BBG Watch Commentary

AFGE Local 1812Two recent articles posted on the website of the Broadcasting Board of Governors’s (BBG) employee union, AFGE Local 1812, pointedly describe the management  crisis and its causes at the federal agency in charge of U.S. international broadcasting. The first article, re-posted here, is titled “Bloated Bureaucracy,” and is based on investigative reporting by BBG Watch.

The AFGE Local 1812 article shows how the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) has expanded its executive and bureaucratic ranks while eliminating news programs and language services.

The second article, titled “A New Campaign of Truth,” shows how IBB management is failing in its mission to deliver news from the United States and from countries without free media to international audiences.


by American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE 1812

Over the past six years, the Agency has eliminated a number of language services and dozens of positions in the Central Newsroom and English Division. It has cut the number of correspondents in the United States and abroad to the point where the VOA web site has to be padded with large numbers of Reuters stories, while language services are abandoned to their own devices and have to search for news items the newsroom no longer issues. All that means is that there is little control over VOA content and, we are told, a worrisome resort to a copy and paste news product.

Recently, in an article titled “Growth of International Broadcasting Bureau – IBB Staff – FY 07-14”, BBG Watch posted a table showing the growth in parts of the bureaucracy under the BBG (the table is shown below). The table illustrates how the BBG/IBB bureaucracy has grown. For AFGE Local 1812 which represents rank-and-file employees in the Agency, it’s hard to understand why, if the number of language services and broadcasters has been steadily going down, that Human Resources had to increase its staff from 30 to 40 in only six years.

Of course, it’s understandable why the Contracting Procurement office has doubled in size since apparently it is Agency policy to replace staff employees who have benefits and protections with contractors who have no rights and can be fired at will.

However, why does the External Affairs office need 12 staffers rather than seven? What is the tremendous workload? And, why is it that the CFO’s office has added 17 people? Another jump: the General Counsel’s office which has gone from 6 to 15 positions. This may be due to the Agency’s habit of refusing to settle grievances inside the Agency at the lowest possible level and going to arbitration and beyond even in cases where they are obviously wrong. So the Agency violates labor laws and instead of trying to resolve problems hires more lawyers, at taxpayer expense, to keep the bureaucracy from compliance.

While the bureaucratic bloat expands, the Agency grossly neglects its mission, as established by Congress, which is to present the United States and its values and to provide accurate and timely news to audiences around the world.

It is time for the Agency to prioritize its mission, and to get rid of the bureaucratic bloat.

To read the BBG Watch article click on the link under “Additional Resources” below.

Additional Resources