94. Letter From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Marks) to the Chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information (Stanton)1

Dear Frank,

The following will serve as a status report on actions taken by the Agency on the recommendations made by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information in its Twenty-first Report to Congress.2 I have listed below the specific recommendations which you have made and my comment on each. They are as follows:

1. USIA’s purpose and role should cover both present and future objectives.

2. USIA should develop long-range plans. A ten-year (1966–76) plan is recommended.

I concur in your recommendation that we have a responsibility to project U.S. foreign policy from a short and long-range standpoint. We attempt to do so.

Since taking over the office of Director, I have stressed long-range planning and have emphasized its importance in:

a. Planning for the recruitment of trained personnel.

b. Instituting language training programs.

c. Evaluating the technical facilities which we operate to determine whether they will become obsolete.

d. Considering new facilities in light of technological advances made in the art of communications.

Consistent with these objectives, I have appointed Wilson Dizard as long-range planning officer and have given him specific assignments which are now being developed.

In order that we may keep abreast of technological improvements, we have constantly conferred with the National Aeronautics and Space Council representatives to determine the prospective use of satellites for short-wave broadcasting, for frequency modulation programs and other means of communications. Special studies have been instituted on these subjects directed towards our particular problems.

[Page 284]

I am enclosing at this time a summary which I recently prepared covering certain basic assumptions with reference to political and other circumstances which will influence the operation of the Agency in the 1970s.

3. USIA should use more research in its plans, programs, budget and evaluation.

In your report you state, “This Commission has long urged that USIA employ wherever possible modern research methods in order to ascertain when and where it has succeeded or failed, and how it can influence attitudes more effectively.”

As you know, our Research Section has carried out specific projects using “modern research methods,” and I am satisfied that the personnel of this section are highly qualified to continue doing so. I am unable to comment on your statement that, “The use of research has been seriously neglected in USIA to the detriment of the program.” This statement obviously refers to a situation which may have existed prior to my appointment.

We are currently using research for planning purposes, to evaluate the usefulness of particular media products, to justify our request for appropriations before the Bureau of the Budget and Congress, and to determine attitudes of foreign populations on significant problems of mutual interest.

I have recently determined that research can be used more effectively if it is integrated with the Office of Policy. Accordingly, on July 1, 1966 the Research unit will be transferred to that section and the Reference Service will be transferred to the Office of Administration. It is my expectation that this reorganization will bring about a more efficient operation.

4. USIA should improve the quality of its programs, products, and personnel.

I concur in this recommendation and we are constantly striving to improve the quality of the programs, products and personnel of the Agency.

Effective October 1, 1966, I have named an experienced Foreign Service Officer, James J. Halsema, as Head of the Training Division and he will institute a more vigorous program of indoctrination for our officers assigned overseas. Moreover, arrangements are being made for a larger complement of personnel to be trained at the Foreign Service Institute,3 not only in language training but in cultural aspects of the foreign countries to which officers will be assigned.

[Page 285]

In your recommendation you also suggest that “Each USIA employee should be encouraged to offer his ideas on these and related matters.” You will be gratified to learn that the Employee Suggestion Program which I instituted immediately after my appointment has resulted in 541 suggestions as compared to 110 in a comparable period. Not only have I received valuable suggestions for improvement of Agency material and programs, but we have been able to effect savings of $45,000 as a result of these ideas.

Reviews have been made periodically on the usefulness of our magazines and pamphlets. New products will be instituted when the need arises and others will be abandoned when they no longer serve a useful purpose.

The VOA is altering its basic format and in the Fall we will present a new concept of program service. I am hopeful that we can shortly present to your Commission taped excerpts from typical programs which are being planned. In addition, I have recently received a report on a special investigation made on our Latin American program by Peter Straus, an experienced broadcast station owner-manager.4 During this investigation he visited Latin American countries, monitored the programs of the domestic system as well as short-wave transmission of the VOA and other services. As a result of this report, I plan on making substantial changes in the Latin American output.

5. USIA should strengthen, and integrate more effectively its cultural and information programs.

In order to strengthen our cultural program, I have appointed Dr. Charles Cole as Cultural Advisor. As you may know, Dr. Cole has an eminent background for this responsibility and has served as the U.S. Ambassador to Chile5 and President of Amherst College.

We have endeavored to strengthen the Binational Center institutes as a means of developing cultural programs more fully in certain areas of the world.

