99. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach) to Secretary of State Rusk 1
- The Hitch Committee Report
I was unusually interested in the letter and report of the Hitch Committee,2 which you asked that I review, because the kinds of problems to which they are addressed are precisely those that have struck my attention as a recent arrival in the Department. My conclusion is that the recommendations of the committee offer a sound conceptual base—perhaps the only sound base—for rational foreign affairs planning and control among the various federal agencies.
I would, however, express two hesitations:
Making all due allowances for the fact that programmers talk in an alien tongue, I would have hoped for a report which was more illustrative, if only in a hypothetical way, to us laymen. And I would have hoped for something rather more elaborative. I suspect any decision to go ahead would have to be grounded in large measure on faith—and I am prepared to offer that faith now—but I would be more comfortable if there were some narrowing of the theological gap.
(This is said principally on the basis of the covering letter and not from the appended questions and answers. The questions evidently were intended by the Bureau of the Budget to be taken more seriously as a prod than for intrinsic interrogative purposes and it would be either unfair or irrelevant to gauge the committee recommendations on the basis of the answers it has contrived to a list of questions which appears to be, by and large, redundant and imprecise.)
The optimism of such a distinguished committee is impressive and encouraging. I understand, however, that neither Ambassadors Bunker or Merchant were able to devote significant time to the study [Page 206]and hence it might be fair to ask whether it encompasses sufficiently the knowledge or sensibilities of foreign affairs professionals.3
Neither of these hesitations is meant to diminish in the slightest my strong favorable inclination to the committee recommendations; it’s just that I would like to know a bit more.
- I recommend, that we accept the recommendations of the
committee in principle and tentatively agree to:
- Move ahead immediately with the pilot installation visualized in paragraph 3 of the covering letter (especially in an effort to begin affecting the PPB plans of other relevant agencies before they are cast in concrete);
- Organize the program, as the committee recommends, within the terms of NASM 341—that is, through the SIG-IRG mechanisms;
- Provide the degree of high-level attention which the committee believes is mandatory by avoiding the creation of still another management or planning body in the O area, but instead by attaching it directly to my office to operate in concert with the SIG;
- Begin seeking, immediately, a systems analyst of exceptional sophistication and skill—even Mr. Hitch if that is conceivable—to serve as the architect of the program and support him with whatever staff is necessary.
I would, however, also recommend that we withhold final approval now and instead accept the committee’s generous offer to continue its advisory role and ask it to prepare a supplementary report4 for us. This paper would be intended to outline more explicitly how a foreign affairs programming system might work. It should embody the advice of foreign affairs professionals.
Preferably, this would be done with minimum technical language and might take the form of a step-by-step description of how the system would apply to a specific real or hypothetical decision.
I would strongly urge that the preparation of this paper not be permitted to derail our concern and that it be done as promptly as possible—within two weeks, if that is practical.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-Katzenbach Files: Lot 74 D 271, Hitch. Unclassified; Nodis.↩
- Both attached, only the letter is printed. Hitch met with Rusk on October 13 and presented a copy of his committee’s report. In a briefing memorandum for Rusk’s meeting with Hitch, October 13, Read recommended that Rusk get Katzenbach’s views before agreeing to the report’s recommendations. (Ibid., Central Files 1964–66, ORG 1) In an October 20 memorandum for the record, [name not declassified] reported on a conversation with Robert Bonham on October 18, during which Bonham stated that, “as he understood it,” Hitch considered his meeting with Rusk a “very successful one.” Rusk “apparently had understood the thrust of the Hitch Report, appreciated the ins and outs of the problem and was prepared to act personally at an early opportunity to implement the recommendations in the report.” (Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry, Job 80–B01580R, FAPS)↩
- Merchant’s involvement in the Hitch Committee is discussed in a September 29 note to Hitch from Fisher Howe, who had “talked at some length” with Merchant about the issue, telling him that his signature on the report was of critical importance to its acceptance among Foreign Service officers. (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Hitch Committee File-Binder of Comments on Draft, Box 70, Folder C)↩
- Not found.↩
- No classification marking.↩
- Documentation of the committee’s activities, including background papers and comments by committee members on drafts of the report, are at the National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Box 70.↩
- Schultze’s letter defined the “several major issues” in terms of ten questions and proposed that the Hitch Committee address them. Schultze stated that the principal issue, in his judgment, was “the relationship between the Secretary of State’s needs and those of other agency heads in carrying out their respective responsibilities for management and program decisions.” (Ibid., Advisory Group on Foreign Affairs, Planning, Programming & Budgeting, Box 70, Folder A)↩
- The attachment, Discussion and Recommendations on The Ten Questions Concerning The Foreign Affairs Programming System, is not printed.↩
- Because of official duties, Ambassador Merchant was unable to participate in the work of this Advisory Group. [Footnote in the source text.]↩