Audit finds low morale at Office of Cuba Broadcasting

07/07/2014 1:24 PM

07/07/2014 1:38 PM

Low morale still plagues the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, the U.S. government organization responsible for Radio and TV Marti, a new audit finds.

In a partially redacted report dated July 7, based on employee interviews conducted last year, the State Department’s Office of Inspector General cited morale as among the pressing challenges facing the Cuban broadcasting operations.

“Some of the reasons cited for low morale included the lack of transparency in decisionmaking, the inability to offer suggestions, and the lack of effective communication,” the audit states. “Others were concerned about raising any issues to the inspection team because of fear of retaliation by management.”

Lynne Weil, spokesperson for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, said in an interview Monday afternoon that “we concur overall” with the recommendations made in the inspector general’s report, and said “the work of the OIG will help” the Cuban broadcasting office improve.

“Numerous steps have already been taken to address these issues,” Weil said, adding that “the head of the office has heard (the concerns) loud and clear.”

Auditors further cited “security deficiencies” at the broadcasting organization’s Miami office, though certain details were redacted. Weil said “the agency is still working on” security revisions. The office’s formal written response was not included in the report issued Monday.

The problems were identified in inspection visits between September and November of 2013, conducted in Washington, D.C. and in Miami, Florida, as well as at the office’s transmitting station in Marathon, Fla., and the Naval Air Station in Key West.

The broadcast services provide Spanish-language news, features, and entertainment programs to Cuba. In addition to radio and television, the office operates a website, www.martinoticias.com.

Official with the Office of Cuba Broadcasting told auditors they were surprised at the morale complaints. Officials noted that in a 2013 Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, OCB employees gave high scores in categories of work experience, leadership, and supervisors.

The 29-page audit countered that morale was not specifically asked about in the 2013 OPM survey.

“Senior management needs to take additional steps to allow employees to offer suggestions and communicate with them effectively without fear of reprisal or intimidation,” the audit states.

The auditors, though, also commended the Cuban broadcasting office for certain improvements, including assurances that “journalistic standards are followed.” The office was further praised for maintaining “good working relationships with various U.S. federal agencies,” including the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of Defense.

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