110. Memorandum From Les Janka of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1


  • Panel on International Information, Education, and Cultural Relations

The purpose of this memo is to review with you the developments regarding the Stanton Panel’s recommendations for the reorganization of the information/cultural functions of the USIA and State Department2 and seek your guidance on how best to proceed from here. As you are aware, the Administration has yet to take a formal position on the Panel’s recommendations. Following your request of last De [Page 390] cember,3 I solicited the views of State, USIA and OMB on these recommendations to ascertain the pros and cons of expediting a final Executive Branch position on the Stanton Report. These comments, as well as an assessment of congressional interest in the issue, are outlined in this memo. With only one exception, there is no pressure for action at this time. However, Representative Wayne Hays has hinted he may require an administration position in connection with USIA’s FY 77 authorization hearings next month.


The Panel on International Information, Education and Cultural Relations (the Stanton Panel), created under the auspices of the Georgetown University Center for Strategic and International Studies in the Fall of 1973 to undertake a study of the functions and performance of the USIA and State Department in this area, issued its recommendations on March 11, 1975. Its final report called for a reorganization of USIA and VOA along the following lines:

—All information and cultural activities now carried out by the Department of State and USIA would be combined into a new autonomous agency reporting to the Secretary of State.

—All domestic and international programs which articulate and explain U.S. foreign policy now conducted by State and USIA would be combined into a new office within the State Department.

—The Voice of America would be set up as a new federal agency under an independent Board of Directors with a mandate to broadcast accurate, objective and comprehensive news, with State providing official foreign policy articulation.

The premise upon which all the Stanton Panel recommendations are based is that it is possible and desirable to separate the articulation of U.S. policies abroad from the communication of more general information about American society.

Subsequent to the issue of the Stanton Report, an interagency task force was formed under the direction of Deputy Secretary Ingersoll to [Page 391] study the implications of these proposals. A formal administration position was deferred, however, pending the final report of the Murphy Commission which was expected to incorporate the Stanton Panel proposals and make further recommendations in the information/cultural area.4 Since the Murphy Commission did, in fact, adopt much of the Stanton Panel’s work, it was assumed that both studies would be considered together in conjunction with a major interagency study initiated to examine the totality of the Murphy Commission work. As you know, this review is still under way.

Frank Stanton and others, concerned over the delay in the formation of an administration position on the panel’s recommendations, have been lobbying for their adoption. As you are aware, Tom Curtis wrote to Don Rumsfeld on September 8, 1975 inquiring into the status of the Executive Branch review. In addressing this inquiry you raised the issue whether the Stanton Report should be considered separately from the balance of the Murphy Commission Report on an accelerated basis.5 To assess the pros and cons of this approach, we requested the official views of USIA, OMB and State on the Stanton proposals last December.

Agency Views


USIA is totally opposed to the Stanton Panel’s recommendations. Its major concerns, as expressed by Director Keogh, are the following:

—The Report fails to make a compelling demonstration of what is wrong with the current organizational arrangement.

—The Report proceeds from a fallacious premise that there is, in practice, a distinction between information and culture.

—The recommendations regarding cultural affairs and VOA are designed to insulate these activities from policy concerns, notwithstanding their continued support by taxpayers’ funds.

—A separate USIA is better able to provide communication support for the several departments of the Executive Branch that impact on foreign affairs, and provide the President with considerably more flexibility on the tactics of international relations. USIA Memo is at Tab A.6

2. State

The State Department also opposes the recommendation to divide programs into policy information and other information categories. It [Page 392] also opposes an independent VOA not fully responsive to our foreign policy objectives.

The State Department would favor, however, the consolidation of USIA with the Department’s Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs into a new semi-autonomous agency within State (similar to ACDA). At the same time, the Department recommends that no steps be taken at the present time to implement this or other proposals until a careful study is completed. State memo is at Tab B.7

3. OMB

The Office of Management and Budget considers the evidence in the Stanton Report insufficient to warrant the proposed reorganization. OMB agrees with USIA that it is very difficult to divorce foreign policy dissemination and explanation from general information dissemination and believes the recommended organizational structure would weaken a coordinated U.S. information posture and complicate administration.

Congressional reaction to the Stanton Panel on the Hill, while relatively weak, is somewhat mixed. Congressmen Slack and Broomfield oppose the recommendations largely on the grounds that, as even the Report concedes, the current USIA/State administration of our information and exchange programs works quite well. Congressman Slack further opposes any taxpayer funded VOA not under government control.

On the other hand, Senator Percy and Congressman Hays are reported to support the recommendations. It is apparent, however, that the Stanton reorganization plan appeals to Hays since he could use it to support his long-held desire to dismantle USIA. To further this objective, he held the FY 76 USIA authorization bill in committee until last month demanding an Administration position on the Stanton Report. He is threatening to use the same tactics in regard to the FY 77 authorization bill; however, in this case he has less latitude to do so. Under the [Page 393] new Budget Committee procedures, the authorizing committees must complete their work by May 15. In such a short time frame it is unlikely Hays could obtain the necessary support to force the proposed reorganization. This view is further reinforced by the fact the Senate has already reported and passed its FY 77 USIA authorization bill with no mention of the Stanton Report.

