254. Memorandum for the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (Taylor)1


  • The 303 Committee, Senior Interdepartmental Group and the Interdepartmental Regional Groups
This memorandum and its book of attachments2 are for your information. It contains no action recommendations. Its purposes are to review the responsibilities of the 303 Committee and the Senior Interdepartmental Group (SIG) including its subordinate mechanisms and to describe CIA’s relationships with those groups. Policy approval of covert action is the concern of the 303 Committee; interdepartmental activities overseas are the concern of the SIG.

The 303 Committee

The National Security Council has placed the responsibility for covert actions on CIA and has required that covert operations are planned and conducted in a manner consistent with United States foreign and military policies and with overt activities, and correlated with espionage and counterespionage operations. Further, the NSC has stipulated that, except as the President otherwise directs, designated representatives of the Secretary of State and of the Secretary of Defense, and a representative of the President designated for this purpose are to be advised in advance for policy approval of major covert programs initiated by CIA or otherwise directed. This directive is NSC 5412/2 (Attachment A). These designated representatives, together with the DCI are known as the 303 Committee, after NSAM 303 (Attachment B). Formerly they were referred to as the Special Group 5412. Proposed paramilitary operations, either overt or covert, are also approved by the 303 Committee (NSAM 57, Attachment C).

The present membership is:

  • Mr. Walt Rostow, Chairman and the President’s Representative
  • Mr. Foy Kohler, State
  • Mr. Cyrus Vance, Department of Defense
  • Mr. Richard Helms, DCI

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The Chairman briefs the President on the Committee’s decisions.


CIA Procedures Relative to the 303 Committee

The decision to submit an operational program or activity to the 303 Committee is made by the Director. However, guidelines have been established which, along with internal procedures, are reviewed in Clandestine Services Instruction 50–20 (Attachment D). Coordination within CIA of the proposals includes review and approval by the DDP, the Executive Director-Comptroller (for fiscal authorities) and the DCI before being presented to the representatives of the President and the Secretaries of State and Defense. The DDI also reviews the proposal for the validity of the intelligence base underlying it and may comment directly to the DCI. This internal coordination is managed by the Special Group Officer [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], a member of the Staff of the DDP.

Coordination, external to CIA, of the proposals for covert operations is accomplished in two steps. First, the Chief of the Clandestine Services Area Division advancing the proposal secures the approval of the regional Assistant Secretary of State concerned with the proposal. Ordinarily, this has been preceded by the approval of the Ambassador to the country concerned with relevant communications between the Ambassador and State Department and the CIA Station Chief and CIA Headquarters. In some instances, the proposed covert action has been suggested by the Ambassador or the Country Team.

Second, with approval of the proposal by the DCI, the proposal in the form of a “303 Committee Memorandum” is referred to the other Committee principals. The DCI’s representative at the Executive Office Building (Mr. Peter Jessup), who is also the Secretary of the Committee, transmits the proposals to and briefs the representatives of the President and is in liaison with the representative of the Secretary of State. The DCI’s representative in DOD [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] briefs the representative of the Secretary of Defense. Normally, the proposals are “staffed” by Defense and State on a high executive level.

The 303 Committee ordinarily meets weekly on late Thursday afternoons in the White House Situation Room to consider proposals released by the DCI and circulated in the previous week.


The Senior Interdepartmental Group and the Interdepartmental Regional Groups

The President has assigned to the Secretary of State authority and responsibility to the full extent permitted by law for the overall direction, coordination and supervision of interdepartmental activities of the United States Government overseas. The Secretary of State is empowered to discharge these authorities through the Under Secretary of State and the regional Assistant Secretaries of State.

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The enabling Presidential directive, NSAM #341 (Attachment E) established a Senior Interdepartmental Group (SIG) to assist the Secretary of State and regional interdepartmental groups (IRG’s) to assist the regional Secretaries. The SIG also was assigned the responsibilities of the Special Group (CI). The Under Secretary of State is the Executive Chairman of the SIG and the regional Secretaries are Executive Chairmen of their interdepartmental groups. The Executive Chairmen have full powers of decision on all matters within their purview. Individual members of the SIG and the IRG’s, however, who do not concur may request referral of a matter to the decision of the next higher authority. The regional Assistant Secretaries, as Executive Chairmen, have the responsibility for assuring the adequacy of U.S. policy and programs for the countries in their regions.

The DCI is a member of the SIG and has designated the Chiefs of the CS Area Divisions as the CIA members of the five Interdepartmental Regional Groups (IRG’s) whose jurisdictions correspond to those of the geographic bureaus of the Department of State. Attachment F lists the members of the SIG and the State and CIA representatives on the IRG’s.

The authorities assigned in NSAM #341, related as they are to interdepartmental activities overseas, do not affect the DCI’s authorities and responsibilities arising from the National Security Act of 1947, as amended or invalidate other executive directives, i.e., the NSCID’s and NSC Directive 5412/2. Consequently, the participation of the CS Division Chiefs on the IRG’s is separate from their liaison and coordination with the regional Assistant Secretaries of State on covert action and related intelligence matters. Further, covert action matters which fall within the purview of the 303 Committee are not considered in the SIG, the IRG’s and their subcommittees.


CIA Procedures Relative to the SIG and IRG’s

Normally, the Staff Director, SIG prepares and circulates the agenda and related papers to the members in the week preceding the SIG meeting which is scheduled routinely on Tuesday afternoons in the Under Secretary’s Conference Room. Agenda items are recommended to the Executive Chairman by the SIG members and the Executive Chairmen of the IRG’s. Those from the latter are frequently in response to earlier directives from the SIG.

The Special Group Officer [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] is the point of contact in CIA for SIG matters for other member agencies and, in CIA, provides staff support to the DCI to accomplish internal coordination on SIG papers. Normally, this means analysis of the SIG paper by appropriate elements of the DDP and DDI and the preparation by the Special Group Officer of an “Agency position” on the matter which is presented to the DCI in a briefing book.

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On Monday of each week, the DDI prepares an Intelligence Report exclusively for the SIG. The substance of the Report is not necessarily related to the agenda of the SIG meeting for the following day. Rather, on a world-wide scale, the Report attempts to forewarn the SIG of developing situations in countries or areas where there are signs of potential crisis or subversive aggression. Attachment G is a recent Report.

The Chiefs of the CS Area Divisions, as CIA representatives on the IRG’s, coordinate IRG matters with other CIA components and keep the DDP and the DCI advised of IRG matters and decisions made by the IRG’s. The DDI has designated Regional Contact officers to provide intelligence support to these CIA representatives.

Pertinent internal CIA directives relative to these procedures are Attachment H (HR 50–9) and I (CSI 50–25).

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDI Files, Job 79–01201A, SIG Procedures and Support. Secret; Eyes Only. A log in the folder in which the memorandum is filed dates it September 1966. The recipient of the memorandum, Vice Admiral Rufus Taylor, was appointed DDCI by the President on September 20, confirmed by the Senate on October 7, and sworn in on October 13. The memorandum was sent to Taylor via the Deputy Director for Plans, but it contains no drafting information.
  2. None of the attachments is printed.