Boston Archdiocese Bloated Payroll: Inaction

BCI obviously struck a raw nerve with our last post, “Bloated Payroll” about the 17 people earning more than $150K a year.  We continue today with a brief recap on that post, and then below our commentary on how the Boston Archdiocese has managed to delay acting on this problem for years and continues to delay.

By means of a recap from last time, the annual report for the 2011 fiscal year (page 83), says the number of people making $150K or more in that fiscal year was 17. In the 2006 Annual Report, there were just 2 people in the Chancery paid more than $150K. So the number of people making $150K or more per year has increased by more than 8X since 2006.

In addition, the total compensation paid to people making more than $150K has also increased by a factor of about 9X since 2006. The Boston Archdiocese is paying about $3,500,000 in such salaries today vs $393,000 in 2006–$3.1 million more to people making $150K+ a year. The archdiocese has a fiduciary responsibility to be a good steward of donor funds, and this does not appear to be happening.

Once again, here are 11 of the 17 $150K+ salaries that were disclosed or implicitly disclosed in the 2011 annual report (pages 76-80):

* Note: Kathleen Driscoll is reported at $38,462, but she was on the payroll for only about 2 months in that calendar year, so we extrapolated for 12 months to get $230K.

As we have said before, if the archdiocese were to put a salary cap of $150K on all lay executives, that would cut $1M in salary expenses alone! 

What is happening to address the bloated salaries? Well, the Finance Council approved creating a Compensation Committee to look at executive compensation in November of 2010.  That was 15 months ago.

Their charter says, “The Committee shall submit to the Finance Council an annual report on the compensation practices of the Archdiocese, which shall be included in the annual financial release of the Archdiocese.”  In the 2011 annual report, the Compensation Committee did give a “report,” but it just talked about activity, with no results yet. Here are a few excerpts (see pages 83-84 for the full text):

“The Charter of the Finance Council establishes a Compensation Committee with responsibility for overseeing and making recommendations regarding the compensation of senior lay executive employees…

The Committee has determined that all employees of the corporation sole and all members of the Cardinal’s Cabinet paid $150,000 or more in annual salary will be treated as “senior lay executives.” At present, that group comprises 17 individuals. The Committee reached that decision because this definition captured all executives heading major departments and functions, as well as others with critical areas of responsibility…

A draft statement of Compensation Philosophy for Senior Lay Executives has been prepared by the Committee and will be submitted to the Finance Council for consideration at its regularly scheduled meeting in February 2012. In developing the draft, the Committee has placed the employment and compensation of senior lay executives in the context of the Church’s mission and challenges. It is the Committee’s belief that the Church is best served by senior executives who are distinguished by their competence, compassion, efficiency and effectiveness. We believe that the compensation of those executives should enable the Archdiocese to attract and retain highly talented and motivated people whose achievements and personal goals are in harmony with the teaching and mission of the Catholic Church. We will stress the importance of compensation that is just, both in terms of internal equity and external competitiveness. External competitiveness will be measured by comparison with other organizations in the same market for talent. For all positions, this will include Catholic dioceses and archdioceses and not-for-profit organizations. Hiring for some positions requires that the Archdiocese compete with for-profit businesses, and for those jobs, compensation practices in that sector will also be taken into account. The Committee recognizes that senior lay executive compensation must reflect economic realities within the Archdiocese, as well as regionally and nationally. We think it is critical that we achieve consistency and adherence to common reward principles within the executive leadership team and that compensation for this group be based on merit, and linked to clear descriptions of responsibilities and regular performance assessments.

The Committee has engaged the services of a senior consultant specializing in not-for-profit executive compensation at the global firm of Aon Hewitt. At the Committee’s direction, its consultant has undertaken a survey of compensation practices at nine other dioceses and archdioceses in the United States, and reviewed compensation information in public and proprietary databases of not-for-profit institutions and for-profit businesses. The 17 senior lay executive positions in the Archdiocese of Boston are being matched, based on job responsibilities and reporting levels, with those of other organizations, and pay levels are being compared. The survey results will also be used to create recommended salary bands for each position, as guidance in future compensation decision-making. We anticipate that the Committee will be in a position to make recommendations regarding salary levels in conjunction with the annual performance reviews scheduled for the end of the current fiscal year.

