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United States Information Agency (USIA) Becomes Parent Agency For Voice of America

Cold War Radio Museum

Cold War Radio Museum

The United States Information Agency (USIA) was created on August 1, 1953, by Executive Order 10477 issued by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. USIA served as the public diplomacy agency of the United States during most of the Cold War period and included the Voice of America (VOA) international radio broadcasting operations, which were transferred from the State Department to USIA.

Until 1945, Voice of America broadcasts were produced in the Office of War Information (OWI), which President Harry Truman abolished with his Executive Order 9608 issued on August 31, 1945. President Truman ordered the transfer of radio broadcasting operations to the State Department, effective September 15, 1945, with the final elimination of the Office of War Information, including the office of the Director of the Office of War Information, effective December 31, 1945.

President Eisenhower moved the Voice of America operations from the State Department to the newly established United States Information Agency. The transfer also involved the move of the Voice of America headquarters and studios from New York City to Washington, D.C. From 1945 until the transfer of the Voice of America to the United States Information Agency, key VOA leadership positions went to career State Department diplomats. After 1953, key VOA managerial positions were held on a rotational basis by USIA Foreign Service Officers, and in some cases State Department diplomats.

USIA existed until 1999 when it was disbanded under the provisions of the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998. USIA’s public diplomacy operations were moved back to the State Department. The Voice of America was placed within the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

REORGANIZATION PLAN NO. 8 OF 1953

Prepared by the President and transmitted to the Senate and the House of Representatives in Congress assembled, June 1, 1953, pursuant to the provisions of the Reorganization Act of 1949, approved June 20, 1949, as amended.

[Transmitted June 1, 1953

Effective Aug. 1, 1953.]

UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY

SECTION 1. Establishment of agency.—(a) There is hereby established a new agency which shall be known as the United States Information Agency, hereinafter referred to as the Agency.

(b) There shall be at the head of the Agency a Director of the United States Information Agency, hereinafter referred to as the Director. The Director shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and shall receive compensation at the rate of $17,500 a year. The Secretary of State shall advise with the President concerning the appointment and tenure of the Director.

(c) There shall be in the Agency a Deputy Director of the United States Information Agency, who shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and who shall receive compensation at the rate of $16,000 a year. The Deputy Director shall perform such functions as the Director shall from time to time designate, and shall act as Director during the absence or disability of the Director or in the event of a vacancy in the office of the Director.

(d) There are hereby established in the Agency so many new offices, not in excess of fifteen existing at any one time, and with such title or titles, as the Director shall from time to time determine. Appointment thereto shall be under the classified civil service and the compensation thereof shall be fixed from time to time pursuant to the classification laws, as now or hereafter amended, except that the compensation may be fixed without regard to the numerical limitations on positions set forth in section 505 of the Classification Act of 1949, as amended (5 U.S.C. 1105).

SEC. 2. Transfer of functions.—(a) Subject to subsection (c) of this section, there are hereby transferred to the Director, (1) the functions vested in the Secretary of State by Title V of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, as amended, and so much of functions with respect to the interchange of books and periodicals and aid to libraries and community centers under sections 202 and 203 of the said Act as is an integral part of information programs under that Act, together with so much of the functions vested in the Secretary of State by other provisions of the said Act as is incidental to or is necessary for the performance of the functions under Title V and sections 202 and 203 transferred by this section, and (2) functions of the Secretary of State with respect to information programs relating to Germany and Austria.

(b) Exclusive of so much thereof as is an integral part of economic or technical assistance programs, without regard to any inconsistent provision of Reorganization Plan No. 7 of 1953, and subject to subsection (c) of this section, functions with respect to foreign information programs vested by the Mutual Security Act of 1951, as amended, in the Director for Mutual Security provided for in section 501 of the said Act are hereby transferred to the Director.

(c) (1) The Secretary of State shall direct the policy and control the content of a program, for use abroad, on official United States positions, including interpretations of current events, identified as official positions by an exclusive descriptive label.

(2) The Secretary of State shall continue to provide to the Director on a current basis full guidance concerning the foreign policy of the United States.

(3) Nothing herein shall affect the functions of the Secretary of State with respect to conducting negotiations with other governments. (d) To the extent the President deems it necessary in order to carry out the functions transferred by the foregoing provisions of this section, he may authorize the Director to exercise, in relation to the respective functions so transferred, any authority or part thereof available by law, including appropriation acts, to the Secretary of State, the Director for Mutual Security, or the Director of the Foreign Operations Administration, in respect of the said transferred functions.

SEC. 3. Performance of transferred functions.—(a) The Director may from time to time make such provisions as he shall deem appropriate authorizing the performance of any function of the Director by any other officer, or by any employee or organizational entity, of the Agency.

(b) Representatives of the United States carrying out the functions transferred by section 2 hereof in each foreign country shall be subject to such procedures as the President may prescribe to assure coordination among such representatives in each country under the leadership of the Chief of the United States Diplomatic Mission.

SEC. 4. Incidental transfers.—(a) So much of the personnel, property, records, and unexpended balances of appropriations, allocations, and other funds, employed, used, held, available, or to be made available in connection with the functions transferred or vested by this reorganization plan as the Director of the Bureau of the Budget shall determine shall be transferred to the Agency at such time or times as he shall direct.

(b) Such further measures and dispositions as the Director of the Bureau of the Budget shall deem to be necessary in order to effectuate the transfers provided for in subsection (a) of this section shall be carried out in such manner as he shall direct and by such agencies as he shall designate.

SEC. 5. Interim provisions.—Pending the initial appointment under section 1 of this reorganization plan of the Director and Deputy Director, respectively, therein provided for, their functions shall be performed temporarily, but not for a period in excess of 60 days, by such officers of the Department of State or the Mutual Security Agency as the President shall designate.

Executive Order 10477–Authorizing the Director of the United States Information Agency to exercise certain authority available by law to the Secretary of State and the Director of the Foreign Operations Administration

Source: The provisions of Executive Order 10477 of Aug. 1, 1953, appear at 18 FR 4540, 3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 958, unless otherwise noted.

By virtue of the authority vested in me by section 2 (d) of Reorganization Plan No. 8 of 1953, and as President of the United States, it is ordered as follows:

Section 1. Determination. It is hereby determined that it is necessary, in order to carry out the functions transferred to the Director of the United States Information Agency (hereinafter referred to as the Director) by the provisions of subsections (a), (b), and (c) of section 2 of the said Reorganization Plan No. 8 of 1953, to authorize the Director to exercise, in relation to the respective functions so transferred, the authority specified in sections 2 and 3 hereof.

SEC. 2. Authority under the Foreign Service Act and related laws, (a) Except as provided in section 2 (c) of this order, the Director is authorized to exercise, with respect to Foreign Service Reserve officers. Foreign Service staff officers and employees, and alien clerks and employees employed to perform the said transferred functions, the authority available to the Secretary of State under the Foreign Service Act of 1943, 60 Stat. 999, as heretofore or hereafter amended, or under any other provision of law pertaining specifically, or generally applicable, to Foreign Service Reserve officers, Foreign Service staff officers and employees, and alien clerks and employees, including the authority to prescribe regulations, not Inconsistent with applicable laws, incident to the exercise of such authority. The Director is further authorized to exercise in the performance of the said transferred functions the authority available to the Secretary of State under sections 561 and 562 of the Foreign Service Act of 1946, as amended, and under sections 1021 through 1071 thereof.

(b) The prohibitions and requirements contained in sections 1001 through 1005 and section 1011 of the Foreign Service Act of 1946, as amended, shall be applicable to the personnel of the United States Information Agency.

(c) There are hereby excluded from the authority granted to the Director by section 2 (a) of this order the following described powers now vested in or delegated to the Secretary of State:

(1) The authority of the Secretary of State to make recommendations to the President for the commissioning of Foreign Service Reserve officers as diplomatic or consular officers, or both, under section 524 of the Foreign Service Act of 1946, as amended, and to make recommendations for the commissioning of Foreign Service staff officers or employees as consuls under section 533 of such act, and the authority of the Secretary to commission Foreign Service staff officers as vice consuls under the said section 533. The Director may, whenever he considers it necessary to carry out the functions transferred to him by the said Reorganization Plan No. 8 of 1953, request the Secretary of State to recommend to the President that persons employed under section 2 (a) of this order be commissioned as diplomatic or consular officers, or to grant such persons diplomatic or consular commissions, as appropriate.

(2) The authority vested in the President by sections 443 and 901 of the Foreign Service Act of 1946, as amended, which has been delegated to the Secretary of State by Executive Orders Nos. 10000 and 10011, and successive amendments thereof, to designate places, fix rates, and prescribe regulations governing the payment of additional compensation, known as “foreign post differential”, to employees in foreign areas of executive departments and independent establishments of the United States, and to designate places, flx rates, and prescribe regulations, with respect to civilian employees of the Government serving abroad, governing living-quarters allowances, cost-of-living allowances, and representation allowances.

[Sec. 2 revoked by EO 12292 of Feb. 23, 1981, 46 FR 13967, 3 CFR, 1981 Comp., p. 134]

Sec. 3. Authority under various other statutes. The Director is authorized to exercise the authority available to the Secretary of State or the Director of the Foreign Operations Administration,1 as the case may be, under the following-described provisions of law:

(a) The Foreign Service Buildings Act of 1926, as amended (22 U.S.C. 292-300), regarding the acquisition, construction, alteration, repair, furnishing, exchange, and disposal of buildings and grounds in foreign countries.

(b) The act of July 9, 1949 (5 U.S.C. 170a, b, and c), regarding the transfer, acquisition, use, and disposal of international broadcasting facilities.

(c) The act of August 3, 1950 (19 U.S.C. 1201, par. 1628), regarding the importation of sound recordings.

(d) The provisions under the first heading &quotSalaries and Expenses&quot of the Department of State Appropriation Act, 1954, regarding (1) employment of aliens, by contract, for services abroad, (2) purchase of uniforms, (3) cost of transporting to and from a place of storage and the cost of storing the furniture and household effects of an employee of the Foreign Service who is assigned to a post at which he is unable to use his furniture and effects, under such regulations as the Secretary of State may prescribe, (4) dues for library membership in organizations which issue publications to members only, or to members at a price lower than to others, (5) examination of estimates of appropriations in the field, (6) purchase of ice and drinking water abroad, (7) payment of excise taxes on negotiable instruments abroad, and (8) procurement, by contract or otherwise, of services, supplies, and facilities, as follows: (i) maintenance, improvement, and repair of properties used for international information activities in foreign countries, (ii) fuel and utilities for Government-owned or leased property aboard, and (iii) rental or lease for periods not exceeding ten years of offices, buildings, ground and living quarters, and the furnishing of living quarters to officers and employees engaged in international information activities abroad (22 U.S.C. 291).

(e) The provisions of the Department of State Appropriation Act, 1954, regarding (1) exchange of funds for payment of expenses in connection with the operation of information establishments abroad without regard to the provisions of section 3651 of the Revised Statutes (31 U.S.C. 543), (section 103 of the General Provisions of the Department of State Appropriation Act, 1954), (2) payment of travel expenses outside the continental limits of the United States from funds available in the fiscal year that such travel is authorized and actually begins (section 104 of the General Provisions of the Department of State Appropriation Act, 1954), (3) granting authority to the chief of each information Field Staff to approve, with the concurrence of the Chief of Mission, use of Government-owned vehicles for travel under conditions described in section 105 of the General Provisions of the Department of State Appropriation Act, 1954, and (4) purchase with foreign currencies for use abroad of passenger motor vehicles (exclusive of buses, ambulances, and station wagons) at a cost not to exceed the equivalent of $2,200 for each vehicle (section 106 of the General Provisions of the Department of State Appropriation Act, 1954).

(f) Section 202 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (5 U.S.C. 156), so far as it authorizes the Secretary of State to keep the American public informed about the international information aspects of the United States foreign affairs.

(g) Section 504(d) of the Mutual Security Act of 1951, as amended (relating to reduction in personnel), with respect to personnel transferred from the Mutual Security Agency or the Foreign Operations Administration to the United States Information Agency.

(h) Section 161 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (5 U.S.C. 22) and section 4 of the act of May 26, 1949 (5 U.S.C. 151c), regarding the promulgation of rules and regulations and the delegation of authority.

Sec. 4. Effective date. This order shall become effective on August 1, 1953.

1Editorial note: The Foreign Operations Administration was abolished by Executive Order 10610 of May 9, 1955, 20 FR 3179, 3 CFR, 1954-1958 Comp., p. 250, and its functions were transferred to the Department of State as the International Cooperation Administration and to the Department of Defense. The International Cooperation Administration was abolished by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (75 Stat. 446, 22 U.S.C. 2382), and its functions were delegated to the Agency for International Development pursuant to the President’s letter of Sept. 30, 1961, and Executive Order 10973 of Nov. 3, 1961, 26 FR 10469, 3 CFR, 1959-1963 Comp., p. 493.

Author
Curator

Ted Lipien is the online Cold War Radio Museum's principal volunteer editor. He is an independent journalist, writer, and media freedom advocate. He was Voice of America’s Polish Service chief during Poland’s struggle for democracy and VOA’s acting associate director. He also served briefly in 2020-2021 as RFE/RL president. His book “Wojtyła’s Women” was published in 2008 by O-Books, UK. E-mail him at: tedlipien@gmail.com.

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