17. Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Bowles)1

Foreign Policy and Operations Guidelines

As you may recall, the President on February 19, 1961, abolished the Operations Coordinating Board and stated:

. . . we will center responsibility for much of the Board’s work in the Secretary of State. He expects to rely particularly on the Assistant Secretaries in charge of regional bureaus, and they in turn will consult closely with other departments and agencies. This will be our ordinary rule for continuing coordination of our work in relation to a country or area.

Correspondingly it was agreed that country and regional policy papers formerly prepared by the NSC Planning Board would be prepared by the Department of State, though some of exceptional security importance might still be submitted to the NSC before dissemination.

Accordingly the Department of State has been developing a series of policy and operations Guidelines papers intended to replace both NSC and OCB country and regional papers. Our aim is to make them as useful as possible in the coordinated guidance of the national foreign effort. They are still in the experimental stage, and your suggestions for improving their usefulness would be most welcome.

Our regional Assistant Secretaries are responsible for the preparation of these papers. The procedure we have evolved so far includes consultation with other agencies at the working level while a paper is being drafted, referral to the field for comment by the chief or chiefs of mission concerned, after consultation with members of the country team, clearance at bureau level in the Department of State, referral to other agencies principally interested for formal comment; and (a) dissemination in final after any important differences have been resolved or (b) submission to the NSC if that is decided upon in a particular case. We plan to revise the papers once a year.

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The first of these papers has reached the stage of referral for agency comment. These papers will be addressed to your office for this purpose unless you prefer otherwise. We would appreciate your helping us expedite the process.

Chester Bowles
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, NSC Administrative, 1961. No classification marking. A handwritten notation on the memorandum indicates it was “Sent to all Cabinet heads (members).” In an October 31 covering note to Bundy, attached to another copy, Bowles wrote that the memorandum had been prepared for governmental departments and agencies to explain procedures for preparing papers to replace the former NSC and OCB regional and country papers. Bowles recommended that the President rescind papers in the former NSC series as papers in the new series appeared. Bowles would submit specific recommendations at the time papers were transmitted to the White House and sent for comment to interested agencies and departments. (Memorandum from Bowles to Bundy, “Preparation of Policy Guidelines Papers,” October 31; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Department of State, General, 10/16/61–10/31/61)