194. Action Memorandum From the Chairman of the Secretary’s Executive Level Task Force on Affirmative Action (Moose) to Secretary of State Vance 1

Report of the Task Force

On March 15 you appointed an Executive Level Task Force to examine affirmative action efforts in the Department. I am pleased to forward for your consideration the report of its findings.

The goal of the Task Force was to seek, pragmatically and without rhetoric or haste, ways to implement a meaningful affirmative action program in the Department of State. We proceeded on the premise that in addition to providing more equitable opportunities for women and minority group individuals, a sound and vigorous affirmative action program would make the Department a more effective institution and one more truly representative of our Nation. Through a successful affirmative action program we would expect to sharpen our sensitivity to new foreign policy challenges and to bring the Department into closer touch with the American people.

Although the Department has had an affirmative action program for several years, it has so far made little headway. For example, at the end of 1976 less than ten percent of Foreign Service officers were women and only four percent came from minority backgrounds. Of our Civil Service employees, minority group members constitute less than four percent of the senior level, while 47 percent of all minority individuals are found in the lowest six grades. Similarly, women occupy 16 percent of senior-level Civil Service positions in the Department.

In our view, this situation is inconsistent with our American value system. The existing imbalance in the Department’s personnel structure affects us all. Accordingly, we believe that prompt and determined steps must be taken at all levels and in all areas of the Department in order to assure the success and integrity of our affirmative action program.

The Task Force divided itself into two committees to examine in detail Selection and Hiring Practices and Upward Mobility and Handicapped Programs, and our report is presented under these two broad headings. At Tabs 1 and 2 you will find summaries of the two committees’ findings and recommendations. The complete report of each committee [Page 778] with appropriate backup material is contained in loose-leaf binders accompanying this memorandum.2

During its deliberations, the Task Force sought advice and comments from a wide spectrum of employees and special emphasis groups. Each committee included members from all levels of the Department. Special emphasis groups consulted included the Thursday Luncheon Group,3 the Hispanic Group, the Women’s Action Organization, and the Asian-American Foreign Affairs Employees Caucus.

The Task Force did its best to reconcile natural and inevitable differences of opinion among the members, and in large measure it succeeded. The only major recommendation on which the group was not unanimous was that proposing a considerable expansion of the two special programs, one for minorities and one for women (Recommendation 29 singled out for your attention at Tab 3). It was the consensus of the Task Force that the limited number of women and minorities in the Foreign Service constitutes an important problem and Recommendation 29 is the Task Force’s proposal for meeting it. You should know, however, that the Director General, Carol Laise, did not concur in this recommendation. The Task Force believes that you should be made aware of her concerns. In her words, they are:

—If the targets are met, and if the present limits on the Department’s overall personnel levels continue, adoption of the recommendation would mean that less than 40 percent of all intake would come into the Foreign Service via the regular Foreign Service examination route.

—Larger special programs without a consequent expansion in numbers of positions could have a negative effect on our efforts to recruit more women and minorities through the regular Foreign Service examination and on the promotion prospects for women and minorities presently in the Service.

The majority of the Task Force believes, however, that the benefits of increasing the size of the two programs outweigh these two possible negative effects, neither of which they believe is inevitable. In particular, we believe that we should be able to strengthen our recruiting programs aimed at bringing more women and minorities into the Foreign Service through the examination method. You will note that the Task Force recommends a review of the progress of recruitment in June 1978. At that time, adjustments will be made, if appropriate, in target numbers for the special programs, depending upon the extent to which we have been able to increase the number of women and [Page 779] minority group members entering the Service by way of the examination method.

I recommend that you approve recommendation 29 as proposed. While some may find comfort in the rationalization that the situation and representation of women and minorities in the Department of State today is no worse than that found in other parts of the Government, we cannot accept the present state of affairs. It is an unfortunate reality that minority members, women and handicapped persons generally do not regard the foreign affairs agencies of the Government as offering equal employment opportunities. Many members of these groups already employed in these agencies do not feel that they have been fairly treated. We believe that the Department, given its world-wide role and exposure, simply must do better and must be more aggressive in pursuing affirmative action.

Our recommendations are quite varied in their character and scope, in the speed with which they could be put into effect, and in their impact on our present system. Therefore, before you take definitive action on the Task Force Report, I would recommend that you seek the views of Ben Read whose task it will be to carry out the new programs and to secure the assent of AFSA to those recommendations on which the employee representative has a right to be consulted.

The implementation and follow-up phases of our affirmative action effort will be of critical importance, and I thus want to call your attention to the Task Force proposals that we:

1. Lodge administrative control in the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Equal Employment Opportunity. This office would be authorized to establish working groups to develop further implementation procedures for specific approved recommendations.

