170. Memorandum of Conversation1

Meeting with Secretary

Full-Time Participants

Secretary Vance, Mr. Christopher, Mr. Tarnoff, Mr. Vest, Mr. Read, Amb. Barnes, Mr. Michel, Mr. Bacchus2

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I. AFSA (9:00–10:00—Lars Hydle,3 et al)

Hydle said AFSA favored (1) simplification of the personnel system; (2) improved comparability of pay with Civil Service; (3) clarification of the division between Foreign Service and Civil Service; (4) relief of impacted of senior ranks; (5) a meaningful senior threshold; and (6) Chapter 10 providing for statutory employee management relations. He said AFSA was particularly appreciative of the last point; in that context he said they favored removing employee management relations from the authority of the BFS (although referring a statutory BFS as well).

He expressed appreciation also for the “unprecedented consultations” which had taken place over the last several months. They had tried to keep up with the latest drafts, but had not yet marked up the latest version.4

Nevertheless, Mr. Hydle said, AFSA had “substantial problems” with the proposals:

(1) In general AFSA would have to oppose the proposals in their present form and would testify against the sections to which it objected. The Association favored amendments rather than a comprehensive rewrite of the 1946 Act which involved too many risks. On Hill tactics, he thought that Zablocki might be unable to convince the Post Office and Civil Service Committee not to have sequential review of the bill if submitted in its present form.

(2) AFSA faulted management for not using existing authority—shorter TIC’s, fuller use of Section 519, selection-out at senior levels related to promotions to keep a steadier flow.

(3) In another general comment he said that AFSA viewed the proposals as tending to copy the Civil Service format much too closely—SFS, performance pay, merit pay.

(4) SFS. This looks like a “clone of the SES” to AFSA. They had particular problems with:

(a) Performance pay. The Foreign Service already takes greater risks both physical and otherwise than the Civil Service and these existing risks should justify raising current pay levels at least to the base pay to be provided for the SES. Performance pay will be divisive. Sheldon Vance 5 said that it would have “no support” among senior officers. Bob Stern quoted from a letter from Ambassador Hummel6 [Page 676] saying that the majority of the Service doubted its utility. The Secretary indicated he had talked to senior officers who had favored it.

(5) Merit Pay. AFSA views this as “even worse than performance pay”. It would be divisive, difficult to administer, unnecessary (since there is already authority to grant additional within grade step increases). There was unanimous dislike of merit pay because junior and middle grade officers needed all the pay they could get so as not to fall further behind the rate of inflation. They opposed even providing permissive authority for merit pay in the bill. Hydle and Stern indicated they would be willing to consider providing selection boards with additional authority to withhold as well as to add within grade step increases, but they thought it should not be a “zero dollar sum game”.

(6) Chapter 10. They expressed concern about the proposed reductions in the size of the bargaining unit, particularly “confidential employees” (Tony Kern7 said there were approximately 800 such members at present). AFSA asked whether management intended to exclude secretaries of top managers from the bargaining unit, and expressed strong opposition to this.

AFSA believed that the scope of bargaining provided in Chapter 10 was not as broad as that provided in Title VII of the CSRA 8 and that it should be.

They opposed the veto authority lodged in the Secretary to disregard certain agreements.

Hydle suggested that if management were willing to take a new “co-determination” approach to consultations, it would be “easier for AFSA to deal with other parts of the Act”. It became evident that AFSA was particularly interested in rights of consultation concerning promotion and attrition numbers.

(7) If legislation is necessary to convert Foreign Service domestic employees to GS status all benefits should be grandfathered.

Discussion: Joe McBride9 said that there was no doubt “culling mechanisms” in the Foreign Service had become flawed. AFSA did not understand why management had not tightened TIC rules which were unwisely expanded in 1976. He said in the Association’s view there should be little selection out (except for absolute performance failure) at mid grades. There should be relative selection out in the SFS however and for officers who had acquired pension rights. It was necessary to balance the protection of senior Foreign Service officers [Page 677] against the rights of the junior and middle grade officers for more predictable, steady promotions. In general, he expressed support for renewable five year commissions at senior ranks at the end of the shorter time in class. Sheldon Vance agreed that there was the unanimous view that there had been serious erosion of up or out principles. He stressed that there was no “enthusiasm” for the SFS as a separate grouping.

