11. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Counselor of the Department of State and Chairman of the Policy Planning Council (McGhee)1

There follow several comments on the memorandum you sent me about the assignment of responsibility for activities formerly handled by OCB working groups.2

As you point out, the President clearly expressed in his February 18 statement his expectation that the Secretary of State would take the initiative for providing continuing coordination of U.S. actions with respect to a country or an area. Incidentally, I would appreciate receiving copies of completed papers which result from the work already begun by the State Department.

1. With respect to the functional assignments, the group that met with me on February 23 reached certain agreements that are in effect as far as I am concerned.3

2. With respect to Antarctica, the group agreed that:

“d. The Department of Defense will continue to be responsible for the logistics of U.S. activities in the Antarctic. Mr. Bowles will tell us when decisions have been reached on the way the State Department will provide policy guidance and insure coordination of all U.S. activities in the area.”

I conclude from your memorandum that the decisions referred to have been reached.

3. With respect to civil aviation, the group agreed that:

“e. The State Department will assume responsibility for whatever coordination and policy guidance is required in the field of civil aviation, subject to further discussion at a later date.”

This should be read in the context of the President’s recent National Security Action Memorandum 32, dated March 21, 1961.4

4. With respect to trade fairs and exhibits, the group agreed that:

“a. USIA will assume responsibility for coordinating the planning and programming of all U.S. exhibits and trade fairs overseas.”

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This also covers the question of what is to be done with the Cultural Presentations and Trade Fairs committees, which were created by action of the Director of the U.S. Information Agency. As you undoubtedly know, the administration of these two parts of the President’s Special International Program is now under study by the Bureau of the Budget.

5. The OCB had no continuing concern with or working group on Foreign Disaster Relief Operations. The OCB had been used as a vehicle whereby the several agencies of the U.S. Government having an interest in these matters had developed a modus operandi. As to the future, the group agreed on February 23 that:

“f. The State Department will assume responsibility for insuring that appropriate guidelines are developed to cover emergency relief in cases of natural disasters overseas.”

6. The work with respect to escapees and refugees is principally the responsibility of the State Department but there is an important segment of this activity which is of major interest to CIA.

7. The OCB Working Group on Nuclear Energy Projects and Related Matters was a catch-all group to which a wide variety of assignments was referred. I do not see how the work of this group can be devolved to any one agency of the government. The major agencies with legislative responsibility, i.e., State, Defense, AEC, NASA, as well as the President’s Science Advisor, would be expected to take the initiative on matters within their jurisdiction.

8. The Technical Panel on International Broadcasting has been completely inactive and, in my opinion, need not be reactivated by any department-at least in its old form. The Director of the U.S. Information Agency is responsible for initiating such interdepartmental actions as may be needed in this field.

9. I agree with the view expressed concerning work formerly done by the group on Strategically Important Industrial Operations. OCDM has noted the abolition of this group.

10. With respect to Outer Space, the group agreed that:

“c. As soon as the Space Council is organized and functioning, decisions will be sought on the assignment of activities formerly carried on by the OCB in this area.”

In view of the above, it does not appear to me that additional assignments to the State Department are required at this time, but I would appreciate your reaction.

McGeorge Bundy5
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, Operations Coordinating Board, 1/27/61–7/27/61. Secret.
  2. Document 10.
  3. No other record of this meeting has been found.
  4. Entitled “US–USSR Commercial Air Transport Agreement.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAM No. 32)
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.