48. Draft Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson) to Secretary of State Rusk1


  • (1) Establishment of Interagency Regional Policy Committees chaired by geographic assistant secretaries
  • (2) Reconstitution of Special Group (CI) to form a broad based Seventh Floor chaired high level interagency coordinating committee

This memorandum recommends for your approval two levels of organizational moves designed to improve the Department’s coordination [Page 105] and guidance to other agencies with foreign affairs concerns and to promote a more systematic handling of major policy questions. Messrs. Ball, Mann and Harriman concur in these recommendations.

1. Establishment of Regional Policy Committees—The memo at Tab A2 from the Under Secretary to the regional assistant secretaries would request them to set up and chair interagency committees made up of their counterparts in AID, USIA, DOD and CIA, and on invitation when appropriate, similar level representatives from other departments and agencies. The bureaus would be expected to bring up in the committees on a systematic basis the most significant problems confronting the USG in their areas which involve substantial interagency considerations and to seek to insure interagency understanding and implementation of established policies. By this means it is hoped, leadership over area affairs can be centered more fully in the bureaus, where it belongs in the first instance, and the present rather haphazard approach to interagency relations would by systematized and strengthened.



Discuss with U, M, G

2. Reorganization of Special Group (CI)—The second proposal at Tab B3 is designed to take advantage of the study of the Special Group (CI) now being carried out by General Taylor to create a broader and regular forum, chaired by State, for consideration of the most important foreign policy problems requiring inter-agency coordination above the Assistant Secretary level. Normally G would chair the group; M would do so on economic matters; occasionally U or S would be asked to chair when warranted by the importance of the subject. We believe that the top officers in other agencies of the national security community would be glad to see State exert its leadership responsibilities in more regular ways than presently provided by various ad hoc arrangements. Reorganization of the Special Group (CI) is the procedure recommended. Much of the present work of that group could be turned back to the bureaus except for retention of higher level supervision by the reorganized Special Group. However as the present Special Group (CI) is a going entity with almost the same membership we would wish on a committee with wider jurisdiction, its reorganization provides a good vehicle for seeking to accomplish our larger objectives. Gov. Harriman would of course be asked to participate in the reorganized Special [Page 106] Group whenever it takes up CI problems or otherwise as he may desire. If you agree with this recommendation in principle, I think we could gain the support of McGeorge Bundy and Max Taylor and would attempt to do so before asking your final approval for the NSAM setting up the group. A NSAM signed by the President is the procedure we recommend, since that was the means used to set up the Special Group in 1961.

Approve in principle


Discuss with U, M, G4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Bromley Smith Papers, Organization of SIG. No classification marking. No indication has been found that the memorandum was signed and forwarded to Rusk, but at some point it was made available to Bromley Smith, NSC Executive Secretary. In Smith’s files it is attached to a copy of a December 10 memorandum from Schwartz to Taylor, which refers to an attached draft of a reorganization plan. However, attached to the original of Schwartz’s memorandum in the Taylor Papers at National Defense University is a different plan for reorganizing the Special Group that clearly is the plan to which Schwartz’s covering memorandum refers. (Box 63, Folder II, NSAM 341 & Related Items)

    U. Alexis Johnson recounted his role in the development of the SIG-IRG system in The Right Hand of Power: The Memoirs of an American Diplomat (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984), pp. 398–401.

  2. Dated November 5; not printed.
  3. Attached but not printed is a November 1 draft NSAM reconstituting the Special Group and broadening its authority.
  4. None of the options was checked under either numbered paragraph.