Atiya Hakeem 2015 Q&A: Finances, Group 2

Can you describe your ideal setup for OTW finances going forward, given that many of you flagged the current situation as an issue?

I would like to see us resurrect the Finance committee (see my answer to the third question in this set for more detail).

There is currently no internal or external auditing structure checking the OTW’s bookkeeping (no legal worries, here: the Delaware state laws do not require annual auditing from nonprofits). If you join Board, is this something you would like to change? If so, how?

I think we should price external auditing, and if it seems reasonable, we should have it, possibly at more widely spread intervals, such as every two years.

While I believe our finances are not currently being responsibly or sensibly overseen, I don’t actually think any fiscal impropriety has gone on. However, auditing would be nice as a reassurance to the Org and its members, and a check against any future misconduct.

Our finances are currently being overseen by only one person with actual decisional and content-producing power, which is concerning in terms of transparency, and efficiency. If elected, how would you go about building a sound administrative Financial structure for the Organization?

I think we should return control of the Org’s finances to a Finance committee. The fact that the previous committee was allowed to die doesn’t mean that a committee isn’t a working model if resurrected with better structure (as committees such as Translation and AO3 Documentation have been). I’d start with internal recruiting; I know we have a number of qualified people within the Org. A Finance committee of multiple members would provide redundancy for completing tasks such as paying the bills, and would have more time and resources available to keep documentation and reporting up to date. In addition, having more than one set of eyes on the books reduces the risk of either intentional or accidental mismanagement. I would like to see such a committee report to Board, but be independent from it as an additional check against abuse.

I saw many concerns about finances in the candidates’ statements, but I did not see outsourcing financial oversight mentioned as a solution. I’d like to know what the candidates think about outsourcing (paying for) some responsibilities, in particular engaging a company with a background in financial services for non-profits.

I am concerned about outsourcing financial oversight on a full-time basis. First, anything of this nature is not going to be cheap. Second, our finances are simply not that complicated. Third, I think it would be easy to find a company that was not in fact competent at the task, and given previous examples of Board choices of external people to pay, I’m not confident we’d be spending our money wisely.

I’d rather we install a functioning Finance committee of volunteers with proper reporting, and prioritize spending money to pay people doing tasks that can’t be easily done on a part-time volunteer basis, and who we can effectively oversee.