BBG tries to improve employee morale

BBG-LogoIn December 2012, we posted a survey from the 2012 edition of The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government by The Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte. The survey indicated that the Broadcasting Board of Governers (BBG) had been ranked in the bottom five places to work in the federal government.

According to the Washington Post, the agency is now working on a plan to boost employee morale. Some of their initiatives include:

“Agency directors and senior staff hold[ing] face-time sessions in the cafeteria for informal talks with employees, a “Civility Campaign” addresses labor-management issues, and a Workplace Engagement Initiative takes a deeper dive into the agency’s low morale ratings.

Some of the morale-boosting events are meant to be fun, such as the raffle during the fitness-center open house, a chocolate bake-off in time for Valentine’s Day, and ?after-work gatherings — a bingo night, happy hour, checkers and chess.

It’s going to take all that and some sustained work to improve the agency’s failing report cards.”

Read the full article on The Washington Post…

Many thanks to Richard Cuff for the tip!

BBG changes: US shortwave broadcasts under microscope

voa logoIt appears the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)–the bi-partisan board who oversees all international broadcasts generated by the US government–is making some changes to its structure.

One of those changes will be the formation of a special committee to examine “the efficacy of shortwave radio transmissions.”

See full press release with video of the meeting below:

Chairman Jeff Shell chairs the Oct 23 meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (Photo: BBG)

Chairman Jeff Shell chairs the Oct 23 meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (Photo: BBG)

(Source: BBG)

WASHINGTON, DC – As a new member joined its ranks, the Broadcasting Board of Governors today announced a series of restructuring efforts to improve the way the bipartisan board operates.

“The work this agency does is vital, and we must do everything in our power to make sure we as a Board are doing the best we can – not only for our employees, but for the millions of people who depend on the news and information our networks provide,” said the Board’s chair, Jeff Shell.

Shell introduced and welcomed to the Board Kenneth Weinstein, who was confirmed by the Senate in September and sworn in on October 18. He also welcomed Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Douglas Frantz, who was designated by Secretary of State John Kerry – a BBG board member – to represent him at today’s meeting.

Among the changes that the Board adopted is a simplified structure that includes an Advisory Committee and special committees focused on specific strategic issues. Two such special committees were immediately established – one dedicated to defining the responsibilities of and initiating a search for a Chief Executive Officer of U.S. international broadcasting and another to examining the efficacy of shortwave radio transmissions. The Advisory Committee is made up of Governors Shell, Armstrong, Meehan and Weinstein. Governors Shell, Armstrong, McCue, and Weinstein will serve on the Special Committee on the Creation of a CEO, while Governors Armstrong, Crocker, Meehan, and Weinstein now constitute the Special Committee on Shortwave Broadcasting.

With this meeting, the Board began using a consent agenda to adopt items of business that are non-controversial or routine. From now on, Board members will consider and vote on items of business as a group, though any member can request that an agenda item be considered separately. The use of the consent agenda, as well as a revised Board travel policy that was also adopted, were among the recommendations of the Office of Inspector General in its January 2013 inspection report.

The Board also announced the selection of Paul Kollmer-Dorsey as the agency’s General Counsel. Kollmer-Dorsey joined the BBG as Deputy General Counsel and Acting General Counsel in June 2009. Prior to joining BBG, he served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Global Relief Technologies and worked for a dozen years in the international satellite communications industry. He earned his law degree from the Stanford School of Law.

And after three years with the BBG and decades of distinguished public and private sector service, International Broadcasting Bureau Director Richard Lobo announced his retirement, effective on November 30. Board members expressed their gratitude for his service and leadership during a period of budgetary challenges.

“The agency and, in fact, the country owes Dick a debt of gratitude for what he did at the IBB,” Shell said. “Dick was instrumental in developing the proposal for establishing a CEO to streamline the agency as well as leadership of the IBB during a challenging period of uncertainty and tightening budgets.”

Lobo thanked Shell and the other Board members and read from the letter he had just sent to President Barack Obama: ”The proposed implementation of the plan, which I helped formulate, to create the position of CEO and to subsequently abolish the IBB Director’s position creates the ideal time for me to step aside. After more than five decades in broadcasting, I intend to retire and return to my native state of Florida.”

Turning to the latest events affecting U.S. international media, Shell acknowledged the hard work and sacrifice required of BBG employees during the partial government shutdown that ended on Oct. 17. Despite the furloughing of approximately 40 percent of the agency’s federal workforce, programs were produced and distributed around the world uninterrupted.

