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Explaining the program to the public
Creation of an Internal Information Net
The legal message
The effective message
Targeting of particular groups
salaries, dividend rollbacks
General policies, specific answers
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1154 1155 1156 1156 1157
II. Public Information During Phase II ..
Change in the message: Effects on dissemination
the media ....
Problems with garnering public support
Public information at the Pay Board
Responding to public inquiries
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1168 .. 1168
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III. Public Communications During Phase III, Freeze II,
Phase IV: Communications in a Changing Program. 1179
1180 Freeze II
1182 Phase IV
1182 Reaching the public
1183 Media relations-access strategy
1183 Public contact
1185 The general public
1185 Business ..
1189 The developed information program
1190 Freeze II
1190 Phase IV
1192 Public education
The General Public
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1199 1199 1202 1203
The Internal Revenue Service
of Program Changes
Introduction This monograph describes the flow of information from the Economic Stabilization Program to the public. While discussing the efforts of the various public affairs offices forms a substantial part of the presentation, the focus of this essay is broader than public affairs and includes the dissemination of regulations and policies by the whole Stabilization Program to the regulated public. The major topic divisions follow changes in the organizational structure of the agencies rather than closely tracking each phase of the Program.
Synopsis Phase I
The immediate public information requirements of the Economic Stabilization Program were to make the public and regulated sectors aware of the existence and mechanics of the Freeze and to create public attitudes toward the program which would foster public acceptance and compliance.
In order to meet the burden of getting the message out, the Economic Stabilization Agencies created an information net which linked together the Cost of Living Council, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Internal Revenue Service, and the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. This network was designed to provide the capability to transmit written messages among the several agencies and to provide computer records and data on the Stabilization Program. This network took time to put together, and there was much confusion and uneveness in coverage before it began to operate efficiently.
Legal notice of the existence of the Freeze was provided by Executive Order #11615 and the rules promulgated in the Federal Register. However, the effective message of the existence and details of the Freeze was carried to the regulated businesses by press releases which received wide media coverage, public speaking programs, television interviews, radio actualities, letter correspondence, publications, and, importantly, national and field network responses to telephone, personal, and written inquiries.
Voluntary compliance was viewed as critical to the success of the Freeze, and public acceptance was carefully cultivated. Letters were sent to major corporations asking for their compliance. Signs were posted in all places of business to announce the Freeze and the availability of ceiling price lists. Trade associations were used as conduits to channel specific information to smaller businesses.
At times public information was used as the sole instrument for obtaining compliance with Stabilization Program policies. Financial institutions were asked to restrain interest rates. Corporations were requested to hold down dividends, and those which failed to do so were forced into compliance by the sheer weight of notoriety.
The central concept of the Phase I Public Communications effort was to keep the message as simple as possible, and then answer questions or articulate details where problems of interpretation arose. This strategy required a responsive information system at both the national and local levels. The primary method for dealing with the volume of information requests was the telephone answering services in the field network and the National Operations Center. The response approach was carried over into the Question and Answer format of the Economic Stabilization Program news releases; thus the primary method for articulating policy was the narrowly detailed response to specific questions supplied by the public.
The history of public information during Phase II can be described as the movement from a reactive mode, described by one staffer as “adhoc-racy," to a relatively systematized, controlled response. This "institutionalization" was a function of both agency and policy maturation.
In the beginning of Phase II, as the policy and the agency were coming into being, an informal means of dealing with the information needs of business and the press was satisfactory since policy was still general. Informing the press commanded most of the Public Affairs Offices' (PAO) time, but the regulations were so simple that regulatees could be adequately informed through ad hoc methods. But as the rules and regulations complicated, staffers, fearing legal repercussions became increasingly unwilling or unable to offer definitive responses to business queries. The increasing intricacy of the policy increased the need for precision in information dissemination. Eventually, the policy bogged down in its own complexity and information dissemination consequently came to a near standstill, with regulatees complaining of "stall tactics."
As the policy matured, the information needs of the different audiences changed. Initially, business, the public (i.e., the press) and the Congress were given much the same information. Most of the information about the Program was disseminated to the various audiences by the press. Gradually, as the audiences' needs changed, specialized channels were devised to deal with their particular requirements. For example, at the Pay Board, initially the Public Affairs Office was the central conduit of PB information; over a three-month period two offices were spun off to deal with Congress (a Congressional Affairs Office) and regulatees (an Information Center).
The initial response to the information demands of the Program's audiences was affected by the conditions under which the