Doing Business With International Broadcasting Bureau

General info: IBB<@VM>the CIO file: Ronald Linz

evamarie's notebook

IBB and its supervisor, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG, is a little powerhouse of an agency. Seriously, after talking with CIO Linz, I realized this agency does a lot, given its size. IBB came about with the International Broadcasting Act, which also created the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors, made up of nine members who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. After the U.S. Information Agency was disbanded, IBB and BBG were established as independent, federal government entities.

The CIO's function has purview only over the federal components of the BBG, including IBB, Voice of America and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

It's important to know the BBG's role here. BBG (www.bbg.gov) manages all broadcasting activities. It allocates funds to broadcasters, ensures standards compliance, determines which language services are broadcast and handles the annual reports. BBG administers congressionally appropriated grants to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia, and ensures requirements of the grants are carried out. Learn more about the broadcasters at www.ibb.gov/ibb_broadcasters.html.

My two cents: This is a great little agency. If I were a contractor, I'd want to be involved with IBB however possible. Given world events today, broadcasting is more important than ever, especially when you realize not every country on the planet is as wired as the United States and others. Lots of people still rely on broadcasting for their information. Keep your eye on FedBizOpps.gov for opportunities to work with IBB, I think you'd be glad you did. And now I get off my soapbox

330 Independence Ave. SW

Washington, DC 20237

202-401-7000

www.ibb.gov

Founded: 1994

Director: Seth Cropsey

Employees: 2,348

What it does: A young, relatively small agency, the International Broadcasting Bureau does administrative and engineering support for federally funded, nonmilitary, international broadcast services, including the Voice of America, Radio Sawa and Radio and TV Martí. IBB also provides engineering and program support to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. IBB was originally part of the U.S. Information Agency, which was disbanded in October 1999.

Major subagencies: None. IBB is supervised by an entity called the Broadcasting Board of Governors. There are three offices, which cover engineering and technical services, marketing and program placement, and policy.

Number crunching:

2003 budget actual:

$361.2 million


2004 budget estimated:

$408.9 million


2004 budget requested:

$385.5 million

Ronald Linz

Courtesy IBB

Full title: Chief information officer reporting to the board of governors, acting capacity; senior adviser to the chief technology officer of the International Broadcasting Bureau.

Took the job: June

Hometown: Meadville, Pa.

Home now: Gaithersburg, Md.

Family: Married for almost 40 years; one son, 32

Alma mater: Undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University; MBA from the University of Maryland; PhD in physics from the University of Connecticut

WT: Is the CIO's job fairly new at IBB?

Linz: We've had a CIO in the past, but we had combined it with the director of administration, and it was felt for a number of reasons it would be better to focus it, and it was passed on to me. I have a technical background and some other things.

We did this in conjunction with a major realignment of our IT functions in IBB. We had a separate computer services division and separate Internet. The engineering was in a separate place, and there were other pockets of IT management going on. The board reorganized all this into a common entity, and transferred the CIO function to me as part of this reorganization.

WT: This doesn't sound like your usual CIO's job.

Linz: At the smaller agencies ? our IT operation is probably $10 million or under and certainly the operations budget is probably under $5 million ? we are doing our best, as they do in other agencies, to combine this function effectively with other jobs. From my own reading of it, [the CIO] is often a policy and guidance position, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have a technology background.

WT: You've been part of IBB for several years in its engineering division. Now that you are the CIO, what are your priorities?

Linz: Taking on the job, the first thing that hits you is the vast amount of legislation that affects this outfit. ? There are aspects of other laws. The job is sort of like a Christmas tree that they hang all these different responsibilities on. So part of it is just getting your arms around all these pieces and understanding what they all are.

WT: What have been some of your first orders of business?

Linz: The first thing is the FISMA [Federal Information Security Management Act] business, trying to get a better definition of our critical systems, to assign security managers and get security plans, start the accreditation process. ? We have overseas entities that run their own systems; and each of our transmitting stations overseas are in 12 centers, each with a tiny set of computers that are networked together and do e-mail and word processing. Because they actually control and manage those systems, they do indeed become a system, and they don't individually have time to read through thousands of pages of documentation. Part of our process has been to sort through this and guide them, so they can get their part of [FISMA] done.

We've got the process at headquarters, but overseas, you are dealing with one or two Americans at a station, and the rest are foreign services nationals. A lot of this is already laid on top of the job they already have, and they're hoping someone else will pick it up and help them out. That's what we're trying to do.

WT: What are the particular IT needs at your agency?

Linz: The main thrust of our mission is production and delivery of radio, television and Internet programming, and each of those media have different needs in terms of IT support.

Over the last 15 to 20 years, computerization has revolutionized the broadcasting industry. Everything used to be on tape machines, and now computers do it all. It's helped take the drudgery out of the game, it lets people work on content of a story or program, and focus time and energy on creativity rather than the tedium. So we look for things in IT that continue to capitalize and exploit those things that help increase our ability and efficiency of the processes.

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