The OWS Tranparency and Accountability Act

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OWS Transparency and Accountability Act

(request- i dont think this document should be called an ‘act’)

Source: Darrell Prince (NYCGA alias @alg0rhythm)

Authors: Darrell Prince (NYCGA alias @alg0rhythm), Monica McLaughlin, Eric Turock, Jordan …

 

Purpose

Transparency and accountability are key components of the principle of solidarity as espoused by OWS and cornerstones of the foundation of democracy.

In order to effect transparency across OWS, Working Groups will submit documentation to Transparency and Accountability as follows:

Goals

  1. Weekly
  2. Monthly

 

Task and Resource Management

  1. Weekly Agenda
  2. Weekly Resource Allocation
  3. Monthly Projected Resource Requirements

 

Progress

  1. Weekly Progress Report
  2. Monthly Progress Summary

Mandatory Submission Requirement

  1. Working Groups will be required to submit the aforementioned reports in order to be considered an active group.     (Q: what about WGs who are not actively using any finance mechanism?   why should they be beholden to this requirement?)

Standardization

  1. Reports will be in a standardized format, in a standard, short form, (less than a paragraph, probably 300 characters or so) for each goal.
  2. These will be completed by Sunday, 8 PM of each week. The document submission process will include an audit trail to consist of Time Submitted, Submitting Author and Revision summary block.

Version Control

  1. Version control will be integrated with the submission process to provide document revision history from source to current.
  2. A Differential tool will be utilized to provide character-level comparison between document versions.
(please explain the above with more clarity to the layperson.)

Notification and Suspension

An absence of one or more of the aforementioned documents will result in a mandatory notification to OWS GA and may result in a temporary suspension of GA-allocated financial disbursements and a two-week suspension of all facilities access for all group members.

(who is authorized to enforce this?  how will it be enforced?)

Group-Specific Requirements

Finance Reports

Per Occurrence

  1. Signer modifications

Weekly

  1. Total Disbursements per Working Group with line-items
  2. Expenditures per Working Group with line-items
  3. Pending receipts per Working Group with line-items
  4. Total Revenue with line-items
  5. Budgeted/Ad Hoc Spending Ratio with line-items

Monthly

  1. Group Comparisons and Analysis with line-items
  2. Fiscal Health Summary

Quarterly

  1. Step-by-step audit review/tutorial as part of the monthly report
(idea: why not breakdown into 2 areas:  regular daily disbursements (per the $100 rule) & accounting for each proposal that was approved by GA.   this would make it easier to track monies on an individual project basis).

 

Technology Requirements

(@erict: Should be broken out into a separate document.)

Tech Ops will provide an online accounting platform for data entry and report review for all active Working Groups, Finance group data entry, reports and line-item override access and Transparency and Accountability Group auditing tools.

Security recommendations

Role-based access

  1. Role definitions
  2. Working group/role assignments
  3. et al.

 

Addendum

(@erict: requesting clarification and discussion on these)

  • The deadline for providing the first weekly report for  finance is December 10th.
  • These reports will not be difficult to produce– simply add up all the  day’s disbursements and you have daily expenditures.
  • You can do a reconcile for the change on the weekly report and also include the names of any people with receipts outstanding for more than 24 hours. It’s it’s a very mild rebuke.
  • If your name is on the report on consecutive weeks you cannot receive disbursements for two weeks.  (if the WG name is on the reports, yes?   this would allow each WG to self-regulate each other within their own group, rather than having finance track down individuals) 
  • Currently, for revenue you can just record the difference in the online donations every day at the same time to get the day’s income.
  • When the buckets go back out a Liberty Plaza it will become more work but should be manageable with a good staff size.  (no more buckets should go out until there is a full accounting and explanation for the cash receipts to date — still missing from the donations report)
  • Reconcile the change from the disbursements in weekly report

22 Responses to “The OWS Tranparency and Accountability Act”

  1. odd ah

    Regarding Monica McLaughlin being made admin of accountability-
    I hope that she will tone down her accusatory style of attack and the ” if you dont like what I write dont read me” attitude (where is the accountability in that type of attitude)
    now that she has been given the ”power’ of admin, hopefully it will be used wisely> In solidarity, odd

    here is her response to my comment >>

    Monica said@odd ah, I and MANY others have been asking for transparency for a long time. We are tired of asking. No transparency data has been provided to date — December 4, 2011. Can you tell me why?We are asking to see the money. Those who have the money refuse to show it to us. Now I am an attorney, but I don’t think a law school education is necessary to draw some conclusions. People are rational creatures meaning that they act or fail to act for reasons. There is a reason that those with the financial records will not show them.–Time? Not a good reason. Uploading a bank statement or emailing a bank statement takes moments.
–Too much work? See above. Also many have offered assistance.
    odd ah, I’m sorry if you do not like my tone and suggest that you skim over my posts. end

