BBG's Victor Ashe's wish list for 2012 urges reforms

BBG Watch (BBGWatch.com) is republishing a statement released by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) member Victor Ashe in which he urges major reforms at the federal agency in charge of U.S. international broadcasting to reach audiences in China and to improve employee morale.

Also see a BBG Watch report on Ashe’s statement.

Statement from BBG Governor Victor H. Ashe

I hope that 2012 sees a new era of employee-management relations for BBG. I feel the Governors are becoming increasingly aware that having 45 percent of all VOA employees as contract employees presents major issues of fairness, concern and accountability. It creates two classes of employees for a single work force.

I hope BBG director Dick Lobo will appoint a broad based committee representing all groups to review the issue and make recommendations to the Board. The BBG governance committee must take a hard look at this. The recent flu shot issue which was favorably resolved highlights how foolish the two classes of employees had become as it made no sense to deny contract employees flu shots while offering them to federal employees all working in the same building and office space. How this ever occurred in the first place surprised me.

Surveys have consistently shown bad morale. We must turn this around. Contract employees are not surveyed by OPM. Recently, IBB sent out a limited survey on the contracts themselves but not on general work place issues. While well intended, that attempt falls short of what is needed to gauge employee thoughts. We must make a New Year’s resolution to do better in this area. We must walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

We must also ring the bell that boorish behavior in the work place will not be tolerated. We must be open and transparent in how we deal with it. I am confident that the new engaged leadership of David Ensor will prevail and create a new climate in this field. He is implementing new procedures.

I felt my visit to the Edward Murrow Transmission facility in Greenville, NC on December 7 was a good one and I learned a lot. I am convinced it is a serious mistake to close this facility which is the only one on American soil where the American government has jurisdiction. The station in the Philippines is barred from transmissions to China due the Philippine government’s reluctance to upset the Chinese government. That could not happen on American territory. 

The Murrow facility has been hidden from public view and I urge it to be more visible. Its name had become Site B which is effectively nameless. However, President Kennedy had participated in 1962 naming it for Edward R Murrow, one of our nation’s most respected newscasters. The signs should be re-erected in North Carolina and the public of Pitt County invited to visit. We should be proud of the Murrow facility.

On December 14, I spent most of the day visiting and meeting employees of MBN in Springfield, VA and was deeply impressed by Brian Conniff and his dedicated staff. They are outstanding. In March the full Board plans to meet there.

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