Gilbert F. White
Q: Was there any kind of change of thinking within the water subcommittee
about real estate problems? I recollect that there was some discussion of this,
particularly as it pertained to the lower Mississippi about fee simple versus
land easements on some of these floodways down there. And originally they
were for the fee simple solution; then they went to land easements, I think.
There seemed to be a great deal of internal turmoil. I get this from reading
some secondary literature and things of that sort.
A: There was, for example, the Birds Point New Madrid floodway. There was
a good deal of argument that I heard over whether, if simple flowage rights
were acquired, it would ever be politically feasible for the Corps to use the
floodway. Some tough characters said unless you buy this outright and
manage it, you're not going to be able to use it for flood control purposes.
I think that was certainly one of the more critical issues that was argued on
the lower Mississippi.
Q: You continued to work on the National Resources Planning Board until what
A: I worked until 1940. At that stage, I had been helping the Bureau of the
Budget, with which we worked very closely because the National Resources
Planning Board offices were right next door to the Bureau of the Budget in
the old Executive Office Building, in preparing an executive order which
required all federal construction agencies to submit proposed plans to the
Bureau of Budget for review prior to submission to Congress.
Q: That would have been 1939-40?
A: Yes. I had helped draft that. The President then issued the order and the
director of the Bureau of the Budget asked me if I would come and work in
their Legislative Division on putting this into practice so far as land and water
projects were concerned. I sat at a small desk in the Legislative Division
under Fred Bailey in the Bureau of the Budget for a couple of years, seeing
everything that went over the President's desk dealing with land and water.
Q: Did you feel that you were successful in that position? Did you feel that the
intent of the executive order was being carried out?