In order to aid in the recruitment of outstanding scholars as Cultural Affairs Officers, I plan on convening a meeting of leading college presidents who will be informed of USIA objectives and programs and whose support will be enlisted.

6. USIA should re-examine its assumptions and review its programs, country by country, in order to expand useful ones and discard those that are marginal; USIA should also review its list of priority countries for the purpose of determining areas of concentration and saturation and areas where minimum U.S. presence is sufficient.

[Page 286]

We regularly re-examine the assumptions and the country plan for each of the countries in which we operate. Concurrently, programs of the Agency are regularly monitored and those which have outlived their usefulness or are not serving a valid purpose are discarded. This effort is a constant one and emphasis has been placed upon it at all times.

7. USIA should search constantly for new techniques in communication from the private sector, especially from advertising, public relations, the public media of communication and from the universities.

Since my appointment as Director on September 1, 1965, I have met with distinguished representatives from advertising, public relations, radio broadcasting, magazines, newspapers and from the educational community. Specifically, formal meetings have been held with the Public Relations Society of America—National Officers, New York Chapter; Public Relations Roundtable; Advertising Federation of America; Broadcasters Promotion Association; National Association of Broadcasters; selected representatives of multiple-owners of broadcast facilities; and International Council of Industrial Editors. These meetings have resulted in valuable suggestions and have brought about an area of cooperation which promises to stimulate the recruitment of personnel and the development of new ideas.

8. USIA should continue to help create favorable atmospheres abroad for the understanding of U.S. foreign policies.

We endeavor to carry out this suggestion at all times.

9. USIA should review and reconsider the decision to close libraries, bi-national centers and information centers in Europe.

I have previously explained the circumstances which led to the curtailment or reduction of our library service in London and Paris. At this point I would like to give you a report on the current situation in these capitals.

In Paris we retained the first floor of the three-story building at the Place de l’Odeon which housed the USIS library. A reference collection of 5,000 volumes is in active use. The remaining volumes were transferred to the USIS Youth Center and to the American Library. Reports from the post disclose that the patronage at the Place de l’Odeon has increased because of the presence of an Institute of American Studies on the 2nd and 3rd floors and that students attending this Institute have made good use of the reference facilities. Considerable use is also made of the augmented collection at the USIS Cultural Center.

In London we maintain a small reference library at the American Embassy. The remaining volumes were transferred to the University of London where they are actively used by the large student population [Page 287] of the University. Reference queries are being handled by mail and phone. By virtue of these arrangements, there has been no dimunition in service being rendered to the residents of London desiring library access to U.S. library facilities nor to the residents of the United Kingdom seeking reference service. In addition, books are being sent by mail throughout the United Kingdom.

No further reductions have been made in libraries, Binational and Information Centers in Europe. However, improvements have been made in certain facilities and every effort will be made to up-grade the existing centers.

The status of our libraries in Europe are under continuing review and efforts will be made to improve the facilities. However, at this time I do not believe that it would be desirable to attempt to expand the facilities in Paris and London described above.

10. USIA should seek a level of appropriations more commensurate with its responsibilities and more in proportion to the efforts of the U.S. military and of the U.S. economic and military assistance programs.

At the present time, I am preparing the estimates for the budget for Fiscal Year 1968 and will request at that time funds adequate to carry out our responsibilities in light of conditions which are anticipated for that period.

This brief summary is designed to acquaint you with some of the highlights of our program in the areas enumerated. Periodically, I look forward to meeting with you and other members of the Commission to answer your questions and to seek your advice on the most effective way of carrying out the objectives assigned to us by the Congress and the President.


Leonard H. Marks6
[Page 288]


Paper Prepared in the United States Information Agency7

Looking Towards the 1970’s

In projecting its mission for the 1970’s, the U.S. Information Agency must begin with two related factors. They are:

1. the continued need for the United States to maintain its international leadership both for its own security and that of the rest of the Free World and

2. the continuing expansion of the role of world public opinion in influencing international issues which affect our national security.

The Agency is guided by two sets of assumptions in projecting its mission for the next five years. The first involves the operational environment which will determine the shape of future Agency activities. The second, determined primarily by the Department of State and other agencies involved in foreign policies, actively relates to the general political environment during this period. A brief summary of the important aspects of the operational environment follows:


As it prepares for the 1970’s, USIA must consider its role in a new world communication environment. The fundamental operational factor in this new situation is accelerated change. The characteristics of USIA elite audiences are shifting in ways that give new force to the role of public opinion abroad.

