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congressional committees remain much as ever: distinct, disparate, dispersed. Our personnel systems are equally dispersed. In the national security complex alone, I count at least seven separate professional career systems-military included—along with the general civil service which to most intents and purposes is departmentalized.
These days few staffs in any agency can do their work alone without active support or at least passive acquiescence from staffs outside, in other agencies often many others. Yet no one agency, no personnel system is the effective boss of any other; no one staff owes effective loyalty to the others. By and large the stakes which move men's loyalties—whether purpose, prestige, power, or promotion-run to one's own program, one's own career system, along agency lines not across them.
These developments place premiums on interstaff negotiation, compromise, agreement in the course of everybody's action. This subcommittee has deplored the horrors of committee work: the wastes of time, the earstrain—and the eyestrain—the “papering over” of differences, the search for lowest common denominators of agreement. I deplore these horrors, too, and freely advocate "committee killing," periodically, to keep them within bounds. But given the realities of programing and operations, interagency negotiation cannot be avoided. To "kill” committees is, at most, to drive them underground. Officials have to find at least an informal equivalent. What else are they to do?
One other thing they can do is push their pet issues up for argument and settlement at higher levels. Once started on this course, there is no very satisfactory place to stop short of the White House. In logic and in law only the Presidency stands somewhat above all agencies, all personnel systems, all staffs. Here one can hope to gain decisions as definitive as our system permits; congressional committees may be able to supplant them, special pleaders may be able to reverse them, foot-draggers may be able to subvert them even so, they are the surest thing obtainable.
Accordingly officials urged to show initiative, to quit logrolling in committee, to be vigorous in advocacy, firm in execution, turn toward the White House seeking from it regular, reliable, consistent service as a fixed and constant court of arbitration for the national security complex. This means, of course, a court which knows how courts behave and does not enter cases prematurely. Your staff
report rightly describes the sort of service wanted; in the circumstances of officials they do well to want it.
Their need for such a service is unquestionable, and legitimate. To flounder through the mush of “iffy" answers, or evasions; to struggle through the murk of many voices, few directives; to fight without assurance of a referee; to face the Hill without assurance of a buffer; or on the other hand, to clean up after eager amateurs, to repair damage done by ex parte proceedings; to cope with happy thoughts in highest places-these are what officialdom complains of, and with reason. For the work of large-scale enterprises tends to be disrupted by such breaches of "good order” and routine. Not bureaucrats alone but also Presidents have stakes in the effectiveness of the Executive bureaucracy. From any point of view, officials surely are entitled to want White House service in support of their performance.
But if a President should give this service to their satisfaction, what becomes of him? While he sits as the judge of issues brought by others—keeping order, following procedure, filing decisions, clearing dockets—what happens to his personal initiative, his search for information, his reach for control, his mastery of detail? What happens to his own concerns outside the sphere of national security! In short, where is his flexibility? The answers I think are plain. Thus the dilemma with which I began: to a degree a large degree his needs and theirs are incompatible.
HELP FROM THE SECRETARY OF STATE?
It is tempting to assert that this dilemma could be resolved at a stroke by the appointment of a "czar," a Presidential deputy, to serve as court-of-first-resort for all disputes within the national security complex except the ones the President preempted out of interest to him. self or to the Nation. The “solution” is tempting but I find it quite unreal. I do not see how this role can be built into our system. I share the reservations put on record by the reports of your predecessor subcommittee.
Setting aside grandiose solutions, what might be done to ease the tension between presidential and official needs, to keep the pains of this dilemma within bounds? The answer I believe-insofar as one exists-lies in careful and selective augmentation of the Presidency's staff resources. A President may not need deputies, writ large, to keep decisions from him but he certainly needs ready and responsive staff work in the preparatory phases of decisionmaking and followup. The better he is served thereby, the better will officialdom be served as well. In this their needs run parallel: effective staff work for him cannot help but put some firm procedure under foot for them; such staff work promises that bases will be touched, standpoints exploredwith rocks turned over and the worms revealed-positions traced, appeals arranged, compromises tested. When this prospect is seen ahead official hearts are glad.
