Does the BBG Enjoy Flouting the Law?

Original post, September 12, 2016.

After years of litigation and many thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money expended on legal fees, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) seems to be intent on flouting the very law with which it said, in 2015, it would comply. We refer here to the provision of the Smith-Mundt Act that gives priority to employing qualified United States citizens for jobs and promotions over non-U.S. citizens. As it should be.

After some nine years of litigation, during which time the Agency refused to comply with the law – the BBG was informed by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) – the independent agency of the United States government that governs labor relations between the federal government and its employees – that it would have to comply with an Arbitrator’s ruling that mandated that the Agency complies with the Smith-Mundt Act.

According to Arbitrator Marshall, qualified U.S. citizens unlawfully deprived of jobs and promotions in favor of foreign aliens were supposed to be compensated and the hiring of foreign aliens over qualified U.S. citizens was supposed to stop. For a short time, the Agency did follow the mandate and complied with the arbitrator’s award but recently there has been a spate of violations. At the end of this article, see the list of broadcasting positions recently posted by the Agency which graphically show that the agency apparently has again begun defying the law as well as the arbitrator’s decision.

The Arbitrator’s decision stated that U.S. citizens illegally bypassed for promotions and jobs with the Agency must be compensated. As of yet, compensation has not happened. The arbitrator also ruled that the Agency must comply with the law by issuing vacancies first to U.S. citizens and if no qualified U.S. citizen was found to be qualified, the Agency could then open the vacancy to U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens. If after opening the vacancy to both, a U.S. citizen was found to be qualified the U.S. citizen would have to be hired.

After raising these issues with the Agency during the past year – in vain – the Union is now forced to alert the Arbitrator of these violations. Meanwhile, the tab keeps running for the U.S. taxpayers. It will cost more to settle these issues in a year – or in two years time – whatever time the BBG wishes to take, since the individual Agency officials know they are protected from personal liability for these delays and therefore have no urgent motive to care.

These delaying tactics are nothing new, but have been shown to have disastrous consequences for U.S. taxpayers. That’s how, in 2001, the U.S. government ended up paying some 500 million dollars to some 1,100 women illegally discriminated against by the Agency – after decades of litigation.

Agency managers have argued over the years that the hiring of foreign aliens over U.S. citizens was necessary to maintain programming quality. However, they are unable to explain why the wronged U.S. citizens were found QUALIFIED for the positions they were illegally turned down for. They were found QUALIFIED by the very same Agency that subsequently turned around and stated that only a non-U.S. citizen would do.

With the hiring of a new CEO, the BBG is trying mightily to have employees believe that it has turned a new page that better days are ahead. We are not as yet convinced. On the contrary, with yet another instance of ignoring an Arbitrator’s decision, it looks as if its business as usual at this Agency that continues to flout the law while at the same time touting the rule of law in its broadcasts to the world.

Here are the recently-posted broadcasting positions at the Agency referenced above that were simultaneously advertised to U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens alike apparently without opening the positions first to U.S citizens only:

1) International Broadcaster (Multimedia) (Kirundi/Kinyarwanda); Citizen Announcement No. DE-16-148, Non-citizen Announcement No. NC-16-9148;

2) International Broadcaster (TV/Online)(Russian); Citizen Announcement No. DE-16-147, Non-citizen Announcement No. NC-16-9147;

3) International Broadcaster (Multimedia) (Somali); Citizen Announcement No. DE-16-144, Non-citizen Announcement No. NC-16-9144;

4) International Broadcaster (Multimedia) (Urdu); Citizen Announcement No. DE-16-143, Non-citizen Announcement No. NC-16-9151;

5) International Broadcaster (Digital Media) (Indonesian); Citizen Announcement No. DE-16-154, Non-citizen Announcement No. NC-16-9154.

In addition, the BBG has issued an announcement for an Audience Engagement Coordinator (Pashto) Non-Citizen Announcement No. NC-16-9152.

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