3/24: Budget

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 I: Spending Down To Zero

Following the discussion about accounting budgeting held at General Assembly on 3/22,
that assembly broke out into groups to draft a budgeting proposal for GA, reconvened,
then achieved consensus to present to GA for 3/24 the following suggested framework
for the remaining $12,150:

Street Medics: $0. Given the recent trend of funding for this expenditure, it is
believed that in-kind donations will be sufficient moving forward.

Clinical Medics: $0. Given the recent trend of funding for this expenditure, it is
believed that in-kind donations will be sufficient moving forward.

Facilitation WG Space Rentals: $0. Given the current level of expenditures
needed for the spaces, as little as $40/week might be needed for this repeating
item and this can be crowdsourced via the ‘pass the hat’ method.

Tech Ops: $0. Suggest immediate move to an affinity-group model given their
current operational infrastructure, for website costs, or a future GA proposal to
recompense this WG for costs incurred as-needed.

Kitchen: $2,000. This is sufficient to provide for two weeks of infrastructure
costs – transportation needs, fuel costs, and kitchen space rental – and will allow
Kitchen several weeks of operational costs if used on these needs which cannot
be supplanted with in-kind donations, as Kitchen shifts over to an affinity-group
model that will allow them to receive outside donations to remain operational.

Metrocards: $3,000. This should be budgeted in three weekly budgets of $1,000
for the next three weeks, sufficient for ~35 cards per week. Revision of the
way in which these cards are distributed is highly advised – rather than issuing
persons private property, we should be looking to create communal property at
transportational ‘node’ locations so that occupiers can travel between Liberty
Square and Union Square, or receive a one-way trip from these sites to other
locations to help get people to direct actions. If the prior protocols are used for
tracking these cards, so that cardholders are held accountable for holding these
items reliably as well as held accountable for using this as communal property in

good faith, it is suggested that these prior protocols be tracked by an independent
coalition of members nominated to the task by this body rather than simply
entrusting any specific Working Group with their oversight, be it the Housing
working group or some other group, though these bodies may share members in
common.

Bike Coalition: $1,000. Given the support for this Working Group, and the
group’s ability to assist in mobilizing the Occupation presently encamped at
Union Square as well as assist in scouting and defense for marches, if the GA
believes this Working Group is worth supporting, some seed money should be
provided to enlarge their ability to act in this capacity. It is likewise suggested
that a bike drive be planned as quickly as possible, to further enlarge these
capabilities with in-kind donations.

Printing Budget: All remaining funds. $6,150. Given that all Working Groups
have access to these resources, rather than any one individual Working Group,
and the sheer importance of being able to provide fliers for outreach and events
is critical to the Movement between now and May Day, the bulk of these funds
should be allocated to printing to enable the Occupation to continue onward in the
next few weeks. As with Kitchen, if this can move to an outside-funding model
immediately, such should be done to the best of this budget item’s ability.

This reduces the current finances possessed by Occupy Wall Street to a zero balance.
This is not by itself intended to end the spending freeze; before doing so, and potentially
spending any further money, we should rebuild our financial protocols in the spirit of
transparency and accountability that we seek to bring into the world.

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 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.

Revision History:

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