In the nature of the case, a President's assistants at the White House cannot do that sort of staff work by themselves except—they hope and so does he-on issues having top priority for him in his own mind and schedule, day-to-day. Preparatory work on issues not yet in that class and followup on issues which have left it must be done, if done at all, at one remove through staff facilities less dominated by the President's immediate requirements. Hence the distinction introduced a quarter-century ago between personal staff at the White House and institutional staff, mainly career staff, in the executive offices across the street, of which the longest-lived example is the Bureau of the Budget.
But in the sphere of national security there is no Budget Bureau. Its nearest counterpart remains the Office of the Secretary of State. This is the traditional source of "institutional" assistance for a President in what was once the peacetime sum of foreign relations: diplomacy. And while the Office has not kept pace with the meaning of that term, no full-scale substitute has been built in its stead. I hope none will be. I hope, rather, that the Secretary's Office can be rebuilt on a scale commensurate with the contemporary reach of foreign relations.
Reliance on the Secretary's Office as an institutional staff resource seems to have been envisaged at the start of Mr. Kennedy's adminis
tration. On the White House side Mr. Bundy was named to the iz necessary personal assistantship, filling a post established in the previ
ous administration : "Special Assistani for National Security Affairs." But formalized committee structures and secretariats built up around his
post during the 1950's were scaled down or disestablished by the new administration. This was done with the expressed intent of improving staff performance by transferring staff functions to the Office of the Secretary of State. OCB is a case in point. As Mr. Bundy wrote your chairman on September 4, 1961:
It was and is our belief that there is much to be done that the OCB could not do, and that the things it did do can be done as well or better in other ways. The most important of these other ways is an increased reliance on the leadership of the Department of State * * * the President has made it very clear that he does not want a large separate organization between him and his Secretary of State. Neither does he wish any question to arise as to the clear authority and responsibility of the Secretary of State, not only in his own Department, and not only in such large-scale related areas as foreign aid and information policy, but also as the agent of coordination in all our major policies toward other nations.
For a variety of reasons, some of them beyond my range of observation, this staffing pattern has not been set firmly up to now: the White House side, the "personal” side, seems firm enough but not the other side, the "institutional” side. So far as I can judge, the State Department has not yet found means to take the proffered role
and play it rigorously across the board of national security affairs. The difficulties here may be endemic; the role may ask too much of one department among others. But I think it is decidedly too soon to tell. State
, I conceive, should have the benefit of every doubt and more time for experiment.
This seems to be the view of the administration. It is striking that in all these months the White House staff has set up no procedures or "machinery” which would interfere in any way with building up the Secretary's Office as a Presidential “agent of coordination. It is striking also that the Secretary has moved toward enhancement of his Ofice by equipping it with a strong No. 3 position in the person of Mr. Harriman, who preceded me at your hearings. The burdens of advice-giving and of negotiation weigh heavily these days not only on the Secretary but also on the Under Secretary. This position thus comes into play as in effect their common deputyship. Mr. Harriman, I take it, with his new authority as second Under Secretary has more opportunity than they to be a source of guidance and of stiffening-and interference-running—for careerists in the State Department, as they deal with one another and with staffs outside. If he actually can do this, if he too is not weighed down by other duties, then the ground may be prepared now for substantial further movement toward development of central staff work in the national security sphere.
Until now, I gather, no one has had time to make himself consistently an energizer,' catalyst, connective for the several sorts of planners, secretariats, task forces, and action officers now scattered through the upper floors of our vast new State building. The Secretary may sit at the center of this vastness, but his Office has almost
no staff which he can call his own. To weld together such a staff out of these scattered pieces, to imbue it with cohesion and a governmentwide outlook, to implant it as a Presidential agent of coordination for the sweep of national security affairs: all this is far from done. I need not tell you why I think the doing will take time.
THE SECRETARY VERSUS THE OTHERS
But I must not mislead you. What I offer here is "conventional wisdom," my hopes are conventional hopes. To call for augmentation of the Presidency's staff resources is to echo what has been prescribed for almost every governmental ailment these past 30 years. To fasten on the Secretary's Office as the means is to follow the footsteps of innumerable study groups intent upon improving something in particular within the range of foreign operations. The Herter Committee very recently, concerned for personnel in Foreign Service, charged the Secretary's Office with coordination of civilian career systems. Now I come along to charge the Office with coordinative staff work in the realm of policy. Such unanimity is dangerous.
