BEHIND THE SCENES: The McKinsey Report

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In the political confusion of May 1952, some optimistic Eisenhower Republicans began thinking about a problem that might be with them in December. The problem: How could a Republican President-elect and his key men, in the few weeks between election and inauguration, get a clear view of the vast, federal, bureaucratic jungle inhabited by 2,600,000 employees? One foresighted Ikeman, New York Financier Harold Talbott, a big G.O.P. fund raiser who will be Secretary of the Air Force in the new Administration, had an answer.

Two months before either party had nominated its candidate, Talbott hired Manhattan's McKinsey & Co.. one of the nation's top management consulting firms, and gave them a broad directive to 1) find out exactly how many jobs the Republicans would need to fill to control all policymaking, 2) spell out the nature of each job and the qualifications required to fill it.

Within a month. McKinsey's administrative specialists (who total 103) had decided that 250 to 300 men in the right jobs could actually control all federal policy. This may have been an optimistic view, one which would be more applicable to business than to government, which is less responsive to top management. But it was a base for operations. Within a few days after the election, the McKinsey report was ready for Dwight Eisenhower: a 14-volume analysis of every top policy-making job that he would have to fill, the qualifications the appointees should have, the chief problems they would face.

Eisenhower and his staff used the report as one of their guides in making appointments. After the Cabinet was named, the consultants handed appointees ten to 15-page memos on their jobs. The memos not only outlined what their chief duties would be, but spelled out in detail the immediate, practical problems.

The McKinsey report was no sure prescription for efficiency in Washington, but it was a good way for Dwight Eisenhower and his key men to get a solid briefing on the bureaucracy. The only other sources of such information are the departing bureaucrats, who are inevitably prejudiced in favor of the status quo.