86. Minutes of a Meeting of the United States Information Agency Executive Committee1

Meeting No. 178


  • James Keogh
  • Eugene Kopp
  • Ken Towery
  • Walter Roberts
  • Don Shea
  • Gordon Strachan
  • Stan Silverman
  • Henry Dunlap
  • Darrell Carter, ILA
  • Roger Feldman, IOA/BPP
  • Robert Levine, IOR
  • Hugh Woodward, IMV
  • Kenneth Boles, IMV/PS
  • Art Hoffman, IOP
  • Hal Schneidman, ICS

[Omitted here is discussion of USIA’s Ahora TV series.]

B. Discussion by Committee members of present and planned Agency programming in connection with the American Revolution Bicentennial. IOP will provide an oral presentation on what we have already done and what we plan to do, and ICS will give the background and status of cooperation with the ARBC on exhibits.

Mr. Keogh asked Mr. Hoffman to lead off the discussion. Mr. Hoffman began by describing the chronology of developments in the Agency concerning the Bicentennial. In 1966 the Advisory Commission alerted the Agency to the opportunities it presented. We began to pursue the idea seriously in 1969, sought post suggestions and issued a [Page 299] paper in 1970.2 Much of what the Agency does will depend on commemorative activities that take place in the U.S. In 1968 the Director decided that the Agency would not be an ex officio member of the Commission, a decision not changed by Mr. Shakespeare. But someone from the Agency has almost always attended meetings of the Commission.

Last Summer the White House became concerned over the Bicentennial, and Mr. Garment was asked to keep an eye on it. At the same time, agencies were told to upgrade their representatives and we sent an Assistant Director. Mr. Schneidman has attended meetings of the Commission since last September. Mrs. Marcy in IOP continues to do a lot of planning work.

While the ARBC is in unsettled circumstances, it has made a major decision, not to have a single exposition site. Instead, a series of celebrations and sites will be used, in practically all of the fifty states. There will be many other minor celebrations also. Overseas there is much foreign interest. The British are considering a series of books on the Loyalists! The French, having been on the right side, plan to put a son et lumière show at Mount Vernon at a cost about a million dollars. Other European countries, Latin American countries and Japan are much interested.

September 6–7 of last year saw an Airlie House Conference on the Bicentennial sponsored by USIA and CU.3 It came up with themes and projects.

On the Agency side we plan more media products dealing with the Bicentennial, this is doing more of things we ordinarily do. Beginning in September of 1973 we are going to send some Agency people to Universities to take American Studies. We need journeyman American Studies experts to lecture overseas. There is a total of 8 possible for academic year 1973/74 for Yale, Minnesota and one or two other places. The people to attend have already been chosen.

There is another idea that requires approval before we can proceed. We would like to do for the Bicentennial what we are now doing with economics. We would want two six-week courses in FY 74, with about 25 Agency officers (FSIO 3 to FSIO 5) in each course. These would absorb the present one-week courses.

Regarding our media, the July 1972 issue of American Illustrated in both Polish and Russian had five articles on Bicentennial themes. IMV plans to do two films: The American Purpose and The Continuing Revolution. VOA has five projects scheduled for inclusion in the Forum series.

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Mr. Schneidman then summarized the results of the meetings he had attended.

1. The most important fact is that there is no single focal point for the whole event. Even the planned state activities may not work out. But many and varied segments of American life will do something important to their counterparts overseas.

2. On the governmental and private levels, enormous sums of money will be spent on projects such as films. We could have a say in how these are made so that they can be used overseas as well as in the United States.

3. What is the Agency going to do? Mr. Hoffman presented a good summary. We have to start now, cannot delay. In about a year Bicentennial programming will have taken over about everything ICS does.

Mr. Schneidman then described the developments in the Age of Jefferson exhibit. The French government offered us the Grand Palais in Paris for a large exhibit, and PAO Burnett Anderson suggested Jefferson as a good subject. ICS thought the suggestion good, and signed up Charles Eames to prepare a treatment of the subject. The Smithsonian and National Gallery followed along. ARBC was interested at once, but had no funds. So we used USIA funds to commission Eames to study Jefferson and come up with a proposed exhibit treatment. It was determined that Eames’ study would come out in the form of a videotape. When exhibit is on in Paris, Eames’ videotape will precede TV coverage of the exhibit satellited from France to Asia.

No Agency money can be in the exhibit itself, which in 1976 must be shown in the United States. Our money is being used for something shown only overseas, namely the Eames film. ARBC will pay for the exhibit in Paris, but ICS will supervise its construction.

Mr. Keogh asked if this arrangement caused any problems. Mr. Strachan said there is conflicting legislation: ours on domestic distribution with the fact that we are mentioned in the ARBC legislation. We can get by with the $37,000 already spent. Any further pooling of funds is complicated and problematical, but if we decide to do it we should go ahead. Mr. Keogh asked if we should ask the Congress about this, and Mr. Strachan said he felt asking Congress for guidance would be better than to go ahead and have it surface later.

