110.4/7–2952

Memorandum by the Administrator of the International Information Administration (Compton) to the Secretary of State 1

confidential

It is six months since I have been on this “job”. The order by which you established the U.S. International Information Administration included a number of other matters with which officially I am not concerned. In the attached report, therefore, I am referring only to the matters related to either the International Information Administration itself, or to the Psychological Operations Coordinating Committee of which, during the past four months, I have been acting as chairman.

As you know, I have tried deliberately to administer my responsibilities and authorities without encroaching on your time or on the time of your own office. Some of the matters still in suspense may require action by you. If so, the indicated action will, I believe, be apparent.

I have suggested to your office that the most expeditious way of handling these matters would be that you have an opportunity to examine this report and thereafter, at your early convenience, that I have an opportunity to discuss it with you personally. This, if convenient for you, may be before you leave for Honolulu2 or shortly after your return. Certain important decisions for 1953 should be determined not later than August 15.

IIA still has more problems than answers, a condition I notice which seems to apply quite generally nowadays in the Department. But the ratio of answers to problems is, I believe, in every respect more favorable than when you established this consolidated activity last January.

I warmly appreciate the prompt action which you have taken on the few occasions on which it appeared appropriate to ask you for affirmative action.

Yours sincerely,

Wilson Compton
[Page 1629]

[Attachment]

Report by the Administrator of the United States International Information Administration (Compton) to the Secretary of State

confidential

U.S. International Information Administration (IIA)*

1. Establishment

The U.S. International Information Administration was officially established on January 16, 1952 (Departmental Announcement No. 4).3 I became its Administrator on January 20. The necessary consolidations and reorganization of the “International Information and Educational Exchange Program” were initiated at once with the cooperation of the Deputy Under Secretary for Administration. They have been pressed as rapidly as the facilities available and the interests of the Department would permit. The reorganization is now far advanced but not yet completed.

2. Scope of IIA

Your order provided that under IIA jurisdiction were to be included the “foreign information activities for the administration of which the Secretary is responsible”. With the execution on March 27, 1952 of an appropriate agreement with TCA; the transfer to IIA by the Army following April 28, 1952 of the Japan program; and the transfer to IIA as of July 1, 1952 (Departmental Announcement No. 84) of the information programs in Germany and Austria, the consolidation of administration in IIA, of all the foreign information activities for which you are responsible is on the way to completion.

3. Funds for Operations

For these activities (except the German and Austrian programs which are separately financed) the appropriations for 1952 were $86,575,000. For 1953 the funds requested, funds recommended, and funds appropriated were as follows:

[Page 1630]
Requested for 1953 $133,272,914.
Recommended by House Com. 111,066,000.
Voted by House 86,575,000.
Recommended by Senate Com. 86,575,000.
Voted by Senate 88,556,516.
Appropriated in 1952 for 1953 87,325,000.
(Appropriation in 1951, for 1952 85,000,000.)

In addition to these are a number of miscellaneous special earmarked funds. By amendment to the MSA Act IIA, with respect to its exchange of persons activities, has now been put in the position of an authorized general claimant for counterpart funds. This should be useful. No additional appropriation was made for the Japan program.

4. Capital Funds

For 1952 no additional capital funds were appropriated. For 1953 IIA requested $36,727,086 for additional radio facilities overseas and in the United States (Ring Plan). The House Committee recommended $20,500,000. No funds were appropriated by either House.

5. Financial Status of Program (1953)

The cost of continuing, through 1953, of the 1952 year-end scale of program (including Japan; also including provision for operating new radio facilities; but not including Germany and Austria) is estimated at approximately $100,000,000 or about $12,500,000 more than the 1953 funds appropriated. Some economies and savings have been made. Others are underway. Still others are under investigation, with the help of inside and outside management surveys.

Some curtailments of scope of program nevertheless are necessary. These after consultation with the divisions concerned are being made selectively, based on (1) priorities, (2) evaluations, (3) consultation with overseas missions, (4) advice of regional bureaus. The funds allocated to broadcasting and overseas mission activities will be increased in 1953 over 1952; to the other media reduced. 1953 will be a period of consolidation and selection, not expansion.