The danger is that as we try to make the Secretary's Office serve the needs of personnel directors, or of action officers, or White House aids, or Presidents, we may forget the Secretary's needs. The danger is that as we try to make him a strong instrument for other people's purposes we may forget that he will have some purpose of his own. The modern secretaryship of state is not merely a Presidential staff resource or a personnel agency for that matter-nor can it be used simply to bridge differences between the President and officialdom. This Office has its own compelling and divergent needs apart from theirs; it has its own dilemma differing from theirs. To seek the best of both worlds from the Secretary's Office, to intend effective staff work for both President and Secretary, is to present as delicate a task of institution building as the Executive has faced in modern times. Because it is so delicate the outcome is uncertain. The danger is that in our advocacy we forget the delicacy, the uncertainty, or both.
Consider for a moment the responsibility of any modern Secretary of State. Always in form, usually in fact, the man becomes a very senior personal adviser to the President, a source of brainpower and judgment for him both as one man to another and at working sessions of his chosen inner circle-currently the executive committee of the National Security Council. Perhaps this was not Mr. Bryan's role to reach far back-or Mr. Hull's, but certainly it was the role of Messrs. Marshall, Acheson, and Dulles, among others. Under conditions of cold war, this role is sharpened, rendered more intense by emergence of the Secretary of Defense, an officer with roughly equal claim but necessarily different focus, as a source of judgment in the foreign relations sphere. Balance of advice becomes important on each issue every day.
The Secretary of State is much more than a personal adviser. He also is our ranking diplomat at large for sensitive negotiations just short of the summit. Furthermore, he serves as an administration voice to Congress, to the country, and abroad whose public word is weighty in proportion to his rank. At the same time he is actively in charge of a complex administrative entity. He is “Mr. State Depart
ment” and “Mr. Foreign Service," leader of officials, spokesman for their causes, guardian of their interests, judge of their disputes, superintendent of their work, master of their careers.
The Secretary of State has a dilemma all his own. These roles are mutually reinforcing: his advice gains weight because he represents the whole Department, his public statements and internal orders gain in potency because he is so often at the White House. But these roles are also mutually antagonistic: fronting for officials strains his credit as an adviser, advising keeps his mind off management, negotiating preempts energy and time. "No modern Secretary has performed the miracle of playing all these roles at once so skillfully and carefully that he obtains the benefits of all and pays no penalties. Presumably there is no way to do it.
A Secretary cannot wriggle out of this dilemma by ditching his department and retreating to the White House, although at least one Secretary may have wished he could. His job cannot be done from there, nor is he needed there. Another man can serve, and does, as White House aide for national security affairs; like others of his kind the aide stays close at hand to deal with action issues on the President's agenda when and how the President's own mind, interests, and work habits require as he meets his own time pressures and priorities. No doubt this personal assistantship includes a role
as personal adviser. The Secretary also is a personal adviser. But this coincidence does not make them the same, nor would it help the President to have two such assistants and no Secretary.
The Secretary's usefulness as an adviser lies precisely in the fact that he is more than just
another aide whose work is tied entirely to the President's. The Secretary has work of his own, resources of his own, vistas of his own. He is in business under his own name and in his name powers are exercised, decisions taken. Therefore he can press his personal authority, his own opinion, his adviser's role, wherever he sees fit across the whole contemporary reach of foreign relations, never mind the organization charts. He cannot hope to win
all arguments in such a sphere, nor is he in position to contest them indiscriminately. But his status and the tasks of his Department give
every right to raise his voice where, when and as he chooses. To abandon his Department in an effort to escape its burdens and distractions is to cloud his title as adviser. Yet to concentrate on running his department-combating weaknesses, asserting jurisdictions, adjudicating feuds—is no better solution for a Secretary's problem. With the President absorbed, as Presidents must be, in foreign operations, in diplomacy, defense, no Secretary worth his salt would spend much time on management while others drafted cables in the Cabinet room. And if he did he would not long remain effective as a personal adviser. The modern Secretary of State, whoever he may be, deserves more sympathy than most receive. He lives with his dilemma but he cannot take the comfort which officials, facing theirs, draw from longevity: “This too shall pass.” Nor can he take the comfort which a President derives from being, for a fixed term, No. 1. The Secretary's only consolation is to share with Gilbert's Gondoliers "the satisfying feeling that our duty has been done.” But “duty” is exceedingly ambiguous for him. What about the duties he has slighted?