|Formed||July 8, 1917|
|Dissolved||January 1, 1919|
The War Industries Board (WIB) was a United States government agency established on July 28, 1917, during World War I, to coordinate the purchase of war supplies between the War Department (Department of the Army) and the Navy Department. Because the United States Department of Defense (The Pentagon) would only come into existence in 1947, this was an ad hoc construction to promote cooperation between the Army and the Navy (with regard to procurement), it was founded by the Council of National Defense (which on its turn came into existence by the appropriation bill of August 1916). The War Industries Board was preceded by the General Munitions Board --which didn't have the authority it needed and was later strengthened and transformed into the WIB.
The board was led initially by Frank A. Scott, who had previously been head of the General Munitions Board. He was replaced in November by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad president Daniel Willard. Finally, in January 1918, the board was reorganized under the leadership of financier Bernard M. Baruch.
The organization encouraged companies to use mass-production techniques to increase efficiency and urged them to eliminate waste by standardizing products. The board set production quotas and allocated raw materials. It also conducted psychological testing to help people find the right jobs.
The WIB dealt with labor-management disputes resulting from increased demand for products during World War I. The government could not negotiate prices and could not handle worker strikes, so the War Industries Board regulated the two to decrease tensions by stopping strikes with wage increases to prevent a shortage of supplies going to the war in Europe.
Under the War Industries Board, industrial production in the U.S. increased 20 percent. The vast majority of the war material, however, was produced too late to do any good. The War Industries Board was decommissioned by an executive order on January 1, 1919.
With the war mobilization conducted under the supervision of the War Industries Board, unprecedented fortunes fell upon war producers and certain holders of raw materials and patents. Hearings in 1934 by the Nye Committee led by U.S. Senator Gerald Nye were intended to hold war profiteers to account.
Despite its relatively brief existence, the WIB was a major step in the development of national planning and government-business cooperation in the United States, and its precedents --like the National Recovery Administration-- were influential during the New Deal and World War II.
The original seven members of the War Industries Board were:
Other later members included: