Letter to the Executive Secretary, National Security Council, Requesting a Study of the Employee Security Program.
Dear Mr. Lay:
I have become seriously concerned by a number of reports I have heard recently concerning the administration of the provisions of existing law which authorize the heads of the various departments and agencies to discharge Government employees, or to refuse Government employment to applicants, on the ground that they are poor security risks.
If these provisions of law are to achieve their purpose of protecting the security of the Government without unduly infringing on the rights of individuals, they must be administered with the utmost wisdom and courage. We must never forget that the fundamental purpose of our Government is to protect the rights of individual citizens and one of the highest obligations of the Government is to see that those rights are protected in its own operations.
The present situation does not make for good administration. There are no uniform standards or procedures to be followed in the different departments and agencies concerned. Neither is there any provision for review at a central point as there is in the case of the Government Employee Loyalty Program. This is a problem that falls within the scope of the work which I have asked to have undertaken by the Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights. However, the work of that Commission has been delayed because of the failure of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to report legislation which would exempt the members and staff of the Commission from the conflict-of-interest statutes.
I believe that the present problems involved in the administration of the Government Employees Security Program are so acute that they should be given at least preliminary consideration without waiting further for the Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights. Consequently, I should like the National Security Council, utilizing its Interdepartmental Committee on Internal Security, and with the participation of the Civil Service Commission, to make an investigation of the way this program is being administered, and to advise me what changes are believed to be required. In particular, I should like consideration given to whether provision should be made for uniform standards and procedures and for central review of the decisions made in the various departments and agencies.
When the Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights is able to resume its work, it would, of course, have the benefit of the work done pursuant to this request.
I am asking each of the departments and agencies concerned to cooperate fully in this study.
HARRY S. TRUMAN
[Mr. James S. Lay, Jr., Executive Secretary of the National Security Council]
Note: The report by the Interdepartmental Committee on Internal Security on the Government Employee Security Program, dated April 29, 1952 (45 pp., mimeographed), was submitted to the President by the National Security Council.
Harry S. Truman, Letter to the Executive Secretary, National Security Council, Requesting a Study of the Employee Security Program. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230398