August 6, 2015

Fifty years ago today, Presidential adviser Bill Moyers convened a meeting of White House staff with representatives from the Department of Commerce, the Housing and Home Finance Agency, the Bureau of the Budget, and the Council of Economic Advisers. The subject was “to identify and lay plans for the careful development and review of potential legislative proposals to the second session of the 89th Congress in the field of transportation.”

This week’s ETW Document of the Week is a series of White House memoranda announcing the meeting (and delaying it twice) and then a summary memo issued the following week to Alan Boyd, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation, directing him to form an interagency Task Force on Transportation to address the White House’s “deep concern with many problems in the transportation field.” The Task Force was directed to address a variety of issues, but was told specifically not to address the hot-button issues of a civilian supersonic airplane or of maritime subsidy programs.

The third item on the list of subjects given for the Task Force to study was alternate forms of organization for federal transportation agencies and programs. The subsequent report of the Task Force led directly to the 1966 Johnson Administration transportation agenda – the creation of the Department of Transportation and the establishment of new highway and vehicle safety programs and bureaus.