Discussion:
Better public reporting for WMF $1m or $2m+ projects
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2017-06-30 13:15:09 UTC
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Could an unpaid volunteer who is not a WMF employee, or contractor, or
consultant, please have a go at answering my polite request for links
to "monthly or quarterly financial reports" from a few days ago,
below? I don't think this needs any time from employees to confirm
whether published versions exist or don't exist, and I don't want to
be publicly shamed for asking a question.[1]

I have searched through the WMF web pages with regard to the 2017
movement strategy,[2] but have yet to find any references or evidence
that there are regular reports of when or how the budgeted $2.5
million is being spent. Considering the large size of this project,
and especially the significant sums of money going to consultants, I
am sure everyone can appreciate there is bound to be interest from the
wider community in the progress of the spend and any unplanned spend.
I would expect that the strategy project has regular monthly tracked
spending reports, certainly I would find it hard to believe that the
WMF CEO and CFO do not require that level of tracking and reporting.

If nothing is published, then that would be a jolly good thing for our
movement to push for improved /public/ governance of $1m+ projects,
especially those with large sums going to consultants chosen using
non-open bid procedures, to deliver better transparency in line with
our movement values. The cost of this improvement would be zero. There
can be no doubt that summary reports already exist and there is
unlikely to be any reason for secrecy that would convince the
community that when spending very large sums of donated money, we can
be ethically transparent and accountable, but be unable to answer
these simple questions publicly.

Should the WMF CEO feel that publishing monthly or quarterly reports
on $1m+ projects is a pointless burden, then perhaps the CEO and WMF
board could agree at what level of spend there should be better
transparency, perhaps any identifiable programme spending more than
$2m?

Raising as a separate thread, as we have probably drifted away from
Pine's original question and intent.[3]

Links:
1. https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2017-June/087910.html
Statement from Greg and Anna.
2. https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2017
Strategy pages on Meta.
3. https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2017-June/087854.html
Pine's question.

Thanks,
Fae
...
* How much is this timeline extension projected to cost, and from what
source are the funds being drawn? (Note that this doesn't assume that the
decision was a bad one, but I very much want to know the source of the
funds and how much is likely to be drawn from it.)
We've got this covered, Pine. We are fiscally managing this process and all
of our contracts well. Thank you for your concern.
* Could you also discuss what measures are being taken to control costs in
the strategy process?
We have plenty of measures in place to monitor costs (e.g., we don't need
to control them because they are not out of control, we are within our
budget). Also, describing financial metrics at any lower level of detail
would be a waste of the strategy budget since we are within it.
Always good to hear from you,
/a
Anna,
I'd love to examine the more detailed monthly or quarterly financial
reports that demonstrate your assurance, and can be both examined and
understood by volunteers like us. Could you provide a link to them
please? No doubt the WMF wrote transparency and accountability right
into the contracts, so that being transparent and accountable is not
considered a "waste of the strategy budget" but instead is an activity
absolutely critical to its success.
Thanks,
Fae
--
***@gmail.com https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Fae
Ad Huikeshoven
2017-06-30 16:21:12 UTC
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Hi Fae,

The WMF publishes financial numbers twice a year. The last are the nummers
until december 2016
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Annual_Plan/2016-2017/Mid-year_check-in
The next fill be the financial report for the year ending today. That
report is expected in October.

I'm glad Katherine asked forumdiscussie the board approved funding for
developing a long term strategy in a very inclusive process.

The content of the process is open and transparant.

You have some experience with a chapter at rough times. Would you be
available for governance review of WMFr?

Regards,

Ad
Post by Fæ
Could an unpaid volunteer who is not a WMF employee, or contractor, or
consultant, please have a go at answering my polite request for links
to "monthly or quarterly financial reports" from a few days ago,
below? I don't think this needs any time from employees to confirm
whether published versions exist or don't exist, and I don't want to
be publicly shamed for asking a question.[1]
I have searched through the WMF web pages with regard to the 2017
movement strategy,[2] but have yet to find any references or evidence
that there are regular reports of when or how the budgeted $2.5
million is being spent. Considering the large size of this project,
and especially the significant sums of money going to consultants, I
am sure everyone can appreciate there is bound to be interest from the
wider community in the progress of the spend and any unplanned spend.
I would expect that the strategy project has regular monthly tracked
spending reports, certainly I would find it hard to believe that the
WMF CEO and CFO do not require that level of tracking and reporting.
If nothing is published, then that would be a jolly good thing for our
movement to push for improved /public/ governance of $1m+ projects,
especially those with large sums going to consultants chosen using
non-open bid procedures, to deliver better transparency in line with
our movement values. The cost of this improvement would be zero. There
can be no doubt that summary reports already exist and there is
unlikely to be any reason for secrecy that would convince the
community that when spending very large sums of donated money, we can
be ethically transparent and accountable, but be unable to answer
these simple questions publicly.
Should the WMF CEO feel that publishing monthly or quarterly reports
on $1m+ projects is a pointless burden, then perhaps the CEO and WMF
board could agree at what level of spend there should be better
transparency, perhaps any identifiable programme spending more than
$2m?
Raising as a separate thread, as we have probably drifted away from
Pine's original question and intent.[3]
1. https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2017-June/087910.html
Statement from Greg and Anna.
2. https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2017
Strategy pages on Meta.
3. https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2017-June/087854.html
Pine's question.
Thanks,
Fae
...
* How much is this timeline extension projected to cost, and from what
source are the funds being drawn? (Note that this doesn't assume that
the
decision was a bad one, but I very much want to know the source of the
funds and how much is likely to be drawn from it.)
We've got this covered, Pine. We are fiscally managing this process and
all
of our contracts well. Thank you for your concern.
* Could you also discuss what measures are being taken to control
costs in
the strategy process?
We have plenty of measures in place to monitor costs (e.g., we don't
need
to control them because they are not out of control, we are within our
budget). Also, describing financial metrics at any lower level of detail
would be a waste of the strategy budget since we are within it.
Always good to hear from you,
/a
Anna,
I'd love to examine the more detailed monthly or quarterly financial
reports that demonstrate your assurance, and can be both examined and
understood by volunteers like us. Could you provide a link to them
please? No doubt the WMF wrote transparency and accountability right
into the contracts, so that being transparent and accountable is not
considered a "waste of the strategy budget" but instead is an activity
absolutely critical to its success.
Thanks,
Fae
--
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2017-06-30 17:28:32 UTC
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Replies in-line.
Post by Ad Huikeshoven
Hi Fae,
The WMF publishes financial numbers twice a year. The last are the nummers
until december 2016
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Annual_Plan/2016-2017/Mid-year_check-in
The next fill be the financial report for the year ending today. That
report is expected in October.
I'm glad Katherine asked forumdiscussie the board approved funding for
developing a long term strategy in a very inclusive process.
The content of the process is open and transparant.
I see the generic numbers and then a mention of the Strategic
direction programme but with no numbers. The "Annual Plan" tells the
volunteer community nothing about how the $2.5m was being spent or is
planned to be spent. Unfortunately the related one objective (one out
of one) says that there will be support, so anything that occurs under
the programme could be stated to do that, regardless of actual quality
or measurable outcome. I don't see how getting an update in June/July
in the same format will help our common understanding of the
programme.

