Chairman, U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board, 1975-77


Materials primarily covering Robson's tenure as Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board and his activities as an advisor to the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush administrations. Topics include regulatory reform, civil aviation, Civil Aeronautics Board, transportation issues, and economic matters. A later accession 96-NLF-004 (20 feet) is still unprocessed and not available for research.

8.0 linear feet (ca. 16,000 pages)

John E. Robson (accession number 94-NLF-032)

Advance consultation is required so that archivists may complete routine review of requested folders for restricted information.

John Robson donated to the United States of America his copyrights in all of his unpublished writings in National Archives collections. The copyrights to materials written by other individuals or organizations are presumed to remain with them. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain.

Prepared by Jennifer Sternaman, August 1995
[s:\bin\findaid\robson, john - papers.doc]


John E. Robson

June 21, 1930 - Born, New York City, NY

1952 - B.A., Yale University

1955 - LL.B., Harvard University

1958-65 - Leibman, Williams, Bennett, Baird and Minow (Partner and Associate)

1966 - Special Assistant to the Director, Bureau of the Budget, Office of Management and Budget

1967-69 - Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Transportation (General Counsel, 1967)

July-Sept. 1968 - Administrator, Urban Mass Transportation Administration

1970-74 - Sidley and Austin (Partner and Member of Executive Committee)

1975-77 - Chairman, U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board

1978-85 - G.D. Searle & Co. (including President and C.E.O.)

1980-83 - Informal consultant, Reagan administration transition

1986-88 - Emory University (Dean and Professor of Management, School of Business Administration)

1989-92 - Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Department of the Treasury

1993-? - Yale University (Lester Crown Distinguished Faculty, School of Organization and Management)

1993-? - Heritage Foundation (visiting fellow, Co-Chair of the Advisory Council on Regulatory Reform)

1993 - Member, National Commission to Ensure A Competitive Airline Industry

2001-2002 - President and Chairman, Export-Import Bank of the United States

March 21, 2002 - Died, Washington, D.C.


John E. Robson has had a varied professional career in law practice, management, academia, and government service. He began his career in government in 1966 with the Office of Management and Budget. He has worked, as both unofficial and official advisor, for each administration since Lyndon Johnson's, mostly in economic and transportation matters.

A highlight of Robson's government service came when he was appointed as Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) in April 1975. When Robson took over, the CAB was under critical examination. The former chairman, Robert Timm, had resigned amid allegations that he accepted favors from American Airlines and controversy about how the CAB handled an investigation of questionable airline political contributions. In addition, the Ford administration was launching a major regulatory reform program, leading to media speculation that Robson had been appointed specifically to deregulate the airlines. Robson, however, maintains that he was appointed because he was well-known, "clean", competent, and known to people in the White House, especially Donald Rumsfeld, a friend since high school.

Barely settled in his office, Robson immediately began efforts to lessen the controls on the airlines and to encourage competition between them. These actions were not universally popular. By the end of his tenure as Chairman, airlines were beginning to operate under relaxed price controls and more like traditional businesses. Although Robson's papers primarily reflect his activities and perspectives, researchers will get a sense of the overall reaction to his policies, especially from members of the CAB and the airline industry.

Before and after his appointment to the CAB, Robson served the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations in various official and unofficial advisory capacities. He contributed to both the Nixon and Ford economic programs through his work with the 1970 Cost of Living Council; his participation in the October 1974 "Summit Conference on Inflation;" and by writing and distributing to White House officials his thoughts on such economic matters as inflation, wage and price policy, and economic efficiency. In addition, he advised the 1980 Reagan transition team on transportation issues. The Robson Papers reflect these activities.

Upon leaving the CAB Robson went back to the private sector to work in business and business education, but the collection does not document any of these activities. He returned to government service for a short time (1989-92) as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury; his speeches from this time period are part of the collection. There is also material from his work with the 1993 National Commission to Ensure a Competitive Airline Industry.

