Greetings, Ambassadors & FAmSCo folks (yeah, I just cross-posted, sorry!):
The following updates have been a long time in coming, and so I'll
preface it with the following:
* This will cover as much as possible about the past, the present, and
the future of the budget. As such, it is a long email, but I wanted to
get as much information out as possible, and I will continue to give
updates as I have them.
* Let's keep this mail thread positive and looking happily into the
future, please :)
I realize that the transparency around the budget and spending has been
less than optimal for some time now. I have been working diligently
towards improving the situation, which brings me to where we are today.
Which is just that: Improving. :)
First: Budget Management
The Fedora budget for regional support and Fedora events, in the past,
was managed by the Community Architecture team inside of Red Hat, first
under Max Spevack, and then under Harish Pillay. As of a few weeks ago
(though we were still pending for some time on some close-out/transfer
information following), the budget has been transferred to a new group
inside of Red Hat. The team name is OSAS (Open Source and Standards),
is managed by Carl Trieloff, and lies within the CTO office (Brian
Stevens) at Red Hat.
What this means: Effective immediately, CommArch is NO LONGER the point
of contact for budget-related anything. This includes reimbursements,
requests of money for FADs, publication of how money was utilized, etc.
- including anything in the past which may be outstanding at this
point. Many of you know Ruth Suehle from her work within Fedora and
attendance at FUDCons, as well as her writings for opensource.com
has transferred over to the OSAS team, and will be functioning as the
manager of this budget, with assistance and guidance from myself and Spot.
I would expect in the very near future that Ruth and Carl will both want
to be added to the FAmSCo list; Ruth is an Ambassador in training and on
the Ambassadors list already, and she's totally awesome, and I am sure
that this will work out very well for all of us.
Second: Budget Status up to now
For FY12, which ended in February: We spent, as shown on the wiki,
~$138k for the year, well below the estimated budget of $185k. There is
no detail for a significant part in the latter half of the year as to
how this money was spent; while I am continuing to attempt to sort that
out, I cannot make any promises that we will ever have any significant
transparency into that spending.
For FY13, which began March 1: Fedora spending, including Regional
Support and Premier Fedora Events, was approximately $34k. As with
above, there is no detail; again, I am trying to procure that
information, but cannot make promises. Additionally, the details of
spending between pools (Regional or Events or Discretionary) is not
Third: Remaining Budget for the rest of the year
The budget for this year was determined when it was in the hands of
CommArch. As such, upon transfer, the OSAS team was handed the rest of
the remaining budget. Because we did not spend the entire budget for
last year, this year's budget was smaller than last year's budget.
What I am currently looking at is a budget of approximately $148k for
the year, which includes the $34k spent in Q1. However, because of OSAS
support, there may be room to increase this budget by approximately
$20k; but because we are essentially needing to prove that it is a
shortfall, we need to consider where this money would be going.
Additionally, because we don't have any of the Q1 info on Regional vs.
Events, it's unclear how the buckets going forward will be divided up.
Fourth: Moving forward
I would like for us to collectively get back to having the transparency
and efficiency that we previously had. OSAS has committed to publishing
the status on at least a monthly basis, if not more often; that may be
slow at the beginning, as we are still collecting some bits of
information/data, and we'll need to do some wiki work and organization
to get things started. But I expect that as we enter Q3 (Starting in
August) that they should be able to do this regularly. In addition to
this, as we approach the end of the year, OSAS will work with us to
ensure that the budget plan for the upcoming year is adequate, and be
willing to expand as needed, whether for "just not enough" reasons or
for more specific outreach strategies.
I believe we should consider the idea of having a finance group or
mailing list, populated by people who are actually paying things and
those that want to take an interest in the general well-being of the
efficiency of the budget management. An alternative would be to have a
consolidated trac instance for either tracking reimbursements or
tracking requests and reimbursements. We have multiple tracs, many folks
who are able to pay for things, and I think it would be useful to have a
centralized place for communication, providing status updates, receiving
"hey where the heck is my money" mails that are more transparent than
pinging one individual, and so forth. This does NOT mean taking
decision-making out of the places where they are currently made; I am
referring ONLY to a consolidated place where we can see that something
previously approved by the appropriate group needs to be bought, paid,
has been bought or paid, etc. - even including things such as, "Robyn
paid $X for hotels for people at this conference," etc. Food for
thought - just trying to figure out how to get to a place where we
aren't trying to keep track of status in multiple trac instances. Ideas
(or agreement) are welcome here, particularly from those who have
community credit cards.
