BBG Watch Commentary

anonymous surferOne of BBG Watch contributors, Jane Doe, who because of her sensitive position within the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) – the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) bureaucracy prefers to remain anonymous, has prepared for us and for the BBG Board a series of analyses of the IBB – BBG debacles. We started with IBB – BBG Debacles – Legal by Jane Doe. Today we continue with:

IBB – BBG Debacles – Management by Jane Doe

“You’re not the Boss of me!” BBG staff to Federal Courts, Federal Arbitrators, OPM, OMB and Congress!!! (oh wait,… you ARE the boss of me – my bad)

Is it me or is almost everything coming from the International Broadcasting Bureau – Broadcasting Board of Governors IBB/BBG management team reinforcing the desperate need for reform?

Allow me to elaborate:

Management debacle one: even as OPM is in the Cohen building providing guidance to the “troika” on how to implement OMB’s targeted cut to the management bloat at IBB and VOA, the IBB still tried to fast-track the entrenchment of a limited SES appointee by creating a carefully crafted permanent SES position for a current temporary position. Ummm… Is this appropriate given the angst among the staff below? Given the Reform Act’s clear intent to stop this kind of “taking care of our own” prohibited by OPM regulations? Did they really think no one would notice?

Management debacle two: the very same IBB officials, with their vast knowledge of closed societies, international broadcasting and foreign affairs, are leading a “new and improved” strategy process that will culminate in recommendations to the BBG and the Troika for the strategic future of international broadcasting. Apparently the entity heads cannot be trusted to properly express themselves, as their views are taken by IBB officials, processed by staff members, rewritten and reinterpreted by OSD and then presented directly to the BBG…(if the governors don’t want to get information direct from the source, as a courtesy, they should say so – dontcha think?

According to many participants in this months’ long activity, this brain trust has been asking such insightful questions as: “Why is it a goal to have more indigenous reporters?”; or “To what end would we want to do programming about the lives and actions of the regime elite?”; or my personal favorite “Are the rural poor and disenfranchised a worthwhile target audience for us?” My question: do these folks have any idea what we do for a living? How do we even begin to answer some of these questions? A) the goal is free press and free speech in closed societies – so yeah, indigenous reporters are a good goal; B) people who live under “regimes” do not know how the other half lives; C) regimes disenfranchise groups of people who can be a potential threat – note: Lenin, Stalin and Chairman Mao took their countries starting with the farmers…

Management debacle three: The CFO’s office and the mass exodus of anyone with any institutional knowledge, federal budget or finance expertise that existed here when new CFO landed.

Management debacle four: GC – who can’t seem to hire enough lawyers to make a solid legal recommendation on any number of major issues and (from what I’ve been told) believes that he speaks for the “BBG”. Therefore he is running wild on witch hunts and humiliating the agency before all watchers — but not really stopping the agency from legal exposure in key areas (see legal debacles and the lawsuit-in-waiting aka Management Debacle One)

Management debacle five: going into the fourth quarter of the fiscal year and still no approved program plan. Sources on the Hill say the BBG program plan is the most confusing thing they’ve ever seen. The Approps staff seem to ask the same questions again and again because they cannot get a straight or logical answer. And never the same answer! This should be no surprise given that no one in the IBB Troika or their excessive number of SES managers have experience in federal government budgeting. Maybe the folks that actually know what work is being done and why it is being done should be included in program plan discussions…just a thought…

Management debacle six: the BBG is still on the record recommending that service to the Balkans be eliminated. Seriously? Note to the brain trust – things have changed since the FY2014 budget was submitted. It’s funny how the world changes…but tragic that we cannot accommodate change crucial to the mission.

But wait, there’s more —

Jane Doe’s IBB – BBG Debacles will continue until the Broadcasting Board of Governors Board meeting on June 20, in Miami, Florida. Please keep checking our BBG Watch website for updates.

ALSO READ: IBB – BBG Debacles – Legal by Jane Doe, BBG Watch, June 16, 2014.

READING MATERIAL (Optional, But Highly Recommended)

READ MORE: Waste and Abuse of Power at the Broadcasting Board of Governors, According to Audit, By Reid Standish, Foreign Policy Blog, June 17, 2014.

International Labor Rights Forum Charges Discrimination at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, BBG Watch, June 16, 2014.

READ: Federal Labor Relations Authority Judge slams BBG for law violations, BBG Watch, June 4, 2014.

READ: Federal court issues another rebuke to IBB officials accused of mistreating journalists, BBG Watch, May 19.

READ: Voice of America wasted estimated millions on improper contract payments, Radio Free Asia gets clean bill of health, BBG Watch, May 3, 2014.

READ: Protests from Helsinki Committee, bad publicity continue for RFE/RL over treatment of foreign journalist staff, BBG Watch, April 3, 2014.