The AFSA ICA representative expressed concern about preservation of “the autonomy” of the ICA personnel system.

The AFSA AID representative expressed concern about the lead which the proposals would give to State in setting pay plans.

Thea deRouville10 said that staff corps supported selection out but thought this would be unfair unless staff corps personnel had equal pension rights with senior officers.

There was a general discussion of pay comparability with Civil Service and military, particularly the latter, and Amb. Barnes promised to share the results of the Hay Study11 ASAP.

(8) Points of Opposition. The four class post classification and differentiated Chiefs of Mission pay should be retained in order to enable others to receive full hardship allowance.

II. Senior Officer Group (10:00–10:30—Bill Harrop, Dick Vine, Lannon Walker, and Frank McNeil (Carlton Coon12 came in for part of this discussion)

Harrop made the lead presentation. He said that they spoke for the 20 or so officers who constituted the “informal leadership” of the Foreign Service.

(1) It is essential that the proposals submitted to the Congress seek a single legislative authority for all Foreign Service agencies and unite them in a single system. The senior officers would not recommend that the promotion attrition range be negotiated with AFSA each year.

(2) The SFS should be the central element of the new system so the SFS rules should apply equally to all SFS members regardless of which foreign affairs agency they came from

(a) The SFS should not be the same as the top three grades of the present Service.

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(b) The SFS as they envisioned it would be a considerably smaller number of top officers. They did not think it necessary to define the SFS in the bill itself.

(c) Everyone in the SFS should be subjected to three year limited appointments.

(3) Recent history indicates that there should be no confidence in the selection board system of weeding out those who have turned in “substandard performances”.

(4) A model needed to be evolved which would provide a more reliable promotion and attrition rate than at present. They suggested somewhere in the range of 8 to 15 percent of the senior officers should be weeded out each year. They would not attempt to quantify this “flow through” model in the proposed legislation but would favor general language describing what was expected.

(5) Vine made a strong statement in favor of a sharp division between generalists and specialists in the SFS and could think of only rare exceptions when an officer would be allowed to move from one category to the other after making an initial option. Vine indicated that it was not the unanimous view of the senior officer group to have the division he was proposing in the “Vine model”.

(6) The senior officer group has no faith in the present egress mechanism of time-in-class or mandatory retirement although they would not abandon the latter. The reason they placed such heavy stress on renewable appointments is that selection boards would not have to make such difficult and unavoidable decisions and they could simply be told that X percent of the appointments were not to be renewed.

III. Wives/Families (10:30–11:00—Lesley Dorman, Marcia Curran, Janet Lloyd)

(1) Section 101(b)(4) of the proposed bill should be amended to provide official recognition of the sacrifices of the Foreign Service spouses and dependents.

(2) The bill was deficient in terms of provisions for spouses and dependents on pensions, social security, and employment. Wives should earn “property rights” in pensions. They should be required to get written permission for waiver of survivor benefits. Spouses and dependents should receive “special consideration” for employment abroad. (This is already in the May 19 proposals13 (in section 333(a)). Family members who fill PIT positions abroad should be allowed to accumulate reemployment rights on return. (The OPM General Counsel has indicated approval of this measure.)

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(3) Dorman and Lloyd referred to several cases in which they knew that wife beating or daughter beating was being committed by members of the Service and the spouse lived in fear of exposure and loss of job by employee and transmittal of such habits to sons.

IV. AID (11:00–11:30—Bob Nooter)14

(1) AID favored a single set of authorities for agencies using Foreign Service personnel. He expressed relative satisfaction with Chapter 12 compatibility provisions in their present form.

(2) State “up or out” procedures and requirements are not suitable for AID. The many specialists employed by AID should be employed for longer duration.

(3) Nooter expressed preference, not insistence, for continued reliance on RIF procedures rather than existing mechanisms used by State. He expressed a similar preference for exact use of the SES and GS pay scales but implied that he would not press the point.

