55. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

[Omitted here is material unrelated to public diplomacy.]

5. State-USIA Reorganization: I received a report on this matter which was unsatisfactory.2 I have since designated Warren Christopher to chair an inter-agency task force that will produce recommendations for this reorganization by next month. There is considerable Congressional and some press interest in this issue with several key Senators arguing for and against having the Voice of America remain under government control.

Frank Stanton headed a panel that issued a report two years ago recommending that USIA give up most of its news production operations to State, that a new Information and Cultural Agency be formed to handle cultural exchange and general information programs, and the VOA become independent.3 I have discussed this plan with Stanton and believe that he has come up with at least some elements of desirable reform.

Stanton’s conclusions have been challenged by a recent GAO report4 that recommends that USIA’s cultural exchange programs be handled by State. The GAO report has led some to advocate the creation of an ACDA-like agency to handle all the U.S. government’s cultural and information programs abroad.

I will have to wait until the report is finished before making my recommendations to you.5 I am convinced, however, that our management and approach to international public affairs has to be strengthened and streamlined. What I will aim for is a structure that gives our foreign information and cultural programs a new impetus. In this connection I will also make some suggestions regarding who should staff whatever new organization emerges. We have a wealth of talent in this country for such an operation, and we must get the very best to head it up.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 37, State Department Evening Reports, 5/77. Secret. There is no indication that the President saw the memorandum.
  2. Not found and not further identified.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 1.
  4. See Document 50.
  5. See Document 64.