2. Include approved recommendations in the Department’s affirmative action plans. Deadline dates and responsible action offices would be clearly designated.

3. Keep the Task Force in being for an indefinite period of time. It should meet at least quarterly to enforce implementation and monitor progress in all foreign affairs agencies. The Task Force would be empowered to require responsible offices and officials to explain delays or problems encountered in implementation of any recommendation.4

In closing I wish to add a personal note. During the few months in which it was my privilege to serve as Deputy Under Secretary of State for Management, no area of responsibility was more perplexing [Page 780] to me than that of affirmative action. Through the fault of no individual and, indeed, despite the devoted efforts of some, the system does not function well in this area.

The remedy is clear. Progress will come only as the result of living, daily concern and action by executives and supervisors at all levels.

While I found the affirmative action effort enormously frustrating at times, I also found our few accomplishments in this area more satisfying than any I have had in the Department.

Tab 1

Summary of a Report Prepared by the Committee on Selection and Hiring Practices, Secretary’s Executive Level Task Force on Affirmative Action5

Report on Selection and Hiring Practices—Summary


The Committee examined the Department’s image and its recruitment procedures as they affected women and minority group members. Simply put, the Committee focused on the Department’s relationship with people up to the moment of entrance on duty. It also studied in detail the two affirmative action programs.

Its principal findings follow:

1. Image.

A. Women and minorities generally view the Department as an inhospitable and alien environment, lacking in role models.

B. Problems of image and problems of recruitment are fundamentally interrelated; increased and more favorable knowledge about the Department and its work would have an automatic recruitment payoff.

2. Recruitment.

A. Recruitment efforts, particularly of women and minorities at professional levels, have not been very effective because of the Department’s poor image, a lack of resources, and the absence of centralized recruitment, particularly for FSR positions.

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B. Recruitment must be carefully targeted to reach the people we want and need without at the same time creating unrealistic expectations about extensive employment opportunities with the Department.

3. Selection.

A. Officials making selections for FSR and GS positions make their decision without reference to equal employment opportunity goals. Bureaus frequently simply refer the name of a pre-selected individual to the Office of Employment.

B. The written examination, of crucial importance in FSO selection, must be a neutral screen insofar as women and minorities are concerned.

4. Affirmative Action Hiring Programs.

A. Neither the junior officers hiring program for minorities which began in 1967 nor the mid-level program for women and minorities which began in 1975 has met its annual hiring goals, although the former program expects to do so this year.

B. A period of time as a reserve officer before conversion to tenured career FSO status is a desirable part of both programs, but the current requirement for both an oral examination for initial entry into the programs and a lateral entry oral examination for conversion to tenured career status is not essential; the Committee found that one oral examination should be sufficient.

5. Schedule C Hiring.6

The career system will inevitably bear the brunt of corrective actions that will be needed to give women and minorities better representation in the Department, but for reasons of equity and as a demonstration of serious commitment, it is important that the senior officers of the Department appoint a more significant number of women and minorities to Schedule C and executive-level positions than is now the case.

6. Lateral Entry.

Because the Mid-level Hiring Program for Women and Minorities has only a five-year life, and because no lateral entry program now exists for entrance from outside the Department for white males (leaving the Department open to possible legal challenge, particularly if the [Page 782] Supreme Court finds for the plaintiff in the Bakke case this fall),7 the Committee believes it necessary to reinstitute an opened-up lateral entry program.

7. Medical and Security Clearances.

A. Medical standards for the Foreign Service need to be reviewed periodically to take account of advances in medical technology.

B. Security standards should be reviewed for possible changes that can reduce the amount of time required for a full field investigation.

As a result of these and other findings, the Committee made 43 recommendations. The Committee recognized that some of its recommendations touch on areas that will require consultation with the elected employees’ representative; the recommendations were made without addressing the question of consultability.

8. Image. The Committee recommended:

A. That the Department develop a public affairs strategy on image and recruitment, to include the possible development with the Advertising Council of a nationwide media program (Recommendations 36 and 43).

B. That the Department expand its public affairs activities, making use of its women and minority officers where possible, to include an expanded speakers’ program, increased participation of women and minorities in international conferences, and participation in the National Conference on International Women’s Year in Houston in November (Recommendations 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41).

C. That an officer in the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity clear all publications of a general nature and especially recruitment literature (Recommendations 12 and 42).

9. Recruitment. The Committee recommended:

A. That the Department centralize and strengthen its recruitment for all pay plans (Recommendations 2 and 3).

B. That certain specific actions be taken, including a new recruitment brochure, a half-hour tape for college campus radio stations, feature articles on women and minority officers, recruitment seminars, and, possibly, a first-rate documentary film (Recommendations 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 and 11).

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C. That the Department contract for the professional development of an affirmative action recruitment plan (Recommendation 1).

