165. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Management (Read) to Secretary of State Vance 1


  • Proposed Foreign Service Act of 1979


We are now entering the final stages of preparation of and consultation on the Foreign Service restructuring proposals, which you set in motion last November. I am glad that Harry Barnes, accompanied by Jim Michel, will have a chance this afternoon to brief you, Chris, David and Peter 2 on the status of our efforts, including the areas of broad support and continuing controversy, and to discuss necessary next steps.3

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The Bill

A first full draft legislative bill (185 pages) was completed by Jim Michel earlier this week with side-by-side comparisons with existing law, and I am attaching a brief summary of the main features as well as the draft bill itself.4


Consultations have been going on for five months with AFSA and earlier summary proposals have been circulated and discussed widely in the Department, with all posts, AID, ICA, OPM, and OMB, as well as with key Congressional leadership (Pell and Fascell and their Committee staffs). A log of internal consultations is attached.5 The full draft bill and 1946 Act comparisons have been given to all Executive Branch parties and will be sent to all posts for further informal feedback. I believe that we must also provide these drafts to Pell and Fascell and their staffs next week on an informal basis for additional feedback, making clear that they do not yet represent approved Departmental or Administration positions. This action is necessary not only to fulfill our earlier commitments on the Hill, but also to give them a chance to balance the proposals against those of the opposition who have been lobbying actively for the past several weeks against the bill.

Areas of Support

There is wide Service support for a number of major elements of the plan: e.g., the need for reaffirmation by Congress in the current period of the separate and essential role of the Foreign Service; formal recognition of our dual Foreign Service-Civil Service personnel systems with legislative conversion to GS status of the growing number of Foreign Service personnel who are not obligated to serve worldwide; a single Foreign Service pay scale; reinstitution of effective “up or out”6 procedures; expansion of selection out for substandard performance to include the entire Service; and provision of a statutory base for labor-management relations.

Areas of Controversy

In preparing this draft bill, we have made significant changes in response to suggestions and criticisms received, but a few areas of controversy remain: performance pay; aspects of the Senior Foreign Service and threshold and use of limited, renewable appointments; and certain transition problems which we are working to resolve.

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Unfortunately, much of AFSA’s initial and continuing private support for restructuring has been submerged in the election campaign for new officers which culminates in July. Various leading candidates are urging piecemeal amendment approaches for fear of unwanted Congressional action on existing Foreign Service special benefits, and they have been lobbying for this approach on the Hill, even though many of their principal concerns have now been met.

Next Steps

I think it would be useful this afternoon if you could discuss and agree on a tentative schedule of next steps. To comply with Hill advice on timing, I believe we must complete intradepartmental actions on the bill by mid-May. Initial OMB and OPM views support the principal features of the proposals and they are prepared to give expedited (two weeks) handling of the interagency clearance process. This would permit us to submit an Administration approved bill for Hill consideration by the end of May.

Early hearings and final Congressional action this year, which are necessary in order to avoid the highly uncertain prospects for consideration in an election year, depend on adhering to a schedule close to that outlined above.

P.S. Dictated by phone—no gamma globulin shots required.7

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1978–1979, Box 11, Chron April 18–23, 1979. No classification marking. Printed from a copy that indicates Read signed the original. Copies were sent to Christopher, Newsom, Tarnoff, and Barnes.
  2. Reference to Christopher, Newsom, and Tarnoff.
  3. No minutes of this meeting were found.
  4. Not found attached.
  5. Not found attached.
  6. “Up or out” refers to the selection-out process. See footnote 8, Document 161.
  7. Read was recovering from hepatitis.