Federal Security Agency

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The Federal Security Agency (FSA) was an independent agency of the United States government established in 1939 pursuant to the Reorganization Act of 1939. For a time, the agency oversaw food and drug safety as well as education funding and the administration of public health programs and the Social Security old-age pension plan.



The Reorganization Act of 1939 authorized the President of the United States to devise a plan to reorganize the executive branch of government. Pursuant to the Act, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued "Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1939" on April 25, 1939. The reorganization plan was designed to reduce the number of agencies reporting directly to the president.

The reorganization plan created the Federal Security Agency. Included in the FSA were the Social Security Board, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Food and Drug Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Office of Education (later the United States Department of Education), the National Youth Administration and a number of other agencies. [1] Its first director was Paul V. McNutt. Secretly, the FSA was also a cover agency from 1942 to 1944 for the War Research Service, a secret program to develop chemical and biological weapons. [2]


The Federal Security Agency (FSA) was established on July 1, 1939, under the Reorganization Act of 1939, P.L. 76-19. The objective was to bring together in one agency all federal programs in the fields of health, education, and social security. The first Federal Security Administrator was Paul V. McNutt. [3]

The new agency originally consisted of the following major components: (1) Office of the Administrator, (2) Public Health Service (PHS), (3) Office of Education, (4) Civilian Conservation Corps, and (5) Social Security Board.

Early years


Organizational Changes [3]

When the war ended, President Truman moved to "strengthen the arm of the federal government for better integration of services in the fields of health, education, and welfare."

Replacement with DHEW

President Harry S. Truman attempted to make the FSA a department of the federal government, but this legislation was defeated. [4]

In 1949, the United States Congress enacted the "Reorganization Act of 1949" (5 U.S.C. 901). Subsequently, President Dwight D. Eisenhower promulgated "Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953." The Federal Security Agency was abolished and most of its functions were transferred to the newly formed United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). [5]

Unlike statutes authorizing the creation of other executive departments, the contents of Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953 were never properly codified within the United States Code, although Congress did codify a later statute ratifying the Plan. Today, the Plan is included as an appendix to Title 5 of the United States Code. The result is that HHS is the only executive department whose statutory foundation today rests on a confusing combination of several codified and uncodified statutes.[ citation needed ]

List of FSA Administrators

Miller often served as Acting Administrator while McNutt served as both FSA Administrator and Chair of the War Manpower Commission from April 18, 1942.


  1. Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1939. Social Security Administration. Accessed Jan. 22, 2007.
  2. Blake, Paul V. McNutt: Portrait of a Hoosier Statesman, 1966; Series 4: "War Research Service. Committees on Biological Warfare, 1941-1948." Archives of the National Academies. National Academy of Sciences. Accessed Jan. 22, 2007.
  3. 1 2 3 "Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. A Common Thread of Service: An Historical Guide to HEW. DHEW Publication No. (OS) 73-45". July 1, 1972. Archived from the original on February 14, 2014. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  4. Culp, "Whose Security? A Voice from the Past," San Francisco Call, February 22, 2005.
  5. "Oral History Interview with Oscar R. Ewing." Oral History Interviews. Truman Presidential Library. May 1, 1969; Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953. Title 5: Appendix: Reorganization Plans. Transmitted to the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, March 12, 1953.