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.

In summary:

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.

Nicholas deB. Katzenbach


[Page 207]

Letter From the Advisory Group on Foreign Affairs Planning, Programming, and Budgeting to Secretary of State Rusk

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are pleased to submit the first report of your Advisory Group on Foreign Affairs Planning, Programming, and Budgeting.

We believe that a well designed programming system, including the necessary program planning and analysis, can provide you with a major tool for carrying out your responsibility for the direction, coordination, and supervision of the foreign affairs activities of the U.S. Government. While a great deal of careful, step-by-step development will be needed, we see no technical obstacle to an integrated programming system within the federal government that will meet your requirements in the management of foreign affairs, while adequately providing for the diverse needs of other agency heads as well. In addition, we should like to offer a general recommendation that the State Department exercise the role in the U.S. foreign affairs community envisioned in NSAM 341 by assuming leadership in the early establishment of an integrated foreign affairs programming system.

This report is based on the initial meeting of the Advisory Group on June 13, 1966 (separately reported on June 29); our second meeting on September 19, 1966; and the considerable work by and on behalf of the Advisory Group since its establishment.6

Primarily, this report sets forth our views regarding the “several major issues” raised by the Director of the Bureau of the Budget in his letter to you of June 8, 1966.7 Our recommendations concerning each of the ten specific questions are presented in detail in the attachment.8 [Page 208]We hope that these answers will provide you with a basis for responding to the Budget Bureau. Our consideration of these questions has convinced us that any such list of questions is necessarily dynamic, and that new issues must be addressed to sustaining progress in establishing the foreign affairs programming system.

In addition, we should like to offer the following suggestions as to the next steps to be taken following your decision to proceed with the establishment of a foreign affairs planning, programming, and budgeting system.

We believe that the key initial step to the successful installation of such a system is the selection of a qualified Director to develop the kind of professional analytic capability required and to guide the early evolution of the system. He should be placed at the head of a staff of analysts and programmers in the immediate office of the Under Secretary of State, who serves also as the executive chairman of the Senior Interdepartmental Group.
The development of the system should be an inter-agency effort under State leadership within the framework of the Government-wide requirements defined by the Bureau of the Budget. The other foreign affairs agencies should be solicited for inputs to the final system design. A start in this direction has been made through the several meetings of the Inter-Agency Working Group.
We have studied alternative schedules for installation of the system. One doctrine suggests a thorough, relatively slow approach hopefully requiring little future modification of the system once it is established. Another view stresses the desirability of sustaining the present momentum and the value of early application to the FY 69 budget review. We recommend the latter approach, and we further recommend that an actual pilot installation of the system (not a trial run) be made in at least one region, such as Latin America or Africa, as part of the FY 69 budget cycle. Included should be the preparation of program memoranda on specific countries and the region as a whole. Because of time constraints, work on this pilot installation should be started immediately.
We see the need for several simultaneous efforts of a technical nature, including (a) identification for inclusion in the system of those activities of the federal government whose primary function is the support of foreign affairs; (b) development of an integrated foreign affairs program structure; and (c) preparation of a detailed, time-phased development plan for the installation of the system.
To explore the question of how best to establish a management system of this kind in the foreign affairs environment, we have asked Dr. Chris Argyris [Page 209]to head a special subcommittee of the Advisory Group. He will study and report on a number of facets of this subject, including the need for training programs and seminars and ways to minimize internal resistances and generate positive support.

While the management of the technical tasks can and must be the responsibility of permanent staffs, we are willing to continue to serve in an advisory capacity if you so desire. The Advisory Group believes that it can usefully continue its examination of some of the foregoing matters, the problems assigned to Dr. Argyris’ subcommittee, and other issues that are likely to develop as you proceed with the development of the system.

We fully realize that the tasks that lie ahead will not be easy. Accomplishing them will require the combined efforts of the major foreign affairs agencies and the Bureau of the Budget. We feel that personal participation and involvement by you and your principal deputies is essential to achieve this objective, particularly to ensure cooperation of other agencies with the State Department. Indeed, we believe it important to emphasize that, contrary to widespread misunderstanding, the effective use of the programming instrument is not a simple administrative matter but calls for the most penetrating understanding of foreign policy and the foreign affairs process. It will challenge the most competent officers of the Department and Foreign Service. Your Advisory Group believes that it is worth the effort and that an integrated foreign affairs programming system can be a most useful tool in achieving the objectives of NSAM 341.

We want to express our pleasure in having the opportunity to be of assistance to you on this vital and urgent matter.

Respectfully submitted,

  • Charles J. Hitch, Chairman
  • Chris Argyris
  • David E. Bell
  • Stewart P. Blake
  • Ellsworth Bunker
  • John Diebold
  • Alain Enthoven
  • Rensis Likert
  • Livingston T. Merchant 9
  • Frederick C. Mosher
  • Henry S. Rowen
  • Maxwell D. Taylor
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-Katzenbach Files: Lot 74 D 271, Hitch. Unclassified; Nodis.
  2. 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)
  3. 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)
  4. Not found.
  5. No classification marking.
  6. 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.
  7. 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)
  8. The attachment, Discussion and Recommendations on The Ten Questions Concerning The Foreign Affairs Programming System, is not printed.
  9. Because of official duties, Ambassador Merchant was unable to participate in the work of this Advisory Group. [Footnote in the source text.]