Related Materials (August 1995)
For additional material on the Civil Aeronautics Board, see the Dudley Chapman Files, and White House Central Files Subject File categories CA (Civil Aviation) and FG88 (Civil Aeronautics Board).

The initial accession of Robson Papers contained extensive material on his work in OMB and the Urban Mass Transportation Administration during the Johnson administration, but at the donor's request the Ford Library transferred that material to the Johnson Library in July 1994.


Oral History, 1981.  (Box 1, 0.2 linear feet)
Interviews with Robson, conducted by Richard W. Smithey, Yale School of Organization and Management. Contains both edited and complete transcripts. Mostly covers Robson's experiences as chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, especially management issues.

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Subject File, March 1970 - November 1993.  (Boxes 1-9, 3.4 linear feet)
Reports, memoranda, correspondence, publications, and logs. Topics include airline deregulation, Robson's association with Donald Rumsfeld through the Nixon and Ford administrations, Civil Aeronautics Board issues (personnel, deregulation, board activities, and dissolution of board), the Ford administration economic program, Carter to Reagan transition (transportation issues), and Robson's advisory commission work.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

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Personal Correspondence, 1975-77.  (Boxes 9-15, 2.6 linear feet)
The material consists of invitations, thank you's, personal notes ("glad to hear about your job..."), acknowledgements or brief reflections on events or speeches Robson attended, job contacts, items re: Robson speeches and publications. There is some material about airline policy, primarily from people dissatisfied with airlines operations.

Arranged alphabetically and chronologically thereunder.

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Speeches, 1975-92.  (Boxes 16-17, 0.9 linear feet)
Index and texts from Robson's speeches while he was working at the CAB and Department of the Treasury. There are no speeches from the period 1978-89.

Arranged chronologically.

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Scrapbooks, 1975-80. (Boxes 18-19, 0.9 linear feet)
Newspaper clippings, some photos. The volumes mostly document CAB activities.

Arranged chronologically.

