120. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Pickering) to Department of State Principals, Assistant Secretaries of State, and Office Directors1


  • Staff Meetings

On the basis of his experience to date with the different types of staff meetings, both in terms of subject matter and attendance, the Secretary has decided to refine further the purposes of these meetings.2 He has approved a new schedule of staff meetings, with a varied composition and focus, to achieve the purposes of providing him with more thoughtful and careful analysis, bringing him up to date on major operational problems and issues, and also providing him with opportunities to inform the Department of his thinking on major problems of foreign policy.

1. Principals and Regional Assistant Secretaries Meetings—These meetings will henceforth be held twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, with the same attendance as in the past, and will be mainly operational in focus. In addition, the Secretary expects that they will be used from time to time for analytical discussions when the subject is broad enough to be of general interest to the participants. Consequently, S/S, in coordination with S/PC, will be soliciting from, as well as proposing to, the regional bureaus such broader topics for consideration at these meetings. As in the past, heads of relevant functional bureaus will be invited when there is a topic of direct interest to them and they may, in turn, suggest to S/S and S/PC topics of broad interest for consideration at these sessions.

2. Meetings with Functional Bureau Heads—To replace the present Tuesday and Thursday meetings with functional bureau heads in the [Page 427] Department and with the Directors of ACDA, AID, and USIA, the Secretary has decided upon a meeting every Tuesday with a small group of functional bureau heads in which the Principals would also participate. Included in this group are the Assistant Secretaries for International Organization Affairs, Economic and Business Affairs, Congressional Relations, the new Bureau of Oceans Environment Technology (in the interim the Director of the Bureau of International Scientific and Technological Affairs), the Directors of Politico-Military Affairs and Intelligence and Research, and the Legal Adviser. In addition to this small group, attendance at the Tuesday meeting will include the heads of ACDA, AID and USIA or any Assistant Secretary (from a regional or a functional bureau) when a topic of interest to them is being discussed. As is the case with the Regional Assistant Secretaries meetings, heads of bureaus which are not regular participants may suggest topics which are of general interest and would profit from a discussion at a staff meeting. While some of the topics for the Tuesday agenda will be operational, we would prefer and expect to schedule items which are analytical in nature at each meeting. Therefore, S/S, in coordination with S/PC, will be soliciting from, as well as proposing to, the bureaus such broader topics for consideration at these meetings as well.

3. Analytical Policy Planning Meetings—Each Friday, the Secretary will meet with a small group, whose composition will be determined by the topic, to discuss papers devoted to major foreign policy issues. For these meetings the Director of S/PC, in coordination with S/S, will oversee the preparation of thoughtful analytical papers to make the discussion as fruitful as possible. In the preparation of these papers, S/PC will work closely with the major bureaus concerned. In some cases, principal drafting responsibilities will rest with the bureau; in others, S/PC and the interested bureau (or bureaus) may set up a small ad hoc drafting group of competent officers; in still others, the paper may be written in S/PC. Participants in the Friday meetings will be those Principal Officers, Agency Directors and Assistant Secretary level officers immediately concerned with the question, plus those at the expert level who have made significant contributions to the paper. The group would, in any case, be small, to encourage as free an exchange as possible.

Papers for the Friday meetings, as well as those analytical papers designed for the other meetings noted above, will be expected to be ready at least two days in advance in order for participants to have an adequate opportunity to consider them before the discussion.

4. Presentations by the Secretary—The Secretary has agreed to meet periodically—about once a month—with Principal Officers and Agency Directors, all Assistant Secretaries, and office heads to share his thinking on major problems or issues of foreign policy or develop [Page 428] ments of special interest on which he wishes to give guidance to the leadership of the Department and its major elements. These meetings would be similar to those the Secretary had held following his trip to Moscow and his more recent trip to the Middle East and the Far East. They would provide an opportunity for both questions and discussion.

Finally, I would stress again, as I have to many of you in person, the importance the Secretary attaches to the staff meetings serving the dual purposes of providing him with the most cogent and clearly reasoned analysis of and approaches to the problems proposed for discussion as well as keeping him fully informed of the major concerns of those who attend.

Thomas R. Pickering
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transition Records of the Executive Secretariat, 1959–77, Entry 5338, Box 1, Transition Material to S/CL—Mr. Vance—1976–1977. No classification marking.
  2. On September 21, Eagleburger forwarded to Kissinger for decision an undated memorandum prepared by Pickering which outlined Kissinger’s proposal for daily operational meetings between himself and principal Department of State officials with the purpose of providing a “forum for solving issues,” an opportunity for close discussion of “major operational questions,” and an opportunity for the Secretary of State to inform the principals and regional Assistant Secretaries of State of his views. At the time, Kissinger did not indicate any decision to implement the proposal. (Department of State, Files of Lawrence S. Eagleburger: Lot 84 D 204, Chron—Sept. 16–30, 1973)