. . I Department of state lhited States infsrmaticn Agency Proposa*$ ‘,y an independent panel for reor- ganizing U.S “public diplomac\;“--inter- nationa! mfo’.nation, education, and cultural I ?lations--are being considered b*+ the execu- tivz branch and are slated f3r consideratir n in the Congress. One proposal would considerably improve operation-,; two ethers are prs.mising but need further study. The other proposals which would make the Voice of America an indiqendent agency and rtassi n the United States Informativn Agency’s 9ore@ polic>* informaticn and policy advisory responsi- b;lities--seem more likely to hinder than to advance the efflcierwy and eflectiveness of U.S. pubiic diplomat,. 10-77-21 MAY 5, 1977 c -__. . COMFTHOLLER GENERAL OF 3-E UNITED Sl-ATES WASHINGTON. D.C. ZC29 B-118654 To the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Fouse of Representatives The successful adaptation of U.S. public di;?lomacy t3 a r.apidly changing international environment calls for serious ongoing analysis and consensus-building by all concerned. This repcrt contains an assessment of the proposals made by the Panel on International Information, Education, and Cul- turai Relations (Stanton Panel ) . It also discusses certain non-organizational changes that merit attention in the on- going effort to improve U.S. public diplomacy. 3ur review was made pursuant to the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921 (31 rJ.3.c. 53)‘ and the Accounting and Auditing Act of 1950 (31 U.S.C. 67). Copies of this report are being sent to the liirector, Office of Yanagement and Budget: Secretary of State; and Director, United Siates Information Agency. Comptroller General of the United States . -_ CCMPTROLLER GENERAL’ S PUBLfC DI?LOr?~C!! I!J REPORT TO TIiZ CO?I’GRESS THE YEARS A::SXG--?rl ASStaSNS:?T CF ?ROPOS.GLS FOR RCORGANIZATIOK Deoartaent of State United States Infotsat ion Agency DIGEST -a---- United States “public diplomacy”--international infor- mation, e,iucation, and cultural relations--is being exten- sively reexamined in and cut of Government. Vat ious pro- posals Cal:‘. for redefining the mission of public diplomacy, chanqinq or eliminating functions, and reorganizing the administer inq app&,rntus. STAYTON PAXRL REPORT The most prominent and comprehensive report suqqest- sr~q changes in organizational arrangements to conduct U.S. public diplomacy is that of the Panel on Intecnational Information, Education, and Cultural Relations (Stanton Panel ) , a group of private citizens. The report, published in Karch 1975, was endorsed 3 months later by the Commission on the Organization of the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Policy (Ffucphy Commission). A number of other qualified persons have 1 Strongly opposed several of the proposals. The State Department and the United States Information Agency are 1 on record against all but one of them. The report is being reviewed by the executive branch and ;s slated for consideration in the Congress. GAO’s eeview is ccnfined to the Stanton Panel cecom- mendations. In the final chapter, however, GAO notes certain nonorqdnizational changes that merit attention in the onqoinq effort so improve U.S. public diplJ;nacy- (See pp. 34 to 36-) One of the Panel’s proposals would improve present operations; two others seem promising but require further study; and the remainder --which contemplate a major reorqan- lzation--seem mote likely to hinder than to advance the efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. public diplomacy. The latter aroposals would achieve a certain tidiness on pager at the expense of arrangements that essentially hav? met the test of practic;lity and performance. .m. Upon removal. the repcrt i ID-77-21 Cover date Should be nated hereon. Policy information function The Panel proposes to reassign to the State Department the U.S. Information Agency’s role in articulating and advocating U.S. foreign policy overseas. This is based on the Panel’s distincticn between “pclicy” information-- which covers the Government’s “stance on foreigil policy questions of immediate concern”--and “general“ information. Like many other observers, GAO believes the two kinds of information are often mutuall-, reinforcing and difficult in practice to separate. The primary responsibility for articulating and advocating as well as formulating U.S. foreign policy is vested in the President and the Secretary of State. A role of the U.S. Information Agency is to give resonance abroad tc authoritative definitions and interpre- tations of that policy unde r State Department guidance. For the most part this work appears to be done profession- ally and to t-“.e State Department’s general satisfaction. GAO believes the U.S. Information Agency should retain its policy information role. (See pp. 9 to 13# 15, and 16.) Policy advisorv function The Panel also propose: ta transfer to the State Department the U.S. Information Agency’s function of advising U.S. policymakers on the policy implications of foreign public opinion. This function is in fact performed by several Federal agencies. The U.S. Information Agency’s cultural and media contacts abroad enable it to make a dis- tinctive advisory contribution. There have been comulaints, echoed bq the Panel, that this contribution has not been properly utilized. How ade- quately it is utilized, how much it differs from that of . other agencies, and whether the “neglect” of U.S. Infor- mation Agency policy advice can be corrected by means ether than transferring the advisory function are among the unanswered questions raised by this proposal. Pending further study of such questions, the present arrangement should be left intact. (See pp. 9, 10, 13, 14, and 16.) Establ ishmen’l of new Information and Cultural Affairs Agencv The Panel proposes to consolidate the cultural func- tions of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and those of the U. S. Information Agency. A single agency would be responsible for both the domestic and overseas aspects of U.S. general information, ii -- - -. . educational, and cultural programs. GAO believes, as do most persons consulted, that this proposal is constructive. It would lead to more efficient and consistent administration of u,s. cultural programs. (See pp. 17 to 24.) Relationshiu of new Information and Cultural Affairs Agency to Department of State The Panel proposes that the new information agency be placed “under--but not in--the Department” as an “autonod mous ‘1 agency on the model of the Arms Control and Disarma- ment Agency. , Both independent status for the information agency and the Panel’s alternative have distinct advantages and shortcomings . Either could work well. The choice should be based on a careful study of the pros and cons. If the agency were assigned to State, however, some safeguards and some vigilance would be advisable to protect the agency’s professional integrity and its ability to cover objectively not only the State Department but other agencies nnd branches of Government as well zs the private sector. (See pp. 19 to 24.) Field reorganization The Panel proposes to reorganize 3-S. overseas miss ions so that articulating “policy” inforreation would be the exclusive responsibility of Sta:e Department officers while “general” information and cultural pro- grams would be the province cf ;nformation and ,Cultura!. Affairs AgePrcy officers. This wcr,Jd fragment what the Panel itself describes as “the unified organization which has worked so effectively in the field for over twenty years. (’ The present trend toward closer integration of those activities in the overseas missions sh~‘~ld be encour- aged. (See pp. 25 to 27.) Voice of America -- The Panel proposes to make the Voice of America an independent agency under its own board, assertincr that this “would enable the Voice of America to function as a credible medium.” The Panel offers no evidence that present Voice of America broadcasts lack credibility, credence, or Pistener- ship. Audience research by the t’.S, Information Agency Tear Shea! iii and others in recent years suggests otherwise. Similarly, the Panel implies without attempting to demonstrate that Voice of America does not satisfy the needs of the Depart- ment of State. The evidence again points in the other direction. Implementing this proposal would add consid- erably to cysts of operation. How U.S. foreign policy is reoorted and advocated, especially by fast media and especially in momenCs of rnternat ional crisis, can greatly affect the national l interest for good or ill. For an agency billed and per- ceived as “the“ Voice of America, there can be circum- stances in which diplomdtic needs ought to prevail over journalistic concerns. It should be emphasized, however, that circumstances justifying State Department or %hite Eouse intervention in Voice of America broadcasting are highly unusual, and the prerogative shou Id be exercised should with restraint and in full awareness of the need to protect Voice of America’s pro- fessional integrity. The present structural relationship between the Voice of America, the U. S. Information Agency, and the Department of State should be preserved, but efforts should be made to improve the working relationships. (See pp. 28 to 33.) AGENCY CO!MEEiTS This report was submitted in draft to the interested agencies and advisory commissions, as well as the Chairman of the Stanton Panel, for their informal comments. All agreed that the cultural functions of the U. S. Information Agency and the Bureau 0,f Educational and Cultural Affairs should be consol idatt3. GAO’s conclusions concerning the other Panel proposals have elicited emphatic agreement and equally emphatic disagreement. All comments were carefully cqnsldered. . iv Conte.nts -Page DIGEST i CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTICN 1 The new environment and new importance of public diplomacy 1 Present structure and arrangements 2 Recent critiques and studies of U.S. public diplomacy 4 Significance of Stanton Panel tepor t Essence of Stanton Panel report Official reactions to Panel report Scope of ceview 2 TWYSFER OF USIA'S POLICY ARTICUL;rTION AND ADVISORY FUNCTIONS TO STATE DEPARTMENT Panel proposal ; Fanel rationale Response of critics 1: Our cbsecvations 15 3 ESTABLISH!?E??TOF NEX INFORflATION AND CULTG'RAL AFFAIRS AGENCY 17 Panel proposal 17 Panel rationale 17 Response of critics 13 Our observations 23 4 FIELD REORGANIZATION 25 Panel proposal 25 Panel rationale 25 Response of critics 25 Our observations 27 * 5 VOICE OF AMERIC. 23 Panel proposal 23 Panel rationale 25 Response cf critics 29 Our observations 31 6 FI.NE:< CHARTER FOR U.S. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY 34 AF?ENDIX I Principal officials concerned with the subject of thic report 37 l ’ . ABSRSVIATIOXS ACDA Arms Control and Disarmament Agency cu Cureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs FSO Foreign Service Officer FSIO Foreign Service Infcrmation Officer GAO General Acc0untir.g office ICA Infqraation and Cultural Affairs Agency . USIA United States Information Agency USIS United States Information Service VOA Voice of ATer ice . . - _ - - I ^ _---. CHAPTER 1 I INTRODUCTION U-S. conduct of what has come to be called “yblic diplomacy”-- international information, education, and cultural relations --is being extensively reexamined in and out of Government. Pronosals from a variety of compe- tent sources call for redefining mission and philosophy, modifying or eliminating functions, an3 reorganizing the administering apparatus. THE NEW ENVIRONMENT AND NEW IkPORTANCE OF PUBLIC DIPLOMACY The underlying reasons for the current reassessments of public diplomacy are clear. U.S. public diplomacy primarily originated in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The past three decades have substantially changaci the environment in which public diplomacy must be conducted: --Altered East-West relations have modified the . assumptions and rhetoric of the Cold War. --North-South confrontations have driven home a heightened sense of the economic interdependence of nations. --The bread-and-butter p not to mention survival, aspects of in,erdependence have made international relations a matter of concern not just to a select few, but to large and growing publics. --An explosion of literacy and communications tech- ?ology has given those publics both greater access to pertinent information and often more influence . over national policies. --The increased prominence of human rights issues has sharpened the cant inuing ideological conf 1 ict. --The nature of military technology has made using military power to attain national purposes more auestionable, thereby increasing the relative importance of the other tools of statecraft. --The growth in the number of independent states has made the relevant sphere of public diplomacy virtually worldwide. 1 Contemplating these altered conditions, oractition2r.s end students tend to agree t !at U.S. public di~loncc~ enjoys enhanced ogpoztunitics to serve the nationai interest. The new international environment necessitates th2 development of a more cooperative wocld system- The Mired States =xpects to plczy a major role in the organi- zation and operation of suctl a system. To do SC, it must, among other things, see that its values, par?oses, and policies are correctly nnderstood by the rest of the wotld and that its policies consider the legitimate interests of other naticns. These two national objectives define the mission of U.S. Fublic diplomacy. They also dictate its essential characteristics: to be effective in today’s world8 U.S. international communication must b2 candid, credible, comprehensive in coverage, att :ative to other cultures ar.d 0oints .- cf view, and endowsd :ri :i? adequate resout ces. FRESEYT STRUCTTJRE A??D AFXANSEI’“NTS - -a - The two Federal agenci2.c: nrizarily involved in U.S. public di31omacy are th2 Lnit?d .Statos Information Agency (VSIAj ana the State Depar :-rrer:t ’ s bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (CO). Other auencies, notably the Degartment of Ffeaith, Edu::tion, and Welfare, t.3e National Scjonce ? oundation, the 3f3nse a& Cocmerce D??artments, ard the Agency for Interna=ioila!. 3evelo?aent, also have important, more s?ecializrG information and exchsnge Frograms abroad. Under the Mtual Educ.zLional zn& Cultural Z::change Act of 1961 (Fulbright-Ha!72 ;c<) and the U.S. Information and Educational Excbsnl;? X(-t of 2943 (Smith-Nunat Act), LLJ seeks to promote muti2al uncie8:starlGing betwe2n A;r.ericans ani other peoples t5rou;h var io:l.; pt-cgcms for the e>,chance of stu- dents, teac:n.r?r s , artis’-.s, 4~titers, political leazecs, ant! other individuals of pcesent cc pcos?ective influence in ttieir societ -es. It rccr,lits Snerican TacticiTants for such ocograms; assist+ arri er,: ouraqes private kiericaz organizations here ~rii ?Jroad in similar activities; anti* . largely through priv;?rz contractors. arranqes hospitality, contacts, confecerlc+b, and ccher activities for foreiqn eychang%es. CU, directed by an Assistant Secretary of Stat2, ez3loyed 252 oefsons in fiFea year 14’76. ‘t is oraanized into six regional cff ices and a number oi f;nci iona.! off ices that deal with SUC:I aLtivities as International Visitor ?roqrai?s, Internaticnai Arts Affi.irs, Private Coo?oration, and Youth, Student, an+3 Special ?rogca-ns. CU’s estimated expnditure for f’ rscel year 1976 was $53.6 rr.illion. Of this, azout . $43 million was devoted to exchange-Jt-parsons prccrams invclving 1,38b American and 3,620 foreign grantees. A id tc. Areric an-spon -ored schools abroad claimed $1.7 million. About $1.2 million w?s spent on cultural presentations anti some $647,000 went to support nctivi;ries of t!;e nnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. CU’S cul tcral and educational programs abroad ar$ administer ed by US 1-a under a reinlbursezLent arra1:gemnr.t with the S tate Dep astment. To this end, USIA provides a cultural affairs officer in A-rer ica;l embassies. This officer ma kes the necessary local Irrangee5nrs for the recruitmen t and or ientation of foreign exchangees ar.d for the p:ogra .ma invol ving American specialietSp academicians, performing arts ‘jr OUFS, and others. The United States Information Agency was established in 1953 as an independent agency to assume overseas ir- formation functions of the State Department arc? the PIutual Security Agency. Its Director rcpor+.s to the President and receives guidance on foreign policy from the Secretary of State. Under ti:e Smith-Xuncit Act, USIA prepares arc? disseminates abroarj “inf?rmation about the United States, its people, and its policies, through press, pub- lications, radio, motion pictures, and other infcrmation media, and through information centers and instructors abroad. * * *“ USIA is also charged by Presidential directive with advising the President and interested agencies on foreign opinion and implications of such opinion for U.S. policy. Five area off ices provide the direct link with the Agency’s 185 posts in 112 countries for developing infor-’ mation policies, products, and operations. Four media services--Broadcasting (the Voice cf America), I?fo,~a- tion Cenker Service, Motion Picture and Television Service, and Press and Publications--provide materials for the overseas posts. The overseas mijsinns of USIA, known as the Ilnited States Information bervi-2 (USIS), are headed by public Affairs Officers. Under thorn. the Cultural Affairs afficer, Information Gffice?:, 2nd others carry out the overseas information, educational, and ccltx,;a!. prcgrams of the United States. In flscai year 1976, the ;i,-enc;r ozcloyec7 8,840 i)efsons: 4,206 Am%ericans, 1,079 of whom gsre ;ver:eas, ~16 4,634 foreigners overseas. Tctal appr9sriations ir. that 3 ? . year were sl&ghtly more than $273 million. Re:.>urces devoted to the Voice cf America (VOA) totaled $63 mill j.on and those to information centers and related activities amounted to $57 mill ion. RECENT CRITIQUES AND STWIES OF U.S. PUBLIC DIFLONACY -I m Though there may be general agreement concerning the increased opportunities and importance of U.S. public diplomacy, there is less agreement as to whether its present style and structure assure efficient and effec- & tive operations. Thus: --The Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1973 questioned whether all of USIA’s functions are worthwhile and whether these that are should be carried out under different organizational i arranqements. --A 1973 study by a senior US?A officer suggested for the 1980s a reorganizstion of the machinery of public dialonacy that foreshadowed the principal pro?osals of the Stanto. Panel. --In a 1974 report, we found a need for the executive branch and the Congress to “agree on the aims and exgected achievements of USIA operations” and concluded that in view of changed tnter,laticnal conditions, *‘a reform may be needed to communi;ate America’s story to the world more effectively.” --The Panel on International Information, Education, and Cultural Relations (Stanton Panel) in March 1975 called for an expanded information and cul- tural program but noted that such an endeavor must assume “* * * a new style and content.” Specifically, in view of greater public sophis- ticatio,l, the grogrem must take account of the “great need toZ’a;r for credibility.” Further, in view of the need to find cooperative solutions . to world problems, the progra;n “must also be genuinely reciprocal. w --In June 1975 tke Commission on the Organization of . the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Pal icy (Kur?hy Ccmmission) stated that “The ability of this country to make its views nre-Jail and its policies succeed will derive less f ram it:: wealth and ;owe r , and more frcm such respect and support as the rest of the world accords to its values and purposes. ti However, primarilv because of curable structural defects, “neither foreign policy advo- cacy nor the building of long-range understanding between the U . S. and other nations is now being handled with full effectiveness.” --A 1975 study by the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress concluded that, “presznt U.S. Government information and cultural programs are less appropriate to the foreign policy environ- ment and technological capabilities of the 1970s than to those of earlier decades, ” and it outlined several alternatives to the “current structure, emphases, and functional organization” of -he agencies concerned. --In a report of May 1976, the EZouse International Relations Committee declared, “It is timely, almost imperative, that attention be given to determine what, if any, changes should he made in [USIA’s] organization and its mission. )( The report urged that the administration in 1977 s .udy the Stanton Panel’s proposals and “present Lts detailed recommendations before the Congress groceeds to make its own study and recommenci?tio~s.” --A recent public statement endorsed by nearly 500 of USIA’s professional staff calls for a new USIA “charter” that would emphasize the principles of candor, accuracy, and “dialogue” in international communication. SIGNIFICASCE OF S?A;INTON PANFL. REPORT Some of the concerns and ideas reflected in such assesments led the U.S. Advisory Com,zission on Information and the U.S. Advisory Comnission on International Educa- , tional and Culkural Affairs to propose a fresh review of U.S. public diplomacy by an ad hoc nongovernmental stcdy group. The resuit of that initiative was the estabiishment in March 1974 of the Panel on International Information, Education, and Cultural Relaticns, chaired by Dr. Frank Stantor. and sponsored by the Georgetown University Center for Strategic and International Studies. The Parlel corn- prised all