This Saturday, 17 September, somewhat to my surprise, I was elected to the Board of Directors. I (and others) ran on a campaign of increased transparency, so I plan to take some of my log's bandwidth to informally discuss what OUSA is doing regularly at a high level. This is meant to supplement more formal - and increased - communication with the community. Please feel free to engage me at any time with comments or questions about OUSA business.
OUSA Board Meeting #1 Notes
Note that because the Board meetings are public, I have no reservations giving my comments before the official minutes come out. These are personal notes and comments, not official documentation. They are not necessarily comprehensive.
- Election of: Kris Beecroft to the Presidency, Greg Lennon VP clubs, Alex Jospe VP comp (Tom Strat also ran), Pat Meehan VP Finance, Barb Bryant recording secretary.
- Resolved to comprehensively review OUSA's budget, committee structure, and program spending in a series of conference calls over the next few weeks. It is recognized that this is a complex and somewhat inscrutable matter, and in particular that our accounting - which emphasizes adherence to the legal requirements - makes understanding what we are spending on opaque.
- Proposed a Board retreat in Oct/Nov to formulate a strategic plan and define a budget for 2017. After discussion, it is suggested we do this at Navigator Cup at our next Board meeting in January.
I think the entire Board came away from the AGM with a sense that the membership want a change in strategy. The election results were rather unambiguously in favor of the candidates campaigning on change. This motivated the idea of reevaluating and informing ourselves and the membership about our committees, budget, and strategic vision.
During the Finance Report, Pat Meehan stressed what Lou raised in January and what I and others have observed - that our accounting system makes matters appear rosier than they are. In particular, it considers contributions to the endowment accounting. While this is legally correct, it conceals the dramatic decline in our liquidity over the past several years. We have been deficit spending, and Pat reported that we could be in serious trouble this year or next. There are other challenges relating to the timing of income, and he also suggested we move back to fund budgets to help keep track program-by-program of spending. Liquidity is actually worse than I thought; the nominal 125k in the liquid accounts includes some restricted funds.
My reaction: We must
decrease spending, and dramatically. One effort to address the budget shortfalls has been to increase meet fees even as OUSA still relies heavily (> 50%) on donations. Many programs have suffered from budget cuts over the past few years anyway - marketing and club services received a $10k cut this year when club dues were below expectations, but it is hard to give a convincing explanation to a typical OUSA member about what they are getting for $300k/year in annual spending among 1200 members.
Discussed but not yet acted on:
- Committee structure - some committees don't actually have a function, and some requirements for OUSA are unaddressed. We will revise this before the next Board meeting.
- Budget - this is the big monster, and the vehicle for the main impact OUSA has on the community. A comprehensive evaluation is getting started and will be done by the next Board meeting.
- Expanded communication - OUSA needs to do better communicating with its members. A communications committee or a VP of Comm seems like a start, but we need to use more than the channels of ONA, clubnet, and attackpoint. Transparency and accountability.
- Reforming of events process - defining the calendar, helping clubs put on national events, etc. This mostly falls under Alex's purview; because one person has oversight, I think it is more likely to move forward with alacrity.
- External marketing - no major progress or discussion yet; probably will follow from the budget talks.
- Revisions to the bylaws for proxy votes - not discussed
It is imperative we sustain our momentum moving from the election and get things done as a governing body in the next few months. In my mind, the biggest broad question is what function should OUSA have? A big question for clubs: what can OUSA do for you?