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It is true that we are looking for outstanding generalists, but in our zeal to find them we must not overlook the advancement of those specialists whose very depth of understanding makes them invaluable in the work they do for us.
Officers who have accepted assignments in specialized areas have frequently been heard to complain of discrimination in promotions.
The Wriston Committee as well as the more recent Herter Committee on Personnel recognized that the Department must employ specialists in order to fulfill its vital role. The Department has also recognized the importance of specialization.
Selection out in previous years has often come about because an officer was judged not to have the potential required to reach the highest levels of the Service. This philosophy was followed despite the fact that many public members expressed the opinion that we were losing officers who had specialties that we could ill afford to lose simply because the officer in question did not have the capacity of becoming a generalist or an executive and thereby did not have the potential to reach the top. In this year's precepts, we have moved a long way from this concept. Wherever possible, you should consider an officer's ability, first in comparison with that of officers in his own specialty before a comparison is made with his class as a whole. In these cases general potential is not as important as his potential in his specialty.
In your considerations, you should know that the Department places critical importance on the assignment of officers to other agencies-our sister agencies, USIA and AID, as well as to Treasury, Commerce, Labor, Defense, the Peace Corps, and others.
Also, it is well to point out that officers assigned to the U.S. mission at the United Nations have an unparalleled opportunity to broaden their knowledge of world affairs, to develop contacts useful to their work, and to learn parliamentary procedures at the highest international level.
NATO and our numerous political advisers to military commands present another case in point. Officers assigned there serve under men who may not be completely familiar with the importance the promotion system attaches to efficiency ratings, and the reports on these officers may not reflect in detail the information we are accustomed to look for in the evaluation of an officer.
Therefore, I ask you to keep in mind that rating officers in international organizations and other agencies are apt to pay less heed to our rating system than we would like.
You will find many officers assigned to advanced training programs at the various war colleges and universities around the country, and you will find others in what we call hard language training. Many of these men have yolunteered for this training. I urge you to give positive credit to these men who are placing the long-term needs and interests of the Department and Foreign Service ahead of personal considerations. Being out of the mainstream of usual Department assignments means that they, too, may have skimpy ratings. I assure you they would not be in training if they were not representative of the best officers we have.
I have been discussing some of the promotion factors. Now I would like to mention the concept of selecting officers to leave the Service because they do not measure up for one reason or another to the high standards that are required for membership in the Foreign Service Officer Corps. In many ways, the task of selecting those who do not measure up will be a more difficult assignment than identifying those who should be promoted.
Selection out-the elimination of the less fit-is necessary for improving the corps, and for assuring that we do have a service that is equipped and ready to face the problems ahead. Judged in terms of men and women who somehow do not measure up, it might be called a harsh and brutal system. But the perilous times confronting our Nation today do not permit mediocrity in our ranks.
You may find cases where officers promoted very recently now appear to have leveled off or even merit your consideration for selection out. There are several things I would like to have you keep in mind in this regard. First of all, the promotion system itself has weaknesses because it is a system based on human judgment, and human judgment is often subjective and at times erroneous Therefore, there is always a possibility of mistake. But most important of all, you should remember that people change characters change, attitudes fluctuate, and motivations shift. Officers once vigorous and ambitious can go sour and somehow lose their vision. As a result, we can never say that any promotion is ever final-it cannot be made and forgotten. Our evaluation system is an
important tool-in fact the only tool that you will have in determining whether an officer has begur. to coast or is going downhill despite the challenges, career development, education, and other opportunities we have given him. In the end, what an officer is or has become is pretty much his own doing and his own responsibility. When you find a case of this sort, we expect you to deal with it firmly, for no matter how careful we have been in the promotion in the first place, if such people are permitted to stay in our organization, we will condone weak spots that will threaten the entire structure. Therefore, not only the fate of individual officers but in a sense the capability of the Nation's foreign affairs organization depend upon your courage and your insight in weeding out those who can no longer make a positive contribution to the settlement of the problems that beset us.
In the strictest sense, the mandate to the selection boards does not empower you to correct inequities or grievances. In your perusal of the files, you will come upon cases which may appear to have resulted from error in selection in the first place, misassignment, or other ineptitude in the personnel process. But these boards are not convened to correct such inequities—they are convened to promote officers of merit and to designate those who should be considered for selection out.
However, the Office of Personnel will be pleased to have the boards give it names of officers whose cases should be specially reviewed because of the strong possibility of inequity.
In going through performance folders you will note some disparity in the length, form, and content of efficiency reports prepared by Foreign Service inspectors. Prior to 1962, as complete a report as possible was prepared by the inspectors on every American above FSS-12 at the post being inspected. These reports occasionally ran to as many as eight or nine pages in length.
