About the Commission

ACPD Charter

Today’s global news media and communications environment is remarkable for its speed and diversity. Until 1999, a single government agency was responsible for facilitating awareness about and shaping international public perception of the U.S. to a variety of international audiences. Today, this work is a whole-of-government affair and carried out by several agencies. There is significant opportunity for representatives of the United States, regardless of their department or agency, to improve global knowledge and understanding of our values, policies, and actions.

Since 1948, the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD) has been charged with appraising activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics and to increase the understanding of, and support for, these same activities. The ACPD conducts research that provides honest assessments of public diplomacy efforts, and disseminates findings through white papers, reports, and other publications. It also holds public symposiums that generate informed discussions on public diplomacy issues and events.

The ACPD reports to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress. Currently, the office of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs supports it.

The ACPD was originally established as the U.S. Advisory Commission on Information under Section 604 of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, commonly known as the Smith-Mundt Act, as amended (22 U.S.C. 1469). In 1977, this Commission was merged with its sister Commission, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Educational Exchanges, and became the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

The ACPD’s seven Members are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. They have been selected from a cross-section of professional backgrounds and serve three-year terms, although they can be reappointed. It is a bipartisan body; not more than four members are to be from any one political party. The ACPD’s Executive Director oversees daily operations and works actively with the executive, legislature, NGO community, businesses, and academia to produce critical and constructive thought on how to improve the government’s public diplomacy processes and activities worldwide.

Since 1948, the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD) has been charged with appraising U.S. Government activities intended to understand, inform and influence foreign publics and to increase the understanding of, and support for, these same activities. The ACPD conducts research and symposiums that provide honest assessments and informed discourse on public diplomacy efforts across government. It reports to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress. Currently, the office of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs supports it.

ACPD serves as a convener for the variety of practitioners throughout the U.S. government who work to communicate and build relationships with foreign audiences, in addition to the researchers, practitioners and thought leaders outside of the government who can help us rethink the future of public diplomacy. Its primary product is the Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting Activities, which breaks down roughly $2.0 billion of programs worldwide. The Commission also published Can Public Diplomacy Survive the Internet: Bots, Echo Chambers, and Disinformation, highlighting the various ways communication technologies are changing the practice of diplomacy, and suggesting several paths for success moving forward.

Informing and building relationships with critical foreign audiences for U.S. foreign policy requires commitment and patience, and the strategic investment of limited resources (PD and international broadcasting activities make up 0.17 percent of the federal discretionary budget) to inform, engage and influence foreign publics. In order to support these efforts, ACPD has paid acute attention to how the State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) conducts research for and evaluation of its activities; the professional development of PD personnel; the openness and accessibility of American Spaces platforms and the ability of officers to engage foreign publics in high threat environments; and other long-term strategic planning issues for PD, like the urbanization and fragmentation of key audiences for U.S. foreign policy.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future