134. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to Members of the Special Task Group on Telecommunications Security1 2


  • Special Task Group on Telecommunications Security Organization

The President has taken certain steps to improve the security of U.S. domestic telecommunications, particularly communications associated with government and sensitive government contractor organizations. Technology and planning actions are also underway which could ultimately lead to extension of these communications security measures to broader based protection of private sector communications.

It is possible that extension of communications protection into the private sector could require some government organizational realignment within the communication field. The general approach to protection of the private sector will be to emphasize a range of privately managed and financed security services provided by the commercial telecommunications carriers, with the costs of security paid by the user. The functions to be performed by the government will depend on the government role and could include resolution of policy issues, setting standards, providing funding for some limited actions, developing basic technology, and providing an overall focus for system planning and design. There is not at present a government agency structured or chartered to carry out all of management, funding, and regulatory actions that would be required.

In order to consider how best to discharge these functions, the President has asked that a special ad hoc Task Group be formed, chaired by a representative of the NSC and comprised of representatives of OMB, OTP, the Domestic Council, and the White House Counsel’s Office. This Task Group will consider the need for and advisability of government organizational realignment to implement protection of private sector communications, including an outline of the major organizational options together with their advantages and disadvantages.

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The Task Group should examine the possibility of realignment of existing governmental organizations to provide this focus, as well as the possibility of establishing a new government entity. In evaluating these organizational alternatives, the Task Group should Consider, but not be limited to, the following criteria:

Capability for analyzing and resolving technically and commercially complex telecommunications policy issues;
Capability for broad-based technical planning and program management;
Recognized, authority and ability to act in a government-wide role;
Ability to budget and obligate sufficient funds;
Ability to attract competent personnel;
Access to intelligence and communications security community.

The report of the Task Group should be available to the President for review by 30 November 1976.

Brent Scowcroft
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Subject Files, Box 1, Communications (2). Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Counsel to the President, the Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, and the Director of the Office of Telecommunications Policy.
  2. Scowcroft ordered several Executive Office staff agencies to create a Task Group for studying a possible governmental reorganization to facilitate the security of private sector telecommunications.