D. That the Department develop a special intern program, coordinate recruitment with the Peace Corps using their on-campus representative, establish a Cooperative Education Program, and seek to use participants in work programs under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act8 as informal recruiters (Recommendations 6, 8, 16 and 17).

[Page 4 of the original is missing.]

12. Schedule C Hiring. The Committee recommended:

A. That the Deputy Under Secretary for Management report to the Secretary twice a year what Schedule C hiring has taken place under the authority of each of the principal officers of the Department, broken down by sex and minority status (Recommendation 28).

13. Medical and Security Clearances. The Committee recommended:

A. That the Department review security procedures to shorten the time required for pre-employment clearances, and that in particular it expedite clearances for those hired under the mid-level program (Recommendations 32 and 33).

B. That an Applicant Review Panel to judge the suitability of applicants for employment be more representative, and also be used to review medical standards (Recommendations 34 and 35).

In conclusion, the Committee stresses that resources in money and personnel are essential to the implementation of many of the 43 recommendations. The bureaus most heavily tasked have some capacity to take on responsibility for implementation of many of the recommendations within current resource capabilities; but other recommendations will require the allocation of both funds and new positions. A first, very rough estimate of what will be needed after the bureaus have absorbed all possible costs would require approximately $500,000 and a minimum, initially, of eight positions. The Committee feels strongly that its recommendations should not go unimplemented simply because resources are not available or because other programs receive a higher priority. To cite lack of resources as the reason for lack of implementation would be inconsistent with the Department’s commitment to equal employment opportunity.

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Tab 2

Summary of a Report Prepared by the Committee on Upward Mobility and Handicapped Programs, Secretary’s Executive Level Task Force on Affirmative Action9

Report on Upward Mobility and Handicapped Programs—Summary


The Committee on Upward Mobility and Handicapped Programs examined the Department’s personnel practices to identify ways to enhance equal employment opportunity for our employees. It accorded special attention to the subject of handicapped persons.

Shaping the Committee’s analysis was the assumption that the Department’s work force will remain stable in the forseeable future: our numbers will not increase and attrition rates will be low. In view of these factors the Committee concluded that while we should continue efforts to reform recruitment practices, affirmative action programs should concentrate primarily on current employees. In the years ahead, the Department must seek inventive means of reallocating existing resources to meet new priorities, including affirmative action.


1. Leadership. The Committee found that the single most important element in equal employment opportunity is leadership at the top management levels of the Department. The Committee recommended:

A. That the Secretary set the example at staff meetings by insisting that administrators at the level of Assistant Secretary and above involve themselves in furthering equal employment opportunity. The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Equal Employment Opportunity should be present at such meetings to give advice and counsel.

B. That Assistant Secretaries should enter into the same process with their deputies and ambassadors.

C. That executive directors and administrative officers overseas should be charged with the responsibility for monitoring and facilitating the implementation of affirmative action programs.

2. Education and Information. The Committee recommended:

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A. That existing equal employment opportunity training programs be greatly expanded.

B. That training be required for supervisors and others who make personnel decisions.

C. That equal employment opportunity training be given in conjunction with chief of mission and other overseas conferences.

3. Upward Mobility. Support employees in both the Foreign Service and Civil Service are all too often locked into dead-end positions. The Committee recommended:

A. That the Department develop a formal upward mobility program for the Civil Service.

B. Reform of the present Mustang Program for the Foreign Service.

C. Development of a new upward mobility program for Foreign Service employees who wish to fill positions in other specialties.

4. Training. Recognizing that training is almost always necessary to qualify for advancement, the Committee recommended:

A. Comprehensive training programs for the Civil Service.

B. An improved system for identifying training needs and responding to training requests.

C. Improved training opportunities for neglected groups such as secretaries and communicators and consular officers.

D. Encouraging supervisors to integrate affirmative action into on-the-job training.

5. Career Planning and Development. The Department needs a comprehensive program of career planning and development which is tied closely to training. It must be managed by experienced personnel counselors. The Committee recommended:

A. Training programs for personnel counselors.

B. Specific mechanisms for identifying troubled employees.

C. A system for analyzing feedback from employees concerning the effectiveness of counseling.

6. Orientation. Women and minorities, as a major element of the work force, are significantly affected by the quality of orientation programs. The Committee found that orientation is weak at the Bureau and Office level and recommended:

A. Required orientation for persons newly assigned to bureaus, domestic field offices and overseas posts.

B. That supervisors be instructed to brief newly arrived employees.

C. That orientation material be periodically reviewed and updated.

7. Assignments. The Committee concluded that the assignment process is an area in which the Department should take an aggressive affirmative action stance. It recommended:

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A. Lateral transfers to enable employees who are in dead-end careers to gain new opportunities for advancement.

