[EXCERPTS] DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
Friday, April 18, 1997 Briefer: Nicholas Burns
Reorganization of Foreign Affairs Agencies
BURNS: Now, I know at the White House they began, about a half hour ago, a
briefing on the issue of the reorganization of the foreign affairs
agencies. That briefing is being conducted by Elaine Kaymarck who is,
of course, the assistant to the Vice President on this issue. I can
tell you that Secretary Albright is very pleased by this decision --
by the President and Vice President's decision to commence work inside
the government and to work with the Congress on a plan that would
modernize our foreign affairs structure here in the United States.
Pursuant to the President's decision to create the new foreign affairs
structure for the 21st century, Secretary Albright plans to meet with
the Administrator of AID, Brian Atwood, with Director Joe Duffey of
USIA, and Director John Holum of ACTA; and that meeting will be on
To begin the process of implementing the President's decision, the
Secretary has asked the acting Undersecretary for Management, Patrick
Kennedy, to take over the day-to-day responsibilities for implementing
this historic decision. This is a very positive decision by the
President and the Vice President to reinforce the effectiveness of the
State Department and our foreign affairs agencies; to streamline our
organizations; to avoid duplication, to do away with duplication; and
to make sure that as we enter the new century as a great power, we
have first-class diplomacy and first-class diplomatic institutions to
go along with our first-class military. I'd be very pleased to take
any questions on this issue.
BURNS: Yes, yes.
Q: Senator Helms' office has expressed pleasure at some of the details
of the plan --
BURNS: Expressed pleasure.
Q: At some of the details of the plan.
BURNS: That's good.
Q: But has questioned -- the Senator apparently has questions about
the final status of AID, concerned that it is not brought -- I guess,
as I understand it -- fully enough into the orbit of the State
Department. Is this an ongoing process? I mean, is what -- I guess
what I'm asking is what will finally emerge be a product of further
negotiation with the Hill, between the Administration and the Hill?
BURNS: Well, certainly we'll want to work with the Congress on this
implementation plan that Secretary Albright has asked Undersecretary
Pat Kennedy to be responsible for. Secretary Albright went up to
Capitol Hill yesterday afternoon to see Senator Helms to make sure
that she was able to give him a personal briefing on the details of
the Administration's plan.
I think the Senator was grateful for that. They've had a good
relationship on this. Senator Helms had a long-term interest in
reorganization, as you know.
Secretary Albright is very pleased by this because it allows us to
take institutions that were largely created in a different era -- in
an era when we were fighting the Cold War, in an era of big government
-- and to streamline them; and to integrate, particularly, the levers
of our foreign policy -- public diplomacy, economic assistance and
arms control, and to bring them under the central authority of the
Secretary of State. We are looking to create a more efficient, leaner
and more effective foreign policy machinery here. This plan of the
President and the Vice President allows us to do that.
Just so you know, I'll just give you the highlights of this. I know
Elaine Kaymarck has done this over at the White House. The State
Department will be working as a high priority on implementation of the
following plan: that the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency will be
fully integrated with the State Department within one year by merging
the arms control and non-proliferation functions of both agencies. The
active director will be double-hatted, as the Undersecretary of State
of Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Then there will be
other positions created.
The U.S. Information Agency and the State Department will be
integrated over a two-year period. During that process, the director
of USIA will be double-hatted as the new Undersecretary of State for
Public Diplomacy. This is a very important process. The
distinctiveness and editorial integrity of the Voice of America and
our broadcast agencies will be respected. A new bureau will be created
within the State Department to handle cultural and exchange issues. I
am just giving you the highlights. There are more details that we can
give to you after the briefing. I have a piece of paper that will do
that for you.
The Agency for International Development will remain a distinct
agency, but it will share certain administrative functions with the
State Department and will report to and be under the direct authority
and foreign policy guidance of the Secretary of State. Within two
years, AID will integrate its press office and certain administrative
functions. The International Development Cooperation Agency created in
1979 will be abolished. There will be further efforts taken by the
Secretary of State by Pat Kennedy working on her behalf and the AID
director to make sure that we can eliminate duplication and streamline
our operations. This plan allows us to enter the next century with a
much more effective way of making foreign policy and executing it; and
it has the full support of the Secretary of State.
Q: I'm curious. At the White House they were sitting there and
explaining this, that there would be few, if any, job cuts because of
the integration and little, if any, real money saved because of that.
By my calculations, this accounts for about 20 percent of the overall
foreign policy budget of the United States, which is 1 percent of the
federal budget. So why is this so important?