6. Relations with Appropriations Committees

The House Committee in February made a penetrating investigation of IIA 1953 proposed budgets, and recommended support of practically all of the proposed activities, except most of the so-called “special projects”. The House hearings were promptly and skillfully conducted. They were merciless. But they were fair and in constructive spirit. The Senate Committee hearings were reached in May. They were less extensive than the House hearings, well attended by Committee members. The Senate hearings were fairly and firmly conducted in a friendly atmosphere. The Committee recommended the figure previously voted by the House [Page 1631] ($85,575,000) expressing the opinion that a “good” program can be conducted with this amount and that “expansion” should wait.

Notwithstanding the sharp criticism of individual items or proposals or of proposed scope of activities, no hostility to the program itself was manifested in either Committee. I am told by colleagues, with respect to “atmospheric conditions”, that these hearings in both Houses were more of a contrast than a comparison with similar hearings in recent past years.

7. Supplemental Appropriations 1953

Tentatively we plan to propose a supplemental budget, 1953, for further improved radio facilities (and a few other items, not including operations funds). Reason: Our progress in radio programming has already outstripped our progress in facilities for delivering a satisfactory radio signal overseas. In radio we are “out of balance”. While some curtailment in some radio programs is justified, the more constructive answer to the present unbalanced situation is to expedite the authorization and completion of additional units of the “Ring Plan”, including additional mobile broadcasting units (Vagabond type). The initial ship-mounted mobile unit (The “Courier”) has already demonstrated an electronic performance considerably beyond expectations and much in excess of specifications requirements. The feasibility of mobile land units (car- or truck-mounted) is being investigated.

8. Organization of IIA

Consistent with the objectives of IIA as defined in your original order of establishment, many consolidations and other organization changes have been made or are underway. These are summarized in the attached chart of January 30, 1952. Among the more important arrangements are these:

(a)
The overseas operations are now under a single Deputy Administrator for Field Programs. These are the heart of the program. The overseas operations “come first”. This is to put the horse before the cart.
(b)
The media divisions (with the partial exception of the radio broadcasting services) are being reoriented essentially as service agencies to assist and implement the overseas operations.
(c)
An Office of “Policy and Plans” has been established under an Assistant Administrator for guidance to all operating units.
(d)
The Evaluation (and related research) Staff reports to the Office of the Administrator, rather than to the media divisions. Evaluation should be kept separate from operations.
(e)
The Advisory Commissions are attached to the Administrator’s Office rather than to the media divisions.
(f)
A Management Division under a single experienced Assistant Administrator reports to the Administrator. It is expected to develop all opportunities for improvement in business management.
(g)
Additional facilities have been provided to encourage and facilitate private cooperation and private participation in the program.

The first IIA Organization Manual was published within the Department on June 12. Additional installments to include all units of IIA are scheduled to be completed during calendar year 1952.

9. Media Divisions

The present status of the media divisions in general terms is as follows:

a.
Press—satisfactory
b.
Information centers—satisfactory
c.
Exchange of persons—fair
d.
Motion pictures—fair
e.
Radio—unsatisfactory

Most of the media have made substantial progress during the past six months toward better organization, administration and management.

10. “Unfinished Business” of Organization

IIA is still operating under important handicaps. Most of these are beyond the direct control of the Department of State. Some, however, are within its competence.

Among the factors largely beyond the control of the Department are these:

a. Space

Space accommodations for IIA in general are mediocre. Widely scattered and inadequate space has been a hardship especially to the crucial Office of Policy and Plans (Connors); the Division of Field Operations (Johnstone);4 and the Information Center Service (Lacy).5 These conditions are gradually being improved. Had there been ordinary cooperation on the part of other Federal Agencies (notably the Federal Power Commission) many of these handicaps would have been relieved long ago.

b. Amendments to P.L. 402

The most important part of the amendments to P.L. 402 proposed by the Department relates to “super-grades” for IIA (asked by the Department, 20; approved by the Bureau of the Budget, 12). The bill, when it finally reached the Capitol, was buried in Committee. In fact it apparently had no consideration in either House or Senate except a decision by the House Committee to postpone consideration to the next Congress.

