Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Ambassador James H. Michel
The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project
AMBASSADOR JAMES H. MICHEL
Interviewed by: Thomas Stern
Initial interview date: September 10, 1991
Copyright 1998 ADST
Q: Jim, many thanks for giving us time today. I will restrict my questions to management/administrative issues, but I warn you that we will be back after your retirement to cover your very distinguished career. Let me start by asking first by asking how you became involved in management/administrative affairs?
MICHEL: I joined the Department of State in the Summer of 1965 as an attorney. Through the accident of the assignment process in the Office of the Legal Adviser, I was placed in the office of the Deputy Legal Advisor for Administration, Ed Lyerly. At the time, the Foreign Service personnel system was once again being re-examined. That is a process which occurred frequently through my career, as it had several times before I joined the Department. In 1965, the major issue was the “Hayes Bill”, a Departmentally sponsored piece of legislation which would have unified the personnel systems of the Department using the Foreign Service system as the model. Therefore, from the very beginning, personnel issues were a the priority area of the section to which I was assigned. During the next several years, I worked with various management/administrative offices in the Department. I had a lawyer/client relationship with many of them; increasingly, I dealt directly with them looking at the legal aspects of their problems and became quite familiar with the issues facing the management and personnel staffs of the Department. Somewhere along the line, we reached the point at which I was regularly consulted and asked to participate in policy reviews, including considerations of system changes which went beyond any legal questions that might have arisen.
Q: In 1965, when you joined the Department, William J. Crockett was the Deputy Under Secretary for Management. He was known as the strongest proponent of the “Hayes Bill”. Wayne Hayes was the Chairman of the Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that was responsible for the Department of State.First of all, were you at the time involved in the dialogue between the Department and the Congress on the “Hayes Bill”?