BBG employee union calls for change in senior management to counter declining staff morale

BBG Watch Commentary

BBG WatchIn response to precipitous declines in employee morale and employee trust in senior leaders at the federal entities of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), as shown in the latest (2014) Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) conducted government-wide each year by the Office of Personnel Management, AFGE Local 1812 union representing BBG employees has called “for change at the senior management levels.”

“The managers who brought this Agency [Broadcasting Board of Governors] to the sorry state it is are NOT the managers who can be trusted to direct it out of the ongoing morass,” AFGE Local 1812 employee union said in an editorial published on its official website.

In an anonymous op-ed posted on the BBG Watch website, a Voice of America (VOA) journalist also called for resignations of senior managers to make VOA effective as it used to be.

According to OPM surveys, BBG’s federal entities — International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), Voice of America, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) — have been at the bottom of all federal agencies in employee morale and employee confidence in senior leadership and management. This years results have shown large declines across the board.

The BBG’s non-federal entities are not surveyed by OPM and are believed to be better managed.

Also not surveyed are hundreds of full-time contract employees improperly hired by federal executives, mostly at the Voice of America, which the Office of Inspector General determined to be a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act and other federal government contracting regulations. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) called it a violations of tax laws. These contract employees are poorly compensated and denied benefits and protections of federal employment. Their morale is believed to be even lower than among full-time permanent federal government staff employees.

The management’s response to improve employee morale with Bingo Nights and Ice Cream Socials was met with derision from employees and their union who saw it as an attempt to avoid implementing real reforms.

As reported earlier this year by Joe Davidson (February 2014) in The Washington Post, since 2007, the BBG has been at or near the bottom in the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” ratings, issued by the Partnership for Public Service using FEVS data.

A senior VOA official had said that it may take from three to five years to improve employee morale, but OPM’s 2014 FEVS results have shown declines in 70 out of 72 employee morale and management skills categories, some of them substantial.

There was a 6.22% decline between 2013 and 2014 in positive responses to the statement: “I have a high level of respect for my organization’s senior leaders.”

As reported earlier this year by Joe Davidson (February 2014) in The Washington Post, since 2007, the BBG has been at or near the bottom in the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” ratings, issued by the Partnership for Public Service using FEVS data.

Voice of America executives may be trying to impress Andy Lack, a respected journalist and media executive named by the BBG board to become Chief Executive Officer of the federal agency, but their efforts are actually producing negative results.

SEE: Voice of America promotes N. Korean press release-like VOA news report as exclusive, BBG Watch, Oct. 23, 2014.

SEE: Voice of America Management Call to VOA Journalists: Volunteer for Ebola Vaccine And Report on Your Experience, BBG Watch, Oct. 23, 2014.

Andy Lack has not yet taken up his post.

AFGE Local 1812

OPERATION PERSISTENT CHALLENGE

By American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812

The results of the BBG 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, better-known as the morale rankings, are out. Once again, employee morale at Voice of America (VOA) the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), all under the direction of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) places at, or near the bottom of the rankings in the category of medium-sized federal agencies. Certainly, nothing to brag about.

The survey, conducted annually by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), was filled out by 69% of the Agency staff employees, both management and rank-and-file – not contractors. If contractors did participate, the marks may have been even lower, that is, if OPM even had a ranking lower than bottom.

We invite you to examine the survey results, if you have not already done so. See it here: (http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/10/2014-FEVS-Agency-Results.pdf). Rather than waste too much time on details, suffice it to say that confidence in senior leaders’ policies and practices is not only extremely low but has seen a precipitous drop in its favorability ratings.

Although AFGE Local 1812 sincerely appreciates the efforts undertaken by a few senior managers to try to change the culture at the Agency since the beginning of the year, we also note that too many members of the old guard responsible for the dire employee morale in the Agency remain. For years, the Agency has been playing a bureaucratic game of musical chairs, recycling incompetent and some abusive managers into positions where they continue to damage the Agency. With the current devastating report card, time has run out to try and sugarcoat the survey’s results, promise to do better, and institute yet another fruitless engagement initiative.

For years, members of AFGE Local 1812, and even Executive Board members of the Local, have participated in one consultation after another with Agency higher-ups. Employees have been surveyed, surveyed, and surveyed again – to what end? Mere repeated confirmation of how poor management’s reputation has become? Among employees, this serves to debilitate morale and breed apathy. In so many meetings with management, Union representatives bring attention to the same issues over and over again, sometimes year after year after year, to be met with either nods of acknowledgement without subsequent change, or excuses. Years have elapsed and the situation in the Agency gets worse.

Language services are still operating as de-facto surrogate broadcasters, instead of as the Voice of America, true to its mission as enshrined in the VOA Charter. No longer the flagship of U.S. international broadcasting, VOA’s essential functions of broadcasting fair, accurate and comprehensive news and telling America’s story to the world have gone by the wayside. Workers performing virtually the same functions as federal employees are still being hired as contractors instead of being hired into the Federal Civil Service. The ability to telework is still being unreasonably denied to employees. There is a critical staff shortage throughout the broadcasting units. The Office of General Counsel – which should uphold the law – is still dragging its feet on the implementation of an arbitrator’s award regarding the illegal separation of OCB employees and, true to form, the Agency is still illegally denying U.S. citizens priority for positions in the Agency, as called for in the law.

