(2 of 8)
Old Soldier Eisenhower recognized that the job of Chief Executive could not be handled properly without a staff strong enough to keep track of, and ride herd on, the dozens of governmental departments and agencies with their divergent interests. But if each staff member reported only to the President, the result would be merely the added complication of warring liaison men. In today's White House organization, the best roads to the President lead through Sherman Adams (see chart). The Limited Power. Adams has immense power, to the extent that New York Timesman James Reston, studying the state of the nation during the period of the President's recuperation, recently wrote: "There is a growing feeling here that Mr. Adams is now exercising more power than any man in America."
The Adams power includes a considerable influence on the formulation of policy. He is blamed by Republican right-wingers for helping to keep the Administration on a progressive course. In this, Adams takes a practical view: he realizes that the Administration simply could not survive if it failed to support such institutions as social security, minimum wage, and essential federal aid to health and education. But at the operative level, Adams' power is sharply circumscribed, by both his own inclination and that of his boss. Once policy has been establishedby the President in public and private pronouncements, by the Cabinet and National Security Council, by the acts of Congress Adams strictly confines his work to the framework of how policy can best be implemented.
He regularly attends the meetings of the Eisenhower Cabinet and is often present at the sessions of the National Security Council. At least twice a week, he presides over the White House staff meetings, where policy is reviewed, problems discussed and assignments made. Adams is quietly on hand for many of Ike's business talks with visitors. On other matters, he is in and out of the President's office half a dozen times a day. This causes him some distress, because of a firm credo: "The really efficient Government official is the man who makes decisions for himself, within the framework of established policy, without running to the President with his problems."
A key Adams duty is that of ironingor, if necessary, stompingout the scores of differences that must arise within any Administration. It is up to Sherman Adams to bring together for negotiation the department and agency heads who may have an interest in a specific problem. He can and does hold over their heads the fact that if they do not arrive at a reasonable solution he will write the recommendation himselfand his is the one that goes to President Eisenhower marked with the all-important scrawl: "O.K., S.A."
The Basis for Decision. The papers carrying that notation are the ones that President Eisenhower is least likely to question, for he knows what lies behind the Adams seal of approval. Basic to the White House staff system is the rule that no verbal assumptions are made: everything possible is put in writing for staff processing. Whenever a Cabinet member or other Government officer makes a recommendation to President Eisenhower, he is asked to submit it in writing, to be
logged in by Staff Secretary Andrew J. Goodpaster.