Guilt by Innuendo: The GAO’s Political Attack on Agency Training Programs, 1940


  • Mordecai Lee University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee



Public Administration History, Agency Training Programs, General Accounting Office (GAO)


In 1940, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) released to Congress a slashing attack on in-house training programs in executive branch departments and agencies. The GAO had always used a strict constructionist approach to evaluate the legality of agency spending on training: Was it explicitly authorized by Congress? However, this report was much more of a broad-ranging political and ideological attack on training programs, including accusations of Communist influence and–contradictorily–influence by the Rockefellers. The report can be seen as one of the major attempts by the Congressional conservative coalition to stem the tide of modern personnel administration in the federal executive branch.

Author Biography

Mordecai Lee, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Mordecai Lee is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His research focuses on government history and public relations in public administration. He has authored eight books published by university presses and several dozen articles in scholarly journals. Prior to his academic career, he was legislative assistant to a Member of Congress, elected to three terms in the Wisconsin Legislature’s State Assembly and two terms in the State Senate, and headed a faith-based nonprofit involved in public policy and social justice advocacy.






Research Articles