Friday, August 08, 2008


Dear Friends and Colleagues:

First of all, I would like to thank all of you who supported my election as one of your AMA Delegate. I am grateful, honored and humbled to have gained your support and will work diligently with our delegation to represent your interests. Please feel free calling me 24/7 -Cell Phone: (305) 342-2522) - or contact me via e-mail at to express your concerns and to voice your opinion. You elected me to represent you and I need to hear from you to fulfill my obligation and responsibilities.

I also want to take the opportunity to share some of my concerns regarding the selection of a new EVP for our FMA.
Some of you may recall my vocal opposition last year to the modus operandi on how our FMA leadership decided to part from our previous EVP, Sandra Mortham.
We were assured that the selection and appointment of Sandra's successor would follow an open and transparent process. Subsequently, the services of a consulting company (OPIS,LLC) were retained and we were left with the impression that an EVP search committee would interview potential candidates and that each applicant would undergo a vetting process to ascertain his/her qualifications. On Monday I received the President's Weekly Report which included the following announcement:

"Following the close of Annual Meeting, the FMA Board of Governors met. Among other business, we received the report of the EVP search committee as presented by FMA President Elect James Dolan. The Search committee recommended that the Board of Governors begin contract negotiations with Mr. Tim Stapleton for the EVP position. After a lengthy deliberation, the Board of Governors voted overwhelmingly to approve the recommendation of the search committee to appoint Mr. Timothy J. Stapleton as the new Executive Vice President of the Florida Medical Association."

I want to stress that I do not question Tim's qualification as our future EVP, admire and respect his professional qualifications, and like him personally. Nevertheless, I was troubled reading a letter written by the President and Principal of OPIS and directed to the FMA BOG raising a series of concerns regarding the EVP selection process. The letter is not marked confidential and circulated prior and during the FMA meeting among the delegates.
Let me share some of the issues mentioned in the letter with you, including marked quotes from the letter.


OPIS was charged to perform a management audit for our organization and one of the questions OPIS was asked to address was:

How do we prevent a repetition of what has occurred twice before with EVPs?

"A previous board, faced with filling the EVP position as well as the potential of losing its lobbyist, elected to address both issues by promoting the lobbyist to the EVP position. As we now know, the decision proved to have disastrous consequences for the FMA. In response to that question, we recommended that the FMA engage a search firm. Our position has not changed."

"We advised the board to adopt what 99.9 % of all organizations, for-profit and non-profit, adopt – a single CEO reporting to the board. The board made a nearly unanimous decision to hire an EVP. It charged the search committee to develop a job description as well as an RFP to solicit proposals from search firms."

"The search committee has completed both elements of that charge. It is our understanding, that based on its review of the proposals, as well as an evaluation of the performance of the current staff, the committee is recommending offering Mr. Stapleton the position and to only use a search firm if an agreement acceptable to both parties cannot be reached."

"We strongly advise the FMA board to not follow this path."

Well, let me emphasize that our FMA has paid over $70,000 for these consultants and I would assume that their recommendations would be taken into serious consideration. So why did our FMA leadership decide to ignore their advice?

Lets continue reading the letter:

"We are not suggesting Mr. Stapleton is unqualified for the EVP position. We are stating that offering Mr. Stapleton the position without comparing his qualifications against those of other applicants is not in keeping with the board’s fiduciary responsibility. Moreover, it opens the organization to repeating the same error it made with the last EVP."

"If Mr. Stapleton is, indeed, the best candidate for the position, a proper search will confirm the wisdom of that choice. Moreover, proper vetting will assure the membership that the board has made a prudent decision. This process serves all. Neither Mr. Stapleton, nor the board, nor the membership will be served by a decision that has not been properly vetted."

"In summary, we strongly urge the board to stay the course it set at the last board meeting: engage the services of a search firm that will assist the board in vetting and selecting the best candidate for the position. We would also urge that, as a declared candidate for the position, Mr. Stapleton recuse himself from any board activity related to the search process. Neither he nor the organization will benefit from any perception that as a candidate he was afforded information that was not available to other candidates.
No process comes with a guarantee. We can state unequivocally that the process we have recommended is fraught with far less error than using a process that has not worked well for the FMA in the past."

"We are not saying that hiring Mr. Stapleton is a mistake. Rather we are saying that repeating the process used to hire the last EVP is a serious mistake. We realize the board faces a critical issue and stand ready to assist you in any way possible."

So, what can we do? I stressed last year that our FMA leadership should adhere to the following principles of organizational management::

* Accountability of its leadership
* Transparency of the decision making process
* System of checks and balances and reestablish democratic principles

Lets ask our leadership WHY they have chosen to ignore the advice of their high-paid consultants?
What vetting process did our new EVP undergo and how many applications of suitable candidates have they reviewed?
How many candidates have been interviewed? What are the facts supporting the recommendation of the FMA EVP search committee to select Tim Stapelton as our new EVP?

Should we expect answers to those questions? What is your opinion?


Bernd Wollschlaeger,MD
FMA Member
AMA Delegate