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SCIF Hides President's Hiring Bonus

Award Winning Story

 

The California State Compensation Insurance Fund sings the song of transparency to the legislature and anyone else who will listen but when it comes to real transparency it dances the proverbial two step, literally. Workers' Comp Executive decided to test State Fund's transparency by asking for a copy of the contract it has with its president Janet Frank. What was learned is not only shocking but reflective of a company continuing to play the same old game it always has.

One of the most revealing discoveries to date was the size of the hiring bonus that SCIF's board awarded Janet Frank. Payments have been made so far in three checks totaling more than$139,000 – two last October for a total of$123,250 and then a third for $16,500 in November according to highly placed sources. These are payments towards a hiring (not a performance) bonus, sources reveal, which could go as high as $270,000. A hiring bonus is a cash payment made to get the applicant to accept the job. This is in addition to Frank's $450,000 annual salary. Prior State Fund presidents topped out between $250,000 and $300,000 and no hiring bonuses were ever made.

Of interesting note is the fact that the bonus provision was instituted August 1, 2007, according to sources, Frank's hire was announced by the SCIF board two weeks later on August 15, 2007.

It's also apparent that Frank's contract allows her to routinely spend only four days per week in California while spending three days at her home in a suburb just south of Denver, Colorado. It is not known at this time who pays for Frank's regular travel back and forth to Denver, her or State Fund. State Fund refuses to discuss the matter or to confirm or deny if its president is provided an automobile by State Fund, if her incidental travel expenses, such as transportation to and from the airports, or if her California living arrangements are paid for by State Fund.

But SCIF Still Refuses Details

Humorously, State Fund, a quasi-governmental agency, is still refusing to release these or any other contract details concerning the terms under which president Janet Frank is employed. Instead it says it will use this publication's request for details as a trial run for how it will handle public records act requests should SB 1145 become law. State Fund spokesperson Jennifer Vargen says she does not know if the contract will ever be released or when our request might be responded to.

"We have set up a public records office and have begun working on simulations – figuring out how we're going to respond to public records act requests," says Vargen. "So I've taken your request and inserted into a simulation exercise."

Vargen could not say what the timeline for completing that process would be, nor its likely ruling on the request. She declined to discuss the specifics of the request until the process has run its course.

Under the California Public Records Act agencies have 10 days to respond to a request. Most agencies respond to media requests immediately. But changes to the Public Records Act being made in the pending State Fund legislation will permit it to avoid much of the public oversight offered by the law.

Workers' Comp Executive, ISSN 1074-0988 Copyright © 2008 Providence Publications, LLC - All Rights Reserved.