- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Robert Carleson, 75, former Reagan aide


Robert B. Carleson, who changed California’s welfare system under Gov. Ronald Reagan and undertook similar initiatives as a special assistant to the president during the Reagan administration, died April 21 after a brief illness. He was 75.

Mr. Carleson lived in Alexandria with his wife, Susan.

After a career in public administration for several Southern California municipalities, Mr. Carleson joined the state government.

He had been chief deputy director of the California State Department of Public Works since 1968 when Mr. Reagan asked him in 1971 to lead a task force to revise the state’s public assistance programs and reduce welfare spending.

To implement the changes, Mr. Reagan appointed Mr. Carleson as the state’s director of social welfare later that year.

Mr. Carleson was U.S. commissioner of welfare from 1973 to 1975 during the Nixon and Ford administrations.

He founded a management consulting firm in 1975 and, after advising Mr. Reagan’s presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980, joined the Reagan administration in 1981 as special assistant to the president for policy development, focusing on welfare initiatives.

He was an adviser to public officials on the nation’s welfare system in the 1990s.

Mr. Carleson was born Feb. 21, 1931, in Long Beach, Calif. He was a combat officer in the Navy during the Korean War and later served in the Navy Reserve.

He graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in public administration and worked in municipal posts for the cities of Beverly Hills, Claremont and Torrance, Calif. He also was city manager of San Dimas and Pico Rivera.

Survivors include two sons, Eric and Mark, and a daughter, Susan.

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