Spring and Sequestration

March 21 Briefing on Workplace Engagement Action Plan

As is true across the government, at the BBG we are wrestling with the very real budgetary challenges of sequestration and yet another continuing resolution. Our day-to-day operations have been impacted in ways that may go largely unnoticed in the U.S. – except by our dedicated employees.

The team here sought to put our audience and employees first and managed to avoid furloughs, despite the 5% budget cut under sequestration. No one at the BBG is being furloughed, which is a big accomplishment in my book.

That means finding savings in other areas than salaries. There are difficult choices to make but I am proud of the unity of purpose our staff has shown seeking avenues to cut costs but not people or programs. This includes trimming some low-impact shortwave transmissions, freezing hiring, curtailing travel, postponing expenditures on non-essential items, and cutting funds for awards.

While tackling serious fiscal issues, we have also outlined a plan to tackle long-standing, critical workplace issues. I am referring to issues that have come up as persistent concerns to employees. Last week we had a very productive all-hands kick-off to our action plan for workplace engagement. We shared and discussed the plan that is based on staff input and feedback, we introduced a dedicated group of staff volunteer facilitators who are serving as an additional bridge between employees and management, and we tasked managerial action leaders to lead the way on implementing constructive changes. We are working with and drawing upon the expertise and experience of the Partnership for Public Service. They have a track record of coaching organizations through cultural change that we want to tap into. We know it will take time but the feedback I got from our employees is that they are willing to join us in this groundbreaking endeavor.

So as we all look to welcome cherry blossoms and Spring here in Washington, I am reassured that our unity of purpose and mission at the BBG can and will withstand the fiscal challenges ahead and we will continue to work together to innovate and transform U.S. international broadcasting to better serve our audiences and cultivate our human resources at the same time.

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