McNamara

McNamara

[mak-nuh-mar-uh]
McNamara, Robert Strange, 1916-2009, U.S. secretary of defense (1961-68), b. San Francisco, grad Univ. of California, Berkeley (B.A., 1937), Harvard (M.B.A., 1939). He taught (1940-43) business administration at Harvard, served in World War II, and was (1946-60) an executive of the Ford Motor Company, where he was responsible for many of the managerial and product changes that enabled the company to regain its high rank among the nation's corporations. In Nov., 1960, he became the first president of the corporation who was not a member of the Ford family, but he resigned shortly afterward to become (Jan., 1961) President Kennedy's secretary of defense. After Kennedy's assassination (1963), he continued in the office under President Lyndon Johnson.

Analytical and cerebral in his approach, McNamara introduced modern management techniques in the Defense Dept. and asserted civilian control over the defense establishment. He also shifted U.S. military strategy away from heavy reliance on nuclear weaponry and strengthened conventional fighting capacity. He was a strong advocate for the escalation of the Vietnam War, was widely considered the conflict's primary architect, and came to personify the war for much of the American public. However, his growing doubts about the war eventually forced McNamara to resign from the cabinet. From 1968 to 1981 he was president of the World Bank, where he dedicated himself to the amelioration of global poverty. He wrote The Essence of Security (1968), One Hundred Countries, Two Billion People (1973), the controversial In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (1995), and Argument without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy (1999). Despite his many other achievements, McNamara is nearly exclusively remembered—and continues to be widely vilified—for his fateful role in the Vietnam War.

See biography by D. Shapley (1988); studies by D. Halberstam (1993), P. Hendrickson (1997), and J. G. Blight (2005); E. Morris, dir., The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (documentary film, 2003).

(born June 9, 1916, San Francisco, Calif., U.S.) U.S. secretary of defense (1961–68). He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley (1937), earned a graduate degree at the Harvard Business School (1939), and later joined the Harvard faculty. He developed logistical and statistical systems for the military during World War II. After the war, he was one of the “Whiz Kids” hired to revitalize the Ford Motor Company, and in 1960 he became the first president of the company who was not a member of the Ford family. In 1961 he was appointed secretary of defense by John F. Kennedy. Though initially a supporter of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, by 1967 he advocated peace negotiations; his opposition to the bombing of North Vietnam caused him to lose influence with Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson. He resigned in 1968 to become president of the World Bank (1968–81).

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(born June 9, 1916, San Francisco, Calif., U.S.) U.S. secretary of defense (1961–68). He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley (1937), earned a graduate degree at the Harvard Business School (1939), and later joined the Harvard faculty. He developed logistical and statistical systems for the military during World War II. After the war, he was one of the “Whiz Kids” hired to revitalize the Ford Motor Company, and in 1960 he became the first president of the company who was not a member of the Ford family. In 1961 he was appointed secretary of defense by John F. Kennedy. Though initially a supporter of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, by 1967 he advocated peace negotiations; his opposition to the bombing of North Vietnam caused him to lose influence with Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson. He resigned in 1968 to become president of the World Bank (1968–81).

Learn more about McNamara, Robert S(trange) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

The McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act of 1965 (SCA) requires general contractors and subcontractors performing services on prime contracts in excess of $2,500 to pay service employees in various classes no less than the wage rates and fringe benefits found prevailing in the locality as determined by DOL, or the rates contained in a predecessor contractor's collective bargaining agreement. This is also known as Prevailing Wage.

The SCA applies to every contract entered into by the United States or the District of Columbia, the principal purpose of which is to furnish services to the United States through the use of service employees. The SCA requires contractors and subcontractors performing services on covered federal or District of Columbia contracts in excess of $2,500 to pay service employees in various classes no less than the monetary wage rates and to furnish fringe benefits found prevailing in the locality, or the rates (including prospective increases) contained in a predecessor contractor's collective bargaining agreement. Safety and health standards also apply to such contracts.

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