Bureaucracy Warning Sign

Voice of America Information War Lost: The Agency That Celebrates Its Failure

By The Federalist

With its mission effectiveness totally obliterated and legislation pending in the Senate to set a new course for US Government international broadcasting, the response from the Voice of America (VOA) to its dire predicament is:

Ice Cream Social at VOA

An Ice Cream Social.


The organizational behavior of this agency is becoming increasingly bizarre – up to and including a presentation by David Ensor, the VOA director, to the American Foreign Service Association.

Among observers of this agency, there have been wide ranging discussions of its activities while under the scrutiny of the Congress. None of them have been complimentary.

We hear terms like “arrogance,” “denial,” “defiance,” among others. Some fear that sensitive information carelessly, unnecessarily and publicly revealed at the American Foreign Service Association meeting might endanger the lives of Voice of America correspondents and other American journalists, as well as endanger the lives of U.S. Marines and U.S. diplomats at embassies in some of the most dangerous countries in the world.

There may be resignation on the part of Voice of America executives that their world is going to change and there is nothing left to do but carry on with country club-like partying while VOA’s fate is being decided elsewhere. But as they party, VOA correspondents and VOA audiences can’t count on them to arrange for video-taping an interview with Secretary of State John Kerry or for posting his important foreign policy comments on Facebook and including them promptly and adequately in on-demand VOA radio newscasts.

Keep in mind also that the party-goers are doing it almost certainly while in duty status at their workplace, ripping off the American taxpayers yet again in another superlative example of what has to be the most dysfunctional and defunct agency with the lowest employee morale among those of similar size in the Federal Government.

It is yet another perfect example of the feckless nature of not only VOA officials but also of the disengaged, out-of-sight, out-of-mind Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). One would think that a group of political appointees would at the very least be wary of any agency activity that would sully their resumes. In this instance, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Perhaps they have given up on instituting a more professional demeanor to the agency. As such, the Congress is right to reduce the board to advisory capacity and finding someone to run a tight ship rather than the carnival party boat that VOA has become.

We really have no use for this agency. It’s time to find another way to accomplish the agency’s objectives in the Federal Government.

If anything at all, this latest exhibitionist display of arrogance and contempt demonstrates that the agency is thoroughly incapable of fixing itself. Its so-called managers are inept and incompetent. The agency is one perpetual recycling facility for aberrant and errant executives and senior managers who go from one job to another causing mayhem.

These individuals lack a whole lot of professional depth. They are given to repeating the same mantras over and over again with the result that the agency becomes even more useless in the process.

Their response to the agency’s record of failure: ice cream social!

That speaks volumes.

Does this aberrational display improve the agency’s performance or rehabilitate the agency’s record as one of the worst places to work in the Federal Government?

Answer: Not even remotely.

There is really nothing worth celebrating inside the Cohen Building, other than scamming the American taxpayer for another day, another week or another year.

And that is something that needs to be put to an end, sooner rather later. If the executives inside the Cohen Building don’t take their work and the mission of the agency seriously, it facilitates moving reform of US Government international broadcasting to another level: closing this agency.

Obviously, there are people inside the Cohen Building who think that scenario can’t happen.

There are people outside the Cohen Building with a different view, given the agency’s atrocious track record.

The Federalist
September 2014