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Memorandum From Fredrick Aandahl Through William Franklin to Carol Laise, November 1973

A scan of the original document is available for download (PDF, 165 KB, 4pp.)

Source: Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Historian, Paul Claussen Files, 1972-2005 (Lot File 08 D 437), Box 2, Foreign Relations Memoranda, Etc. 1974-1981. A copy of this memorandum was also sent to Joseph A. Tambone (PA/EX).

Cited in Toward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable”: A History of the Foreign Relations of the United States Series, Chapter 8, Footnote 70

Memorandum From Fredrick Aandahl (General Editor of FRUS) Through William Franklin (Director of Historical Office) to Carol Laise (Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs)

Subject: An Optimum Program for the Foreign Relations Division

The “optimum job possible” was defined for the Foreign Relations Division in the President's directive of March 8, 1972:

“without impairing the quality and comprehensive nature of the series ... to reduce the time lag to 20 years ... declassifying the appropriate materials to the maximum extent consistent with the requirements of national security.”

This is a tall order, and it involves three separate operations:

  • (a) compilation -- by the Foreign Relations Division
  • (b) editorial processing -- by PBR and GPO
  • (c) clearance and declassification -- by State, Defense, CIA, AEC, NSC, other departments and agencies, friendly foreign government, and international organizations such as NATO and the UN.

Only the first of these steps is directly under our control, but all three are vital to our publication schedule.

OPERATIONS

To achieve optimum performance I recommend action on all three fronts:

(a) Compilation

In order to publish volumes at a 20-year line, we need to compile them at an 18-year line. We are currently at a 22-year line. We plan to cover each year in about seven volumes. This means that to reduce the lag we must compile 12 to 14 volumes a year. The time and resources required vary considerably from volume to volume, but in any event selecting and editing diplomatic papers can never be fast work. At present we do not have enough players to cover all the positions. To reach an 18-year line on compilation, we need three additional professional historians, preferably with the following specialties: (a) international economics, (b) Near East and Africa, and (c) Asia. We can meet some needs by internal transfers, but this does not increase total output.

(b) Editorial Processing

Our present flow of work is slow and cumbersome. Our research is done in the files in Main State; our compilation is done in SA-2; and our editorial processing is done in Rosslyn. Since compilers and editors must be in constant touch on all sorts of questions, and since new volumes are based on previous ones still in the hands of editors, this separation is a major hindrance to production. We now have 29 volumes (1948 through 1951) in various stages of preparation, and nearly all are being worked on both in SA-2 and in Rosslyn, with endless complications. Matters that could be cleared up promptly in person are allowed to accumulate. For one or two volumes this would be a nuisance, but for 29 it is highly inefficient.

To remedy this situation I strongly recommend that the six or seven editors of PBR who work full-time on “Foreign Relations” be brought back to SA-2, where we worked together very smoothly. Originally (and indeed for many decades) these editors were regular members of our staff. Since they are an integral and highly respected part of our production line, I think that it would also be beneficial to return them to the Bureau of Public Affairs from the Bureau of Administration, which has different priorities and a different emphasis. Editing “Foreign Relations” is a highly technical job, and I think that we could offer a more rewarding career to those who are good at it. Even though much of the routine editorial work can be done satisfactorily on contract, the Department still needs some highly competent “in-house” people for the sake of continuity and quality control. We cannot afford to become entirely dependent on outside contractors.

Whether the technical editors remain in PBR or are transferred to HO, we may need one or two more of them to handle the additional volumes included in our accelerated program. Additional staff would also be required by the Macmillan Educational Corporation or other outside contractor.

(c) Clearance and Declassification

Our most conspicuous problem has been the slow pace of clearances. Since you and we are already making a major effort to enlist the Secretary's support, particularly at the NSC level, I need not say much about this. The one thing that would really help would be a direct statement by Dr. Kissinger that he favors full and timely publication of “Foreign Relations” as part of the policy of openness. A strongly affirmative statement by the Secretary of State would have great impact in the Department, elsewhere in the Government, and in the world of public affairs.

FACILITIES

The efficiency of our operations depends in great measure on the facilities available to us, and I think our productivity could be sharply increased by improvements in these areas:

(a) Working space for research

Most of our research (searching for and selecting documents to be reproduced for possible publication) is done in very cramped quarters in the Records Service Center in Main State. FADRC provides space for our researchers, but the central files are very crowded, and it is a burden on everyone's patience to have up to 20 persons of both HO divisions using one 15 x 46 room as their base of operations. There is not desk space enough for all the regular users to work at the same time.

Dr. Franklin has received excellent cooperation from Mr. Donald Simon, Chief of FADRC, but there is not much that they can do, given the limited space and the large number of researchers. We would greatly appreciate your taking an active interest in enlisting high-level support for an effort to find suitable space in a secure area reasonably close to the files.

(b) Working space for compilation, review, and clearance

While SA-2 could not be described as providing palatial quarters, it does have sufficient cubic feet within walking distance of the central files. This is its one advantage, which is an important one. The HO staff would of course prefer a modern structure such as the new Columbia Plaza office building, particularly if it had enough space to include the technical editors and some additional historians, but we can survive in SA-2 as we have for eleven years. By no stretch of the imagination, however, could the building be considered to provide optimal working conditions.

One practical amelioration might be possible even within SA-2. Both in editing documents and in preparing research studies the staff of HO depends on a miserably housed and seriously inadequate reference collection, which is used intensively by all. Modern shelving to replace the rickety wood-and-glass boxes would remove a safety hazard and save much space. Additional funds for essential reference works and specialized journals would be most helpful.

(c) A copying machine

There is unanimous agreement in HO that we need an efficient copying machine of our own. The Foreign Relations Division has eighteen historians and one secretary. This staff ratio -- probably unique in the Department -- is possible only if we can count on prompt reproduction of documents and other materials. Existing facilities in SA-2 are quite unsatisfactory.

(d) Travel funds

We need travel funds sufficient to cover an occasional trip to the Truman and Eisenhower libraries and to other research centers. The most important materials at Independence may be opened in the next few months. It would be helpful also to have funds for attending meetings of professional associations.

As I mentioned to you at the luncheon for the Advisory Committee on Foreign Relations, we have a strong staff and a good program. Once we can surmount some of the difficulties outlined above, I am confident that we can push forward rapidly. 1974 will be the critical year for stepping up the momentum.