No Dollar Left Behind 2

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

Proposers: Sean McKeown
Proposer Contact Information: s_mckeown@hotmail.com
Date of Proposal: 3/31/12 General Assembly

This proposal is intended as a proposal to improve OWS accounting and accountability methods
by drafting proper protocols for the movement as a whole to follow as we move revitalized into the
American Spring.

Part II: Accounting Standards Reform

Before even a single dollar of additional donations can be spent by Occupy Wall Street in good faith,
is an absolute necessity to achieve financial transparency moving forward. Both for our confidence in
each other as a Movement, and to enable us to say to the public at large that we are acting with radical
transparency to the best of our ability, any funds or materials we receive must being properly managed
and used to sufficiently high standards. For this purpose, this proposal is asking that we consent as a
body to the following:

Where possible and convenient, we will seek in-kind donations for supplies rather than
monetary donations, be they targeted needs (like bicycles for growing the Bike Coalition) or
general needs (like garbage bags for storing bags at an occupation site during wet weather).
Money is not needed for many of the needs of the Occupation, and should not be considered
the logistical answer to every problem.

Where money is being used, Occupy Wall Street will strive to follow Generally Accepted
Accounting Principles as well as radical transparency of accounting and book-keeping
records. These are already the principles by which members of our Accounting working
group must abide if they are to act properly within the law to the necessary high standard,
and we must as a whole stand in solidarity with the Accounting working group rather than
potentially expose them to state violence with the threat of arrest for their work on our behalf.
In asking Accounting to maintain these high standards, we must note that they can only do so
if we ourselves maintain these high standards. This requires receipts and a trail of information
for all financial disbursements, and by consenting to these principles as far as our use of
money is concerned we will be agreeing that no reimbursements will be made immediately
without a valid and well-documented receipt for any goods or services.

As these situations will still arise, and there is some flexibility within accounting protocols
for disbursement of funds without proper chains of information or receipts, the following
protocol shall be enabled for the disbursement of funds without meeting Generally Accepted
Accounting Principles.

For any disbursal of funds without a receipt, after a one-week delay, if such a receipt
cannot be found or replaced for presenting to the Accounting working group, it can be
requested of the General Assembly or Spokes Council as a proposal to those bodies by
the individual seeking these funds in this way.

The Spokes Council is enabled by its design to hear such proposals of a strictly logistical
nature for intra-occupation budget items, while the General Assembly will remain the proper
body for all expenditures (logistical or otherwise) involving more than one General Assembly
working together or the NYCGA interacting with the outside world.

In keeping with the principle of radical transparency, we as a General Assembly will
authorize the Accounting working group to upload digital scans of bank statements and any
other such information, with account numbers redacted, as a general practice. Currently, the
only barrier to this radical transparency is the lack of GA direction in this capacity, and other
Occupations have used these standards of radical transparency to good effect. In addition to
making a weekly report to Spokes Council and General Assembly, as they have been, we
would be authorizing and requiring the Accounting Working Group to upload on a weekly
basis scans of this information for public scrutiny inside and outside of OWS. This consent to

publish financial information will be granted and back-dated, as far back as any records we
possess go, but not required by any particular timetable.

In addition to these weekly accounts summaries, in keeping with the principles of radical
transparency, we as a General Assembly will authorize our book-keepers, the Alliance
for Global Justice who are our fiscal sponsors for 501c3 purposes, to make reports of all
donations (including any cash received) public on a monthly-report basis. These reports
should likewise redact donor information and account numbers, but otherwise faithfully note
all donations into WePay, percentages taken as overhead by WePay or the Alliance for Global
Justice as our fiscal sponsors or any other outflows prior to budgetary tracking, and confirm
the transfer of funds to OWS accounts plus confirm that these accounts match those currently
tracked by the Accounting WG after any holding periods. The recipient of each disbursement
shall be provided in these monthly summaries going forward. For the purposes of masking
individual actions, monikers and/or Working Groups (where applicable) will be accepted (as
they presently are) for any who do not wish to publish their real name, but as with current
Accounting protocols and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, one’s real name and
similar information must be privately tracked internally (as it already is).