BCI finds it difficult to start addressing everything that is wrong with this whole effort. Here are a few examples:

  • The effort comes across sounding like they will justify many–if not all–of the high salaries on the basis that these people could be earning $X in a private sector for-profit company, and this is what the archdiocese needs to pay in order to attract “highly talented” senior executives.
  • The archdiocese staff used to maintain its own information about comparable salaries in other dioceses as part of the normal course of business in years past. Now it takes an expensive outside consultant to do that work.
  • Why is a comparison of salaries in for-profit businesses really relevant here?  The people are working for the Catholic Church.  If they choose to forego the salary they could make in the private sector in order to work to advance the mission of the Catholic Church, that is a noble choice, but it is their choice. The only comparable that should matter is a comparison to how other Catholic dioceses pay for these positions, consistent with what the Catholic Church can afford to pay.
  • Who is writing the clear descriptions of responsibilities?
  • Why are goals and measures of success not included in this?
  • Who exactly is performing the regular performance assessments against goals and expected results for the likes of the Secretary for Education, General Counsel, Secretary for Catholic Media, Chancellor, Secretary for Communications, Secretary for Institutional Advancement, etc?

Even if this whole effort does by some miracle result in something meaningful, at best, they will have a report and recommended salary bands by June of 2012–more than 20 months after the Finance Council created the committee to look into this.  And we only know that they “anticipate” the Committee will be in a position to “make recommendations” around the time of the annual performance reviews.

To BCI, it certainly does not seem anyone is in a big rush to act on this, and there is no sense that anyone will really take corrective action.   We would prefer to hear something more like, “We are deeply troubled by the wasting of donor funds on excessive salaries and bloated payroll at 66 Brooks Drive, and we commit we will have the report done by March 1, and will have reduced all salaries that are out of line by March 30.”

As we have said before and will say again, 40% of parishes cannot pay their bills, many low-salaried Pastoral Center employees have lost their jobs in recent years–meanwhile, the amount and number of $150K+ salaries at the Pastoral Center have grown by more than 8X over the past 5-6 years. The archdiocese paid $393,000 in 2006 for such salaries and is paying $3,500,000 today.

Members of the “Compensation Committee” include several multi-millionaire business executives, and two priests. They include:

Paul W. Sandman, Chair
John H. McCarthy, Vice Chair, Finance Council
Rev. Michael E. Drea
Rev. James J. Ronan
Brian P. Concannon
Mary L. Ryan
Leo V. Sullivan

If a few of these people hear from you, maybe they will move more quickly to take action.  Here are four email addresses for you:,,,

Please take a moment and copy/forward this blog post via email to these people with a short note asking them to take action on these issues, or just hit “Share this:” and the Email graphic below to send the blog post to these people. Let us know if you hear back from anyone.

BCI predicts that little will come from the Compensation Committee and their costly report/survey effort and we predict the excessive six-figure salaries for lay executives will continue to drain precious financial resources in the future. But it is worth it to write to them and see if you can get them to do more.

For the sake of the fiscal health of the Boston Archdiocese, out of fiduciary responsibility to be a good steward of donor funds, and for the sake of the ability of the diocese to carry out the saving mission of Jesus Christ for years to come, we hope and pray we are pleasantly surprised and some meaningful change occurs here.  What do you think?

12 Responses to Boston Archdiocese Bloated Payroll: Inaction

  1. Carolyn says:

    Gino and Brendan were talking on a Boston street corner one day. “Beautiful day,” said Gino. “Is it?” said Brendan. “I’m heading out to Cambridge,” remarked Gino. “What’ll you do there?” asked Brendan.

    “Brendan, why is it that every time an Irishman is asked a question, he answers with another question?” demanded Gino.

    “Oh, do we now?” asked Brendan.


    In answer to BCI’s question, “What do you think?” the answer should be “WWDD?” What would Dolan do?

    What does the Archdiocese of New York pay? No cost of living could be greater, except maybe San Francisco. What does Archbishop Dolan pay his most effective managers? And who sets those salaries?