members of both advisory commissions together with seven other distinguished private citizens. Its report was pub1 lsheci a year later. Several considerations give the Pap.el’s report unusGa1 importar,ce and provide the rationale for the present review. The report --is the product pf a prominent and unusually well qualified group cf individuals and has gained support from other such persons; --has been (except for one minor proposal) fully endorsed by the Murphy Commission; --has been, except for one major proposal (consol- idation of cultural functions), opposed by the State Department and USIA; --has elicited serious dissent from a number of prominent and qua1 if ied individuals, including some Members of Congress, a number of top officials past and present, and at least two members of the Panel itself; i --advances proposals which would have major opera- tional consequences for good or ill; --has been discussed in at least five congressional committee hearings and is scheduled to be taken up in others; --contains some proposals (e.g., independent status for the Voice of America) that would require legislation; and --is still under consideration by the executive branch. ESSEX2 OF STAXTON PANEL REPORT In essence the Panel finds that the present organiza- tion of U.S. public diplomacy LS “at variance with logic” because it assigns certain foreign oolicy functions to the information agency, gives responsibility for cultural pro- grams to the diplomatic agency, and divides the adminis- , tration of those programs between the two. The Panel would remedy these “anomalies” by assigning all educational, cultural, and general information f uric t ions to a nev Information and Cultural Affairs Agency (ICA), and creating a new off ice in State to assume responsibility for policy information and for advising on the policy imp1 ica- tions of foreign opinion. VOA would kecoae an independent entity unde: a board of overseers. The Panel does not analyze the U.S. infornational- cultural pr05uct, nor does it claim to have identified serious defects in it. Indeed, the report has high praise 6 _- for the work of both agencies. It finds that t.he present system “has worked surprisingly wellpI’ but that it “will work much better” if the Panel’s recommendations are adopted. The proposed changes involve only structure. The Panel ant.icip;;tes, however, that the proposed alterations will “permit the deeper changes of content and purpose all desire. )t The deeper changes anticipated were not specified beyo;ld the reference to the need for credible and reciprocal programs. OFFICIAL REAC’TICNS TO PANEL REPORT In January 1376 the State Department and USIA sub- mitrti;i separate position papers to the National Security Council commenting on the Panel recommendat ions, Both opposed all Panel proposals except the one concerning the consolidation of CU and USIA cultural functions. State cited a “fundamental need * * * to establish pal icy coherence in our international communications efforts.” It opi7osed the Panel’s .:ecommendations on the ground that they would not “contribute to this needed coherence. ” USIA argued that the proposals are unworkable and based on a fallacious distinction between information anti culture. SCOPE OF REVfEW For several reasons, then, the Panel’s recommendations call for careful a?ziysis. In this review, we explorecI the pros, cons, and alternatives and assessed the practical implications of the Panel’s prcposals. We reviewed literature and documentaticn of public d ipl omacy , including memorandums of the State Department, USIA, and the Stanton Panel and applicable legislative history. We interviewed more th.qn 100 individuals, including the Panel’s Chairman and Project Director, the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural . Affairs, the Director of USIA, and officials of U.S. embas- sies in four countries --West Germany,. Poland, Portugal, an3 Thailand. In December 1976, we convened a symposium of Government officials and outside specialistc to discuss international exchange programs. One item on the agenda dealt with the reorganization of U.S. educational and cultural relations. In our effor: to determine the practical implications of the Panel’s proposals, the insights of t-he working pro- fessionals have been indispensable, aithcugh they cannot, of course, be regarded as determinative. we have also con- ---.- .. _ c . sidered the views of qualified individuals whose personal cr prczessional interests would not be affected by imple- mentation of the Panel’s report. The Panel made one recommendation which we did not examine. This was that “USIA’s FSIO [Foreign Service Information Officer] career service should be absorbed into State’s FSO [Foreign Servics Officer] corps. * * * Those offi- cers presently in USIA and CU who are not involved in the diplomatic aspect of the new agencies would be clas’sified as GS * * *‘I The complexities and importance of this proposal suggest the need for a detailed separate study. In the next four chapters, we examine the Panel’s other recommendations. Each chapter summarizes the proposal under consideration, states the P,rlel’s rationale, provides a critique synthesizing the views of others we consulted, briefly analyzes alternative organizational possibilit.ies, and presents our obse:vations. Our review is confined to the Stanton Panel recom- mendations. We do, however, note in the final chapter certsin nonorganizational changes that we believe will merit consideration in the ongoing effort to improve U.S. public diplomacy. One such step would be the development of a new “charter“ defining mission, objectives, and oper- ating guidelines. A draft of this report was submitted to the interested agencies and advisory commissions, as well as the Chairman . and the Project Director .of the Stanton Panel, for their informal comments. All agreed that the cultural functions of the State Department’s Wreau of Educational and %ltural Affairs and the United States Information Agency should ’ be consolidated. Our conclusions concerning the other Panel proposals have elicited emphatic agreement and equally emphatic disagreement. All comments were c&.-e- fully considered in the ccmpletion of this report. The successful adaptation of U.S. public diplomacy to a rapidly changing internationa- environment calls for a serious, ongoing effort of analysis and consensus-bu ild ing by those concerned. The present report is intended a5 r constructive if preliminary step in that process. CHAPTER 2 TRANSFER OF USIA’S POLICY ART~~X?!~ION AND ADVISORY FUNCTICNS J-0 STATE ~~EPARTMI;NT PANET 3ROPOSAL , Under its present mandate, USIA disseminates infor- mation abroad about the United States, its people, and i;s policies. It also advises the makers of U.S. policy on the implications of foreign pub1i.c opinion. One of the Panel’s principal proposals would have USIA’s present role in articulating “policy” informat ion abio2d reassigned to the State Department. “General” information would be assigned to a new agency. The Panel’s distinction between general information and policy lnformation is fundamental to its analysis and to ali of its major proposals. General information concerns “American society and American percep- tic;r,s of world affairs.” Policy information is “specific information about U.S. foreign policy.” It deals with “the presentation of the U.S. Government stance on foreign policy questions of immediate concern.” The Panel would also reassign USIA’s policy advisory function to the Department. To absorb those functions, the State Department would, under this proposal, establish a new Office of Policy Information, headed by a Deputy Under Secretary of State. Reporting to him would be 2 new Assistant Secretary of State for International Press Relations, heading a new Bureau of International Press Relations: the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, heading the Present Bureau of Public Affairs; and the Office of the Department’s Spokesman. PANEL RATIONAL2 ..-17. ” a.4:.+.> “Placing the articulation. of our foreign policy in the hands of the Department most responsible for fornu- lating and executing; that policy,” the Panel argues, would eliminate a major organizational “anomaly.” By so doing, riloreover , “articulation and explanation of foreign policy for overseas audiences should not only become more direct but, above all, more authoritative.” Reass igr ing USIA’s foreign public opinion advisory function to State would elkninat, another organizational anomrly: 9 . .. .. _- “The render i,Tg of advice to decision makers on foreign public opinion as an input to the policy making process can, in the Panel’s view, be accomplished only by people who have regular access to those decision makers in the Department of State.” The Panel notes that “USIA has had diff iccllty carrying out the task. ’ One reason for this “has clearly been the lack of regular access to the makers o? fcreign policy.” RESPONSE OF CRITICS . Critics of the Panel report object 0 the proposed transfer of USIALs policy information and advisory functions to the State Department for various reasons. First, the transfer would relieve the kgency of essentlJlly journal- istic functions, *which it has performed well and which are best done by an independent agency. Further, it is based on an unworkable distinction between policy infor- mation and general information and on a misunderstanding of the work of certain agency elements. Some who disagree with the proposal point out that the Panel does not make a case that USIA’s performance of either the policy information function cr the advisory function is inaccurate or otherwise unsatisfactory. The implicit question is, why disturb the existing arrangement? Neither the State Department, which stands to gain important functions and additional personnel I &>or USIA found merit in the proposal to transfer those functions:, T!;ere is no apparent record of chronic or serious dissatisfaction in the State Department with USIA’r performance of tnose functions. . Indeed p a number of present- and former Department officials we consulted had high praise for the Agency. ?ol icy information function A frequent objection to the Panel’s proposal is that the distinction between policy information and general information is unworkable. The Panel itself took testi- mony showing that much U.S. infcrmation activity in t!le field involves both, that they are complementary, and that they are oftpn incorporated in U.S. .nfornation products in ways that could not readily or usefully be disentangled. Some public affairs officers sky that their acceptance and credibility as policy spokesmen have been enhanced by their identification with the 10 -- post’s cultural programs. In his official comment on the Panel report, then USIA Director Keogh asked: “HOW much would mutual understanding be worth if the current problems and day-to-day