138. Memorandum From the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lord) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Ingersoll)1


  • Institutionalization/Morale/Openness/Leaks

As a follow-up to the meetings you held Saturday morning on these related subjects,2 I thought it useful to set down some of my views, most of which were covered in those sessions. I won’t attempt to rehash the various themes and dilemmas that we have all discussed on various occasions but rather will focus on some concrete steps that could help alleviate the situation.

As I said at the meeting, the crucial link is the Assistant Secretary level. Almost all the score or so officers who were at your meeting are career personnel; and I believe the great majority think that they have adequate access to the Secretary and a good feel for his strategic approach in their areas of responsibility. Thus I think “institutionalization” is working in most cases between the Secretary and the top officers, and morale/openness are not major problems within this circle (though we all recognize that greater feedback from the Secretary is desirable). At the same time there seems to be a consensus that problems exist at lower levels within the building. Even this has to be kept in perspective. These are perennial issues with any Secretary of State. One cannot generalize around the building, and I suspect in many areas morale and performance are good. In any event there should be pride in the fact that there is a dynamic leader and an exciting foreign policy, with the State Department once again playing a central role. The central issue must remain how we can better serve the Secretary and adjust as best one can to his style, even while recognizing that this is a two-way street.

Thus I believe in many respects it is up to the Assistant Secretary level to convey to the bureaus the sense of participation and direction which they themselves in most cases possess. The Secretary cannot be expected to deal closely with a circle that is much larger than the group which attended your meeting. (He can and should be encouraged to have Country Directors as note-takers at meetings; rein in his cracks about the Service; hold more regular staff meetings, etc.)

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The following concrete suggestions which I mentioned at the meeting are little more than good management techniques, as you pointed out. But I suspect they are not being practiced very widely. There are only two prerequisites for these procedures. The bureau chiefs must have: (1) a sufficient sense of the Secretary’s strategic thinking and policy lines; and (2) a willingness—or rather a lack of intimidation—about passing this on to their bureaus. The first prerequisite is being fulfilled in most cases. As for the second, I think the Secretary expects his top assistants to disseminate the basic policy directions while at the same time showing good judgment on particularly sensitive tactical moves. The recent Springsteen memorandum establishing the “daily” staff meetings with the Secretary can be used as a charter to do this.3 To quote the last sentence: “The Secretary looks to the participating bureau heads to use these meetings not only to keep him current on matters of importance, but equally as a means to keep their bureaus informed on matters of policy.”

In brief, I believe the bureau chiefs should do more of the following:

—(1) Relay more systematically to the top people in their bureau and to their desk officers this sense of direction and policy guidance, using the staff meetings with the Secretary as one particular tool for this purpose.

—(2) Encourage Country Directors (or their equivalents) who have several officers in their domain to do this in turn. We sense a substantial communications gap between Deputy Assistant Secretaries and Office/Country Directors and their desk officers and assistant desk officers.

—(3) Make clear to all officers that if views are strongly felt and presented with excellence they will reach the 7th Floor even if they diverge from the bureau chief’s position. The Secretary has specifically encouraged this here and in a circular to all our posts abroad.4

—(4) Establish better direct rapport with the junior officers either by meeting with them periodically or at least having a deputy responsible for taking their pulse.

—(5) Talk to the press more about our general policy orientation in their area. This involves answering their phone calls; occasionally [Page 475] joining the press spokesman when a daily briefing will cover a particular item of importance in their area; and occasionally holding backgrounders such as Phil Habib did last week on Korea.

A few caveats about the above procedures are in order. There is some information that is sensitive, and is not necessary for many people to know to do their jobs. The Assistant Secretary level is a tremendous pressure point, and these officers cannot be expected to spend a great deal of time in meetings; but what I have suggested above need not take more than 3 or 4 hours a week. Hopefully these steps will help to produce better papers for the 7th Floor, but frankly I am not oversanguine about this prospect; I would agree with Bill Hyland that quality control should take a significant portion of the bureau chief’s time.

Nevertheless, I believe that if these procedures were more widely and regularly followed, the Department would be serving the Secretary better, and at the same time we would make some progress on the interrelated issues of institutionalization/morale/openness/leaks.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director’s Files (Winston Lord), 1969–77, Entry 5027, Box 349, October 1974. Confidential; Personal.
  2. No record of these meetings held Saturday, September 28, has been found.
  3. The substance of Springsteen’s memorandum announcing the October 4 initiation of daily morning staff meetings between Kissinger and Department of State Principals and Assistant Secretaries whenever the Secretary was in Washington was relayed in a memorandum from Lewis to all members of the Policy Planning Staff, September 30. (National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director’s Files (Winston Lord), 1969–77, Entry 5027, Box 349, October 1974)
  4. Document 119.