14. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson1


  • Statement Requested at Cabinet Meeting November 19, 1964

Your request, at the Cabinet Meeting of November 19, for new proposals and tough-minded reforms provides a particularly appropriate starting point for a brief outline of some of the more significant ideas we have been developing. Certain of them may be cited as accomplishments on which we shall build as a continuing operational matter. Others are of a magnitude which requires phasing over a relatively long period. The latter, for the most part, are of a type which should be peaked in 1965 at the start of a new cycle of accomplishment.

At the outset I would emphasize again that the State Department (excluding AID and the Peace Corps) does not carry out large scale operating programs such as are found in most departments. The conduct of foreign affairs is improved as institutional arrangements are made more effective, as manpower is better deployed and utilized, and as the information basic to decision-making is more complete, accurate and immediately available.

Given the unique nature of the Department’s responsibilities, I am satisfied that we have pursued, during the past four years, a comprehensive, hard-hitting and consistent attack on inefficient, out-dated and marginal operations. This has included increasing productivity in passport and consular activities, closing marginal posts, automating routine processes, trimming publications and reports requirements, and the like. We estimate that improvements of this kind have made it possible to reprogram some $4.5 million.

Efforts to interest other countries in sharing the cost of cultural exchange activities have been similarly successful. Agreements have been negotiated with five countries and are now pending with three others.

Throughout this period I have personally maintained a policy of avoiding substantial increases in personnel. Indeed, despite the increased number of independent countries with which we now maintain diplomatic relations, and the growing complexity of foreign affairs, the Department’s employment has remained stable.

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Against this background of solid progress and with necessary support and resources, we can be confident of solving the larger management problems that still require action. High on this list is further modernization of our world-wide telegraphic and voice communications facilities. We also have much to do to strengthen and tighten security protective measures domestically and overseas.

With respect to our public services, the Department is drafting legislation to extend the period of validity of passports. This will save manpower, and, perhaps more importantly, make things simpler and more convenient for the taxpayer.

In cooperation with the other foreign affairs agencies and the Bureau of the Budget we have begun a comprehensive study of the information needs, current handling processes, and filing and referral methods in State, AID, USIA, and ACDA. The study constitutes the initial effort in the design and development of a modern system for managing the flow, dissemination, storage and retrieval of information essential to sound and timely decision-making.

At a number of posts in Africa we have combined administrative organizations which serve State, AID, USIA and other post elements. This program of consolidation is being expanded to other regions, with special focus in the coming year on Latin America. We have invited Defense to participate in planning for a single administrative organization at each post to include full support to military service missions and attachés.

State, Defense and the Budget Bureau have joined in a study of the role of Defense representation at our embassies. We should now move aggressively to examine the larger question of total United States representation overseas, including the specialized missions, services and representatives of other agencies of Government. I view this as a most difficult task, but one which is too important to be ignored.

This leaves one final matter I should like to bring to your attention at this time—the need for completing the development of a strong, simplified foreign affairs structure. In 1961 when AID, the Peace Corps and ACDA were created, there was clear affirmation that the Secretary of State has positive leadership responsibility for foreign affairs operations. Your own decisions with respect to policy and program leadership of activities affecting Latin America have had a profound influence on foreign affairs management.

These two basic organizational developments have most certainly strengthened the conduct of foreign affairs. However, there continues to be more committee and liaison arrangements, more meetings, more collateral clearances, and more parallel operations than are acceptable in a world where timely, well-considered action on matters of foreign policy [Page 27] has become a vital necessity. I will have specific recommendations to further strengthen and unify the organization for your consideration shortly.

Reports on the AID and Peace Corps programs are being submitted separately.2

Dean Rusk 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Department of State, Vol. 5. No classification marking.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.