Students read fiction, nonfiction, classic, and contemporary works to acquire information for various purposes.
Power, Authority, and Governance
Students conduct research by generating ideas, questions, and problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data.
Civic Ideals and Practices
In 1949, five years after the death of First Lady Lou Hoover, former President Herbert Hoover was appointed as chair of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government which became commonly known as the Hoover Committee. President and First Lady Hoover were advocates of the Efficency Movement, a major component of the Progressive Era. The focus of this movement was that government, particularly the federal government, was riddled with inefficiency and waste. Thus, not surprisingly President Truman appointed former President Hoover chair of the committee to evaluate the efficiency of the executive branch of the federal government.
In this lesson students will examine the role of the executive branch of the federal government and make educated judgments regarding its efficiency.
Access to the internet and/or access to a public library.
Explain to students the history of the Hoover Commission and the various reorganizations of the executive branch of the federal government. Tell students that the President of the United States called and asked if the class would be will to become the (teacher’s last name) Commission. The charge of this commission is evaluating the efficiency of the current structure of the executive branch of the federal government.
Assign each student to one of the following subcommittees:
Law Enforcement Subcommittee:
- Department of the Defense
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Justice
- Department of State
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Labor
- Department of Treasury
- Department of Transportation
Well Being Subcommittee:
- Department of Education
- Department of Energy
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Department of Interior
The following is the charge of each subcommittee:
- Investigate the assigned departments to gain a general understanding of the various tasks of each department.
- Write a one page report on the function of each department to be included in the commission report.
- Select one department that must be eliminated.
- Decide if the various tasks of the department should be eliminated or assigned to a different department. If assigned to another department which one?
- Write a report of the subcommittee’s recommendations for the commission report.
Extending the Lesson:
To extend this lesson have a full commission meeting. If possible, arrange desks in a circle and have each subcommittee present their subcommittee reports to the class while sitting at their desks. Tell students that they must keep notes during the commission meeting because they will be writing the commission report that will be submitted to the President of the United States. After each subcommittee has provided their report have a commission discussion on the merit and shortcomings of the subcommittee report. Take a vote on whether to accept, amended, or not accepted each subcommittee report. Have each student write the final commission report based on the commission meeting.
Sources & Resources:
Chronological List of Government Agencies and Dates of Establishment and Eliminations
Milestones Executive Reorganization
Making Democracy Work: A Brief History of Twentieth Century Federal Executive Reorganization
Department of Agriculture
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense
Department of Education
Department of Energy
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Interior
Department of Justice
Department of Labor
Department of State
Department of Transportation
Department of Treasury
Aberbach, Joel D and Peterson, Mark A. Institutions of American Democracy: The Executive Branch (Institutions of American Democracy Series). New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Dirck, Brian. The Executive Branch of Government: People, Process, and Politics (About Federal Government). Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2007.
Hargrove, Julia. History Speaks: Executive Branch of Government. Carthage:Teaching and Learning Co., 2000.
____________. The Hoover Commission Report on Organization of the Executive Branch of Government. New York: McGraw Hill, 1949.
Kaplan, Ellen M. and Tosella, Joseph. The Peoples Guides to Government – Executive Branch. Saddle Brook: Peoples Publishing Group, 1996.
Kurian, George Thomas, Harahan, Joseph, P., Keller, Morton, and Molitor, Graham T. T. (eds.). A Historical Guide to the U.S. Government. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Ripley. Policy Making in the Executive Branch. New York: Free Press, 1975.
Credits: This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University