Nixon's Super-Secretaries: The Last Grand Presidential Reorganization Effort
The Watergate scandal of 1973 claimed many casualties, political and otherwise. Along with many personal reputations and careers, President Richard Nixon’s bold attempt to achieve a sweeping reorganization of the domestic portion of the executive branch was also pulled into the vortex.
Now, Mordecai Lee examines Nixon’s reorganization, finding it notable for two reasons. First, it was sweeping in intent and scope, representing a complete overhaul in the way the president would oversee and implement his domestic agenda. Second, the president instituted the reorganization administratively—by appointment of three “super-secretaries”—without congressional approval. The latter aspect generated ire among some members of Congress, notably Sam Ervin, a previously little-known senator from North Carolina who chaired the Government Operations Committee and, soon after, the Senate’s Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities—known to the public as “the Watergate Committee.”
Asserting that Nixon’s reorganization effort represents a significant event in the evolution of the managerial presidency and public administration, Nixon’s Super-Secretaries presents the most comprehensive historical narrative to date concerning this reorganization attempt. The author has utilized previously untapped original and primary sources to provide unprecedented detail on the inner workings, intentions, and ultimate demise of Nixon’s ambitious plan to reorganize the sprawling federal bureaucracy.
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2 Planning November 1972January 1973
3 Launch JanuaryFebruary1973
4 In Operation JanuaryApril 1973
5 Counsellor for HumanResourcesCaspar WeinbergerThe SuperSecretary as Assistant President
6 Counsellor for CommunityDevelopment James LynnThe SuperSecretary as Presidential Coordinator
7 Counsellor for NaturalResources Earl ButzThe Dutiful and Passive SuperSecretary
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administration’s agenda Alpha-Subject Files appointment April April 18 Bruce Kehrli budget bureaucracy Butz Papers Butz’s Cabinet secretaries Caspar Weinberger Cavanaugh Cole Collier Community Development Committee Congress coordination counsellor office counsellor project counsellor role counsellor structure Counsellor Weinberger counsellorship departmental departments and agencies Domestic Council draft Earl Butz Ehrlichman Papers executive branch executive privilege Fairbanks February February 22 federal Folder grand reorganization H. R. Haldeman Haldeman Hullin Human Resources implementation interview issues James January John Dean John Ehrlichman Ken Cole Lawrence Spivak legislation Lynn Lynn’s major March March 27 McConahey memo Memorandum Natural Resources Committee Nixon OEOB policy areas political presidential programs proposed Raoul-Duval Papers reorganization plan reporting responsibilities revenue sharing Roy Ash Rural Development Schleede second term Shultz SMOF Staff Secretary Files staffers subcommittee super-departments super-secretaries Taft three counsellors tion undersecretary USDA wanted Washington Watergate Weinberger Papers Weinberger’s White House staff