With the possible exception of needing a response for Hays, there is no pressing need for action now. Nevertheless, we would like to have your guidance on the disposition of the issue for the foreseeable future.


1. Do nothing and let the issue lie dormant and possibly die.

Congressional pressure for action is relatively weak and its direction mixed. Given the fact that the Senate has already passed its FY 77 bill and the House must meet a May 15 deadline, there is little likelihood the Congress will even consider much less require the initiation of a government reorganization plan this year.

Further, State, USIA, and OMB have strong reservations over the Stanton Panel’s recommendations, each seriously questioning the Panel’s basic premise that it is possible to separate foreign policy articulation from the dissemination of other information. It would seem unwise to move too swiftly on a reorganization plan over the opposition of those agencies with the most direct experience in the information/cultural sphere, without more thorough and comprehensive study and without waiting for the completion of the interagency review of the overall Murphy Commission recommendations. These recommendations encompass a wide range of governmental reorganization proposals which may more appropriately be considered as a coherent package to be implemented or submitted for congressional consideration at the beginning of a new administration.

The only disadvantage to this approach is that it would not afford the Stanton Panel a formal response to its recommendations in the near future. However, we are not aware of any further inquiries by members of the panel since last Fall.

2. Prepare a joint NSCOMB memo to the President outlining the Stanton proposals, agency comments, and possible options, requesting his decision on the matter.

The advantage to this approach is that a Presidential decision will bring the issue to a clear conclusion.

On the other hand, there is little chance of any reorganization being implemented this year, and in light of the considerable opposition within the Executive Branch, any formal study is likely to present the President with a negative recommendation which would not satisfy Stanton and could provoke an unwanted controversy on the Hill.

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3. A third option, a variation of option 1, would be to defer any separate action on Stanton by deciding to consider the issues it raises only in the context of the Administration response to the Murphy Commission report.

I recommend, with Clint Granger and Denis Clift concurring, that you approve Option 1. (If Rep. Hays again raises the issue, he can be informed simply that the Administration has no position pending further study.)


That you approve Option 1.8

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Files of NSC Logged Documents, Box 60, Additional Options on Stanton Panel Report on International Information, Education, and Cultural Relations. No classification marking.
  2. See Document 103.
  3. On December 21, 1975, Scowcroft indicated on a November 25 memorandum from Janka that he wanted a memorandum done “outlining pros and cons of moving separately on Stanton Panel recommendations along with recommendations for proceeding to early decision by President.” Janka’s memorandum also recommended that Scowcroft sign a memorandum to Cheney responding to a September 8 letter of inquiry sent to Rumsfeld by Tom Curtis of the Federal Election Commission regarding the status of the administration’s action on the Stanton Panel’s proposals. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Files of NSC Logged Documents, Box 60, Additional Options on Stanton Panel Report on International Information, Education, and Cultural Relations) A status report was sent to Cheney under Scowcroft’s signature on December 22. (Ford Library, White House Central Files, Subject File, 1974–1977, Box 178, FG 230: United States Information Agency (Executive), 6/1/75–12/31/75)
  4. See footnote 4, Document 106.
  5. See footnote 3 above.
  6. Not found attached. See Document 106 for USIA’s position on the report.
  7. A December 17, 1975, version of Ingersoll’s January 15, 1976, memorandum to Scowcroft (Document 109) is attached, as is Eagleburger’s January 1 memorandum to Scowcroft. In his memorandum, not printed, Eagleburger remarked: “Personally, I found that the Stanton Report had an immediate, surface appeal but that the more I looked at the recommendations, the more convinced I became that they would harm rather than help USIA’s programs. I was also struck by the fact that the Report never established that there is anything wrong with USIA’s operations now and that drastic remedial action is therefore necessary.” Eagleburger’s remark corresponded to his June 17, 1975, briefing memorandum to Kissinger, to whom he addressed the following handwritten footnote: “HAK: I’ve pretty much reversed my position on the [Stanton Panel] report as I’ve gotten into it. I think you will want to think about the whole thing pretty carefully before you make any decision.” (National Archives, RG 59, Administrative Correspondence Files, General Correspondence Files of the Deputy Under Secretary for Management, 1968–75: Lot 68 D 295, M Chron, Box 2, June 1975 (1))
  8. Scowcroft initialed neither his approval nor disapproval, nor did he indicate if he preferred another option. Rather, he added the following handwritten notation: “How about an NSC/OMB info memo to the President outlining the situation and suggesting no action at the moment. BS.” No record of such a memorandum was found. The Ford administration took no further action with regard to the Stanton Panel’s recommendations. President Carter effected a major reorganization of public diplomacy on October 11, 1977, when he sent his Reorganization Plan No. 2 to Congress (91 Stat. 1637). Carter’s plan called for the creation of a new agency, led by a Director responsible to the Secretary of State, to take over the functions previously performed by CU and USIA, including the VOA. (Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book II, pp. 1765–1771) Both CU and USIA were abolished on April 1, 1978, on the establishment of the United States International Communication Agency.