    The above was a response to this>Oddah wrote>>>@Monica McLaughlin I appreciate your call for finance transparency, and your diligence in seeking answers to valid questions, however ‘I perceive’ on a regular basis that your ‘text tone’ is a bit aggressive and accusatory, I know its challenging when we dont get answers when we want them,but for the sake of compassion lets be kind and optimistic, even if, skeptically optimistic.. remember people are innocent till proven otherwise. Thank you for your efforts toward truthforce. Peace

    • Eric Turock

      @odah: Would you agree that much of this perceived negativity could have easily been avoided with a few substantive responses and a few bank statements from Finance?

      Finance is showing every indication of actively resisting transparency. I can see that I am not alone in this belief. We protest government and the 1% and apparently we must now do it here as well. This is not what I came here for.

      I also would like to believe that we can all neatly turn this around If someone from Finance, equipped with real answers, would care to avail themselves to Accountability and Transparency by the use of this forum in the context of a completely open discussion?

      So Finance, any takers? Represent. The whole world is watching.

        • vets74

          Considering that OWS is a massive anti-crime movement – a reform project that responds to the known $7.3-trillion frauds in mortgages and pension/investment scams – watching OWS managers obsess over the petty cash is a hoot !

          Of course we trust the people who started this movement to handle the money. Of course there are competent accountants and attorneys to handle the details. Needs be, hire an office manager.

          But in any case, all ye Smart People At The Top do focus your efforts back onto the Big Picture items such as AG Martha Coakley filing major papers on our enemies, the Big Five Banks. Please, please.

          Elsewhere… do we still have enough Little Hotties and EZ Heat hand warmers ?

          /snark

          • Monica McLaughlin

            @vets74 said watching OWS managers obsess over the petty cash is a hoot !

            @vets74, $1 million dollars in OWs funds donated by the American people can hardly be considered petty cash. A small group — a subset of the Finance (Accounting) WG has the funds and refuses to provide so much as a single copy of a bank statement in response to many, many requests for assurance that the donations are still there and are safe.

            The people who started this movement do not have the money. Two 21-year old college students and a tatoo artist — not competent accountants have sole access to the funds.

  2. Eric

    Daryll’s document is a very good start. I’ve gone ahead and made some updates. Let me know what you think.

    By the way, I thought I might include some of the Finance Group’s own words on transparency, which as I understand were published at this link:
    http://www.nycga.net/2011/11/01/finance-transparency-statement/

    What happened to it?

    If I may offer some recommendations:
    - Missing or modified content will almost always get noticed.
    - It’s normally considered good practice to do a 301 perm-redirect if the URL has changed.
    - If the document has been unpublished, then there should at least be an indication of such.
    - Best practice is to never remove content without very good reason (eg. libel). Rather, the content should be revised. Doing otherwise may very likely adversely impact the credibility of the site and possibly the movement as a whole.

    I’d be glad to assist in hashing out and implementing these suggestions and will run discuss with the tech team.

    Comments?

    • Monica McLaughlin

      The now Finance (Accounting) WG was the former Finance Audit WG and before that was called Treasury. When they change their name, they need to redo their links.

      You, or any body can contact tech to update the links. I don’t think special permission from anyone is required.

  3. Jordan Soreff

    @monjon22 Great start, but the reporting requirements from each Working Group might be a bit overwhelming at this particular moment in time. Perhaps we can work towards this kind of depth of information in the future, but could we propose something a little easier for the time being. Also, shouldn’t standard accounting statements be required periodically; things which would ordinarily be required of any “official” organization; Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Stockholders Equity (adapted, of course), etc…

    • Monica McLaughlin

      Working groups can simply do what people in corporations do — fill out expense forms. Use a standard form and fill in the blanks and attach receipts. I have done it for years. There is nothing overwhelming about it. Takes only minutes. And each working group — not member of each working group — need only fill out one a week.