I agree that the content of the programme is open, though that does
not mean that the WMF is making none of its choices behind closed
doors.

Publishing outcomes is not the same thing as offering the community
transparency and accountability for the $2.5m spend.
Post by Ad Huikeshoven
You have some experience with a chapter at rough times. Would you be
available for governance review of WMFr?
LOL, yes I have an exciting history with governance, true. It's up to
WMFR to decide if they have a governance issue they want to talk
about, and whether inviting independent opinion or assessment from
outside would help.
Post by Ad Huikeshoven
Regards,
Ad
Post by Fæ
Could an unpaid volunteer who is not a WMF employee, or contractor, or
consultant, please have a go at answering my polite request for links
to "monthly or quarterly financial reports" from a few days ago,
below? I don't think this needs any time from employees to confirm
whether published versions exist or don't exist, and I don't want to
be publicly shamed for asking a question.[1]
I have searched through the WMF web pages with regard to the 2017
movement strategy,[2] but have yet to find any references or evidence
that there are regular reports of when or how the budgeted $2.5
million is being spent. Considering the large size of this project,
and especially the significant sums of money going to consultants, I
am sure everyone can appreciate there is bound to be interest from the
wider community in the progress of the spend and any unplanned spend.
I would expect that the strategy project has regular monthly tracked
spending reports, certainly I would find it hard to believe that the
WMF CEO and CFO do not require that level of tracking and reporting.
If nothing is published, then that would be a jolly good thing for our
movement to push for improved /public/ governance of $1m+ projects,
especially those with large sums going to consultants chosen using
non-open bid procedures, to deliver better transparency in line with
our movement values. The cost of this improvement would be zero. There
can be no doubt that summary reports already exist and there is
unlikely to be any reason for secrecy that would convince the
community that when spending very large sums of donated money, we can
be ethically transparent and accountable, but be unable to answer
these simple questions publicly.
Should the WMF CEO feel that publishing monthly or quarterly reports
on $1m+ projects is a pointless burden, then perhaps the CEO and WMF
board could agree at what level of spend there should be better
transparency, perhaps any identifiable programme spending more than
$2m?
Raising as a separate thread, as we have probably drifted away from
Pine's original question and intent.[3]
1. https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2017-June/087910.html
Statement from Greg and Anna.
2. https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2017
Strategy pages on Meta.
3. https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2017-June/087854.html
Pine's question.
Thanks,
Fae
...
* How much is this timeline extension projected to cost, and from what
source are the funds being drawn? (Note that this doesn't assume that
the
decision was a bad one, but I very much want to know the source of the
funds and how much is likely to be drawn from it.)
We've got this covered, Pine. We are fiscally managing this process and
all
of our contracts well. Thank you for your concern.
* Could you also discuss what measures are being taken to control
costs in
the strategy process?
We have plenty of measures in place to monitor costs (e.g., we don't
need
to control them because they are not out of control, we are within our
budget). Also, describing financial metrics at any lower level of detail
would be a waste of the strategy budget since we are within it.
Always good to hear from you,
/a
Anna,
I'd love to examine the more detailed monthly or quarterly financial
reports that demonstrate your assurance, and can be both examined and
understood by volunteers like us. Could you provide a link to them
please? No doubt the WMF wrote transparency and accountability right
into the contracts, so that being transparent and accountable is not
considered a "waste of the strategy budget" but instead is an activity
absolutely critical to its success.
Thanks,
Fae
--
--
***@gmail.com https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Fae
Pine W
2017-07-02 23:53:19 UTC
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Hmmm. The talk about contracting procedures reminds me to say that my
feeling is that there should be a requirement that WMF and affiliate
contract awards over a certain dollar amount must be openly bid. Perhaps
$100,000 could be the floor.

Pine

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