issues which form much of the substance of relations between countries are intentionaliy avoided? Is there not real danger that the programs of . ICA would lack substance and realism anr! would not be taken seriously? As the American Foreign Service Association, representing the career officers in the State Department, AID [Agency for International Development], and USIA, has stated, a result of such reorganiza- tion would be ‘a t:ultural program whose insula- tion from the central concerns of the Embassy would almost certainly undermine its relevance. ’ The public would be justified in questioning whether they should be paying for programs that are so insulated from American policy.” The present Director of USIA, John E. Reinhardt, has taken a similar position, asserting that “the main enemy of an information program * * * would be fragmen- tation, setting up separate bureaucracies for the oper- ation of different parts of the program.” Transferring USIA’s policy information function would, as the Panel notes, entail the transfer of the Wireless File and its staff. It has been suggested that this pro- posal represents a misreading of what the Wireless File is and what is required to make it work. This is a high frequency radio teletype network by which USIA Headquarters on weekdays transmits five regional files to 130 posts. The contents are primarily official texts, policy state- ments, and backgrounders. In addition, news roundups are provided to posts in countries not adequatelv served . by commercial media, and essential program materials are carried for other agency elements--VOA broadcast schedules, current booklists for the information centers, foreign media reaction summaries, profiles nn American specialists recruited to go abroad, and advance transcripts of films and videotape recordings. Questions have been raised as to whether the Wireless File, if moved to State, would continue to carry such pro- gram materials and would continue to provide adequate coverage of the White House, the Conqress, other agencies (notably Treasury, Defense, Labor, Commerce, and Agriculture) as well as independent American conm?ntary that also co;lzribute to 11 -- .-- - the policymaking process. If not, it is argued, the network output would lose much of its interest and credi- bility to the foreign audiences for whom key eleaents of the Pile are intended. Moreover, some critics suggest, the judgments that go into making up the daily Wireless File are necessarily in large part those of professional journalists concerning what the press attaches and their local media an5 govern- mental cl ic- ts are likely to find useful. A possible variant’of this aspect of the Panel’s proposal would be to transfer to State only those positions or persons who would be concerned with preparing the Depart- ment’s own contribution to the Wireless File. Final editorial judgment as to the content of the File ( and the right to ask State for clarification or further details) would be retained by USIA. This might alleviate what appear to be largely marginal difficulties of USIA access to policy- makers. Another alternative, which has elicited interest among some State Department officials, would be to transfer the Wireless File stacf not to the proposed new bureau but to the existing Office of the Department Spokesman. This, it has been suggested, would unify and enhance the status and policy relevance of the world- wide press function and increase the Secretary’s ability to fine-tune it. Finally, with respect to the policy information function in general, some critics of the Panel proposal argue that the present system is best calculated to assure conformance to foreign policy objectives without sacrificing speed of communication. The key to this is the sys tern for delivering State Department policy gu’dance to USIA. Such guidance is conveyed throug? several cha:lnels and at several levels to USIA'S media services as follows. A member of USIA’s Policy Guidance Staff (a unit of five ’ professionals in the Office of Policy and Plans) attends the State Department Spokesman’s pre-pressbriefing session every weekday morning; he and other USIA people, e.g., a VOA correspondent, attend the noon briefing. The Agency’s geographic desk perscnnel maintain liaison with their counterparts in State’s political bureaus (as do the regional officers of CU). VOA , in turn, receives its policy ouidance from the Agency’s policy group through the VOA Policy Application Staff (four persons). 7,s the need arises r there may be direct contact between the USIA Director (who regularly attends meetings chaired by the Sec- retary or Under Secretary) and senior Department officials. 12 4 -_ This arrangement puts the Agency’s Office of Policy and Plans in a posit ion to evaluate the commentaries by the Agency’s media services in relation to State Department guidance. Where necessary, Policy and Plans will make suggestions regarding these commentaries. Agency partisans of the present arrangement claim that Policy and Plans is able to clear 9 out of 10 commentaries within 15 minutes and that State, with its tradition of caution . and its professional bent for diplcmacy rather than f ast-med ia communication, would be unlikely to work that quickly. To that extent, it would be unable to _ meet the standards of an effective and credible policy information service, Policy advisory function USIA’s function of advising policymakers on foreign public opinion is based on President Kennedy’s statement of the USIA mission in a 1963 memorandum to then Director Edward R. Murrow: “The mission of the U.S. Informaticn Agency is to help achieve U.S. foreign polic]’ objectives by * * * advising the President, his represen- tatives abroad, and the various Departments and Agencies on the implications of foreign opinion for present and contemplated U.S. policies, programs and official statements. ” Critics of the proposal to transfer USIA’s advisory function to State argue, in part, that USIA and its f!.eld staff can make a unique contribution to the analysis of foreign opinion and its implications for U.S. policy. Some add that what is needed is not the proposed transfer but better use of the USIA product. As the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information put it: “USIS officers, in the course of their duties, develop an extraordinary variety and large number of personal contacts in foreign societies. They develop a highly useful fund of knowledge and insight which can be fed back to Washington. But this resource has been unappreciated and neglected. There has been little utilization of this feedback. * * * Because of such ‘neglect we are at times unnecessarily surprised to suddenly discover the . depth c;f opposition to our proposals.” 13 The Panel, as noted, attributes such neglect to USIA’s “lack of regular access to the makers of foreign policy. fi In his testimony before the Panel, George Ball, former Under Secretary of State, offered a different expl ana t ion : “There were so many different channels of information coming in all the time * * * from a dozen different places, to say nothing of the telegrams from the embassies, which very often would incorporate whatever the information officer in that embassy was saying. ” It is ceasondble to believe that if USIA’s “feedback” were the sole source of such information for policymakers, the problem of “access” for that purpose would never have emerged. In one U.S. Embassy we surveyed there were five mission elements reporting to Washington agencies on foreign opinion-- USIS, Foreign Broadcast Information Service the Embassy’s ?ol itical Section, the Defense Attache: and the Central Intelligence Agency. Al though this may all be necessary because of the different users and uses involved, there no doubt is some overlap in such reporting on foreign opinion. Former USIA Director Keogh told us that in fact USIA’s foreign public opinion function does receive attention in the policymaking process at all levels below the Secretary. This was confirmed to some extent by State Department officials. USIA’s advisory material includes a daily sum- mary of press comment, which is prepared by the Agency’s Media Reaction Staff (eight persons1 for distribution by 8 a . m . each weekday. These are based on reports written by ’ USIS personnel in the field under the guidance of a weekly “watch 1 is t” issued by headguar ter s. This same staff pro- duces approximately 20 other reports per week on foreign . media reaction to major internetional issues. The staff is also charged dith sending to the Fresident iand to the Secretary of State a separate series of daily **eaction cables when thev travel outside the United States. Other reports ori foreign opinion, orovided by the Agency’s Office of Research, cover media research, attituda and audience researcn, acd foreign information research. One argument sometimes cited against transferring t?is service is that the professional independence of the .t -ancy and its field staff tends to Essure greater objec- tivity in the reporting of foreign opinion. 14 CUR OBSERVATIO11S . The proposals to reassign USIA’s policy information and policy advisory roles to the State Department are both based on the Panel Is distinction between pal icy information and general information. We agree with those who have pointed out that the two kinds of information are often complementary and in practice difficult to separate. Policy information function The primary responsibility for articulating and advocating as well as formulating U.S. foreign policy is vested in the President and the Secretary of State. These officials and U.S. ambassadors explain our foreign + policy not only through direct communication with foreign government representatives but also through press conferences and other forms of public statement- The role of USIA has been and should remain that of giving wider resonance abroad to authoritative defini- tions and interpretations of U.S. policy under proper State Department guidance. This is a function requiring profession21 skills in journalism and fast-medid management. For the most part, neither the professional skills and interests nor the organization and procedures of the State Department lend themselves to that role. There is a distinct possibility that assigning that job to State would lead to diminished emphasis on, 2nd less effective coverage of, U.S. policy information abroad. This is by no means to suggest, however, that improve- ments should not be sought in the present arrangements for policy articulation 2nd policy guidance. For example, a frequent comment at USIA is that State Department official.3 often do not appreciate the need to give USIA full infor- mation --that the Department could afford to be more focth- comincr in furnishing positive policy guidsnce. This point . is mahe particularly with reference to USIA'S need to get advance notice of major policy announcements in order to better prepare the timely reporting 2nd analysis on which the Agency’s effectiveness depends. On the other hand, 1s a State Department official noted, there may well be ins’;&n- ces in which time does not permit such notice or in which security considerations would properly lead Department officials to err on the side of caution in sharina i;?for- aation even within the U.S. Government. 