View container list for this series


Box 1 - Oral History
  • "The Move to Airline Deregulation: Perspective of Former CAB Chairman John E. Robson" Interview (1)-(2)
Box 1 (Continued) - Subject File
  • Aviation Safety Commission, 1988 (1)-(2)
  • Chief of Staff (ideas on goals for Don Rumsfeld)
  • Civil Aeronautics Board
    • Airline Deregulation Bill
    • Air Service Improvement Act - Analysis
    • Air Service Improvement Act - Statement by Glenn Anderson
    • Aviation Act of 1975 - Amendments (proposed by CAB task force)
    • Aviation Act of 1975 - Analysis (1)-(2)
Box 2 - Subject File
  • Civil Aeronautics Board
    • Aviation Act of 1975 - Analysis (3)-(4)
    • Correspondence, 5/77-8/82
    • Dissolution
    • "Leak" to the press/Personnel matters (1)-(3)
    • Pre-Appointment Press Speculation and Criticism - Clippings (1)-(3)
    • Publications
      • "Airline Deregulation: A Test Case for Fundamental Regulatory Reform"
Box 3 - Subject File
  • Civil Aeronautics Board
    • Publications:
      • "Aviation Regulatory Reform, Part II"
      • "Competition and the Airlines"
      • "Early Experience with Airline Deregulation"
      • "The Genesis of Airline Deregulation: The Role of the Kennedy Hearing and Report"
      • Miscellaneous
      • "Presentation of the Civil Aeronautics Board Before the US Senate Committee on Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation"
Box 4 - Subject File
  • Civil Aeronautics Board
    • Publications:
      • "Presentation of the CAB Before the Subcommittee on Aviation" (3/21/77)
      • "Regulatory Reform: Report of CAB"
      • Report on Activities
      • Robson resignation (4/30/77)
      • Sunset Seminar Proceedings
      • Telephone Calls (1)-(4)
Box 5 - Subject File
  • Civil Aeronautics Board
    • Timm, Robert (re: Timm resignation and Dept. of Justice investigation of Timm) (1)-(3)
    • Weekly Appointments, 1975-77 (1)-(3)
  • "Deregulation: Will It Help or Hinder?" (from a seminar on Private Placement, 1979 -- Robson's contribution)
  • Domestic Issues/Policy
  • Domestic Issues/Policy - Clippings
  • Economic Program
    • Background Memoranda (1)-(3)
    • Ford speech (Robson's contributions) (1)-(2)
Box 6 - Subject File
  • Economic Program:
    • Summit Conference on Inflation
      • Catalogue of Ideas (1)-(3)
      • Correspondence
      • Economic Policy Recommendations (Ford speech)
      • General (includes material on Ford's speech) (1)-(4)
  • Energy Program
Box 7 - Subject File
  • International Air Transportation Association - Annual General Meeting, 1993
  • Miscellaneous (1)-(2)
  • National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry
    • Briefing Book
    • General (1)-(6)
    • Published Report
    • Robson dissent
  • Nixon Administration
    • Civil Service Proposal
    • Correspondence with Don Rumsfeld (includes clippings and printed material) (1)-(2)
Box 8 - Subject File
  • Nixon Administration
    • Cost of Living Council
    • Wage and Price Controls (1)-(4)
  • Personal (mostly articles on airline deregulation) (1)-(3)
  • Reagan Administration
    • Letters of Congratulations, Recommendations
    • Policy and Personnel issues for regulatory agencies
    • Transition - Action Letter
    • Transition - General
    • Transition - Policy Analysis
Box 9 - Subject File
  • Reagan Administration
  • Representative Leadership Briefing, 10/4/74
  • Souvenirs
  • State of the Union Address, 1975 (1)-(2)
  • Standards of Conduct
  • Watergate - draft presidential remarks to Judiciary Committee
  • White House Staff - General
  • White House Staff - Counsel's Office
Box 9 (Continued) - Personal Correspondence
  • A, 1975 - B, 1975
Box 10 - Personal Correspondence
(Note: Folders with the titles struck through are not yet open to research, but can be added to the Library's review queue.)
  • B, 1976 - D, 1975
Box 11 - Personal Correspondence
(Note: Folders with the titles struck through are not yet open to research, but can be added to the Library's review queue.)
  • D, 1976 - H, 1975
Box 12 - Personal Correspondence
(Note: Folders with the titles struck through are not yet open to research, but can be added to the Library's review queue.)
  • H, 1976 - L, 1977
Box 13 - Personal Correspondence
(Note: Folders with the titles struck through are not yet open to research, but can be added to the Library's review queue.)
  • M, 1975 - P, 1976
Box 14 - Personal Correspondence
