Broadcasting Board of Governors – Information War Lost: Dysfunctional and Defunct, Same As It Ever Was
By The Federalist
We have borrowed a refrain from a Talking Heads song, “Once in a Lifetime” (with that fine, compact, thumping bass line played by Tina Weymouth). Read on and you will see why.
On Thursday, March 21, 2013 the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) held a so-called “town hall meeting” for agency employees in the Cohen Building auditorium.
[“Town hall meeting” is something of an oxymoron when it involves the IBB – anything involving the IBB. It is not a town hall atmosphere. It’s more like a high school assembly. More often than not, the IBB uses these assemblies to announce bad news – for the employees.]
They didn’t disappoint us.
In this assembly, the IBB announced the results of a collaboration with the Partnership for Public Service.
In short, the latest outrage perpetrated by the IBB bureaucracy is a series of so-called “action plans.” These “action plans” are exactly as described, actions to perpetuate the status quo of the notorious cabal of defiant and insubordinate IBB officials intent upon undermining any effort to expose them for what they are or to acknowledge their role in creating “the worst organization in the Federal Government.”
Our sources provided us with a list of the “action items.” They include:
• Internal communication
• Management skills
• Performance management
• Integrating strategic plan
• Operating Procedures
• Develop contractor strategy
• Performance based rewards and achievement
• Internal employee development program
• Create process for cross-training
• Family friendly culture and benefits
• BBG health and wellness
• Agency pride
There are names attached to each one of these categories. They are people known to us. Not all, but many of these individuals have negative connotations attached to them and are seen as part of the problem, not part of the solution concerning the agency’s hostile work environment. They also include individuals who have created and perpetuated the “flim flam Soviet-style dysfunctional and defunct strategic plan.”
Should any employee, career or contractor harbor any modicum of faith in most of these individuals or the processes they are tasked with?
Only if you believe in the tooth fairy.
Most – not all – have demonstrated that they have no leadership skills of merit. At least two of them publicly bullied an agency employee in a public event outside the confines of the Cohen Building. Another one tried to get an independent American journalist thrown out of the UN by attempting to get his press accreditation revoked. It does not get worst than that.
They are all known to us by reputation and in some cases observations unbeknown to them.
With this experience, we can lay it on the line: they have no requisite leadership skills. Most appear to be selected on the basis of being card-carrying acolytes of the IBB status quo.
In short, whatever the Partnership for Public Service had hoped to achieve in dealing with the IBB (and the problems it has created) has been corrupted and undermined – intentionally from our perspective – by the IBB bureaucracy.
And if you are the Partnership for Public Service, you look incredibly foolish and naive – sucked into the vortex of IBB perfidy and duplicity, appearing duped into conducting an exercise manipulated in such a fashion that results in no material effect on “the worst organization in the Federal Government, the worst place to work in the Federal Government.”
And here is another lesson to be learned:
When it comes to the IBB: never assume. For the Partnership for Public Service: never assume that the IBB senior staff believes in the national interest, the public interest or in good governance. They are hardcore bad. Period.
In short, the Partnership for Public Service “intervention” did not make things better. It made them worse in the most notorious hostile work environments in the Federal Government – all orchestrated and directed by the senior IBB executives. The systemic, IBB-directed anti-employee agenda continues.
On its face, the people from the Partnership for Public Service lost sight of a core tenet: in order to make things better, you have to want to make things better. This is, was and never will be a goal of the IBB leadership. These principles are inconsistent with their actions. The intended outcome was what you would expect from the IBB senior management: co-opt the process and preserve the status quo.
One other thing:
We know these IBB types very, very well. With that in mind, it is our view that the IBB senior staff was very much aware of its intended outcome before going into its contract with the Partnership for Public Service. That would fit the pattern of how IBB top executives operate: know the intended results it wants beforehand and neutralize anything contrary to those results.
Since this intervention required a contract with the Partnership for Public Service we, the American taxpayers, have been ripped off again by the scurrilous agenda of the IBB directorate.
This agenda continues to be what it has been: self-aggrandizement, deceit, obstruction, perpetuation of a hostile work environment, destruction of US Government strategic international broadcasting.
All of this ensures what we already know – a failed bureau with a failed mission.
It is suspect and dubious as to what the individuals tasked with these “action items” will do other than heap accolades on the IBB hierarchy and blame the agency’s problems on others. We already know that tactic – as in the recent State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) report.
Same as it ever was.
We would be less harsh in our criticism of these individuals if we believed there was some reasonable expectation that their performance and conduct were capable of rehabilitation.
They are not.
Here Is Something for the BBG to Do
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) knows all about these IBB types, too.
They are not our friends. They are not your friends. They do not rise to the level of “colleagues.”
We once compared these IBB characters to North Korean generals.
Nothing has changed.
You keep your eyes on them at all times.
With that in mind –
As in dealing with the North Koreans, what the BBG needs to do is engage in a form of “sanctions.” In other words,
Reject the list of people assigned to these “action plans.”
The Board should be well aware of what the IBB agenda is here: anything and everything to “legitimize” and perpetuate their actions. Strip the IBB of making the determination of “action plan” assignments and more importantly, intended IBB outcomes.
If possible, the Board should follow this up with putting together its own advisory group – preferably of people who do not encumber senior management positions in the agency, including advisors from outside the agency: media freedom journalists, human rights lawyers, human rights activists.
This advisory group should report directly to the Board – not Richard Lobo, not Jeffrey Trimble, not Bruce Sherman, etc.
[You (the BBG) owe it to the agency’s employees to do this. You owe it to the American taxpayer to do this, especially those of us who know how we are being ripped off by these bureaucrats of the IBB.]
BBG Watch is reporting on efforts by Kevin Klose to salvage the demolitions project visited upon Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). If these efforts are a true reflection of Mr. Klose’s “action plan,” the same thing needs to be done in the Cohen Building. Delegable authority needs to be taken away from discredited managers given to someone who can reform the agency.
We are on record as calling for the agency to be completely reformed or closed. We have not altered that position and this latest outrage by the IBB bureaucracy reinforces that view.
Just As You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse
IBB’s senior leadership has shown once again their true nature with their new pathetic attempt to avoid taking responsibility for inviting as a Diversity Day speaker an individual who openly mocked with racially-charged comments former Secretary of State and former Broadcasting Board of Governors member Hillary Clinton. We were told IBB Director and IBB Deputy Director were not at fault. They did not know about it. Why didn’t they? Did they inform Board members? How many days did it take them to resolve the problem once they found out about it? As of yesterday, they said that they still did not know whether the speaker received the disinvitation and whether he would have to be paid an honorarium. Is this a well-managed agency?
What we are doing is calling out the Board to prove us wrong: demonstrate leadership and reject the IBB agenda and the individuals responsible for undermining the agency and its mission.
You know what needs to be done.