322. Letter From the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy in Japan (Sneider) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration (Macomber)1

Dear Bill:

I am writing to you in your capacity as the representative of that corporate body which produced the Task Force recommendations on the management of foreign affairs. I have now had an opportunity to read through most of these reports and feel very strongly that the tremendous effort that has gone into preparing them deserves recognition from the field. While one could argue about some details, for my money it is the best set of recommendations on reorganization of the Service and the Department that has yet been produced and a clear demonstration that inhouse reorganization plans are far more realistic and understanding of the needs of the Service than anything that can be done from the outside. The Task Force reports testify to the fact that we are still a very vital and dynamic Service with powers of self-criticism and self-analysis.

For what value they may be, I would like to add a few comments, largely in support of the recommendations in the report. One theme that runs through practically all the Task Force reports impressed me [Page 716]particularly, namely: that there is recognition throughout of the changing character of both our international responsibilities and of the personnel now entering the Foreign Service field. After being away from the field for four years, I have been constantly impressed in Tokyo by the changes during this period both in the nature of the work we must perform and the type of people we are now attracting into the Service. The younger officers are truly a very different generation and a different breed. While some of us old timers might squirm occasionally, recalling the “good old days,” it is incumbent upon us to face up to this reality. The alternative, which I have seen too often, is for these younger officers to fly the coop. The abler ones have really no difficulty in finding responsible and much better paying jobs and we just have to dig in and fight to retain these people. The key factors in holding the abler, younger officers seem to be a well-ordered personnel structure, as recommended, sufficient scope in every assignment to challenge their imagination and initiative (too much layering in an Embassy hurts), and a more democratic—freer interchange between all levels (the use of titles can be a two-way barrier in Embassies). What this adds up to is an endorsement of the basic thrust of the Task Force reports. On specifics, the new promotion and retirement systems recommended make particularly good sense to me.

On the subject of Embassy organization, my limited experience as DCM in Tokyo leads me to two primary conclusions. First, a major organizational problem remains with integrating the non-State agencies—and there are a flock of these in Tokyo. Secondly, I would heartily endorse the recommendations on defining the DCM’s responsibilities, while still leaving scope for the Ambassador’s individual tastes. The DCM position is perhaps the most amorphous and undefined role in the Embassy—ranging very greatly from post to post.

Finally, while I do not think that anyone would disagree with the need for stronger managerial tools and training, there is a danger of overemphasis in this direction. I hope that, in recognizing that foreign affairs is big business and needs effective management, we do not lose sight of the need for men with that unusual combination of perception, courage, wisdom and diplomatic skills that make the best of our Service. Inevitably, we are faced with making judgments and policy recommendations on the basis of less than complete data, judgments that often need the wisdom of experience and instinct. Yet, all this—I must assume—can be encompassed in the management basket, if we do not get too automated.

All the very best.

Sincerely,

Dick
Minister
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Management, Management Reform Task Force Papers: Lot 74 D 394, Task Force Files, August 14 thru 31, 1970. Official–Informal; Unclassified. Commentary on the task force reports from Ambassadors and other Embassy officials in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Western Hemisphere is ibid.