238. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1


Secretary Vance has taken the following actions on the 63 recommendations of the Habib Committee Report on recruitment and examination of Foreign Service Officers.2

He approved the recommendations, subject only to the following modifications, amplifications or exceptions:

A.2 Recruitment Organization.

In line with the recommendation of the Habib Committee, a senior FSO, Clint Lauderdale (FSO–1), has been appointed to head the strengthened recruitment office with authority and responsibility for achievement of EEO goals. He will work closely with the DG and M, as well as the DAS’s in PER on these matters. Consideration has been given to adding a third DAS in PER to assume these duties, as suggested, but this step does not seem desirable or necessary at this time. M plans to hold regular biweekly meetings throughout 1980 to assess progress and problems with those in charge of the affirmative action and other recruitment efforts.

B.5 Written Examination Weighting.

Since 1977 the Department has given a 60–40 weighting advantage in favor of the English Expression section of the written exam over the Functional Background section to increase the number of women relative to men who pass the exam as well as to underscore the greater [Page 953] need of communication skills. This weighting change increased the percentage of women passers from 7 to 17 from 1976 to 1977 but reduced minority passers from 2.7% to 2.5%. Because of the latter impact, the Habib Committee recommended return to the 50–50 equal weighting of the two sections which was SOP before 1977. With adoption of the minority differential proposal above and retention of the 60–40 weighting, however, it is estimated that 26% of all men would pass; 22.5% of all women; and 21% of all minorities—closer to equalization than achieved in the past; whereas a 50–50 weighting would reduce significantly (perhaps 40 persons) women passers and increase only negligibly minority passers. Therefore, it was decided that the 60–40 weighting between the English Expression and Functional Background sections of the test would be retained.

B.8 Written Examination—Differential Scoring for Minorities.

The Habib Committee found that the best potential source of minority talent was the “near-pass” category of applicants for the Foreign Service written examination and recommended adoption of an unspecified system of differential scoring for minorities starting with the 1980 exam.

Each year the Department looks at the “raw scores” (a raw score of 45 is equivalent to the score of the top 10 percentile of those who take the Civil Service professional entrance exam). A “raw cut score” is then established which screens out about 4/5ths of the test takers and leaves the estimated desirable number of candidates eligible to take the oral assessment process. The raw cut score is then “converted” to constitute a converted pass score of 70. The eligible candidates are notified of their pass scores and about 65% eventually take the oral assessment center process, of which about 20–25% pass and are later listed on the approved intake register.

The Secretary approved raw cut scores for the December 1979 FSO written exam which would qualify about 2400, including about 215 minority persons with such scores estimated at approximately 57 for non-minorities and approximately 47 for minorities, with the raw cut scores thus to be converted to converted passing scores of 70.

C.1 Affirmative Action Junior Officer Program Goals.

The Secretary set 47 as the FY 1980 goal of the program; the same as the FY 1979 goal of 43 plus 4 representing the shortfall in FY 1979. He deferred action on later year AAJOP goals.

D.3 Assessment Center Procedures.

To help correct procedural deficiencies noted by the Habib Committee, the initial oral interview will be expanded from 45 minutes to [Page 954] one hour and a quarter. At least two of the three examiners who assess candidates in the final “integration” session will participate in the initial oral interview.

E.12 Mid-Level Affirmative Action Program Entrants: Conversion to FSO Status.

There is full accord with the Habib Committee recommendations i.e., FSR’s with five year appointments who have come in through the Mid-Level Affirmative Action Program that: promotion by selection boards should constitute conversion to FSO status; that precepts for the selection boards should be considered which address the problem caused by the comparative lack of material in the Mid-Level FSR’s files; and that the second oral exam heretofore required for conversion be eliminated since actual performance is more important than any such test.

Eligibility for promotions should not be the sole test of eligibility for conversion, however; even career FSO’s are permitted time in classes 3–4–5 longer than five years. Since the inception of the Mid-Level program, promotion of such FSR officers during their five year appointments have been quite rare, and the five year limit could expire between annual selection boards.

Thus the Department will establish a special Commissioning and Tenure Board to review the files of all Mid-Level AA FSR’s periodically and to determine conversion to FSO status of such officers who have not been promoted.

E.13 Mid-Level Affirmative Action Program: Class Entrants.

The Committee recommended that FSR–3 entries through the mid-level program should be restricted to exceptional cases. Only 3 out of 50 mid-level entrants have come in at the FSR–3 level under this program since its inception in 1975. Present recruiting literature specifies that entry at FSR–3 level requires exceptional qualifications. There is no need to attempt to further restrict the use of this hiring level, and this recommendation was not adopted, because of its unintended and unnecessary potential negative impact on the image of the program.

Post FY 80 Affirmative Action Program Goal.

The Secretary deferred action on the recommendations of the report dealing with future fiscal year AA program goals, pending further study and consideration of an EEO study of merit goals.


In response to the several recommendations calling for additional EEO manpower/funding resources, the decisions listed on the attach [Page 955] ment3 have been made. Additional allocations will be considered as necessary.

Some of the recommendations to change procedures need to be presented for discussion with the Board of Examiners and for consultation with AFSA, and these discussions and consultations have begun in several instances.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1980, Box 1, Chron January 12–16, 1980. No classification marking.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 231.
  3. Not found attached.