Public Laws

Reorganization Act of 1939
Public Law 76-19

The Reorganization Act of 1939 (Public Law 76-19) 53 Stat. 561; May 29, 1928; H . R . 1 (76th Congress)

[GPO PDF] [GPO Page View]


The Reorganization Act of 1939 authorized the President to reorganize the Executive Branch under certain conditions, in particular to hire more staff under his direct control. This led ultimately to the establishment of the Executive Office of the President, which has become a substantial concentration of control in for the President.

The Act gave the reorganization authority to the President for two years and subject it to Congressional approval, though short of any action requiring the enactment of statute. This type of Congressional control over the Executive is considered a “legislative veto” and was declared unconstitutional by Chadha v. INS (1983). It was the first major, planned reorganization of the executive branch of the government of the United States since the Constitution was ratified.

The Act required the President to submit “reorganization plans” to Congress to implement his intentions for reforming the administrative functions of government.

Under section 4 of the Act, the President was required to:

(a) the transfer of the whole or any part of any agency or the functions thereof to the jurisdiction and control of any other agency ; or

b) the consolidation of the functions vested in any agency ; or

(c) the abolition of the whole or any part of any agency which agency or part (by reason of transfers under this Act or otherwise, or by reason of termination of its functions in any manner) does not have, or upon the taking effect of the reorganizations specified in the reorganization plan will not have, any functions, is necessary to accomplish one or more of the purposes of section 1(a), he shall—

(d) a reorganization plan for the making of the transfers, consolidations, and abolitions, as to which he has made findings and which he includes in the plan. Such plan shall also—

(1) designate, in such cases as he deems necessary, the name of any agency affected by a reorganization and the title of its head;

(2) make provision for the transfer or other disposition of the records, property (including office equipment), and personnel affected by such transfer, consolidation, or abolition;

(3) make provision for the transfer of such unexpended balances of appropriations available for use in connection with the function or agency transferred or consolidated, as he deems necessary by reason of the transfer or consolidation for use in connection with the transferred or consolidated functions, or for the use of the agency to which the transfer is made, but such unexpended balances so transferred shall be used only for the purposes for which such appropriation is originally made;

(4) make provision for winding up the affairs of the agency abolished ; and

(e) transmit such plan (bearing an identifying number) to the Congress, together with a declaration that, with respect to each transfer, consolidation, or abolition referred to in paragraph (a), (b), or (c) of this section and specified in the plan, he has found that such transfer, consolidation, or abolition is necessary to accomplish one or more of the purposes of section 1 (a). The delivery to both Houses shall be on the same day and shall be made to each House while it is in session.

Pub. L. 76-19- Reorganization Act of 1939 (Summary)
Pub. L.76-19 Reorganization Act of 1939 (53 Stat 561 (April 3, 1939)
Pub. L. 76-19 (H. Rpt. 76-323) – Conference Report on H.R. 4425 (March 28, 1939)
Pub. L. 76-19 Senate Report (S. Rpt. 76-142) (March 6, 1939)
Hearing by Senate Judiciary Comm. (President Reorganization Plan) June 27, 1946
Hearing by Senate Expenditure Comm. (Reorganization Act of 1949) Feb. 15, 1949

Presidential Reorganization Plan

The Reorganization Act of 1939 required the President to transmit to Congress a plan for the restructuring of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. This was done in five parts and are as follow:

“Prepared by the President and transmitted to the Senate and the House of Representatives In Congress assembled, May 22, 1940, pursuant to the provisions of the Reorganization Act of 1939, approved April 3, 1939.”

Pub. L. 76-19 – The President’s “Reorganization Plan No. I” (53 Stat 1423))
Pub. L. 76-19 – The President’s “Reorganization Plan No. II” (53 Stat 1431)
Pub. L. 76-19 – The President’s “Reorganization Plan No. III” (54 Stat. 1231)
Pub. L. 76-19 – The President’s “Reorganization No. Plan IV” (54 Stat. 1234)
Pub. L. 76-19 – The President’s “Reorganization Plan No. V” (54 Stat. 1238)