United States Information Agency

Mission Statement

The United States Information Agency is an independent foreign affairs agency within the executive branch of the U.S. government. USIA explains and supports American foreign policy and promotes U.S. national interests through a wide range of overseas information programs. The agency promotes mutual understanding between the United States and other nations by conducting educational and cultural activities. USIA maintains more than 211 posts in over 147 countries where it is known as USIS, the U.S. Information Service. On April 15, 1993, Dr. Joseph Duffey was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be USIA Director, and was sworn in on June 3, 1993.

BUDGET Appropriations enacted for fiscal year 1994 totaled $1.1 billion.

PEOPLE 8594 -- of whom 1,004 are Foreign Service officers assigned overseas for much of their careers. Approximately 3,494 foreign service nationals assist the agency abroad and 4,319 employees are based in the United States, principally in Washington, D.C.

USIA'S WORK The work of USIA is mainly carried out by its Foreign Service officers assigned to American missions overseas. With guidance, support and material from Washington headquarters, they manager cultural and information programs in support of American foreign policy objectives and greater mutual understanding between the U.S. and foreign societies.

EXCHANGE ACTIVITIES USIA operates the U.S. government's programs of educational and cultural exchange. The best known of these is the Fulbright exchange program, which operates in 140 countries. Each year, approximately 3,000 foreign leaders come to the United States at USIA's invitation as International Visitors and some 2,000 voluntary visitors come at their own or their government's expense for periods of up to 30 days. Under its Arts America program USIA administers the overseas performing and fine arts programs of the U.S. government. Many partners participate in a wide variety of USIA exchange activities: the academic community, U.S. private sector organizations, foreign governments and American volunteers.

BROADCASTING The Voice of America, the U.S. government's global radio network, transmits almost 1,000 hours a week of programming in 46 languages to tens of millions of weekly listeners worldwide. Radio Marti , established in 1985, broadcasts 24 hours a day in Spanish to Cuba. TV Marti, which began full broadcast operations in August 1990, broadcasts 17-1/2 hours a week to Cuba. The programming consists of news, information and entertainment acquired from a variety of sources. USIA's satellite television network, WORLDNET, transmits programs live to foreign audiences through American embassies, USIA posts, and foreign television networks using the latest technology. There is currently a legislative proposal to incorporate Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (formally under the U.S. Board for International Broadcasting) and a new Radio Free Asia program under USIA auspices.

INFORMATION PROGRAMS USIA uses printed materials and other tools to project an accurate image abroad of the United States and its policies, including a daily Wireless File press service in five languages, linked by computerized communication systems to all overseas posts. The Wireless File provides time sensitive information, including full transcripts of speeches, press conferences, Congressional testimony, etc., and texts of published articles and interviews. The Agency also produces a number of publications, in both printed and electronic form, dealing with issues of democratic development, market economies, trade, security and other transitional issues. Foreign Press Centers in Washington, New York and Los Angeles assist resident and visiting foreign corespondents. The U.S. Speakers Program enables hundreds of Americans to share their expertise with audiences abroad. Professionals-in-Residence serve for tours of up to six months as consultants to government and private institutions on promoting democratic development. Teleconference programs enable foreign audiences to communicate by telephone with American counterparts, often on short notice.

The Media Reaction Staff provides daily and special reports for Administration officials on the implication of foreign opinion for U.S. policies.

USIA maintains or supports nearly 160 reference and lending libraries and reading rooms in 110 countries, and provides substantial support for library programs in an additional 100 binational centers in over 20 countries. English teaching is often a major component of a binational center's cultural, educational and information activities. The agency also supports academic programs relating to the study of American history and civilization and provides liaison between American and foreign universities, academic associations and scholars.

U.S.-NIS EXCHANGES USIA is responsible for implementing programs with the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union. Programs focus on academic, cultural and information exchanges encouraging democracy and free market economy building. In addition, USIA is providing technical assistance to NIS countries as part of a government-wide initiative, through programs in public policy and public administration. The Edmund Muskie Fellowship Program is bringing qualified college graduates from the new states of the former Soviet Union for one- or two-year graduate study programs in law, business, economics and public administration. With funds from the Freedom Support Act, USIA launched the Secondary School Initiative, which began this summer. The program's goal is to provide opportunities to secondary students from NIS countries to visit and study in the United States, and to enable American youth to visit and study in NIS countries. The initiative will enable up to 5,500 students from the U.S. and 12 NIS countries to participate in the exchange.

EASTERN EUROPEAN INITIATIVES USIA participates in the Support for Eastern European Democracies (SEED) program, a presidential initiative designed to help Central and East European countries develop democratic and free market institutions. Since FY'90 the agency has used over $60,000,000 in SEED monies to fund training programs in a broad range of fields including English teaching, management principles, media, and the rule of law. Alexander Hamilton Fellowships are sending American lecturers to assist in economics education development, and John Marshall Fellows are in the United States studying law and public administration.

RESEARCH The agency's research staff surveys public opinion abroad for the White House, Department of State and other government agencies, as well as for USIA's own use in assessing foreign reaction to issues, policies and events.

HISTORY USIA was established in August 1953 and operated under that name until April 1978, when its functions were consolidated with those of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State. Following a brief period when it was called the International Communication Agency (USICA), the agency's name was restored to USIA in August 1982.

AUTHORITY The agency's legislative mandate derives from the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (Fulbright-Hays Act).

For additional information, contact:

The United States Information Agency

Office of Public Liaison

301 4th Street, S.W.

Room 602

Washington, D.C. 20547

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