Mr. Keogh asked when we would have to commit more money, and Mr. Schneidman said just about now. Mr. Strachan said the proposal now is to match funds with ARBC. But before us now is the need for a decision on involvement with the Jefferson exhibit and the detailing of more people to ARBC.

Mr. Keogh asked if it would not be wiser to wait until the ARBC is reorganized and a going operation. Mr. Schneidman said that Mr. Gar [Page 301] ment was hopeful that Congress will move quickly on the Commission reorganization. Mr. Strachan said that he has said in the past months we should not detail additional people to ARBC and should hold back on commingling our assets with theirs, though we will be in on the Jefferson exhibit.

Mr. Schneidman reverted to training programs, pointing out that the two described by Mr. Hoffman were aimed just at Agency people. There is another proposal to have a high-level Washington-based activity run by the Endowment for the Humanities. This would bring top thinkers to meet with top US government officials about once a month for perhaps a day.

Mr. Keogh said it was clear that in 1975 and 1976 we will be telling the world what we are doing, this will be almost our total thrust. What must we decide today? We should, if we can, wait until the ARBC is reorganized. We must also decide whether or not to approach the SFRC and the Appropriations Committee.

Mr. Silverman asked if the reorganization of the ARBC might not be a vehicle in which our role could be spelled out. Mr. Kopp said yes, if we wanted to do it. Mr. Schneidman commented that the ARBC is being considered by the Judiciary Committee. Mr. Kopp said that we must know how far we are going into bed with the ARBC before we decide whether or not to inform the Congress.

Mr. Keogh commented that it is still vague as to just what will be going on all over the United States. Mr. Schneidman said that new plans envision ARBC keeping a calendar of all Bicentennial events.

Mr. Keogh said he would defer action until we see how the ARBC is reorganized. But he would be willing to include funds for the Bicentennial observance overseas in our FY 75 budget. Mr. Silverman said that our pending authorization legislation asks for a non-specific amount of money increase. If we want to augment this further we should let OMB know now and provide a specific figure. He noted that OMB has already given us a preliminary figure for FY 75 involving no great increase.

Mr. Schneidman recommended asking for major sums, as other agencies have done. Mr. Keogh said we should certainly start the process of seeking more money for the Bicentennial. Mr. Hoffman said that in August of last year we had come up with a figure of approximately $15 million we planned to spend from within our existing resources. This is in a letter from Mr. Shakespeare to Mr. Mahoney.4

[Page 302]

Mr. Silverman said we can pull something together quickly, and Mr. Keogh asked that this be done. (Action Memo: IOA/B, IOP and ICS)5

Mr. Keogh approved the proposal for two six-week training courses in FY 74, as advocated by Mr. Hoffman. (Action Memo: IPT, IOA/B, IOP)6

Mr. Keogh asked Mr. Dunlap to be sure to put the Bicentennial on the Committee agenda from time to time in order to keep up with developments.7

Henry A. Dunlap

Executive Secretary
Executive Committee
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Records of the USIA, Executive Committee, File, 1973, Accession 306–89–0043, Meeting No. 178. No classification marking. Drafted by Executive Secretary Henry A. Dunlap. A list of attachments is attached but not printed. On March 29, Keogh sent a memorandum to the heads of USIA’s offices and services indicating that he intended to use the Committee, created in 1969 by Shakespeare, “as the central decision-making body in the Agency. In addition the Committee is also serving as the main Agency forum for the discussion and development of major policy.” (Ibid., Executive Committee, File, 1973, Accession 306–89–0047, EXCOM Procedures) Keogh, who succeeded Shakespeare as Director on February 8, chaired the Committee, which was composed of Deputy, Associate, and Assistant Directors and other invited officials, and which met regularly over the ensuing 4 years to discuss programmatic and administrative issues as needed.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 85.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 85.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 85.
  5. On March 29, Dunlap sent a memorandum confirming that the Executive Committee had decided “that we should start the process of seeking more money for the Bicentennial” and directing the specified bureaus to develop the request. (National Archives, RG 306, Records of the USIA, Executive Committee, File, 1973, Accession 306–89–0043, Meeting No. 178)
  6. Dunlap issued a memorandum formally notifying the interested bureaus of the Committee’s decision on March 29. (Ibid.)
  7. USIA’s semiannual report to Congress covering the period from July 1 to December 31, 1973 notes that the “1976 Bicentennial celebration became the springboard for long-range USIA planning to remind foreign audiences of and to revive their interest in the United States and its heritage. Programming was designed to show that this heritage produced the basic ideas and ideals that created and sustained our democratic government. Thus, the Bicentennial observance was seen as giving USIA a rostrum from which to reaffirm U.S. goals.” (Ibid., Historical Collection, Subject Files, 1953–2000, Entry A1 (1066), Box 14, Policy, 1974–1975)