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and direct the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and all of the other instruments of Government” in the general area of national security, excluding defense matters.
Such plans originate in the same dissatisfaction which gives rise to the First Secretary proposal. Yet assigning the Vice President this responsibility would not only create the same problems associated with a First Secretary-it would also produce still other problems.
The specific proposal in question would exclude defense problems from the surveillance of the Vice President. This means that his jurisdiction would end precisely at the wrong point-the point of coordination between diplomatic, economic, and information programs on the one hand and military programs on the other.
A "super-Cabinet” officer whose jurisdiction was confined to that of the most tradition-bound Secretaries of State could do little to integrate foreign and military policy. If anything, the plan would make integration more difficult than it now is. It would reduce the Secretary of State to the level of Vice President's Assistant, and add one more set of relationships which can only be adjusted by the President himself.
A deputyship of this kind for an elected Vice President creates still another difficulty for the President. A modern Vice President is likely to be a person of importance in the President's own party. A broad grant of executive authority to the Vice President could invite eventual misunderstandings and embarrassments between the two highest officials of our Government. The President, it must be remembered, has no control over the Vice President's tenure of office.
The role of the Vice President need not, of course, be limited to his constitutional obligation to preside over the Senate. Many ways of helping the President can be worked out by mutual agreement. When proper occasions arise, these can include tasks in the field of foreign policy. For example, a Vice President can relieve the President of part of the protocol burden; he can undertake special missions abroad; he can from time to time make special studies. He may, of course, play a role of great importance in the relations between the legislative and executive branches.
But any attempt to make the Vice President a kind of Deputy President for Foreign Affairs would be to give the wrong man the wrong job. It would impair the effectiveness of the responsible Cabinet officers, the Vice President, and the President himself.
There have been still more drastic proposals regarding the Vice President which would make him not merely the repository of delegated authority from the President but a full-fledged deputy in the executive branch, charged by statute with authority for direction and coordination.
But the Vice President is constitutionally the presiding officer of the senior body in the legislative branch. The executive power is constitutionally vested in the President who heads another branch. At a minimum, any proposal to vest executive authority in an officer of the legislative branch by statute would raise serious questions involving both the spirit and letter of the Constitution.
A SUPERSTAFF FOR NATIONAL SECURITY? A "super-Cabinet” official charged with broad responsibilities for national security would, of course, require major staff assistance. Indeed, most proposals for a First Secretary assume he will have the help of a sizable staff.
Some who would stop short of the First Secretary concept would nonetheless establish major White House or Executive Office staffs for national security planning and coordination. A representative proposal of this type would replace the present National Security Council staff, the planning Board, and the Operations Coordinating Board with a Presidential Staff Agency for National Security Affairs.
The appeal of such an above-the-department staff agency is readily apparent. Those associated with this Agency could presumably view national security problems in the round"; their horizons would not be limited to the more parochial perspectives of the departments. And not being burdened with day-to-day operating responsibilities, they could presumably do a better job of long-term planning than their harassed counterparts within the departments.
But how much assistance would such an agency give the President? Its plans would lack the coloration, the perspectives, and the realism which come from actual involvement in operating problems. It would be hard to avoid ivory tower thinking. Beyond this, the Agency would create a new layer of planning between the President and the departments and thus insulate and shield him from the full flavor of the planning of responsible operating officials.
Such an agency would, of course, be a bureaucratic rival of the historic departments. It seems safe to say the rivalry would be one sided. The Staff Agency would confront the traditional unwillingness of the departments to surrender their own responsibility for policy development and execution. Lacking the autonomy and fixed entrenchments of a departmental base, such an agency could not compete for long, on favorable terms, with State, Defense, or Treasury.
The end result, in fact, might be the worst of two possible worlds, with the Staff Agency lacking enough power to give the President effective assistance, but sufficiently powerful nonetheless to meddle in the affairs of the great departments.
A President will, of course, need some assistants who concern themselves primarily with national security policy. But such assistants would act as extensions of the President's eyes and ears in a confidential relationship, not as members of a large and highly institutionalized "superstaff.”
CONCLUSION This study has argued that "super-Cabinet” officers or above-thedepartment "superstaffs" would not ease the problems now faced by the President in setting and maintaining our national course. In fact, such additions to the policy process would make his burdens heavier.
Reforms, to be effective, must be made in terms of the real requirements and possibilities of the American governmental system.
That system provides no alternative to relying upon the President as the judge and arbiter of the forward course of policy for his administration.
It provides no good alternative to reliance upon the great departments for the conduct of executive operations and for the initiation of most policy proposals relating to these operations. Departments possess the statutory authority, the knowledge and experience and the technical staffs needed to advise the President, and the line administrators who alone can implement executive decisions. They will always be the main wellsprings of policy ideas and innovations.
Finally, the American system provides no good alternative to reliance on the budget process as a means of reviewing the ongoing activities of the departments and raising periodically for Presidential decision issues of effectiveness in actual performance.
