(USIA, ACDA to merge with State, AID more closely aligned)
By Wendy S. Ross USIA White House Correspondent - 18 April 1997

Washington -- The Clinton administration April 18 announced a plan to
reorganize the United States foreign affairs community by merging two
independent foreign affairs agencies into a revitalized State
Department, and aligning a third more closely with it.

President Clinton said administration officials in the last few weeks
"have been working very, very hard" to reach a consensus within the
administration on an alternative proposal for consolidation to one
developed in the last Congress by Senate Foreign Relations Committee
chairman Jesse Helms, (Republican-North Carolina).

Clinton made the remarks at a late afternoon news conference in which
he strongly urged the Senate to vote to ratify the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC) when it takes it up next week.

Clinton said "there was no linkage between these two issues," and that
he does not expect Helms to vote for the CWC.

Helms agreed only this week to let the CWC come to a vote in the
Senate. An opponent of the treaty, he had threatened to keep it in his
committee if the administration did not reorganize the foreign affairs
agencies, one of his priorities.

Under the administration's plan, which must be approved by Congress,
the United States Information Agency (USIA) and the Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency (ACDA) will become part of the State Department.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), while remaining
independent, will be more closely tied to State. Its director will
report to the Secretary of State, instead of to the President as under
current law.

Vice President Al Gore, who led the consolidation effort, said he and
the President "believe we have an historic opportunity to
systematically reinvent the agencies which implement the nation's
foreign policies in order to ensure that they can effectively confront
the new and pressing challenges of the post-Cold War world."

Gore said the plan, which will take two years to be fully implemented,
was developed "in consultation with the Secretary of State, the
Director of the United States Information Agency, the Director of the
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the Administrator of the
Agency for International Development."

A White House Fact Sheet said the plan "strikes a sound balance
between the need for greater policy coherence and effectiveness with
the necessity of preserving the special missions and skills of the
three smaller agencies."

Consolidation of the foreign affairs agencies has been in process
since the beginning of Clinton's first term in office, said Dr. Elaine
Kamarck, Gore's senior policy adviser, and head of the Vice
President's effort to downsize and reenergize the federal government.

"Basically the ACDA and USIA consolidations are being done in order to
strengthen the State Department's capacity to do public affairs and
arms control," she said.

"We looked at this seriously beginning in January 1995," Kamarck said,
but realized then that "there was a certain amount of reinvention that
had to go on in the State Department itself before it was ready to
absorb other agencies....

"When we got reelected, came into office again, this was one of the
pieces of unfinished business in the reinventing government agenda
that the Vice President wanted to go back to," Kamarck said. Secretary
of State Albright also came in with a desire "to do serious
reinvention at the State Department," Kamarck added.

"An a priori qualification" before other agencies are brought into
State, Kamarck said, is reinvention within the State Department
itself. There will be a new Undersecretary for Management, and the
Department "will hopefully start dealing with some of its core
problems as we proceed," she said.

The Voice of America (VOA), the broadcast arm of USIA, will retain its
"editorial independence and integrity" in the reorganization and
"there will be an attempt to make a uniform public affairs structure
for diplomacy," she said.

The I Bureau at USIA, which Kamarck said "has received a lot of kudos
for bringing information into the electronic age will be preserved,
brought into the State Department and we hope will enhance the State
Department's capacity to communicate to foreign publics."

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said the Clinton
administration has long been interested in the question of how you
structure the foreign policy apparatus. "Secretary Christopher, in
fact, floated one of the first ideas for doing exactly this type of
consolidation," McCurry said.

The administration "did substantial work on this question in 1995 and
it never really advanced, in part because we entered into the budget
wars with Congress and it was subsumed at that point by other budget
issues," he added.

Kamarck said it was "only coincidence" that the administration was
announcing the reorganization plan just days before the Senate vote on
the Chemical Weapons Convention.

And McCurry said "We do not draw that linkage directly. Secretary
Albright much earlier this year committed to Chairman Helms that we
would move forward on State Department reorganization. And she and the
Vice President have worked very hard on this plan. Obviously this plan
does create a different environment in which the Senate considers
other issues."

In the last session of Congress, Helms offered legislation
reorganizing the foreign affairs agencies, and blocked a series of
important bills and ambassadorial nominations because the
administration would not go along with his proposal.