June 16, 2010; Source: Reuters | The man in charge of the new $20 billion BP fund for spill claims is well known and widely respected in nonprofit circles. Much of the public knows Kenneth Feinberg for his role as the Obama administration’s Special Master for Compensation or “pay czar,” weighing in for or against bonuses and salaries for bank and insurance executives who were responsible for the nation’s financial implosion—reviewing the compensation plans of some 400 firms that received TARP assistance.
He’s no pushover, having recommended pay cuts for 119 execs at AIG and the Detroit automakers. But he is best known to the nonprofit sector for his (unpaid) role in overseeing Congressionally-appropriated compensation to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a role he repeated in dispensing compensation to the families of victims of the shooting at Virginia Tech. He also has a long list of nonprofit engagements of his own, serving on the boards of Washington National Opera, the Consensus Building Institute, and others.
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By most accounts, Feinberg performed more than admirably in his role with the 9/11 compensation process. The communities of the Gulf Coast devastated by the ever-increasing damage caused by BP’s ever-increasing oil leak will have plenty of grievances to be addressed in the BP fund. The lessons Feinberg learned—or crafted—after 9/11 will have to be honed and deployed here.—Rick Cohen