It has been some time since BCI reported on the cronyism in the Pastoral Center. As such, many BCI readers may have incorrectly concluded that the culture of cronyism has ended and it is now easier for “Joe Average” Catholic to apply for a job and get in the door without some prior connection. That still is not necessarily true. Today we look at the recently hired IT Director.
What happened with the filling of this role appears to be remarkably similar to the pattern with many other roles we hear about. Like most positions that are available in the Boston Archdiocese, people can submit resumes to HR, and some small number of people who submit resumes get called by someone in HR for what would be commonly considered a “phone screen.” That all is fine. This phone screen is to determine who might be suitably qualified for an interview with the hiring manager, which in this case was John Straub, who himself started in January as Executive Director of Finance and Operations under Chancellor Jim McDonough. (By Jim having filled that Executive Director role paying somewhere near $200K/year, BCI is told Jim can now spend less time in mundane meetings and more time golfing. But we digress…)
What we hear happens for many of the candidates who make it through the initial resume screening and get a call from HR is that they will often have a good call with HR, then HR tells them the next step is scheduling a face-to-face interview with the hiring manager. Then their candidacy falls into a black hole and they hear nothing. Eventually, after contacting HR a few times over a several week period, they finally get someone live who tells them that either the position has now been filled by another candidate, or they do not know what is happening with the search any more.
The short video below depicts the process in more detail, except candidates need not know only Jack–rather, if you know Jim, John, or Fr. Chris Hickey at St. Mary’s in Hanover, you will find it very helpful to get that coveted position over other candidates.
So, for the Director of IT, a position that had been open since summer of 2010, they advertised the position and some local IT professionals applied. The above process was repeated.
Interestingly, the person Mr. Straub hired for the role, Steven McDevitt, who started in mid-April, comes to the Boston Archdiocese from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, DC.
One might reasonably ask oneself, “How did Steve, working for the federal government in Washinton, DC happen to find this job?” By coincidence, Steve worked for Mr. Straub back in 2005-2006, when Mr. Straub was Director of the Office of Administration in the White House. At least that is what we know from this public testimony he gave to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2008.
BCI is not questioning the competency or capabilities of Mr. McDevitt to hold the job. From his LinkedIn profile, he appears to have the requisite experience. Nor is BCI questioning the value of networking, or the merits of bringing someone into a key role you knew from the past and worked with before. Having talent follow you is a good thing. Maybe Mr. Straub interviewed a number of candidates, local and from outside this area, and Mr. McDevitt was the simply the best.
What BCI is questioning is the process through which such roles get filled. Why do qualified local Catholics find it so difficult to get a face-to-face interview for almost any open position in the Pastoral Center these days? Are the job listings just a formality and sham to make it look like there is an open search that anyone can apply for, when the hiring manager has already decided who they plan to employ? Why do the hiring managers so often fail to interview qualified local Catholics who apply for open positions AND make it through the first pass screening by HR? Even if the hiring manager knows someone from the past, why would they not want to meet at least a few local candidates who also have a record of service to the Catholic Church and want to work for the Catholic Church, in case the unknown candidate might turn out to be an even better candidate for the job than the person with the “inside track”?
BCI respects that a hiring manager would prefer to hire a known entity than an unknown entity. But, something seems wrong in the hirine processes in general and in need of improvement so that the archdiocese gets the best people for the open jobs, not just those with connections.
Before critics jump all over us, keep reading over the next few days for one or two more examples.