US Chess Discussion

Welcome! This blog has no connection with the USCF. It's a blog where I provide chess fans with general information about US Chess as well as the USCF. It's also a site where everyone can productively discuss or ask questions about various USCF issues! Your contributions and comments are welcome! PLEASE KEEP IT CIVIL & RESPECT OTHERS! Enjoy! All posts that do not meet this guideline will be deleted -- WIN WITH GRACE, LOSE WITH DIGNITY!(TM) --- 2006 Susan Polgar©

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Q&A with Randy Bauer

Q&A with Randy Bauer. The questions were asked by Mr. Wayne Praeder on the USCF forums.

1. What is your senior management experience and qualifications to be a member of an Executive Board for a multimillion-dollar not-for-profit corporation? What is your current occupation and how does that relate to your qualifications? Describe your most successful business ventures and projects. In your view what are the most important qualifications needed to serve on this corporate board? Consistent with DM01-72 and DM06-18 will you disclose here any competing interests and felony convictions? Will you sign the following board member agreement if you are elected as well as observe the associated principles during this election? [ ]

I served for nearly seven years as budget director for the State of Iowa. In that capacity, I was Governor Thomas Vilsack's chief adviser on a $12 billion all funds budget as well as a senior adviser on public finance and revenue issues. I also supervised a 20-30 person professional staff. While I was budget director, the State won numerous awards for innovation, and I am proud to have been a part of those efforts. We revised our budget process to be more open and market-driven and created a budget module that measured performance, not just outputs.

Through my term, Iowa balanced its budget each year without raising taxes and maintained its AA+ credit rating and stable outlook while many of our neighboring states were downgraded or put on negative outlook. In my current position, I recently worked with the City of Baltimore Finance Department to develop a strategic plan for upgrades to its mainframe computer systems – a project that involved multiple bureau chiefs, front line staff and stakeholders with differing needs. Through a staged process, we were able to identify the key issues that needed to be addressed and developed a consensus-driven approach for upgrades that they are now executing.

I am currently employed by Public Financial Management, Inc., the nation's largest independent financial adviser to governments and non-profit institutions, as co-director of its state strategic consulting practice. In that capacity, I work with organizations on strategic planning, assessment of management and organization structures, revenue and expenditure planning, etc. I think that Board members have to show a demonstrated ability to work with others, have an understanding of the USCF's culture and governance structure, be responsible and respectful of the need to at all times be a spokesperson and role model for the USCF, and committed to maintaining the integrity -- financial and otherwise -- of the organization. It also helps to understand political processes and how to make decisions in that environment -- a trait I learned from 20 years working in government. I have no competing interests, no felony convictions, will disclose either should they arise, and will sign the statement in question.

2. According to the Bylaws of the US Chess Federation the purpose of the Federation shall be educational and instructional, to broaden and develop chess as art and recreation, as a significant element of culture in America. In this regard, has the organization been successful? Why or why not? How should the organization measure success? If we succeed at our purpose, how should we look to the public? What indicators and processes should we use to find out whether our board is doing its job?

The USCF has encountered successes and failures in furthering its mission. On the positive side, the interest in scholastic chess, both as a recreational and educational activity, continues its ascendancy. Chess continues to be generally portrayed in a positive light in and by the media, and there have been at least occasional successes in securing grants and other outside sources of funding for events and programs that would assist with building a chess culture in this country. However, with the exception of scholastic chess (which has a broader foundation and support network), most of the efforts described above have not been institutionalized and rely more on the efforts of specific individuals for achieving success.

I believe that providing the organizational backbone or infrastructure is a critical need for the USCF and for the local and state efforts that support and largely sustain it. There are a variety of measures that can be used to track success; perhaps the most logical proxy is membership levels in major categories. To remain healthy, the USCF should be working to develop goals and strategies that foster growth across each of the key membership categories. As for measures of success for the Executive Board, I believe that these should be developed in partnership with the Delegates, discussed and voted on at the Annual Meeting. This will help to clarify roles and expectations and allow discussion of positive and negative outcomes in succeeding years.

3. To achieve our mission, how must we look to our members? What needs to be learned from current and potential members in order to better align the organization with their needs and wishes? How can we help the membership better understand the value of their contributions? What would be your approach to help engage and grow the regular USCF membership?

The USCF should appear to be (and actually be) responsive to member needs, professional, financially stable, and willing to adapt to changing methods relating to member communication and interaction. Ultimately, the membership will grow if the members believe they are getting good service and support and that the USCF actively seeks out and listens to their feedback. The Forums are a good start, and they need to be more actively marketed to the membership. Changes to the look and content on the website is another good start, and it can be expanded to allow more direct member interaction – entering their own games for analysis and discussion, self-service methods of reporting on local and regional events are a couple of examples.

The rating system, which is one of our core competencies and services, has greatly improved its timeliness, and there are opportunities to expand its reach into other areas, including online chess. Many organizations use an approach known as a balanced scorecard for assessing performance and planning for the future. One aspect of these scorecards is generally how the organization is perceived by its shareholders (in the USCF’s case, its members). I think we have generally inadequate information at this time to form those assessments. While survey tools and other feedback mechanisms may be seen as costly by some, I believe there is much of value to be gained from increasing their use and analysis of the results. Not only will the USCF gain valuable information, it will help reassure the membership at large that the organization cares about and values their opinion.

4. What in your view are the core values of this organization? How should these values be expressed in how we function? How would you suggest the USCF demonstrate these values to provide appropriate leadership in the chess world?

I think the values embodied in chess itself should guide or organization. Chess has a rich heritage and culture that literally spans the globe; our organization should respect cultural and other forms of diversity. Chess is an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages; our organization should reflect that as well. Chess is played with a set of rules that are largely self-policing; we should foster fair play and reasonable standards of conduct. Finally, chess is a learning activity; our organization should value growth and improvement. To the extent that the USCF can demonstrate its achievements in these key areas, it should be able to maintain a leadership role in international chess as well.

5. What should be most different about the board or how we govern in five years? To be accountable to our members, how should we govern the corporation?

I believe membership involvement needs to become more broad-based among the voting membership. There need to be more frequent and interactive methods of communication between the Board and the membership. Representation (and, in my opinion, accountability) will improve as communication (in both directions) improves.
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