INTERNAL: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q: Is the Office of Global Communications (OGC) a press office for foreign journalists or domestic press writing about international affairs?
A: No. Foreign and domestic journalists will still rely on the press offices of government agencies, including the White House and the Departments of State and Defense. OGC is a strategic communications office, proactively coordinating ways in which Americas message is conveyed truthfully and accurately to the world.
Q: Why was this office placed within the White House?
A: The White House already coordinates communications across agency lines for a number of large domestic audiences. The President wants the same focus on international audiences. The OGC is placed within the White House, reporting to the Assistant to the President for Communications, to ensure a high degree of cross-agency coordination and the integration of the Presidents themes into the governments global communications.
Beginning with President Wilsons Committee on Public Information during World War I and continuing through the Cold War, Americas message to the world was clearest and most effective when the White House had an active interest and involvement in global communications and ways to coordinate them. The OGC reflects the Presidents interest and his ideas for better communication.
Q: Why now?
A: The Presidents directive formally creates the office, fulfilling plans established earlier this year. The office began organizing this summer and accelerated its activity in September as the President first sought Congressional and United Nations support for against Saddam Husseins regime.
Q: How is this different from the Coalition Information Center (CIC)?
A: It draws on the experience and successes of the CIC, but is broader in several ways. First, the OGC is a permanent office of the White House. It takes on projects for the near-term, but it is guided by long-term priorities. Also, the President has formally authorized it to coordinate among multiple government agencies. Three CICs were set up last year temporarily to provide timely information about coalition efforts in Afghanistan. The primary functions of the CIC are folded into the Office of Global Communications, which coordinates the creation of similar teams for placement in international hotspots, such as one in Kabul for the loya jirga last summer.
Q: Isn't the U.S. Department of State's Public Diplomacy tasked to perform many of the same functions?
A: The OGC will not be redundant. The White House already coordinates communications across agency lines for a number of large domestic audiences. This office works closely with Public Diplomacy and others within the State Department, as well as the National Security Council and other offices, to coordinate and integrate among the many whose official voices are heard overseas. The State Department remains at the forefront of public diplomacy.
Q: What is the budget of the new office?
A: The new office operates within the budget of the White House Office.
Q: How many staff members will the office have? What agencies will they represent?
A: The staff is currently being formed with members from the White House staff, the State Department, the Pentagon, USAID, and the Commerce Department. Other agencies are likely to contribute to the offices activities. Approximately a dozen staffers will carry out the office functions during the first year.
Q: Will this office conduct disinformation campaigns?
A: The OGC will not engage in or coordinate covert or psychological operations. It will not devise or distribute misleading communications. In fact, the Presidents Order makes this clear: The Office shall advise on activities in which the role of the United States Government is apparent or publicly acknowledged. OGC will work with agencies to disseminate truthful, accurate, and effective messages about the United States.
Q: Can you give me more specific details about what the Office is already doing?
A: Yes, in addition to the daily, mid-range and long-term efforts specified in the Fact Sheet, the OGC is helping coordinate a number of other efforts. For example, this Office moves quickly when Americas standing is challenged by anti-US propaganda. Having observed the power of conspiracy theories with some audiences, the OGC in June acted to rebut allegations of American atrocities in the Mazar region of Afghanistan. The Office drew on information from Defense, State, and USAID, but instead of merely denying the rumor, OGC also told how in fact $9 million in US has been sent to that very region proving that, as the President says, we are there to liberate not conquer.
When the Iraqi regime claimed a willingness to comply with the Presidents September call for UN action against Saddam, OGC prepared and distributed a timeline that illustrated the regimes long pattern of claiming unconditional agreement with UN resolutions followed by defiance and deceit.
Another example was the Presidents October 11, 2002 event highlighting the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Devised and organized by OGC, this event painted a broad picture of Americas true aims in that war-torn nation. The President highlighted US Agency for International Development efforts, but didnt stop there. The good works of other agencie?cluding the Pentagon) were coupled with private efforts such as the Afghan childrens fund.
Q: How can you measure the success of this new office?
A: As a coordinator across agencies and supporters of the Presidents message, this office plans to contribute to the successes of many American efforts. Of course, OGC will have strategic and tactical goals every year and results will be measured against those goals. Measurements such as diplomatic reporting and public opinion research will be factors.