156. Memorandum From the Director General of the Foreign Service (Laise) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Management (Eagleburger)1


  • Personnel Structure

Following your decision earlier this year approving in principle the re-establishment of a domestic personnel category based on the use of Civil Service authorities, we have been engaged in a review and analysis of issues to be resolved and actions required to permit us to move forward. I believe we are now in a position to confirm your decision, announce the proposed revisions and begin phased implementation.

In studying the proposed revisions, it is important to bear in mind where we have been, what we have attempted in the past, and why we are proposing these measures. In 1965–66, the Hays bill was introduced and considered by Congress.2 This was a major effort to rationalize our system by establishing a single personnel system integrating Civil Service and Foreign Service employees. Despite wide executive support, the bill failed in the Senate. Following the demise of this effort, the Department, through Management Reform Bulletin #8,3 attempted to implement many of the same goals and objectives that were sought by the Hays bill. That is, having failed to gain the necessary legislation, we sought to carry through without it.

The results are now apparent. Our attempts to operate the current system raise serious legal questions. We do not and cannot legally have a unitary personnel system, and in fact, we have a less than coherent dual system. In the absence of a renewed attempt to broaden the Foreign Service Act (an even more unlikely prospect in today’s world), our [Page 544] goal must be to develop a rational dual system, based on the authorities and legislation which we do have. Without such a system, we cannot manage our problems legally. Moreover, we will be hard pressed to satisfy Senator Pell and the Congress in our required report, which is due at the end of the year.

Now that we have reached this point, I believe that we cannot defer a decision any longer.

A major focus of our activity has been a position-designation study intended to give us the needed information regarding which of our U.S.-based positions should be filled by domestic employees, which should be occupied by world-wide available Foreign Affairs Specialists and which by members of the FSO Corps. We have now completed designation of virtually all domestic positions, as well as other steps necessary to implement a revised policy. In most cases the designations proposed to individual Bureaus have resulted in agreement. In some cases, discussed below, some differences remain to be resolved. Overall, there will be, at most, a small net shift in the present balance between Foreign Service categories and the Domestic category (See Tab J).4

We have been guided in our conclusions and proposed designations by the principles that formed our criteria at the outset of the personnel structure effort. We examined all Departmental officer-level positions in terms of (a) whether counterpart positions existed abroad; (b) whether service abroad was required to perform effectively in the position; (c) the degree of specialization required; (d) whether the position was needed or suitable for rotational opportunities for world-wide personnel; and (e) the degree to which continuity was required for effective job performance.

Within these guidelines, we made further assumptions. We assumed that by definition, members of the FSRU plan would be available for world-wide service and would be expected to spend all, or virtually all, of their careers serving in the same skill area, barring a basic career shift, because FSRU is a specialist hiring authority and system, not a more generalized staff support system.

We assumed that recruitment of individuals for world-wide service (using Foreign Service appointing authorities) should be triggered only by a specific need within a specific career field, and that FS hiring should not be undertaken on the assumption that future needs may provide opportunities abroad which do not now exist or opportunities in other career fields. We assumed that, under no circumstances would FS appointing authorities be used in order to circumvent specific quali [Page 545] fications requirements or to provide managers with a way to avoid meeting minimum standards.

Using these criteria and assumptions, agreement has been reached on the vast majority of position designations in the Department. Agreement is still pending, however, in several Bureaus.

In IGA, following the general principles governing this study, we concluded that almost all of the Foreign Assistance Inspectors’ positions should be designated GS (see Tab A). They disagree. In SCA, there is a difference of opinion between SCA and one of its components, the Passport Office. SCA believes that there should be certain areas in PPT containing positions which are designated as FS, while PPT believes that all positions within that office should be designated as GS. We believe that SCA and PPT should attempt to compose their differences internally (see Tab B). We are still ironing out remaining differences with CU and OES.

As you know, there are more basic issues with the Bureau of Administration. Their proposals for position designations range from proposals for total FSR designation (A/SY) through no specific proposals (A/O). We have carefully reviewed all of the “A” Bureau submissions, and applied the principles which guided this study. Because the kinds of functions in “A” were so varied, we have avoided any generalizations and have applied the principles as they related to individual offices.

In the case of A/SY, the issue is whether the Security Officer career pattern should be viewed as a single one, the same at home and abroad, or two similar but separate entities, one domestic and the other worldwide. If it is unitary, the issue becomes whether the resultant rotational possibilities (a maximum of two years of service abroad in eight) constitute a genuine world-wide career.

In the case of A/O, where most positions are specialist and found only in Washington, the “A” Bureau proposal favors a single Foreign Service system allowing full flexibility to move individuals from one position to another, who may not meet qualifications. It also presumes that individuals should be hired under FS authorities, because worldwide opportunities may turn up, even though they are not currently visible for that individual or that particular occupational area. These issues and those pertaining to other parts of “A” are contained in Tabs D through H. Together they represent some basic questions you will wish to address.

