The United States Information Agency (USIA), which existed from 1953 to 1999, was a United States agency devoted to what it called "public diplomacy." The term public diplomacy (q.v.) is closely related to the word "propaganda," possibly synonymous with it depending on how the latter word is defined.


USIA's mission was to understand, inform and influence foreign publics in promotion of the national interest, and to broaden the dialogue between Americans and U.S. institutions and their counterparts abroad.

USIA's goals were:

  • Increased understanding and acceptance of U.S. policies and U.S. society by foreign audiences.
  • Broadened dialogue between Americans and U.S. institutions and their counterparts overseas.
  • Increased U.S. Government knowledge and understanding of foreign attitudes and their implications for U.S. foreign policy.

USIA was established in August 1953 and operated under that name until April 1978, when its functions were consolidated with those of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State. Following a brief period during the Carter administration when it was called the International Communications Agency (USICA), the agency's name was restored to USIA in August 1982. The agency was known as United States Information Service (USIS) overseas but could not use that abbreviation to avoid confusion with the United States Immigration Service.

The Foreign Affairs and Restructuring Act abolished the U.S. Information Agency effective October 1, 1999.

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