15 These difference5 of perception between the two agencies concerning acL,ss suggest that something closer to an interagency consensus might uss!fr!lly be sought. Policy advisory function . It is widely acknowledged that the Agency’s advice to State on the policy implications of foreign opinion seldom reaches top Department echelons directly. The Panel attributes USIA’s difficulty in this regard to its "lack of regular access to the makers of foreign policy.” Another explanation is that State receives policy information and advice on foreign opinion from many other sources. Nevertheless, as George Ball pointed out in his testimony before the Panel, a USIA contribution may well rcych senior Department officials through U.S. ambassadors . It seems to us that the Panel’s proposal to transfer USIA's advisory role to State raises a number of questions that should be clarified before a decision is made: --To what extent do State and other U.S. agencies in fact make use of USIA policy advice on foreign public opinion at pertinent lower levels? --Are there other ways to cure any ‘*neglect” of USlR ’ s pol icy advice? --Is the USIA advisory product distinctive in ways that would justify its continuation? --To what extent is USIA’s research and reporting on foreign opinion necessary to its own informa- . tion and cultural operations? PeEding concrete examination of such questions, it would seem adv isaD ? CO leave the present arrangement intact. - 16 CHAPTER 3 ESTABLISWEKT w. OF A- NEW INFORMATION --- AND CULTURAL-- AFFAIRS AGENCY -- --PANEL PROPOSAL, Under present arrangements, U.S. edccaticnzl and cultural exchange programs are managed by the State Department’s Bureau of Educatiocal and Cultural Affairs. Abroad, its programs are implemented by USIA personnel. * The Panel gxoposes that the educational and cultural functions of State and USIA be consolidated in a new headquarters agency to be called the Information anc Cultural Affairs Agency. ICA would both manage U.S. educational and cultural programs in Washington and execute them in the field. under the Panel’s proposal, ICA would also assume USIA's responsibility for disseminating abroad general informa- tion, as distinct from policy information. The pr aposed reassignment of USIA’s role in communicating foreign policy abroad and in advising policymaker: on fcreign public opinion is discussed in chapter 2. With this pro- posed redistribution of functions, USIA disappears. The Panel proposes that the new ICA operate “under-- but not in--the Department of State.” It would be “an autoncmous agency with its own Bridget and administration,” on the model of the Agency for InternatiOnai Development or the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACCAJ. PAE7EL RATICKALE --- When USIA was established in 1953, the Panel notes, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs was left. in State “to avoid givir.g the educational exchange of per- sons a propaganda flavor.” The overseas end of the work has been done by USIA from the outset. In an era seekinq a relaxation of tensions, rhc Pan21 a:gues, an3 consideri;,g that the Agency’s work has evolved to a goint i?he:e almost all of it is directed at "the same longer range objectit:es" . pursued by CU, the earlier reservations about trsilsferring W’s functions (whi.ch ‘,never maje much sense") no lol;ger should govern. 17 According to the Panel, combining qsneral information and exchange of persons in the new ISA would have several advantages: “The Washington offices serving overseas posts would be brought into correspondence with the unified organizaticn which has worked so effectively in the field,” and thereby would “simplify enormously the task of those stationed abroad in their efforts to get from headquarters the support they need to do their jobs.” It would mean, for ICA, “one instead of two channels of communication with the field * * * and one supervisor instearf of two for the officers who now try to satisfy CU and USIA.” It would y! eld “some budgetary savings from the ending of duolica- tian of off ices. ” It would restore to the information agency “control in Xashington over an important tool for its efforts to depict U.S. life and thought overseas (namely, real ! ive American exchangees).” Finally, it would fat il i- tate Frograming “based on the coordination of people with a variety of media products.” The Panel preferred putting the ICA under but not in the Department of State, rather than giving it USIA’s status.as an independent agency, for several reasons: --“Organizational iogic” points in that direction. --The agency would gain prestige and greater acc?p- tance in the Congress and the private sector. --Relevance of ICA program to pal icy would be assured. --The relationship to State would familiarize Foreign Service Officers with the work and impress them with its importance. RESPONSE OF CSITICS In general, those rre consulted agree with the Panel . that the educational and cultural functions of CU and USIA should be assigned to a single headquarters agency. For most, the principal reason is that this would eliminate an awkward, troublesome, and time-consuming burden 01: interagency coordination. Some note it would also tend to assure execution of the programs in conformance wiuh 2 single, consistent operating philosophy. There is, as the Panel noted, the possibility of some budgetary saving through eliminating duplication of offices. USIA’s budget office has made a ro;Jgh estimate thst the saving might be about $2 million and 50 jobs. A rough and possibly 0ptimistLc estimat e by the Congressional Zesearch Service put the potential saving at $10 million to $15 million. 18 Relationship --r - of new information- cult= agency to Department of state Oainions as expressed by the interested agencies in 1376 differed tegarding the relationship of thk revamped agency to the state Department. USIA preferred retaining its present status as an independent agency reporting to the President. The State Depzrtment preferred the ACDA model proposed by the Panel. The Department departed from the Panel proposal, however, in suggesting that the agency head be an Under Secretary of State and that he assme a role of “leadership in planning and coordinating coherent communications strategies.” Some USIA officials, while acknowledging the need for policy guidance from State, fear the proposed closer rela- tionship would seriously erode the Agency’s professional and budgetary independence--that the !,nformation agency would be smothered in a Department having quite different profess ional concerns and capabilities. Others have suggested that any closer relaticnship to State would be desirable only if the Department were reorganized, a; a 1559 Brookings study proposed, along Defense Department lines, with cabinet-rank secretaries for political, economic, and information-cultural affairs. Some of those opposing the closer relationshis concede, however, that it might yield the advantage of greater access to and acceptance by the Department. The Panel has suggested that this issue--the formal relationship of the information-cultural agency to State-- is perhaps more cosmetic then real. However, some, includ- ing the Panel’s Project Director, feel that the “cosmetics” may be important because the Government’s cultural constit- uents-- scholars, artists, journalists, and others--would presumably be unwilling to accept exchange grents from or other relationships with what some perceive as a “propaganda” agency. On this point, opinions differ and available evi- dence is inconclusive. It is a plausible inference that the Panel would not favor relocating CU’s cultural functions in an agency that retained the function of explaining and advocating U.S. foreign policy. Among those we consulted, however, there was strong support for the proposed CU “merger” but not for the move to divest the information ageqcy of a policy information role. At the same time, some point out that in such consolidation, precautions should be taken to prevent either dcvnsrading or politiciz ing the cultural programs ant to preserve present CU working relationship?, with State”; political bureaus. 19 Finally, soxe critics note, the prooosed consolida- tion of CU and USIA functions might entail a conflict with the congressional ban 09 the domestic distribution of the information agency product. As Henry Loomis, President of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and former Ceputy Director of USIA, points out, the exchange program “by definition is a two-way street and therefore involves foreign cultural activities within the Unitsd States.” He suggests that, “The Congress should determine that this would not be construed as attempting to propagandize the American pecple, an activity from which USIA is wisely prohibited.” Possible alternatives Possible alternatives to the Panel’s proposed new Information and Cultural Affairs Agency range from termi- mnating the programs to maintaining the status quo. with some variations, as noted, State and USIA have advocated a modified version of the latter. A summary of the other principle alternatives follows. Terminating programs The case for ternin ating the programs relies on one or both of two judgznents. One is that the Nation’s needs for international communication are adequately met by intergovernmental diplomacy complemented by the ccmmercial media and the vast network of private contacts and exchanges of persons and information. The other is that governmental infcrmation and cultural programs amount to a form of ideological or cultural imoerialisn which offends against American values and which is, in today’s world, self- defeating, The couzterarguaent relies essentially on the propo- sition that the commercial media either distort or ignore . much information which it is in the national interest to communicate to foreign peoples and that Government-sponsored programs Eill imp0 rtant gaps in the private network. An alternative short of terfl’%$Fing the programs would be to subject then to t5e test of zero-base budgeting, a procedure adopted by the Carter administration requiring the total rejustification of programs annually. The 1975 Congressional Piesearch Service study suggests that “the - nature and extent of U.S. oneratiors should be assessed on a country-by-country Sash before continuing officially supported programs.” 