(Note: Folders with the titles struck through are not yet open to research, but can be added to the Library's review queue.)
  • Q, 1975 - T, 1975
Box 15 - Personal Correspondence
(Note: Folders with the titles struck through are not yet open to research, but can be added to the Library's review queue.)
  • T, 1976 - Z, 1977
Box 16 - Speeches
(Note: Folders with the titles struck through are not yet open to research, but can be added to the Library's review queue.)
  • Master Lists, 1989-92
  • Index
  • 9/10/1975, Wings Club, New York City
  • 10/21/1975, Airport Operators Council International, Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico
  • 10/30/1975, New York Society of Security Analysts, New York
  • 11/5/1975, Boy Scouts Transportation Lunch-O-Rec, Chicago
  • 11/12/1975, Subcommittee on Aviation of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee
  • 11/13/1975, National Aviation Club, Washington DC
  • 1/19/1976, United Airlines Management Conference, Chicago
  • 1/20/1976, International Aviation Club, Washington DC
  • 1/26/1976, Braniff International Management Club, Dallas
  • 2/24/1976, Los Angeles Interline Management Club, Los Angeles
  • 2/25/1976, Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Seattle
  • 3/9/1976, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Public Works and Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation
  • 3/19/1976, O'Hare International Airport, Chicago
  • 4/8/1976, U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation
  • 4/29/1976, U.S. House of Representatives
  • 5/4/1976, Joint Subcommittees on Investigations and Aviation Committee on Public Works and Transportation
  • 5/6/1976, Institutional Investor Institute 6th Annual Washington Roundtable, Washington DC
  • 5/19/1976, Commuter Airline Association of America, Rosslyn, VA
  • 5/25/1976, Senate Government Operations Committee
  • 7/22/1976, Subcommittee on Aviation of the Senate Committee on Commerce
  • 8/3/1976, Subcommittee on Aviation of the Senate Committee on Commerce
  • 8/4-5/1976, Subcommittee on Activities of Regulatory Agencies of the House Small Business Committee
  • 8/31/1976, Subcommittee on Aviation of the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation
  • 10/1/1976, Alaska State Chamber of Commerce Convention, Juneau, AL
  • 10/7/1976, New York Society of Security Analysts, New York
  • 10/14/1976, Houston Chamber of Commerce, Houston
  • 10/26/1976, Aero Club, Washington DC
  • 11/3/1976, Northwestern University Graduate School of Management, Chicago
  • 12/9/1976, Aviation Committee on the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry, Chicago
  • 4/8/1976, Yale Speech
  • 3/21/1977, Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
  • 4/4/1977, Testimony of the Civil Aeronautics Board
  • 3/4/1977, Subcommittee on Transportation of the Committee on Appropriations 
  • 3/7/1977, Subcommittee on Transportation of the Committee on Appropriations
  • 4/18/1977, Subcommittee on Aviation House Committee on Public Works and Transportation
  • 5/17/1977, International Aviation Club
  • 6/28/1977, Ad Hoc Committee on Airline Regulatory Reform
  • 7/14/1977, Task Force on Tax Expenditures, Government Organization and Regulation House Committee on the Budget
  • 8/10/1977, Section on Utility Law, American Bar Association
  • 9/20/1978, Salomon Brothers
  • 9/12/1989, National Mortgage Conference of the National Council of Savings Institutions
  • 9/15/1989, Leadership Conference of the American Bankers Association
  • 9/20/1989, Exchequer Club
  • 10/10/1989, Conference on Japanese Direct Investment
  • 10/12/1989, Foreign Correspondence Club, Tokyo
  • 10/21/1989, FLETCH Artesia Dedication Ceremony
  • 11/9/1989, Chicago Committee
  • 11/16/1989, Treasury Historical Association Lecture
  • 3/7/1990, U.S. League of Savings Institutions
  • 3/8/1990, Public Policy Issues Meeting
  • 3/20/1990, American Business Conference Membership Meeting
  • 3/14/1990, Treasury Executive Institute
  • 4/1/1990, Press Briefing
  • 4/2/1990, Independent Bankers Association of America
  • 4/5/90, Center for Leadership and Career Change
  • 4/19/1990, Press Briefing
  • 4/25/1990, Mid-America Committee Luncheon
  • 4/26/1990, Press Briefing
  • 5/1/1990, National Association of Women Business Owners and National Small Business United
  • 5/15/1990, Peace Officers Memorial Day Ceremony
  • 6/18/1990, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • 7/17/1990, Magazine Publishers and CEO
