Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Private outfit to manage U.S. grants targeting Cuba, other nations

Source: Noubel.com
The Broadcasting Board of Governors proposes creating a new private organization that will carry out the BBG's programs in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Cuba.
According to a 2016 budget document, the BBG would funnel grant money to the non-profit organization, but it "will not be considered a federal agency."
However, the private organization "shall adhere to the same standards or professionalism and accountability required of all Broadcasting Board of Governors broadcasters and grantees," the document states.
The document also says the BBG would have the ability to assign its employees to grantees (proposal begins on page six of the 126-page budget document):
Broadcasting Board of Governors employees may be detailed to such a grantee, notwithstanding any other provision of law. Grants to this grantee shall satisfy any provisions of law requiring a federal entity, rather than a grantee, to carry out broadcasting to Cuba or other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The blog BBG Watch says these changes amount to the "de-federalization of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) Radio and TV Marti operations serving Cuba and Voice of America (VOA) Latin American outreach."
I suspect that creation of this new private organization would reduce transparency and make it more difficult to know how the BBG is spending tax dollars.
U.S. government-financed private organizations rarely release detailed information about how they spend money in Cuba. These groups include the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, International Relief and Development, and other organizations.
Such groups receive tens of millions of dollars in U.S. government funds every year. They are powerful organizations and run programs all around the world, but would collapse if not for federal support.
These organizations' publicly available financial records typically release only general details about how they spend their money and they usually refuse to disclose subcontractors, Freedom of Information Act requests show.
I wonder if this new BBG-financed organization will follow the same pattern.
The budget document also outlines the creation of a new CEO for U.S. international media and it modifies the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act. See below for the nitty-gritty of the changes.

GENERAL PROVISIONS
CREATION OF THE POSITION OF CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF UNITED STATES INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

SEC. 701. (a) Subsection 304(f) of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994, as amended (22 U.S.C. 6203(f)), is amended to read as follows:

"(f) DECISIONS.—Decisions of the Board shall be made by majority vote, a quorum being present. A quorum shall consist of a majority of Governors then serving (as determined under subsection (c) of this Section) at the time a decision of the Board is made.";


(b) Subsection 305(a) of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994, as amended (22 U.S.C. 6204(a)), is amended:

(1) in paragraph (2), to read as follows:

"(2) To review and evaluate the mission and operation of, and to assess the quality, effectiveness, and professional integrity of, all such activities within the context of the broad foreign policy objectives of the United States, and to set the strategic direction for international broadcasting activities of the
Federal and non-Federal entities granted funds under the Broadcasting Board of Governors."; and
(2) in paragraph (11), to read as follows:

"(11) To appoint a Chief Executive Officer for a 5-year term that is renewable at the Board's discretion and such other staff personnel of the Board as the Board may determine to be necessary, subject to the provisions of Title 5 governing appointments, classification, and compensation. The Board shall appoint a Chief Executive Officer by no later than 180 days following the effective date
hereof (and may appoint an interim Chief Executive Office prior to such appointment) and, thereafter, within 180 days of the departure or removal of a Chief Executive Officer. The Chief Executive Officer may be removed by the Board by a 2/3 majority of Governors then serving.";

(c) Subsections 305(b), (c), and (d) of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994, as amended (22 U.S.C. 6204(b), (c), and (d)), are each amended to read as follows:

"(b) DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY.—The Chief Executive Officer shall have sole responsibility to carry out the authorities enumerated in 22 US.C. 6204(a)(1), (5), (6), (7), (8), (10), (11) (except the authority to appoint the Chief Executive Officer under paragraph (11) of subsection (a)), (12), (13), (14), (15), (16), (17), (18), and (19) subject to the ongoing supervision of the Board. The Board, at its discretion, may delegate the responsibilities enumerated in 22 U.S.C. 6204(a)(2), (3), (4), and (9), which may be delegated to the extent the Board determines to be appropriate. The Chief Executive Officer shall exercise any authority so delegated subject to the ongoing supervision of the Board, except the authority to appoint and remove the Chief Executive Officer under paragraph (11) of subsection (a), which shall be exercised solely by the Board.";

