Not So Fast, Results Not So Rosy

In an October 16th email to all employees CEO and Director John Lansing boasted that the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) “continued its upward trend with a 3 percent average increase across all indicators” in the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). He noted that the government-wide average increase was 1%.

This year’s results show that there was a precipitous drop in participation at the USAGM. The participation rate this year was 58.5%. Compare that with last year’s participation rate of 75%, or 2016’s participation rate of 63.4%, or even the participation rate in 2015 which was 74.3%. In talking with fellow employees, AFGE Local 1812 became concerned about the number of people who said they were not going to participate in the survey this year because “it doesn’t make any difference.” We suspect the 3% average increase across all indicators could be explained in great part by the lack of participation of the most jaded employees. The increases can also be explained in part because when you start with a mark so far below the government-wide average there is just more room for improvement. This year’s results did not result in the USAGM improving its position in relation to its ranking among all other agencies.

There are two main indices used in the survey: the Global Satisfaction Index and the New IQ Index. The New IQ index is further subdivided into 4 subcategories.

The Agencies are grouped in five categories according to the number of employees: Very Large Agencies, Large Agencies, Medium Agencies, Small Agencies, and Very Small Agencies. The USAGM is included with the Medium Agencies. In every index the USAGM falls below the government-wide average.

In the Global Satisfaction Index the USAGM received a 57% for positive responses. That is 10% below the average for agencies of the same size. It is also the second lowest in the Medium Agency category only above the Department of Education (52%) which threw its Union Local out of the building and imposed a draconian contract on its employees.

In the New IQ Overall Index the USAGM scored a 54% for positive responses. That is 10% below the average for agencies of the same size. It was dead last for all Medium Agencies.

In the New IQ Fair Index the USAGM received a 41% for positive responses. That is 11% below the average for agencies of the same size.

In the New IQ Open Index the USAGM received a 55% for positive responses. That is 8% below the average for agencies of the same size.

In the New IQ Cooperative Index the USAGM received a 49% for positive responses. That is a whopping 13% below the average for agencies of the same size.

In the New IQ Supportive Index the USAGM received a 72% for positive responses. That is 10% below the average for agencies of the same size.

No matter how you spin it, the USAGM is once again the Bottom of the Barrel and in 2018, just as in past years, received a failing grade.

The news is the same for the International Broadcasting Bureau and the Voice of America. Digging deeper into the results, there was only one area under the USAGM that was above the line in every category – the Office of Security. Congratulations to them.

The Engineering and Transmission Directorate, the Resource and Project Management Directorate, and the Technical Support Division/TV Maintenance Service all had only one category that was below the government-wide average but that’s really the end of any positive news.

There were several units in the agency in which not a single category was rated above the government-wide average. The Office of Contracts, The Office of the CIO, the Programming Directorate, the English to Africa Service, Broadcast Operations, the English Division, the Persian News Network, Central News and Production, the East Asia and Pacific Division, the Mandarin Service, the Afghanistan and Dari Service, the VOA News Center and the Real Time News Desk all failed across the board. If you are looking for a reassignment or detail, employees of the agency would be wise to avoid these areas of toxic morale.

Checking in with Miami, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting had one category that managed to better the government-wide average but by only one percentage point. All other categories were below the line.

What seems to be obvious, but it will not happen, is that supervisors and managers of the failing areas should be removed from their positions. At the very least they should be required to significantly improve morale in their areas in the 2019 FEVS or face reassignment or removal. But the USAGM has never held these failing managers accountable.

Overall, these results are far from anything to crow about. After all these years maybe all of those employees who refused to take part in the survey this year were right – it just doesn’t matter. No matter the results, the USAGM will just continue along the course upper management has plotted—paying lip service to improving morale but never significantly improving it.

The numbers don’t lie.

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A Mass of Remembrance

A Mass of Remembrance was held for Marie Ciliberti on November 7, 2018 in Silver Spring, Maryland at Our Lady Queen of Poland Catholic Church. That day would have been her 82nd birthday. Members of the AFGE Local 1812 Executive Board attended and the Union provided a beautiful flower spray for the service.

Marie was a devout Roman Catholic and the service was traditional with most of it being conducted in Latin. It gave everyone the chance to remember how much she contributed to those around her. She would have been very pleased with the service which stressed what she found important in her life, her religion, her belief in freedom, and her willingness to help those who needed assistance.

We were not surprised that she attended this particular church. She was very proud of her Polish ancestry. AFGE Local 1812 office manager, Bogomila Mireva noticed a remarkable fact- Marie passed away on October 22nd – the feast day of John Paul II, the Polish Pope. As Union member Verla Wiley exclaimed: “Only Marie could have pulled that off!”

Former AFGE Local 1812 Executive Board member Ted Landphair wanted to share his memories of working with Marie.

I am far away, in Arizona and knew Marie professionally rather than in her life away from work, and so I do not know her family or how to reach them. But I would like them to know how special Marie was to many people. If there is a window in her Mass of Remembrance to read my comments about Dear Marie, I would be honored:

Marie was a fierce conservative; I am more liberal every day. We were both longtime broadcasters at the Voice of America but in disparate branches in distant parts of the building. Yet we were fast friends and mutual admirers, owing to our shared devotion to the employee union of which we were Board members.

Marie, and I to a lesser extent because I was constantly traveling on behalf of the agency, made every effort to “speak truth to power” within the Voice of America, confronting management and a punitive “human relations” office that was not always human at all in its treatment of rank-and-file employees. Marie, in particular, put her actions where her sentiments were, speaking forcefully in forums and staff meetings and walking in the vanguard of picketing protests when called for.

She and I had the most genial of spats, especially about politics, slipping each other digs and winks when the fortunes of “our side” seemed on the rise. There were no winners or losers in our disagreements, except, regrettably, on the issue of smoking. I could not talk Marie out of it.

We both despised hypocrisy and condescension. I was the more temperate about it: Marie was mild-mannered until outrage over injustices overwhelmed her, at which time it was woe unto those who would mistreat or malign the “ordinary” (really not ordinary at all) person.

By now her survivors have heard or read many versions of the cliche, “She will be missed” and the one about her “making a difference.” These are not cliches in the case of dear Marie. She changed an entire bureaucratic culture — or at least never stopped trying to — for the better.

God bless her work, her life, and her soul.Marie's Flowers