30. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Rowan) to President Johnson1

In line with our recent conversation in which you asked about items which might be announced from or in relation to the White House, I have just completed several major developments at USIA which can be made public with considerable benefit.

Two of them are of considerable importance, and I believe that it would be advantageous if I could have a few minutes in which to discuss these developments with you.

Following are the points I have in mind:

I. Most important is an agreement just concluded by Secretary Rusk and myself under which this Agency’s Career Reserve Officers will become members of the Foreign Service. This is the most important development in USIA since it became an independent agency, and it will go far toward raising the calibre of USIA’s personnel and improving the overall efficiency of the Agency. I am forwarding to you herewith a joint memorandum to you from Secretary Rusk and myself along with the pertinent documents, including a Press Statement which the Secretary and I propose that you make.2I believe it important that I discuss this development with you prior to any announcement3 (and I am hoping that the announcement will come soon in view of the danger of press leaks).

II. A magnificent one and one-half hour motion picture on President Kennedy’s years in the White House (Frank Stanton mentioned it to you) will be ready for showing in a few days.4It is one of the most [Page 84] effective and important propaganda vehicles ever produced by our country, and if properly launched can have considerable domestic as well as international impact. I believe it ought to be launched during this month, and think you will want to chat briefly about where and how we launch it.5

III. Because of a belief that certain USIA publications were not of an influence commensurate with their costs, I recently ordered a thorough study of our publications’ policies by a select committee.6 Yesterday, based on findings of this committee, I ordered the discontinuance of 46 publications which now cost the Government an estimated $700,000 a year. I have approved the committee’s recommendation that we replace these 46 publications with four new publications which will more effectively and economically tell this country’s story abroad.

The net result will be a 40 percent reduction in the number of USIA publications and a saving of at least $350,000 which we can apply to a critically needed expansion of our program in such areas as the Congo and Eastern Africa.

IV. As a further step in sharpening administrative procedures in the Agency, new policies were put into effect this week curtailing sharply the use of overtime. This will produce an estimated saving of between $100,000 and $150,000. The savings here as in Item III are annual.

I am aware of the terrible burdens on you during this period, but hope you can find a few minutes in which we may discuss these items.

Carl T. Rowan7
  1. Source: Johnson Library, White House Central Files, Subject Files, Federal Government Organizations, FG 266–1–1, Box FG 33, FG 296 U.S. Information Agency (1964–1966). Confidential. Handwritten notations indicate that Johnson saw this memorandum and underlined portions of the text.
  2. Not found. The conversion of USIA’s Career Reserve Officers into Department of State Foreign Service Officers did not occur during Rowan’s tenure as USIA Director. Congressional legislation authorizing the conversion was not passed until 1968. On August 20 of that year, President Johnson signed into law P.L. 90–494 (82 Stat. 810), also know as the Pell-Hays Act. Upon signing, Johnson stressed: “Approval of the act today culminates the determined efforts of three administrations, numerous Members of Congress, advisory committee, and private citizens who have understood that the United States needs a professional career service for this new arm of its diplomacy.” For text of Johnson’s statement, see Public Papers: Johnson, Book II, 1968–1969, pp. 904–905.
  3. Johnson underlined the portion of the sentence beginning with “I believe” and ending with “any announcement.”
  4. The USIA-produced film, John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums, was released in 1964. The film was eventually screened for American audiences in 1966 following the passage of a special act by Congress. See Document 64.
  5. Johnson underlined this sentence.
  6. Not further identified.
  7. Rowan signed “Carl” above this typed signature.