War Production Board

(WPB)
   Established on 16 January 1942 to replace the Office of Production Management, the WPB was headed by Donald M. Nelson. Empowered to oversee the production and distribution of raw materials and manufactured goods and also to award contracts, its powers were increased by the War Powers Act in March 1942 to allow it to allocate resources where necessary and provide direction for the nation’s economic war mobilization. In 1942, the WPB limited the production of nonessential goods and forbade the use of scarce materials. However, the board was hampered to some extent because the military procurement bodies could still negotiate their own separate contracts and because President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed other leaders with responsibility for such key areas as petroleum, rubber, and manpower.
   The WPB’s plans to allow industry to prepare for reconversion before the end of World War II was hotly contested by the military and eventually led to Nelson being replaced in 1944. The WPB ceased to exist as of November 1945.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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