Improvements Made, Some Still Needed in Management of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

ID-81-16: Published: Mar 2, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 1981.

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The U.S. Government, through the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), is the largest Western international broadcaster to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. RFE/RL is a private, government-financed organization. The Board for International Broadcasting, an independent government agency, receives appropriated funds and allocates them to RFE/RL. A review was made of the efforts being made by RFE/RL to achieve effectiveness and economies in fulfilling its mission.

GAO concluded that management should provide precise written guidance on the agency's authority and responsibilities and should formulate criteria suitable for analysts and programers to use to improve the agency's evaluation work. In relation to 1976 GAO recommendations, nothing consequential has been done in programing and area and audience research. Suggested consolidations have not been enacted because of operational and language differences. News operations have been consolidated and this has worked well. The monitoring of foreign broadcasts has been removed from the news division and is now managed and financed by individual language services as suggested by GAO. The independence of RFL/RL and the oversight responsibility of the Board have clashed over the years. Regulations governing the Board's relationship with RFE/RL which were suggested by GAO have taken effect but management still seems uncomfortable with the changes. The Board has recommended a modest relocation of Munich operations to the United States. Management has made significant strides in consolidating administrative activities, reduced the number of compensation programs, and unified personnel management policies. It has taken steps to establish uniform housing policies. However, GAO believes eliminating company-furnished housing and going to an all allowance system would produce savings. GAO found a need for a post allowance manual, uniform accounting procedures, and inventory control. A basis for long-range planning is needed.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should have the executive branch conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. international broadcasting activities. This study should among other things address satellite broadcasting and other technological advances, sharing of technical facilities, merging of separate broadcast organizations, and the relationship between the Board for International Broadcasting and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Incorporated.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting should request from RFE/RL management a plan to examine the current recruitment practices and projected staff needs over the next 10 years with an eye toward developing a major staff rejuvenation and recruitment plan. Because of the anticipated large scale turnover to be incurred in the mid-1980s, GAO believes RFE/RL management must now begin to address this important issue. This plan should, at a minimum, identify programing and management needs by service, determine the linguistic and management skills required, project costs to the extent feasible, and develop alternative proposals to best meet these needs.

    Agency Affected: Board for International Broadcasting

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting should request from RFE/RL management a plan to devote greater attention to employee orientation by developing a new orientation program containing pertinent organization materials, including copies of the Mission Statement and Program Policy Guidelines in the native tongue of the employee (or as a minimum the three working languages).

    Agency Affected: Board for International Broadcasting

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting should request from RFE/RL management a plan to complete the RFE/RL Policy and Procedure Manual. The manual should include an expansion in both administrative and programing sections. There is a need to address the roles and responsibilities of the major operating units within RFE/RL. This manual should be available in three working languages: German, Russian, and English.

    Agency Affected: Board for International Broadcasting

  4. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of the Board for International Broadcasting should work with the top management of RFE/RL, Incorporated, to strengthen the policy assessment and program evaluation functions of the Broadcast Analysis Department. Some of the areas that should be addressed include defining the Department's authority and responsibilities, providing some autonomy for the Department, establishing accepted criteria and standards for assessments and evaluations, communicating and responding to the results of the assessments and evaluations, and providing adequate staff.

    Agency Affected: Board for International Broadcasting

 

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