27. Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration (Jones) to Secretary of State Rusk1
- 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. [Page 50]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.
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.2
- 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).↩
- 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)↩