Additionally, the $100 per-day “petty cash” system, in place since the early weeks of the Occupation,
came into existence without direct GA consensus. The history of this system’s implementation came
about quite simply, as it was determined very early on (at a GA for which there do not appear to
be surviving records) that it was reasonable to require a $100 threshold for requiring the consent
of the body as a whole before making a financial expenditure on behalf of the Movement. By
logical inference, then, it became OWS practices not to require GA consent via a proposal for any
expenditure of up to $100. Likewise, to answer the questions of ‘by whom?’ and ‘how often?’ when
the Occupation was considerably smaller than it is today, the reasonable answers to these questions
were determined to be ‘by Working Groups’ and ‘on any given day,’ thus creating without an actual
proposal the system of petty cash as we have known it.

As part of its budgeting process discussions, the Spokes Council ratified with full consensus
the proposal to exclude petty cash expenditures without consensus and oversight as part of
our budgeting practices. As this proposal is seeking to conclude the spending freeze and put
into place best practices for the movement to follow going forward, the General Assembly
is being asked to consent that this system which was never brought into place via group
consensus shall not be used. In its place, if Working Groups, projects, or other proposal
items require flexible budgeting options as part of any budgets they seek approval for, they
can request such as part of their budgeting and such would be subjected to all appropriate
oversight within the guidelines of such budgeting structures.

With these requirements for transparency and accountability met, we can in good conscience lift the
spending freeze. Instead of simply concluding the spending freeze, however, by the passage of this
budget and its associated protocols, we would seek to modify the conclusion of the spending freeze.
For any given month, failure to complete a monthly report of our book-keeping and accounting
statements on the NYCGA.net website at accounting.nycga.net by the seventh day after the agreed-
upon deadline will result in an automatic and complete spending freeze. Presentation of such a
transparency report, for accountability purposes, either lifts or prevents such a freeze; unlike the
spending freeze proposed 1/14/12, this budgetary freeze shall have no exceptions based on category of
expenditure or the repeating nature of any budget.

19 Responses to “No Dollar Left Behind 2”

  1. Trish

    Sean,

    Seriously, (my opinion)…your proposed requirements for transparency and accountability, in no way would allow the

    spending freeze to be lifted!

    Your creative writing skills are noted, but creativity has never been friendly with fiscal accountability.

    The freeze should stay in place…until the $333.333.00 (plus), the new web site donation button(s), fresh people in

    Finance/Accounting are in position to exercise fiscal transparency.

    You’re trying too hard to erase a dirty event, to make it go away, to force the movement to forget, and to put little importance on the fact that something questionable happen.

    You want the movement to forget it responsibility as steward of monies donated, you want the movement to forget the accountability (chip).

    My suggestion, is that you attempt to convince those who have you putting black marks to paper to realize the people are more focused than they were six months, ago.

    Also, although a m,movement may not be held liable for alleged criminal fiscal activity…entities, (WG), and their agents may be another matter.

    I would enjoy this conversation and not as an adversary, bot has individuals who can see further than the end of their noses.

    Trish

    • Sean McKeown

      Check my comment to Sally, below, to explain why we disagree on what appears to be the reality of the situation.

      That said, with the posting of the Accounting “standard operating procedures” and the consensus of that group to follow them, as they have been all along, most of the use for this proposal is obsoleted and thus it is ready to be withdrawn. The parts that are not obsoleted are:

      1. Seeking group consensus to decide to move from a security-culture accounting model (internal transparency, external opacity) to a radical-transparency model (internal and external transparency). Whichever one of these we are using, we should be using consistently and fully, i.e., don’t use security-culture accounting but claim radical transparency on a donation button.

      2. Concluding the spending freeze. This had sought to present the first consented-to budget (Part 1), accounting requirements (covered by Accounting’s publication of their SOP’s), close the per-diem loophole so the spending freeze could be lifted without all of our money rocketing away without GA consent (according to Accounting, this was concluded sufficiently via a Spokes Council consensus in February), then willfully proposing to end the spending freeze now that our financial systems are in order.

      We disagree on how accountable Accounting is. We disagree on many things, in fact, but only one of the two of us was at this week’s Accounting meeting to discuss their accounting practices. Likewise, I do not consider the nontransparency to be a “dirty event” and in fact am comfortable with proceeding forward with the same model of internal transparency within the Accounting group, with each member ensuring the others are honestly following accounting protocols, and that being an opaque box so that not everyone gets to look inside of it. There are costs to using radical transparency and our entire use of money as a Movement would need to be realigned to fit a radical-transparency model and it is a discussion about radical transparency vs. security culture that is what my proposal is now morphing into.