The designation process concentrated upon officer level positions. Designation of secretarial/clerical positions will be made upon the completion of our analysis of the question of FS and GS secretarial placement. This issue is discussed in Tab I.

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The major features of the new system are discussed in our proposed Notice to Employees at Tab K. Recruitment and hiring for positions designated in the Domestic Service will be conducted under Civil Service authorities. As you know, since May we have attempted to follow GS procedures on a contingency basis and determine Civil Service eligibility of FSR candidates for domestic-type positions under the existing system. In this manner we have strengthened our capability to move with a minimum of disruption into the proposed system.

The proposed conversion plan is also discussed at Tab K. The plan is predicated on the following principles: (a) the ability to transfer individuals between categories is an essential element in a personnel system containing separate categories for domestic and world-wide personnel; (b) conversions must be based on the application of clear standards; (c) there will be no forced conversions; (d) there will be no special incentives for conversion; and (e) every effort will be made to assure that no employee will be disadvantaged because of his or her personal decision regarding conversion.

The plan would provide opportunities for employees to apply for conversion with decisions based upon (a) individual qualifications, (b) needs for the individual’s skills in the respective categories, and (c) the individual’s willingness to meet the conditions of service of that category.

When we initiated the Merit Promotion and Placement Program in November 1975, we indicated that a second phase of the program would be forthcoming. The second phase is now under development. Our original intention for the second phase had been merely to extend the plan to “domestic” FSRs and to make its application mandatory once the categories of people and positions had been identified. The new Director of the Office of Civil Service Career Development and Assignments, however, has undertaken a more far-reaching revision of the Merit Promotion Program, as a basic instrument for upgrading the career management of our domestic personnel. We expect to complete the drafting, management concurrences, consultations, and Civil Service Commission review in time to implement it by the beginning of the year. We can then move on to a new upward mobility program for domestic personnel and other improvements.

A final element in the revised domestic career system involves the availability of supergrade positions. As you recall, through an exchange of letters with the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, the Department has received the Commission’s assurance that it will be fully sympathetic to our needs, including a willingness “to go to Congress, if need be, to request additional supergrade spaces.”

While it would be desirable to know, in advance, which positions we can designate as proposed supergrade slots, and which and how [Page 547] many of the designated slots will be approved by Civil Service Commission for allocation to the Department, this is not possible. We cannot analyze the designated positions until we know for certain which positions are, in fact, to be designated as domestic. Thus, the supergrade evaluation process awaits the final decision on personnel structure. The Civil Service Commission, in its turn, cannot give us an estimate of whether they agree with our supergrade designations until they receive our proposals. The process of internal evaluation and review with the Commission will take some time. Under the circumstances, we are satisfied that the assurances we now have from the Commission provide a satisfactory basis for proceeding with the domestic service based on use of Civil Service authorities. Of course, in the interim, we will continue to rely on use of the FSR–1 and FSR–2 authority, where appropriate, until we have come to resolution on the supergrade issue.

We would be happy to brief you more fully on any aspects of the proposed implementation program. What we seek, then, is authority from you to complete the position designation process, and the components attached to it, as outlined above, along with resolution of the existing designation issues. We would proceed on the basis of the principles enunciated and so inform the various Bureaus and offices. We also seek authority to issue the memorandum attached at Tab K to all employees.

With your agreement to the foregoing, we plan to initiate immediately a program of final consultation and briefings with interested parties—The Board of the Foreign Service, bureau management, the CSC and the authorized employee representatives. We anticipate completing these and being ready for phased implementation within about 10 days.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Policy and Procedural Files of the Deputy Under Secretary for Management: Lot 79 D 63, M Chron October 1976 B. No classification marking. In a handwritten note at the top of the page, dated October 9, Eagleburger instructed his administrative assistant to forward copies to McManaway and Wortzel and to schedule a meeting with the latter.
  2. The Hays bill (H.R. 6277), named for Representative Wayne Hays, proposed a single personnel system for the Civil and Foreign Service employees of the Department of State, USIA, and AID. Approved by the House in September 1965, the bill was opposed by unions and veterans’ groups and failed when it was tabled by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 15, 1966. (Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1965, p. 681) See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXXIII, Organization and Management of U.S. Foreign Policy; United Nations, Document 38, footnote 4.
  3. Not found.
  4. None of the attached tabs, which outline personnel reorganization plans for various offices, is printed.
  5. There is no indication of approval or disapproval of the recommendation. Eagleburger, however, added a handwritten postscript that reads: “This is an excellent paper. Tab K still needs some work, however. I want to meet with PER and those offices where there are disputes. Also—what has been done with the designations in S/P? I’d like details on [illegible—SCT?] today. And, A/O had better know that in the absence of cooperation from them I’ll go with PER. I also want to talk about how we involve HAK.”