129. Telegram From the Department of State to All Diplomatic and Consular Posts1

284523. For Chief of Mission from Und. Sec. Read. Inform Consuls. Subject: Hiring Limitation.

1. As part of his program to restrain inflation, and in order that all agencies reduce total Federal employment to the September 30, 1977 levels required by the “Leach” Amendment to the Civil Service Reform Act (Section 311 of PL 95–454), President Carter has ordered an indefinite hiring limitation. We now have the official OMB guidelines on these restrictions.

2. As of October 25, 1978, one new permanent employee can be hired for each two vacancies. Vacancies existing on October 24 may only be filled by the use of appointments permitted as a result of new vacancies. However, transfers within the Department will not be affected by these restrictions. Since the guidelines specifically preclude all agencies from using temporary appointments and outside contracts to evade this limitation, all such appointments and contracts will be closely monitored.

3. The OMB directive provides for a limited number of categories to be exempted from the hiring limitation. Under these provisions, personnel are exempt whose hiring is essential for maintaining operations that directly protect human safety and property. Security officers involved in protective services, foreign national security guards overseas, and professional and technical medical personnel are covered under this category.

4. In addition, the directive exempts those whose hiring is in accordance with firm commitments made in writing by agency personnel officers, prior to the effective date of the limitation. Consequently, unless a firm offer was made before October 25, 1978, the hiring must be accomplished from among the 50% of the number of new vacancies occurring. Any questions regarding interpretation of a firm commitment should be referred to the appropriate executive director.

5. There is, however, an appeal mechanism to OMB for groups not specifically covered by exemption. The Department intends to appeal for exemption for consular personnel abroad and Passport Agency [Page 510] personnel in the United States “to ensure that fundamental needs and requirements of law are met.”

6. We will also appeal for exemption for operating communications personnel on the grounds that the staffing of this function is necessary to “preserve the continuity of government by assuring that essential services are provided.”

7. Until the Department receives OMB approval for the exemption of consular, Passport Agency, and certain communications personnel, however, all such hires are restricted to 50% of the number of new vacancies occurring.

8. We recognize that there will be gray areas in all of the above categories. In order to provide policy guidance and to review and establish hiring priorities, I have created a working group consisting of M/MO, M/DGP, and A/BF. Any questions regarding this hiring limitation should first be directed to the appropriate executive director, who will in turn seek further clarification if necessary from the working group.

9. All requests for hire, including foreign national positions, are covered by this restriction, and requests for approval to hire personnel must be submitted first to bureau executive directors for coordination within the bureau prior to submitting such requests in priority order to the working group.

10. I wish to assure all organizational elements within the Department and our posts abroad that administration of the hiring limitation will take into account those tasks which are essential and require priority consideration. It will not be easy, but I am confident that with careful planning and sound personnel management, we will be able to fulfill our commitment to the President and still carry out effectively the day-to-day operations of the Department. I ask for everyone’s full understanding and cooperation during this difficult period.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, 1978. Unclassified. Drafted by Phyllis Bucsko (M/MO); cleared by Ealum, Clark, Robert S. Gershenson (M/DGP), and Roger Feldman (A/BF); approved by Read.