245. Memorandum of Conversation1

Record of Secretary Muskie’s First Meeting with the Executive Level Task Force On Affirmative Action

Secretary Muskie, announcing that he was pleased to open the meeting with a happy note, presented the Superior Honor Award to Deputy Assistant Secretary John A. Burroughs, Jr., for his significant work in furthering the EEO and Affirmative Action program of the Department. The Secretary then stated that he was also pleased to welcome Vivian Derryck as John Burroughs’ replacement, which is to take place upon the expected departure of John Burroughs as Ambassador to Malawi. The Secretary said that he had thoroughly reviewed Ms. Derryck’s career and qualifications and selected her because she is very highly qualified. Ms. Derryck expressed her pleasure in joining the Department and stated that she was looking forward to furthering the ideals and goals of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Progress and Problems

Before commenting on progress and problems in general, Mr. Read took the moment to affirm his appreciation for and recognition of the superior work of John Burroughs. Mr. Read said that he was intimately aware of the long hours and hard work performed by John Burroughs since he joined the Department in 1977. Mr. Read remarked that during this time, the number of minority officers in the Foreign Service had doubled, the number of women in the Service had increased by 50 percent, a program for the disabled and handicapped had been established, and there was progress in the effort to increase minority business contracting.

While reciting these progressive and positive aspects of EEO and Affirmative Action, Mr. Read emphasized that there was still much “catching up” remaining—primarily because of the long history of neglect and past discrimination—as well as attitudinal problems still needing correction. He cited the Hispanic record as a serious blemish—with Hispanics representing only 1.8 percent of the Foreign Service.

Mr. Read went on to say that some attitudinal problems still persist in the Department which impede the institutionalization process of [Page 973] Affirmative Action. Mr. Read said that EEO must be a part of the machinery of the Department of State and not just a concern of management. John Burroughs interjected the comment that there was a real need for more minorities at the Deputy Assistant Secretary level, and that we have a policy whereby bureaus that do not have a minority DAS must consider minorities for such positions as they become vacant. The Secretary indicated that he would like to continue such a policy.

Women and Minorities: Profiles, Trends, and Goals

John Burroughs pointed out that at the policy level the number of women has increased substantially in recent years. Currently, there are 11 women serving as chiefs of mission, and three more nominated, and 15 women in the Department at the Deputy Assistant Secretary level and above. There are 12 minority ambassadors (9 Black, 2 Hispanic and one Native American) and eight minorities in the Department at the Deputy Assistant Secretary level and above (4 Black, 3 Hispanic and one Asian-American). Mr. Burroughs pointed out, however, that recent changes had reduced the number of Hispanic ambassadors to two, Ambassador Gonzalez in Ecuador and Ambassador Nava in Mexico.2 The Hispanic community has expressed dissatisfaction over this situation and the issue has repeatedly surfaced at recent conferences of Hispanic organizations.

Ambassador Barnes summarized the Junior Officer and Mid-Level Affirmative Action Hiring programs, stating that the Junior Officer goal for this fiscal year was 47, and that we would meet or exceed the goal by the end of the fiscal year. He went on to say that we would fall short of the Mid-Level goal of 33 but expected about 25 Mid-Level hires this fiscal year. Ambassador Barnes pointed out that we have more of a problem finding Mid-Level candidates.

The Secretary asked, “how is outreach for recruitment of Foreign Service examination candidates conducted?” Ambassador Barnes responded by describing a variety of approaches and methods, including recruitment trips and participation at conferences held by minority and women’s groups. The Secretary asked if a video tape by him on the Foreign Service and the Department’s commitment to EEO would be helpful. The Secretary’s suggestion was enthusiastically received, as was his offer to assist our recruiting efforts in other ways through his public appearances. The Secretary then asked what was the status of Hispanics. He stated that he was approached directly on the subject [Page 974] by Hispanic leaders during the recent American GI Forum of the U.S. conference which he addressed on the West Coast.3

George Del Valle, Hispanic Affairs Coordinator, answered that there was initiative and improvement but there was a long way to go. The Secretary remarked that judging by the figures, he agreed.

Mary Stitt, Acting Federal Women’s Program Manager, reported on the status of women in the Foreign and Civil Service. She stated that women FSO’s had increased by 137 percent over the last ten years, with the most significant increase taking place in the last three or four years. As for the Civil Service, Ms. Stitt reported that women outnumber the men two-to-one, but that could not be considered a completely positive sign since they were so heavily concentrated at the lowest levels; for example, women constitute 75 percent of the employees at GS grades 1–6. She explained that the Department has embarked on stronger Upward Mobility efforts and external recruitment drives to change this imbalance.

Ambassador Barnes then outlined the Department’s Upward Mobility Program for Civil Service employees and mentioned that the Secretary’s help might be needed at a later stage to provide still further impetus to our overall recruiting efforts.

Recommended FY–81 Goals

Mr. Read recommended that the FY–1981 goal for the AAJOP be set at 40, or 20 percent of the incoming class, whichever is greater. Further, Mr. Read recommended that the Mid-Level goal again be set at 33. There was some discussion about setting a lower Mid-Level goal of 25 or 30. The Secretary, however, approved both intake goals as recommended by Mr. Read.

Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment (Civil Service) and Upward Mobility Programs

Deputy Assistant Secretary Ronald D. Palmer reported on the Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program (FEORP) and Civil Service Upward Mobility Programs. Ambassador Palmer briefly explained the concept and history of the Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program or “FEORP,” which applies to our Civil Service workforce. Ambassador Palmer pointed out that Federal agencies are required to target recruiting for minorities for “mainstream” occupations where there is significant underrepresentation. He stated that we had conducted an analysis of our Civil Service workforce in comparison to the national Civilian Labor Force, selected our most populous “mainstream” occupa[Page 975]tions, submitted our first FEORP plan4 to the Office of Personnel Management, and were now awaiting comments from OPM on our plan.

Mr. Read, calling attention to the limited remaining time the Secretary could give to the meeting, stated that the Secretary had the briefing material included with the agenda,5 and asked that further comments be very brief.

The remaining agenda items were, therefore, presented in capsule form for the Secretary’s information, as follows:

(a) Women’s FSO Class Action Suit—Deputy Legal Advisor Jim Michel

(b) Affirmative Action Aspects of the Foreign Service Bill—William Bacchus, PER

(c) Program for the Handicapped—Frontis Wiggins, PER

(d) EEO Training—Paul Boeker, Director of FSI

(e) Status of Minority Contracting—Tom Tracy, Assistant Secretary for Administration

(Recommended FY 1981 contracting goal of $4.5 million was approved.)

In his closing remarks, the Secretary stated that he has been committed to EEO throughout his career, and he was not about to lessen his commitment now.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Under Secretary for Management (M), 1980, Box 6, Chron September 1–6, 1980. No classification marking. The meeting took place in the Secretary’s Conference Room.
  2. Reference to Raymond Gonzales and Julian Nava, respectively.
  3. Muskie addressed the American G.I. Forum, a group of Hispanic veterans, in Los Angeles on August 7.
  4. Not found.
  5. Not found.