OUSA Board meeting teleconference tonight; comments on my comments very much welcome. Agenda (from http://orienteeringusa.com/upcoming-board-meetings
- 2017 budget discussion. Cover letter and information about OUSA finances. (updated 8:18 pm 12/6/2016) Cover letter and proposed 2017 budget.
- ESC requested rules changes. Supporting material: Rules changes requested by JTESC. Proposed 2017 JNT application; proposed 2017 JWOC selection criteria; 2016 JNT application; 2016 JWOC selection criteria; bylaws. (Agenda item came out of 11/28/2016 meeting.)
- Relay format for 2017 Championships (Agenda item came out of 11/28/2016 meeting)
- Reports from VPs and committees (dependent on conference call quality). OUSA Sanctioning.
- Committee structure including proposal for new VP(s) (depending on conference call quality).
The most pressing issues are the 2017 OUSA budget and the 2017 JTESC rules change/JNT application. I'm sure the relay will be excellent (and frankly, I don't think the Board should be spending its time discussing relay format; this should be the purview of a competition committee or sanctioning), and the reports are just information. I do think we need a Communications VP, and some of that structure came out of the retreat though hasn't been adopted yet.
1. 2017 budget discussion.
2017 OUSA Financial Report
2017 Budget Proposal Notes
2017 Budget Proposal
I am on the Finance Committee, and we spent a while diving through financial documents to assess the status and historical trends of OUSA. The committee has put a lot of time into the process, and the conclusions are largely what I and others wrote about in August
: we have been deficit spending our unrestricted funds for the past five years to the tune of $40k/year. At this time, OUSA has a de facto negative balance in its operating funds;
the money in the bank is exceeded by that which is restricted or board designated. In short, as a result of the deficit spending of at least the past 5 years, OUSA is broke. Furthermore, our accounting system makes it very difficult to arrive at a transparent view of the state of OUSA's finances by inadequately accounting for unrestricted, Board designated, and restricted money. I've learned a lot about these accounting categories, largely through Barb sharing her insights. Barb in particular has done a fantastic job diving into and making sense of the numbers - more thoroughly than my efforts, which has also arrived at substantially the same conclusions. I think moving forward from the ED, if the Board elects to do it, is a major step towards putting OUSA on the right track. As I've written and campaigned on, the ED experiment was worthwhile but ran far too long with too little benefit at too great a cost. If we had proper accounting systems, I think it would have been clearer how severely OUSA was hamstringing itself. To be in the present financial situation is fiscal irresponsibility
: the Finance Committee has recommended:
1) We release the Executive Director.
2) We balance our unrestricted spending, and aim to have a surplus in operating funds for 2017.
3) We transition to online/fund accounting to enable all the principal actors and Board of OUSA to assess and monitor our finances.
Somewhat complementary to the goal of financial order is the set of objections laid out in the Mission Statement
(including a fifth item: promoting high-quality competitive events). Several programs that are part of the five-year strategic plan are marketing and publicity, junior development, national teams, and events series. In light of the present fiscal situation, we must implement austerity. However, I argue that we should reduce - not eliminate - unrestricted funding to (1) marketing programs (2) junior develpment and (3) national teams. The present budget drafts including $0 unrestricted to the teams and Junior Development and about $1000 for marketing, while medals is receiving a $1500 allocation. This is unacceptable and does not appropriately reflect our priorities
; restricted funds available for teams and marketing do not justify cutting them off from OUSA support. I plan to propose for at least $1000 for the Senior and Junior teams; $500 for each WUOC, Ski-O, MTB-O and Trail-O; and $5000 for marketing and publicity. I'm not aware of any Junior Development programs in the works apart from the national development pipeline, as apparently the center of excellence proposal for Boston with the marathon money died. I also propose to cut medals spending to at most $1000; we can ask for old medals people don't want (e.g. feet) to keep giving them out.
Questions for my audience: we have a marketing plan (put together by Greg Lennon and Bob Forgrave) using a marketing firm to do SEO that will be actionable for ~$10k. Given that we're broke for the near term, what junior development programs can we implement for at most a few thousand dollars?
2. JTESC proposal (Documents available here
It is my understanding that a major goal of the proposed rule changes is to promote involvement in the Junior Program and to build a sense of community that will help our juniors improve. It must be noted that imposing additional requirements is somewhat antithetical to the idea of maximizing inclusion, but that's fine if the additional requirements improve the program. The crux of the rules proposal is changing the criteria for selection to the JDT/JNT (G2.4) and modifying the JWOC selection rules so that the selection criteria are separate from the OUSA rules. In short, the way the JWOC selection rules are listed, participation in the program is motivated by the massive selection bonus to being on the national team. The argument is that participation in the program is mutually beneficial for the US and for the athlete, and frankly, this discourages opportunistic people who are really good but aren't active in the community. To some degree, this is a solution without a program, as the Scandimericans who were on the JWOC team this year appear to have been very active, coming to NAOC and generally contributing to the development. They are allowed to represent the US per IOF rules, and I believe US orienteering is better for their involvement.
My reservations about the JNT requirement are that it's by definition exclusionary, and if you have to apply six months before the JWOC trials, I worry capable and active athletes will be excluded. While there are assertions that JDT members who are deemed sufficiently "pro" will automatically move up, what happens if a JDT member finishes 2nd (say) by all other criteria in the JWOC trials? [Amusingly, I don't think I would qualify for the JNT :'( ]. The financial requirement ($100) in the application is somewhat troubling, but as it's about the cost of O-shoes, I hope it will not discourage participation. A related problem is the insufficient support for the junior program by OUSA, but as the budget discussion shows, that can't be resolved right now.
As it stands, I am leaning in opposition to the proposed selection rules, but I could be persuaded to adopt them under three conditions:
1) JDT or JNT members are eligible for JWOC and equally receive the 100 points in selection
2) JDT/JNT application isn't just in November/December, but is also possible in March or even later. I'm reminded of Ali Crocker at senior team trials in 2010 who was both sick and not on the national team yet; I think allowances should be made to encourage circumstances like hers to be able to tryout for the team without petitioning.
3) G2.7 - "Selection to the U.S JWOC team ... defined in the US JWOC Team Selection document as approved by the JTESC." This is insufficient; the Board should have oversight of the JWOC selection criteria. I hate to do this, as I think the Board has a lot of other things to worry about, but to avoid even appearances of hegemony and impropriety, I think a supervisory group besides JTESC should approve the selection documents.
Update: The board doesn't actually get to vote on selection criteria (or apparently have any power of oversight at all, apart from appointing/disbanding JTESC?). I think I will propose a rule change above relating to (3), that the Board can
review and strike down selection rules etc. Under this rule, the Board wouldn't have to approve things every year (tedious), but could choose to get involved if things were bad etc etc.