Explanation

These provisions are important if IIA is to secure and hold superior top personnel, and in the long run it will not have superior bottom personnel unless also it has superior top personnel. At [Page 1633] present IIA includes one-half of the total personnel of the Department and has considerably more than 40 per cent of its total funds. The Department of State, in positions subordinate to the Secretary and the Under Secretary has 65 statutory or Civil Service supergrades. Of these 65 super-grade positions 1 (a grade GS–17) is now assigned to IIA. The only other access of IIA to “super-grades” or equivalent is by temporary assignment of top-ranking Foreign Service Officers. There are few such assignments. In fact the number of Foreign Service Officers in IIA has evidently dwindled during the past three years by more than one-half notwithstanding that the total personnel of IIA during the same period has been more than doubled.

This conspicuous unbalanced personnel situation of IIA is perhaps its greatest basic weakness. IIA employment is not “popular” in the Department. Experienced career men do not ordinarily encourage younger men to seek a “career” by the route of the Information Service. Some discourage it. As long as the top positions in IIA are so conspicuously below the top positions in other services of the Department the Information Service evidently will be judged and rated accordingly. Six months ago I thought this matter was comparatively unimportant. I still think that it should not be important. But by the prevailing standards within the Government with respect to rank, rate, and position, it is important. I have reluctantly concluded that it is not feasible to achieve one of your basic objectives in establishing IIA, i.e. to “lift” the status of this program within the Department of State, until this unbalanced personnel situation is substantially improved.

Among the factors within the Department’s competence are these:

a. Personnel

This, as you know, has been a difficult matter from the outset, and as important to IIA as it is difficult. Your original order establishing IIA in January includes the specification that the Administrator:

“determines the selection and assignment of personnel to the IIA program, at home and abroad, under the personnel policies applicable to the IIA program.”

This evidently was a new procedure, a new precedent, within the Department. It was quietly resisted down the line. For a time it appeared that it was somewhere being “sabotaged”. For several months IIA did not succeed in securing a reasonable chance even to “start to commence to get ready to begin” the establishment of the special IIA unit within the Office of Personnel as provided in Departmental Announcement No. 4. This neglect was finally appealed in June to the Deputy Under Secretary for Administration. With the cooperation of the Director of the Office of Personnel affirmative actions were taken. I hope they will work.

b. Foreign Service Reserve Positions

Early in July it was evident that action by Congress to provide a few “super-grade” positions for IIA would not be taken until next [Page 1634] year. IIA then asked the assignment to it, as a partial temporary substitute, of a few top-grade foreign service reserve positions (substantially equivalent to super-grade positions). This request was rejected by A on the grounds of Department policy. This rejection may have been warranted. But it may be noted that similar foreign service reserve appointments have been recently provided for departmental service in other areas of the Department,

c. “Administrative Support

This blanket category represents about one-sixth of the total dollar expenditures of IIA. Months ago after consultation with the Deputy Under Secretary for Administration IIA asked a thorough review of the manner of determining these “administrative support” charges. There has been no disagreement in principle. But the review is tedious.

IIA, of course, should pay its proportionate share of the cost of all of these common services of the Department. All that IIA was objecting to was the “pig-in-a-poke” method of determining the amounts to be assessed against its funds. This method had little if any visible relation to the services actually rendered or actually used. There is little room for doubt, especially in overseas missions, that administrative support funds actually provided by IIA were being used regularly to support other services of the missions. We have asked that IIA funds for administrative support be so identified, and that the charges against these funds be hereafter determined on the basis of services actually rendered. In the review for these purposes, now underway, IIA is represented through its Management Division (Kimball).

11. Relations of IIA to Other Areas of the Department of State

The principal contacts of the Administrator’s office during the six months period have naturally been with U, A, P, H and TCA. These contacts have been uniformly constructive, friendly and helpful to IIA. Continuous staff contacts have been maintained with the Regional Bureaus. These contacts on the whole have been satisfactory. The IIA conception was a new idea in the Department. As you know, from the outset, there has been some skepticism about the idea; also some resistance. There still is.

