126. Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Management (Read) to All Assistant Secretaries and Office Heads1


  • Hiring Limitation

Final Administration decisions on the Department’s FY 1978–79 budgets have resulted in the approval of 334 additional positions—one-third to one-half fewer than will be needed for the Department’s highest priority position requirements during the next 21 months. Accordingly, we must take steps to reduce existing authorized positions by about 250 during the current and coming fiscal years, primarily during the next ten months.

The first step will be to impose a strict control on all hiring from outside the system both domestically and overseas. As of January 7, 1978, no outside hiring of full-time American or local nationals is authorized without the written approval of my office. I am informing all posts of this requirement and of the measures described below. We will, of course, be prepared to give immediate consideration to and to act upon urgent requests for needed outside hires during the period. In this context we are mindful of the need to maintain an appropriate inflow of key categories of employees—secretaries, communications personnel and junior FSO candidates in particular—in order to prevent serious shortages.

The second step will be the establishment of a Position Working Group which will work closely with the bureaus to get a detailed status report on our worldwide employment and vacancy situation as of January 6, 1978. I recognize that there are a number of reasons for vacancies (assignment delays, position classification delays, etc.), and I wish to assure you that the character and duration of each vacancy will be carefully reviewed and evaluated. Certain long-term and low-priority vacant positions will then be abolished.

The third step will be to determine how many additional low-priority positions must be abolished in order to get the added new position authority needed. Each bureau, and through it each post, will be asked to identify its one or two percent positions to which it assigns lowest priority. Detailed instructions will be forthcoming on how this [Page 506] is to be done, but it can be anticipated that all positions, American and local, senior to junior, will need to be reviewed in the process.

I would like to emphasize that the procedures instituted here do not constitute a freeze on hiring. We learned from the experience last spring that any such freeze imposes severe dislocations and persons in the employment pipeline do not remain there under such circumstances. We will make every effort to expedite actions on exceptions as indicated above. What we have got to acquire, however, and keep current is information and control at a central location of authorized positions and this can only be done under the decentralized hiring practices now in effect by the steps we have outlined above. We will ease and lift the controls imposed here just as soon as possible, and bureaus and posts can facilitate that process by expeditious handling of the information that is requested.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1977–1978, Box 7, Chron January 1978. No classification marking.