BBG Watch Commentary
A new State Department Office of the Inspector General audit finds that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the agency that oversees U.S. international broadcasting, has wasted almost $5 million in taxpayer dollars on questionable and unapproved purchases.
The State Department’s watchdog coined the BBGs mishap as a “systematic failure” of acquisitions.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said that the BBG’s “wasteful spending, non-competitive contracting practices, and violations of current law point to an organization without accountable leadership.”
In a statement released Saturday Mr. Royce said, “For the sake of our national security interests, it is critical that U.S. international broadcasting be effective; that is why we have to scrap this broken agency.”
READ MORE: ‘Scrap this broken agency’: Audit finds Broadcasting Board of Governors wasted $5M, Kellan Howell, The Washington Times, June 21, 2014.
Acquisitions and contracting at the federal part of the Broadcasting Board of Governors are done by the International Boadcasting Bureau (IBB), where the number of positions has grown by 37% in the last seven years while IBB executives proposed and carried out numerous cuts in news broadcadts and journalistic positions within the agency.
One of the offices that has grown substantially is the IBB Office of Contracts.
IBB executives are fighting to keep their jobs and oppose management reforms proposed unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the bipartisan Royce – Engel bill, H.R. 4490, which is pending in Congress. They have received strongest public support from BBG’s Republican member Matt Armstrong who called the reform bill “overly harsh” and “less than inarticulate” [sic].
IBB executives have prepared a memo opposing various elements of the H.R. 4490 bill, especially those that would deprive them of SES positions and other high-paying jobs. In addition to Armstrong, the memo was reportedly endorsed by most other BBG members.
The only BBG member expressing strong public support for the bipartisan Royce – Engel reform bill is Democratic Governor Michael Meehan.
State Dept Inspector General Audit Finds Wasteful Spending, Other Problems at Broadcasting Board of Governors — Royce Reacts
JUN 21, 2014
Chairman Royce, Working to Make International Broadcasting Effective, Issues Statement
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reacted to the State Department Office of the Inspector General (OIG) audit on wasteful spending and abuse of power at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the agency that oversees U.S. international broadcasting. The audit details a “systemic failure” of BBG acquisitions, including nearly $5 million in unjustified and unapproved spending.
Chairman Royce said: “This audit details troubling practices at the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The wasteful spending, non-competitive contracting practices, and violations of current law point to an organization without accountable leadership. Reports and audits like this one detailing the dysfunction of the BBG have become all too common as long-standing management problems have been allowed to fester. Recently, the Foreign Affairs Committee overwhelmingly passed legislation to reform the BBG and fix the very problems identified in this audit, empowering our international broadcasters and fixing a defunct bureaucracy that stifles our efforts to communicate with foreign audiences. For the sake of our national security interests, it is critical that U.S. international broadcasting be effective; that is why we have to scrap this broken agency.”
Note: H.R. 4490 (the United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014) was introduced in April by Chairman Royce and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member. The legislation makes overdue reforms to the BBG and addresses the problems identified in the OIG’s audit by establishing a CEO to oversee the federal broadcasting entities and be accountable for the organization’s implementation of Federal rules and regulations. The legislation requires the CEO to submit an annual report to Congress on the organization’s compliance with Federal Acquisition Regulations and the Anti-Deficiency Act, including a review of contracts awarded on a non-competitive basis, compliance with regulations regarding contract tenders, and the use of personal service contracts – all areas cited in the OIG audit.