But to reject the radical solutions is not at the same time to dismiss the besetting problems in which they have their origin. The problems remain. They cannot be solved by maintaining the status quo.
Forthcoming staff reports will make wide-ranging recommendations for changes in the policy process. The promising paths to reform lead in these general directions:
First: There are better ways for the President to delegate more authority for decisionmaking to individual heads of departments and agencies.
There has been too much emphasis on coordination and too little on delegation. Policymaking has tended to be reduced to a group effort where no single person has real authority to act and where no one individual can be rewarded for success or penalized for failure. In the words of Mr. Robert Lovett: *** The authority of the individual executive must be restored: The derogation of the authority of the individual in government, and the exaltation of the anonymous mass, has resulted in a noticeable lack of decisiveness. Committees cannot effectively replace the decisionmaking power of the individual who takes the oath of office; nor can committees provide the essential qualities of leadership
Second: There are better ways to make the National Security Council a forum for more meaningful debate on issues which the President alone can decide.
One should not ask the National Security Council to do what it is not really capable of doing. The Council is an interagency committee: It can inform, debate, review, adjust, and validate. "But, as a collective body, the Council cannot develop bold new ideas or translate them into effective action.
Yet the Council can still be a highly useful advisory mechanism to a President. The evidence strongly suggests that this role can best be discharged by a Council which has fewer rather than more participants in its meetings; which concerns itself only with issues of central importance for Presidential decision; which works through less, rather than more, institutionalized procedures; which relates its activities more closely to the budgetary process; and which gives the Secretary of State a greater role in the development of broad policy initiatives.
Third: There are better ways to enable the Secretary of State to serve the President as first adviser in national security problems.
The Secretary of State is the First Secretary of the Government. He should be able to advise the President on the full range of national
security matters, from the point of view of their relation to foreign prublems and policies.
The Secretary of State need not and should not have any legal or supervisory authority over other Cabinet officers. Any moves in this direction would have many of the disadvantages of the “superCabinet” officer proposal. The goal is not to give the Secretary of State greater command authority: it is to enlarge the scope of his guidance and influence.
If the President is to ask more, and to get more, from the Secretary of State, the Secretary must be better staffed to offer policy guidance and initiatives across the whole span of national security problems. This does not mean a larger Department of State; it may well mean a smaller one. But it does mean a Department competently staffed with generalists, economists, and military and scientific experts to support the Secretary in understanding and following all fields falling within his broad concern.
Fourth: There are better ways to relate military power more closely to foreign policy requirements.
The Secretary of Defense shares with the Secretary of State the main burden of advising the President on national security problems. A full and welcome partnership of the Departments of State and Defense is the prerequisite of coherent political-strategic counsel for the President.
In viewing the Pentagon, one must guard against seeking organizational solutions for problems which are not really organizational in •origin. Yet there are reforms which are promising of results. They point in the direction of more vigorous employment of the broad authority already invested in the Secretary of Defense; more active participation of the Secretary of Defense in the deliberations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; increased reliance upon the Joint Staff for planning; an acceleration of existing trends toward functional commands; a Budgetary process more consonant with the requirements of modern weapons technology; a promotion system which encourages officers to become versed in the broad problems of national security; a Pentagon career service which does more to develop outstanding civilian officials; and selecting for top policy positions only candidates willing to remain in their posts well beyond the period of apprenticeship on their jobs.
Fifth: There are better ways to make the budgetary process a more effective instrument for reviewing and integrating programs and performance in the area of national security.
There is need to return to the earlier tradition which regarded the budgetary process as a key program management tool of the President.
Budget targets should be regarded not primarily as fiscal instruments but as policy instruments. The investigative analyses needed to achieve and adjust these targets must begin and end with substantive concerns and not simply considerations of administrative organization and financial management.
Sixth: There are better ways to organize the Presidency to intervene flexibly, imaginatively, and fast where gaps in policy development or execution threaten to upset the President's cardinal objectives.
This does not require new and elaborate staff offices or highly institutionalized interdepartmental committees. It calls rather for more discriminating use of able staff assistants right in the immediate office of the President himself who are alert to trouble spots and sensitive to the President's own information needs.
Seventh: There are better ways to attract and retain outstanding officials for both appointive and career posts in the national security departments and agencies.
Poor decisions often result less from poor organization than from poor policymakers. The one thing which could do the most to improve national security policy would be to raise the standards of excellence among career and appointive officials.
The Nation should be grateful for the skill and dedication of those who now man the posts of responsibility in the area of foreign and defense policy. But there is still room for vast improvement in developing and using the rich resources of talent now found among our career officials.
There is room for equally great improvement in eliminating the legal and financial problems which now discourage highly qualified private citizens from serving governmental tours of duty.
And, above all, there is need to abandon the outmoded conventions which have often deprived an administration of the service of members of the opposite polítical party. The yardstick for making appointments to key national security posts must be ability to do the job, regardless of party.
Specific recommendations for speeding progress in these seven areas, together with suggestions for other reforms of the policy process, will be contained in succeeding staff reports.