156. Memorandum From Philip A. Odeen of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

    • National Energy Office Organization

Charles DiBona has been offered a position heading up a new White House-based organization which would provide a focal point for coordination and direction of national energy policies and programs. He has apparently been offered the position by John Ehrlich-man and DiBona has forwarded his views (Tab B)2 on how the office would function for you, John Ehrlichman, and George Shultz as the “Special Energy Committee” that will make substantive decisions on energy matters.

Mr. DiBona recommends that his new organization be structured much like the National Security Council and the Council on International Economic Policy. In his capacity as “Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy Matters,” DiBona would work for the Special Energy Committee in developing and monitoring an overall national energy policy. As such, his role would include:

  • —Defining the policy options and collecting analysis through an interagency working arrangement modeled along the lines of a miniature NSC. Policy decisions would be published through the use of decision memos much like the NSDM.
  • —Having a say in the new legislation applicable to the many semi-independent agencies involved with energy (e.g., the Federal Power Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Atomic Energy Commission).
  • —He would not appear before Congress but he would make public announcements, hold press briefings, etc.


Because the energy problem is so broad and does not naturally fall under any existing agency’s responsibility, there is a clear need for some focal point in the government charged with the responsibility of generating [Page 395] alternatives for Presidential decision and monitoring decisions on energy matters.

Two alternative organizational approaches have been under active discussion:

  • —One would place the focal point for management within a beefed-up Department of the Interior with a new “Assistant Secretary for Energy.” White House staff participation would be limited to a one or two man liaison office, probably in CIEP or the Domestic Council. Primary coordination and policy formulation would be the responsibility of the Secretary of Interior.
  • —A second option would focus the policy making and control function in the White House staff. The agencies’ policy role in this case is reduced to responding to study requests and forwarding their proposal to the responsible White House official.

Mr. DiBona’s proposal appears to be a sensible attempt to implement the second alternative. But, there are also problems which I foresee with his proposal as it now stands. In particular:

  • —As national energy head, DiBona will be working for three assistants to the President—Shultz, Ehrlichman, and yourself, a very difficult situation at best. His proposal now contemplates “walking papers through each of the principals” which I know would be infeasible on a continuing basis. To make this system work smoothly, DiBona should be directed to work with specific individuals from each of the three groups concerned—the NSC, the Council on Economic Policy, and the Domestic Council.
  • —Secondly, DiBona makes no allowance for control over the government energy research and development programs, a vital area of national policy which sorely needs coordination. Elements of energy related research and development programs are scattered between AEC and Interior and they need unified policy direction. Before industry can make enlightened investment decisions and embark on needed programs of research and development, some coordinated government energy policy will have to be developed.
  • —Finally, Mr. DiBona proposes that his group manage the analyses of both the domestic and international aspects of the energy problem. This has real drawbacks. I believe analysis of the foreign policy and national security aspects of the problem should be carried out within the National Security Council framework if those aspects are to be given the weight they deserve and not be subordinated to purely domestic concerns. Our fuel needs are already impacting heavily on our foreign policy posture and in turn our security posture throughout the Near East. They will increasingly affect the conduct of our affairs with Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union. I see no problem in DiBona being tasked with the preparation of issue and options [Page 396] papers but I believe you should ensure that these aspects be considered under your direction. The international economic aspects of the energy problem will, of course, be handled by George Shultz’s Council on Economic Policy but again these must be coordinated with you.

I have prepared a memo from you to John Ehrlichman giving general approval to Mr. DiBona’s proposal and commenting along the lines outlined above. The memo also designates me as the NSC representative for general energy matters. Obviously, energy questions have broad application and I will be careful to coordinate within the NSC staff.


That you sign the memo at Tab A.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 250, Agency Files, National Energy Office, Vol. I, March 1972–February 1973. No classification marking. Concurred in by Hormats and Kennedy.
  2. Not printed. Tab B is a January 18 memorandum from DiBona to Shultz, Kissinger, and Ehrlichman.
  3. Attached but not printed. The copy bears no date or signature. There is no indication as to whether Kissinger approved Odeen’s recommendation, although Kissinger later suggested that DiBona work through the NSC Staff. See Document 159.