Dell and the high cost of CEO security…

May 27, 2011

A few weeks ago, we poked at Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos for needing $1.6 million worth of security protection that the company paid for and deemed “especially reasonable” given the CEO’s low salary. So it was nice to flip through the proxy that Dell (DELL) filed last night and read this:

Mr. Dell reimburses the company for costs related to his or his family’s personal security protection. Reimbursements for this purpose in Fiscal 2011 totaled approximately $3,263,448.

While the disclosure that Chairman and CEO Michael Dell reimburses the company for these costs isn’t new — the first reference we found was in the proxy filed in June 2006 — this is the first time that we could find an actual amount attached to the disclosure. In the past, the company simply noted that Dell reimbursed the company without providing a dollar figure. And last year, Dell seems to have skipped this issue all together.

Now we’ve been pretty critical of Dell in the past (see here for example) but we think this sort of thing is gold-star worthy, especially in light of some of the other security-related disclosures we’ve read these past few months, including the one at Amazon.

But it also makes us wonder about how accurate these security costs really are. Both Bezos and Dell have high profiles and presumably need similar levels of security for their families and multiple residences. So does Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison, whose company spent $1.4 million on his personal security last year.

So why did Dell’s security cost twice as much as the security for Bezos and Ellison? Come to think of it, other security costs we’ve seen this proxy season also seem to be in the mid $1 million range. Does spending about $1.5 million on security for a CEO seem more palatable than spending over $3 million? And in any event, why can’t more of these folks — all of whom certainly have enough money even if it is a $3 million tab — pay for this perk instead of relying on shareholders to pick up the tab.

We’ll jump off our soapbox now and leave you to start thinking about the long holiday weekend.

It’s a holiday weekend, but the SEC remains open until 5:30 tonight. Which companies will visit the Friday night dump? FootnotedPro subscribers will be kept in the know, even if they’re already at the beach.

 

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