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ALA Council: Budget Objectives/Programmatic Priorities

  • 1.  ALA Council: Budget Objectives/Programmatic Priorities

    Posted Jan 23, 2022 04:32 PM

    Good afternoon, 

    I had an opportunity to review the FY2023 Budget Development documents you shared with Council. The detailed presentation answered many of my questions; however, I still have a few questions for you and the budget committee which relate to the following: (1) Tactical Goals based on Pivot Strategy; and (2) Budget Terminology – Tactical Goals.

    My questions:

    1.  Under Tactical Goals..., the last bullet states: Strategic hires only. What, if any, new positions have been identified as 'strategic hires' only?

    2.  Under Budget Terminology, Tactical Goals is defined as, "ALA management provides directions in budget planning to achieve certain goals such as increase membership. The Tactical Goals compliment the Budget Assumptions."  Are 'strategic hires' being used to meet this goal?


    As ALA seeks to increase memberships, a failure to confront concerns about budget overruns and deficits, may erode confidence in detailed budget plans and forecasting reports. To assist in restoring confidence to this process, Council could consider hiring two new strategic hires (salaried positions): (1) Comptroller and (2) Contracting Officer.


    Services, equipment, and other resources are essential to the effective and efficient operation of a large organization like ALA. As a member of the disbanded Forward Together Fiscal Analysis Committee (FTFAC), I requested copies of contracts issued to those vendors failing to deliver on-time services and support to our organization. Furthermore, it is unclear why (of if) vendors who were unable to provide contracted deliverables, continued to receive payments from ALA. Many questions remain unanswered, to my satisfaction since the disbanding of FTFAC before its official end date. (A concern that Council may need to address.)

    The two new positions are:

    a. Comptroller

    The Comptroller, a salaried position, becomes the official 'check & balance' for Council. Invoices submitted for, or by, vendors, who fail to meet all contractual obligations, will not receive payment.  This includes ALA 'elected' officials who overspend their approved budgets.

    b. Contracting Officer

    In support of the Comptroller's obligation to effectively administer his/her duties, the Contracting Officer, salaried position, would oversee the development of ALA contract specifications, enforceable by law, which clearly define services and resources needed. A Request for Proposal (RFP) would allow the Contracting Officer to select responsive vendors who are able to meet established criteria. This would include the following:

    1.       Financial – Fiscally responsible businesses only need to apply.

    2.       Technical – Vendor has the capabilities needed to fulfill identified specifications (i.e., staff; business location; equipment; no outsourcing; etc.).

    3.        Past Performance- Vendor must provide evidence of customer satisfaction (i.e., customers similar in size to ALA; etc.).

    The Contracting Officer must ensure that the selected vendor has met all contractual obligations, prior to the issuance of payments. Once this (CHECK) has been satisfied, the Comptroller processes a payment (Balance).

    If the Controller receives a payment request for non-contractual expenditures, his/her priority is to determine if funds are available. Once availability of funds is determined, a payment is processed.  (Council will need to develop policy to address consequences for budget overruns by elected officers, divisions, and Round Tables.)

    According to ALA Policy Manual, the following policies are of interest:

    A.6.1 Management of ALA Funds states: 'No purchase of goods and securities nor procurement of services, insurance, or other intangibles shall be made through firms, companies, or agencies with which officers, members of the Executive Board, or fund trustees are associated as partners, directors, or in a managerial capacity, except as such purchases relate to procurement of professional materials such as publications," 

    Question:  How does this policy impact former ALA employees with less than a one-year separation?

    A.6.2.1 Expenses of the ALA President: "The annual ALA budget shall include an item sufficient to cover all travel and other expenses to the discharge of the official duties of the President, including attendance at regular meetings of the Association." 

    Question:  How will Council define 'sufficient'? Are budget overruns permitted by elected officers?

    A.6.2.2 Expenses of Members of the Executive Board: "The American Library Association will pay the expenses of members of the Executive Board to attend Midwinter Meetings, Annual Conferences, and interim meetings of the Executive Board when such expenses are not paid by the members institution."

    Question:  Are the proposed increase in the number of Executive Board members part of FY2023 budget forecasts?


    These are my concerns. As a member of Council, I offer my reactions to the documents you have shared.

    By chance, if ALA has a Comptroller and Contracting Officer, as a Council member, I would like to request copies of following items for review:

    1.  Contracts for technology software, implementation, ongoing support, and member training

    2. Contracts for charges associated with conference services that detail expenses generated by Council and those generated by Executive Board.
    3. Invoices submitted by any company that prepares monthly (or quarterly) operational/endowment budget accounts for committees, divisions, and Round Tables.

    However, on the off-chance that ALA does not employ a Comptroller and/or Contracting Officer, I propose the following revisions to existing ALA Policy:


    A.6.1a Purchasing Policy – Contracting Officer (New Strategic Hire FY'23)

    The purchase of goods and securities and the procurement of services, legally bound obligations, through the Request for Proposal (RFP) process which is under the direction of the Contracting Officer. The Contracting Officer is a salaried position within ALA and prepares reports for presentation to Council during ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual Conferences.

    A.6.1b The Comptroller (New Strategic Hire FY'23)

    The payment for goods and services is a duty rendered to the Comptroller. A review of contract deliverables (check), by the Contracting Officer, is necessary for the Comptroller to process payments (balance) to all vendors for contractual (and non-contractual) financial obligations made by ALA. The Comptroller, a salaried position, will prepare and present annual reports to Council during ALA Midwinter and Annual Conferences.

    Thank you for your detailed budget report.

    Respectfully submitted,  


    Brenda Pruitt-Annisette, MLS, Ed.D.
    Chair, Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee - (2020-2023)

    ALA Policy Monitoring Committee (2020-2023)
    Councilor-at-Large, American Library Association Governance (2019-2022)
     AASL/CAEP Coordinating Committee (2019-2022)
    Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)- (2000-Present)

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