      The spending freeze existing or not existing is pretty darn irrelevant right now, as we have no functional consensus decision-making processes to reach decisions that spend money in the first place. My opinion had been that as soon as our accounting protocols were being used appropriately, it could be lifted effectively and safely, via GA consensus. That, exactly, was part of the discussion here, and in fact I believe may still be a valid and worthwhile proposal, given that our accounting appears to be in order (for the model of accounting use that we as a General Assembly have been using Accounting all along). We can change models, from security-culture accounting to radical-transparency accounting, but that doesn’t affect whether we need to have our finances frozen at present.

      • @CynPrice

        Are the Operating Procedures Valid?. Do they change any procedures that has caused these
        problems or simply tell us how you want to continue your current procedures that defruad donors. I made a comment on them, what needs to change as the responsibilites of OWS and Alliance for Global Justice are incorrect. JUST SENDING THE MESSAGE, DONT SHOOT THE MESSENGER.

        • DirekConek (aka Dallas)

          *if* it’s fraud, file charges.

          Otherwise it’s just slander that is detrimental to the function of the collective as a whole.

          Sorry to be so blunt, but it seems a bit odd that a small group of people that are absolutely convinced that legitimate and/or intentional criminal activity is going on within OWS Accounting would not have just filed charges with the necessary agencies by now. Or maybe they did and got ignored??? Who knows?

          One might get the idea that the actual end goal is not to expose fraud or ‘fix’ Accounting, but to bog a bunch of productive and competent activists down in some red tape and infighting BS.

          Occupy Social Engineering, yo!

          • Trish

            Dallas,

            Don’t be sorry, BE BLUNT!

            DO NOT SPECULATE!

            AND, don’t start sounding like Sean…God Forbid.

            Never Forget timing is, EVERYTHING.

            Yo Sista

            Trish

          • @CynPrice

            I dont think anyone considered authorities.How would be look for OWS when it is only 5 poople in Finance not
            OWS as a whole. Just like 90% of americans are good and 1% and Fed
            ruining it for everyone. Same thing here.

          • Urbaned

            Filing fraud charges is part of “the system.” I don’t think we should go there. Maybe Restorative Justice would be better.

      • Trish

        TO ALL:

        EVERYTHING IS RELEVANT (bearing upon or connected with the matter at hand;

        it’s pertinent, and everything Sean says here is a relevant remark).

        Of course this is suppose to be the guy’s opinion…(NOT PASSED) so much for

        opinions.

        NOTE: ON 04/07/2012, NYC General Assembly passed a proposal to seek and obtain independent

        legal and financial counsel. WGs’ Minutes and Tech Ops has as of this date failed to

        arrange the posting on NYCGA net site.

        Solidarity

  2. Sally Marks

    Very well said, Trish! I tip my Easter Bonnet to you!

    Going back to October, I have constantly heard the words “Ok, forget about the past, going forward we will….” and the classic “Wait till spring then things will be different, you’ll see…”
    Accounting has not been transparent. It only became somewhat transparent when all the money was gone (and nothing to see). It is easy to pull your pockets inside out when there is nothing left in them. Even a thief would have no problem doing that for the cops, once the loot is gone.
    There is nothing that leads anyone to believe that if there were an influx of funding today, that ‘things will be different this time’. Certainly a lot of rhetoric only obfuscates things….. Like sleight of hand.

    • Sean McKeown

      Sally,

      We as a Movement need to discuss the merits of security culture versus radical transparency, as the purposes of accounting is concerned. The documentation exists, but is not made readily accessible to all online (radically transparent) because the original setting of the Movement was security culture (protecting information by publishing as little as is required). This is an intentional setting of the Movement as a whole, and changing monetary use models will require the consent of the movement as a whole… and cannot be “backdated” with requirements in all accounts, as some amount of receipt tracking would inevitably end up being used as evidence in a court of law, potentially allowing criminal charges to be pressed – and I don’t mean against members of Accounting, but instead due to the nature of Occupy Wall Street.

