50. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Vance) to Director of Central Intelligence McCone 1

Dear John:

I looked over your memorandum of September 1, the memorandum of General Carter of August 27, and the report of Dr. Wheelon dated August 31, 1964 that you have approved.2 I must call your attention [Page 150] to the fact that the direction issued by General Carter does not reflect our agreement in one very important detail. As you remember, you and I had agreed that an SETD (systems-engineering-technical-direction) contractor would be hired and that the work of integration and technical direction would be conducted by the contractor and not by CIA personnel. You may find the definition of systems engineering technical director given in DOD Directive Number 5500.10 to be of interest.

As used in these rules, “contractor” means the person under contract to the Department of Defense to perform the work described in each rule, and its affiliates; “system” means system, subsystem, project or item. The term “systems engineering” includes a combination of substantially all the following activities: determination of specifications, identification and solution of interfaces between parts of the system, development of test requirements or plans and evaluation of test data, and supervision of design work. The term “technical direction” includes a combination of substantially all the following activities: preparation of work statements for contractors, determination of parameters, direction of contractors’ operations, and resolution of technical controversies.

General Carter interpreted this agreement to state:

Coordination, liaison, project integration and engineering support will be provided to DD/S&T by the systems engineering contractor, who will have direct access to all other contractors.

Clearly, this is inconsistent with our agreement.

My difficulties are increased by the interpretation given to this already weakened and not acceptable condition by Dr. Wheelon’s memorandum where under paragraph 3.d. the systems engineering contractor is made responsible only for developing plans, specifications, etc., for all phases of the project on an integrated basis. Thus, the plan becomes contradictory with our agreement. I am sure that upon review of this plan you will agree with me.


  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files, 06 Sept 1961–30 March 1965, Box 8. Secret; [codeword not declassified]. Attached is a September 10 letter from McCone to Vance returning Vance’s September 4 letter because “I don’t wish this letter in my file.” He suggested that he and Vance could discuss this matter “personally and alone. It appears to me,” McCone went on, “the man charged by the President with the responsibility of running an organization should run it in accordance with the policies and procedures which best conform to the particular organization, not the policies and procedures established in some other department of government.”
  2. None found.