Roy Ash CandidAs Chairman of the Ash Council, Roy L. Ash helped President Nixon see through his goal of executive reorganization.

On February 6, 1971, President Nixon released a statement to the press regarding the public dissemination of Ash Council presidential memoranda on the far-reaching discussions and analyses of executive reorganization. As a supplement to his 1971 State of the Union address, the President decided to make available two memoranda regarding the formation of the Department of Natural Resources and for the organization of social and economic programs.

You can read the press release here.

In his 1971 State of the Union address, President Nixon proposed consolidating the departments which dealt primarily with social and economic programs into four overarching branches. The traditional Departments of State, Treasury, Defense, and Justice would remain intact, while the remaining agencies would be compounded into Human Resources, Community Development, Natural Resources, and Economic Development. To push forth this sweeping initiative in a legislature vested in the “iron triangle” philosophy, he wanted Congress and the American people to have access to the Ash Council studies and recommendations themselves.

Normally classified and closely held documents to the Office of the Presidency, these memoranda represented the source of President Nixon’s reorganization goals. In an act of true transparency, RN decided upon the release of these documents in order that Congress and the American people “have the benefit of the relevant studies of the Advisory Council on Executive Organization” to better evaluate the legislation that he would be proposing.

View the memorandum dealing with the establishment of a Department of Natural Resources below.

View the memoradum dealing with the organization for social and economic programs here.

Recently,, the National Archives and Records Administration, and Franklin and Marshall College hosted an on-stage discussion on reforming government under RN. The entire footage of the discussion, as part of our Nixon Legacy forum program, can be viewed below.

The discussion centered on the purpose of reorganizing the executive branch and the legacy that resulted from Ash Council recommendations to the President–recommendations which assisted the President in pushing through parts of his unprecedented initiatives.

Of the President’s many far-reaching proposals, Congress ratified the creation of the Domestic Council, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and the Office of Management and Budget. Though RN’s extraordinary plan did not come to full fruition, he spearheaded a re-imagining of government effectiveness and meaning-that of creating rational executive agencies predicated on purpose rather than processes.