The Foreign Service Journal, May 2004

M A Y 2 0 0 4 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 7 A Life Devoted to Public Service Bob Schaetzel died last Novem- ber. I lost a friend. Our country lost a classic public servant. Bob left quietly, as if to say that he’d had his time here, and it was time to move on. That, too, was Bob Schaetzel. He did not seek the limelight. Yet he deserved it. I did not know Bob in his years on active duty in government, going back to the time of Dean Acheson, who was his per- sonal friend. Those years peaked when he served as deputy assistant secretary of State and as ambassador to the European Community in Brussels, with his wife Imogen con- stantly at his side. Throughout his life, the E.U. and America’s relation- ship with it was one of Bob’s person- al passions. He believed deeply that there were few things that mattered more for our country — and for Europe, as well — than working to deepen that relationship. He took personal pride in seeing that process go forward, though he worried in recent years that we were not giving it the priority it needed. I knew Bob best beginning in the mid-1980s, after his retirement, when he took on another personal commitment — working to strength- en the public service of government. In 1986 he sensed a “quiet crisis” in the federal public service, and was a prime mover at the Brookings Institution to cope with it. The fol- lowing year he became the board chairman of the privately funded National Commission on the Public Service, and persuaded someone who shared that concern — Paul Volcker, retiring from the Federal Reserve — to become its head. Three years later, as planned, that commission published its findings in “Leadership for America: Rebuild- ing the Public Service.” That report still stands tall today. It is cited by all concerned as one of the best and most eloquent analyses of that “quiet crisis” in the ranks of government service and what needs to be done about it — no less perti- nent today than when Bob, Paul Volcker and their 34 partners pre- sented it to the earlier President George Bush. Not all of its recom- mendations have become reality — sufficient reason for Volcker to pick up the reins again in 2002 and com- plete a second “Volcker Commission on the Public Service” report, pub- lished in early 2003. Bob was not a front player in recent years, but his concern for the quality of the public service in gov- ernment remained his constant pas- sion. I’m sure if he had been asked in recent years what he enjoyed most and felt most proud of in his own time in government, he would have cited the first “Volcker Commis- sion” report and his leadership in getting it launched. Skeptical by nature and often impatient, he would be the first to concede that it has fallen short in its accomplish- ments, knowing better than most how difficult change in government can be. But surely he knew as well that he had left a legacy of studies and recommendations that will remain a continuing stimulus for positive change. L. Bruce Laingen Ambassador, retired Washington, D.C. Welcome Home In recent years AFSA has raised to State management the concern of many retirees about restrictions on their ability to access essential department services at the Truman Building. The message must have been heard. My recent experience, as a first-time user of the retiree badge, could not have been more positive and no doubt reflects the commitment of Secretary Powell and his team to honor those who have rendered service to the depart- ment. It also reflects AFSA’s suc- cessful efforts on behalf of its retiree constituents. Instead of walking up to the usu- ally congested information desk, I proceeded to a separate nearby desk. When I showed my depart- ment retiree badge, the attendant pleasantly asked for a secondary ID and promptly proceeded to give me a bright yellow badge. She assured me that with it I could go unescort- ed around the building except for the secure areas. That was easy enough. Next, as I got in line to walk L ETTERS