We hear that a certain member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has been bellowing about BBG Watch, its contributors and people commenting on the posts to the site as “cowards.” We have a good idea who this is: someone on the board who may be something of a loose cannon and easily manipulated by the bonus-men among the senior staff.
If we’re going to be throwing around the “cowards” label, let’s consider a different point of view. Perhaps a good place to start might be with the Board itself. The BBG has abandoned much of its authority to step in and deal with a host of problems exacerbated by the bonus-men. One starting point would be in dealing with the managers responsible for perpetuating a hostile work environment as reflected in the results of every Federal employee workforce survey since the very beginning: at or near the bottom of the rankings and dead last in the category of “leadership.” As a group, what has the Board done?
No, let’s correct that. They have approved the outrageous bonuses to members of the senior staff up to $10,000. There you have it: the Board is rewarding the senior staff for making the agency what it is:
“The worst organization in the Federal Government.”
And it’s getting worse by the hour.
The Board has facilitated and enabled conduct that makes this agency a rogue operation in the Federal Government, rewarding self-promoters and presiding over a failed mission. Remember what Secretary of State Clinton said:
“We are losing the information war.”
At this juncture, that war is lost. It will remain so as long as the BBG supports and defends the people responsible for a “flim flam strategic plan” and supporting that plan, in part, through a toxic work environment.
We read a comment posted to one of the BBG Watch commentaries about the employees being at war with the BBG but some being afraid to speak up in public. One RFE/RL journalist wrote that he was a coward and felt ashamed.
On the other side, we have the career opportunists of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB). That’s where the real fight is because they lead the do-nothing board around by the nose. There is nothing to be ashamed of in being engaged in this fight. The situation requires it.
The employees of the agency are the last line of defense against waste, fraud and abuse. They are the last line of defense on behalf of the American taxpayer and the national and public interest. Do not believe for one moment that the people on the Third Floor of the Cohen Building are concerned with any of these things. They are not.
And remember too that Federal employees have the right to go to Congress for redress of the situation. You can demonstrate how the agency’s mission is not being met. You can talk about how the actions and behavior of senior officials are undermining the mission. You can talk about the alleged “strategic plan” and how it takes the agency out of the business of international broadcasting and diminishes the ability of the agency to reach the maximum audience possible across all population segments.
In short, you have a lot to talk about. So keep talking and keep sourcing information to BBG Watch. This site will do its share of the heavy lifting so that you don’t have to expose yourselves to retaliation from the agency.
Other comments to BBG Watch liken the behavior of senior agency officials to that represented by authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. That’s right on target, too. On its face, there is not much that distinguishes these senior officials and their tactics from that which might be called Putin-like. The Russian Boss likes to harangue his opponents.
Think this an extreme characterization? Consider this:
Last year, at a public forum on US international broadcasting at the Heritage Foundation, three of the senior bonus-men of up to $10,000 got up and badgered an employee representative who was a participant in the panel. Their behavior was unprovoked. Their behavior was willful, deliberate and intentional. Their behavior was public. They made it clear that they were proud of who they are and what they were doing and what the record of the agency is. Their “performance” is memorialized in a video recording of the event and witnessed by everyone in the room.
Instead of elevating the discussion of the future direction of US international broadcasting, these characters decided to get down and mud wrestle the topic. What does this make them?
Let’s make it very clear to Members of Congress, the administration and the taxpaying public:
If US Government international broadcasting has any redeeming value left – and it isn’t much at this juncture – these people have to go. Otherwise, it’s a waste of taxpayer money. What the Congress and the administration need to do – and do it ASAP – is turn the BBG/IBB into an advisory group. They’ll still be around drawing salaries (an unavoidable waste of taxpayer money in this scenario), but they will be corralled, out of the picture and out of the way where they can’t do any more damage. You can put the lot of them out in office space at the Dulles Town Center. A place for them to fade away in deserved and earned obscurity.
And no more bonuses.
It’s time to turn the mission and the employees over to someone else, either over at State or DOD. The current operation with the cast of characters in charge is no longer useful or effective.
When someone wants to talk about cowards, the discussion begins with the BBG running away from its responsibilities, failing to confront senior managers (including the bullies who intimidate) with their disastrous record and unseemly behavior and failing to take effective remedial action on any issue of consequence to the agency’s mission and the treatment of its employees.
February 7, 2012