But the dragging of feet has been dwindling. As a fair generalization, at the end of six months, overt resistance to the IIA idea may be said to have subsided. The residue of “talking it down”, describing it as “temporary”, or referring to it as having no “future” to the careerist, and the like, is of consequence I think only insofar as it discourages promising young people from accepting IIA employment. The Office of Personnel is alert to it and is taking steps which I think will be substantially effective in neutralizing this sort of inside “propaganda”. For these constructive results at the end of a difficult six months period the earnest cooperation of the Under Secretary and the Deputy Under Secretary for Administration and his Staff is largely accountable.

[Page 1635]

12. Congressional Relations

On the whole I think the Congressional relations of IIA are reasonably good. At least they are much better than evidently they were. This applies to both parties. We have succeeded I believe in maintaining the non-partisan position of IIA. There is little hostility,—at least little vocal hostility,—to the program in either party; and from time to time there have been strong public commendations, in which partisan terms if they exist are at least indistinguishable. IIA so far has had little direct attention from the Committees on Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs and the exigencies of the coming elections presage possibilities of important changes in these Committees as well as in the Appropriations Committees.

The recent approval of the BentonWiley Resolution (S. Res. 74)6 and the formation of the new Fulbright 7 Committee to make the study authorized by it, may provide a chance to lift the whole level of the overseas information and educational exchange program to a higher stature in the affairs of Government. As of this date the Committee has not been formally appointed. But the Committee on Foreign Relations has appointed Senators Fulbright (Chairman), Hickenlooper,8 Wiley and Gillette.9 It is understood that the Vice-President contemplates appointing Senator Benton and possibly Senator Morse 10 or Senator Mundt.11 The Committee itself does not anticipate any Committee (as distinguished from Staff) activity until September 15. Evidently there will be short public hearings and overseas committee investigations both eastward and westward this fall. The resolution requires the Committee to report to the Senate by January 31, 1953.

IIA has provided the Foreign Relations Committee staff with desired information and will assist the Committee and the Staff in whatever ways are available. The Committee study is expected to include (1) appraisal of the needs and opportunities for overseas information (2) evaluation of present U.S. program (3) estimate of various information techniques (4) consideration of relation of U.S. programs to programs of other countries and (5) exploration of the question of the location of the information service (i.e. in the Department of State or outside).

13. Thurman L. Barnard has completed his six-months’ commission from you to look into the status and conduct of the overseas [Page 1636] activities of this program in the Far East, Middle East and Europe. He has given me a copy of his report to you.12 He has shared with me his impressions, such as these:

The “general high calibre of American personnel”.

Information program is “pretty good”, with “great unevenness” in its operations.

In “too many missions we are trying to do too many things”.

“Essential that we get three more Hultens (regional representative in Europe) in the field” for “cross-fertilization, to raise the level of the poorer ones to the level of the better ones.”

We are still operating in the field “too much on the basis of hunch”; or “flying blind”.

Washington is still trying to “mastermind” the field operations. “Too much material is still going to the field that is dreamed up back home.”

We need “more authority and more responsibility in the field.”

“Our radio problem is a long way from being solved.”

In these views generally I concur. We have made much progress in identifying our problems; and we have made substantial progress toward finding the answers.

