45. Telegram From the Department of State to All Diplomatic and Consular Posts1

131292. Inform Consuls. For Ambassador from the Secretary. Subject: Substantive Reporting.

1. In previous years, and particularly the last five months, I have been an active end-user of Foreign Service substantive reporting. I am more than ever convinced of the key role which reports from our posts abroad play in the conduct of American foreign policy. The President and I as well as your colleagues in the Department look to you for an accurate picture of developments abroad relevant to US interests, a balanced assessment of their significance, and thoughtful policy recommendations.

2. In fast-breaking situations, we need authoritative, objective reports on significant events and we must have your messages promptly. We also need, however, your analysis of the implications of these situations for US interests. Your predictions of the possible course of events, and your suggestions as to steps we might take. We want to have the full benefit of your views, before we choose specific courses of action.

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3. Whenever events indicate significant local or regional trends which could affect US relations with your area, I would like your personal assessment of these broader trends. Such assessments should take into account the interrelationship of political, security, and economic factors and the impact upon multilateral areas, including fields such as raw materials, energy, population and technology. I welcome your suggestions on appropriate US responses to such broad developments. An occasional analytical report of this kind can be more useful than a series of unconnected, non-analytical spot reports. Quality is preferable to quantity.

4. We are making a major effort in Washington to bring differing opinions into sharper relief, so as to give the President and other decision-makers a full range of options. Accordingly, it is most helpful to have your views, including dissenting opinion within your Mission, stated clearly and candidly.

5. I hope you will devote your personal attention to maintaining high standards of reporting. At the same time, I fully recognize that information must flow in both directions if you are to have the background you need to provide useful reporting and analysis. Therefore, I am asking the Department to keep the posts abreast of pertinent developments in Washington. I expect the appropriate bureaus and offices to provide you with timely guidance and background on issues of special interest to the Department and the other agencies concerned. I also want the bureaus to give you their reaction and that of other agencies to your reporting.

6. I fully recognize the limits to your resources. We are making an effort to reduce requests for reports both from within and outside the Department. You should let the Department know without delay of any requests from Washington that you find duplicative or marginal. At the same time, I urge you to distribute your telegrams and airgrams only to those posts that have a real need to know what you are reporting.

7. I would like to see the Department and the field engaged in a continuous substantive dialogue. Such an interaction will allow me and my associates in the Department to take full advantage of the reporting and analytical resources that exist in the field and to weigh the information being received from different perspectives.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Deputy Under Secretary for Management, 1978–1979, Chron September 11–12, 1978. Unclassified. Drafted by Leo J. Reddy (S/S–S) and James Ruchti (M/MO); cleared by Peter Tarnoff (S/S); approved in draft by Moose (M), Yost (S/S), and Joan Clark (M/MO); approved by Vance.