"(c) BROADCASTING BUDGETS.—The Chief Executive Officer shall submit proposed budgets to the Board for all activities authorized to be conducted under this title for review and approval. The Board shall forward its recommendations concerning the proposed budget for the Board and broadcasting activities under this title, the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act, as amended, and the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act, as amended, to the Office of Management and
Budget."; and 1222 Broadcasting Board of Governors

"(d) PROFESSIONAL INDEPENDENCE OF BROADCASTERS.—The Secretary of State, the Board, and the Chief Executive Officer, in carrying out their functions, shall respect the professional independence and integrity of the International Broadcasting Bureau, its broadcasting services, and the grantees of the Board.";

(d) Subsection 307(b) of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994, as amended (22 U.S.C. 6206(b)), is amended to read as follows:

"(b) SELECTION OF DIRECTOR OF BUREAU.—The Director of the Bureau shall be abolished immediately after the individual holding that office on the date of the enactment of this Act ceases to hold that office, and all responsibilities and authorities shall be transferred to the Chief Executive Officer.";

(e) Subsections 310(a), (b), (c), and (d) of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994, as amended (22 U.S.C. 6209), are each amended to read as follows:

"(a) FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES.—
(1) The Chief Executive Officer shall have the following functions and duties:

(A) To exercise the authorities identified pursuant to Section 305(b);
(B) To exercise the authorities delegated by the Board of Governors pursuant to Section 305(b); and
(C) To carry out all of the broadcasting activities conducted pursuant to this title, the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act, as amended, and the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act, as amended, including by grant; and
(2) The Chief Executive Officer shall not assume any of the functions and duties of the Director of the International Broadcasting Bureau until the individual holding that office on the date of the enactment of this Act ceases to hold that office.";

"(b) ORGANIZATION OF BROADCASTING ACTIVITIES SUBORDINATE TO THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER.—The position of the Director of the International Broadcasting Bureau shall be abolished immediately after the individual holding that office on the date of the enactment of this Act ceases to hold that office, and the functions and activities formerly organized under such
Director shall be organized as directed by, and shall be subordinate to, the Chief Executive Officer. The Directors of the Voice of America and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting shall report, and are subordinate, to the Chief Executive Officer. RFE/RL, Incorporated; Radio Free Asia; and Middle East Broadcast Networks, Incorporated are independent organizations but shall communicate and report through the Chief Executive Officer to the Board, as shall any other such statutory
grantee entity.";

"(c) CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AUTHORITY OVER GRANTS.—For all grants made by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a condition of the grant shall be that the Chief Executive Officer shall have authority to redirect funds within the scope of the grant as needed in order to maintain consistency with Board-approved agency priorities worldwide. Failure to comply with any redirection in accordance with this condition shall be a violation of the terms and conditions of the award and may result in corrective action taken by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which may include suspension or termination of the grant until remedied."; and

"(d) CONGRESSIONAL LOBBYING.—No grant funds provided by the Broadcasting Board of Governors may be used for any activity for the purpose of influencing the passage or defeat of legislation being considered by Congress.".