To AFGE Local 1812, the critical part of the OPM Human Capital Survey is contained in the sections of individual belief and commitment to the mission by the surveyed employees where the scores remained very high, well over 90%. At the same time, the BBG saw significant decreases on survey questions connected with employee involvement in decision making, recognition, merit promotions and overall satisfaction with the leadership which the BBG prefers to call a ‘persistent challenge’ instead of what is – a failure. This can only mean one thing: whatever successes U.S. international broadcasters are able to attain, happen largely IN SPITE OF not BECAUSE OF its flawed management.

As it has done many times over the past several years, AFGE Local 1812 calls for change at the senior management levels and reminds all that will listen: the managers who brought this Agency to the sorry state it is are NOT the managers who can be trusted to direct it out of the ongoing morass.

###

Significant Declines in OPM 2014 Employee Survey for BBG Senior Leaders’ Skills and Agency Management (Federal Government Entities Only)

 
 

I recommend my organization as a good place to work. 6.36% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

In my organization, senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce. 2.89% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

My organization’s leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. 4.79% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

I have a high level of respect for my organization’s senior leaders. 6.22% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

How satisfied are you with your involvement in decisions that affect your work? 6.78% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

How satisfied are you with the information you receive from management on what’s going on in your organization? 2.27% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

How satisfied are you with the recognition you receive for doing a good job? 5.96% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

How satisfied are you with the policies and practices of your senior leaders? 3.9% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your job? 5.16% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

I have sufficient resources (for example, people, materials, budget) to get my job done. 2014 Percent Positive: 29.60%. 2013 Percent Positive: 35.12% 5.52% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

Promotions in my work are based on merit. 2014 Percent Positive: 28.15%. 2013 Percent Positive: 28.52% 0.37% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

Creativity and innovation are rewarded. 2014 Percent Positive: 28.47%. 2013 Percent Positive: 30.11% 1.64% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

In my work unit, steps are taken yo deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve. 2014 Percent Positive: 23.85%. 2013 Percent Positive: 25.28% 1.43% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

I can disclose a suspected violation of any law, rule or regulation without fear of reprisal. 2014 Percent Positive: 45.20%. 2013 Percent Positive: 46.69% 1.49% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

Pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs. 2014 Percent Positive: 14.61%. 2013 Percent Positive: 15.38% 0.77% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

 
 

BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS

2013 AND 2014 FEDERAL EMPLOYEE VIEWPOINT SURVEY RESULTS COMPARED

 
 

Recommend Organization As A Good Place to Work

2013

I recommend my organization as a good place to work. Percent Positive 2013 - 46.42%

 2014

I recommend my organization as a good place to work. Percent Positive 2014 - 40.06%

 

6.36% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

Commitment Of Senior Leaders To Workforce

 

2013

In my organization, senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce. Percent Positive 2013 - 32.36%

 2014

In my organization, senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce. Percent Positive 2014 - 29.47%

2.89% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

 

High Standards Of Honesty And Integrity By Organization’s Leaders

2013

My organization's leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Percent Positive 2013 - 41.79%

 2014

My organization's senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Percent Positive 2014 - 37.00%

4.79% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

 

Respect for Senior Leaders

2013

I have a high level of respect for my organization's senior leaders. Percent Positive 2013 - 45.75%

 2014

I have a high level of respect for my organization's senior leaders. Percent Positive 2014 - 39.53%

6.22% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

 

Employee Involvement

2013

How satisfied are you with your involvement in decisions that affect your work? Percent Positive 2013 - 45.41%

 2014

How satisfied are you with your involvement in decisions that affect your work? Percent Positive 2014 - 38.63%

6.78% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

 

Information Sharing By Management

2013

How satisfied are you with the information you receive from management on what's going on in your organization? Percent Positive 2013 - 38.99%

 2014

How satisfied are you with the information you receive from management on what's going on in your organization? Percent Positive 2014 - 36.72%

2.27% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

 

Management Recognition of Employee Achievement

2013

How satisfied are you with the recognition you receive for doing a good job? Percent Positive 2013 - 41.77%

 2014

How satisfied are you with the recognition you receive for doing a good job? Percent Positive 2014 - 35.81%

5.96% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

 

Employee Satisfaction With Policies and Practices of Senior Leaders

2013

How satisfied are you with the policies and practices of your senior leaders? Percent Positive 2013 - 32.81%

 2014

How satisfied are you with the policies and practices of your senior leaders? Percent Positive 2014 - 28.91%

3.9% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

 

Employee Job Satisfaction

2013

Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your job? Percent Positive 2013 - 64.31%

 2014

Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your job? Percent Positive 2014 - 59.15%

5.16% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

 

Employee Satisfaction With Organization

2013

Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your organization? Percent Positive 2013 - 47.30%

 2014

Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your organization? Percent Positive 2014 - 42.23%

5.07% Decline Between 2013 and 2014

 
 
 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail