State's Lynne Weil to head Broadcasting Board of Governors large PR department
As Voice of America (VOA) broadcasting services are being eliminated, the number of highly paid Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) executives, who order these cuts, keeps growing, with some key positions being filled by former CNN associates of BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson. The latest, according to BBG Watch sources, is Lynne Weil whom the BBG selected for a career SES position to replace Diane Zeleny who was earning $170,000 a year and left after only a few months on the job. She is not known to have any personal or professional links to Chairman Isaacson. VOA Insider reports that “this position is absolutely useless — and represents the Administration’s burrowing into Career, lifetime jobs. It is a sop to the State Department where Weil who has been left in the lurch with the quitting of Judith McHale. BBG already has three GS 15s — all of them making about $150,000 per year — handling public and congressional affairs; 2 GS-14s, and five GS 12s and 13s — all doing PR. That’s about 10 people on the 3rd Floor — plus a PMF and interns. This does not take into account the 20 or so people doing PR and Congressional relations at RFE/RL, RFA, and MBN.”
It is not known whether the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has approved Lynne Weil appointment to a career SES position at the BBG. She is a Senior Advisor for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. She was previously Press Director and Spokeswoman at the U.S. Agency for International Development; Communications Director at the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and Press Secretary at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
BBG Watch believes that eventually this appointment is likely to contribute to closing down of yet another Voice of America broadcasting service. BBG executives have never been known for reducing their own ranks when budgets are cut. In fact, they have been hiring right and left as well as giving themselves large bonuses, some as high as $10,000.
It’s a great job if you can get it, said one BBG Watch source. Being a Voice of America broadcaster preparing radio and TV programs to countries like China is another story. BBG executives wanted to fire 45 such broadcasters but Congressional committees intervened and stopped the planned dismissals. One source told BBG Watch that perhaps with the experience she required working in Congress and at the State Department, Lynne Weil can have some positive impact on the BBG executive staffers who — in addition to being voted by BBG employees as being among the worst managers in the federal government — also lack political sense and appreciation of U.S. foreign policy and public diplomacy needs abroad.
Weil’s job, however, will be to sell to Congress the plan to de-federalize and privatize the Voice of America and Radio and TV Marti. The plan was developed by the same bureaucrats who wanted to end VOA radio and TV broadcasts to China. This did not go very well with members of Congress and they may also not like the BBG merger plan that would limit the administrative independence of the surrogate broadcasters like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. These broadcasters have enjoyed considerable support in Congress and their independence from central bureaucratic control is viewed as essential to their success in promoting democracy and human rights abroad. One BBG Watch Source expressed hope that perhaps Lynne Weil can explain these basic facts to the BBG members.