The Voice of America Should Address Existing Problems To Ensure High Performance

ID-82-37: Published: Jul 29, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 29, 1982.

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GAO undertook a review of Voice of America (VOA) to evaluate the management of technical, program, and administrative activities.

GAO found the VOA management of technical, program, and administrative activities plagued by numerous problems, many of which have existed for a long time. The current management has established an independent personnel office and acquired additional physical space. However, vacancies in key management and staff positions continue to limit the effectiveness of VOA and its ability to maximize efficiency and economy in programing and operating the technical facilities. VOA has given little consideration to long-range planning for technical requirements, but has embarked on a number of piecemeal modernization projects which could cost more than $325 million. Changes to virtually all of these projects have redefined their scope, delayed estimated completion dates, and increased costs. GAO believes that these projects should be halted until VOA establishes a long-range plan for the expansion and improvement of its technical facilities. VOA has failed to maximize the economy and efficiency of its vast technical operation by not fully utilizing new technology; and it has not updated its construction practices to include new concepts, nor has it attempted to coordinate its technical needs with those of other government agencies. GAO has identified several programing practices which it believes are questionable including: limited guidance, duplication of effort, and the poor management of audience research.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the International Communication Agency should initiate discussions with other U.S. Government agencies involved in international broadcasting to identify existing and future technical facilities which may be appropriate for joint use.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the International Communication Agency should require the Associate Director for Broadcasting to develop plans to use the concepts of rapid deployment stations and standard-designed buildings in relay station construction and to employ those plans where appropriate.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the International Communication Agency should require the Associate Director for Broadcasting to establish a plan on the efficient use or disposal of the Dixon and Bethany Relay Stations.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the International Communication Agency should require the Associate Director for Broadcasting to collocate receiver and transmitter plants at the Liberia Relay Station and plan for future relay station collocation.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the International Communication Agency should require the Associate Director for Broadcasting to eliminate backup shortwave transmissions.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the International Communication Agency should require the Associate Director for Broadcasting to establish a timetable to provide: (1) a definitive level of program guidance including rules of usage and method for writing non-news material to ensure a consistent style; (2) a system which will minimize duplication of effort in developing centrally produced and service-originated non-news material; (3) a centralized process for analyzing and utilizing listener mail in establishing program guidance; and (4) short- and long-range plans for Voice of America programing which will be directed toward achieving maximum efficiency and effectiveness in program mixes and scheduling.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the International Communication Agency should require the Associate Director for Broadcasting to develop a comprehensive long-range plan for the effective modernization and expansion of VOA technical facilities and, if necessary, delay current construction projects until the plan is developed. The plan should include, as a minimum, projected program needs, a replacement schedule for obsolete equipment, an assessment of VOA technical capabilities and technical standards, an evaluation of the political vulnerability of the VOA broadcast system, and an assessment of the availability of other U.S. Government-owned radio facilities.

    Agency Affected: International Communication Agency

 

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