A/MS Files, Lot 54 D 291
Memorandum by the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Administration ( Humelsine ) to the Under Secretary of State ( Webb )
I have just held a meeting with Messrs. Barrett, Sargeant,1 and Hulten, together with Scott,2 Heneman,3 and Kimball of my staff, to consider immediate measures which the Department should take to insure a more dynamic and flexible operation of our information (propaganda) program within the policy direction of the Department of State. We are unanimous in the opinion that steps must be taken immediately both to step up the operation of USIE and to counteract proposals such as Senator Benton’s that the program be moved out of the State Department into an independent agency.4
It is our belief that a device can be found to provide an “agency” within the Department with all the essential operating flexibility of an independent agency but without the loss which would occur if operations were separated completely from the Department with policy responsibility. For example, in lieu of Mr. Barrett’s office and the present USIE, a “Foreign Information Administration” might be established within the Department of State, headed by an administrator who might rank as an Under Secretary. This Administration would be subject as now to the policy direction and guidance of the Secretary and the respective regional Bureaus. Within defined standards and subject to Departmental coordination, it might have its own Personnel Office, Budget Office, etc., and hire and assign its personnel here and abroad (and we trust it could receive the benefit of more liberal provisions similar to ECA’s in the recruitment of top caliber individuals).
Overseas the top FIA representative in each country and his staff would be part of the diplomatic mission subject to the direction of the Ambassador. However, operating instructions might be dispatched [Page 918] over the signature of the administrator of FIA to his chief officer in the country mission, through our communications network, with the Ambassador having access to all communications. The Ambassador would have authority to countermand such operational directives when he deemed it advisable, in which case he could be reversed only by order of the Secretary.
The group agreed that this proposal was of such urgency and major importance that a task force should be set up immediately to develop a proposal to be presented informally to Senator Benton and other key members of Congress within the next couple of weeks. Further, it was felt that Senator Benton should be advised immediately that such a planning project is under way in order to seek his agreement to withhold further advocacy at this time of an independent agency. I am sure some such new proposal to combine the advantages of the present system and of the Benton proposal can be developed quickly, at least in major outline.
If this project and task force has your concurrence, I propose to place Mr. Kimball in charge. We feel that this should be a State Department task force with top level representatives designated by Messrs. Barrett and Hulten, plus the Director of Personnel and one regional bureau Executive Director. However, we also feel it would be advantageous to ask the Bureau of the Budget and EGA each to designate one staff member to serve as advisers.
This task force will not be concerned with the question of responsibility for foreign information policy on which you and the Secretary have been working and which is now before the President.5 Neither is it believed that this task force would duplicate in any way the work of the Bureau of the Budget task force on Foreign Economic Affairs. It might be expected, however, that plans developed for the reorganization and strengthened operation of the information program here and abroad might provide solutions to some of the problems of organization, operations and relationships which we are encountering in other phases of the conduct of foreign relations.
If you concur in this project, I would like to have Mr. Kimball organize the task force and get it under way immediately.6
- Howland H. Sargeant, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.↩
- Walter K. Scott, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Administration.↩
- Harlow J. Heneman, Director of the Management Staff.↩
- See the first footnote 3, p. 907.↩
- The reference is to discussions which culminated in the creation of the Psychological Strategy Board, an interdepartmental body, established by a directive of April 4, 1951, by President Truman. For text of the directive, see p. 58.↩
- The source text, a copy of the original memorandum, bears the notation, in quotation marks, “O.K. JW”. A task force was established with Kimball as chairman; a memorandum of February 24 by Kimball, not printed, reported that the task force had endorsed the proposal for a semiautonomous agency within the Department of State (A/MS Files, Lot 54 D 291, USIA file). Planning for such an agency and discussion of the proposal continued within the Department during the following months.↩