Three of the signers of the Stanton Report which two years ago recommended the dismemberment of the United States Information Agency issued a contrary report yesterday on the eve of a Senate committee session vital to the agency's future.
The United States Advisory Commission on Information report in which Hobart Lewis, George Gallup and John M. Shaheen demonstrate their change of mind was rushed into print in order to reach Congress before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today takes up Sen. Charles H. Percy's (R-Ill.) amendment that would break up USIA.
A freshet of lobbying over the amendment flowed across Capitol Hill yesterday, according to several staffers. As in any governmental reorganization jobs and power are at stake.
Contributing to the activity was USIA Director John E. Reinhardt, whose new guidelines for the Voice of America were made public yesterday.
Constributing to the activity was USIA Director John E. Reinhardt, whose new guidelines for the Voice of America were made public yesterday.
A major reason for the dismemberment of USIA as envisioned by the Stanton Report is the need to establish a VOA free from control of other parts of government.
Reinhardt's new guidelines are clearly designed to placate VOA officers who have complained about past heavy-handed intrusions into their broadcasting of news and commentary.
Only the USIA Office of Policy and Plans is allowed to critique VOA commentaries, and news broadcasts are entirely protected from interference under Reinhardt's guidelines.
Individuals in the Office of Policy and Plans have been among the targets of VOA criticism in the past.
A supporter of Percy's amendment reacted to the guidelines by noting that similar measures have been taken before and then rescinded by new USIA directors who desire tighter control over VOA.
The Percy amendment would require the Carter administration to reorganize USIA in such a way as to establish an independent VOA, give the State Department responsibility for public Department responsibility for public information prgorams that explain foreign policy and create a single autonomous agency to control the cultural affairs now split between USIA and the State Department.
Lewis, Gallup and Shaheen all signed the Stanton Report, which recommended a similar reallocation of the functions now performed by USIA.
They changed their minds, according to well-informed sources, because they believe that the problems of reorganization have not been adequately explored.
Their new report said plans for USIA should await decisions on how to reorganize the entire foreign policy community. They and fellow commissioners Arthur C. Nielsen Jr. and J. Leonard Reinsch call for Congress to study USIA's role.
The report stronly opposes creating an independent VOA and calls the "tension" between government journalists and policy making officials "healthy and necessary."
It also makes a strong appeal for more funds for USIA. Gallup attached a separate letter calling for more funds USIA's FY 1977 budget is $263.6 million, of which VOA spends about one fourth.