  4. Jordan Soreff

    @erict @monjon22 Maybe it’s a pipe dream of mine since it really doesn’t exist in the corporate world at all, but I would like to see free and unrestricted access to the paper trail for all members of OWS; but, of course, without any editing capability, read only access. After all, we are talking about a new kind of organization in general and should go out of our way to set an example. I know there are hundreds of counterarguments, but I think the moral/philosophical basis of moving forward is paramount. It woul be nice to be able to move ahead bravely and not just end up creating our own stylized corporate structure complete with gatekeepers, powerbrokers and all the other unsavory characters we would like removed from large corporations. @jakedeg @haywood @jackrabbit @justinstoned @brendan

  5. em

    each group can have an accounting page tabbed in their website area. the page consists of an embedded (tech term) google spreadsheet containing line items for each and every expense. these spreadsheets are very simple to use and can be edited by any selected people.i am adamant that the simple and effective solution is difficult to implement because we are too familiar with bureaucracy and rule imposition.

    by request of darrell, i am posting this ‘OWS Transparency and Accountability Act’ to the agenda for general assembly.
    also, ‘act’ is not an appropriate title for this document. and i strongly believe that we should be teaching ethical consumer processes, effective resourcing and budget management before we expect anyone to automatically use these, and specifically before we penalize anyone for not using these.

  6. reginahny

    @em, Thank you for your thoughtful edits and contribution to this conversation. However, I don’t understand why you would take it upon yourself (or at the request of Darrell) to post an obviously still in progress working document without Group consensus — or even discussion. If you took the time to read through the direction for the next meeting Jan 7, you will see that this is not where the WG is going. Rather than issuing “Acts” prior to a WG mandate, our plan is to get consensus on our role first. Please join us on Saturday, or contirbute to the Agenda or Forum discussions here. I’ll speak for myself and say that it’s not very accountable or transparent to take materials from this work group and publish / propose them at your will. Regina

  7. Darrell Prince

    It all looks good; though I thought I had put something about regular external audits in the act for Finance.

    As it turns out, for organizations recieving more than 250,000 in donations, an external audit is MANDATORY.

    The attempt to pass through an audit with Nan last night failed… and the minutes computer lost power before the discussion.

    It seems to me this process is taking waaaaay too long; and that was why I asked her to post it.

    The Food money is a big concern… there are less than 250 people who need to be fed at this point and a 10,000 a week budget. Supposedly there is a 600 a week budget for Saint Paul Saint Andrews and I have never seen any food there. I am told by people who worked in the kitchens that it is all donated food, and usually the meals at 60 wall consist of pasta or rice some sauce and some vegetables mixed in… meals of the less than 2 dollars per day per person variety, especially if you have donated rice, etc.

    • reginahny

      Hi Darrell,

      Thanks for explaining your concerns and why you felt you needed to go outside the WG. Speaking for myself, I completely understand feeling that the process is taking way too long. We did get sidelined by the holidays — regular meetings fell on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve which is why (after asking for group feedback) we chose Jan. 7. If you have time to read through the current agenda (please add / edit) you’ll see that we’re working toward being a partner in A&T principles, rather than establishing specific Rules / Consequences at this point. Once we have a mandate from the GA, we can work within WGs to promote A&T — rather than inadvertently painting ourselves as “police”. For example, if there is a question about Kitchen funds, we’d join their meeting bringing our principles to bear on their issues and helping them to achieve A&T. How do you feel about this re-aligning of our role? Look forward to seeing you Sat., or continuing to e-talk with you if you’re not able to attend. Regina

  8. Darrell Prince

    An attempt to pass through GA an audit (mandatory by law for non profits with greater than 250,000 in donations) failed.

    The food budget is a concern.. apparently 600 per week is going to spsa (church) and I’ve never seen a meal there that wasn’t left overs. 10000 a week is the total budget.. but full stomachs are rare and the food is clearly low budget. Someone who works in the kitchen says the materials are all donated.
    They admit to never having managed a kitchen before.

  9. Darrell Prince

    man this site is acting… crazy.. I am seeing jan4 comments in between Jan2 and Dec5

  10. Eric

    I’d go one step further: Accountability and Transparency will designate three people for which Finance will provide unrestricted online and paper-trail access to all relevant bank account(s). Otherwise we do not have complete transparency and cannot effectively meet any goals relating to financial accountability.