Office of Civil Defense, Department of the Army 1967-1969
Born in Manhattan in 1920, Joseph Romm received a masters degree in economics from American University in 1940. Upon graduating, he married and joined the navy, serving as an electrician's mate throughout WWII. At the war's end, Romm put his degree to work for the Bureau of the Census until 1951 when he transferred to the Department of Defense. Employed first as an analyst for the National Damage Assessment Center and later for National Military Systems Command Center, Romm was well primed when he became Assistant Secretary of Civil Defense under William P. Durkee in 1964. After Durkee's departure in 1967, Romm temporarily filled his position as acting director of the agency until his full appointment six months later. As his department dealt with a number of budget cuts, Romm publicly admitted U.S. civil defense was "far from complete" but maintained an optimistic view about the potential of fallout shelters. Despite his best efforts to create an economically viable shelter program, he was also quoted as agreeing the best solution for some municipalities would be to disband their civil defense offices and spread the responsibilities to fire and police crews. Romm stepped down as civil defense director shortly after the election of President Nixon and returned to the business of analysis and management. Taking a job with System Sciences, Inc., Romm would serve as a project manager and later vice-president throughout the 1970's. While employed in the private sector he aided in a number of government social studies, authored a comprehensive analysis of fallout shelters, and oversaw, among other devices, the marketing of a home fallout detection meter. Romm retired to California in 1983 and passed away in 2008.