14. General Comments on IIA Program

(1)
Good progress has been made toward integrating the information operations of IIA and MSA in Europe; and steps toward similar integration in other MSA countries are underway. TCA and IIA have an overseas information agreement which is satisfactory to IIA and, so far as I have reason to believe, satisfactory to TCA.
(2)
IIA can provide a reasonable minimum information service in Japan in 1953 only by scaling down the IIA program elsewhere. This is being done.
(3)
The German-Austrian program, relatively, is amply financed.
(4)
About 35 per cent of the complete proposed “Ring Plan” of improved world-wide radio facilities was authorized and appropriated for in 1950, 51. This includes seven out of twenty proposed major units. The specifications, estimating and contracting of these units have not been well handled by our International Broadcasting Service.
(5)
You have had a recent report elsewhere on the organization and business management of the radio services of IIA, the urgent need for improvements, and the contemplated action.
(6)
The recent two-way suspension of the “Amerika” Magazine in the Soviet Union and USSR publications in the United States seems to have had general, but not universal, public approval.
(7)
To reduce the hazards of promiscuous criticism at home IIA is following a policy of avoiding the employment of “borderline” [Page 1637] persons; use of “borderline” authors; selection of “borderline” writings or other products. This policy is hard to define and harder to administer. But it seems to have reduced the extent of domestic “issues” and it does not appear to have impaired the service.
(8)
IIA is seeking gradually (a) to improve the quality of its American staff overseas; (b) to place more responsibility upon, and give wider discretion to, the overseas staff in each country; (c) to increase the proportionate use of local nationals, to select them more carefully and to pay them better.
(9)
In attempting, where it has seemed appropriate for the Administrator to do so, to influence the spirit and direction of our work overseas and in the United States, I have been relying more upon giving our key staff members a “point of view” (rather than explicit instructions), and a sense of “mission”. This approach I believe is proving itself. I am planning during next November and December, in company with the Deputy Administrator for Field Programs to meet in convenient groups our principal Public Affairs Officers in the Far East, Southeast Asia, Middle East and Europe. Meantime I am regularly meeting each month, here or in New York, the staff officers of each of our media divisions.
(10)
We are seeking in the IIA program, more effectively to mobilize the element of religious interest as the most important single common denominator of universal appeal.
(11)
In recent months (largely traceable I think to world-wide propaganda over the germ warfare and Korean prisoner allegations) there have been increasing pressures on IIA to “take a leaf out of the book of the Big Lie.” These have been rejected and they will be. We have said that the “Voice of America” will not be the voice of Americans unless it is the voice of truth; and if we were to seek to model after the international communists, that we would lose even if we won.
(12)
Like you I have been uneasy over the continuing charges—some nebulous and some less nebulous—of disloyalty to the United States within IIA. That such charges are leveled mostly at the International Broadcasting Service may be due to the fact that the “Voice of America” is the most conspicuous feature of IIA. But where there continues to be as much “smoke” there may be some “fire”. The Assistant Administrator in charge of IBS is himself confident of the loyalty of its Staff and its loyalty must be protected from encroachment from either outside or inside. I have often said that this program is no place for “half-hearted” Americans. It may be that our problem is not so much one of “disloyalty” in its technical sense as of faintheartedness in carrying out a mission. Within the past fortnight I have had further assertions from within IIA of “disloyalty”. I have, of course, at once transmitted this information [Page 1638] to SY for FBI investigation. FBI may be counted upon to deal with problems of loyalty and security. It cannot help us to deal with the problem of unsuitability of persons who are engaged in a “mission” but have no sense of mission. That I regard as an important part of the “unfinished business” of IIA.

15. Psychological Operations Coordinating Committee

The chairmanship of POC is a second function which you asked me to undertake. Recent changes in the POC set-up and staff plan have evidently had satisfactory results. The staff work of this interdepartmental cooperation is now centered under the direction of the IIA Assistant Administrator for Policy and Plans. Under this plan the work of the interdepartmental staff (State, Defense, CIA and MSA) seems to “count for more”. Apparently the present plan and operations of POC are satisfactory to the participating agencies (also to the Psychological Strategy Board). The daily reports and guidances of its “Watch Committee” seem to have been useful to the Far East Command, the United Nations Command and the Eighth Army.

15a. In all these matters during the past six months I have done what I could.

Wilson Compton
  1. A handwritten notation on the source text reads: “Sec Saw”.
  2. Acheson attended the first meeting of the ANZUS Council at Honolulu from Aug. 4–8, 1952. For documentation on this meeting, see vol. xii, Part 1, pp. 172 ff.
  3. A six-months’ report to the Secretary of State, July 20, 1952. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. Ante, p. 1591.
  5. William C. Johnstone.
  6. Dan T. Lacy.
  7. See the editorial note, p. 1627. Senator William Benton (D., Conn.), 1949–1953.
  8. Senator William Fulbright (D., Ark.).
  9. Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper (R., Iowa).
  10. Senator Guy M. Gillette (D., Iowa).
  11. Senator Wayne Morse (R., Ore.).
  12. Senator Karl Mundt (R., S.D.).
  13. This report cannot be further identified.