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Washington, D.C. — Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul released a report on U.S. Agency for Global Media’s (USAGM) failure to adequately investigate serious abuses of power and false credentials of employees within USAGM. Specifically, Chairman McCaul’s report highlights whistleblower concerns regarding Setareh Derakhshesh Sieg, the former director of Voice of America’s Persian News Network (VOA-Persia). The report outlines Sieg’s litany of offenses while at VOA, including lies about her education credentials and severe abuses of taxpayer dollars for personal expenses. 


Click here or above to read the report.


“For years, Sieg misrepresented her credentials and cultivated a culture of fear and dysfunction while she abused taxpayer dollars for lavish personal trips and contracts for friends,” stated Chairman McCaul. “Unfortunately, Sieg’s case is the tip of the iceberg. Given the important work of USAGM and VOA to provide accurate news around the world, I am extremely concerned about the agency’s serious investigative blunders despite the alarming complaints piled against Sieg. USAGM’s actions raise questions about the agency’s ability to vet its own staff, and I am extremely concerned Democrats who criticized the agency under the last administration have gone silent instead of working in good faith to serve Americans who deserve transparency and accountability. Sieg must be removed from her position, as USAGM originally intended in 2020, and USAGM must work to improve its vetting processes immediately.”

Key Findings

  • Ms. Sieg does not hold a Ph.D., or its equivalent, from the Sorbonne, despite her shifting claims to that effect.
  • Ms. Sieg allowed favored employees to collect excessive overtime pay, in contradiction of agency policy, exhibited a pattern of favoritism, faced persistent complaints from subordinates due to her abrasive leadership style, and mishandled a major programming contract.
  • USAGM leadership erred in reinstating Ms. Sieg in 2021 following a Notice of Proposed Suspension/Removal being issued.
  • Once she was brought back to the agency, USAGM failed to conduct a thorough, independent investigation, despite the Committee’s calls to do so – indicating either incompetence, indifference, or a deliberate conspiracy, on the part of multiple insiders, to save one of their own.


  • USAGM should, within 90 days, deliver a comprehensive report to Congress addressing how foreign credentials and foreign nationals are vetted for prospective employment at the Agency.
  • The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) needs to provide clarity on how it confirms foreign credentials, particularly when there are language barriers.
  • In the event that prospective or current employees are unable to provide copies of educational diplomas, the State Department should establish a regularized process with the embassies of foreign states to obtain such documentation.
  • USAGM’s time and payroll system should track employee overtime pay, and the Office of Human Resources should require written justification from the supervisors of any employees claiming abnormally high overtime hours..
  • USAGM should consider the potential costs (both fiscal and administrative) and benefits of establishing its own Office of Inspector General independent of the State Department’s OIG.