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be better to act a little less than perfectly rather than employ the
time of Washington officials in a search for perfection. Some may 13 even doubt that the sun always shines more brightly in Washington be than in the field.
A shift of greater action-responsibility to the field by such rules of thumb might lead to important economies. Too much time is spent
in Washington on matters that could be left to the mission, thus · double-teaming talent when there is not enough talent to go around.
This tendency shows itself in the habit of Washington and the field to "live on the cables”—to keep each other busy debating points on which it might have been better to let the mission act by itself under its general instructions.
Obviously there are no iron rules for dividing responsibility. What seems to be called for is more respect in Washington for the judgment of ambassadors and more restraint in second-guessing them.
Today's ambassador frequently has to make decisions and give his views on military questions.
Every mission has three service attachés. Many have a MAAG chief. A few must work with an area military commander. To which of these should an ambassador turn for military advice?
A reorganization of the military advisory function seems to be needed. The number of military representatives reporting directly to the ambassador is too large-a fact which tends to reduce rather than increase their influence in the mission. Partly in order to deal with these representatives and with an area military commander, if any, a new politico-military post has been established in many missions. This officer, usually a career foreign service officer with some special training, assists the ambassador with the coordination of political and military activities. In some cases he serves as the executive secretary of the country team.
A suggestion meriting serious consideration is that a single defense attaché might be designated by the Department of Defense, with such assistants as necessary from the three services. Presumably the defense attaché would be an officer of the U.S. military service that was also the most important service in the country-an Army officer in countries where the Army is the principal military organization, and so forth.
Another proposal is that the functions of the MAAG chief and of the attachés might be combined in a single officer, who might be called the defense attaché. The objection that the military aid program should be clearly separate from the normal attaché functions needs to be reexamined. The combination has been successful in some places.
Where there is an area commander of U.S. forces, the possibility of placing the MAAG under the joint supervision of the ambassador and the commander might be considered. In any event, where there is such a commander, an ambassador tends to rely primarily on him for military advice.
REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS There are now four American Ambassadors in Paris: the Ambassadors to France, NATO, OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), and DĂC (Development Assistance
Committee). This is the extreme case. But it illustrates the growing importance of regional organizations in the conduct of American policy.
The task of an ambassador to an international organization is more confining and limited than is generally understood. He is,
of course, constantly involved in promoting or opposing particular actions by the organization which may have an important bearing on U.S. national security policies. But if he is not to commit the United States to positions inconsistent with our national security requirements, he must remain closely tied to Washington. The President and the Secretary of State require information and advice from him. But he is dependent on them not only to set policy lines but also to give him his major assistance in carrying out those policies. He can expect to get results when the United States, working with its allies through bilateral discussions or in other small groups, has de veloped a position which can command support in the organization.
At the present stage international organizations are more decisionratifiers than decision-makers. Things go well in NATO, or the United Nations, for example, when the United States and other key countries have reached a common position.
The growth of international organizations is one of the powerful forces pulling decision-making into Washington. Rational, effective negotiation on complex and critical matters, like a multilateral NATO nuclear deterrent or the reduction and control of armaments, requires unified guidance and instruction to those conducting the negotiations. This is a basic principle of sound administration and avoids the dangers of crossed lines.
The unified source of instructions can only be the President himself (not others in the White House or the Executive Office), or the Secretary of State, acting for the President, or, in appropriate cases, an Assistant Secretary of State acting for the Secretary. In this connection, the post of Assistant Secretary of State has achieved a new importance in the policy process.
Certainly U.S. missions to regional and other international organizations should not, and cannot successfully, operate as little foreign offices. Such confusion of responsibility reinforces a tendency to give undue weight in policy formulation to considerations that necessarily seem more important in Paris or New York, for example, than they seem to the President.
The Government has not yet fully faced the problem of adjusting its organization and procedures to the problems created by the growth of international organizations, particularly the United Nations and the regional organizations in Europe and Latin America. This is one of those emotionally charged areas that needs careful study.
V. Executive Responsibility for Administration
The actual conduct of foreign negotiations, the preparatory plans of finance, the application and disbursement of the public moneys in conformity to the general appropriations of the legislature, the arrangement of the army and navy, the direction of the operations of war, thése, and other matters of a like nature, constitute what seems to be most properly understood by the administration of government.
persons, therefore, to whose immediate management these different matters are committed, ought to be considered as the assistants or deputies of the chief magistrate, and on this account, they ought to derive their offices from his appointment, at least from his nomination, and ought to be subject to his superintendence.
The Federalist No. 72, March 21, 1788
The view that what is called "administration" is separate, subordinate, and of little relevance to national security policy needs correction. The problem was understood by the writers of The Federalist papers 175 years ago. They correctly linked administration in the large sense-big "A" administration with the selection and superintendence of assistants—little “a” administration.
The making of policy and its execution are aspects of a continuous process, and responsibility for both needs to be lodged in the same hands.
The best laid plans have to be modified as time passes. Circumstances change in unforeseen and unforeseeable ways. Unanticipated opportunities arise and unexpected obstacles appear, compelling adjustments of staff and operations and sometimes fundamental revisions of policy..
Top executives are strongly tempted to give administrative problems low priority. They have enormously heavy demands on their time. They know that they will be in office a relatively short time and that, except for a few key appointments, they will have to work mainly with the staffs they have. Many suspect, furthermore, that the payoff from efforts to improve administration is likely to be small, especially in the short run.
