Monday, October 30, 2006

Overhauling the Red Cross after Katrina

Katrina damageThis forum's coverage of Katrina and its aftermath has frequently discussed the restructuring of FEMA. (Here are more complete search results for Jurisdynamics' discussions of FEMA.) Now we are seeing the first hints of another target of institutional reform: the Red Cross.

As reported by the Associated Press, via ABC NewsSparked by criticism of its response to Hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross released plans Monday for sweeping changes in the way it governs itself measures that include slashing its 50-member board by more than half and reducing the influence of presidentially appointed overseers.

Red CrossSome of the changes in the 60-year-old governance structure can be implemented unilaterally. Others will require approval from Congress for revisions in the organization's congressional charter.

The changes, approved unanimously by the existing 50-member board of governors, result from an unprecedented six-month review spearheaded by a panel of outside experts.

Highlights of the changes that would need congressional approval include:
Explicitly delegating responsibility for day-to-day operations to the Red Cross' full-time professional management, with the board focusing primarily on longer-term strategic oversight.

Reducing the board to between 12 and 20 members by March 31, 2012.

Creating a single category of board members. Now, some are nominated by local chapters, others, including the board chairman, are appointed by the U.S. president.

Shifting seven of the presidentially appointed governors into a newly created Cabinet Council that will be advisory.
The board would also ask management to improve and expand awareness of the organization's "whistleblower" process among Red Cross employees and volunteers.


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