Humor in the Government, c. 1957

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

Robert Bowie served in the Department of State as director of the Policy Planning Staff and as the Department of State representative to the National Security Council Planning Board from 1953 to 1957.  In 1955, he also assumed the new position of Assistant Secretary for Policy Planning.  The following is an outline of his career before leading the Policy Planning Staff:

  • 1931: Graduated from Princeton University
  • 1934: Graduated from the Harvard Law School
  • 1934: Passed the Maryland bar and entered the practice of law in Baltimore, MD
  • 1941: Appointed Assistant Attorney General of Maryland
  • 1942: Resigned to join the Army.  For the last year of his Army service he was Special Assistant to General Lucius Clay, Deputy Military Governor of the American Zone of occupied Germany
  • 1945: Became professor of law at Harvard in 1946
  • 1948: Director of the Task Force on Regulatory Commissions of the Commission on Reorganization of the Federal Government (Hoover Commission)
  • 1950-51: Served as general counsel and special assistant to John McCloy, U.S. High Commissioner for Germany
  • 1951: Returned to Harvard Law School

At some point in 1957, one of his colleagues created the following mock annual efficiency report for Bowie with tongue firmly planed in cheek.[i]

After leaving the Department of State, Bowie returned to Harvard.  There, he was the founder of the Center for International Affairs, which he directed until 1972.  He retired from Harvard in 1980.  He also served in government during those years.  In 1960, President Eisenhower appointed him to lead a task force that prepared the report “The North Atlantic Nations: Tasks for the 1960’s” known as the Bowie Report.  He worked at the Department of State as Counselor from 1966 to 1968 and at the Central Intelligence Agency as Deputy Director for National Intelligence from 1977 to 1979.  He died in 2013 at the age of 104.


[i] Source: Efficiency Report, undated, file Policy Planning (NAID 3562197), 1947-52, Entry A1-1583G, Policy Planning Council, Executive Secretary: Subject Files, 1935-62, RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.

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