128. Letter From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Marks) to All United States Information Agency Public Affairs Officers1

Dear PAO:

For several months I have considered the need of establishing a regular channel of communication to Country Public Affairs Officers, and have explored various ways of bringing ideas and viewpoints to your attention. With the new year I have decided to institute a monthly letter to accomplish this purpose. I hope that it proves to be of value to all.

I have just returned from a PAO conference in Mexico City and visits with the staffs in five Latin American countries. As always on my trips to the field, I felt refreshed by personal contact with those who are doing the Agency’s work abroad. While time does not permit me to travel as frequently as I should like, I hope that these monthly letters will help to keep us in closer touch.

This month I want to talk with you about a subject that is uppermost in our minds here in Washington, the Planning-Programming-Budgeting System (PPBS).2 Those of you in the 39 countries in which the system is now being introduced will be much concerned with it in the coming weeks. Those of you in other countries should also be well informed about PPBS and its significance for the Agency.

The purpose of the new system is to help us—you as Country PAO, your Area Assistant Director and myself in Washington—ensure that we make most effective use of resources to accomplish our aims. This requires clear definition of objectives and systematic analysis of alternative ways to reach these objectives. It means weighing possible approaches against one another to determine which are likely to bring greatest results for the funds expended. It means better use of research to guide program judgments.

You should know that the PPB system is being instituted throughout the Executive Branch of the government at the express direction of the President.

We have in recent months been exploring ways to see how best we could apply PPBS within the Agency. It soon became clear that since Agency programs stem from field needs, the field program must [Page 406] be the basis for our analysis. After preliminary work in Washington, the Agency pre-tested the Country Plan Program Memorandum (CPPM) in Turkey and Japan. As a result of lessons learned in these two posts, the revised handbook was prepared.

The system is still in an experimental stage. Based on the experience that we gain from the 39 posts which are participating this spring, further improvements and refinements will be made.

We should realize that PPBS will not provide easy answers to difficult questions. All of us experienced in USIA recognize that results are hard to evaluate and often involve intangibles that cannot be measured precisely. PPBS can help focus our thinking on critical questions, reduce some of the areas of uncertainty, and provide us with tools to make more informed decisions. Nothing in PPBS lessens the need for the seasoned, professional judgment that I count on from our Public Affairs Officers.

I am very conscious of the fact that PPBS will place additional demands upon the posts, especially in this first year. It should, however, help us to concentrate upon essentials and thus ultimately to reduce our work-load.

I want you to know that we have been commended by the Bureau of the Budget for the manner in which we have adapted PPBS to our particular needs.

The work we have already done in inaugurating this new management tool helped us to demonstrate to the Bureau of the Budget the value of our activities. I am pleased to report that the Bureau has permitted us to plan for selective increases in vital functions in our budget for the coming year. You can see, therefore, that PPBS is not just an academic exercise.

I look forward with keen interest to the field submissions, and to your suggestions on how PPBS can best serve the Agency.


Leonard H. Marks
  1. Source: Johnson Library, Marks Papers, Box 28, PAO Letters. No classification marking.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 108.