B. “Stretch assignments,” i.e. assignments at higher grade levels for Foreign Service personnel in equal employment opportunity categories.

C. Procedures to ensure that employees in equal employment categories are considered for all vacancies, and that situations of de facto discrimination are discontinued.

D. Special efforts to include women and minorities among those considered for high visibility positions such as Office Director, DCM and Ambassador.

8. Position Classifications. Position descriptions sometimes contain stereotypes that tend to freeze women and minorities in dead-end jobs. The Committee recommended:

A. Annual reviews of all position descriptions.

B. That position classifiers receive training to ensure their sensitivity to equal employment opportunity.

9. Performance Evaluations. The Department has taken steps in recent years to purge performance evaluations of bias and stereotypes. To institutionalize that progress, the Committee recommended:

A. That performance evaluations comment on contributions to equal employment opportunity and affirmative action.

B. That performance evaluations record training completed in equal employment opportunity.

C. That rating officers provide a full evaluation on employees in dead-end positions.

D. That rating officers give consideration to those in equal employment opportunity categories when assessing potential for future assignments; i.e. consideration of women for ambassadorships.

10. Promotions. Promotions stand at the end of the affirmative action process and tend to reflect the degree to which assignments, training and position classification have been successful in providing equal employment opportunity. Bearing this in mind, the Committee’s recommendations dealt more with promotion panel procedures than with allocating promotions. They included:

A. Revising Foreign Service precepts to insure that they stress affirmative action.

B. Appointing women and minorities to Selection Boards and Merit Promotion panels for the Civil Service.

C. Including, when possible, women and minorities on lists of best qualified candidates for Civil Service promotions.

D. Before management makes final determinations on the number of Foreign Service promotion opportunities per conal specialty, it [Page 787] should take into consideration the effect this will have on minorities and women.

11. Handicapped Program. The need for a handicapped program was considered separately by the Committee, because the Department has no personnel program directed toward the handicapped. The worldwide availability requirement for entry into the Foreign Service debarred handicapped persons, and the Department ignored this minority. This policy defeats the intent of the Rehabilitation Act,10 which encourages selective waivers of medical requirements. The Committee recommended the following actions:

A. Appointment of a coordinator for the handicapped persons for domestic duty.

B. Accelerated recruitment and hiring of handicapped persons for domestic duty.

C. Making building modifications worldwide to accomodate handicapped employees.

D. An annual review of medical standards for the Foreign Service.

The Committee also urged immediate review of the following proposals:

A. Instituting waivers of Foreign Service medical standards.

B. Designation of overseas posts suitable for handicapped persons.

C. Development of a junior officer program for the statically (as opposed to degeneratively) handicapped.

12. Monitoring, Inspections and Reviewing. The test of the Department’s commitment to equal employment opportunity will be the implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations. The Committee recommended:

A. Charging S/IG with responsibility for inspecting equal employment opportunity and affirmative action.

B. Appointing a panel for the implementation and review of Task Force recommendations.

C. Implementation of the recommendation in the Rouse report11 with respect to functions of M/EEO and charging that office with monitoring responsibilities.

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Tab 3

Paper Prepared by the Secretary’s Executive Level Task Force on Affirmative Action12

Recommendation 29

The Department will emphasize recruitment of women and minorities, setting as a goal that shortfalls in the target levels for the two special programs be made up by 1980. This would mean that:

a. The FSR/JO program could recruit against a target of 68, in addition to the annual target of 20.

b. The Mid-Career Program could recruit against a target of 27, in addition to the annual target of 20.

Every effort will also be made to increase the number of women and minorities qualifying for entry through the examination process. The Task Force will review all recruitment in June 1978 to adjust target goals as necessary to insure that objectives are being met.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1977–1978, Box 6, Chron November 1977. No classification marking.
  2. Not attached.
  3. A group within the Department of State that promoted African American and minority participation in U.S. foreign policy formulation and implementation.
  4. In the margin of paragraphs 1, 2, and 3, Vance wrote “OK.” Underneath “OK”, an unknown hand wrote “11/8/77.” Typed in the margin next to paragraph 3 is the following explanation, “Per G Mitchell Secy Apv’d Nov. 8.”
  5. No classification marking.
  6. Schedule C employees are those hired by a Presidential appointee or agency non-career appointee and thus are in a category of Federal excepted service in which normal competitive hiring procedures do not apply.
  7. Reference is to Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978). The court deemed that Allan Bakke’s exclusion from the University of California Davis medical school minority-admission program because he was white was unconstitutional and required the school to admit Bakke.
  8. P.L. 91–648.
  9. No classification marking.
  10. P.L. 93–112.
  11. Not further identified.
  12. No classification marking.