Cut The Dead Wood And Save The Agency’s Mission
US Government International Media Information War: Lost and Dead
By The Federalist
On April 12, 2017, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Directive M-17-22:
Let’s get right to the point:
If the Trump administration and the Congress want to save this agency’s mission, get down to business and cut the parasitic Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), its International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and the related Voice of America (VOA) non-programming bureaucracy that has effectively killed the effectiveness of this agency (FY 2017 Budget: $777 million).
FY 2016 BBG Budget
We have no respect for this bloated, ineffective bureaucracy:
- We know what they have done and what they continue to do, often detailed on BBG Watch.
- We know that the top priority of this bureaucracy is to preserve itself without regard to the negative consequences to the agency’s effectiveness and its mission.
- We know how senior management officials are nothing more than enablers and facilitators of the primary characteristics of this agency:
- “Regular Bottom Feeder” ; “Going Backward” Washington Post columnist Joe Davidson “Federal Insider,” The Washington Post, September 20, 2016.
- “Dysfunctional” (Heritage Foundation scholar Helle C. Dale)
- “Practically Defunct” (Hillary Clinton)
- “Broken” (US statesmen, diplomats, media experts and journalists interviewed by former BBG member S. Enders Wimbush and former Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty executive Elizabeth M. Portale)
- “Truly Rudderless” or Leaderless (Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce)
- We know how these bureaucrats have lined their pockets with promotions and cash awards, with manufactured narratives of success in the face of abject failure.
We know this agency to be one of the worst agencies in the Federal Government, as measured by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and has always been this way through years of Federal employee surveys. The latest one (2016) gave BBG leadership even lower ranking than in the previous year.
Yes. We know these individuals very, very well.
In short, this is a rogue agency with a rogue bureaucracy, laughing at the Congress, successive administrations, the American taxpayers and its own employees.
Contemptible would be too tame a word to describe the lot of them.
They sit on the Third Floor of the Cohen Building essentially daring the executive and legislative branches of government to force reform on them. They have made it clear that they will not undertake any corrective action to make the agency and its mission effective.
Get rid of them.
What we expect from this group of bureaucrats is to lie – and to lie often – as to where cuts to the agency should take place. They will target operations elements and save themselves. Their top priority is self-preservation.
Growth of International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) Staff Positions FY 2007-2014 (newer data is difficult to obtain from the BBG)
We know two people who need to go ASAP: John Lansing and Amanda Bennett. At best, they have crafted a record of being what amounts to blunderers.
They need to go first because, in our view, they will protect the bureaucracy and don’t have the requisite knowledge to know when they are being lied to OR are willing to be led by the nose by the “fantastic leadership team” that has destroyed the agency and made it an enormous liability – to any administration sitting in the White House.
The administration needs to move resolutely to find qualified and capable replacements for these individuals if the intent is to salvage the agency’s mission. In addition, these replacements need to surround themselves with their own team, knowledgeable of what this agency is supposed to do and how the bureaucrats on the Third Floor have succeeded in wrecking the agency from within.
Trust no one in the current agency management structure, particularly that of the VOA and the International Broadcasting Bureau.
Don’t expect these individuals to go quietly into the night. They will fight back. We’ve already seen it:
- The “hit” pieces in various media.
- The partisan attacks from some of the VOA newsroom reporters.
- The continuing lie and misrepresentation that the agency is “an independent news company.”
There are no surprises here.
These are unscrupulous government employees.
To undertake what is called for in the OMB directive requires at least one vital document and that is:
The agency staffing pattern.
This will accelerate the determination of the “what” and the “who” needs to go.
You will find individuals who are skating along doing little if anything substantive to the agency’s mission like:
Approaching the agency’s horrid personnel reputation by using terms like “incremental approach” or “baby steps” which in reality mean doing nothing at all other than sitting back doing business as usual.
Be mindful that some – if not all – of these Federal Government managers are pulling down six-figure salaries to be a drain on the Federal budget and being completely ineffective in countering anti-US sentiment around the globe.
If whoever leads the effort to force agency compliance with the OMB directive can’t do these things, there is only one thing left to do:
Close the agency in its current iteration.
That means a “transfer of functions” to elsewhere in the Federal Government.
Again, the main culprits are the VOA and IBB.
Examples of “transfer of function” might include:
- Transferring all English language programs and perhaps some foreign language programs to an existing or new U.S. Government agency. At the end of the day, this would enhance other U.S.-funded operations and possibly expand their reach by absorbing VOA transmission facilities and frequencies. This does not necessarily mean moving the former VOA newsroom. This group needs to go.
- Transferring some VOA language services to grantee operations (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, etc.).
VOA/IBB “business as usual” conglomerate should not be an option under any circumstances.
By no means should it be assumed that this is a simple process. One has to look after agency employees on the one hand while not giving an opening to the rogue bureaucrats to contest any remedial actions directed toward the bureaucracy on the other.
For an agency in such disrepair as this one, a light touch in a remedial effort will not work. It will fail. And that is precisely what the bureaucrats on the Third Floor of the Cohen Building intend.