      We are NOT a 501c3 not-for-profit activist agency. We are a civil disobedience PROTEST which does not follow the law, 100% of the time and always within the lines, and the principles of accounting presently being used are not to obfuscate the money so that it can be misappropriated by Accounting, but to avoid publishing potentially incriminating details that might seem innocent at first but otherwise allow for evidence that would otherwise not be available to be used to make a case against activists who are part of this movement – part of this civil disobedience protest – and whose actions are righteous but not, necessarily, legal.

      I would suggest you review the Accounting “standard operating procedures” that was finally drafted and released by Accounting at their meeting this week. The link is here – http://www.nycga.net/groups/finance/docs/accounting-wg-operating-procedures-8-april-2012 – and should clear up considerably how Accounting works.

      • Sally Marks

        The whole concept of the expenditures as being ‘secret’ is ridiculous. I also never ever saw any GA minutes that prescribed how Accounting should work and the consensus needed to ratify that agreement. It was made during one of the many closed door meetings in Accounting. In secret.
        This ‘security culture’ you speak of is one of the big issues that many have with the Government and Big Business. Nothing OWS as a group has done has had any legal ramifications. Sure, the acts of a few have however. I have noticed almost without fail, OWS has reacted in a manner to distance itself from those individuals.
        ‘Hiding’ the details from OWS participants does not hide it from the Government. Anyone who thinks it does is deluded, plain and simple. If OWS as an organization committed a crime, be assured, the DA would have subpoenas, search warrants and law enforcement everywhere. Part of the beauty of a leaderless group is (theoretically) no one is pulling the strings, there is no (supposed) hierarchy and therefore each action of a participant is solely that participants responsibility. If OWS provides funding for a can of spray paint, OWS as a whole cannot possibly foresee the end use of that paint.
        So yes, I saw Ravi’s posting (interesting comments were disabled). I’d like to know who agreed to it and when. No mention of cash or who holds it. No explanation for the fact that the Donations (where is the mention of the cash and direct donations???) minus the expenditures do not equal the balances. No explanation of how free and loose Accounting has been with ‘pocket change’ – I’ve heard of many ‘drinks out on OWS’ – were they approved by a GA? Are those the ‘secret expenditures’ of which you speak?
        So, no, I do not accept the explanation of the need for secrecy. Secrets are only needed when there is a reason to hide. A movement based on the cries for transparency cannot be opaque. Unless its’ roots are based in hypocrisy.
        I think there is a bridge for sale in Brooklyn.

      • @CynPrice

        Hey Sean. You promised the G.A. when we gave you $3,000 we consensed that night
        that you would bring the G.A. the receipts for the additional $10K given to printing
        in March. Just saying. I beleive blocsk were removed on that promise..just sayin

        • Sean McKeown

          I promised *the people who used the printing would be required to provide receipts*. This is existing standard protocol between anyone seeking printing and Accounting.

          Best of my knowledge, none of that funding has yet been actually disbursed for printing, and additionally I’d promised I would check in to get a list of price-per-copy options for what we currently use the printing budget for. Waiting on a reply from someone who actually is involved with that to get back to me. ;)

          • Sean McKeown

            Trish: four people were empowered to do that job. Yourself and Cynthia are just as valid to serve as metrocard point people and contact Accounting about getting cards and distributing them as Katherine or Stan is. Katherine hasn’t been able to get accounting to disburse the next shot of funds, after stretching the first week’s disbursement into two weeks – lots of groups were turning it down because there was no way to fairly allocate via consensus such a small, limited fund, which they all felt should go to the absolute neediest with no access to resources. (Unlike yourself who appears to have plenty of means – how much is that lawyer you’re hiring gonna cost you? – and yet insisted on getting a metrocard despite being perfectly able to buy one.

            Ask Cynthia. Ask yourself. Ask Stan. And ask Katherine. You’re considerably more likely to find these last two at Union Square than 60 Wall Street.

    • @CynPrice

      Dont bother with Sean, Chistine, Ravi, They are the Bank, 1%, Govt, Fed, of OWS

  3. Trish

    Sean,

    You talk took much….

    Actions, necessarily, legal.

    Pathetic

  4. Urbaned

    That blue Donate button looks pretty transparent to me, and it doesn’t automatically withdraw money from my account when clicked.