Steve in Tennessee, who used to be a regular contributor to the ChessUSA site which does in-depth coverage of USCF issues, was kind enough to email me about my post On Reforming/RESETTING the USCF. With his kind permission, I post his reply in full:
Been meaning to respond to your entry... You have put some thought into the situation. I think, however, you've put the cart ahead of the horse in dismantling the USCF even though you have placed your finger on the root problem which is democratic governance. Even in the pre-OMOV days EB (and prior PB) members were voted in by delegates. So it was democracy of a sort even then.
The USCF does need a restructure, but the restructuring needs to be in the realm of governance and management. Right now it is set up with a strong EB and a weak ED, with nominal oversight from a delegate system that meets as a "board of directors" once a year. Even this oversight is troubled in that most delegates that have been elected do not show up for these annual meetings. For instance, this year between 60 and 70 delegates voted on motions over two days of meetings where the appointed delegates outnumbered the elected delegates. What happens is that when not enough elected delegates and alternate delegates show up anyone who is attending the meeting may be appointed by the state chair to represent that state. The USCF has 125-130 elected delegates with about 10 of that number being "delegates at large." Only about 30 showed up for the Sat/Sun meetings. In fact, there were elected delegates that showed up for the Open, but refused to answer "present" at the delegates meetings!
Before spinning off the various USCF assets and properties, I would overhaul the governance/management system. My preference would be for a strong ED (management) to be the "face" of the organization and the CEO in fact as well as in title. The EB should be an oversight board ONLY with quarterly reviews of the organization direction as run by the ED, and only empowered to enforce the will of the delegates between annual meetings. I would expand the EB to between 13-17 members instead of the current 7 to diffuse the "cult" problems the smaller board now faces. I would have delegate elections held enough in advance of the annual meetings to facilitate the currently elected delegates being seated at that meeting. This year's delegates that were elected in June were not seated for this year's meeting -- their first meeting will be in 2009! The delegates seated at this year's meeting were elected two years ago. I would place the expectation of showing up to and being involved in the annual meetings on persons seeking to be delegates.
Bottom line: The USCF needs professional management and is not getting it. Something has to change.
Great points, Steve and thanks again for your reply. As I replied:
I think as far as governance issues go, the strong CEO who really has power and gets some incentive compensation would go a long way. Still like my ideas of how to change the revenue stream away from the membership dues model, though.
As always, any additional input from The Readership is valued and appreciated.