4. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Director for Research, United States Information Agency (Monsen) to the Director-designate (Reinhardt)1


  • Periodic Public Opinion Surveys

To gauge the climate of public opinion abroad in which the Agency will try to promote understanding of the new administration’s policies and objectives, IOR—in conjunction with IOP and IEU—proposes to carry out a multi-country European survey shortly after the President’s inaugural address. Since the Agency has a continuing need as well as responsibility to follow trends in foreign public opinion, on issues of importance to the United States, we propose to follow up this survey with brief opinion polls conducted on a regular semi-annual schedule in Western Europe and Japan and, from time to time, in Canada and selected Latin American countries.2

Such studies have been conducted irregularly in recent years, with the result that there are gaps in our knowledge of foreign opinion trends. We have also found, when opinion polls are not conducted regularly, that the Agency is vulnerable to charges of political motivation in the scheduling of a survey at a particular time. The use of regular periodic surveys will avoid these problems and will serve basic Agency needs in providing useful insights into foreign opinion on current issues.3

The research tool employed in such studies is the so-called “rider” survey. It comprises roughly a dozen questions piggy-backed on ongoing national polls taken by leading commercial contractors. These riders are an integral and established part of the Agency’s research program and supplement rather than replace more comprehensive attitude surveys tailored for a special audience and special needs. Of course, the [Page 14] prior approval of the State Department and the Embassies must be obtained for each survey.

The proposed February survey is tentatively planned for the four major West European countries, augmented by the Netherlands and Norway as representative of smaller NATO member states. The thrust of the inquiry will be to identify those perceptions and expectations of the incoming U.S. administration that are overriding in European public opinion, as distinguished from leadership and media opinion. Within that compass, the focus will be on Atlantic security and international economic concerns to coincide with the administration’s priority issues. In this sense, and indeed in its broad perspective as well, the survey results should provide unique information useful beyond purely Agency interests.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Office of the Director, Executive Secretariat, Secretariat Staff, Correspondence Files, 1973–1980, Entry P–104, Box 109, 7700140–7700149. No classification marking. A copy was sent to Kopp. Concurred in by Vallimarescu and Shirley, who did not initial the memorandum.
  2. Kopp underlined the portion of the sentence beginning with “we” and placed an asterisk in the left-hand margin next to it. At the end of the first page of the memorandum, corresponding to the asterisk, Kopp wrote: “*See Reinhardt note—no follow-up polls w/o clearing w him. epk.”
  3. Kopp underlined “The use of regular periodic surveys will avoid these problems,” wrote “doubtful” in the left-hand margin next to it, drew a line from “doubtful,” and added: “the leakers will still leak!” in the margin below the paragraph.
  4. In the margin below this paragraph, Reinhardt wrote: “no objections to the survey part, but Mr. Kopp should make the decision. Request that you not make long-range commitments for polls without further [unclear].” Kopp underlined the portion of Reinhardt’s comments beginning with “Request.” He also wrote “epk 1/26/77” on the approval line and added “with noted limitation” above it. Reinhardt’s secretary Patricia Siemien wrote below Reinhardt’s comments: “1/26/77 Called to Aseneth [Blackwell] in Monsen’s office. P.S.”