FreeMediaOnline.org has been reporting recently on the actions of U.S. political appointees and senior government agency officials who had stopped Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts to Russia 12 days before the outbreak of the war in the Caucasus, terminated VOA Hindi radio to India shortly before the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and ended VOA Ukrainian radio programs on December 31, 2008, just hours before Russia stopped the flow of natural gas supplies to Ukraine and the rest of Europe.
According to the latest Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS), the employees of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) have recently given the BBG Board members and the officials of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) the worst ever rating for good management and placed the BBG at the very bottom of Federal agencies.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) describes the Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS) as “a tool that measures employees’ perceptions of whether, and to what extent, conditions characterizing successful organizations are present in their agencies. Survey results provide valuable insight into the challenges agency leaders face in ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce and how well they are responding.”
FreeMediaOnline.org, a San Francisco-based nonprofit supporting media freedom worldwide, is deeply concerned that the BBG’s actions are undermining access of international audiences to unbiased news and information from the United States. Especially hard hit are the very poorest groups as well as refugees and other victims of war and repression. In many countries around the world — including Russia, India, and Ukraine –the BBG and the International Broadcasting Bureau staff have abandoned Voice of America radio, which used to serve these audiences, in favor of relying exclusively on television and the Internet. This insensitive and elitist strategy has been condemned by labor leaders, human rights activists, as well as BBG’s own employees.
FreeMediaOnline.org is republishing a report on the latest Federal Human Capital Survey posted on the BBG Government Employees AFGE Local 1812 Union web site.
2008 HUMAN CAPITAL SURVEY RESULTS EVEN WORSE FOR BBG
DATELINE: Washington, D.C. 01/09/09. The results of the 2008 Federal Human Capital Survey for the Broadcasting Board of Governors were released yesterday. It proved to be the worst survey yet for the BBG. Some examples of the results:
The BBG received a negative response of 37.1% to the survey question: “I recommend my organization as a good place to work”. The negative responses governmentwide averaged 14.9%.
It was a negative response of a whopping 50.9% for the BBG regarding the question: “How satisfied are you with the policies and practices of your senior leaders?”. The governmentwide negative numbers for this question were 28.9%.
For the question, “I can disclose a suspected violation of any law, rule or regulation without fear of reprisal”, the BBG earned a 33.3% negative response. Governmentwide the negative responses averaged 19.0%.
All the negative percentages for the BBG listed above are higher than the previous results for the same questions in the surveys of 2006 and 2004. Instead of working to improve the dismal showing on past surveys, the management of the BBG and the organizations under its umbrella seem to take pride in being if not the worst, one of the worst, places to work in all of government. Lisa Vandenberg, the president of the Union representing the employees at the FLRA, was quoted recently regarding the survey results for the Agency where she works, “We were led by people not interested in our mission or sustaining our program.”. That could very well be said by the people working under the BBG.
FreeMediaOnline.org has also been critical of the BBG for dismantling the Voice of America and favoring privatized U.S. broadcasting not designed or staffed to present American voices and explain American values to the world. These BBG policies have resulted in giving airtime on Alhurra Television to Holocaust deniers and allowing racist Russian politicians extensive access to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) airwaves. The BBG has also based much of RFE/RL’s reporting and administration in Russia, where locally-hired employees and contractors, who are Russian citizens, are subject to blackmail and other forms of intimidation from the Kremlin’s secret police and intelligence services.
The BBG executive director is Jeffrey Trimble, who was formerly acting president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Only five members currently serve on the bipartisan Board: Joaquin F. Blaya, Blanquita Walsh Cullum, D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, Steven J. Simmons, and Condoleezza Rice (ex officio).
One prominent former BBG member Edward E. Kaufman, recently appointed as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, (He had been Senator Biden’s chief of staff and replaces him in the Senate.) joined other Democrats and Republicans, including the BBG’s most recent Republican chairman James K. Glassman, who is now the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, in voting to end VOA radio programs to Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, and India — each time shortly before a major news emergency affecting these countries. Only one BBG member, syndicated radio host Blanquita Walsh Cullum, was reported to have opposed programming cuts to media-at-risk countries.
Some BBG employees have expressed hope to FreeMediaOnline.org that the new Obama Administration will undertake major reforms at the Agency. The Obama transition team has been credited with forcing the BBG to release contents of a highly critical independent study of Alhurra Television, conducted by the USC Annenberg School for Communication, which the BBG wanted to keep secret. The transition team was reviewing America’s international broadcasting services, including the Voice of America and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and advised the transition team working with the U.S. Department of State on public diplomacy.
The international broadcasting services team was led by Ernest J. Wilson III, Dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. BBG employees will have a chance to question him during a roundtable discussion which will take place January 22, 2009, 12:00 PM, at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. Participants can register online on the USC Center on Public Diplomacy web site.