Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 22: 1910-1946 Disposition of Surplus Property

Chapter 22. Records of the Select Committees of the House of Representatives

Table of Contents

Records of the Select Committees of the House of Representatives (1789-1988) from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988

Committee records described in this chapter:

Select Committee to Investigate the Disposition of Surplus Property (1946)

Select Committee to Investigate:VolumeCongress (dates)
the Disposition of Surplus Property10 feet79th (1946)

22.127 Among the many important tasks facing the Government at the end of World War II was that of divesting itself of much unneeded equipment, facilities, and real estate acquired during the war effort. Faced with this task, it is perhaps unsurprising that charges of favoritism in the disposal of property surfaced in the press by May 1946. In response to these charges, the House established the Select Committee to Investigate the Disposition of Surplus Property on May 9, 1946. The committee was authorized to study and investigate the program to dispose of surplus real estate, munitions, vehicles, and other defense-related holdings of the Government, taking into consideration the contracts, methods of selection, effects on employment, advisability of continued Government operation of some of the property, and related matters. Roger C. Slaughter of Missouri was appointed chairman.

22.128 The select committee concentrated its efforts upon an investigation of the administrative and operational practices of the War Assets Administration, the Federal agency with primary responsibility for the property disposition program. The committee held intermittent public hearings from July to December 1946 in Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Kansas City; Brooklyn, NY; St. Louis; and Los Angeles, compiling 6,500 pages of testimony and 445 exhibits from approximately 300 witnesses. The hearings covered a variety of topics, including site sales, disposal of specific types of material, allocation of C-54 airplanes to commercial airlines, and diversion of steel rails by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration from China to Yugoslavia. The committee also received many letters of complaint from citizens and businesses that were referred to the War Assets Administration for correction or explanation. The committee was dissolved when it filed its third and final report on December 31, 1946.

22.129 Records of the select committee include transcripts, exhibits, correspondence, informational materials, memorandums, work papers, and other documents pertaining to committee hearings. There are also summaries of the testimony of individual witnesses and two sets of the published hearings.

22.130 Although the select committee did not survive the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, its work was taken over by the standing Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments, which created the Surplus Property Subcommittee (see Chapter 11). A finding aid that describes the records of both the select committee and the subcommittee is available.

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Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-245). By Charles E. Schamel, Mary Rephlo, Rodney Ross, David Kepley, Robert W. Coren, and James Gregory Bradsher. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.