In 1962, in order to avoid the duplication of effort which was sometimes involved under the old system, the inspectors were instructed merely to note their agreement with the supervisor's report when they found the latter's evaluation complete, accurate, and objective. Full reports are, however, still written by the inspector, when his opinion of the individual being rated differs substantially from that of the supervisor, when special problems are involved, or, in the rare instances when he feels it necessary to correct bias or lack of objectivity on the part of the supervisor. By the elimination of material found elsewhere in an officer's file, today's full report has been reduced to an average of two pages in length.
After a short experimental period in which some unevenness resulted from varying interpretations of the new instructions, this system has been working well, and has resulted in considerable savings in time and effort in the field, and in the size of the folders which you are about to study.
You will be called upon to read and consider a large number of personnel files; to ponder the qualities and circumstances that make one officer succeed where another failed; to press for insights beyond the written word that will enable you to visualize the life and problems of an officer and his family doing their jobs in a strange and faraway place; to seek for hidden meanings in bland statements that will give some added basis for your judgments; to discuss and argue the difficulties of this position versus that or the merits of one man versus another in the job that was done; and, finally, to make judgments that will send some officers to the highest reaches of the Service while requiring another to abandon a lifetime of work in order to find and establish, outside the Service, a new life for himself and his family.
I am sure there will be a sense of exhilaration when you find an officer who is superior and you can agree that he goes to the top of the list. And, conversely, I hope that you all will not find too difficult the onerous but necessary duty of placing other officers at the bottom of the list.
I would like to refer briefly to the Selection Board precepts relative to performance. Those precepts state that recognition must be given to officers who hare shown themselves capable of independent judgment, initiative, creative work, self-reliance, and the acceptance of unusual responsibility. If the initiative of an officer has led to some difficulty, he should not be severely judged because a calculated risk did not work out. The risk might well fit into the category of daring and dissent called for by the President in his 1961 state of the Union message. Where doubt exists, the facts should be weighed to see whether an officer's actions were part of a pattern which lowered his general performance (for which he should be penalized); or whether his actions were an isolated incident of well-reasoned daring and dissent (for which he should be commended rather than censured).
Our standards of professional expertise, intellectual capacity, and executive and leadership ability, must be of the highest and also must encompass such things as personal conduct, morality, and family.
The whole pattern of an officer's life including his family is an important element of consideration in this business of selecting those who will represent America abroad. Insofar as I am concerned, the standards cannot be too high.
All of those in the Service will be eagerly watching the results of the Selection Boards to see what kind of people actually are promoted. Do our actions on promotions really follow through on the statements we have made about the importance of specialization, the importance of training, the importance of service in other agencies? Do the promotions made as a result of your delibera. tions give credence to the fact that we are judging people by high standards? The results of your actions will carry far more weight in shaping the career hopes of the young people in the Service than all the preachments at our command.
I hope I have set the tone for a careful, deliberate review of the records of all Foreign Service officers. If the Foreign Service is, in fact, to be an elite corps in the service of our country, it must impose upon itself the highest of standards.
We must have a Foreign Service Officer Corps that is neither third rate por second rate, but first rate in its comparison to other corps around the world. We must have a corps of officers that will equate in every way with the best that our national life produces-officers who can hold their own with the leaders produced by business, by the academic world, and by the professions. It is your job to help us create such a corps.
PRECEPTS FOR THE 1963 FOREIGN SERVICE SELECTION BOARDS
Our survival as a nation depends in large measure on the success of our foreign policies. The President of the United States is charged with the conduct of our foreign relations, and the Department of State is his principal instrument. Our Foreign Service must therefore be second to none if it is to carry out its responsibilities. It must be composed of dedicated men and women, able to promote the national interests and capable of providing leadership in the multifaceted conduct of foreign affairs. The character and caliber of the Foreign Service are to an important extent a consequence of the findings of the selection boards.
You have been called from positions of importance and pulled from the mainstream of your daily lives to perform a service for your Government. You are charged with identifying those Foreign Service officers who will carry major responsibilities in the conduct of our foreign affairs.
The basic purpose of the selection system is to identify and reward excellence, ability, and potential by advancing outstanding officers to the senior ranks, regardless of age, length of service, or time in grade. Every other consideration is distinctly secondary.
Reserve officers will be considered by you along with career officers of the Foreign Service. (See Foreign Affairs Manual Circular No. 137 dated Aug. 21, 1963.) Your evaluation, therefore, will include all Foreign Service officers and Reserve officers. Those officers whose duties are so technical that they do not compare with the duties normally performed by other officers of the Service will be evaluated by the Technical Board which is being convened this year for the first time. All junior officers in probationary status will be evaluated by special boards.
