138. Letter From the Subcommittee on International Operations of the House Committee on International Relations to President Carter1

Dear Mr. President:

The Subcommittee on International Operations has recently completed 10 days of hearings on issues relating to the reorganization of the USIA, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and other programs encompassed by the term public diplomacy. These hearings were held as part of the Subcommittee’s effort to work jointly with the Executive Branch on public diplomacy reorganization pursuant to an understanding between Chairman Fascell and Secretary Vance.

We want to share with you some general observations which we hope will be useful to you in deciding among various options for reorganization. Our findings are included in the attached memorandum.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure the most efficient and effective use of our public diplomacy resources.


  • Dante B. Fascell
  • John Buchanan
  • Leo J. Ryan
  • J. Herbert Burke
  • Charles C. Diggs
  • Helen Meyner
  • Lester Wolff


Memorandum for President Carter 2

From June 8 to June 24, 1977 the Subcommittee on International Operations of the House International Relations Committee heard testimony from 45 witnesses on issues related to reorganization of public [Page 552] diplomacy programs. A list of witnesses is attached.3 In addition, the Subcommittee received more than a score of additional unsolicited statements for inclusion in the hearing record.

Based on the hearing record, the Subcommittee has reached the following general conclusions.

1. The key to effective use of our public diplomacy resources is an awareness of the utility of these resources and a willingness to use them to further policy objectives. Reorganization is important, but only of marginal concern in dealing with this basic problem.

2. The head of the USIA (or successor agency) should be included in NSC and Cabinet meetings. Participation by the USIA Director will (a) substantially increase opportunities for maximum effective use of public diplomacy resources, and (b) allow the Agency to perform its responsibilities for explaining policy for the entire government.

3. USIA should not be merged into the Department of State. USIA must work closely with the Department of State. It is important that USIA or a successor bureau or agency have sufficient budgetary, personnel and administrative autonomy to ensure a corps of officers qualified and inspired to carry out the full range of public diplomacy in our national interests. The Director of USIA or his successor should be included in all major policy decisions within the Department of State. Similarly, lower level officials concerned with public diplomacy should be involved in all major policy formulation sessions at all appropriate lower and intermediate levels.

4. The programs administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs should be merged into the USIA.

5. The VOA should remain in the USIA.

6. The present authority and organization of the Board for Foreign Scholarships should be maintained.

7. The integrity of both our educational and cultural programs and of the programming of the Voice of America is of paramount concern.

Inevitably conflicts will arise over both programs in an attempt to resolve both (a) competitive short-term and long-term objectives, and (b) the distinctions between government policy and divergent opinions in the country as a whole.

No structural reorganization including the establishment of separate agencies for exchange activities or broadcasting will provide immunity from political pressures. Changes can be made, however, [Page 553] which will minimize the abuse of exchange programs or broadcasting activities.

8. The United States Advisory Commission on Information and the United States Advisory Commission on International Educational and Cultural Affairs can be restructured to more effectively safeguard the integrity of both exchange programs and of Voice of America programming. The following measures can ensure and safeguard the integrity and credibility vital to the success of our long-term public diplomacy programs: (a) higher caliber membership, (b) mandatory periodic reports, (c) independent staff to investigate alleged improper actions, (d) requirements for officials to notify the advisory group of pressures which would contravene the mandate of the programs, and (e) obligation of the Director to respond to the Administration and the Congress on advisory commission reports and staff investigation findings.

9. The USIA needs a fundamental internal reorganization. There are far too many officials at the assistant director level. It is important, however, that if either or both the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs or the Voice of America are within a reorganized USIA that the Directors of these programs be at the highest level beneath the Agency Director and that their independent access to Congress be assured. This would further ensure the integrity and credibility of these two programs.

10. Regardless of the future relationship of USIA and CU to the Department of State, clear responsibility should be assigned to a high official of the Department of State for (a) all issues relating to the freedom of communication, (b) technical matters which may impinge on freedom of communication, and (c) coordination of public diplomacy activities of Defense, Treasury, Commerce, HEW and other agencies.

11. The mandate governing USIA operations which was issued by President Kennedy should be reviewed and updated.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, White House Central Files, Box FG–151, FG–33–11, 1/20/77–9/30/77. No classification marking.
  2. No classification marking.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. See footnote 19, Document 135.