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Organization of Foreign Policy; Information Policy; United Nations; Scientific Matters

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963
Volume XXV, Organization of Foreign Policy; Information Policy; United Nations; Scientific Matters, Document 27


27. Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration (Jones) to Secretary of State Rusk11. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Management Staff Files: Lot 69 D 434, Miscellaneous Subject Files, 1960–1967, Marginal Consular Posts, 1961. No classification marking. Drafted by Paul G. Sinderson, Office of Budget (OB), and James G. Hoofnagle, Office of Budget and Finance (A/BF).

  • SUBJECT
  • Closing Marginal Posts

The attached list (Tab A) of marginal posts includes the five least important in each geographic area, as ranked last summer by the Regional Bureaus. The combined staff and total annual cost of these 25 posts is 233 positions and $1,876,500. SCA reviewed the list and expressed opposition to closing eight of them because of their importance to consular work; simultaneously SCA suggested seven others which might be considered for closing.

There seems little doubt that the 32 posts listed are those of least importance to the United States in the conduct of diplomatic relations and consular work. During the past few months consideration has been given to closing some or all of these posts. ARA announced the closing of Colon, Panama, in August, but because of local pressures, now plans to keep the post open on a limited basis. EUR is planning to close Aruba this month. No other definite action toward additional closings has been taken.

The decision to close any post is, in the final analysis, a political one. Political factors to be considered are: the reaction of national and local governments to what they may interpret as a loss of prestige; the current status of relations which may at a given moment focus greater attention on a post closing than objectively it warrants; inter-city rivalries and jealousies within a county where the United States maintains several consulates; adverse public relations which may result from inconveniences to those receiving services from a post; pressures from United States citizens resident or travelling in a locality because they like to maintain a close and tangible contact with home. These, and similar factors, can be assessed properly only by the Regional Bureaus.

We should not overlook the importance of the human factor involved. The workload at such posts is somewhat routine and unchallenging. As a result the officers assigned tend to get in a rut and eventually lose their initiative. It seems to me that the human resources which can be recaptured and channeled into more urgent tasks are more important than the mere dollars involved.

I believe the need for review of marginal posts is urgent. You may wish to have Mr. Bowles take it up as a high priority, political item for discussion with the Assistant Secretaries involved.

Recommendation

That you ask Under Secretary Bowles to discuss the subject of closing marginal posts with the Assistant Secretaries of the Regional Bureaus and recommend the appropriate action.22. Rusk initialed his approval. He sent a copy of this paper to Under Secretary Bowles on February 18, under cover of a memorandum that reads as follows: “I am enthusiastic about a good look at the possibility of closing some of our marginal consular posts in different parts of the world. The problem is somewhat like the organization of our county governments in the United States. Modern communication and ease of travel have greatly reduced the need for consulates which are too close together. Desk officers in geographic bureaus may be somewhat over sensitive about the short term political effect of closing a consulate. If we are too impressed by these considerations, we shall never get our house in order.” (Ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Chron File, February, 1961)

Tab A

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

List of Least Important Posts as Ranked by Regional Bureaus (June, 1960)

ARAAmericanLocalTotalTotal Cost Annual Rate
Mexicali325$36,400
Antofagasta23529,000
Piedras Negras23526,800
Santos13417,600
Colon22425,000
101323134,800
EUR
Aruba45974,100
Antwerp71926149,700
Trieste9918119,300
St. John27962,200
Basel35857,500
254570462,800

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

List of Least Important Posts as Ranked by Regional Bureausn (June, 1960)

NEAAmericanLocalTotalTotal Cost Annual Rate
Alexandria4812103,400
Iskenderun36975,400
Aleppo5813104,500
Isfahan371090,200
Haifa371080,000
183654453,500
FE
Mandalay36950,900
Brisbane43735,600
Cebu35856,000
Hue25741,800
Adelaide23540,900
142236225,200
AF
Kaduna461052,800
Lourenco Marques491371,500
Capetown7714120,700
Port Elizabeth23540,300
Durban35853,900
203050339,200
PER costs261,000
Total871462331,876,500

Note: SCA opposes the closing of the following posts listed above because of their importance in consular work: Mexicali, Piedras Negras, Aruba, Trieste, St. John, Haifa, Capetown, and Durban.

SCA suggests the following posts not listed above might be considered for closing: Cork, Edinburgh, Manchester or Liverpool, Turin, La Havre, Southampton, Vera Cruz.

1 Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Management Staff Files: Lot 69 D 434, Miscellaneous Subject Files, 1960–1967, Marginal Consular Posts, 1961. No classification marking. Drafted by Paul G. Sinderson, Office of Budget (OB), and James G. Hoofnagle, Office of Budget and Finance (A/BF).

2 Rusk initialed his approval. He sent a copy of this paper to Under Secretary Bowles on February 18, under cover of a memorandum that reads as follows: “I am enthusiastic about a good look at the possibility of closing some of our marginal consular posts in different parts of the world. The problem is somewhat like the organization of our county governments in the United States. Modern communication and ease of travel have greatly reduced the need for consulates which are too close together. Desk officers in geographic bureaus may be somewhat over sensitive about the short term political effect of closing a consulate. If we are too impressed by these considerations, we shall never get our house in order.” (Ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Chron File, February, 1961)