‘Debilitating’ Voice of America digital system failure continues

BBG Watch Commentary

One week later, as of Friday, the digital DALET system crisis at the U.S. taxpayer-funded and U.S. government-run Voice of America (VOA) continues with ongoing apologies by a dysfunctional management for the “debilitating” situation. All of this is brought to you by the worst-managed agency in the federal government in terms of employee morale and employees’ assessment of senior leaders. The management failure has been well documented over the years in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys (FEVS). The 2018 FEVS is being conducted right now among Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). BBG CEO John F. Lansing has been in his job for over two years.

For the perspective of VOA employees, as reflected in this comment:

 

Whenever people try to bring issues up the “chain of command,” they are met with either indifference or hostility. No one tries any more because of the incredibly toxic environment created by VOA leaders. This is not new to Bennett [Voice of America (VOA) Director Amanda Bennett], but it has gotten worse under her rule.

 

SEE: Voice of America reporters blame BBG, VOA top brass for digital failures, BBG Watch, May 22, 2018

 

In Their Own Words

 

Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2018 5:22 PM
To: IBB Notices Administration
Subject: Update: System Outage: High-Resolution Video Storage Inaccessible

************************Progress Update************************

TSI’s Global Networks and Enterprise Platforms and Storage administrators are pursuing three avenues to restore high-resolution video storage functionality:

· The “packet capture” data provided to the Microsoft senior networking analyst and some additional work done with him in real time proved inconclusive. We will do additional testing on Friday with a known good device and provide additional data for analysis.
· We worked a third-party consultant, already onsite, who assisted us with troubleshooting the MediaGrid. We will pursue his suggested plan on Friday.
· Today (Thursday, May 24, 2018), the replacement NetAPP storage setup was completed and will be ready to hand over to DMD on Friday. The first step will be adding the storage to the Dalet Testbed for validation testing. We conducted a planning meeting with DMD this afternoon to discuss the cutover timeline. Some time is needed to enumerate all of the changes required to complete the reconfiguration. We will have a plan in place early next week.

Please be prepared to use emergency procedures in the studios for video playout.

We are very aware of the debilitating nature of the outage and want to assure the staff that we are working to restore services as quickly as possible.

Again, please accept our apologies for the disruption of service.

Please contact the Help Desk at []@bbg.gov or X7200 if you require further assistance.

Larry G. Rubendall
Deputy for Information Technology

 
END OF BBG E-MAIL

 
 
 

Looking on the Bright Side

 

In Their Own Words

 

VOA DIRECTOR AMANDA BENNETT

 

Date: Wed, May 23, 2018 1:00 PM

Subject: Grid Outage

To the hard-working team at VOA,

I have been so very impressed with the VOA team’s response in dealing with the catastrophic failure of the TSI media grid for the past five days. Language service personnel, VOA production and studio technicians, archivists, editors, master control personnel, broadcast maintenance staff, and members of the VOA digital team have worked together to make things work. In a minority of instances, we lost content. But the vast majority of television services continued to put out first-class products, albeit with improvised tools and workarounds (“sneaker net” video backups, shared and repurposed graphics, and live guests in studios and remote locations). We truly appreciate the extra effort VOA staff and contractors are making to keep VOA programs on the air despite the severe technical challenge.

TSI, which manages the grid, has been extremely good about communicating to us about their efforts to resolve this problem, and we all appreciate the regular updates.

I am told that this technical failure is likely to keep the Media Grid out of service for several more days. TSI will keep us posted.

Amanda
 
END OF VOA DIRECTOR AMANDA BENNETT’S E-MAIL

 
 
 

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