Today the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a preliminary study of the contracting procedures of Radio and TV Marti, reporting that the processes did not reflect sound business practices. The study is part of a larger inquiry into U.S. efforts to broadcast news and information to Cuba. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) expresses concern about these findings, the continuation of a troubling pattern in U.S. programs that are supposedly designed to “assist the Cuban people.”
The GAO report found that contracts awarded to broadcast outlets carrying the Radio and TV Marti programs did not reflect sound business practices. GAO studies such as this, as well as a 2006 study of U.S. assistance to Cuba, have continued to raise concerns about management, oversight, lack of competitive bidding and transparency and lead to serious questions about whether these forms of assistance and outreach to Cuba are really aimed at promoting democracy on the island. The 2007 budget for TV Marti was more than $20 million.
“Study after study poses serious questions about who the beneficiaries of these programs really are,” said WOLA Program Director, Geoff Thale. “The Office of Cuba Broadcasting needs to be fully transparent about whom it awards contracts to and why, as do other U.S. programs directed toward Cuba. At the very least, Congress should rethink using U.S. tax payer money for these kinds of programs.”
Geoff Thale, Program Director