Voice of America:

Selected Personnel Practices Warrant Management Attention

NSIAD-89-160: Published: Jul 12, 1989. Publicly Released: Aug 11, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Voice of America's (VOA) and Radio Marti's personnel management practices to determine the validity of numerous employees' allegations regarding: (1) time and attendance abuses; (2) irregular employment, supervisory, and management practices; (3) improper contract awards to purchase order vendors; and (4) discrimination and sexual harassment.

GAO found that VOA: (1) lacked sufficient internal control procedures to ensure that it paid employees only for actual hours worked, resulting in time and attendance reporting abuses and noncompliance with overtime, compensatory time, and work scheduling rules; (2) did not adequately monitor its contracting with purchase order vendors and did not follow numerous contracting regulations and procedures, resulting in improper noncompetitive awards to former employees and relatives of current employees; (3) had different grade structures and advancement opportunities among its broadcasting divisions; (4) has not met its affirmative action goals for increasing female and minority representation among broadcasters, radio broadcast technicians, and radio electronic technicians; (5) routinely sponsored temporary visas for foreign nationals it intended to hire permanently; and (6) recommended that Radio Marti review its questionable use of its noncompetitive, excepted service hiring authority, but Radio Marti rejected the recommendation. GAO also found that Radio Marti initiated several actions to address personnel-related problems, including improving communications and manager, supervisor, and employee training and orientation.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Several initiatives were taken to better adapt government regulations to the VOA operating environment. Supervisory training was given to all supervisors, regarding time and attendance control. A computer-assisted security system has been implemented, making it easier to monitor time and attendance abuse on the weekends and evening shifts.

    Recommendation: The Director, U.S. Information Agency (USIA), should direct the Director, VOA, to ensure full implementation of VOA initiatives to improve time and attendance control.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VOA has developed an affirmative action plan which promotes the hiring and advancement of minorities and women. Many women have moved into managerial positions and affirmative action is a critical element of managerial performance ratings.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should direct the Director, VOA, to determine if artificial barriers are contributing to the underrepresentation of women and minorities and then take the necessary steps to increase the representation of women and minorities, especially at the senior levels.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VOA established a central unit to be responsible for oversight to ensure compliance with established policies and procedures for use of purchase order vendors. In addition, a proposal to centralize all VOA small purchase activity was developed. VOA issued new instructions placing tighter control over the use of purchase order vendors.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should direct the Director, VOA, to create a central unit to review and approve the use of purchase order vendors to ensure that VOA complies with federally prescribed standards in awarding contracts to purchase order vendors.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VOA developed new policies for non-citizens with Union support. VOA has new grade benchmarks and the personnel office is auditing jobs against these standards.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should direct the Director, VOA, to continue to assess personnel practices in the areas of pay and classification of broadcasters and employment of noncitizens.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Radio Marti initiated a review of all Schedule B positions to determine whether successful performance in the job requires preexisting knowledge of Cuba. Action was taken to move to the competitive service those positions which can no longer be justified as excepted service positions. This reporting will be an annual requirement.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should direct the Director, VOA, to review the use of Radio Marti's Schedule B hiring authority with a view toward ensuring that those hired under that authority have the requisite knowledge of Cuba and that all the positions designated to be covered by the Schedule B authority are warranted.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

 

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