February 27, 1998
Release No. 07-98
CONTACT: Lois Herrmann
PHONE: (202) 619-4365

United States Information Agency
- News Release


Public Diplomacy is Vital to the National Interest

Washington, D.C. -- United States Information Agency (USIA) Director Joseph Duffey testified yesterday before the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Subcommittee and presented the Clinton Administration's FY 1999 budget request for USIA, which totals $1.119 billion.

Responding to questions about funding the Agency's exchange programs, Dr. Duffey expressed his concerns about the hard budget choices facing USIA.

"We all want to increase the Fulbright budget because of its importance and historical place as a flagship exchange program, but it was increased at the cost of some other very valuable exchange programs. Both Fulbright and these other exchange programs are very important." Several members of the subcommittee expressed the hope, shared by the Director, that by the end of the year a way be found to redress the funding shortfall in non-Fulbright programs.

In prepared remarks Dr. Duffey said, "One of USIA's fundamental tasks is the job of public diplomacy. There is virtually no American foreign policy goal, no American national interest, that is not served and advanced by the application of intelligent, focused, coordinated public diplomacy efforts," Dr. Duffey stressed. "Whether the issue is land mines, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, NATO enlargement, Bosnia, intellectual property rights, China, or climate change, it is the women and men of the United States Information Agency who tell the world what American policy is."

Citing the Agency's public diplomacy effort on Iraq and other global trouble-spots, Dr. Duffey illustrated how USIA enables U.S. officials to explain foreign policy objectives to foreign publics in a direct fashion.

"USIA professionals are creative in devising ways to get our message across," Dr. Duffey noted. "They do this first by identifying the right individuals and the right audience, by understanding a country's or a region's languages, its values, and its culture to make sure that the American message comes through loud and clear in different languages, different cultures, in different political climates, under different regimes." "We employ every form of technology and exchange to move both people and information in support of American leadership in the world," Dr. Duffey emphasized. "We use paper and type. We use bits and bytes. We use radio and television, websites and by-liners, compressed digital video and live satellite interactives. Most importantly, however, we rely on the talents and abilities of public diplomacy professionals in more than 140 countries," Dr. Duffey said.

"Wherever U.S. interests are at stake, USIA is there," Dr. Duffey added. "USIA is the only U.S. presence in the volatile and politically-sensitive Kosovo region of the former Yugoslavia. In Bosnia, USIA and its private sector partners have made extensive efforts to spread the values of democracy, pluralism and a civil society among all ethnic and religious groups through civic education. The Agency helps to promote American economic prosperity and free trade in the global marketplace, and takes an active role in trouble-spots around the world, combating international crime and promoting a culture of lawfulness. In short, USIA is an active and vibrant force for U.S. interests, we tell America's story," he said.

"USIA programs add a dimension to U.S. policies that leaves an enduring legacy," Dr. Duffey concluded. "In this post-Cold War era, USIA has come a long way, as an agile promoter of America's national interest through the exchange of people, the articulation of our values, and the promotion of ideas."

USIA's FY 1999 Budget Request
  • The 1999 request for USIA is $1.119 billion, consisting of $461.7 million for the International Information Programs account covering USIS field programs and Washington support; $199.0 million for Exchanges, including E Bureau staff and program support; $388.7 million for Broadcasting Operations, including VOA, Worldnet, RFE/RL, RFA, Broadcasting to Cuba, Engineering and other support; $25.3 million for Radio Construction; and $44.3 million for other accounts such as NED, East-West and North/South Centers.

  • In total, our FY 1999 request is $6.0 million below our current resource level.

  • Within the context of overall budget constraints, USIA is striving to stabilize operations, after years of reductions, and to implement a few key enhancements. These modest changes will strengthen USIA's support to foreign policy objectives.

  • The 1999 estimate will cover most of the Agency's current services needs and selected priority enhancements, but further program and staff reductions will be necessary in FY 1999 to accommodate these requirements.

  • FY 1999 enhancements totaling $11.7 million are requested in all accounts, mainly to broaden USIA's improved high-speed telecommunications network project to include a dozen additional overseas posts; to increase the Fulbright Program; expand field programs in East Asia; enhance broadcasting to Africa and Russia, and VOA research; North/South Center programs in Latin America and the Caribbean; and NED programs in East Asia.

  • Further projected staff and program reductions will total $27.3 million in FY 1999. All major program accounts and operations will be affected: IIP, 61 positions and $8.4 million; Exchanges, $7.6 million; Broadcasting, 77 positions and $4.3 million; and East- West Center, $7.0 million.

  • Net program reductions and built-in changes in 1999 will reduce the current staff level by 56 positions. Staff associated with program reductions totals 138, partially offset by increases of 82 to meet built-in and enhancement requirements.

  • The 1999 request for U.S. public diplomacy represents a reduction of 29 percent from the 1994 level.

    # # #