The Agency’s effectiveness as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy will depend on its ability to adapt its operations to these conditions in the coming years. The key characteristics of these changes are:

1. USIA elite audiences are expanding at a greater rate than the general increase in world population. The general rate of population increase is about two percent annually. Quantitatively most of this increase is taking place among low-income rural and urban families in underdeveloped countries. By and large, this group is not a USIA target audience. The significant audience for USIA are students, public officials and middle-to-upper class professionals abroad. These groups are expanding in numbers at a faster pace than is the general population. [Page 289] This is particularly true in underdeveloped countries where the base on which elite-group expansion has taken place has been a narrow one. Eighty percent of the Agency’s operations take place in such countries. In addition, the characteristics of the Agency’s overseas target audiences are changing. It is a younger audience. It is better educated and it is more mobile, both socially and geographically. It is an increasingly urbanized audience, with a higher ratio of women than ever before. The Agency will have to take these characteristics into account.

2. The range of informational and cultural outlets available to these audiences are expanding at a rapid rate. As elite audiences grow, the range of information outlets also tends to increase. This has been particularly true in less-developed countries during the past decade, and it will be increasingly so in the next few years. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, the number of newspapers and libraries has doubled; the number of radio transmitters has tripled. Television, non-existent in these areas a dozen years ago, now is a factor in sixty countries. Higher education facilities in these countries have doubled in the past decade and will probably double again in the next ten years. Thus USIA’s target audiences not only have greater choices of cultural and informational outlets, but also a greater variety of choice within each medium. USIA’s effectiveness in reaching these audiences depends in large part upon its ability to service their new range of informational and cultural outlets.

3. The amount of information USIA must consider for processing has increased. An important influence on world communications has been the great expansion in the amount of data to be handled—the so-called “information explosion.” This phenomenon has seen the doubling of the amount of total information during the past decade, with the prospects for another doubling in the next ten years. USIA must be selective in its information processing, emphasizing those areas which relate most directly to its mission objectives. USIA must also be responsive to the new range and complexity of information resources which are relevant to the Agency’s mission.

4. The Agency must adapt its operations to changes now taking place in communications technology. World communications is changing not only in terms of expanded outlets and audiences but also in its technology. The dramatic current example of this is the global communications satellite network, scheduled for full operation in 1968. Less dramatic but equally significant changes are taking place in other areas affecting Agency operations—automated library techniques, computerized information storage and teaching machines. USIA operations should be adapted to take advantage of the efficiencies offered by these techniques.

In summary, USIA is entering a period of accelerated change in world communications which affects this total pattern of its operations [Page 290] abroad. These changes should be met in part by a realignment of its present resources in ways that improve their effectiveness and, when necessary, by a careful expansion of these resources to permit the Agency to meet its wider responsibilities.

5. USIA must adapt itself more directly to the psychological-operations requirements of insurgency situations which threaten U.S. interests. In recent years, the balance of USIA overseas operations has shifted to countries where the major security problem is latent or active insurgency. This shift has placed new demands on the Agency’s need to identify more precisely its role in modernization and insurgency operations and to adapt its own operations accordingly. In particular, the Agency should examine its operations in the following fields as they relate to insurgency situations: (1) training officers in psychological operations for insurgency situations, (2) improving the collection and use of intelligence related to insurgencies, (3) improving its technological capabilities for insurgency operations and (4) strengthening indigenous organizations which have, directly or indirectly, a local psychological-operations role, and (5) improving the Agency’s capability to support overall U.S. Government policies and operations relating to insurgency situations throughout the world.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Director’s Subject Files, 1963–1967, Entry UD WW 101, Box 1, Advisory Groups—Information 1966. No classification marking. Drafted by Marks. Written in an unknown hand above the date line on the first page of the letter is the name “Frank Stanton” and the note “(sent June 24).”
  2. Twenty-First Report of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information, 89th Congress, Second Session, House Document No. 403 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1966).
  3. Reference is to the United States Government’s primary training institution for officers and support personnel of the U.S. foreign affairs community, which is administered by the Department of State.
  4. Not further identified.
  5. Cole was Ambassador to Chile from 1961 until 1964.
  6. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  7. Limited Official Use. No drafting information appears on the paper although Marks indicated in his letter to Stanton that he prepared this summary.