20 Fully integrating oroarams in State Department Another broad alternative would fully integrate infor- mation and cultural operations in the State Department. This might be done in one of at least two ways. One, as noted above, was suggested in a 1959 Brookings Institution study. It would create a reorganized Department of Foreign Affairs modeled on the Defense Department, within which there would be three component departments--State, Foreign Economic Operations, and a new Department of Information and Cultural Affairs to carry out the functions now performed by CU and USIA. A variant of the Brookings proposal, suggested by a senior USIA officer, would establish an tinder Secretary of State for Public Affairs on the same levei as the Under Secretaries for Political and Economic Affairs. Reporting to that person would be Assistant Secretaries of State for Cultural and Academic Exchanges, Cultural Cperations, Media Services, and Public InformGcion (domestic) and the Director of the Voice of America. All administrative and support elements of USIA--such as personnel, research, congressional liaison, general counsel, security, budget, and inspector general --would be integrated into the corresponding offices of the Depzrtment. The British Council model Still another broad organizational alternati‘re to the Panel proposal would be to give the proposed general information and culturai affairs agency, duly divested of the policy information and advisory functions, the status of a quasi-governmental institution on the model of the British Council. The Panel reportedly considered this alternative seriously and was dissuaded from it only by the judgment that it might not be approved by the Congress. The British Council was established in 1934 to promote a wider knowledge of Britain and the English language. It received a Royal Charter in 1.940. It sponsors language training, runs libraries, publishes periodicals, conducts exchange progra.ms, mounts exhibitions, and organizes artistic performances. Its 1975-75 budget was about $10C mill ion. According to a Member of Parliament who served sec’eral years as Deputy Chairman of the Council, the organization acts indepenoentlv of the British Government. Although there is much hch!ind-c ,he-scenes consultation, the Govern- ment does not att.ecpt to exert control. 21 c The Council is supported m?Lnly by a lump sum annual grant f ram Parliament. It is governed by a chairman appointed by the Foreign Secretary for a 5-year term and a 20-member board drawn from literature, publishing, science, the arts, trade unions, an4 the Ususe of Commons. Those supporting this alternative believe that a relatively independent general information and cultural organization would enjoy greater credibility and acceptance among the artists, scholars, journalists, and others who form the constituency of official cultural affairs programs. The Inter-Amor ican Foundat ion model An interesting variant of the British Council model within the U.S. Federal structure is represented by the Inter-American Foundation. The Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt U.S. Government corporation established by the Congress in 1969 “to support Latin American and Caribbean efforts to solve their own ‘grass roots’ economic and social development problems.“ It is funded oy the Government and is authorized to receive contributions from nongovernmental sources. It has a staff of 60 Federal employees and is limited by law to a staff of 100. Its budget for fiscal year 1977 was $23 million. Th? unique and experimental nature of the organization is reflected in a House report at the time of the initial legislation. The report, as summarized in a statement b;r the Foundation’s President before a House subcommittee, calied for: rr* * * innovation, sensitivity to and support for indigenous efforts, independence from shor :-term political factors which affect the day-to-day course of U.S. Government policy, experimentation to overcome bottlenecks to progress, responsible recognition and assumption of risks to help solve specific development problems, replicability, and operations pr inarily through and with the private sector.” Management of the Foundation is vested in a seven- member Eoard of Directors appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Four of its directors, including the Chairman, represent the private sector, and three are chosen from among Government officials concerned with inter-American affairs. Directors serve b-year renewable terms without coapensat ion. 22 . CUR OBSERVATlONS Successful implementation of the proposal to consoli- date CU and USIA cultural functions in WashingtoT would, ve be1 ieve ,. achieve a m-ye efficient and consistent admin- istration of U.S. cultural programs. This step, as the Panel points out, wol*ld also permit the elimination of one advisory commission by consolidating the functions of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information and U.S. Advisory Commission on International Educational and Cultural Affairs. If it were decided that the proposed agency, shorn of the policy information and advisory functions, could serve ‘the national purpose more effecLively if it had independence ccmparable to that of the British Council, we believe the Inter-Aiierican Foundation might provide a more appropriate model. The Foundation’s President has testified that its status has enabled it to relate effectively to indigenous private groups in the region ‘!without always taking into account what a foreign policy or government-to-government relationship is.“ He added that while there is much consul- tation with U.S. Government authorities, “there has been no attempt to manipulate us politically by any country, including our own. ‘1 For reasons indicated in chapter 2, we do not share the Panel’s view that the consol idated agency should be shorn of the policy information role. Xowever, if CU’s functions are assigned to the information agency without divesting the latter of the policy information function, it would seem advisable to survey the CU-USIA constituency-- scholars, artists, journalists, etc.--to determine how they might respond to the consolidation and what sugges- tions they themselves might have about implementation. As to the relationship which the consolidated agency . should have to the State Department, there are two main options. One is that the agency retain a status of inde- pendence I reporting to the President and taking its policy guidance from the Department of State in accordance with present arrangements. Another is that the agency be placed, in the Panel’s phrase, “under--but no: in--the Department of State, ” On t?&e Arms Control and Disarmament Agency model. A variant of the latter, urged by State in its position paper on the ?anel report and by John Richardson, Jr., former Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, would put the information 23 . - agency not only “under” the State Department, as proposed by the Panel, but partly “in” as well. That is, the agency director would be an Under Secretary- cf State and, with cer- tain agency elements, would have offices in the Department.. Advocates believe this variant would give the agency better access to the Secretary for purposes of both policy infor- mation and policy advice. Some suggest this might also put the agency head in a posit ion to provide Government-wide coordination and leadership in information and cultural progt ams. . Fe be1 iev? each option has distinct advantages aJd shortcomings; either could work. The choice should be made only after proper study. If the agency were put under but not in the State Department, provision s?.ould be made to safeguard the agency’s present professional and administrative independence while reclaining under State Department policy guidance. 24 -. *c ,’ CHAPTER 4 FIELD REORGA3IZATION PA!qFL PROPOSAL The Panel proooses to reorganize information and cultural activities in the U.S. overseas missions to ceflect the distinction it draws between policy infor- mation and general information. Thus, “The official abroad principally concerned with carrying out the policy information and advisory functions should be t5e Press Counselor/Attache,” a Stake Depxtment . enployee. tie would receive the Hireless File, oolicy guidance information, and background telegrams from the Department and would reoort to the Department on media react ion and foreign opinion. 3e head of the local USIS establishment of the Information and Cultural Affaics Agency would be the Information-cultural Counselor/Attache, an ICA employee. He would handle general information products and the exchange of persons program. This “eliminates the present echelon and position of Public Affairs Officer (?SO) a 3 an intermediate level between the operating pres s and information-cultural elements and the embassy’s top management. The DC!4 [Deputy Chief of Hission] himself will henceforth be exercising this coordina- ting and supervisory role on behalf of the amoassacor * * *.” PAXEL RATIOXALE The rationale for the proposed field reoraanization parallels that stated for the proposed reorganization of tile ilashinaton headauzr LL?CS. (See pp. 23 and 10.) RZSPONSE OF CRITICS The proposal encounters the argument noted a%ove, that tSe infotmat:on product pactekes of both policy and general characteristics in ways often impossible to disen- tangle. Other objections cited are that: --It dis:urbs an arrangement abroad aainst which there appear to be few major complaints and which the Tanel itself describes as “tt:e unified organi- zation which hea worked so effectively in the field for over twenty years.” 25 --It raises possibilities of “jurisdictional” con- fusion and controversy. The Panel concedes that assigning press functions to a State Department officer and general information and cLltLra1 functions to an ICA officer will entail “some ovarlcp in the cultivation of ccntacts” and will f squire rra high degree of tact and managerial skill” in dovetailing the work of the two. To the extent that problems of jurisdiction emerge in the field, critics argue, they will impose a considerable new coordination burden on the . Deputy Chief of Mission. --While Foreign Service Officers often do well in dealing with the press, that work emphasizes professional skills, experience, and interests more likely to be found in USIA than in State. --USIA advised the National Security Council that a divided field operation , “would reduce miss ion effectiveness in utilizing and coordinating .lll the infor- mation and culLural tools available in support of mission objectives. The effect of the proposed reorganization would be to export the artificial division that now exists in Washington.” --Tile propcsal runs counter to what some critics regard as a promising new trend in the management of U.S. overseas posts. According to a USIA member of the Governing Bsard of the American Foreign Service Association, many U.S. missions . “have been doing away with the old cate- gorization of personnel and function which often inhibited effective operations. -Dress and information offices have b en merged, programm’ng divisions have been created which eiiminate the old and misleading distinctions between information and cul- tural activities. As a resul’, a more co- herent and fully orchestrats2d program has begun to take shape at many of our key overseas posts.” Thus, what the Panel called the unified USIS field organization is now being ever more closely inte- grated. 