Hi all, I'm in the BARC/F&A meeting which is discussing the proposed FT reorganization.
The table I included in my previous message on this thread does not reflect the likely new costs related to the Assemblies & Committees. Per the FTFAWG discussion, the Assemblies are proposed to have between 15 and 80 elected members, the Committees could add an additional 90 positions. The FTFAWG chair shared that the WG anticipates significant additional costs related to Assemblies and Committees and noted that the proposed reorganization increases, rather than reduces, ALA governance complexity.I feel I should emphasize that my "grand total estimated costs" line in my previous message on this thread could be misleading. It does not include anticipated Assemblies and Committee cost increases. Please do not be tempted to see the approximate parity in costs as an accurate reflection of anticipated costs.-Aaron:-)'
Thank you for posting the clarification of your summary of Council document 37.1. As members of the Forward Together Fiscal Analysis Working Group (FT-FAWG) we were concerned that your original posting of June 23 might be misleading and we really appreciate your effort to provide more information.
The numbers we are not able to provide in our report are just as important as the numbers we are able to provide. Given the compressed timeframe in this phase of Forward Together for one workgroup to generate these complex resolutions and then another workgroup to provide stringent fiscal analysis, and the open-ended and sometimes ambiguous nature of some of the resolutions, it was not possible to fully assess the fiscal impacts of all of the resolutions.
As you mentioned, the Assemblies resolutions and the Standing Committees resolutions are especially problematic from a fiscal perspective.
The resolutions on the Standing Committees provide for "allocating" certain existing committees to each of the new Standing Committees. There will then be a one-year "reconstitution" process. We were able to find a description of the reconstitution process in EBD 10.1., ALA Executive Board Fall 2019. This provides for the existing committees to examine their roles and potentially seek to be reconstituted as advisory groups, working groups or other types of entities. The end result could be the new standing committees comprising 90 members and many of the existing committees continuing in some reconstituted form.
The resolutions on Assemblies provide for four Assemblies: Divisions, Round Tables, Chapters, and Affiliates. Pursuant to the resolution, these assemblies can range in size from 15 to 80 members. If the Assemblies are populated to the maximum permitted in the resolutions, they will add 320 people into ALA's governance processes. The resolutions do not specify how often or in what manner (face-to-face, virtual, or hybrid) the Assemblies will meet.
We regret that we are unable to clearly quantify the costs of the overall package of Forward Together resolutions. However, we are confident that taken together, the resolutions will have significant fiscal impacts and raise the cost and complexity of governance.
The FT-FAWG was given a narrow charge: to analyze. Using data provided by ALA offices and other sources, our working group produced observations designed to help Council reflect on the resolutions that would come forward. Our WG was not asked to provide recommendations or opinions and that charge was respected. As member leaders, there are some big picture issues we would like to address.
The focus of the Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness (SCOE) was to respond to the findings of the Avenue M study -- which itself reflected concerns some engaged member leaders already had -- that ALA needs to focus on member engagement in part by making ALA easier to access and engage with. Governance, while essential for a member organization, is one small piece of member engagement, and the Avenue M report made it clear that governance is not the way the vast majority of our current, past, and prospective members see themselves in our association. A subtext there is that ALA should prioritize this member engagement, not by making governance more complex and therefore more expensive, but by putting members first.
The question in front of us is whether the resolutions on the table are member-forward. In a 52,000 member association, do these resolutions put members first? Are resources used toward that end?
We also note that ALA is in a period of fiscal recovery. For five fiscal years, from 2017 to 2021, our Association has not generated sufficient revenue from annual operations to cover annual expenses. ALA entered the pandemic with a multi-million dollar deficit which subsequently grew larger as revenue from publishing, conferences, and membership tumbled. ALA has met its fiscal obligations by using reserve funds, loans, staff furloughs, and currently, Paycheck Protection Plan funds from the federal government. During COVID, liquidity (access to cash on hand) has been an issue at times, making it challenging to meet current obligations. As we emerge from COVID, the situation remains serious. The Executive Director and ALA staff have told BARC that containment of costs, fiscal discipline, and a focus on current and emerging revenue streams are absolutely necessary for improving ALA's financial situation. Expansion of ALA's governance structures represents real costs to the Association and are not investments that will generate revenue.
Our own back-of-the-napkin analysis is this: if an organization is too complex, adding more complexity will not make it less complex. Complexity requires resources that could be better directed toward improved products and services for members, as well as toward developing new revenue streams.
We all want what is best for ALA and its 52,000 members. SCOE, and then Forward Together, have given members rich opportunities to think about how we are structured as an organization. We respect the process and wish to acknowledge the excellent stewardship of Jack Martin and Christina Rodriquez during this phase of Forward Together, but we believe it is important for Council to ask whether the proposed resolutions are fully ready for their approval.
John A. Lehner, Chair, Forward Together Fiscal Analysis Working Group and Member, Budget Analysis and Review Committee
Karen G. Schneider, Member, Forward Together Fiscal Analysis Working Group, Member, Executive Board, and Member, Budget Analysis and Review Committee