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


  • Presidential Directive for State Department Direction, Coordination and Supervision of Interdepartmental Activities Overseas

Attached is the final draft of the foregoing directive which Max Taylor is sending forward to the President tomorrow.2 It is the result of long negotiations and has the concurrence of McNamara, JCS, Dave Bell, Admiral Raborn, and Leonard Marks, as well as Charlie Schultze. I have concurred for the Department. While some of the language is the result of compromise, I feel that it is satisfactory and fully workable.3

Max is recommending that, if the President approves this, Congressional leadership be informed (I believe that it would be especially important and courteous that Senator Jackson also be informed), and that it be launched by the President at the Cabinet meeting. (Max is aware of your reservations on a Cabinet meeting.) Following a Cabinet meeting, there could be a brief statement by Bill Moyers in the usual form of stating what was discussed at a Cabinet meeting. Max has asked me to do a draft.4

I believe that the Department should be prepared to respond immediately following the approval of the NSAM in the following manner:

The issuance of a Departmental Order covering the required organizational changes.
A meeting by you with the Assistant Secretaries at which you would discuss what you expect of the bureaus with respect to implementation of the NSAM and the organizational changes.
If there has been a White House statement on the NSAM, a brief statement by a Department spokesman at the noon briefing outlining what the Department has done to respond to the President’s directive.

Mr. Ball, Mr. Crockett, Joe Palmer, Ben Read and I have worked out, and I have discussed individually with each of the geographic bureau Assistant or Acting Assistant Secretaries, the major organizational change within the bureaus, which involves replacement of the present two levels of desk officers and Office Directors with the concept of “Country Directors”. The concept is that, contrary to the somewhat limited scope of authority and responsibility of the now relatively junior “desk officers”, all of the responsibility for U.S. Government affairs in a single country (or, in the case of minor countries, a small group of countries) would be focussed in a single senior officer (FSO 1 or 2) directly responsible to the Assistant Secretary. Everyone is in thorough accord with this change, which is in pursuance of your concept of reducing “layering” in the Department. The detailed papers on this are being prepared for your approval.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-SIG Files: Lot 70 D 263, SIG/Administrative. Confidential. A copy was sent to Ball.
  2. Approved by President 3/2/66. [Footnote handwritten on the source text. For text, see Document 56.]
  3. In a March 4 memorandum to the President, Taylor reported that Secretary of the Treasury Fowler favored the new plan but was “concerned over practical ways and means of assuring Treasury representation on the Senior Interdepartmental Group when important fiscal matters are involved,” while Secretary of Agriculture Freeman favored the plan but feared that it would create problems in Congress which would “arise from fear that all U.S. business abroad is being turned over to the State Department.” Secretary of Commerce Connor favored the plan “without reservation.” (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Report to President Johnson, 1/17/66, Box 63, Folder E) In letters to Fowler, Freeman, and Connor, April 9, Rusk assured each Secretary that his representative would participate fully in meetings of the SIG and the IRGs when his Department had an interest. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-Ball Files: Lot 74 D 272, SIG, Miscellaneous)
  4. See Document 58 for more information on the activities noted in this and the next paragraph in connection with the promulgation of NSAM 341.