SPANISH LANGUAGE GRANTEE
SEC. 702. AMENDMENTS TO THE RADIO AND TV BROADCASTING TO CUBA ACTS.
(a) The Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act, as amended (22 U.S.C. 1465 et seq.) is amended —
(1) in section 3 (22 U.S.C. 1465a)—
(A) in subsection (b), by striking "shall be part of the Voice of America radio broadcasting to Cuba and";
(B) in subsection (c)—
(i) in the first sentence, by striking "shall" and replacing it with "may";
(ii) in the second sentence, by striking the proviso "Provided, That no frequency shall be used for radio broadcasts to Cuba in accordance with this subchapter which is not also used for all other Voice of America broadcasts to Cuba."; and
(iii) in the third sentence, by striking the proviso "Provided, That not less than 30 per centum of the programs broadcast or rebroadcast shall be regular Voice of America broadcasts with particular emphasis on news and programs meeting the requirements of section 1463(2) of this title.";
(C) in subsection (d), by striking the third sentence; and
(D) in subsection (e), by striking "shall be designated "Voice of America: Cuba Service" or "Voice of America: Radio Marti program" and replacing with "may be designated Radio Marti.";
(2) in section 4 (22 U.S.C. 1465b)—
(A) by inserting "(a)" before the first sentence to create a subsection (a);
(B) in this new subsection (a)—
(i) in the first sentence—
(I) by striking "shall establish within the International Broadcasting Bureau a Cuba Service" and replacing it with "may continue to maintain an Office of Cuba Broadcasting"; and
(II) by adding "or "Cuba Service"" after ""Service"" and before the ")";
(ii) in the second sentence—
(I) by striking "shall" and replacing it with "may"; and
(II) by inserting "including as" before the word "authorized";
(iii) in the third sentence, by striking "shall" in each place it appears and inserting "may"; and
(iv) in the fourth sentence—
(I) by striking "shall" before the term "be" and replacing it with "should";
(II) by striking "other Voice of America functions" and replacing it with "the Voice of America"; and
(III) by striking the term "International Broadcasting Bureau" and replacing with "of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or its designee.";
(C) by adding a new subsection (b) to read as follows:
"(b) The Broadcasting Board of Governors is authorized to establish an independent grantee organization, as a private nonprofit organization, to carry out any and all Agency broadcasting and related programs to the Latin America and Caribbean region, including Cuba. The Board or its delegate may make and supervise grants to this grantee. Such a grantee shall not be considered a federal agency or instrumentality and shall adhere to the same standards or professionalism and accountability required of all Broadcasting Board of Governors broadcasters and grantees. The Broadcasting Board of Governors is authorized to transfer any facilities or equipment to such grantee.
Broadcasting Board of Governors employees may be detailed to such a grantee, notwithstanding any other provision of law. Grants to this grantee shall satisfy any provisions of law requiring a federal entity, rather than a grantee, to carry out broadcasting to Cuba or other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.";
(3) in section 5(d) (22 U.S.C. 1465c(d)):
(A) by striking "Cuba Service and the head of the Television Marti Service" and replacing it with "Office of Cuba Broadcasting, or his equivalent, or any full time Broadcasting Board of Governor employee to whom the head of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting would report,";
(B) by inserting "a" after the word "as"; and
(C) by striking "members" and inserting "member";
(4) in section 6(a) (22 U.S.C. 1465d(a)), by striking "section 1465" and replacing
with "sections 1465 and 6201"; and
(5) in section 8 (22 USC 1465f)
(A) in subsection (a), by striking the last sentence; and
(B) in subsection (c), by striking "under this section" and replacing with
"for broadcasting to Cuba".
(b) The Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act, as amended (22 U.S.C. 1465aa et seq.), is amended—
(1) in section 243 (22 U.S.C. 1465bb)—
(A) in subsection (a), by striking "Agency" and replacing it with "Board"; and
(B) in subsection (c), by striking "shall" and replacing it with "may";
(2) in section 244 (22 U.S.C. 1465cc)—
(A) in subsection (a)—
(i) in the first sentence, by striking "is within the Voice of America" and replace with "may continue to be within the Office of Cuba Broadcasting";
(ii) in the second sentence, by striking "shall" and replacing with "may";
(iii) by striking the third sentence; and
(iv) in the fourth sentence, by striking "Service shall" and replacing with "Office of Cuba Broadcasting may";
(B) by striking subsection (b); and
(C) in subsection (c)—
(i) by striking "(c)" and replacing with "(b)";
(ii) by striking "this subchapter" and replacing with "the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act, as amended, and the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act, as amended"; and
(iii) by inserting after "grants," the following: "including to the grantee described in 22 U.S.C. 1465b(b),";
(3) in section 246 (22 U.S.C. 1465dd), by adding the following after the end of the last sentence: "Support and services may be provided on a reimbursable basis. Any reimbursement shall be credited to the appropriation from which the property, support, or services was derived."; and
(4) in section 248 (22 U.S.C. 1465ff), by adding the following new clause after the end of the last sentence: "(5) the terms 'Office of Cuba Broadcasting' and 'head of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting' have the meaning provided by section 1465b of title 22.".

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