Meeting of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy

According to the State Department, the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will hold a public meeting on February 11, 2010, in the conference room of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), 1850 K Street, NW, Fifth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20006. The meeting will be from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The Commissioners will discuss public diplomacy issues, including interagency collaboration in advancing U.S. government public diplomacy efforts.

The Advisory Commission was originally constituted as the Advisory Committee on Radio Programming by Assistant Secretary of State William Benton to provide oversight over America’s international broadcasting and to comfort Congress the programs would be responsibility administered. Members of this Committee included Edward R. Murrow as chairman, Philip H. Cohen, a director for radio and television programming for an advertising agency, Harold Laswell, Don Francisco, of the advertising firm J. Walter Thompson and formerly head of radio operations for the Office of the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs (CIAA), Walter Millis, editorial and staff writer for the New York Herald Tribune, Sterling Fisher, director of the National Broadcasting Corporation’s (NBC) University on the Air, Malcolm Muir, editor-in-chief and president of Newsweek as well as founder of BusinessWeek, and James Linen, publisher of Time magazine.

The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 made Benton’s committee permanent as the US Advisory Commission on Information. As a result of the abolishing of USIA in 1999, the Commission is now the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

Back to the February 11 meeting. I was previously scheduled to present to the Commission between 10a and 11:30a, so I will see you there.

The public may attend this meeting as seating capacity allows. To attend this meeting and for further information, please contact Carl Chan at (202) 632-2823; e-mail:

Event: The Abolition of USIA and Its Effects on U.S. Public Diplomacy

At The Heritage Foundation December 9, 2009, 10a – 11:30a: The Abolition of USIA and Its Effects on U.S. Public Diplomacy. Speakers include Joe Duffey, Bill Kiehl, Stephen Johnson, Robert Schadler and hosted by Helle Dale.

Founded in 1953, the mission of the United States Information Agency (USIA) was to “understand, inform and influence foreign publics in promotion of the national interest, and to broaden the dialogue between Americans and U.S. institutions and their counterparts abroad.”  For years, USIA was the U.S. government’s public diplomacy arm, charged with telling America’s story abroad.  Ten years ago, USIA was disbanded and its functions were folded into the State Department under the management of Undersecretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy.  Since then, U.S. public diplomacy has fallen upon hard times.  The new administration has repeatedly proclaimed that U.S. engagement in the world would be revitalized and yet there has been little change at U.S. foreign policy’s lead agency.  Our panelists will analyze the changes that U.S. public diplomacy has gone through in the past 10 years and what should be done to improve America’s ability to “understand, inform and influence foreign publics in promotion of the national interest.”

I won’t be there but RSVP here if you want to be there. I’m interested in your feedback on the discussion.