U.S. Objectives Generally Achieved at Broadcasting Satellite International Conference--Improvements Can Help in Future Conferences

RCED-84-157: Published: Aug 2, 1984. Publicly Released: Aug 2, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the conference results and coordination among U.S. participants at the 1983 Regional Administrative Radio Conference held by the International Telecommunications Union.

GAO found that the United States achieved two of its major objectives by convincing other nations to support: (1) a broadcasting satellite service plan with significant flexibility in technical standards and procedures; and (2) a plan which assigns specific orbit slots and frequencies to each nation. The United States was not successful in reaching agreement with the other nations on a desired higher maximum signal power level for the broadcasting satellites. However, the United States was able to adequately protect most of its interests at the conference because of the quality of technical preparations, the availability of computer analysis during the conference, and the competence of the U.S. delegation, although the delegation could have been aided by more and earlier State Department advance work to anticipate the political positions of other nations and help negotiate their support for U.S. views. Furthermore, a lack of State Department attention to conference administrative matters resulted in required conflict-of-interest reviews of private-sector delegates not being made before the conference. In addition, poor coordination within the Department caused by uncertainty about authority resulted in confusion for the delegation leadership throughout the conference. Effective coordination was hampered by the lack of interagency and intra-agency understanding of the coordinator's role.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should improve the coordination of its participation in international telecommunications conferences and assure that delegations have the benefit of Department advice and involvement by: (1) more clearly defining and delineating the authority and responsibilities of the Office of the Coordinator for International Communication and Information Policy; and (2) involving Department political experts early in conference preparations and as delegation members in order to negotiate and anticipate support for U.S. positions.

    Agency Affected: Department of State


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