I'm proud of this achievement. I'm confident that through this historic reinvention process we will create leaner and more effective structures in order to ensure American leadership around the world for the new century."
The person who has worked most closely with the Vice President on this reorganization plan and can tell you a lot about the effort that's really going on over the last three years to arrive at this moment is Dr. Elaine Kamarck, the Vice President's Senior Policy Advisor and reinvention of government guru.
DR. KAMARCK: We looked at this seriously beginning in January 1995. At that time we began a very large scale reinvention activity that encompassed the four agencies involved here. It was led by the National Performance Review. Among the difficulties that we encountered at that time was a feeling that there was a significant amount of reinvention that needed to go on in the State Department itself before the State Department was ready to then absorb other agencies.
We then, as Mike said, as we were beginning to sort out some of those things and a reinvention agenda for the State Department, we came into the summer of '95, as you know, we ran into the budget crisis and the eventual shutdown of the government. And this job was put aside for a time-being with the exception of work that was being done at OMB and at the State Department about how the State Department itself ought to reorganize.
When we got reelected, came into office again, this was one of the pieces of unfinished business in the reinventing government agenda that the Vice President wanted to go back to. He began to talk about this with the new Secretary of State, who also came in with a significant desire to do serious reinvention at the State Department.
Reinvention at the State Department is a priority qualification for doing any other consolidations of other agencies, and that's one of the things that made this happen this time. There will be a new Under Secretary for Management, there is some personnel changes, et cetera, and there are management plans being developed right now at the State Department. So part of what's going on here is we've got a reinvigorated State Department and a State Department that will hopefully start dealing with some of its core problems as we proceed.
QUESTION: And it's only coincidence that it came a week before the chemical weapons vote?
DR. KAMARCK: Only coincidence.
QUESTION: Is it a happy coincidence?
DR. KAMARCK: Yes. Of course, it is. But once again, remember, doing these things takes a long time. I mean, we generated piles and piles of paper last time. And one of the reasons that we could, in fact, do this in a relatively short period of time right now -- as we started thinking about this in February again -- is that we had, in fact, gotten to roughly these conclusion two years ago and had done a lot of the groundwork and kind of understood where the pieces would fit best for a 21st century diplomacy.
QUESTION: As a result of this reorganization, Elaine, how much money will the taxpayers save over the next several years?
DR. KAMARCK: They will save some money, but the savings are not big. The entire 150 Account, all of this money is about one percent of the federal budget. These are very small agencies; they have a very small number of employees. If you are looking to balance the budget on these agencies, it would be impossible.
As we develop the legislation and actually go through the details of the reorganization plan, we will give you personnel and savings figures. But they're not -- they will not be huge given the size of these entities.
QUESTION: Elaine, for two things -- first, how many jobs are going to be lost and how is it going to affect the relative independence of the Voice of America and other related --
DR. KAMARCK: The Voice of America has editorial independence and integrity as it is and that will stay exactly the same under the reorganization.
As I said before, there will be some job loss I'm sure, but this will not be huge. There will be administration consolidations, consolidations of public affairs, legislative shops, etcetera. But basically, these are -- the ACDA and USIA consolidations are being done in order to strengthen the State Department's capacity to do public diplomacy and arms control.
QUESTION: Do you have a figure on those jobs?
DR. KAMARCK: No, we don't have a figure on the jobs yet. And we won't until we actually write the legislation and then have OMB cost it out.
QUESTION: How far down the ladder on the table of organization at the State Department is ACDA going to end up?
DR. KAMARCK: ACDA will be, actually, very high up in a new under secretary that will have not only a reporting relationship to the Secretary of State, but the ability to speak directly through the Secretary to the President of the United States on matters of arms control advocacy. And what was very important to the Vice President in putting this together is that there be that independent advocacy role of ACDA preserved in the State Department. And we have models elsewhere in the government for preserving that independent access to the President.
QUESTION: And that under secretary will be limited to arms control or will have wider jurisdiction?
DR. KAMARCK: Wider jurisdiction. What will happen is that ACDA and what is now the PM bureau of State will merge essentially into a larger under secretary.
QUESTION: -- information activities at USIA, where will they go in this --
DR. KAMARCK: Some of those information activities will be moved into the State Department. There will be an attempt to make a unified public affairs structure for diplomacy. The I Bureau at USIA, which has received a lot of kudos for bringing information into the electronic age, will be preserved, brought into the State Department, and we hope will enhance the State Department's capacity to communicate to foreign publics.
MR. MCCURRY: Tell them about the new under secretary for public diplomacy. (Laughter.)
DR. KAMARCK: I don't think we'd better do that right now.
QUESTION: Elaine, is there any way to assure those at VOA that the level of independence won't be impacted by this? You've said it won't, but as the process goes along -- might change. Can you give us that kind of a guarantee?
DR. KAMARCK: I can give you that kind of guarantee. That guarantee was explicit in the decision memorandum that the President signed off on that there would be this editorial integrity. And that is something that the President and Vice President feel strongly about.
MR. MCCURRY: Let me add something on that. You will not be surprised to hear that we have heard already quite an earful from Evelyn Lieberman on that subject. She has stressed how important the integrity of VOA's independent editorial voice is and how necessary it is for that to be a useful and reliable tool of information around the world. And, of course, that's foreseen as part of the plan.
DR. KAMARCK: Thank you.
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