Clinton Announces Reorganization Plan, ACDA to Lose Independent Status

By Mendelsohn, Jack | Arms Control Today, April 1997 | Go to article overview

Clinton Announces Reorganization Plan, ACDA to Lose Independent Status


Mendelsohn, Jack, Arms Control Today


ON APRIL 18 the White House, through the vice president's office, announced that President Bill Clinton had approved a twoyear reorganization plan for the nation's foreign affairs agencies. In the words of a White House fact sheet, the plan is designed to bring "an end to bureaucracies originally designed for the Cold War."

Specifically, the plan calls for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) to be fully integrated into the State Department within one year, for the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) to be integrated over a two-year period, and for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to remain a distinct agency but under the "direct authority and foreign policy guidance" of the secretary of state. The overall reorganization of the foreign affairs agencies, of which ACDA's integration is only a small part, is to be undertaken by a group of eight task forces which will have approximately 60 days to complete their work.

The State Department had sought, since the beginning of the Clinton administration, to absorb ACDA, which was created in 1961 under President John F. Kennedy. Earlier efforts (in 1993-94) to eliminate the agency were rebuffed by a Democratic Congress. But a Republican-dominated Congress and the hostagetaking tactics of Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), who refused to take up the Chemical Weapons Convention until the adminstration had committed itself to reorganize the foreign affairs bureaucracy, resulted in the administration's April decision to disestablish ACDA and USIA.

The framework for ACDA's integration into the State Department was worked out in early 1997 between Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and ACDA Director John Holum and ultimately approved by the president. Holum, who admitted that "the thought of being ACDA's last director is painful," claims that he was "totally convinced that the president's decision will materially strengthen the arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament missions and the entire foreign affairs structure."

According to U.S. officials, the consolidation plan calls for ACDA and the current Political-Military Bureau in the Department of State to be combined and reorganized into two or three bureaus with responsibility for regional security (including arms transfers) and arms control and non-proliferation. All arms control responsibilities currently residing in other State Department bureaus (such as funding for some international agreements, which is handled in the International Organizations Bureau, and responsibility for the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty negotiations, which is currently lodged in the European Bureau) are to be transferred to these new bureaus. …

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Clinton Announces Reorganization Plan, ACDA to Lose Independent Status
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