T develops wish list for biz group funding

T develops wish list for biz group funding

10-20% performance bonuses part of hiring, retention initiative

MBTA OFFICIALS, looking to one of the state’s business groups for help in hiring and retaining staff, unveiled a wish list of initiatives on Monday that could end up costing between $750,000 and $1 million a year depending on participation.

The Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, a group of high-powered CEOs from some of the state’s top companies, offered last year to help the MBTA recruit, train, and retain top executives. MBTA officials on Monday unveiled eight different initiatives, some of which are in place now and others they would like to do in the future.

Jessie Saintcyr, the chief administrative officer and assistant secretary of human resources at both the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation,aid the T intends to continue using specialized recruiting firms ($477,000 cost last year to hire about 10 employees) and paying out signing bonuses ($20,000 to $30,000 per person) and relocation fees ($8,000 to $10,000 per person).

To retain workers once they are hired, Saintcyr said the T would like to issue performance bonuses and to pay the cost of employees obtaining or retaining professional licenses or certifications. She said the performance bonuses would be 10 to 20 percent of the individual’s salary, while the certification expenses could run to $1,000 to $1,500 per person.

The T would also like to launch professional development and leadership training initiatives, each of which would cost between $8,000 and $20,000 to set up. There would also be per-person costs for the two initiatives.

The T also wants to hire an executive to oversee a program that would recruit companies to loan executives to the transit authority to serve as a “resource/coach/mentor” for existing staff.

Saintcyr’s presentation to the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board said “the majority of our initiatives will center around one-time expenses that drive change while having minimal or no longer-term recurring costs.”

State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the next step is to work with the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership to develop funding for the initiatives. “Now that we have a framework and a menu of investments, we’re going to be working with the Competitive Partnership to help raise money and hopefully their members will step up to the plate and we’ll be able to fund as many initiatives as possible,” she said.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The board of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership includes the chief executives of Raytheon Corp., Fidelity Investments, Suffolk Construction, State Street Corp., Eversource Energy, Partners HealthCare, Liberty Mutual, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Robert Kraft, the CEO of the Kraft Group and the owner of the New England Patriots, is another member of the board. Kraft is working with the T already and providing some funding for a pilot program that would extend the existing Fairmount commuter rail line to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

  • disqus_610343

    Hey look. They are turning it into a corporation. Bad news for people that can’t afford a car.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack waited too long to hire a new MBTA general manager which created a leadership void. Now it looks like there are way too many tails wagging the dog. That has to complicate fixing the MBTA. Shouldn’t Luis Ramirez be the one evaluating what has to be done and make things happen? He’s not even mentioned in this article.

    • QuincyQuarry.com

      I offer no comment on whether or not Secretary Pollack took too long to find a new MBTA General Manager or as to whom she selected.

      As for the policy changes noted in this article, however, they all would appear to be consistent with the sorts of policy matters that the T’s board should be considering and then directing T management to implement. I also suspect that someone from the private sector such as Mr. Ramirez is not likely to have any problems with these initiatives.

      Further, these proposals would appear to be entirely reasonable ones as well as likely to prove effective so long as the performance metrics set are both valid as well as consequential AND that the T then duly abide by them and the larger plan.

      And finally, it would be nice to see variations on these themes come to be implemented throughout the T’s workforce as I have no problem with rank and file workers seeing something extra for jobs well done.

      Simply put, management gets the employees it deserves no matter what is the nature of the host organization.

      • Mhmjjj2012

        The chief administrative officer and assistant secretary of human resources at both the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation blew $477,000 last year to hire about 10 employees…that’s almost $50,000 per employee…just to hire them! Who ended up getting those positions? Out of state transit professionals? Down on their luck local Republicans and Democrats? Campaign donors? Who? What’s with all the money for 10% to 20% performance bonuses, the $20,000 to $30,000 signing bonuses and $8,000 to $10,000 in relocation expenses while drastic cuts are being made and outsourcing is deemed necessary to save on expenses? While problems persist…huge sums of money are being shifted to a chosen few executives and private companies. I don’t see how that’s going to work out for the MBTA.

