101. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to the Executive Director of the Domestic Council and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs (Cole)1 2


  • Office of Telecommunication Policy Organization

The function of OTP impacts on two general areas of NSC interests. One is to provide policy direction to the national communication system in order to meet national security and emergency preparedness requirements. The second is to coordinate our international telecommunications policies.

Because of the complexity of the system and also because of agency vested interests, OTP has not been able to exercise a strong role in national security communications. If OTP is to be retained, we should recognize such limitations and define its responsibility more precisely, stressing the formulation of requirements and objectives. If further study should show that the national communication system is deficient in its security function because of the lack of Executive Office management, then that control may have to be exerted through the NSC, which has the necessary authority. These considerations would support your view that the OTP if continued in the Executive Office should be smaller and technically oriented.

The second function carried out by OTP has not had a positive influence on our conduct of foreign policy. The State Department is of the view that OTP’s support of U.S. activities in international telecommunications organizations has had minimal impact except in certain cases where it has been fairly disruptive. Two recent cases involved the Federal Aviation Agency and the Maritime Administration, wherein issues that should have been mainly aeronautical and maritime were turned into international imbroglios over telecommunications. If OTP is to continue its function in the international arena, its activities should be coordinated through the NSC to avoid conflicts between the conduct of foreign policy and the pursuit of international telecommunications policy.

In sum, the NSC can support your recommendation to the President, with the proviso that the OTP coordinate its international activities through the NSC and with recognition that its role in national security will be to formulate requirements and objectives and not to attempt detailed management.

  1. Source: Ford Library, F. Lynn May Files, Box 24, Study of the Office of Telecommunications Policy (1). No classification marking. For Cole’s recommendation see Document 102.
  2. Scowcroft supported Cole’s recommendation to President Ford to keep the Office of Telecommunications Policy functions within the Executive Office of the President only if coordination of international activities improved.