A/MS Files, Lot 54 D 2912

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs (Barrett) to the Under Secretary of State (Webb) and the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration (Humelsine)


Subject: ECA–USIE3 Relations in the Information Field

Re your conversations with Bill Foster4 of ECA:

You should be aware of the ECA–USIE relationships and potential conflicts in the information field.

[Page 903]

As you know, ECA originally set up a very large information staff abroad to publicize the Marshall Plan and its purposes, and the whole OEEC concept.5 As Europe has become increasingly familiar with the Marshall Plan, the necessity for really large-scale operations in this field has diminished. The ECA boys have, naturally, tended to keep themselves busy by broadening out their activities, by (1) pushing the whole theme of integration of Western Europe and then (2) promoting the broad concept of the defense of Europe through economic strength. Bluntly, in order to keep their large mechanism busy they are, consciously or unconsciously, moving into the whole USIE field, with the exception of the simple exposition of the U.S. and its aims.

Recognizing these difficulties, we sent Bill Cody6 to Europe nine months ago, under an agreement between ECA and ourselves to try to effect as much coordination and prevent as many conflicts and overlaps as possible. This has worked to a surprising degree, through such mechanisms as joint USIE–ECA committees, numerous joint projects, and in a few cases, thoroughly coordinated operations. The over-flamboyance of many ECA operatives and the over-cautiousness of the State operators have tended to neutralize each other, with generally healthy results. Also, in some cases, the talents of the personnel in the two agencies have complemented each other, USIE having more political and policy savvy and ECA supplying a good deal of technical and promotional competence. Nonetheless, there are dangers ahead.

Some of the ECA information officers, fighting for their own continued existence, have done some disparaging of our operations among members of Congress and others, on the grounds that we are too [Page 904] hemmed in by diplomatic considerations. There is an absence of a clear line of demarcation between the functions of the two agencies. Finally, in fighting for their own continued existence, the ECA people are finding themselves almost forced into encroaching upon more and more of State’s functions.

We are now trying to think through a proposed course of action. We have some preliminary thoughts on the subject. We can talk these over with you and Mr. Humelsine any time you choose.

Edward W. Barrett
  1. Consolidated administrative files of the Department of State for the years 1949–1960. Documentation in these files concerning the information program is filed under USIA.
  2. The United States International Information and Educational Exchange Program, or USIE, was the operating agency within the Department of State that administered the Department’s foreign information and educational exchange programs. The Department’s activities in these fields had begun on a limited basis in the decade before World War II, with an Information Service, established in 1934 to assist U.S. overseas missions in interpreting U.S. policies in other countries, and a program to promote cultural relations with the American Republics, authorized by Congress in August 1939 in Public Law 355 (approved August 9, 1939; 53 Stat. 1290). During World War II, the Government developed new foreign information programs under the direction of independent agencies: the Foreign Information Service, the overseas arm of the Coordinator of Public Information, which initiated the Voice of America radio broadcasts early in 1942; the Onice of War Information, which absorbed the FIS in June 1942; and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (later the Office of Inter-American Affairs), which conducted an information program in the American Republics. In August 1945, President Truman abolished the OWI and transferred its informational functions and those of the OIAA to the Department of State. These programs, sharply reduced from their wartime levels, were combined with the Department’s informational and cultural exchange activities in the Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs, under the direction of the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. In 1947, after Congress further reduced appropriations for the information program, the OIC was reorganized and renamed the Office of International Information and Educational Exchange. In August 1946, Congress authorized an educational exchange program by Public Law 584, or the Fulbright Act (approved August 1, 1946; 60 Stat 754), and in January 1948, the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act, or the Smith-Mundt Act, authorized a comprehensive information and educational exchange program (Public Law 402, approved January 27, 1948; 62 Stat. 6). In April 1948, the Department established the Office of International Information and the Office of Educational Exchange, and in 1949, the Office of General Manager of the International Information and Educational Exchange Program was created to direct the operations of both offices; general information policy remained the responsibility of the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.

    For a more detailed account of the background of the information program, see Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Overseas Information Programs of the United States, Organization of the United States Overseas Information Functions (Staff Study No. 4; Committee Print, 1953). A file of selected documents concerning the information program may be found in the Library of the United States Information Agency.

  3. William C. Foster, Administrator of the Economic Cooperation Administration.
  4. In a 1949 foreign aid appropriation act, Congress authorized the Economic Cooperation Administration to publicize the programs it administered in the participating countries (Public Law 327, approved October 6, 1949; 63 Stat. 709). For documentation relating to, the ECA, see pp. 1225 ff. For documentation concerning the European Recovery Program, or the Marshall Plan, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. iii, pp. 197484, and succeeding volumes.
  5. Morrill Cody, an attaché at the Embassy in Paris.