Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of the administration of Jimmy Carter. The subseries presents a documentary record of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the Carter administration. This specific volume documents the organization and management of U.S. foreign policy during that administration. It continues many of the issues and themes that were addressed in the Organization and Management volumes of the Nixon/Ford administrations: Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume II, Organization and Management of U.S. Foreign Policy, 1969–1972; and Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXVIII, Part 2, Organization and Management of Foreign Policy; Public Diplomacy, 1973–1976. The organizational apparatus of humanitarian affairs policymaking is outlined in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume II, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs. In addition, Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, documents the intellectual foundations of the Carter administration’s foreign policy, which drove many of the organizational changes of this time period.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume XXVIII

The Carter administration’s organization and management of U.S. foreign relations focused on four key areas—the reforming and reorganizing of the National Security Council (NSC) system; attempts to restructure the intelligence community; the adoption of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and the Foreign Service Reform Act of 1980; and economic reorganization and the centralization of matters related to trade.

The role of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who became President Carter’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, is emphasized in the story of the reforming and reorganizing of the NSC. Brzezinski’s weekly national security reports highlight the strong voice that Brzezinski had in the formulation of foreign policy. To a limited extent, the adversarial relationship that developed between Vance and Brzezinski is also apparent in these documents.

Carter played an important role in trying to restructure the intelligence community, and the strong voices of both Stansfield Turner and Harold Brown are apparent, as are their divergent views on how the in[Page VIII]telligence community should be restructured. Both the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board and the Congress appealed for increasingly larger roles in the oversight of intelligence issues during the Carter administration.

The administration’s efforts to convince Congress to pass the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and later, the Foreign Service Reform Act of 1980 demonstrated the ways in which the administration hoped to restructure aspects of policymaking as well as address morale issues in the federal government, especially in the Department of State. Notably, the Civil Service Reform Act created the Senior Executive Service and the Foreign Service Reform Act established the Senior Foreign Service.

Finally, the administration placed significant weight on economic reorganization and the centralization of matters related to trade. The position of United States Trade Representative was established as a successor to the Special Trade Representative. Additionally, many trade issues, which had previously been overseen by the Departments of State and Treasury, were transferred to the Department of Commerce.


The editor thanks the officials at the Jimmy Carter Library for their help and assistance, especially James Yancey and Ceri McCarron. Thanks are due to the History Staff of the Center for the Study of Intelligence of the Central Intelligence Agency and to John Collinge, Acting Joint Historian for the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency, who were helpful in arranging full access to the files of the Central Intelligence Agency. The editor would also like to thank Sandy Meagher for her valuable assistance in expediting the use of files of the Department of Defense. The editor is appreciative to Alan Lipton and Don McIlwain for their assistance in accessing records at the National Archives and Records Administration.

The editor collected and selected documentation and edited the volume under the supervision of Kathleen Rasmussen, Chief of the Global Issues and General Division, and Stephen P. Randolph, then the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, both of whom also reviewed the volume. Kerry Hite coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of Carl Ashley, Chief of the Declassification Division. Thomas I. Faith performed the copy and technical editing. Do Mi Stauber prepared the index.

Melissa Jane Taylor