GAO finds significant duplication of BBG language-specific content

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Nearly two-thirds of services from the Broadcasting Board of Governors that produce specific language and regional content overlap with other BBG programs that service the same countries in the same languages, says the Government Accountability Office.

In a Jan. 29 report (.pdf), GAO says  the BBG spent $149 million in fiscal 2011 on language services, roughly 20 percent of its appropriations, but does not estimate the cost savings that could be had if it reduced overlaps or redundant services.

The report finds 23 instances of overlap involving 43 of BBG's 69 services and says "almost all overlapping services also broadcast on the same platform," typically radio or television. In its fiscal 2009 through 2013 annual budget requests, BBG has proposed eliminating just two of these overlapping services.

According to the agency, BBG's strategic plan for 2012-2016 "broadly recognizes the need to reduce overlap and reallocate limited resources" to services that will have the greatest impact. But auditors say the BBG risks missing opportunities to reduce overlap because it does not have a systematic plan to consider the cost and overlap in its annual language service review.

It notes that BBG also does not consider the activities of other international broadcasters in the course of its service reviews so it "may be missing opportunities to better allocate its resources in order to maximize the impact of U.S. international broadcasting."

The report recommends BBG add in a systematic review process to its existing annual language service reviews to determine the cost and impact of overlapping services it runs and of those provided by additional international broadcasters. The board agreed with GAO's recommendations and says it has begun taking steps to implement them.

For more:
- download the report, GAO-13-172 (.pdf)

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