BBG Watch Commentary

After Washington Post columnist Joe Davidson reported correctly about 2016 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) results:


Washington Post

“The Broadcasting Board of Governors, another regular bottom-feeder that oversees the Voice of America and other government broadcasters, also scored 56 [in EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT Category]. But unlike DHS, BBG is going backward. It scored two points better last year.” [in Engagement Index Trends]”



Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) CEO and Director John Lansing felt obliged to explain to the agency’s federal employees their own FEVS answers, saying that “BBG continues to make improvements,” to which one VOA journalist responded: “You must be kidding, Mr. CEO!”



John Lansing
John Lansing

“While it is clear that we have a number of ongoing challenges to address, our 2016 results show that BBG continues to make improvements in becoming a more inclusive and open place to work.”



To most people “inclusive and open place to work” implies strong employee engagement, which BBG employees concluded has declined under Mr. Lansing’s leadership. While well-intentioned, he appears to lack critical experience to lead U.S. government’s international news, intercultural communications and public diplomacy agency. He has no significant prior experience in any of these areas or in leading federal employees.

Mr. Lansing’s email to staff, sent out with the rather presumptuous subject line: “2016 FEVS Results Explained,” appears to have offended some Voice of America (VOA) journalists. One VOA reporter was particularly unimpressed by Mr. Lansing’s emphasis on improved results in a few areas while the Broadcasting Board of Governors CEO said nothing specific about the overall negative employee assessment of the agency, its last place in the government-wide OPM FEVS rankings and the negative employee view in the “Employee Engagement” and “Senior Leaders Lead” categories of Mr. Lansing’s own leadership performance as a senior agency leader.

In addition to the Washington Post report, Politico and Washington Examiner said the same thing about BBG’s dismal performance in 2016 FEVS.

FCW website focusing on the business of federal technology summarized the employee assessment of BBG senior leaders in these words:



FCW: “The Broadcasting Board of Governors finished second-to-last on both indices and suffered a two-point decrease in employee engagement. Only 42 percent of BBG respondents were likely to recommend their agency as a good place to work, the lowest score across government.”



The VOA reporter who has done radio, TV, and social media who has been mentioned in books and articles about VOA but does not want to be identified by name, had this to say in reaction to Mr. Lansing’s email:



VOA REPORTER: “We are all adults there and do not fall for his explanation of FEVS. We are very capable to read it correctly.


‘We are improving’ ???? You must be kidding, Mr. CEO!”


Speaking of Voice of America director Amanda Bennett and referring to what the reporter described as a growing trend to post poorly-produced animal videos and to hold countless meetings and workshops, VOA journalist observed:



Screenshot from Voice of America video
Screenshot from Voice of America video

“She [Amanda Bennett] should think what should we do tomorrow that we did not do today in covering Russia, Middle East, IS, terrorism in general, rule of law, corruption, etc., world over….”



The VOA reporter added:



[We need fresh leadership, not endless and senseless meetings] “cronyism, corruption and waste is the name of the game there.”


Another VOA reporter told us:


“I feel bad for the new crew. But they don’t seem like morale raisers, frankly.


Cold fish, the lot of them.



The VOA reporter added:



“He [Lansing] has not, actually, provided any firm react statement, though one can surmise what he thinks.”



The reporter also observed:



“Lansing is invisible to employees.”



John F. Lansing is a former successful private sector television entertainment media executive who was in charge of Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, DIY, Cooking Channel and Great American Country. He has no prior experience in government operations and leading federal employees, or in international affairs, intercultural communications, U.S. foreign policy or U.S. public diplomacy — all of which related to the core mission of the agency “to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.”

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which conducts the government-wide survey of employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and employee assessment of their supervisors and top agency leaders, reported correctly that while BBG employees were slightly more satisfied in 2016 than in 2015 with some of their work conditions, they were definitely not more satisfied with John Lansing and other senior leaders and their ability to engage with staff.


In the all important Employee Engagement category, BBG lost two points. The survey was conducted from May 3, 2016 to June 14, 2016, eight months into John Lansing’s tenure at the agency.


In the Engagement Index Tend – Leaders Lead, the Broadcasting Board of Governors lost one point from 2015 to 2016. This seems to be a commentary largely on John Lansing since the survey shows that BBG employees have a far more positive view of their supervisors than of their senior leaders.

