Under Secretary’s Meetings, Lot 53 D 250

Record of the Under Secretary’s Meeting, October 12, 1951


UM N–406

[Here follows discussion of unrelated items on the agenda.]

Proposed Establishment of a Foreign Information Administration— (UM D–139/1)1

5. Continuing the discussion of the FIA held during the previous UM meeting (see UM N–405),2 Mr. Miller remarked that he agreed [Page 939] with Messrs. Bohlen, Perkins, and Rusk; that he felt the regional principle of administration should be strengthened. He emphasized that somewhere in government a group must exist which would be familiar with the total particulars of country activity and that any argument for deviation from the regional principle was not valid. With reference to Congressional viewpoint, he recalled that while last year S/ISA had been established on a functional principle, it now had been legislated out.

6. With reference to personnel responsibilities, Mr. Miller referred to the recent recruitment of three top informational experts by ARA for the Rio post as typical examples of current appointees. He emphasized that an effective compromise arrangement between the functional and regional bureaus was working out now and should not be disturbed.

7. Mr. Sargeant reiterated Mr. Barrett’s thesis that the compelling reason for the FIA proposal was an operational not a Congressional one. With reference to Mr. Miller’s statements concerning recruitment, he stated that a policy of compromise was a policy of risk.

8. Mr. Sargeant emphasized that the Public Affairs area ran the-greatest risk in a system of primarily regional responsibilities. He referred to certain operational projects, such as the Wireless Bulletin, which are mainly operational problems and stated that there are more of this type of projects in the informational field than in any other. He said the expansion of the information program intensified the problem and that shared authority in connection therewith amounted to confused authority. He felt that the previous discussion of the FIA proposal tended to evade the real issues involved and introduced Mr. Barnard,3 General Manager of the International Information and Educational Exchange Program, as the individual who could possibly shed the most light on existing operational problems.

9. Mr. Barnard stated that while P was responsible for the informational program and for its justification to Congress, it had little to do in determining just what the informational program around the world would be. Referring to the preparatory meetings on the 1953 budget which had been held recently with the geographic areas, he recalled that the country priorities which were advanced for each area had no relationship to each other. He said that if P could be realistic, it would use all funds available in 40 or 50 countries and discontinue activities in other countries. This being impossible, compromise must be reached and there was no one beneath the Under Secretary level who could resolve the problem.

[Page 940]

10 With reference to personnel problems, Mr. Barnard emphasized the lack of P control. He recalled that personnel was selected by the regional bureaus. From the P viewpoint, often such personnel was not entirely satisfactory to reach maximum program efficiency. With reference to administrative support under the present system, he specified the need for specialists in procurement and indicated that the present procedures offered no satisfactory approach to the specialized procurement problems inherent to the conduct of informational activities.

11. Mr. Nitze suggested that the procurement problem might be worked out independently. He stated that priorities, regional and functional interests, must be resolved by compromise and that no one area could ever maintain complete control over any aspects of foreign activity. Mr. Miller stressed that the relative status of the regional bureaus within the Departmental hierarchy was of importance and must not be overlooked. He said that the time had come for a reappraisal of the Rogers–Bundy report.4 Mr. Sargeant recalled that the Rogers–Bundy report recommended the establishment of an informational program office outside the Department of State. Mr. Cabot added that S/ISA had erred in taking over certain functions of regional bureaus, particularly in relation to NATO affairs.

12. Mr. Perkins said he was in sympathy with the viewpoint of Mr. Matthews; that functional and regional conflicts did exist but that FIA went too far toward the functional approach.

13. The Secretary stated that in an attempt to arrive at a set of principles, there was danger of losing sight of the problem. He emphasized that the nature, size, and problem of the organization must serve as guidelines; that the main criteria here must be one of workability. He commented that after many years in the Department of State it reminded him of the Austro-Hungarian empire; that it was held together by external pressures. He recalled past conflict on the integration of Intelligence and Research activities and the fact that once integrated the operation had been eminently successful. The Secretary professed disagreement with the Rogers–Bundy report which recommended placing the VOA outside the Department of State. He added that unless a system for the conduct of informational activities within the Department could be developed so that it would be truly efficient and would have the entire confidence of its administrator, the Department would lose responsibility for the program. If the Department was to continue to hold responsibility for VOA, then the VOA must be conducted so successfully that it would be possible to get [Page 941] an administrator who could carry out his responsibility with total confidence in his organization and take the program to Congress and defend it with full assurance.

14. The Secretary stated that he did not brush aside any of the questions which had been raised but that his mind was inclined towards the viewpoint he had just presented; that he did not believe that operational control could be in four places and at the same time one man could be vested with the responsibility for pseudo control. He added that his remarks were preliminary ones.

15. On the basis of his experience in Greek-Turkish aid program,5 Mr. McGhee stated that the administrative processes in the Department did not adapt themselves well to the expenditure of funds involved in that program. He felt that many of the informational problems were alien to general State Department operations. Mr. Nitze said that while the General Manager is responsible, yet in a very real sense, the ambassadors to countries concerned as well as, for instance, Mr. Perkins vis-à-vis his program as a whole were responsible; that the real issue was one of delineation of functions. Mr. Bohlen, referring to the previous analogies which had been made concerning governmental and private administration, said that such analogies could be misleading. Mr. Mann6 recalled that the present relationships between the functional and regional bureaus concerning the informational program had been worked out well. He stated that Mr. Barrett did receive policy guidance from the regional bureaus. Mr. Scott said that the relationship of the regional bureaus to the administration of information policy could be maintained under the FIA proposal and even improved.

16. The Secretary recommended that this problem be pursued further. He emphasized that the discussions must now be reduced to specifics, that is, to those irreducibles which the P area felt must be centralized within the control of the information organizations to insure successful operations and to those irreducibles which the regional and other appropriate Bureaus felt they must retain to fulfill their roles.7

  1. Under Secretary’s Meeting Document 139/1, not printed; see footnote 3, supra.
  2. Supra.
  3. Thurman L. Barnard had replaced Charles M. Hulten in this position.
  4. “Report on the Organization of the Government for the Conduct of Foreign Affairs,” November 24, 1948, by the Foreign Affairs Task Force of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government. The task force was composed of James Grafton Rogers and Harvey H. Bundy, both of whom had served as Assistant Secretaries of State, 1931–1933.
  5. McGhee had served as Coordinator of Aid to Greece and Turkey, 1947–1948.
  6. Thomas C. Mann, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.
  7. A set of papers fulfilling the Secretary’s request was prepared by the Administrative area and submitted as UM D–139/2, October 23, 1951, not printed (Under Secretary’s Meetings, Lot 53 D 250). Planning for the FIA continued, but the final decision to establish such an agency had not been made by the end of 1951. On January 16, 1951, the Department of State announced the establishment of the International Information Administration; for the text of the announcement, see Department of State, American Foreign Policy, 1950–1955: Basic Documents, vol. II, pp. 3169–3172; see also the Department’s press release of January 18, 1952, printed in the Department of State Bulletin, January 28, 1952, p. 151.