Edward M. House Papers

Memorandum by Dr. Isaiah Bowman12

The work of some divisions of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace is so inefficient that there should be complete reorganization and rigid economy. If we are getting poor service from a large staff at a high cost, let us reduce the staff and the cost. If the service remains poor, at least we shall not be wasting money on it; and the conviction is growing that if we had fewer officers about we would be able to do more work.

It is proposed:

To reduce the personnel of the Commission from about 1,300 to about 650.
To reduce the cost of the Commission at a progressive rate substantially from the first, and reaching a minimum seven weeks from the time that this plan is put into operation.
To test the utility of every proposal for expense or added personnel by a professional examination of the recommendation, and not by a purely executive decision.

It is assumed:

That if an information service is being operated which is of no use to the Commission it should be abolished.
That no “spotty” modification of the present organization or of the following recommendations will be made which would leave a large and useless personnel in one division and at the same time overwork a useful and devoted division; we are already in the way of demoralization on this score.

It is specifically recommended:

1) That the following divisions be abolished and the officers in them returned to duty in the army or sent home:

a) The Personnel Division. (Present staff: 11)

For this division there should be substituted a force of three persons, working under the direction of Captain J. T. Adams in cooperation with Mr. McNeir, the Disbursing Officer.

b) The Liaison Division. (Present staff: 19)

c) The Ceremonial Office. (Present staff: 3)

d) The entire military group, including General Churchill and his staff, and the so-called Combat Situation Section. (Present staff: 27)

The offices of General Churchill and the Combat Situation Section should be placed outside the Hotel, and the maintenance and work of this force should not be a charge against the Commission.

It should be possible for the President to request Secretary Baker to establish in Paris a Military Intelligence office, which [Page 502] can be run in any way that the Secretary directs, since he would be responsible for both the costs and the results. It is impossible to prevent the growth of any military group on the Commission to an absolutely absurd size. I am convinced that only the complete detachment of the Commission from the army will reduce costs and increase efficiency.

e) The Negative Intelligence service. (Present staff: 59)

This service has proved itself incapable of management of the pass system of these two buildings. Two people have come into this building within the past two weeks, one at 7:30 in the morning and another at 2:30 in the morning, and walked through the lobby without meeting a single person, with the front door open without guard. The getting of passes to the buildings has been accompanied by every form of inconvenience and delay that one could imagine.

2) That the personnel of the following divisions be reduced, as indicated in each case by the accompanying index number:

Mr. White 2
Colonel House 15
General Bliss 2
Mr. Grew 2
Distribution 6
Indexes and Files 20
Translators 21
Executive Office 11
Hotel Management 71
Auditing and Purchase 1
Building Superintendent 11
Construction and Repair 3
Telephone 10
Headquarters Detachment 243
Transportation 45
Postoffice 10
Courier Service 16
Supply 8
Naval 20
Financial Advisors 9
Territorial, Economic, and Political Intelligence 18 Distributed as follows:
Current Intelligence Summaries 7
Economics and Statistics 2
Library 9
Total 544
Personnel of divisions it is proposed to abolish as in 1) above 119
Grand Total 663

3) Special recommendations are required for the expensive service now maintained under the head of Field Observers. It is recommended: [Page 503]

That the Austrian mission be recalled at the end of six weeks from the time of its starting, and the staff given ten days in which to prepare their final reports and conclusions, and that except for possibly four or five persons the services of that group be discontinued.
That the German mission be recalled at the end of six weeks, and the party given ten days to prepare their report, and that the mission be thereupon dissolved.
That the Russian mission be maintained for a brief but indeterminate time, and thereupon recalled and dissolved after report.
That the Turkish mission when sent out be maintained for a brief but indeterminate time, and thereupon recalled and dissolved after report.

Unless these missions are recalled at the end of a few weeks and close study given to their reports and the results of their efforts, there will be heavy calls for more money and more men and the gathering of perfectly useless material will take place. After a time the men get too detached from the work of the conference, and the value of their work decreases very noticeably. In spite of the very high importance of the results of the Austrian mission, I very much doubt if it will be of any real value to the peace conference in a few weeks more. Any unexpended balance remaining to the credit of these missions should be turned back to the Commission.

  1. To this undated memorandum is attached a note from Dr. S. E. Mezes to Colonel House, which reads: “From Bowman. White has asked B for suggestions. Would it be all right to send him copy of enclosed? S. E. M.”