        • QuincyQuarry.com

          A few points.

          One, you haven’t a clue as who are the ten hired nor why they were hired, much less if any of these hires might for positions that may have previously been filled by more than ten people – and yet you are firing away from your keyboard.

          Two, you would appear to not know what a quality search process costs.

          FYI: if proper searches were undertaken and well-qualified talent was hired, an average cost of $48,000 per hire is well within the realm of a justifiable outlay, ESPECIALLY if transportation and lodging expenses were picked up for any at distance out of town finalists AND which is a common practice.

          Finally, while time may prove your sentiments valid, at this point they are but sentiments.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            We’re talking about the cash strapped MBTA using recruiting firms and spending $50,000 per new hire. For Pete’s sake how long can that go on? Add to that, tens of thousands of dollars per new hire for signing bonuses, performance bonuses, relocation expenses and whatever else is in those contracts including wildly high salaries. What do you end up with? Millions of dollars shelled out by the MBTA…the same MBTA that’s struggling, hobbling along, wringing out pennies, nickels, dimes in every area by cutting employees, their pay and bringing in private companies to provide essential functions. Honestly, I’m wondering how many of those new hires are cut from the same cloth as Luis Ramirez and how many could feel at home at the Department of Conservation and Recreation. .

          • QuincyQuarry.com

            Do you realize that your curious argument ultimately boils down to the notion that all of these all but assuredly important positions should not be filled?

            Reductio ad absurdum.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            Do you realize my argument boils down to the excessive cost involved in hiring those ten employees? And do you realize Jessie Saintcyr, the chief administrative officer and assistant secretary of human resources at both the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation…the one spending almost $500,000 just to hire ten people…makes $125,000? She can’t use Skype? That hasn’t occurred to her?

          • QuincyQuarry.com

            With all due respect, your argument is based on your (but, ed.) view that an excessive cost was incurred to hire ten people when in point of fact the cost per person is pretty much in line with what it typically costs to conduct a proper search if one is looking to hire experienced and well-qualified talent.

            And along the way are also boldly assuming that telecommunications were not used along the way and appear unwilling to accept the fact that at some point undertaking some face time in the hiring process is only proper to undertake.

            And finally, a good argument is based on facts. So far, however, you have nothing but opinions.

            I have no problem with opinions – but do not try to tell me that they can carry the day without any facts behind them or expect anyone with appropriate levels of experience to agree your unwillingness to appreciate what are at least better practices in such situations.

          • Mhmjjj2012

            Speaking of “proper searches,” how did that work out for the new general manager? That recruitment cost was reportedly $90,000 and look what came out about his background after he was hired. You are using the same information I am. Unless CommonWealth or some other news media comes out with more specifics on the hiring process your opinion is the costs are in line and my opinion is those costs are way out of line.

          • QuincyQuarry.com

            Again with all due respect, spending $90k on a search to find a new head of an organization the size of the MBTA does not strike me as excessive. In fact, the search for a private sector company of comparable size would probably run several times more money.

            Also note that spending $90k on the search for a new head of the T reduces the average cost of the other 9 senior hires made per the T’s new senior position hiring protocol AND which were done at reasonable costs, if not also relatively short money, all things duly considered.

            And as for who was hired as the new head of the T, Mr. Ramirez has only been on the job for a few weeks. Unlike you as well as arguable concerns about him notwithstanding, I feel that he should now be given time to prove himself if for no other reason than that he has a duly signed and thus binding employment agreement in hand.

            If, however, he fails to do so per whatever goals and target dates were set within his employment agreement or otherwise, I will have no problem whatsoever with his being shown the door.

            In the meanwhile, have fun tilting at windmills!

  • Andrew

    So Stephanie.. You want to outsource the bottom end, cut weekend service, and handicapped access and then spend lots of money on new lateral hire executives and bonuses for the elite. Way to go for inequality!