Henry J. Hyde (R-IL), Chairman
House International Relations Committee
Contact: Sam Stratman (202) 226-7875
For IMMEDIATE Release
On Thursday, U.S. Reps. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) introduced the Freedom Promotion Act of 2002 to begin rebuilding a mass communications infrastructure to explain American policies and culture to the world.
"Public diplomacy - which consists of systematic efforts to communicate not with foreign governments but with the people themselves - has a central role to play in the task of making the world safer for the just interests of the United States, its citizens, and its allies," said Hyde.
"If we are to be successful in our broader foreign policy goals, Americas effort to engage the peoples of the world must assume a more prominent place in the planning and execution of our foreign policy," Hyde said, adding, "The task of countering misinformation and propaganda regarding the United States is a never-ending one, but we must go about this task more aggressively and more systematically, rather than simply reacting to crises as they occur."
The legislation reshapes critical elements of the State Department, including new authority to the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, new requirements for the development of a comprehensive strategy for official communications overseas, and new requirements that hiring and promotions within the department be based in part on public diplomacy experience. It also reorganizes U.S. international broadcast services, including establishment of the International Broadcasting Agency to oversee the Voice of America.
PROPOSED LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES:
Specific authorizing language. The State Department already possesses the authority to conduct public diplomacy. This legislation gives shape to the direction and manner in which public diplomacy is carried out by defining the statutory authorization more specifically in terms of standards, technologies, and target audiences. The legislation also creates a firewall around the budget for public diplomacy ($497 million annually not including U.S. broadcasting) and authorizes an additional $70 million for exchange and cultural programs and $40 million for other public diplomacy programs over two years.
Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy - Created in 1999 with the consolidation of the Department of State and the United States Information Agency (USIA), the Under Secretary is given new authority over the Departments public diplomacy programs and personnel and an enhanced role in coordinating its public diplomacy activities.
Establishment of the International Broadcasting Agency - The legislation reorganizes U.S. international broadcasting programs, now headed by a part-time Board of Broadcasting Governors, into an agency headed by a director. The reorganization is designed to ensure accountability by an identified decision maker while preserving the strengths of the Board. This reorganization will be accomplished with minimal disruption to existing broadcasting operations. The director will be appointed by the President - with the concurrence of the Senate - for a term of five years, similar to that of the chairman of the Federal Reserve System, with safeguards to preserve journalistic integrity from political influence. The present board of governors will be reconstituted as the Board of International Broadcasting (BIB) which will retain operational control of grants to entities including Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Asia. The BIB will function in an advisory role to the International Broadcasting Agency.
Mandates development of an annual strategic communications plan by the Department of State to advance U.S. foreign policy goals including a tactical communications plan for implementation worldwide. The development of this plan is to be coordinated with the many federal agencies active in international programs. Although the State Department is not given operational control over programs and activities conducted by other agencies, it is designated as the lead agency.
Establishment of the Public Diplomacy Reserve Corps - Includes a database of eligible experts in foreign policy and mass communication for temporary assignments to augment the Department during "emergency and critical circumstances worldwide."
Development of satellite television services. The legislation provides an initial amount of $7.5 million annually to the Office of Broadcast Services at the Department of State to accelerate its outreach to the world. In addition to other provisions, the legislation mandates the development of a long-range plan for the use of satellite television and other new media, such as the Internet. It also authorizes funds for discretionary use by the State Department to lease air-time on satellites and to develop other media channels serving key regions, such as the Middle East and East Asia, in order to dramatically expand unfiltered access to mass audiences. A key objective is to equip the State Department with the requisite facilities, including studios and satellite capability, to enable it to act as a command center for a public diplomacy operations globally and in real time.
Enhanced training in media and advocacy skills for the Foreign Service and Ambassadors. The Foreign Service is encouraged to recruit individuals with experience in public diplomacy and to emphasize to all incoming officers the importance of their role in public diplomacy. As part of the overall effort to raise its importance throughout the State Department, public diplomacy should be included in the entrance examination and the performance review process. In particular, training for ambassadors will be amended to include public diplomacy, including the press, cultural and educational components. Ambassadors will be given a prominent role in the formulation of public diplomacy strategies for the country and regions to which they are assigned and be formally held accountable for the operation and success of the public diplomacy efforts at their posts.
Development of programming. The State Department is authorized to develop programming for foreign audiences separate and apart from the renamed International Broadcasting Agency and specifically authorizes the use of the private sector. State is encouraged to work with foreign television broadcasters and other media to produce and distribute programming.
Budget authority to undertake in-depth research on public and media attitudes in regions chosen at the discretion of the Department of State. This includes a requirement that analyses of the comparative effectiveness of the various efforts undertaken in the area of public diplomacy be provided annually, including the use of the private sector in the U.S. and overseas.
Translation services. To assist Public Affairs Officers in embassies worldwide, the legislation adds an additional $4 million annually for document translation services.
Alumni program. A database of international alumni of U.S. exchange programs will be created in order to expand and utilize the connections that have been established through exchange programs.
Library initiative. A demonstration program will examine the most effective way to augment resources in local public library systems overseas in order to "familiarize participants with American values and society, particularly the importance of freedom and democracy."
Language education for Americans. An authorization of funds for early learning language training in difficult languages, such as Arabic, Mandarin, and others, in targeted regions.
Reform of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. Mandates a comprehensive biennial study by the Commission of the State Departments public diplomacy efforts. This study will be conducted in conjunction with the General Accounting Office. The legislation requires that at least four of the seven Commission members have "substantial experience in the conduct of public diplomacy or comparable activities in the private sector."
Initiatives Aimed at the Muslim World:
Youth Ambassadors - Authorizes a summer youth exchange program for young individuals from countries with a predominantly Muslim population. (Short- term exchanges of 3-4 weeks in length).
Journalism program - Authorizes an initiative to work with foreign journalists to enhance international standards of quality and objectivity. This program will be established and operated in cooperation with private sector sponsors, including universities and exchange programs.
English language training. Creates a pilot program to send Americans to middle schools in the Muslim world to provide English language instruction.
Sister Cities Initiative: Authorizes funds for an expanded "sister cities" program to increase the number of US-sister city partnerships in countries with a predominantly Muslim population. (Currently there are 42 such partnerships). These partnerships are aimed at community level development and volunteer action and include non-federal support.