119. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Deputy Under Secretary Rimestad
  • O-Mr. Jules Bassin
  • O/DG-Mr. James E. Hoofnagle
  • O/DG-Mr. William Belton
  • O/FPP-Mr. Robert Hennemeyer
  • O/SO-Mr. William O. Boswell
  • O/SO-Mr. Charles Hulick

SUBJECT

  • Briefing on Status of FSR-1 and FSR-2 Officers in Domestic and Overseas Positions

Without attempting to provide a full account, the outcome of substantive interest of an hour’s discussion was the following:

1
—Failure to obtain passage of the Hays Bill was interpreted by Mr. Rimestad as meaning the end for practicable purposes of the concept of staffing the Department’s positions exclusively with Foreign Service personnel (FSO, FSSO, FAO and FSS); that consequently it was a mistake to have replaced Civil Service hire with FSR hire for domestic positions; that we must return to a system of staffing Departmental officer positions with a mixture of Foreign Service and Civil Service personnel; and that as a target date we should attempt to be in a position by July 1, 1967, to have new outside hires for domestic positions to be in the Civil [Page 275]Service category, noting that by this date he wanted in a broader sense to have a clearly defined personnel policy and classification system.
2
—With respect to the position set forth in (1) above, Mr. Rimestad stated that even if the Department should decide to go back to Congress three or four years from now to obtain a Foreign Affairs Personnel system such as contemplated in the Hays Bill, we could not afford to adhere in the interim to the present unsatisfactory system of using the Reserve category, which is a temporary system with no career status, to fill permanent positions in the Department. He rejected the idea of utilizing annual legislative authority to extend Reserve commissions for one year beyond the maximum of 10 years.
3
—Mr. Rimestad said there should be an identification bureau by bureau of which areas of the Department should be staffed primarily by Foreign Service personnel and which ones by permanent Civil Service officers. By way of illustration he said the geographic bureaus would be almost exclusively staffed by Foreign Service officers, the P area just the reverse, and E and INR with a more even mixture of both, recognizing that in E most of the top level positions probably would have to be Civil Service to get the kind of specialized expertise required and which the Foreign Service by its nature could not produce. In response to Mr. Hoofnagle’s inquiry, he said O/DG should prepare a memorandum for him with its conclusions and recommendations in three copies with no lateral distribution.
4
—With respect to the FSR-1 and FSR-2 officers, he said he was not interested in numbers and charts. As to those with reemployment rights (half of the total of 345) he stated there is no urgency to do anything about them at this time, indicating his recognition that there was the problem of supergrades, for which there was no immediate solution. With respect to reconverting to Civil Service, he said he had no objection so long as it was done in such a way as to avoid posing a potential public relations problem with Congress. As to the Reserve officers without reemployment rights, Mr. Rimestad wants them handled on a case-by-case basis. He is not concerned whether extensions are for one, two or five years. However, in every case where it can be demonstrated there is no further need for the services of the officer or where perform-ance is unsatisfactory, he wants their commissions terminated with reasonable notice of three to six months.
5
—Mr. Rimestad emphasized his interest in having the best man for the job, irrespective of his personnel classification (FSO, FSR, FSSO or GS). He dwelt at length on his concern at the inability of the Service to terminate the services of senior FSOs who had peaked. He described this as our most serious problem and not that of the Reserve officers, stating that we would find no sympathy at the Assistant Secretary level on terminating Reserve officers’ commissions, so long as they had officers of the latter category on their staffs who were better performers [Page 276]than senior FSOs. Although he thought reduction of the time-in-grade would go a long way to solving the problem of too many officers at the senior level, he expressed his disappointment with the functioning of the Selection Boards. He said something would have to be done to insure a higher rate of selection-out of those officers who had peaked. Mr. Belton suggested that one way to help the Selection Boards would be to provide them with material which is available but not contained in the performance files; i.e., information available concerning factors which have made it difficult to place certain FSO–2 and FSO–1 officers in senior level positions. Mr. Rimestad agreed this might help.
6
—In the foregoing connection, Mr. Boswell explained that over the past year and one-half he has talked frankly to about 200–250 officers concerning their standing in the Service; and that to all those who had reached their plateau (about 100) he had explained they could not expect to get better or more responsible position assignments. Mr. Rimestad expressed his surprise that this had not produced more voluntary retirements. He thought that once an officer is told he has no future in the Service, his pride alone would lead him to retire. Both Mr. Boswell and Mr. Belton explained that it was pride in part which motivated most officers’ decisions, under these circumstances, not to retire. Other considerations were financial. It was pointed out that unlike the military whose annuities were calculated on the basis of the base salary at the time of retirement, the FSO’s base was the average of his salary over the last five years. Mr. Boswell pointed out that with the pay increases of 1964 and 1965, waiting two to three more years would make a substantial difference for many officers in their annuity. Mr. Belton explained that there were steps which could be taken which would make for more honorable and dignified conditions of retirement which undoubtedly would lead more officers with twenty or more years of devoted service and recognized performance of quality to elect earlier retirement. In addition to improving the retirement annuity and out-placement service, Mr. Belton mentioned meaningful retirement ceremonies which gave the officer recognition for his contributions in the Service.
7
—The meeting was concluded with Mr. Rimestad suggesting that the same group meet again Friday, May 5, 1967; and that SO bring to this meeting some documented cases of senior Reserve officers and FSOs whose services were no longer required or who had plateaued with respect to performance.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, O-Files of the Deputy Under Secretary for Administration: Lot 70 D 403, ORG 1. No classification marking. Drafted by C.E. Hulick on May 2.