Staff Editorial: Red Cross needs real independent oversight
The recent institution of Mark Everson, former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, as the newest president for the American Red Cross comes at a critical time in the organization’s history. Indeed, the charity has witnessed the turnover of three presidents in a spate of seven years.
To help remedy the problems facing the Red Cross, President Bush, in conjunction with Congress, overhauled the organization’s operational structure, in part by creating an ombudsman position to be filled by a candidate unaffiliated with the charity and selected by the Red Cross’ president.
The problem at the Red Cross, however, is not with the resignation rate of its commanders or bureaucratic restructuring. Having an ombudsman would allow a representative of the public insight into the charity’s inner sanctum, and in theory the role provides a much-needed balance to the political workings of such an important institution.
Everson’s selection of Beverly Babers to fill the role, though, quickly dashes the hopes of the casual observer. Babers, in a previous capacity, has served as Everson’s chief of staff at the IRS.
After what many perceive to have been lackluster responses in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, the Red Cross must do more to guarantee the public that it is capable of handling large-scale disasters. Appointments borne of privilege such as Babers, however, do little to re-assure those expecting more from such a vital organization. The Red Cross still has a way to go before it can demonstrate its competency in the eyes of its constituents.