BBG Watch Commentary

In two recent posts on its website and Facebook page, the union representing many of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) federal employees, which include Voice of America (VOA) U.S. government workers, explains why the $740 million agency (FY 2017) has remained at the bottom of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) which measures employee satisfaction and their assessment of agency leaders and supervisors. The top BBG and VOA leadership consists of BBG CEO John Lansing, his deputy Jeff Trimble, VOA director Amanda Bennett and her deputy Sandy Sugawara. Lansing has been with the agency since 2015; Bennett and Sugawara since 2016. Trimble has been a senior agency manager for several years of consistently low FEVS results. Lansing, Bennett and Sugawara are all Obama administration era selectees. Partisanship rose to unprecedented levels at the Voice of America and programing scandals increased under their watch.

The union points out that some of the Voice of America managers whose units fared the worst in the 2017 FEVS survey have just received awards from the Broadcasting Board of Governors management.

In an email to staff, Lansing tried to present initial 2017 FEVS results as containing “good news.” 2017 FEVS went up slightly government-wide due apparently to external factors affecting the entire federal workforce, but BBG’s small gains were actually lower than average gains government-wide in the medium size agency category, thus placing the BBG in an even lower position in the last place in the 2017 ranking in comparison to other agencies.

“Leaders Lead” had the worst FEVS results for the BBG in 2017, as well as in previous years. This category measures employees’ assessment of senior leaders.

The latest post by the Local 1812 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is titled “STRAIGHT OUT OF KAFKA.”

Its previous post was titled “THE BABY STEP TANGO.”


Here are some highlights from the AFGE Local 1812:


The results of the 2017 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey – our Agency management’s annual report card – showed that several agency areas received nothing but failing grades. These units failed in ALL categories across the board.
Preliminary analysis shows that the work units listed below are the absolute worst of the worst and where the management represents spectacular failures, according to the only report card management officials receive – the annual FEVS results. Here are the ten worst units in the building ranked in order starting with the very worst workplace:
English Radio Branch (Regional)
Central News and Production
Afghan Service
Persian Service
Mandarin Service
IBB Office of Contracts
News Gathering Branch, Central News Division, Operations Support Division (tied)
Television Operations / TV Studio Service
Russian Service
English Division
If the union may be so bold as to ask: Why did any management official in the worst performing work units listed above receive an award? For what, pray tell? What were the criteria for the Agency award? It’s a travesty that managers from the worst managed units (as identified in the FEVS) are rewarded for anything. These undeserved awards have an immediate and depressing impact on employee morale. Wouldn’t it make sense that ONLY those managers with higher-than-average results in the FEVS survey should even be considered for an award?



Once again, our Agency has the dubious honor of being the cellar-dweller in the Medium-Sized Federal Agency category. We’re the “bottom of the barrel” kids. We literally can go no lower!
A look back shows that, over many years, Agency management has preached “incremental improvements” or taking “baby steps” in order to turn things around. Well, those incremental baby-step improvements have failed to make any significant improvements in the morale crisis at this Agency – a morale crisis that has been in existence since at least 2002. We are told every year that we didn’t get to this point overnight and we won’t get out of the hole we are in overnight. Well at what point do we start digging out instead of digging deeper?
The latest FEVS shows that, throughout government overall, positive responses were up. Any increases in positive responses for the BBG are probably just statistical “noise” — insignificant. The real news in this year’s results is that the BBG remains dead last in every index in its category. In the Employee Engagement Index–dead last. In the New IQ Index – dead last. Global Satisfaction Index – dead last. Finally, in the Human Capital Assessment and Accountability Framework – same story – dead last. For those keeping count, that is four for four; a total and complete failure.
Low morale is a threat to the mission of any organization; conversely, high morale is a force multiplier. The Agency needs to understand that improving morale is not something that it should only focus on after all other tasks are accomplished; improving morale should be on the top of every manager’s list. Make no mistake: low morale is an existential threat to this Agency and its about time leaders and managers acknowledge that and do something about it.



ALSO SEE: Low morale is an existential threat to BBG mission, union says, BBG Watch, October 20, 2017