26 __ __-.. --It overlooks an aspect of the country-team concept, under which the ambassador, as principal policy spokesman abroad , norma1J.y establishes a close working and supervisory relationship with the Public Affairc Officer, Political Officer, Press Attache, or whomever he may designate to help him perform that function. This tends to reinforce State’s position as foreign policy advocate and to that extent obviates the Panel’s concern that policy articulation by USIA officers might be less authoritative than it should be. OUR OBSERVATIONS \ - We agree with those who believe that the proposed t realignment of functions in U.S. overseas missions would fragment field operations, open the way to confusion and coctroversy over the assignment of responsibilities, and to that extent reduce the effectiveness of present arrange- ments. We believe closer integration of information and cultural programs in the overseas missions should be encouraged. 27 . 0 CHAPTER 5 VOICE OF AMERICA PANEL PROPOSAL The Panel recommends that the Voice of America be made a separate agency outside of both State and the information-cultural agency, though “closely linked” to both. VOA would be supervised by a “board of overseers” consisting of the proposed Deputy Under Secretary of State for Policy Information, the Director of ICA, and three private citizens appointed by the President. State’s interest in effective policy articulation and advocacy would be protected under this arrangement by making the Department itself and its proposed new Office of Policy Information “directly responsible for explaining and articulating U.S. foreign policy over the Voice” and giving the Department’s spokesmen “direct and unqualified access to broadcast time." The material for the Department’s contribution to VOA prsgraming would be prepared by those of VOA’s worldwide English writers who would be transferred to State for that purpose. The Department’ s interest in VOA operations would be further protected by csntinuing the “assigniient to key Voice positions of foreign service officers who have served extensively in the areas to which their sectors of VOA are reg.ularly broadcasting.” (ICA’s interest in “the portrayal of American society” would be served by providing for ICA guidance to VOA’s writers.) PANEL BATIOEUALE As the purveyor of poliqr information, the Panel notes, VOA would logically be locatec in State. As a general information medium, the Voice qould logically belong to the . prOpOSed Information and Cclltcral Affairs Agency. B;lt VOA is also a broadcaster of straight news, and “the necessity of freedom from Government control dictates an indeDendent status. ” Placing VOA in the State Department o- keeping it in ICA would “severely compromise its independence as a source of news” and "make it extremely difficult to carry out the function entrusted to the other body.” The Panel argues that these arrangements would Dut policy articulation back in State where they feel it exclusively belongs, would protect the objectivity of WA’s news broadcasting , and “would permit the VOA to function as a credible medium. ” 28 _RGS?ONSEOF CXTTTCS Critics appear generally agreed that the Panel's case for the importance of reliable, objective news reporting bv the Voice is in itself unexceptionable, for suc!~ empha- s'ls does reflect America's “ideological anpeal" as a defender of the free flow of information ;nd is essential to the maintenance of credibility and listenership, The implied elevation af news to top nriority in the Government's scale of values for SroadcPsting raises two questions: whether it can be justified on policy grounds and whether it accurately reflects the Government's intent. So far as intent is concerned, there does not appear to be a clear basis for assigning priority to any of VOA's three functions. The Foreign Relations kuthoritaticn Act, fiscal year 1977, lists those functions without specifying their priority: to provide reliable news, project significant American thought and institutions, and present U.S. policies. All three functions appear widely recognized as comple- mentary and as indispensable to effective Government broad- casting. They can also be, the Panel rightly notes, inherently conflicting. As former USIA Director Iieogh has acknowledged, "comprehensive news coverage is sometimes not the best diplomacy. ” Questions critics raise are: Khen a conflict arises, how is it to be resolved and by when? In most instances noted, diplomatic imperatives se= to have prevailed over th? principle of journalistic independence. TO what extent have such episodes undermined the credibilty of VOA's news reporting? khat circumstances, if any, might justify State Department interference in VOA's selection or treatnent of broadcast material? Critics of this proposal argue that the voice of America and the independent commercial press are notably different. VOA is sponsored by the U.S. Government, . financed by the taxpayer, and billed as "the" Voice CL America. Its personnel overseas travel on official or dip- lomatic passports, are privy to embassy br ieffngs, have access to classif ied information, and enjoy the orotection and advantages of official status. Its niss ion is not only to report and analyze the daily neiss but to “present a bal- anced and com?rehinsiqe projection of signif icant Anlerican thought and institutions” and to “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively.” Undoubtedly most of its listeners perceive it as an instrumentality of the U.S. Government. (It has been noted in this con- nection that changes in programing content or en?hasis may be interpreted by foreign governments as diplomatic “signals. “) 29 ‘. : --_ The Panel's proposal, some critics argue, would put VOA in a position t3 retain all its present speciai ad- vantages and to act more independently of--that is, less responsively to-- the overseas interests of the United States as perceived ty th( Department of State. The question here is not one of loyalty but of judgment--whether, in the event of disagreement, it is to be the judgment of an independent Government board numerically dominated by private . citizens or that of the Policymakers that prevails. In its official cotnment last year, the State Department concluded that the present arrangement for VOA "is highly advisable Ehatever decisions are reached on the Panel‘s other proposals." There are a number of addition.31 considerations cited by critics of the proposal to make VOA independent: --It leaves large uncertainties as to how policy infor- mation (the State Department "cor,nercial" as some have dubbed it) uould be integrated into broadcasting schedules, who would control programing, what "direct and unqualified access to broadcast time" would mean in practice, and how responsive 'she new management would be to the needs of the DepartTent and other agencies. -It is questionable whether the State Department would prove able KO produce t5e necessary stream of policy news and analysis in timely fashion. In the words of Edmund A. Gullion, Dean of the Fletcher School of Law end Diplomacy, retired Foreign Service Officer, and a di ssenting member of the Panel, "the difficulties that might arise in trying to reconcile fast moving news coverage with Department clearances boggle the mind. p --Assigning supervision of VOA to a part-time Government board can be cuestioned, as at least one experienced observer has suggested, on the ground that “an inde- . pendent Board would be a weak reed in time of tro~lble” and that the "history of Government 3oards is not an encourag ing one. w --A.pooin.taent of tfte Board‘s full-tize Executive Director anh staff, assigned to carry out its policy control and evaluation tasks, could readily lead EC serious jurisdictional conf 1 icts between t:?e aoard and the VOA management. The experience 02 2cciia Free EUrCDe/ Radio Liberty and the Board for International Broah- casting in this regard is instructive. As a GAO report noted 2 years after the establishment of the Board for International Broadcasting, "A basic 30 t , difference exists between the 5oard and the Radios over the interpretation of the Board’s author ity , functions, and restonsibilities as set forth in the Act of 1973.’ --Independent status for VOA could aggravate a tendency to compete with other media at the cost of increased sensat ionalism and reduced attent j on to that part of VOA’s mandate calling Zor “a balanced and comprehensive projection of signif- icant American thought and institutions.” r”ormer . USIA Director Keogh, in commenting cn the proposal, stated thi..t this could lead VOA to “projjr?ct too little of the basic, long-range side of American life and too much of the transitory. The result could well be a situ- ation in which American taxpayers’ money would be spent on a broadcasting service which would devote too much of its time telling the rest of the world the worst about America.” --It is possible that implementing this proposal would require a substantial increase in funding and personnel . The Panel be1 ieves that “VOA will remain virtually intact under its new Board, inheriting only a few USIA administrative officers already accustomed to handling Voice affairs.” USIA officials have concluded, however, that to set -3 the support elements now provided by USIA-- for example, R budget and finance unit, administrative services, sectlrity office, training, audience researcn, inspection and audits, leg;,1 services, the new Executive Diret:tor , and *a secretariat--would require . a net increase of 100 peo;?le and add some $4 mi!.lron to the present operating costs. --OUR OBSZRVATIONS Advocates of independence for VOA often cite the British Broadcasting Corporation’s External Services, which has its own governing board, as the model to be emulated. On the other hand, it has been noted that while the BRC has a deserved reputation for journalistic integrity, that dces not mean that its overseas broadcasting is insensitive to foreign policy considerations or unresponsive to Foreign Off ice guidance. As USIA Director Reinhardt testified recently8 31 “The BBC has operated for many years under general British traditions. In structure, it is quite different, obviously, from our own. In actual operation, the BBC is also cognizant of British foreign policy. * * * The tradition of the Foreign Office having lunch with members