BURNS: It is important because there is, right now, a great amount of
duplication in the foreign affairs agencies about the major activities
that we undertake. I can speak for the bureau I'm in, have been in for
the last two and a half years, Public Affairs. We have public affairs
offices, press offices in each of the three agencies that we are
talking about -- and then, of course, the press office and public
affairs activities at the State Department. We're going to merge all
of them into one office within the next two years. That will make your
job easier and our job easier in communicating foreign policy to the
press and to the public. That is just one example.
In the area of arms control and security cooperation, we have two
agencies now who essentially do the same thing. It makes sense to be
effective, to be streamlined, to avoid duplication; and it makes sense
to expand the authority and the influence of the Secretary of State as
the lead policymaker and the lead articulator and the lead implementer
of United States foreign policy, worldwide. This is just good common
sense. I think there's very strong support for it, I know here in the
State Department, and I think within many of the agencies affected.
Now, obviously, we enter a time now where a lot of people,
particularly in the three agencies, will be naturally concerned about
what is going to happen. We want this transition to be smooth. We want
it to be effective, and we want, obviously, the interests of all three
to be taken into consideration as we implement. But the Secretary has
a firm view that implementation must be done quickly and that's what
she's asked Undersecretary Pat Kennedy to accomplish.
Q: Is there any --
Q: -- as regards Senator Helms and chemical weapons, ambassadors,
State Department budgets and many other things.
BURNS: I would be shocked if anything like that was even contemplated.
No, I was listening to CNN earlier and I heard some of this mentioned
by a very influential reporter live on CNN just after noon, and I was
intrigued to hear all this. Actually, just to be serious for a moment
-- no, no, no, that was Judd Ginsberg who said that, for anyone
reading a transcript. That was not me.
This reorganization effort has been thought about literally for
decades. There was a very serious proposal a couple of years ago. It
stands on its own. It should stand on its own. Now, we are going to
have to work with the Senate, we hope convincingly on CWC. We want the
Senate to act favorably on our ambassadorial appointments, on our
other senior level appointments. I am not aware personally of any such
Q: If you are avoiding a lot of duplication by this merger, how come
the job cuts are either non-existent or very limited?
BURNS: The duplication is bureaucratic. You literally have offices in
Public Affairs here, in USIA, that basically are responsible for the
same purpose. You have offices between our Political and Military
Affairs Bureau and ACDA that have the same responsibilities. It
eliminates layers from our bureaucracy. Now, obviously, we have a
commitment to the foreign service officers and the civil servants who
occupy all these jobs, and we think we can integrate people into some
of the new functions that need to expand.
For instance, if the State Department Press Office is going to be
integrated with the USIS, ACDA and AID press offices, and if all of
you are going to be asking that central press office, in a couple of
years, about aid issues, public diplomacy issues, we are going to need
more people here. So we'll take on people, I assume, from some of
those agencies. I can't be too prescriptive. I can't be too detailed
because we haven't begun the implementation phase. But I think that
just stands to reason that you're more effective when you're more
Q: Well, I'll try again on Steve's question. You said this
reorganization makes good common sense. It presumably made good common
sense a year ago and good common sense two years ago, and it's
certainly been booted about. In fact, it was proposed by the
Administration early on and then there was a change of heart. Why now?
BURNS: Why now? Because I think the stars were aligned in the right
way. It is difficult to take three agencies and integrate it with
another larger agency, the State Department. It is not easy.
There are going to be some people who are going to be unhappy with
this. But the most important point is that the President and Vice
President, the Secretary of State, are content with it. They support
it. I understand that the three agency directors support it. So that's
what is important. The stars aligned themselves correctly, everything
was in the right place and the proper decision was made. I think you
understand how these things come about. Sometimes it's more difficult
than others. We had the support of Congress as well, and that's very
Q: Nick, will this reorganization affect the foreign policy in
BURNS: Foreign policy?
BURNS: Boy, for all those adversaries of the United States, they
better watch out. It's going to make us leaner and meaner and tougher
to deal with; for all friends of the United States, hopefully, more
effective and more cooperative. I think it's a good -- listen, as a
career foreign service officer, I think this is a very good thing,
personally, for all of us.
Q: Now, leaner does mean fewer people, if I may mention.
BURNS: No, leaner means fewer layers. It can mean both, and we are
certainly going to have fewer layers. Personally speaking, I think it
is an excellent, excellent idea, long overdue. I'm very pleased that
this day has come; and I think that represents the views of a lot of
people in this building.