United States Information Agency

Joseph Duffey, Director

Mission Statement

The mission of the United States Information Agency (USIA) is to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics in promotion of the U.S. national interest, and to broaden the dialogue between Americans and U.S. institutions and their counterparts abroad. Its goals are as follows:

Summary Budget Information

FY 1993 (Actual)* FY 1996 (Budgeted)
Budget Staff Budget Staff
$1.409 billion 8,470 $1.077 billion 7,311
*Includes funding and staff for the Board for International Broadcasting for comparability between 1993 and 1996 figures. The functions of the Board, and associated funding, are now within USIA as a result of reinvention.

Reinvention Highlights

Public diplomacy, USIA's core mission, is a future-oriented foreign policy tool that helps ensure America's continued global leadership.

The communications revolution, the demise of the Soviet bloc, and the removal of political barriers in other nations have increased greatly the flow of information to other peoples. They also have created, however, a cacophony of voices. Cutting through this noise, USIA ensures that the U.S. message is heard and understood abroad.

Creating the Bureau of Information. USIA's most comprehensive restructuring has occurred in press, publications, and speaker programs, where an entire bureau -- the Bureau of Information -- was created to take full advantage of the information revolution. Three factors were indispensable to this reinvention: a vision of the future, determination to focus on the most vital programs, and employee involvement in structuring the new organization.

The metamorphosis began in 1993, when I decided to take a 30-percent reduction from a single bureau, rather than 3-percent cuts across the entire agency. More than 100 employees comprising USIA's Restructuring Partnership Team developed a blueprint for implementing reductions. Traditional hierarchical structures were replaced by a decentralized, team-based, customer-oriented, flexible organization. Employees were made accountable and empowered to be bold, take risks, and produce ever more timely products and services.

Staff was cut from more than 600 full-time positions to fewer than 400, and the labor- management ratio was increased from 3-to-1 to 11-to-1. Programs such as worldwide printed magazines were discontinued because they were no longer the most effective means of influencing foreign opinion.

A steering committee of management and union representatives guided the development of a clearly defined mission and culture. Simultaneously, a design team of employees managed the development of new or improved products. For these efforts, in 1994, the Vice President awarded USIA a Hammer Award recognizing the agency's leadership in reinvention.

Reconfiguring Overseas Offices. Our overseas posts are staffed by foreign service officers who serve as the spokespersons for U.S. diplomatic missions and manage highly targeted programs of information and educational exchange. Over the past two years, we have begun deploying field resources in accordance with post-Cold War realities, in which economic factors and the new democratic marketplaces of ideas are increasingly important to U.S. national security. USIA's overseas operations -- which provide the crucial human connection with foreign publics -- have experienced a 14-percent cut in foreign service officer staffing and a 16-percent cut in foreign national staffing in fiscal year (FY) 1996 alone. We no longer maintain the principle of universal presence. Instead, overseas reductions are guided by a rigorous analysis of each post's contribution to U.S. foreign policy. It is a dynamic model for allocating resources in which adjustments are being made for changing circumstances.

During my three-and-a-half year tenure, USIA has embraced a strategy of rational downsizing. Cost cutting has been the impetus for carefully paring and refining USIA's public diplomacy priorities. Our reinvention efforts have been driven by the need to advance U.S. foreign policy interests to embrace advanced communications technologies, as well as to cut costs.

USIA's agility in meeting the challenges of geopolitical change has been demonstrated by our closing 28 field offices while opening new posts in the new independent states of the former Soviet Union and in the former Yugoslavia. In FY 1996 alone, we are closing 15 field offices, including ones in Libreville, Gabon; Kyoto, Japan; Melbourne, Australia; and Poznan, Poland.

Consolidating Overseas Broadcasting Operations. Profound changes also have occurred in America's global broadcasting operations. Last year's inauguration of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, established by 1994 legislation, consolidates -- for the first time -- the responsibility for all nonmilitary U.S. government international broadcasting, including USIA's Voice of America, Radio and TV Martí, and WORLDNET television, as well as the independent grantees, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the new Asia Pacific Network.

All engineering and technical operations of USIA's Voice of America and the surrogate international broadcast services Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have been integrated. Overlapping programs in the same language have been eliminated, while each operation's program strengths have been retained. New professional relationships with affiliate stations and cable networks have increased listenership and reduced costs.

Consolidation of broadcasting has resulted in savings of over $400 million during the 1994-97 period, including a 31-percent reduction in staff and the elimination of over 400 direct broadcast programming hours via short -- or medium -- wave transmitters. These cuts were not taken across the board, however. Taking into account the end of the bipolar world order and an upsurge in regional conflicts and terrorism, we increased broadcasting and opened new relay stations in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa; we closed stations in Europe.

Expanding the Use of Technology. Technology will play a vital role in keeping the United States in the forefront of international commun cations. USIA's strategic plan envisions the creation of a two-way, high-speed worldwide digital information platform that will serve all agency divisions in the 21st century.

Innovative use of the Internet has expanded USIA's reach overseas. Our award-winning World Wide Web sites , new electronic journals, and database search capabilities offer people in many countries the latest information about the United States. Long-standing USIA products, such as the daily wire service of key documents and background articles, are posted on the Internet almost hourly. With this technology, customers can call upon USIA's authoritative information sources whenever they need them. Wide-ranging information technologies are used to perform traditional program functions more economically. Through digital videoconferencing, for example, a top U.S. trade official recently discussed U.S. objectives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in a face-to-face dialog with journalists in two Japanese cities -- without ever leaving USIA's Washington headquarters.

Restructuring the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. Technology alone could never take the place of USIA's programs that provide direct experiences with American values, ideas, and traditions, however. To that end, USIA's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs enhances the knowledge, understanding, and skills of people abroad through person-to-person exchange programs with their counterparts in the United States. Recently, I approved the broad outline of a restructuring plan for that bureau: cutting the number of its major elements from seven to four; reducing supervisory levels; increasing team work, staff cohesion, and communication across functional lines; and reducing total positions. In FY 1996, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs cut personnel by about 12 percent. A further reduction is projected for FY 1997. Meanwhile, four Reorganization Working Groups of employees are developing detailed restructuring plans to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

USIA's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and field offices are spearheading new partnerships with the private sector. These allow us to share expertise with private sector individuals and firms, while leveraging shrinking federal dollars. Creative new initiatives, such as USIA's Business for Russia program, bring together individuals from that society crucial to the long-term development of democratic institutions and free markets with relevant American organizations and businesses. Fully one-fourth of the Business for Russia program funds comes from sources outside the U.S. government.

Finally, we have restructured our Office of Research and Media Reaction, making a 25-percent cut in the office's staff and a 15-percent cut in its budget over the past two years. USIA Foreign Media Reaction Reports are now available on the Internet (World Wide Web site), and the distribution of our foreign Opinion Analysis papers has been expanded to include for the first time -- nongovernmental organizations.

Ensuring Results. USIA reinvention -- a constant and purposeful evolution -- will help ensure that public diplomacy continues to advance the U.S. national interest effectively by nurturing relationships with people around the world who can affect our well-being.


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