of the British Broadcasting Corporation, of exchanging telephone calls, of discussing foreign policy issues is the manner in which they have chosen to do it, and they do it well :’ The principle of State Degsrtment guidance for VOA ccmmentaries on U.S. policy is not in dispute. During our review, however, we noted numerous complaints by VOA professionals against State Department interference in VOA newscasting. : Some of the State Department interventions we noted I did seem open to question. We believe, however, that there have been and can be situations in which State’s view ought to control. -- ._ r A well-pub1 icize d episode illustra’ec the point. in the days preceding the evacuation of Saigon, VOA was under instructions to report only official statements of the U.S. Government and congressional actions even though responsible unofficial American comments about the possibility of evacu- ation were being carried by the commercial media, including ; I the wire services. State’s reasoning was that such reports, . coming from the U.S. Government radio, would gain greater credence and in the circumstances increase the danger of panic among the South Vietnamese, with consequent risk to American and Vietnamese lives. Whether that would have occurred or not, the uncertainty itself progided some reason to err on the side of caution and to give State’s politi cal judgment precedence over VOA’s. orofessional concerns. (we were told that WA correspondents in Saigon, azzong the last to be evacuated, agglanded the State Department decision.) The incident illustrates an infreauent but potentially important situation that argues for maintaining the present relationshi? between VOAt State, and USIA. It should, how- ever p be ernphas izea that circumstances justifying such inter- vent ion are highly unusual and the Department’s prerogative should be exercised with restraint and in full atiareness of the need to protect VOA’s professional inregrlty. 32 The Panel claims that making VOA independent "uJould permit VOA to function as a credible medium.” This appears to imply that under present arrangements the Voice lacks credibility, although the Panel does not make that asser- tion. One test for credibility is listenership. kud ience research conducted by professional polling organizations for USIA and others indicates that VOA has a substantial listenership and in genera 1 competes effectively with BBC. Similarly, the Panel implies but does not establish a failure by VOA, operating from its base in USIA, to satisfy the needs of the Department of State. We found no evidence of serious or chronic State Department dissatisfaction with VOA's performance. The reporting and advocacy of U.S. foreign policy, especially by fast media ar.3 especially in moments of international crisis, can significantly affect the national interest for good or ill. The considerations outlined above t in our judgment, weigh strongly against disturbing the present structural relationship between VOA, USIA, and the Department of State. New apprcaches to improving VOA's working relationship with State and USIA should be studied. Local 1812 of the American Federation of Government Employees, for example, has suggested that VOA should be granted full authority over its own Personnel system, theta a special oversight committee should be established to resolve policy disputes, and that the VOA Director should be elevated to USIA Associate Director status and to membership on the Agency's Executive Committee. For an institution charged with duties that put a premium on profesLiona1 integrity but that may prove inher- ently contradictory 0.1 occasion, the solution may well lie less in organizational alterations than in other approaches.. We believe the answer to the VOA dilemma must depend above all on a consensus on objectives and operating principles within the agency and beyond, strong leadership, end a growing tradition of reasonable policy guidance by State with responsiole professional independence for USIA, duly supported by tne President and the Congress. 33 . I CHAPTER 6 A NE% CHARTER FOR U.S. PUBLIC 3IPLOtGKV The evidence reviewed in the preceding chapters led us to conclude that one of she Panel’s proposals (consolidating the cultural functions of CU and USIA) would substantially &prove present operations; two others (merging the FSO and FSIO personnel classification categories and reassigning USIA’s policy advisory role) may have constructive possibilities but require further study: and the remainder, which contem- plate a major reorganization, seem more likely to hinder than to advance ongoing efforts to improve the efficiency -and effectiveness of U.S. public diplomacy. . It is the Panel’s position not that the present sys- tem is workina badly but that under the proposed structural changes it “will work much better .“ %e are concerned that, on the contrary, if the recommendations es a whole were implemented, the system would work less well. The “anoma- lies” the Panel would correct appear, with one exception (dual adxinisttation of the cultural programs), to be innoc- uous and n-o& anomalies at all. The Panel’s approach would achieve a certain tidiness on paper at the expense of arrange- ments that have essentially met the test of practicality and performance. To guestion a particular set of proposals for reorgan- izing an institution is of course not to imply a blanket endorsement cf the institution or to deny the need for constant adaptation to change. We believe that in the case of U.S. public diplomacy, certain nonorganizational approaches to improvement would prove more promising. A Presidential Study Commission on International Radio Broadcasting under Dr. Milton Eisenhower observed not long ago: “Able men of coed will can make almost any organizational arrangement work: and con- verselyI even the finest organizational arrangements do not guarantee efficient and effective operations.” In the style, guality, and impact of any program, factors other than organization may well play more important roles. Aronq such factors are caliber, preparation, and morale of personnel; clarity of purpose; and cesources. 34 - 2, . We believe that while some improvement of U.S. public diplomacy can be achieved through orgsn..zational reform, most of the more promising prospects lie in other directions. These include efforts to: establish Government-wide leader- ship and coordination of information and cultural programs: improve the orienta ion and training of partlcipznts and practitioners: refii,-> and more fully apply present techniques for rrogra;n development and evaluation; cisrify mission, objectives, .hilosophy, and operationa% guidelines; and pro- mote wider public understanding, support, and involvement. Of those issues, one that needs early consideration conce:Tns, as a 1994 GAO report suggested, the mission, goals, and operating guidelines for the conduct of U.S. pub1 ic diplomacy. Development of a consensus on this among those concerned, both in and out of Golrernment, would provide a sounder basis than now exists for further consideration of organizational problems and solutions. A new “charter” tgould also facilitate t.:le proposed mer,-er of the information agency and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, since the two agencies tend to view matters of mission and method differently. There is, moreover, recent evidence that information- cultural cbjectives and methods are perceived differently even within USIA. 0n Novernier 3, 1976, a public statement endorsed by nearly 500 USIA employees called for “Govern- ment-wide agreement that the mission of USIA is not to manipulate foreign attitudes, but to seek understanding of American policy as well as the society and values from which it flows. ’ It acknowledges that, “the basic task of USIA has always been to support American foreign policy,” and argues that the most effective and appropriate way to do this is bcth “to present persuasively the Administra- tion ‘s policies” and to communicate “resDonsible nonqov- errxental opinion, even though such opinion may at ti.mes be ’ critical of those policies. ” It adds that, “To represent our society and its values with candor and to enunciate the policies of the Government with precision, we believe the proper mode of discourse is the dialogue.” The staff groq calls for a new USIA charter based cn those principles. It is aqarent from a 1974 mission statement by then Director Keogh that these unexceptionable principles are not alien to the Agency’s top management. Much of the Agency’s and CU’s output today reflects those principles. The differences appear to be those of degree and eaphas i s . They say also be in part semantic. Nerely to inject facts into a dialogue is, in one sense, to 35 . . c , “manipulate” attitudes. Similarly, whether or not “propaganda” is reprehensible depends entirely on whether the term is taken to Dean the distortion or merely the propagation of information. It is clear, however, that this divergence of pcrcep- tions among USIA and CU professionals is real and has implications for morale and effectiveness. The fact would suggest the desirability of an attempt by management and staff, of CU as well as USIA, to develop a comprehensive statemert of mission and methods to which they and the Congress could subscribe. The Office of ?lanagement and 3udget has taken a ste? in that direction.- In April 1376 it drafted a paFer and initiated discussion with the State Department and USIA on U.S. public diplomacy. The paper, “Federal Government abjectives for Information dnd Cultural Pro- grams, w was in part a response to the Yanel report, which OK3 staff criticize for having failed to relate its pro- posed structural changes to a clear conception of U.S. objectives. Further efforts in that d!rection wouici be ap,gro- priate. There will always be discrepancies between theory and practice; however P a comprehensive charter defining misszon, objectives, and procedures would provide a useful frame of reference for those concerned with the organization, conduct. and evaluaticn of U.S. public diplomacy. 36 L * RF?ENDIX I APPEX'LIX I PRIXCIFAL OFFICIALS CONCERNED KIT'5 THE SUBJXT -- IfATTER OF TFIIS REPgRiT Tenure of office From To - DEPART!lENT OF STATE SECRZTARY OF STATE Cyrus R. Vance Jan. 1977 Present Henry A. Kissinger Sept. 1973 Jan. 1977 * . ASSIST.AY2 SECRETARY F3R EDUCATIO??AL AXD CULTURAL AFFAIRS Joseoh D. Duffey Apr. 1977 Present William K. Hitckock (acting) Jan. 1977 Apr. 1977 John Richartison, Jr. July 1969 Jen. 1977 . WITED STATES INF3RWATION AGENCY DIRECTOR John E. Reinhacdt Mar. 1977 Present Eugene P. Xopg (actir.9) Nov. 1975 I*!a1:. 1977 James Kcogh Feb. 1973 Nov. 1376 37 .
Public Diplomacy in the Years Ahead: An Assessment of Proposals for Reorganization
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-05-05.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)