BBG Watch Commentary

The following editorial was published by American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE Local 1812, which represents the workforce of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), including Voice of America (VOA) employees.

AFGE Local 1812

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda…

By American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE Local 1812

While we salute Andre Mendes’ apparent commitment to making the Agency better as expressed in a recent Washington Post article, we can’t help but feel that many of the optimistic arguments presented by management in Joe Davidson’s recent Washington Post column, “Agency tries to improve its low employee morale”, sound tired, repetitive and banal.

As documented in the OPM Employee Viewpoint Surveys, this Agency has had low morale for over 10 years. When Agency official, Barbara Brady, who’s been around for more than 10 years, is quoted as saying, “We’re still very early on in this process, which could take three to five years to complete”, we have to ask — where have these managers been? And why are they waiting another three to five years to fix a crisis that needs immediate action? If these managers have taken 10 years to identify that there is a problem and that it will take another five to correct it, why are they still calling the shots? What is obvious to almost everyone is that these managers are the problem and what is needed is to remove them to make way for fresh faces.

The old managerial team has zero credibility. No amount of drawing with crayons, baking cookies, and ice skating sessions, will change that. The change that is required is much more than putting on a happy face.

As Mr. Davidson pointed out, we appreciate that, “The Partnership for Public Service (PPS) was paid about $84,000 for a series of workshops and other activities that helped the agency to develop a ‘methodology that they lacked previously’ for improving employee engagement”. But it’s been a year since the PPS visited the Agency, and morale does not seem to have improved to any significant level. Again, this problem needs to be corrected now.
“Leadership was a key area in every session,” said the PPS’s Mark Doboga, as quoted in the Washington Post story.

So we ask: Why are the managers responsible for this abysmal morale still in charge, and, on top of that, giving themselves up to five years to turn things around? Are they waiting for the Agency to completely collapse? Because the way it is managed, we’re not sure we’ll be around in five years (and the management team has begun their yearly RIF ritual of informing employees not to expect to be here even within the next few months), even as management officials seem to be maneuvering for their own cushy retirements.