The front page on many newspapers today is the story about Ontario’s ehealth CEO, Sarah Kramer, getting fired, ostensibly for awarding millions of dollars in sole source contracts.
The political fallout from this story is not done yet and I will be surprised if the minister doesn’t lose his portfolio too.
As anyone who reads this blog regularly will know, I am no friend to McGuinty’s Liberal government here in Ontario … but this is another case the press acting like a pack of wolves when they smell blood.
YES … the sole source contracts were a red flag to a bull in an economy like this one where Ontario lost 60,000 jobs in May.
BUT … Kramer was brought in to effect change quickly and to fix a perceived “mess” at Smart Systems for Health which was a Conservative invention which was reported to have spent $647 million with “nothing much to show” for it. Fast change requires quick action and not the full procurement process of government.
AND … many of the sole source contracts were issued prior to Kramer’s arrival. (Hence the statement that perhaps the political fallout hasn’t stopped yet).
YES … the relationship between Kramer, Alan Hudson (board chair) and many of the consultants looks a little “close”.
BUT … the market for eHealth experts in the World is not big and in Canada it has to be very small. It would be extremely unlikely if the best minds in this field wouldn’t know each other. Most executives would sooner work with people they know and have respect for and I expect that is what happened here.
YES … the optics of Kramer receiving a large bonus on the one hand and then informing staff that bonuses would be skinny this year because of the economy looked bad.
BUT … Kramer’s bonus was a negotiated part of her income, which would have formed part of her decision whether to accept this job. It appears that she negotiated well, because her previous job would not have paid this much!
YES … highly paid consultants expensing their tea and cookies is ridiculous.
BUT … if you are CEO of eHealth is that a battle worth fighting? There would have been daily battles around changing key players, establishing a corporate direction to make things happen and any number of decision points. A few dollars on an expense account is hardly her problem.
What do I conclude?
The press is all over this and Kramer is getting a very public battering. In my mind she was an executive trying to get things done, but she does not seem to have had very good advice or judgement on the politics of this position. I expect that she will make an excellent private sector executive.
Sarah Kramer had to go … because she acted in a private sector manner, in trying to “get things done”! Just another fine example to support the question, “Why would ANYONE want to be “front and centre” in the public eye like this?”
Certainly not me!