BCI is pleased to share with you the big news of the day–Chancellor Jim McDonough is stepping down from his position after nearly six years on the job.
Here are excerpts from the statement issued by the archdiocese:
Archdiocese Of Boston Announces James P. Mcdonough To Conclude His Tenure As Chancellor
Cardinal O’Malley names John E. Straub as Interim Chancellor
(Braintree, Mass.) January 31, 2012 - Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley announced today that James P. McDonough will be leaving his post as Chancellor effective March 2nd. Mr. McDonough has served as Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Boston for almost six years. During that time he has been responsible for reorganizing the financial management of the Archdiocese, including budget and financial reporting as well as the structure and functioning of the organization.
Cardinal O’Malley praised Mr. McDonough for his unwavering dedication and commitment and the superior management skill that allowed the Archdiocese to reestablish a sound financial foundation. “Over the past six years Jim has served the Church with distinction. He faced our most challenging issues with the willingness to develop solutions that addressed the problems and respected the people we serve. With the benefit of his leadership, the Archdiocese of Boston is better able to serve our parishes, schools and ministries…”
In addition, Cardinal Seán named John E. Straub, a former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and former Associate Dean at Harvard University as Interim Chancellor. Currently Mr. Straub serves as Executive Director of Finance and Operations for Central Ministries with the Archdiocese.
“I am very grateful to the countless individuals who have impacted me so profoundly during my nearly six years as the Chancellor of the Archdiocese,” said Mr. McDonough. “It has been a privilege and I’ve been humbled to work so closely with so many who love the Church including Cardinal Seán, our pastors, and the faithful laity who give so much time and talent to the Archdiocese. Throughout my career I have sought opportunities to participate in significant organizational restructuring and I feel blessed to have been able to offer my experience in service to the Church for which I care so deeply. I’m very confident to be leaving the affairs of the Archdiocese in the capable hands of my colleague John Straub.”
Rev. Monsignor Robert P. Deeley, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Boston, said, “Jim has been instrumental in bringing about positive change across the Archdiocese. His work has led to the transformation of our systems, policies and improved support for our priests and parishes. We are blessed by the service he has given to the Archdiocese during this important period in our history. We also look forward to working with John Straub, a dedicated and accomplished member of the Cardinal’s leadership team, whom we are confident will continue the great advancements made under Jim’s leadership.”
Mr. McDonough, the fifth lay Chancellor in the Archdiocese, achieved Cardinal Seán’s goal of a balanced Central Ministries budget and has led an effort to focus on the financial health of the parishes. During his tenure he has addressed the clergy pension funding and recommended the creation of an independent board to oversee this important priority. He also oversaw the move of the Archdiocese’s central administration from the former Brighton campus to the Pastoral Center in Braintree in 2008.
Mr. Straub was most recently part of the senior management team at Kane is Able, a logistics firm headquartered in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he oversaw the operations of multi-site teams and was integral in the firm’s expansion in six states. He previously worked at The White House under President George W. Bush serving as Director of Administration, Chief Financial Officer, and Acting Chief Information Officer. Straub has held other operational roles at Harvard University and the United States House of Representatives.
Chancellor McDonough is working with Mr. Straub on the transition and has agreed to make himself available as needed over the next few months.
Jim McDonough came into a difficult job at a difficult time, and BCI wishes him well in the future. The announcement begs a few comments and clarifications.
- The statements about achieving a “balanced budget” neglect to mention the various budgetary manipulations used to claim the budget is balanced. We disclosed some of this last year in our post, “Balanced Budget?” This year, once again the budget is “balanced” by such means as drawing down self-insurance funds, failing to repay the $5M debt owed to St. Johns Seminary as of 1/1/2011, and failing to pay what was committed to former employees in the lay pension fund. We will have more on this in our next post.
- The Chancellor was praised for his work that “has led to the transformation of our systems, policies…” Does that include the transformation of the pay-scale to load up the Pastoral Center with high-priced lay executives making excessive six-figure salaries? The number of people making more than $150K has increased by more than 8X since 2006, and the total compensation paid to people making more than $150K has also increased by more than 8X. According to the 2006 Annual Report, before Jim McDonough arrived, there were 2 people in the Chancery paid more than $150K and in aggregate they were paid $393K in salaries. According to the 2011 Annual Report, 17 people at the Pastoral Center make more than $150K today, and based on information from other sources, in aggregate they are paid about $3.5M a year in salaries. BCI hopes that 8-fold increase in people paid $150K+ is but one of many transformations from recent years that will be undone.
- Lastly, since a lot of attention will be going towards Interim Chancellor John Straub, BCI felt it appropriate to fill in two pieces of his background that for some reason did not make it into the published announcement. The statement says Straub previously worked at The White House under President George W. Bush. Perhaps it was just a matter of wanting to pick only a few career highlights, so they did not mention that Straub also worked at The White House under President Bill Clinton. You can see that in both his LinkedIn profile here, and you can see how it was edited out from his Wikipedia entry, coincidentally, in the exact same timeframe when he was interviewing for his job with the archdiocese in October of 2010. If you click here or on the image below to zoom, you can see the two entries.
Given the prominent presence of people like Democratic fundraiser, Jack Connors, on the Finance Council and Fr. Bryan Hehir as advisor to Cardinal O’Malley, Straub may benefit by also touting his Clinton administration credentials.
UPDATE: BCI reader “Matthew” has suggested in comments that the above is “chasing down the wrong rabbit hole,” and instead BCI should focus on the role of John Straub as Acting CIO in the White House when the Valerie Plame CIA identity leak came to light and it was revealed that a number of emails were missing. Here are two pieces that describe the history and long-standing problems with email archiving in the White House: “Disappearing White House Emails” and “IT politics killed White House Email Project.” Here is congressional testimony about the matter by Steve McDevitt, who worked as an IT Manager in the White House under Straub, and is now Director of IT for the Boston Archdiocese under Straub.
BCI does not have reason to criticize Straub today–people who interact with him have positive things to say of him–so we wish him luck in this demanding role of Interim Chancellor.
It is noteworthy that nothing specific was announced about plans for a search to fill the position with a permanent Chancellor, or to break the position apart into separate roles of CFO and Chancellor (which is often filled in other dioceses by a priest or religious familiar with canon law). We will see how that evolves.
In summary, BCI thinks this changing of the guard is a good change and sign of positive things to come. We hope and pray this will pave the way for a few more changes in the not-too-distant future that can help the Boston Archdiocese become more capable of carrying out the saving mission of Jesus Christ. What do you think?