121. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bator) to the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach)1


  • Lawrence Eagleburger

Attached is a copy of the efficiency report2 I have just completed on Lawrence Eagleburger, FSO–4, who has been working with me for the past year. I send it to you because it seems to me that Eagleberger’s case is an example of some of the things that are wrong with the present Foreign Service personnel system. I know this is not a simple problem and that it is not entirely within your control, but it may be useful for you to have object examples in order to argue for reform.

As the report indicates, Eagleburger is a first class young officer. He was Dean Acheson’s assistant during the 1966 exercise on European policy, and has worked effectively for me for the past year. I think he is more than ready for a serious, responsible position in one of our major European embassies. But I know this will mean swimming up-stream. At age 37, after more than ten years in the service and excellent efficiency reports throughout, he is in Class 4. Under normal circumstances, he must look forward to another five years or so of subordinate positions before he is ready to head up a section in a major embassy.

What is so sad about this is that, far from lagging behind, Eagleburger is among the very few in his entering group who have reached Class 4. He was barely eligible to be promoted to Class 3 in the last annual series; I recommended him very strongly. In its wisdom, however, the Department elected not to recommend a promotion because of the large number of people who had spent more time in Class 4.

In my judgment, this is the practice which is losing the Foreign Service many of its best young people. I wonder how you or I might choose if we were in our late 30s with 10 years of experience in our craft and were faced with a further 5–7 years of apprenticeship before we could count on running even one section of an embassy staff in a country that mattered? Obviously, for the really good people, the chances that they will choose Foreign Service in these circumstances—over the many alternatives in and out of government—are just terribly small. [Page 281] The proof of the pudding is the exodus of good, middle-rank officers which, I understand, has now been going on for several years.

I don’t wish to preach, cushioned by the fact that I am not responsible for running a sensible personnel operation. But I strongly believe that in Eagleburger’s case—and in others I know about-failure to make special arrangements for especially good people costs the Department and Foreign Service much more than they gain by their current “even-handedness.” There have been many attempts to grapple with this problem, and no outstanding successes. I hope you’ll have better luck.

End of speech. Consider it my valedictory—with the license accorded those about to depart.

Francis M. Bator 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, Bator Papers, Chron File. Personal; Sensitive.
  2. Not attached.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.