124. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State’s Special Assistant (Rosenthal) to the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach)1


Here are a few personnel thoughts.

Insularity might be typed as the largest of the obvious personnel problems. This embraces the following: [Page 284]

Insularity as reflected in the premium placed (esp. by promotion panels) on straight political work within the Department. As a consequence it is difficult to get officers into other foreign affairs agencies (e.g. your conversation with Vaughn, AID, even Agriculture).

This problem is of course paralleled by the problem those agencies have of getting able people.

Insularity as reflected in lack—almost absolute lack for most officers—of any contact with Congress.
Ditto for press and public relations, although a fair number of officers get PAA (Public Affairs Adviser) type assignments from time to time.
Insularity as reflected in the low priority and low percentage of time devoted to further education—as I recall the comparison with DOD is something like 5 percent versus 12 percent for the amount of time spent on outside education during an average officer’s career. N.B. the fact that Tony Lake had to sweat to get leave without pay, and will take a financial beating to do so.
Insularity as reflected in the isolation from private industry, whether in terms of business thinking, modern management methods, or in serving as an emissary to dinosaurs.
Size is an equal problem, which I put second only because it could be largely if not completely solved with the solutions to the Insularity point (i.e. farming out officers to school, private industry, other agencies, and the Hill would take a good deal of the pressure off).
One manifestation of the problem is the overage in class 1 and 2, which is reason for concern in and of itself (because of makework, phony titles, increase of layering, and morale).
Probably the more damaging manifestation is with respect to younger officers (e.g. the observation of one AF Country Director that he was doing the same thing as country director that he did as desk officer 20 years ago, only under a different title). Under this heading should come both the expressed and unarticulated damage—the almost open revolt of the Junior Foreign Service Officers Club (J’FSOC), as well as the painful lack of responsibility by comparison with bright young men in other agencies (e.g. Henry Ruth or Bill Pittman at age 35 vs. any FSO at age 35).

Recruiting cannot help but be damaged by these factors. I don’t know of a quantitative measurement but I would strongly suppose the present quality of younger officers is diminishing. Some of this surely would be because of Viet-Nam disenchantment on the campus. But is that the only reason?

Another facet of this question is whether we make implied, dishonest promises about where a Foreign Service career will lead. What [Page 285] proportion become Ambassadors? Why, in view of the low proportion, do some Ambassadors get two or three posts?

A more specific aspect is Negro recruiting, about which Eddie Williams has written a comprehensive report2 with the problems cleanly stated but with rather far-out solutions recommended.

Responsibility for selection of subordinates is possibly separable as a topic. You know my nutty thoughts about this in extenso. Whether one agrees with the solution or not, I believe the problem is unarguable. Why do we go through the motions of a centralized system when assignments are by and large the subject of private negotiations between bureau heads? Why a Senior Assignments Board except to ratify what has already been decided?
You may or may not wish to bring up the question of politicizing Assistant and Deputy Assistant Secretaries (with a fallback to the top of GS-15).
JR 3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-Katzenbach Files: Lot 74 D 271, Rosenthal, Jack. No classification marking.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.