Voice of America:

Station Modernization Projects Need to Be Justified

NSIAD-94-69: Published: Jan 24, 1994. Publicly Released: Jan 24, 1994.

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GAO reviewed the issues associated with consolidating Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America (VOA) within the U.S. Information Agency's (USIA) Bureau of Broadcasting, focusing on whether VOA: (1) adequately considered the changing world conditions and new technology in its plans to build new stations and modernize existing ones; and (2) supported its modernization projects with fully documented cost-benefit analyses.

GAO found that: (1) major political changes, advances in communications technology, and organizational changes in U.S. government international broadcasting could render some VOA-planned shortwave modernization projects obsolete; (2) VOA and RFE/RL have reduced their direct broadcast hours and are planning to eliminate redundant broadcasts; (3) although fewer people in target audiences are listening to shortwave broadcasts, VOA plans to construct new shortwave stations and modernize existing stations; (4) although VOA has agreed to analyze the costs and benefits of its new construction projects, it has not conducted cost-benefit analyses for existing shortwave modernization projects; and (5) although existing VOA projects have been approved, VOA should examine the necessity for further construction in the changing political and technological environment.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: USIA advised GAO that its Bureau of Broadcasting has implemented the cost-benefit analyses consistent with the specific criteria outlined in the GAO report. These analyses were done for the last remaining shortwave station modernization project.

    Recommendation: The Director, USIA, should direct the Associate Director, Bureau of Broadcasting, to require fully documented cost-benefit analyses for all VOA shortwave modernization projects where construction has not yet begun.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Bureau of Broadcasting used the project alternative assessment process in evaluating its new Pacific Island shortwave station. This process was developed in response to a GAO report.

    Recommendation: USIA should use the project alternatives assessment process developed in response to our 1992 report.

    Agency Affected: United States Information Agency


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