The Public Interest

PPBS and foreign affairs

Thomas C. Schelling

Spring 1968

One must speak with diffidence on the Planning-Programming-Budgeting System (PPBS) in relation to foreign affairs. Foreign affairs is a complicated and disorderly business, full of surprises, demanding hard choices that must often be based on judgment rather than analysis, involving relations with more than a hundred countries diverse in their traditions and political institutions- all taking place in a world that changes so rapidly that memory and experience are quickly out of date. Coordination, integration, and rational management are surely desirable; but whether it is humanly possible to meet anything more than the barest minimum standards is a question to which an optimistic answer can be based only on faith.

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