"I don't want to keep you from your work very long. I think that many of you have questions about what you have read and heard about the coming effort to plan and reconfigure the foreign affairs resources of the United States. I cannot respond to all those questions this morning; I will respond as directly as I can for as long as we have. But it is very early in the process. The first thing I want to say is that if there is anyone that hasn't read the Vice President's statement, Elaine Kamarck's briefing, or other material that has been available, please think for yourself and read that material before you come to any conclusions. Let's not have our thinking determined by a few people's interpretation either of past efforts or of the current situation; so exercise your ability to read that material -- I think it's being made available as a broadcast -- and think about it itself.
"Now what is the situation? The President has determined with the Secretary of State--the first Secretary of State I can remember who studied foreign policy and is a political scientist--that this is the time to make an attempt to reassess and configure our foreign policy resources and institutions and put them together in a new configuration that will best serve the interests of the United States. Is that driven by budget considerations? Everything is driven by budget considerations. It comes at a time when we have, I think, justified confidence that the budget of the foreign affairs community is not going to be cut as drastically over the next four years as had been earlier projected. I think that's a given now. There is a broad concern about making adequate resources available. Resources are an issue but not the major issue for this effort. Institutions that are 50 years old, and some older, that have functioned in a particular configuration for a period of history that we all acknowledge now has come to an end, are being asked to consider how they can best serve the nation in a new configuration in the future.
"What is the process? Beginning on May 1 the foreign affairs agencies will begin a process of review and planning for bringing together the institutions that are central to foreign affairs policy and implementation in the United States. We will fully participate in that process with representatives on every working group at every level and in the core planning group. It will involve an outside advisory group, perhaps.
"For 120 days we will attempt to plan a process that would take two years, in some cases, to reconfigure, find closer ways of cooperating, try to respond to some of the problems of unnecessary duplication and generate savings that will go into other areas where we need them for our work. No one at the moment anticipates that retrenchment or a sharp reduction in personnel will be a part of the process. That seems to have occurred, and is occurring, through attrition. That is not a major part of the process. It's fully acknowledged that if the plan is acceptable to the Congress, it may involve some increases in certain budgets for a period of a few years while the various adjustments are being made.
"Will it mean an end to the identity of USIA? I think that's hard to tell. When you begin in our government to do anything it's hard to tell where it's going to come out. We will try to do our part in the Executive Branch of the government. Finally, this will be determined by the legislature. Part of their response will be based upon the vigor and quality and seriousness and imagination of our work. Secretary Albright has made it clear that she wants to create a system in which the most creative ideas at every level of all the agencies involved can receive consideration. She will be announcing by the end of this week a process that I think will make that possible. Let me stop at this point.
"There are not many details; there is no piece of legislation. While the Congress in its reauthorization bill may need to come to some legislative determinations this week, it probably at this point will involve an acknowledgment that we are beginning an effort inside the Administration to work together to see if we can come up with some plan. USIA should enter this process with a great deal of self confidence. We have a Secretary of State who is not only very familiar but is extraordinarily appreciative and enthusiastic about the public dimension of diplomacy and who is determined to see changes in the State Department's structure, probably the institution that has changed the least in recent years. But this will mean change, further change, in USIA as well. So that is what we know about the process. This has not happened overnight. I think, for those who have watched and sensed that it ultimately had to happen, this should come as no great surprise. Secretary Albright is proceeding with determination and energy. She's made her own priorities quite clear. You will have an opportunity to hear her early next week speak to her concerns as this effort begins."
In the question-and answer period, the Director made the following points:
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