The Reponsiveness Program, established in 1972 during the first presidency of Richard M. Nixon, was a broad strategy to politicize the executive branch and use the power and resources of incumbency to ensure Nixon's re-election. The program included plans to "redirect federal funds to specific Administration supporters" and to "shape legal and regulatory action to enhance campaign goals."[1]The program, outlined by Fred Malek in a memorandum to H.R. Haldeman on March 17, 1972, was a comprehensive plan outlining how the resources and staff of the federal bureaucracy could be used to serve partisan objectives. [2]

Efforts were made to prevent The Responsiveness program strategy from being associated with the White House staff or to President Nixon. In a memo to H.R. Haldeman dated December 23, 1971, Fred Malek wrote:

"Naturally, carrying out this program, even if done discreetly, will represent a substantial risk. Trying to pressure 'non-political' civil servants to partisanly support the President's re-election would become quickly publicized and undoubtedly backfire. Consequently, the strategy should be to work through the top and medium-level political appointees who exercise control over most of the Departmental decisions and actions. Also, to minimize any direct links to the President, there should be no directions on this project in writing, and most of the initiative should come from the Department Heads themselves. (In fact, as this concept is refined further, I propose we stop calling it 'politicizing the Executive Branch,' and instead call it something like strengthening the Government responsiveness.)" [3]

The Senate Watergate Committee, after interviewing over 150 witnesses and reviewing thousands of documents, found evidence that the through the Responsiveness Program: 1) funds for "grants, contract, loans, and subsidies" were illegally rechannelled to further re-election, 2) government benefits were illegally offered in exchange for political support, 3) campaign contributions were illegally solicited from beneficiaries of minority contracts, and 4) the White House was engaged with the Committee to Re-elect the President in a program to act through "special personnel referral units" to stack civil service positions with Nixon loyalists. The Senate Watergate Committee found evidence of obfuscation, destruction of documents, and removal of White House files relevant to the program. The Committee recommended prosecution.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Senate Watergate Report, "Use of the Incumbency-Responsiveness Program," Ch. III, 1974.
  2. Senate Watergate Report, "The Responsiveness Program" - The Administration's Basic Plan to Employ Federal Resources to Affec the 1972 Presdidential Election, 1974.
  3. Malek to Haldeman Dec. 23, 1971, quoted in Senate Watergate Report, Chapt III.
  4. Senate Watergate Report, Chapter III, 1974.

External links[edit | edit source]

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