52. The Hoover Commissions

In 1947 Hoover was asked by President Truman to undertake a massive reorganization of the executive branch of the federal government. By then Uncle Sam, bloated by war, was manufacturing ice cream to operating distilleries in the Virgin Islands. The government owned one-quarter of the continental United States and $27 billion in property, yet only a fraction was accounted for. There were few inventories and no central agency responsible for government purchases.

"Do More With Less," was the theme of the Commissions' reports, each written by Hoover and designed to fit on a single page of the New York Times. More than 70 percent of Hoover's recommendations were enacted into law.

In 1953 a Second Hoover Commission returned to the task of pruning big government, receiving less support from Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy than from Truman. Even so, John F. Kennedy's Secretary of Defense profusely thanked Hoover for the ideas that would save billions in Pentagon spending.