Smithsonian Overhauls Governance Policies as Deputy Secretary Resigns

On June 18, 2007, the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents announced a sweeping series of internal reforms based on 25 recommendations made in a report issued by its recently formed Committee on Governance.

The issuance of the report came concurrently with the announcement that the Smithsonian’s Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer Sheila Burke would resign effective September 30. Burke’s resignation comes on the heels of the departures earlier this year of Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small and the head of the Smithsonian Business Ventures unit Gary M. Beer.

The report was critical of the Regents’ lack of oversight and made changes in the structure, composition, and operations of the Board. The recommendations also include calls for greater transparency in operations, the adoption of a code of ethics, and a policy that Smithsonian senior executives will no longer be allowed to serve on the board of a non-profit company.