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The Truman Committee visits the Ford Motor Company, photograph, April 13, 1942

To improve quality and efficiency in defense manufacturing, the Truman Committee conducted on-site inspections, held over 400 public hearings, solicited information by letters and questionnaires, and issued 51 reports. On this site visit to a Ford plant, committee member Senator Prentiss M. Brown of Michigan brought his son Paul.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The Truman Committee visits the Ford Motor Company, photograph, April 13, 1942

The Defense Industry

Anticipating the nation’s possible entry into World War II, Congress appropriated $10.5 billion for defense contracts in 1940. To observe how those funds were used, Senator Harry Truman of Missouri toured military bases and plants and then pressed Congress to investigate the defense industry. The Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, created in 1941 with Truman as chairman, saved taxpayer dollars—and soldiers’ lives—by reducing corruption, waste, and inefficiency. In 1948 the Senate created a Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to continue the Truman Committee’s oversight mission.

I consider public funds to be sacred funds, and I think they ought to have every safeguard possible to prevent their being misused and mishandled.

Senator Harry Truman of Missouri, Speech to the Senate, February 10, 1941