In addition to the administrative challenges of operating during the shutdown, Shell took time to acknowledge how in recent months, journalists across the BBG’s broadcast regions have been harassed, threatened, and wrongly detained as a result of their work.

The simple act of reporting on public demonstrations or events has brought physical attacks on a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reporter and a Voice of America (VOA) reporter in Herat province of Afghanistan, the detainment and release of correspondents for RFE/RL in Astana and in Minsk, and the arrest and beating of a VOA correspondent in Angola.

In Iran, officials have continued harassment against VOA and Radio Farda journalists and their families, and in an attempt to intimidate the press and control coverage of elections, Azerbaijan’s ruling political party has targeted RFE/RL and VOA broadcasts with complaints of illegal electioneering.

The Board also called for the immediate release of Alhurra TV reporter Bashar Fahmi as well as other journalists being held incommunicado in Syria. Fahmi has not been seen or heard from since he went missing while reporting in Aleppo, Syria in August 2012.

“The people who make up this agency are some of the most dedicated, courageous and selfless people I have ever known,” Shell concluded. “No hardship, whether it is a partial government shutdown, or unjust incarceration can stop the good work of our workforce. And for that we thank you.”

The Board paused to pay tribute to two distinguished colleagues who recently passed away – Jack Payton, an esteemed and accomplished newsman and senior editor at VOA, and Dave Strawman, recently retired manager of the BBG transmitting station in Tinang, the Philippines.

Video of October 23, 2013 BBG board meeting:

BBG (Voice of America) ranks in bottom five places to work

This just out: the Broadcasting Board of Governers has been ranked in the bottom five places to work in the 2012 edition of The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government by The Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte. Specifically, the BBG consists of the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti, the Middle East Broadcasting Network and the International Broadcasting Bureau (see org chart here). [Kim Elliott points out, however, that the survey only covers the VOA and the IBB.]

BBG’s leadership lacking

Upon closer examination of the rankings and score composite, you can see BBG employees scored their agency worst in categories of Effective Leadership. Indeed, the BBG ranked in the bottom five of the 290 mid-sized federal agencies in the survey in all of the effective leadership sub-categories of the survery. Here a breakdown:

No plan for the future

Another area where the agency received a low score was in the category of Strategic Management: BBG employees rankings came in at 289 of 290, with only the Office of Chief Information Officer (HUD) ranking lower.

This, no doubt, shows that BBG employees feel there is no direction nor goals for the organization’s future.

I know quite a few employees in the Voice of America and the IBB. When I talk with these friends, I hear true passion for their jobs. They love what they do, whether it’s reporting or electronics engineering. When you read the results of this survey, it’s clear that these competent employees simply lack faith in their governing board and their management. The results suggest that they feel there is no plan for their future, and have concerns about their job security–especially with rumors of agency functions being merged and with jobs (like those at Radio Liberty) being cut without warning.  They also feel there is no chance for performance-based rewards and/or advancement.

A sad state of affairs, indeed, for the worthy and still highly relevant role of radio in international diplomacy.

Read the full report of the BBG (Voice of America) in The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.

Media Network will be closing on Saturday 24 March 2012

On Saturday, March 24, RNW’s Andy Sennitt will be closing down his Media Network blog. SWLing Post readers will recognize the name “Media Network” as I have referenced it many times as the source of news regarding international broadcasting. Andy posted the following message to his readers:

Important announcement to all our readers
March 8th, 2012 – 20:32 UTC by Andy Sennitt.
This Weblog will be closing on Saturday 24 March 2012.

I shall be taking early retirement from RNW at the end of April. Due to the new mandate of RNW effective on 1 January 2013, it will no longer be possible for the organisation to provide coverage of international media news.

In April I shall be writing a series of articles reflecting on the changes in international broadcasting since I started appearing on the Media Network radio show in 1981, and looking ahead to the coming decade. The articles will be published on the RNW English website.

If you have any memories of RNW or other international broadcasters that you would like to share, I will be pleased to hear from you at MediaNetwork@rnw.nl and I’ll try to include them in the articles.

The Weblog contains over 15,000 media news items published since October 2003. It will remain online as a searchable archive. To prevent spam, it will no longer be possible to add comments, but nearly 14,000 comments already received will still be available.

Andy Sennitt
http://blogs.rnw.nl/medianetwork/important-announcement-to-all-our-readers

Our best wishes to Andy in his early retirement and hopes that we will not completely lose him from the media scene. Andy, keep in touch!