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Highlights

In response to a congressional request, GAO evaluated Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) broadcast controls and the Board for International Broadcasting's (BIB) program oversight activities.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Board for International Broadcasting 1. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board, should have the President, RFE/RL, formally disseminate written program and policy decisions resulting from the various daily policy meetings, including decisions to use or not use certain news articles, to the broadcast services. This information should also be provided to the Broadcast Analysis Department so that checks can be made to ensure that the broadcast services have complied with policy decisions.
Closed - Implemented
RFE/RL revised its procedures for distributing guidance in line with this recommendation.
Board for International Broadcasting 2. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board, should have the President, RFE/RL, reaffirm existing policy that the responsibility for writing and editing program material be kept separate and take steps to ensure compliance.
Closed - Implemented
RFE/RL has issued written instructions to meet this recommendation.
Board for International Broadcasting 3. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board, should have the President, RFE/RL, ensure that the Broadcast Analysis Department is adequately staffed to provide postbroadcast evaluation on all RFE/RL services.
Closed - Implemented
RFE/RL assigned a priority to staffing the Broadcast Analysis Department. Additionally, the President, RFE/RL, gave strong emphasis to the Department's function.
Board for International Broadcasting 4. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board, should have the President, RFE/RL, establish a formal system to ensure that all concerns raised by the Broadcast Analysis Department are fully discussed by RFE/RL management and communicated to the broadcast services, when appropriate, and that formal responses are provided to the Broadcast Analysis Department.
Closed - Implemented
RFE/RL established a formal system to address concerns.
Board for International Broadcasting 5. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board, should have the President, RFE/RL, compile and regularly publish reports on trends in policy violations for each broadcast service and provide these to BIB and its staff. Depending on the results of these reports, it may be necessary to establish a system for selective pre-broadcast reviews by the Broadcast Analysis Department when recurring problems exist with specific writers, programs, or complete services.
Closed - Implemented
RFE/RL established a formal reporting system.
Board for International Broadcasting 6. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board, should have the President, RFE/RL, conduct periodic program reviews of each broadcast service to evaluate all internal and external program feedback and make recommendations for program improvements.
Closed - Implemented
The action taken is merely a restatement of what BIB was doing at the time of the audit, which GAO believed was inadequate. While GAO believes that a formal process is warranted, recent changes made by BIB may accomplish the same objective.
Board for International Broadcasting 7. The Chairman, BIB, should have the President establish a senior-level position to handle day-to-day program and policy matters.
Closed - Implemented
RFE/RL established a position to coordinate editorial management functions.
Board for International Broadcasting 8. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board members, should define the BIB program oversight goals and revise regulations governing these and other activities.
Closed - Implemented
BIB plans to have its regulations revised and published by mid-fiscal year (FY) 1987. The revision will define the BIB oversight role and the role of the staff. These were spelled out in recent BIB board meetings.
Board for International Broadcasting 9. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board members, should determine and clarify the role of the BIB staff in fulfilling the federal oversight responsibility. As part of this responsibility, BIB should consider establishing a formal system to review, evaluate and, when appropriate, respond to all reported broadcast violations or questions regarding broadcast practices.
Closed - Implemented
BIB plans to have its regulations revised and published by mid-FY 1987. The revision will define the BIB oversight role and the role of the staff. These were spelled out in recent BIB board meetings. In addition, BIB hired a new staffer to monitor broadcast practices.
Board for International Broadcasting 10. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board members, should instruct RFE/RL management to promptly inform BIB of any reported violations of the policy guidelines and of any corrective actions taken.
Closed - Implemented
BIB instructed RFE/RL management to comply with the recommendations.
Board for International Broadcasting 11. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board members, should develop an annual plan which incorporates the needs of both BIB and RFE/RL when using outside consultants to evaluate RFE/RL broadcast services.
Closed - Implemented
Staffs of BIB and RFE/RL are working on an annual review plan. A plan was developed but budget problems restricted the use of consultants.
Board for International Broadcasting 12. The Chairman, BIB, working with the Board members, should instruct the BIB staff to increase coordination with Department of State desk officers for those countries receiving RFE/RL broadcasts.
Closed - Implemented
BIB placed renewed emphasis to staff on maintaining a working relationship with State.
Board for International Broadcasting 13. The Chairman, BIB, working with Board members, should invite State to periodically send a representative to BIB meetings to provide State's perspective on programming issues.
Closed - Implemented
The Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY 1986 and 1987 mandated State's attendance at BIB meetings.
Department of State 14. The Secretary of State should reemphasize the important role the foreign service posts can play in providing feedback on RFE/RL broadcasts and provide post input to the BIB for use in its oversight responsibilities.
Closed - Implemented
An accomplishment report has been prepared addressing this recommendation.

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