NCUA’s Mindset in Responding to Problems, Is the Problem

Every organization will experience problems. Some imposed by external events. Others by internal failures because all are run by imperfect human beings.

Internal performance shortfalls occur even with the strongest, well-documented corporate cultures: harassment, inappropriate comments, disdain for conflicts of interest, performance failures, improper expense claims or even showing up on time.

Unfortunately, the instinctive response by government is to spend more resources. Moreover, the situations are addressed in secret with no explanations or analysis, except for after the fact announcements of a “solution.” With no transparency, there is no accountability.

A classic example is NCUA’s approach is the response to the recent revelations of a corrupt General Counsel and an earlier IG report on questionable travel reimbursements for senior staff.

Throwing Money at the Issue

Instead of addressing issues head on, the NCUA Board reacted to the public revelations of these in-house shortcomings, by creating a new position: Chief Ethics Officer.

The salary range: $227,113 to $263,000 per year. However, this may be just the initial increased cost as the person’s duties include “direct(ing) the activities of the office, and assisting and advising subordinate attorneys and/or other staff on assignments”

A Leadership Failure, Not a Resource Problem

The Chief Ethics posting above also lists the follow requirements:

EXECUTIVE QUALIFICATIONS: you (must) possess all the executive qualifications listed below. (details omitted)

Leading Change.
Leading People.
Results Driven.
Business Acumen.
Building Coalitions/Communication.

These would be superb qualifications for a Board member. It is instructive that the Board did not believe these qualities existed within its own body or within the staff of the agency. One has to question whether these capabilities can be imported if they are not part of the culture.

Spending more resources when problems occur is a mindset that provides a façade but not real change. The “ethics issues” or other challenges will just come back in another guise. For effectiveness has to start at the top. It cannot be delegated. In most organizations it is called leadership.

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