For this reason, problems of "administration” have been left largely to administrative officers. In the process even the word “administration" has seemed to shrink.
When one speaks of "the Administration," one thinks of the President and the direction of the Nation's affairs. But when one speaks of “administration," one thinks of accounting, payrolls, transportation of persons and things, career development programs, personnel management, and so forth.
The Government has had a great deal of experience with the delegation of responsibility for administration to officers outside the mainstreams of their departments. The experience confirms the wisdom of the Founding Fathers.
ENVIRONMENT OF EXCELLENCE
It is easy enough to draw up a list of the qualities desired in public officials: judgment, drive, imagination, courage, intelligence, decisiveness, loyalty. If a President is to recruit such persons, he must provide scope for the exercise of these qualities. People possessing them can, after all, make a success in any career they choose and are not likely to remain in posts where they cannot put their abilities to work.
Good staffing is thus related to good organization. Perhaps the biggest task facing an administration is to create an organizational environment attractive to excellence. The challenge and the opportunity to perform at the limit of one's capabilities on tasks vital to one's country is the greatest reward government can offer.
An important question about any administrative system is wbether the qualities which enable an individual to survive and advance in the organization are the same as those which will enable the organization to survive in a competitive environment.
The spirit of an organization is, then, of first importance. Whom do able and ambitious junior officers seek to emulate? Are do-ers rewarded? Or do cautious men—the do-littles—win advancement? It may be largely through imitation of the successful that recognizable types develop in organizations.
One of a top executive's most important jobs is to reward goodand penalize unsatisfactory-performance. The quality of his decisions in a few cases may tone up an entire organization and make it an effective instrument for his use.
But we have made it extraordinarily difficult for Government executives to take such action. In the laudable effort to avoid favoritism and assure fair and uniform treatment, the administrative scales have been weighted in favor of protecting mediocrity.
Perhaps it would be wise in the national security area to give top executives authority, within defined limits, to hire, promote, and reassign a certain number of people without the restraints and restrictions of the civil, foreign, and military service regulations.
It is ironic that the present Administration is busily searching for outstanding people in their early forties to serve as ambassadors, chiefs of foreign aid missions, and so forth, when there are many able and experienced men in the civil and foreign services who are probably better qualified for these jobs than most outsiders.
As things stand, however, these men will not be promoted to the highest classes in their services for many years. One of the dilemmas of administration is how to advance people rapidly and out of turn without disrupting the organization. The key is to act without fear or favor in rewarding excellence. And in pruning out incompetence.
No organization is overstaffed with good people. But everyone agrees that overstaffing exists in Washington and the field, with its well-known vices: excessive layering, unnecessary clearances, overgrown committees, needless proliferation of paperwork, and timewasting demands on top officials.
Nevertheless, overstaffing remains, like the weather, a common subject of conversation but an infrequent object of action. And for much the same reason: the top executive despairs, under the restrictions to which he is subject, of doing much about it.
Some say that veterans' preference legislation and other regulations make it difficult to carry out reductions in force without disrupting an organization, largely because they trigger a chain "bumping reaction. Others believe that these difficulties are exaggerated and used as an excuse to avoid the always painful task of reducing staff.
Some say that the Government has not taken intelligent advantage of the opportunities provided by the normal turnover of 10 to 20 percent through retirements, resignations, transfers, and death. If new recruiting could be held to half this loss, substantial reductions would be quickly possible. But the key is again authority for man
agers to manage. Top executives need greater freedom to reassign
people, abolish and consolidate functions, and perhaps to replace to several low-ranking officers with an outstanding person or two of high
This is an area in which cooperation between the executive branch and Congress might yield important results.
A change of attitude is needed at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Too often officials of the executive branch regard Congress as an opponent; they are less than frank about their administrative problems : when frankness would pay off; they try to minimize trouble by pretending that matters are well in hand when they are not.
For its part Congress should concern itself less with efforts to pre: vent executives from abusing power by restricting their ability to manage and should instead give them the authority to act as executives and hold them accountable for their use of it. There should be less emphasis on restrictions, restraints, and regulations and more on management flexibility with rewards for accomplishment.
This (Cuban) experience underlined also the importance in times of crisis of extremely rapid and reliable communications between governments. Rapid communication was instrumental in this case in averting a possible war. But even more rapid communication would in fact be desirable.
Secretary of State Dean Rusk, address, Foreign Policy Associa
tion, November 20, 1962
The problem of fast, reliable, secure communication with our I'missions overseas and with other governments is at last receiving bi top-level attention, largely as a result of the serious inadequacies
revealed in the course of the Cuban and Congo crises. The military ere and intelligence services have good, modern facilities for communi
cating with many key areas. Even their communications are poor, e however, with many parts of the world, including most of Latin
America, Africa, and Asia. The Department of State's facilities are unsatisfactory in most areas. Serious delays have been experienced and unfortunate restrictions on traffic had to be imposed in recent months, even in communications with major capitals of Western Europe.
Modern technology has made rapid, adequate, secure communication feasible. But the U.S. Government has not yet made full use of this technology to build a satisfactory worldwide communications system. Although the facilities required will be expensive, the cost will be minimal in comparison with the costs of a failure of communications at a critical juncture and in comparison with our expenditures on other parts of our national security programs.
A question of importance is whether a system can be planned and built which would meet Government-wide needs without costly duplication of facilities and without subordinating the needs and legitimate