Selection Board A is directed to identify officers from class 1 qualified for promotion to the class of career minister. Not only for the guidance of that Board, but also for boards reviewing lower classes, there is provided below a description of the qualifications of a career minister.
Junior- and middle-grade officers, who, to the extent possible, demonstrate these qualities early in their careers should be singled out for rapid promotion to grades where their capabilities can be more fully developed and tested.
Career minister qualifications.-A career minister is expected to possess the exceptional experience, ability, and personal characteristics which qualify him to serve in key executive and policy positions in Washington and abroad, such as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and above, chief of mission, deputy chief of mission at class 1 missions, U.S. representative to international organizations, and similar key positions in the Department of State and other U.S. Government departments and agencies.
The career minister is expected to have a high sense of public service, complete integrity, mature and disciplined judgment, good presence and personality, a first-rate mind, and a driving desire for accomplishment. Typically, he will have demonstrated unusual leadership and command talent, a penetrating insight into the foreign affairs process, an outstanding policy sense, a high degree of executive proficiency, superior competence in planning and conducting negotiations, and well-developed skill in oral and written expression.
He will be expected to have a comprehensive knowledge of the key governmental programs in the foreign affairs field. His perspective will encompass the complete range of interests and functional considerations that are pertinent to foreign affairs decisions. His stature will have developed to the point where his outlook is not colored or influenced by bureaucratic or parochial considerations.
He will not only be a person knowledgeable in foreign affairs, but also one well versed in the current issues and problems of the American domestic scene.
His spouse is expected to possess the qualities and personality which will support and enhance the ability of the career minister to perform effectively in key executive and command posts to which he may be assigned abroad.
Typically, the qualifications described above will have been developed in one or more of the major functional areas of the Foreign Service; i.e., economic, political, administrative, intelligence, labor, commercial functions, etc. As he approached the senior levels of the Foreign Service, the officer would normally have been assigned responsibilities of an executive and policy nature requiring synthesis of the several functional areas. At one point in his career develop ment, he would probably have been assigned to another department or agency, such as Defense, Commerce, Labor, AID, or USIA, which has major programs or is otherwise heavily involved in the international field. It is also likely that he was a participant in the senior officers' training course, one of the war colleges or other institutions of learning for an academic year or longer. His later assignments would have included chief of mission, or deputy chief of mission, principal officer at a major consulate general, under secretary, deputy under secretary, assistant secretary, deputy assistant secretary, or similar positions of high policy and executive responsibility, not only in the Department of State, but in other U.S. Government departments and agencies as well.
His earlier career will have been more noteworthy for initiative than for caution. It will have been marked more by creative effort resulting in superlative accomplishment and occasional mistakes than by unquestioning adherence to norm or precedent resulting in an unblemished record of routinely satisfactory work. He will have exhibited keen intellectual curiosity beyond the bounds of official business and will have developed comprehension in depth of the political, economic, and sociological forces at work in countries and areas to which he has been assigned. He will have shown capacity to understand and to converse, and get along well with foreign nationals in and out of government circles. Blended with this there will have been consistent evidence in his performance of purposeful and effective effort to advance our national objectives. He will have demonstrated complete awareness of the scope of the senior positions he has occupied and of the new dimensions of diplomacy in the 1960's in both the substantive and management-administrative fields.
There is no fixed minimum or upper limit to age for appointment as career minister. The age will depend upon the rate of an officer's development and on whether he is prepared for the demands that will be made of career ministers.
Because the President and the Secretary of State are seeking a group of career ministers capable of carrying out any assignment involving U.S. foreign affairs anywhere in the world, promotion to the rank of career minister will not be used as a reward for past performance. It will only be used as recognition of promise to meet future challenges with extraordinary skill and dedication. Accordingly, it is essential that these high qualifying standards be set and that they be maintained unwaveringly.
I. GENERAL DIRECTIVES TO ALL SELECTION BOARDS
A. Factors to be considered in rating officers
The qualities required for top-level foreign affairs executives have been discussed in detail in the foregoing section on career ministers. A primary purpose of the selection boards is to identify, whenever possible, and to recommend for promotion in all classes, officers with potential for eventual top-level executive leadership. It is recognized that this category will be a relatively small percentage of the total number of officers in any class. The Service has an equally important need for skills more sharply defined in scope and highly specialized. Meritorious performance in any position must be rewarded and encouraged. Factors to be considered by selection boards in rating officers are discussed below.
It is essential that all Foreign Service officers, and Reserve officers of each class whose records are evaluated and rated by a selection board be considered as officers of equal status and that no officer be either discriminated against or favored by reason of his present or past employment status or of dissimilarity in the form of his performance record. In evaluating and rating the performance records of officers newly appointed as Foreign Service officers or Reserve officers, full weight must be given to the quality and level of their performance prior to their present appointments.