135. Memorandum From Sandra Vogelgesang of the Secretary of State’s Open Forum Panel to the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lord)1


  • Proposal for Follow-through on Institutionalization

Emerson said that “an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” Press preoccupation with “Pax Henrica” suggests that, while that may be true, it is not necessarily good for the man or the institution.

I have written several memoranda2 this spring on the need to follow-through on the Secretary’s expressed goal of institutionalization at the State Department. He may regret ever having invoked the term. At any rate, I persist in urging action in this area because (1) so few Secretaries have had comparable opportunities to affect both the substance and structure of U.S. foreign policy and (2) so many FSOs have expressed concern about this issue to the Open Forum Panel.

Though there has been much progress in many areas, large problems remain. Some are probably inevitable in any bureaucracy. Others—like excessive layering, duplication of work, or the unresolved roles of AID and USIA—can and should be addressed. Much of what the Secretary wants to accomplish now and to leave as his heritage depends on building a creative, responsive institution. A “structure for State” may prove as important in the long-run as the “structure for peace” elsewhere. Clearly, the two are related. As with any important issue, the need for action is sooner rather than later—lest the opportunity of the Kissinger era be lost.

Proposal for Action

Because the Secretary cannot be expected to give much of his time to essentially institutional or organizational questions, I would propose the following:

1. Mandate the new Deputy Secretary to follow-up on institutionalization and make that one of his first and most important responsibilities. Direction for the overall administration of the Department has been a [Page 463] traditional responsibility of the Deputy Secretary. No other office, including that of the Deputy Under Secretary for Management or the Director General, has the authority to address a challenge as broad-gauged as that of institutionalization. Mr. Ingersoll has a reputation for particular energy and expertise in this area.

2. Appoint a Special Task Force on Institutionalization reporting to the Deputy Secretary. This should not be just another committee. There is no need for yet another unwieldy group starting from scratch and ending with toothless generalities on “Whither State.”

Instead, the proposed Task Force should make decisions, not launch more studies. Common sense and assimilation of work already done should suffice.

The Task Force itself should be small—no more than ten top-notch officers of varying grade levels and backgrounds.

Service on the Task Force might well be considered a full-time assignment for a short period (as is the case with many other Seventh Floor task forces). Three months might be a reasonable time for the Task Force to formulate its recommendations.

The terms of reference for such a Task Force might include such questions as the following:

—In what areas of the Department is there conspicuous duplication and how can it be eliminated? Replication on political-military affairs comes to mind.

—What bureaus are most notable for layering and how can the chiefs be pared away to let the Indians operate? Far too many examples leap to mind.

—What new problems (energy?) or concepts (more transnational perspectives?) suggest the need to re-cast the present bureau structure of the Department and in what form?

—In what areas (economics? intelligence analysis?) does State lag in initiative or resources and what can or should be done?

—How might the allegedly disproportionate percentage of personnel and other resources devoted to purely administrative functions be whittled down?

—Looking beyond State per se, what of the Department’s relationship with USIA, AID, and ACDA? To what extent might one or all of those agencies be reconstituted to serve better the overall objectives of US foreign policy?

3. Present the recommendations of the Task Force to the Secretary for action. Prior to that step, the recommendations should be submitted to the Deputy Secretary for his consideration and, perhaps, any input from the bureaus or other Seventh Floor principals he believes necessary. The report, once completed and containing the Deputy Secretary’s own [Page 464] comments, should then be forwarded to the Secretary for approval. Given his stature, the Secretary’s endorsement is essential for meaningful action on the kinds of significant recommendations which are likely to emerge.

There could obviously be many variants to the above proposal. The important point is that action be taken soon—at a sufficiently high level, with a set deadline for results, and with the well-publicized backing of the Secretary. That done, the Department might well become more responsive to the Secretary and the Secretary himself could counter charges of “personalization” of diplomacy with concrete progress on “institutionalization.”

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director’s Files (Winston Lord), 1969–77, Entry 5027, Box 344, July 1974. No classification marking. Drafted by Vogelgesang. Lord forwarded the memorandum to Eagleburger under a July 5 covering memorandum. (Ibid.)
  2. The memoranda have not been found.