No Dollar Left Behind Discussion

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

Proposers: Sean McKeown
Proposer Contact Information: s_mckeown@hotmail.com
Date of Proposal: 3/24/12 General Assembly

This proposal is intended as both a fiscal budget for the remaining OWS funds, in
replacement of the weekly budget frozen by Accounting for the week of 3/19, and 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 <a href=“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Generally_Accepted_Accounting_Principles_(United_States)”>Generally
Accepted Accounting Principles</a> 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 OWS 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 by attaching it to the completion
of transparently presenting a March 2012 monthly report of our book-keeping and
accounting statements on the NYCGA.net website at accounting.nycga.net.

12 Responses to “No Dollar Left Behind Discussion”

  1. Sean McKeown

    The intention of this proposal is to have a discussion about the proposal at the Tuesday, 3/27 General Assembly, and use this feedback to prepare the proposal for passage at the Thursday, 3/29 General Assembly.

  2. @CynPrice

    That Bullshit Sean, The 1st part passed Sean, you know that. Sounds like alot of people are not happy about printing, which we agreed to, to get to the Transparancy part of this proposal for tonight I HAVE BEEN TO 3 G.A.s now for the Transparency part. That is what needs to be discussed tonight. and great, you want to start over…..holding off Transparency again, while the last few nickels
    are lost. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. LET ME PULL 90% OF OWS TO PULL TOGETHER THAT MAKES AND HAS SENSE

    • Sean McKeown

      Cynthia, this says “Part II”. Part I passed (Accounting is just waiting for the minutes to be available, which should happen by GA tonight). This is exactly a discussion about the transparency part, but not something I am comfortable trying to force through in just one evening without a prior discussion – it’s going to be a hard proposal to pass, and just like the budget for Part I was passed after a discussion to hone it into the right shape and then an active proposal session to reach consensus, I am following the advisement of the Facilitation staff in trying to do this more slowly instead of rushing to not-accomplishing what we are trying for.

  3. Patricia L

    @smckeown – As far as I know, there were no minutes taken, no livestream and only intermittent Tweets. So, I’m not sure how minutes will be made available…

    In any case, this proposal wasn’t posted 24-hours in advance and the numbers aren’t the same as we discussed at the previous GA. We didn’t discuss Tech Ops no longer receiving GA funding. The Outreach Printing amount was supposed to be reduced to $5K (which I still maintain is too much). Why did we all bother to have a painfully protracted discussion if you intended to make up your own proposal?

    • Sean McKeown

      Patricia,

      The numbers presented did not change between Thursday and Saturday. On Saturday, the numbers did change some, with the major change being Bike Coalition funding shifting to roundtrip metrocards to help support Jail Support. Tech Ops was most certainly discussed, as was the printing budget, which was also noted to be accessible to all groups rather than specifically just Outreach… so that if Info needs to print something, they can, as can any other group (like DA).

      I agreed to bottom-line the proposal, and then submitted the final numbers based on a break-out discussion that happened after the GA as all the different breakout groups convened together for a protracted discussion. If that wasn’t clear, I do apologize, but that is likely why the numbers and discussion do not match your recollections – you didn’t stick around for the whole discussion, and are comparing this proposal to one breakout group’s reportback.

      • Patricia L

        @smckeown – I was at the final breakout group (I was sitting directly next to you) and stayed until we all left the park. The numbers in your proposal do NOT represent what we agreed upon. Perhaps you discussed Tech Ops at a previous breakout session, but it was NOT discussed in the final breakout. Seeing as I’m in Tech Ops, I certainly would recall talking about defunding for it. And, we ended up agreeing on $5K for Outreach Printing budget NOT $6K.

        BTW. I did not leave until we were done; I walked out of the park with you and 2 other people. The fact that you’re telling me I wasn’t there doesn’t make me trust your recollection of what we agreed upon.

        • Sean McKeown

          No, it means I do not know who you are face to face, because your avatar is a cat. ;)

          We covered these numbers and I presented them. The agreement was based on the fact that we were presenting a framework for General Assembly to modify, at which point the number of “all remaining funds” going to multi-working-group printing budgets (not just Outreach, because other groups have printing needs).

          The final breakout included a quick tally of the numbers my group had suggested be zero – which included Kitchen at zero, and which was modified upwards based on an individual from Kitchen showing up to correct us with some good hard numbers and facts. Tech Ops was mentioned as having low infrastructure costs, and mostly pre-paid budget items, and that the hope was that it would be easier to back-date expenditures as that group has done in the past for website costs and server costs after-the-fact than to set aside money that may need to be effectively allocated *right now*. Dallas was angry at me over that, but understanding, and that was all I heard about Tech Ops having an opinion at either of the breakout discussions.

          • DirekConek (aka Dallas)

            Who was angry at you??? Me, not so much. The whole situation sucks, but I don’t take it personally…. you referring to @Dallas maybe?

          • Sean McKeown

            Right Dallas, overstatement of anger level perhaps. Still chasing sleep and playing catch-up these days. ;)

  4. @CynPrice

    So will Part 1 be brought again Thursday and Part 2 on Saturday?. Concerned that Account Signers are against Transparency. They are burying themselves in lies…ts like Congress infiltrated OWS Finance..lol..:)

  5. Urbaned

    @smckeown Thank you for a great post, well thought out ideas, and a calm reaction to confrontation. Your efforts are appreciated.