A congressionally ordered review of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has concluded that the legislation governing the six-year-old museum should be changed to strengthen its administration.
Despite the museum's undisputed success, the National Academy of Public Administration said its governance was hampered by "excessive involvement" of the museum's governing council--which is supposed to concern itself with long-term strategic issues and fund-raising--in routine museum operations. It also criticized the concentration of power within a small group of those council members.
To solve what is generally described as meddling by a few people, the study recommended altering the legislation to give the museum director the authority of a chief executive officer.
"The Executive Committee has been too involved with details and matters unrelated to governance, and it has spent insufficient time on mission, policy, strategy and plans, and broad issues related to the museum's future," said the report.
The study was initiated by Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), chairman of the House subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the museum's appropriation. The purpose, according to the report, was to review the Holocaust Museum's management in light of its enormous success. Such studies are usually followed and become a blueprint for questioning during the funding cycle.
The museum opened in April 1993 and has attracted 12 million visitors to its powerful story of Nazi atrocities during World War II, the saga of heroes in that fight and other occurrences of inhumanity, genocide and racism.
"The Holocaust Museum's success, and the related public demands and expectations, have led management to overlook some negative aspects of the work environment," the report said. "There is evidence of sufficient disaffection on the part of staff to warrant both management's attention and a corresponding, focused effort to renew staff confidence and commitment."
To correct "the lack of discipline" in the management structure, the report recommended that the museum develop a strategic plan to hire a chief financial officer, a chief information officer to oversee information systems and technology support, and a deputy director to share some of the management tasks.
Besides redefining the museum director's job, the study recommended that new legislation designate the museum as a national museum and a federal institution bound by federal rules, overhaul the governing council and give specific duties to the council chairman.