Engagement Index Trends - Leaders Lead - 2016 FEVS
Engagement Index Trends – Leaders Lead – 2016 FEVS




John Lansing
John Lansing

BBG CEO John Lansing’s Perspective



From: IBB Notices Admin
Sent: Tuesday, October 4, 2016 12:35 PM
To: IBB Notices Administration
Subject: 2016 FEVS Results Explained

Dear Colleagues,


As some of you may have already noticed, the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM) has begun releasing government-wide 2016 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) results.  I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge some of the gains realized during this past year, as well as some of the ongoing challenges that we are still working on.


But before I do that, I want to quickly reiterate one key point that I have made from the beginning: your honest feedback is driving key actions to plan new ways to better meet your needs.  So, please continue to provide your thoughts and ideas for how to improve morale and workflow here at BBG.  We need your energy and input if we are going to continue making BBG a better place to work.


While it is clear that we have a number of ongoing challenges to address, our 2016 results show that BBG continues to make improvements in becoming a more inclusive and open place to work.  I am happy to report that the Agency has improved in the following areas:


  1. Fair                                      ↑ of 7.1%: comprised of questions 23, 24, 25, 37 and 38
  2. Open                                   ↑ of 2.7%: comprised of questions 32, 34, 45 and 55
  3. Global Satisfaction           ↑ of .9%: comprised of questions 40, 69, 70 and 71
  4. Cooperative                       ↑ of .3%: comprised of questions 58 and 59


Scores also improved on 22 key questions ranging from your opinion of the Agency’s standards of honesty and integrity to the Agency’s ability to recognize employees for the outstanding work they perform.  I have included below a list of the areas where we saw improvement and the percentage change over last year.

We lost ground on some indices; for instance, our score on Engagement fell slightly by two percentage points from 58% positive in 2015 to 56% positive this year.  To see how we scored on specific questions and learn more about survey results go to the agency FEVS page.

I encourage everyone to visit the website to examine some of the government-wide comparisons and to become a registered user on the site to access BBG’s results for Employee Engagement as well as Global Satisfaction.  As a registered user, you will also have access to the Community of Practice page, which includes tools needed to create strategies that lead to an inclusive work environment.  Please note that to become a registered user, you will need to use your e-mail address.  For those of you with email address, please use your username and in order to access the site.  If you have any questions about your access to the dashboard, please contact

Our scores this year reinforce the need and importance of the work currently underway by our Workplace Solutions action teams, and I will make sure to leverage these efforts in addressing the challenges identified by our survey results.  Action teams are working on the 23 recommendations and 13 of these are now partially or fully implemented.  This includes the new mentoring program which is kicking off next week and the creation of the Workplace Solutions feedback mailbox where you can ask questions or make suggestions about workplace issues by writing to

We will continue to make employee satisfaction a priority and be responsive to your feedback.  Please become familiar with the above resources and use the Workplace Solutions feedback mailbox to share your ideas, criticisms, or further insights.



John F. Lansing

Chief Executive Officer and Director

Broadcasting Board of Governors

Individual Question Results that Improved from 2015

Question Question No. 2015 Score 2016 Score Improvement
Employees are recognized for providing high quality products and services.




↑ 20.4%

Awards in my work unit depend on how well employees perform their jobs.




↑ 17.4%

*Pay raises depend on how well employees perform their jobs.




↑ 15.4%

*In my work unit, differences in performance are recognized in a meaningful way.




↑ 13.1%

*Creativity and innovation are rewarded.




↑ 10.5%

*How satisfied are you with the policies and practices of your senior leaders?




↑ 8.4%

Arbitrary action, personal favoritism and coercion for partisan political purposes are not tolerated.




↑ 6.8%

My organization’s senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.




↑ 6.0%

How satisfied are you with the following Work/Life programs in your agency? Alternative Work Schedules (AWS)




↑ 5.7%

*Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your pay?




↑ 5.3%

Policies and programs promote diversity in the workplace




↑ 4.9%

*How satisfied are you with the recognition you receive for doing a good job?




↑ 3.7%

I have sufficient resources (for example, people, materials, budget) to get my job done.




↑ 3.4%

*How satisfied are you with your opportunity to get a better job in your organization?




↑ 3.3%

*Promotions in my work unit are based on merit.




↑ 3.1%

*In my work unit, steps are taken to deal with a poor performer who cannot or will not improve.




↑ 3.1%

The skill level in my work unit has improved in the past year.




↑ 2.4%

Considering everything, how satisfied are you with your organization?




↑ 2.0%

*My training needs are assessed.




↑ 2.0%

My supervisor is committed to a workforce representative of all segments of society.




↑ 1.9%

*My work unit is able to recruit people with the right skills.




↑ 1.0%