76. Letter From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1

Dear Mr. President:

I welcome and will give full personal support to your memorandum of November 30 about thrift and frugality in Government.2 I should like to emphasize the importance of a single policy throughout the Executive Departments on matters of personnel. Unless such policies [Page 139] are pursued diligently and systematically across the board, those who achieve the desired result in prudence and economy would face morale problems arising from a sense of inequity or lack of confidence in their immediate leader’s dedication to the interests of their own Departments.

It would be my suggestion that you make it clear to all of the Executive Departments that you expect them to hold the line on numbers of personnel except (a) where there is a clear and almost mathematical relationship between the numbers of persons required and the necessary services to be rendered, and (b) where new programs have been specifically approved by the Congress and require additional personnel. As one who served in the Department of State in the 1940’s and has now returned to it after a decade, I have been tremendously impressed by the way in which the Department has measured up to rapidly increasing responsibilities without a comparable increase in personnel. This means a gratifying increase in productivity in ways that are difficult to measure.

Respectfully yours,

Dean Rusk3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, White House Correspondence, 12/63–6/18/64. No classification marking. Lyndon Johnson became President after President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963.
  2. President Johnson’s “Memorandum on the Management of the Executive Branch,” November 30, 1963, is printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963–64, pp. 15–16.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.