  2. Jack McMurphy says:

    In 2008 District Attorneys across the Commonwealth were paid a salary of 149,000. Their top assistants were paid about 115,000. Mr. Dunderdale would have been making somewhere between 50 to 100k in the mid range position that he held.

    Now he is making $200,000 per year- far more than a District Attorney in the Commonwealth- for doing a job that pales in comparison.

    He may be doing a good job, but clearly the salary is way out of wack and a clear example of waste, fraud and abuse.

    • Michael says:

      … No but his expertise was in criminal prosecution so … oh … well that doesn’t really apply to the Church … unless of course he is providing advice on how to avoid prosecution … then his skill set could be very helpful …

      Is he is worth $200,000/year? His last boss didn’t think so. But then again he was a merely servant of the public back then … now he is simply serving Christ. Obviously a pay raise of approx. 300% is in order.

      A quick freedom of information act request could identify precisely how lucrative his career change was.

  3. Lost Soul says:

    They say “…..based on merit and linked to clear descriptions of responsiblities and regular performance assessments.” With 40% of parishes underwater, who takes responsibility for that fact and who merits a pay increase? How many parishes were underwater prior to 2005? Has anyone owned up to anything in Braintree? Do the parishes exist to pay for the Pastoral Center (because that is how I perceive the ideology at Braintree) or does Braintree exist to assist parishes?

  4. Marilyn says:

    This is most disturbing. I work long hours between two jobs to make ends meet and I make a fraction of what these people earn working for the Catholic Church working 9-5pm in a modern office building.

    I have just sent an email to Jack McCarthy, Fr. Drea, Fr. Ronan, and the Vicar General and I hope others do too.

    • Angry Parish Council Member says:

      I’m college educated with a graduate degree and work more than 60 hours a week.On top of that, I volunteer in my local parish in several capacities. I’m also distinguished by my “competence, compassion, efficiency and effectiveness” but I make less than half of what most of these “highly talented” senior executives make for putting in a 40-hour work-week in a desk job. This is a travesty. I think some heads in Braintree need to roll.

  5. stritapewsitter says:

    can someone please post Fr. Reed’s email address? I would like to write to him about Scot Landry’s pay, vacation bonus, and the money he is taking from the Diocese. Why doesn’t this group also publish their top 5 salaries to be more transparent? This is a travesty in the making.

  6. Jack McMurphy says:

    This story provides great fodder for a made for TV series that could generate a tremendous amount of revenue for the local Church and for charity. It could kind of be a cross between The Office, The Borgias and The Sopranos, with the former Chancellor’s character playing the lead role. HBO and Showtime would fight tooth and nail with each other to get the rights to it!!!

  7. TWilliams says:

    Does anyone know if Scot Landry takes phone calls as part of his radio show? I’d like to call in and ask him about some of these things he is doing and see how honest he is.

  8. Anonymous says:

    When was the last time the employees of RCAB got a raise?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Prompted by the church sex scandal in Boston, several years ago I began reviewing the Annual Reports and Form 990 tax returns for RCAB vs. Catholic Charities. I don’t recall the exact figures, but over the course of each year Catholic Charities won hands down in being more effective at using a much higher percentage of donations for actual charity programs vs. fund raising costs and other overhead. Since that time, I have redirected everything I was giving from the Cardinal’s Appeal (before it became the Catholic Appeal) to Catholic Charities directly.

    Having just received the latest Catholic Appeal letter, I thought it was time to see if anything had improved. I did not get beyond some googling to see if there were other opinions on Catholic Appeal vs. Catholic Charities. That led me to this site and blog. Yikes! This salary and personnel bloating at RCAB is astounding. Unfortunately a similar situation exists in our own parish where offertory has declined over each of the past few years while numbers of personnel and pay has risen to a record level while the census and CCD enrollment has remained relatively level.

    I will continue to direct my annual appeal contributions to Catholic Charities and encourage others to do the same. I thank you for the information on this blog and will be adding it to a source of information of what is going on in the Archdiocese.

  10. Tom says:

    It is no wonder Catholics continue to leave the Church or stop practicing. And they don’t listen to priests either and so priests leave.

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