  • 7/18/1990, Air Transport Association Board Officers and Senior Staff
  • 9/24/1990, American Bar Association and American Bankers Association
  • 10/10/1990, National Foreign Policy Conference
  • 10/23/1990, Emerging Markets Advisory Committee
Box 17 - Speeches
(Note: Folders with the titles struck through are not yet open to research, but can be added to the Library's review queue.)
  • 11/20/1990, Partnership for Democracy and Development in Central America
  • 11/28/1990, Budapest, Hungary
  • 1/9/1991, Top MINT Management Group
  • 1/10/1991, The Association of Government Accountants
  • 1/28/1991, Massachusetts Economic Development Authority Conference
  • 1/29/1991, Yale School of Organization and Management
  • 2/15/1991, Mount Rushmore Commemorative Coin Launch
  • 2/27/1991, Conference at White House
  • 3/18/1991, Joint Financial Management Improvement Program
  • 4/9/1991, American Business Conference
  • 4/11/1991, American Council of Life Insurance
  • 4/11/1991, North Atlantic Assembly Symposium
  • 4/11/1991, Arnold and Porter's Annual Meeting - Financial Institutions Seminar
  • 4/16/1991, SRI International Corporate Circle
  • 4/30/1991, International Institute for Securities Market Development
  • 4/30/1991, Emory University Executive MBA Program
  • 5/9/1991, Conference of Business Economists
  • 5/13/1991, Inter-American Center of Tax Administrators 
  • 5/14/1991, White House Briefing
  • 5/14/1991, Georgetown University School of Business Administration
  • 5/21/1991, Organization of American States
  • 5/23/1991, Arthur Anderson International Business Symposium
  • 6/8/1991, Institute for East-West Securities Studies
  • 6/10/1991, Signing of Memoranda of Understanding
  • 6/20/1991, Washington Workshop
  • 7/24/1991, Management Training and Market Economies
  • 7/26/1991, Briefing for Foreign Press
  • 8/1/1991, Tirana, Albania
  • 9/11/1991, CSIS Washington Roundtable
  • 9/16/1991, Southern Governors Association Annual Meeting
  • 9/17/1991, National Association of Securities Dealer
  • 9/25/1991, National Council of the Housing Industry
  • 10/14-15/1991, Colorado Mortgage Bankers Association and Dallas Chamber of Commerce
  • 10/23/1991, Private Sector Council Roundtable Discussion
  • 10/31/1991, Appraisal Subcommittee, State Regulators Conference
  • 11/4/1991, Annual Conference of the Interagency Committee on Women in Federal Law Enforcement
  • 11/19/1991, Council for Excellence in Government
  • 11/20/1991, National Association of Manufacturers
  • 11/21/1991, Russell 20/20 Group
  • 12/7/1991, Tax Foundation Conference
  • 12/16/1991, National Examiners Meeting
  • 1/8/1992, FLETCH Awards of Excellence Ceremony
  • 1/10/1992, California Bankers Association
  • 1/22/1992, Chicago Area Boy Scouts Council
  • 1/23/1992, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the Business Roundtable Budget Symposium
  • 1/27/1992, National Association of Home Builders
  • 2/1/1992, Business Higher Education Forum
  • 2/3/1992, Mortgage Bankers Association
  • 2/7/1992, Remarks to Greater Boston Savings Bond Volunteer Luncheon
  • 3/11/1992, Remarks to National Council of Community Bankers
  • 4/2/1992, American Iron and Steel Institute
  • 4/8/1992, Remarks to World Affairs Council Public Forum
  • 4/21/1992, National Economists Club
  • 5/6/1992, New York State Bankers Group
  • 5/11/1992, New Hampshire Forum: Accessing Credit in a New Lending Environment
  • 5/15/1992, White House Briefing
  • 5/19/1992, Urban Land Institute
  • 5/26/1992, Trade and Investment Council
  • 6/8/1992, American Bankers Association
  • 6/10/1992, Industrial Biotechnology Association
  • 6/17/1992, U.S. - Russia Business Summit
  • 6/22/1992, Savings and Community Bankers of America
  • 9/9/1992, American Electronics Association
  • 9/19/1992, Business - Government Relations Council
  • 9/22/1992, Financial Account Standards Board
  • 9/24/1992, Tri-City Small Business Small Bank Regulatory Burden Luncheon
  • 9/25/1992, Independent Bankers Association of Texas
  • 9/29/1992, New York Stock Exchange
  • 10/7/1992, Washington Rotary Club
  • 10/23/1992, National Association of Manufacturers Board of Directors
  • 11/9/1992, Kellogg Alumni Club of New York
  • 11/16/1992, Financial Executives Institute
  • 12/2/1992, Business Higher Education Forum
Box 18 - Scrapbooks
  • Scrapbooks - Volume I (1)-(3)
  • Scrapbooks - Volume II (1)-(3)
Box 19 - Scrapbooks
  • Scrapbooks - Volume II (4)
  • Scrapbooks - Volume III (1)-(6)