The All-Important Staffing Pattern
US Government International Media Information War Lost
By The Federalist
As it makes its way to understanding the running of the Federal Government, the Trump administration has taken several Executive Branch actions aimed at detailing the various agencies within its purview.
One of the ways this is done is to request the agencies to provide organizational charts showing how an agency is structured.
This is not good news for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG):
This is an agency in trouble.
- Its mission has imploded. It has no meaningful resonance with global publics now numbering around 7-BILLION people.
- It has built and solidified a reputation for being one of the worst agencies in the Federal Government.
- It has neither the interest nor the capacity for meaningful corrective action. For senior officials of this agency, all they know and all that they intend to protect is themselves.
- If any corrective action is to be taken, it has to originate from outside the agency.
With these characteristics, any inquiry from any quarter is viewed as a hostile act.
This leaves the agency to act out its three principal tactics:
How does this agency go about doing this?
The agency will go out of its way to avoid detailed examination.
It would present an organizational chart which notes the various general component parts. For example, the organizational chart the agency might provide boxes for the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia (RFA) etc.
Is this what the Trump administration wants or more importantly needs?
Only in part.
For this agency, you must have your hands on a companion organizational chart called a staffing pattern. What this allows is for the agency to be examined in detail:
- Every division and sub-section of the agency.
- Every employee, by name, grade/step and pay, title, classification and job series. You may also want to know and see how long a person has encumbered the position they are in.
From the details, one can then ask the probative questions examining what a person actually does in the agency and how relevant the position is to the agency’s mission.
For example, if someone has been doing little more than “coordinating” or other incongruous activities at the agency, you would legitimately want to know how that is relevant to the agency and its mission, especially if the person holds a high salary and a job title but does little meaningful work to justify either.
Why Is This Important?
This is not some kind of administrative exercise, particularly so with the BBG. This is an examination in a context – and the most important context is the agency’s record for being:
- “Regular Bottom Feeder” ; “Going Backward” Washington Post columnist Joe Davidson “Federal Insider,” The Washington Post, September 20, 2016.
- “Dysfunctional” (Heritage Foundation scholar Helle C. Dale)
- “Practically Defunct” (Hillary Clinton)
- “Broken” (US statesmen, diplomats, media experts and journalists interviewed by former BBG member S. Enders Wimbush and former Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty executive Elizabeth M. Portale)
- “Truly Rudderless” or Leaderless (Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce)
You look at the agency’s mission failure and put the organizational chart and staffing pattern up against it. You look at functional and operational capabilities and those supposedly in charge of them. You look for where the organization is administratively, operationally and otherwise efficient, successful or deficient (as would likely be the case with this agency given the record it has established).
When the agency has consistently been ranked at the bottom of the Federal employee surveys since they began many years ago, and you hear a refrain from agency officials about “baby steps” and “incremental approach,” you have a good idea of who and where your problems are.
As we have remarked often, we know these people very, very well. We know them and their tactics.
The agency periodically announces people in positions of “senior adviser” to the VOA director or the agency chief executive officer, “coordinator,” “special projects” organizer, “collaboration and coordination” specialist or “critical projects” manager. If you know the agency’s history, this is often a dead giveaway identifying someone who more than likely has had a pedestrian record with the agency, floating around from department to department and leaving a debris field wherever they go. They are the agency’s core group of “demolitions experts” as the consequence of their performance.
And they are being protected.
You also know to look for performance awards, especially cash awards associated with performance. You look at the amount ($10,000 for example) and then read the justifications to see if they match up with reality. Often, they don’t. But then if the award recipient has input into the written justification for the award, you shouldn’t be surprised.
And always remember:
This is one of the worst agencies in the Federal Government.
In essence, the net result is people being awarded for their role in the agency’s failures. It is. With this agency, presenting senior officials with awards is an insult to promoting efficiency in the Federal Service. It is a further insult to the American taxpayers and the Congress which funds this agency.
At the end of the day, what is critical is who the Trump administration talks to: individuals with the requisite knowledge of the agency and the people inside of it. Most importantly, this includes stakeholders outside the agency, particularly given the tendency of agency officials to perpetuate “the big lie” about the agency, its mission and its (lack of) impact.
Some of these people are more visible than others. They contribute op-ed pieces regarding the agency, perhaps their own experiences with it or observations about it.
Others choose to be less visible but are not less informed. While these individuals may lack visibility, they are known and have demonstrated their understanding of the agency and what is wrong with it. They are the hidden gems the administration needs to get on its meetings calendar: people who know how to do the digging, what to look for and get the thorough examination of this agency required in this circumstance. This will be critically important for whoever comes after John Lansing, the current agency chief executive officer and Amanda Bennett, the VOA director.
Any effort to save this agency from itself and determine IF it warrants a future at all makes these actions very necessary and appropriate.