Effective Use of the President’s Time
Nixon Legacy Forum
Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Yorba Linda, CA 
February 15, 2010

Members of the Nixon Oval Office team discuss the management style of White House Chief-of-Staff H.R. Haldeman. Participants included White House staff members Stephen Bull, Dwight Chapin, Larry Higby, and Ron Walker.

Legacy Forum Transcript (to be added later)

Photo September 17, 1971 Oval Office Nixon Haldeman Standing Color 37-whpo-7283-05-i-2020-rp


The effective use of the president’s time is a critical aspect of effective government. Upon entering office in 1969, President Nixon noted that the government of the United States had grown to become more complex and fragmented; structural and procedural changes would need to be made to ensure the president’s time was used more effectively and efficiently. The Executive Office of the President was, thus, organized into three primary components: the National Security Council, the Domestic Council, and the Office of Management and Budget.  

President Nixon’s first Chief of Staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, was an advance aide for on the Eisenhower-Nixon campaign of 1956, and oversaw advance operations as the Tour Manager on the Nixon presidential campaign in 1960 as well as the manager of Nixon’s 1962 gubernatorial campaign in California. Haldeman’s management skills, disciplined approach, and keen intellect led Nixon to appoint him Chief of Staff of the Nixon presidential campaign of 1968, and later White House Chief of Staff in 1969 with the official title of Assistant to the President. 

Haldeman introduced a rigid organizational staffing system organized under the Office of the President to manage the president’s schedule and run Oval Office operations. The goal was to give the president all that he would need in order to make a decision, so the real-time flow of information was crucial. Once the president made a decision, this system would filter and route such information from the White House to the relevant Cabinet secretary for implementation. This model was closer to that of a major corporation than a government agency.

Importantly, the president’s time was managed tightly with the goal of ensuring that every moment was used as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

The Nixon administration established the White House Office of Presidential Advance to coordinate details, plans and security arrangements in advance of every occasion that the president would leave the White House. This often included coordinating weeks and months in advance of a particular trip, conference, speech or event.  President Nixon made dozens of trips domestically and fifteen trips abroad, most notably to the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union.        

In addition, Haldeman’s system was influenced by his observations of the growing impact mass forms of media, especially television, had on the way the public received information. First applied in the Nixon presidential campaign of 1968, the mass media strategy was a core component of the effective use of the president’s time in the White House.

This “Haldeman System” would become the structural model that most successive White House Chiefs of Staff would follow.

Photo Haldeman at his desk May 8, 1971 (37-whpo-6265-02)