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BBG on IG Report: We Take Findings Seriously

Broadcaster says it has enacted some recommended actions; frequent critic CUSIB applauds and criticizes

Reaction to a report from the Office of Inspector General for the State Dept. regarding how the Broadcasting Board of Governors oversees U.S. international broadcasting efforts is interesting.

The report cites hostility among board members that it says wrecks the deliberative process and renders the board ineffectual, we reported.

We asked the BBG for a response. It responded:

“The BBG appreciates the work that the Office of the Inspector General has put into this report, and we respect the integrity of the OIG team. We take their findings seriously and have enacted some of the recommended actions, including devising guidelines for travel. We will work to implement others.”

The BBG continues: “The report highlights the need for structural and other reforms that the BBG has been working toward as part of a long-term strategy to alter the Board’s day-to-day operational role even as it retains its mandate to provide strategic guidance and oversight. These proposed changes involve matters of governance and leadership, such as establishing the position of a Chief Executive Officer to run the agency. Some of the reforms can come about only through legislation, which the BBG intends to propose for congressional consideration this year, and we will look to Congress to support this effort.

The board does note the OIG’s confirmed “the high-quality journalism produced by the BBG’s broadcasters and the commitment of the board and the agency to it.”

Meanwhile, the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting applauds the actions by BBG board members to increase transparency and accountability, and says the board “has made great strides” in the past few months to address “serious mishaps within the agency.”

In a statement sent to RW and signed by CUSIB co-founder and Executive Director Ann Noonan, a nongovernmental organization promoting international broadcasting but that has been lately critical of the BBG, praised the selection of Kevin Klose as acting president and chief executive officer of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty following the departure of Steven Korn.

However CUSIB remains disturbed over some of the report findings, especially with what the group believes to be “cryptic attacks” on one member of the BBG board, Victor Ashe. “In an all too sloppy manner, the OIG decries actions by an unnamed Governor, yet mentions his earlier professional experience as a mayor of a city. The OIG’s pretense of maintaining the anonymity of Ambassador Ashe is insulting to the reader,” states Noonan, who adds CUSIB’s review of board actions show Ashe’s interventions have, among other things, “strengthened transparency and accountability at the BBG and highlighted serious employee morale issues.”