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The general purpose of this bill has the indorsement of President Coolidge. Secretary Hughes, and other high officials of the State Department, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, and other large business interests of the country, as well as the approval of the late President Harding at the time of its introduction in the House more than a year ago.
Briefly, the principal object of the proposed legislation is to reorganize the foreign service. In the words of President Coolidge in his message to Congress. December 6, 1923, “ The foreign service of the United States needs to be reorganized and improved."
The four most important provisions of the bill are:
1. The adoption of a new and uniform salary scale with a view to broadening the field of selection by eliminating the necessity for private incomes and perinitting the relative merits of candidates to be adjudged on the basis of ability alone.
2. The amalgamation of the diplomatic and consular branches into a single foreign service on an interchangeable basis. This would relieve the limitations of the present consular career and effectually coordinate the political and the economic branches of the service.
3. The granting of representation allowances, which would lessen the demands on the private fortunes of ambassadors and ministers and render it practicable to promote a greater number of trained officers to those positions.
4. The extension of the civil service retirement act, with appropriate modifications, to the foreign service. This has become necessary for maintaining the desired standard of efficiency under the merit system.
The meaning of “representation allowances,” which the Rogers bill proposes to grant American diplomats in lieu of the “ post allowances," which were a sort of a bonus granted during the war to cover emergency expenses, is an allow. ance which has its origin in the practice of foreign governments, notably the British. It may cover furniture and furnishings for the official residence and the rent of the officer's residence. It may cover entertainment. It may cover an allowance for receptions on the annual Fourth of July celebrations given by our officers abroad. It may cover the expenses of official entertainments given to the officers and commanders of our fleets when they visit foreign ports. It may cover various outlays which the head of a mission or a consulate makes in properly representing his Government. Moreover, it is to be accounted for in precisely the manner in which expenditures are usually accounted for, so that it is known what has been done with the money and usually the exact benefit derived from the outlay.
The “post allowance,” on the other hand, was used by the British and French and by this Government during the war and immediately after the war to cover that increase in expenditures arising out of the fluctuation in foreign exchange. the sudden rise in the cost of living, and for other purposes. It was a sort of war bonus, such as we had in the United States for the classified civilian employees, and was given in addition to their regular compensation, and hence was a personal bonus for the officer.
The proposed legislation would combine the Diplomatic and Consular Services into the “foreign service of the United States," thus creating a single service on a reasonably interchangeable basis; it would grade all persons appointed to the service below the rank of ambassador and minister at fixed salaries; it would provide means for the transfer, under the merit system, of those in the subordinate positions to posts of the highest honor and responsibility. In short, this legislation would broaden the scope of the Diplomatic and Consular Serrices in such a manner that it would open up an avenue for a career” for those who have been found fitted by training and temperament for what will eventually become in America, as it now practically is in Europe among the older nations, the “profession of diplomacy."
It has been estimated that the benefits which the Rogers bill proposes, including increases in salaries, the provision for retirement annuities, and representation allowances, will entail an initial increase over present expenditures of the State Department not to exceed $375,000. As the Department of State is the one department of the Government that comes nearest to paying its way, because of the consular, shipping, and passport fees it collects, this added expense to the Government is trivial when compared with the benefits that naturally would accrue to the American people.
VI. WHAT FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS PAY THEIR DIPLOMATIC OFFICERS.
Another phase of America's diplomatic position among nations concerns the desirability, even the necessity, for the purchase by the United States of suitable homes for its diplomatic representatives abroad. While the matter of official residences is not touched upon in the particular Rogers bill under discussion, it is still one that interests all Americans when it is considered that dignified homes are supplied the ambassadors and ministers of other nations in foreign capitals, and, too, when it is considered further that salaries paid American diplomatic officers are universally smaller than those paid by foreign governments to their diplomatic representatives. In this connection the following tables will be of interest to those concerned in the future development of this Government's foreign service: Comparative statement showing salaries of ambassadors and ministers at im
1 Residences owned by Government and supplied in addition to salary. Comparative statement showing salaries of principal consular officers at
Rio de Janeiro.
15,000 5,000 8,000 5,500 4,500
4,000 14,500 6,000 4,500 3,500 5,000 2 5,500 2 3,500 5,500 2,500 3,000 8,000 3,500 8,000 8,000 4,000 5,500
6,325 8,515 6,447
United States, New York..
9, 246 6,447 6,326 9, 246
8,759 8,759 8, 759 26,035
1 Consul temporarily in charge.
2 Office now closed.
Though this Government maintains consular offices in 410 cities of 57 countries, the United States owns but four consulate buildings. These are at Amoy, China; Shanghai, China; Seoul, Chosen ; Tahiti, Society Islands. The consulate at Yokohama was destroyed recently by earthquake.
Only six embassy buildings are owned by this Government—those at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; Habana, Cuba; London, England; Mexico City, Mexico; Constantinople, Turkey; while the embassy building at Tokio, Japan, was recently destroyed also by earthquake. Legation buildings mwned by the United States Government number but six and are located at Peking, China; San Jose, Costa Rica ; Tangier, Morocco; Panama, Republic of Panama; San Salvador, Republic of El Salvador; and at Bangkok, Siam.
It is important that our foreign service be composed of eager, ambitious, alert, efficient, satisfied representatives, where every post is one of high honor and far-reaching responsibility. This condition, however, can only be attained by the translation of public interest and support into a series of well-considered, nonpartisan, and constructive legislative measures which public opinion now demands and of which the bill hereinbefore referred to is only the first step.