Monday, July 18, 2016

More Bad PR as Regents Get Ready to Consider Outside Income for Execs

The chief executive of UCSF Medical Center sits on the boards of two companies that together do millions of dollars of business with his hospital and have paid him more than $5 million in stock awards and cash fees since 2007, a review of company filings shows.

For his board service, CEO Mark Laret has received an average of $556,000 annually in cash fees and equity from Varian Medical Systems of Palo Alto and Nuance Communications, a Massachussetts software company. That’s on top of the $1.6 million he earns at UCSF as the UC system’s ninth-highest-paid employee.

UC’s policy on “outside professional activities” for senior managers permits such arrangements if the executives do the extra work on personal time, and if it presents no conflict of interest or the appearance of one. Executives need to get approval each year from their immediate boss, which in Laret’s case is UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood.

UCSF says there is nothing improper about Laret’s corporate board work and that he has done everything by the book.

“Laret fully complied with UC policy in obtaining approvals,” UCSF spokeswoman Barbara French said in a statement on behalf of Laret, who declined to be interviewed. She said Laret works for the companies on his own time and has no involvement in UCSF purchasing decisions involving Varian and Nuance products.

Appearance of conflict?

Several ethics experts and union officials representing UC employees, however, said Laret’s role on the board of companies that do business with UCSF gives the appearance of a conflict, given that Laret’s main role on the boards is to maximize profits for two companies that sell products to UCSF. Since he joined those boards, UCSF has given Varian and Nuance nearly $8 million in business.

Critics also raise the question of how the university benefits from Laret’s board work...

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