V. ICA (11:30–12:00—Charles Bray, Jim Isbister)15

(1) Bray said that he and Reinhardt were satisfied with the umbrella provisions of the bill in Chapter 12. He thought that if the SFS could be achieved by legislation it could result in major improvement in the Service. He said their support was contingent on voluntary conversion to GS status of those FS employees who had been induced into the Foreign Service in order to honor the 1977 ICA (USIA) AFGE agreement.16 He noted that ICA needed a longer threshold window than State because of the much smaller promotion rate at the FSO-3 level.

(2) Bray expressed personal preferences for removing the differences between FSIO’s and FSO’s. He said he would also like to see a parachute clause for SFS personnel.

(3) He would exclude all “supervisors” from the bargaining in the employee management chapter, as was done in Chapter VII of the CSRA.

(4) He favored permitting those who enter the Service at age 38, for example, and run up against the TIC limit of ten years at age 48 to serve for an additional two years until they become eligible for a pension (query: accuracy of suggestion).

A. The AFGE representatives joined Bray and Isbister for 15 minutes of discussion. Their spokesman was Mr. Koczak.

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(1) Koczak noted that the AFGE ICA union was the only one to support the CSRA in 1978.

(2) He thought that Chapter 10 of the proposal was too inflexible and legalistic.

(3) He thought there should be much greater interchangeability of rights between members of the Foreign Service and the Civil Service; “a double key system”.

(4) He favored putting mandatory retirement at age 60 in contract form with employees and noted this had been done in the Panama agreements.

(5) He preferred use of the CSRA Chapter VII for the statutory employee management provisions.

(6) He noted the considerable importance of the ICA autonomy.

VI. George Vest

In response to the Secretary’s question, George Vest said he favored a non-legislative status for the BFS. The board should be advisory to the Secretary and be able to advise him on anything that they wish or that they were asked to. He favored the removal of jurisdiction over employee management matters. He noted that these were personal views and referred to the official BFS views as stated in the two letters from Dave Newsom.17

He spoke against use of performance pay for SFS.

VII. Hill Outlook

The Secretary had spoken to Church, Javits, Fascell and Zablocki and decided that we should go for comprehensive legislation as soon as he had made his final decisions and preferably by June 10. In a discussion, which included Brian Atwood, we discussed the importance of going first with hearings on the House side and avoiding concurrent or sequential review by the House PO and CS Committee if possible. Vance is willing to testify if Fascell agrees prior to leaving for Vienna and the Summit on June 14.18 He is willing to call Bill Broomfield.

On the Senate side we agreed that Percy, Javits and Mathias and Ribicoff could be helpful. The difficulty of predicting Senator Pell’s position was discussed, and the possible desirability of assigning a full-time officer to assist the Senator. Jim Morton on Pell’s staff used [Page 681] to work for Ledsky19 and he will be contacted shortly. Ambassador Pezzullo20 should contact Senator Zorinski for information.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1978–1979, Box 8, Chron May 17–24, 1979. No classification marking. “Personnel” is written in an unknown hand at the top of the page.
  2. William Bacchus (PER).
  3. Hydle, the country officer for Djibouti and Ethiopia, was President of AFSA.
  4. Not found.
  5. Former Ambassador Sheldon Vance was a senior adviser to Secretary Vance.
  6. Stern was the country officer for the Philippines. Arthur Hummel served as Ambassador to Pakistan.
  7. Kern was the Director of the Office of Employee Relations (PER/ER).
  8. Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (P.L. 94–454) addressed Federal Service Labor-Management Relations.
  9. McBride worked in the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
  10. DeRouville worked in the Office of the Deputy Secretary of State.
  11. See footnote 3, Document 134.
  12. Robert Harrop and Lannon Walker were Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State for African Affairs. Richard Vine was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs. Francis McNeil was an inspector in the Office of the Inspector General. Carleton Coon was Deputy Director of the Foreign Service Institute.
  13. Not found.
  14. Robert Nooter was the Deputy Administrator of the Agency for International Development.
  15. Charles Bray, Deputy Director of the International Communication Agency. James Isbister, Associate Director of Management of the International Communication Agency.
  16. Not found.
  17. For one of the letters, see Document 167.
  18. Reference to the U.S.-Soviet Summit in Vienna from June 14 to June 18 when the SALT II Treaty was signed.
  19. Presumably Nelson Ledsky in the Bureau of Congressional Relations.
  20. Lawrence Pezzullo was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations.