Cronyism 2011: IT Director

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.

The position was publicly posted in January of 2011 as you can see from the graphics below and to the right.

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.


13 Responses to Cronyism 2011: IT Director

  1. doubting pastor says:

    Cant’t get to the You Tube video. Either the link is written wrong or big brother got someone to block it… Wait a minute, this is the Cathoic Church. What would ever make me think that powerful people in powerful positions might use their power in a corrupt manner to squash one side of a story???

  2. If you cannot see the video from the blog post, try this directly:

    It shows up for us, so we do not know how to fix the problem you are experiencing. It is a short humorous video and we have no reason to believe this is being blocked.

  3. Another former employee says:

    It isn’t so much the fact that only friends are hired but the fact that they are hired at exorbitant salaries. How can the archdiocese continue to fund these salaries? I know an employee that was asked what she earned. When she told this priest her salary, his reponse was that she must not be very good at her job since her salary was so low. He eventually hired a friend at almost 3 times her salary. By the way she was very good at her job but realized that she worked for the church and was willing to accept the lower rate of pay.

  4. sheila says:

    The HR group at RCAB would have a hard time recruiting a janitor. They are useless. There is no expertise on any subject in the whole department. It’s incredible!

  5. Lazarus' Table says:

    When I was responsible for hiring, “Qualifications for the job” was not the #1 thing I looked for; skills for some jobs can be learned. What mattered most to me was character– is the person honest? Reliable? Have integrity? Share the values/priorities of the company? Those are things that are difficult to gauge. Letter of reference are very “safely” written these days and often only confirm a person’s employment there. So, there are times when you rely on people who know the prospective employee, who can judge if the person is a good, contributing “fit” with the company.
    That seems to be what is in play with the archdiocese. Qualifications take second place to “Does the person share our values/vision”? And that’s the scary part. The shared values and vision of the archdiocese, if the example of current hierarchs demonstrate those values, are rather centered inward on the good of the institution rather than outward on service to the community. The two are not mutually exclusive but the overriding concern seems to be “protect the institution” at all costs. (Its demise isn’t a “death [it] freely accepted”.) Would you say they exemplify honor and integrity? Openness and truthfulness? A sense of discipleship and mission? Unfortunately, the archdiocese runs more like a ruthless secular organization for which the end justifies the means. If there is a change (God willing) in the upper level leadership, let it be a change in values– something more akin to the Gospel.

  6. Michael says:

    Question: Does Mary Grassa O’Neill have any values?
    Answer: Yes … $325,000 of them per year

  7. Lazarus' Table says:

    Check it out:
    Cleveland Rocked: Vatican Probes Bishop, Church Closings

    What’s good enough for Cleveland….

  8. A. J. Constantino says:

    LT , I had the opportunity to speak with Bishop Lennon, about a half-dozen times!

    The Bishop is a man, who crosses every “T” and dots every “i”. I cannot imagine that Bishop Lennon used sound judgement and follow Canon Law exactly.

    If anything, perhaps Rome wants to show the rest, how it IS done.

    Bishop Lennon is a truly quiet and holy Priest and is loved by his brother Priests!

  9. A. J. Constantino says:

    I am the world’s worst typist:let me correct myself:

    I should have written:”I cannot imagine the Bishop Lennon did not use sound judgement and follow Canon Law exactly.”
    I apologize to Bishop Lennon

    • Lazarus' Table says:

      I do not dispute that at all, A.J.
      My point is that Rome is willing and able to check out credible complaints or laments registered by the faithful.

    • sheacrowley says:


      I completely agree that Bishop Lennon is a forthright and thorough man and administrator. I didn’t always agree with him but can honestly say he was attentive and responsive,

  10. Former Employee says:

    Hey BCI,

    I’ve noticed that when someone offers an opinion about the lack of character of an invidual it is deleted, but when they exault someone it remains up.

    I’ve conversations with Lennon Many times too….but I am remaining silent about what I think of him.

    • We delete or edit comments when they come across as personal attacks. If you focus on actions and behaviors objectively observed, that is not likely to get moderated.

      For example, when a reader comments in a manner saying something like, “Person X is a liar,” or “Person Y is the most incompetent, corrupt ___ I have ever met,” that is a personal attack and individual judgment call, unconnected to any objective factual information that we delete or edit. A certain former employee has a tendency to comment with harsh language in this manner.

      In contrast, if a reader commenting says that “Person X has said or done_____,” or “Because of action or comment____, that gives the impression Person X is ___,” that is not likely to get edited.

      If you would like specific examples of ones we have edited, and the reasons why, please drop us an email.

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