271. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach) to President Johnson1
- The Intelligence Information-Handling Problem
The Secretary has asked me to examine the present and prospective needs for information handling in the Department of State in the light of the welcome initiative and recommendations recently made by your Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.2 I am enclosing a memorandum which sets forth our position on those recommendations.
In essence, the Department strongly favors new efforts to improve information handling within the intelligence community and shares the view of the Board that immediate, concerted action is required.
Our objective is to provide the leadership in the foreign affairs agencies with a common data base of relevant facts. We believe that, to assure the adoption of complementary elements of a unified system by all members of the community, thorough coordination is called for, and that the Director of Central Intelligence should be designated as coordinator. Until further study has been made of the needs of each agency and the scope of the proposed system, it seems premature to determine the extent to which centralized management may be required in either the design or the operation of the eventual system, and we believe that the recommendations of the Board should be amended in this respect.
We realize that until the present financial uncertainties facing the Government are resolved, designs and plans for a comprehensive information-handling system must be considered tentative and preparatory. The costs will be considerable, and our memorandum discusses the need for a carefully-formulated funding plan and Congressional strategy.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, INT 8 US. Confidential. An attached November 6 covering memorandum from Thomas L. Hughes (INR) to Katzenbach indicates that his staff had revised the memorandum and its attachment in accordance with Katzenbach’s guidance provided in his October 14 memorandum to Hughes. In that memorandum, also attached, Katzenbach complained that the Department of State paper had “an overly bureaucratic tone,” and he suggested it should be revised to “stress the substantive necessity of having such a system as our intelligence resources increase. The means we choose to achieve control over our resources should be secondary to the fact that we must find some way to create a common data base. This data base must enable us to distinguish between the relevant facts from the mass of information flowing into the Government.” He also proposed deletion of discussion about foreign service reporting which, he felt, was “a problem to be dealt with at a much later stage when we discuss how information from the common data base is to be distributed.”↩
- Document 268.↩
- Document 56.↩
- Dated January 19, 1950; printed in Foreign Relations, 1945–1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, Document 432.↩