 1943 (even though it bears a publication date of 1942).
In a political dispute with the Administration over the nation's policy direction in the domestic area, the Congress decided to terminate the NRPB and did so in legislation enacted in June 1943, with an effective date of August 1943. By January 1944 the NRPB has closed shop and transmitted its records to the National Archives and it disappeared in the governmental sunset.
Despite this history, the report of the NRPB has been, and remains, an important historical document regarding the development of the nation's social welfare programs.