BBG Watch passes 3.5 million hits mark

BBG Watch Commentary

BBG Watch

We were short-staffed and busy recently with posting a number of new stories and commentaries from our volunteers to be able to report promptly that the BBG Watch website had passed the 3.5 million hits mark several days ago. We want to thank our readers, supporters and volunteers for their commitment to our watch dog website.

Because of you, at least some broadcasts and other media outreach programs to countries without free press were saved and at least some BBG journalists kept or regained their jobs. But the management is still prolonging the suffering of illegally RIFed OCB broadcasters despite legal orders to return them to work immediately and there has been no concrete action taken by IBB and OCB leaders since Broadcasting Board of Governors chairman Jeff Shell had told them in July not to take any further legal action and resolve the case. Again, on the positive side, important OIG investigations and audits were launched to reveal other illegal management practices, the unrelenting growth of the BBG’s federal bureaucracy was at least partially checked, and some modest management reforms were initiated by the BBG board, which has finally chosen respected journalist and media executive Andy Lack to lead the agency as its first CEO. (He has not yet taken up his position.)

But appalling management practices still continue in the federal part of the agency. Voice of America programs are still being cancelled without foreign audiences being alerted and VOA broadcasters being consulted and notified in advance. VOA posts a three-day-old news report from Reuters criticizing U.S. foreign policy without quoting any U.S. officials. The outdated report even came with a photo showing Russia’s RT mike with a large green logo. A senior VOA leader told the staff a few days later that VOA has never been in a better shape. Thousands of social media shares for almost any RT news as opposed to less than ten for a Reuters report on the VOA site and barely a dozen or two for most VOA news reports these days tell the real story. Senior leaders still refuse to take any responsibility for their lack of leadership and embarrassing news reporting and website errors, leaving it to lower-level managers to admit mistakes during this week’s VOA newsroom staff meeting. This is not fair and not how it ought to be.

The initial Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) results from the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) show further declines in employee morale and increases in negative employee perceptions of the agency’s leadership. The management’s response, instead of resignations of senior leaders and far-reaching reforms, are Ice Cream Socials for employees. Out of 72 major FEVS questions, the federal agency’s employee satisfaction and management scores declined in 70 categories in the 2014 survey, except for two questions in which employees rated their own dedication to the job and the job’s importance. The workforce is highly dedicated and believes in the mission. It is also highly disappointed and frustrated with the agency’s senior leaders. VOA journalists do not share the blame for the failure of leadership and the decline of VOA central news reporting.

Let’s hope that by the time BBG Watch reaches its 4 million hits mark, some real management reforms will be carried out. Let’s hope that VOA will regain its status as America’s first news outlet for international audiences rather than being a provider of pre-censored feature programs without news in the hope of getting placement on state networks in countries ruled by repressive regimes, such as China and Vietnam, or in countries that already have free media, while hundreds of millions of poor and oppressed people who want real news from America are being ignored.

But in another possible victory for BBG Watch’s investigative journalism and for the VOA Charter, the IBB interim management team may have stopped or at least slowed down VOA executives’ push to place a self-censored, non-news program on the communist state radio network in Vietnam while independent Vietnamese journalists who dared to report on official corruption still languish in prison.

A lot more needs to be done.

Current and former VOA journalists contributed material for this BBG Watch commentary.

 
 

BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS

FEDERAL EMPLOYEE VIEWPOINT SURVEY RESULTS

 
 

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

 
 
 

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