February 1961 - Sixteenth Report of the United States Advisory Commission on Information


Commission Members:
Mark A. May, chairman
Erwin D. Canham
Sigurd S. Larmon
Philip D. Reed
Lewis W. Douglas


This report reviewed the broad purpose of the United States’ foreign communication program and summarized its basic principles, objectives, and functions. The role of USIA is restated from previous reports and several recommendations for improvement are made—including making USIA a consolidated agency with Cabinet status, enhancing constructive and comprehensive planning, and strengthening the field structure by strengthening working relationships between USIS and ambassadors and their staff.


"This, the Sixteenth Report to Congress, was prepared on the eve of the convening of a new Congress, the inauguration of a new president and administration, and the appointment of a new Director of the US Information Agency. It is perhaps appropriate at this time for the Commission to express its hopes that there will be a continuation of the bipartisan support that must be accorded to our foreign information and communications programs if it is to be successful."

"During the past 15 years the compulsion of events has forces the people of the United Stated to abandon their traditional continentalism and their inclination to remain aloof from the problems and controversies of other lands. They have come to realize that events overseas vitally affect their own national interests. The problem they not acknowledge is to maintain national security and to fashion a relatively peaceful world in which the traditional characteristics of American economic, political, and social life may be preserved."

"The Commission believes that U.S. policies and programs of all departments and agencies which affect our relations with other countries would be benefited through careful consideration of the type of thinking and advice on foreign public opinion that USIA can provide."

"At this point, a word of warning is indicated. No amount or quality of “propaganda,” “information,” “culture,” or “education” can be a substitute for US foreign policies or for the domestic strength and stability of our country. Simply expanding our international public relations efforts will not offer us a panacea for all our problems throughout the world."

"The Commission believes that the American people too often fail to understand the need for and the long range objectives of USIA’s activities."