99. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Defense Program Review Committee (DPRC) Working Group Procedures

As I am indicating in a separate memorandum to you,2 I am concerned about the role and utilization of the DPRC. It appears the DPRC may not be addressing the major and critical task for which it was established. Rather, the DPRC appears to be addressing other issues—of importance, to be sure—but for which other institutional arrangements for resolution already exist.

We agree, presumably, there is inadequate analysis of the distribution of resources within the public sector. The following outline illustrates, using Defense as an example, the chain of allocation decisions which must be made:

Sector and Optimization Level

Overall US Economy—Consumer vs. Business vs. Gvt Uses
Within Government Sector—Federal vs. State vs. Local
Among Federal Govt Uses—Defense vs. HEW vs. Trnsp, etc.
Within Defense—Strategic vs. GenPurp vs. R&D, etc.
Within a Given Def Use—ICBMs vs. SLBMs vs. Bombers
Within a Given System—MinMan vs. Titan, vs. Other
Within a Particular Weapon—Warhead vs. Guidance vs. Pen Aids, etc.

The DPRC should, in my judgment, address the optimizations at the first three levels, as outlined above. We have existing and appropriate arrangements for considering the lower-level optimizations. (I will soon forward to you a proposed DPRC agenda for the next six months.) Given those fundamentals, I believe it is desirable to reassess the role and mechanics of a DPRC Working Group. It is not clear a Working Group, in a formal sense, would be needed.

As you note in your memoranda, DOD will normally be the agency most concerned with the issues before the DPRC. Under your proposed procedure, the Working Group would thus usually be referring its work to DOD. Given this situation, I believe it is essential that a DPRC Working Group be chaired by someone within DOD, that is, if the Working Group is to be maintained. I would designate my Assistant Secretary for Systems Analysis, Dr. Gardiner Tucker, to direct such DPRC Staff work.

Melvin R. Laird
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–098, Defense Program Review Committee Meetings, DPRC General 1969–Feb. 1970. Confidential.
  2. Document 98.