International Broadcasting Bureau – Information War: Lost and Dead – A New Level of Dysfunctional and Defunct – Part Two
By The Federalist
Connect The Dots. Always Connect The Dots.
The International Broadcasting Bureau’s (IBB) so-called “strategic plan” has been exposed for being neither “strategic” nor a “plan.” That is bad news for people who have gotten behind the “plan” in a big way: created it, advocated it, tried to protect and nurture it, asked Congress for MILLIONS of American taxpayer dollars to keep it alive, tried extending it into “five year plans” when things were going off the rails, attempting to obscure the failures.
Remember too that some of the people involved were routinely receiving annual cash awards, sometimes as much as $10,000 for “oustanding performance” in support of the failed plan until about the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then still an ex officio member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), called their plan, approach to connecting with international audiences and their work “defunct.”
That’s part of what’s going on here.
At ground level, the contractor/employee issue — alleged use by IBB officials of hundreds of unauthorized personal services contracts in violation of the federal Anti-Deficiency Act, as reported by BBG Watch — represents the day-to-day failure of the “strategic plan.” As we have noted, there are regulations concerning the hiring of contractors. There are strict limits placed on the number of contractors IBB can use and the purpose behind their hiring. A federal agency may be authorized to have a few dozen personal services contracts. IBB officials are alleged to have initiated hundreds of such personal services contracts above their authorized quota.
Many times, contractors are supposed to fill a temporary need, not work that would otherwise be defined as full-time and/or permanent subject to the relatively continuous supervision and control of a Government officer or employee, which is the case with hundreds of IBB/VOA contract employees.
BBG Watch has pointed out that creating an employer/employee relationship under a service contract without authorization from Congress, while also denying contract employees benefits and protections of continuous full-time employment, is an alleged violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act and other federal laws and regulations. Contract employees who for years have been exploited under this unauthorized arrangement may have legal claims against the agency, BBG Watch reported. The Anti-Deficiency Act prohibits employing personal services not authorized by law, except in cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property. 31 U.S.C. § 1342.
According to BBG Watch investigative reports, under the umbrella of their “strategic plan,” IBB and Voice of America (VOA) officials are alleged to have been violating this law on a massive scale for many years with impunity. The Office of the Inspector General and the IRS are finally focusing on these practices, BBG Watch is reporting and promises more investigative reports on this issue soon.
We know that many of the contractors hired by the agency are in the area of the agency’s failed television effort. Television is the most expensive of media in terms of production costs, personnel and delivery systems. In so many words, the television effort by agency officials has sucked the life out of the agency as a whole. It explains posting dozens of semi-news VOA reports in English, some with videos, (hundreds if translations by VOA language services are also counted) on the British royal family, Justin Bieber and Amanda Knox, while comments from President Obama on Ukraine, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry, Senators Menendez, McCain, Murphy and others don’t get a separate VOA report or video for worldwide audiences. Veteran VOA journalists are protesting, but to no avail.
The failed strategic plan diverted attention from news reporting to fluff journalism and has left the agency under-staffed and under-resourced. Even with an excessive number of contractors, it is evident that the agency cannot accomplish its core tasks.
(Breaking News: sources report that the agency is planning another round of cuts in personnel to its language services and the VOA Central Newsroom in FY2014.)
The impact of the agency’s programs is steadily diminishing.
The agency’s budget is flat-lining.
Perhaps there are people in Congress who realize that throwing more money at an agency that is dysfunctional and defunct is not in the national or public interest.
They would be entirely correct.
This agency is on life support and little else, while other credible international broadcasters are ramping up their operations to fill the void created by the IBB rogue bureaucracy.
When you expand your focus and field of vision, the failed agenda of the IBB is exposed.
We have said this before and it bears repeating: the IBB is a rogue entity. It matters not how individuals are shuffled around, repackaged or re-titled. If they are still in the Cohen Building, they are conducting business as usual and working to undermine any necessary remedial action to somehow save the agency and its mission.
And let us be clear: if you are a member of the current BBG, learn from those who have gone before you – the IBB will use any method or means to run you out of your appointment. These IBB people appear to get some kind of perverted thrill out of destroying people with much more substantial resumes and records of public service than their own. This includes BBG members.
Defunct means dead.
You may have noticed recent BBG press releases full of praise for various IBB officials. They were drafted by these officials or their staffers and presented for approval to BBG Chairman and members. But as much as senior agency officials wish the “defunct” label away, they can’t. It sticks. And it will stay that way unless BBG Board and/or Congress intervene. IBB executives may also try to deny responsibility and punish lower-level managers and employees. Even if some IBB executives will go down, they will try to bring Board members down with them.
What used to be US Government international broadcasting, particularly with regard to the VOA under the thumb of the bankrupt “strategic plan” has now become nothing more than a game being played inside the Cohen Building. Part of the game is to put out press releases to make the new Chairman and new members appear to be behind IBB officials whose actions may soon be exposed by the Office of the Inspector General.