BBG Watch Commentary

Eiffel TowerWell-placed sources told BBG Watch that the new Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Jeff Shell had asked top International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and Voice of America (VOA) officials to cancel their planned trip to Paris in December to attend an international conference dealing with Internet issues.

BBG Watch has learned at that least 9 (nine) top-level BBG, IBB and VOA officials were planning to travel to Paris and stay there for a number of days at taxpayers’ expense. According to sources, due to intervention from Jeff Shell, that number may now be cut down to seven and may go down even further due to the embarrassment factor of expensive IBB and VOA executive travel while nearly 40 percent of so-called “non-essential” employees are furloughed and subjected to financial and other personal hardships. Such a high number of “non-essential” employees is in itself a proof of bureaucratic bloat at IBB, VOA and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) and an indicator of a mismanaged federal agency.

IBB and VOA executives have maintained a heavy schedule of international and domestic travel paid by U.S. taxpayers while cutting numerous programs and programming positions in recent years and being accused by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others of running a “dysfunctional” and “defunct” agency.

IBB, VOA, and OCB have been rated together in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys (FEVS) as being some of the worst managed elements in the federal government. The same surveys also show year after year that the workforce managed by IBB, VOA, and OCB executives has some of the lowest employee morale among federal government agencies.

The OPM surveys do not cover Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). These semi-private entities, also funded by U.S. taxpayers and overseen by the bipartisan BBG board, are considered better managed and have better employee morale. The BBG board has initiated recently management reforms at RFE/RL and appointed a new chief executive Kevin Klose to carry them out.

The Voice of America has been especially deficient in covering some of the major news developments, including U.S. foreign policy and human rights-related news stories.

Sources told BBG Watch that Chairman Shell has plans for major management reforms at the most mismanaged parts of the agency in charge of U.S. international broadcasting.

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