302. Memorandum From Harry Blaney and Carol Lancaster of the Policy Planning Staff to the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lake)1


  • Peter Bourne’s World Hunger and Health Initiatives

Peter Bourne, a special assistant to the President, is leading studies of world health and hunger problems, aimed at developing Presidential initiatives in both of these areas. A third study involving narcotics is also planned. This memo outlines the current status of these studies and the specific difficulties they raise. The purpose is to alert you now to possible problems in the coming weeks as these efforts of Bourne lead to decision memos to the President.

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Current Status

The world hunger working group has put together a draft options memo2 with a wide variety of proposals drawn from suggestions from 12 Executive Branch agencies, Congressional staffers and over 100 private individuals and groups. They are currently working on a second draft of the memo which will be distributed for agency comments in the coming weeks. The State Department has submitted to Bourne an extensive set of comments on these proposals and is now awaiting Bourne’s second draft.3

The world health working group has produced a long study and a 20 page draft decision memo for the President.4 T is now working on a reply to Bourne which will be generally negative but polite.5 Orally we have given to Bourne’s staff stronger indications of our unhappiness with the documents. The concerned bureaus (including S/P) provided to T detailed critical comments on these documents.6 Their main problem is that they do not really address actual global health problems. Benson and Nye have been involved in discussions of these papers with Bourne.7 Further, D has had contact with HEW and the White House on the problem.8 Reworked versions of the health report and the Presidential “decision document” are to be seen by us and other agencies before they go into the President.

Finally, we have been told that Bourne is interested now in the field of education and is focusing on the forthcoming UN “Year of the Child.”

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These studies, handled through the Bourne channel, present a number of problems:

1. Bourne is, in effect, using studies and decisions in broad functional areas to drive policies affecting a disparate set of domestic and international programs. Indeed, the scope of the recommendations of both studies go well beyond issues falling into the functional areas of health, or hunger, for example:

—one recommendation in the hunger memo would require a radical reorganization of our agricultural trading arrangements, probably including the establishment of a government grains board to control trade.

—the health study recommends setting up a Bureau of Health in the Department of State.

Moreover, these recommendations are not related to other studies or efforts to develop policy elsewhere in the bureaucracy which deal with the same issues.

2. The quality of the analysis produced by both the hunger and health working groups is inadequate and, at times, dead wrong. The Department is nevertheless put in somewhat of a defensive position in having to address the analytical flaws in the studies, thereby diverting attention and energy from the recommendations and from devising new ideas in these areas.

3. These studies have thus far unfortunately produced few new initiatives which can be justified on substantive grounds. What may finally result from these efforts is a focus on existing organizations or institutional arrangements for dealing with these problems which could be futile at best and disruptive at worst.

4. The process in which these studies and recommendations have been developed is troubling:

—these working groups threaten to short-circuit the normal policy making process (i.e., NSC, PRC, OMB, etc.) on a number of issues where a more adequate and careful consideration of the issues is planned or underway.

—it is not always clear when final memos are scheduled to go to the President or whether agencies will have an opportunity to review them before they are sent.


Neither study or draft decision memo is yet complete and objectionable statements or recommendations may yet be removed. Nevertheless, at some point we may wish to attempt channeling these exercises into the PRC or other NSC mechanisms, although Bourne would probably resist this strongly.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Policy and Planning Staff—Office of the Director, Records of Anthony Lake, 1977–1981, Lot 82D298, Box 1, Envelope 5: “Eyes Only—Tony Lake From Henry Blaney 11/29/77.” Limited Official Use. Copies were sent to Kreisberg and Garten.
  2. See Documents 240 and 241.
  3. See Document 231. A summary of the final report is printed as Document 245.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 301. The version of the November 9 draft decision memorandum that Bourne forwarded is 11, rather than 20, pages long.
  5. See Document 304.
  6. For Bureau comments on the draft decision memorandum, see footnote 2, Document 301. IO, OES, and ACTION comments on the draft report are in the National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science, and Technology, Lot 80D72, Box 1, HEALTH—Peter Bourne and the Carter Library, Staff Office Files, Special Assistant for Health Issues—Peter Bourne Files, Subject Files, Box 34, International Health, 11/9/77–12/1/77.
  7. Benson responded to Bourne in a November 14 letter, noting that while the draft report provided a “more comprehensive overview of this field than ever attempted before,” the administration would benefit from a more succinct draft. (National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology, Lot 80D72, Box 1, HEALTH—Peter Bourne)
  8. Blaney sent a personal note to Lake on November 29, commenting: “I have been told very confidentially that there have been direct conversations between Christopher and Califano about the ‘Bourne’ problem. Also, discussions have taken place with various White House officials on this overall problem.” (National Archives, RG 59, Policy and Planning Staff—Office of the Director, Records of Anthony Lake, 1977–1981, Lot 82D298, RC 245, Withdrawn Box 1, Envelope 1: 11/29/77—From Harry Blaney (Health Program))