(I'll mention right now that the community cards are remaining as they
were, and that they could possibly be expanded; I will work with the
current holders to ensure that their process includes sending the
statements/receipts/whatever else to the appropriate new contacts.)
Additionally: Going forward, we need to attempt to stay reasonably close
to our projections of spending for each quarter. This does not mean
that we need to divide up the money evenly among quarters, just that we
need to have some sort of number in mind each quarter and that we do not
go over it by some ridiculous amount.
Fifth: WHAT I NEED.
I previously mentioned the remaining budget for the rest of the year,
and the need to estimate what is yet to be spent, what is needed, etc.,
as well as the amount currently set vs. possible expansion of the budget.
To that end, I have put together a wiki page of a Draft/Projected FY13
budget here, in an effort to project what we may or may not be missing:
Please note that this wiki page is FULL of detail. I've started
outlining what has already been spent in Q2 (again, still getting some
of this detail together), as well as including some of the items that
have been approved in various regions for this quarter, outstanding
reimbursements, etc. For Q3 and Q4 (August - February), I have looked
to the summaries of past years and events in those years, to come up
with a "reasonable guess" of what we might spend, by quarter.
What I need is the following:
* If there are any outstanding, unpaid reimbursements not already
accounted for in this list. This includes FUDCon reimbursements, which
I have not even begun to sort through.
* Obvious events which we regularly attend that are not present on this
* Estimates for shipping in various regions
* Release parties - no idea how many we do, need a round number here
* If people have already requested budget for a FAD from CommArch that
has not yet occurred
I know that in requesting this, I am sort of opening the floodgates -
please, try and be as reasonable as we have always been in the past
about spending. This is not a "we want 10 thousand tee shirts" request
form. :) This list does not have to be things that are "already
approved" - if we've done it in the past, and we're likely to do it
again, and it's not on this list, please, add it, or if it's an idea
that has been brought up but maybe not totally confirmed, add it.
For things on this list, I have attached some lightly padded, round $
amounts. These are not set in stone, they are not approved by anyone
(save for some Q2 events), please do not assume that I am just approving
them out of band. I am merely trying to work up a draft that looks
reasonable so that we can have a set budget.
IF YOU HAVE THINGS YOU BELIEVE SHOULD BE ADDED TO THIS LIST, please add
the items to the appropriate quarter, and PLEASE, pretty please, click
the "your signature with timestamp" button, so that I can see who added
it (and that it got added!) without having to track through multiple
levels of wiki history. Your help in doing this is greatly appreciated
- I am, sadly, incapable of knowing everything. :) If you don't know
what quarter it goes in, feel free to make a new section for "I know
this should be on the list but not sure where it goes," or something
along those lines.
I additionally have a section at the bottom of the wiki page for things
that need to be done VERY SOON in the interest of transparency and
accuracy on the wiki. This includes moving old budget info over,
creating an FY13 page, and updating references to CommArch on the wiki.
If you know of pages that need updating, please, list them there, so
they can get the love that they need.
Once we have a solidified budget and wiki pages are updated
appropriately, I'll be announcing more formally the budget transition to
the wider community. Obviously, since the Ambassadors team has the most
interaction with the budget, I want to make sure we're all doing this
together and transitioning all of that information in a way that is
comfortable for all of us , hence talking with everyone through these
items here first.
I *very* much appreciate everyone's continued patience and prodding on
this. The Ambassadors have long been incredibly responsible and
faithful in their tending of the budget and the outreach that we do, and
I want that to continue. The folks in OSAS are committed to working
closely with us, and want this transition to be as absolutely smooth as
possible, and do not want to incur mass changes in how we do things; I
am looking forward to getting things back to running well, and I hope
that everyone is willing to pitch in with ideas for how we can improve
upon what we currently have.
As we move forward, I would love to see some effort put into more
forward-thinking planning, particularly before we enter the period where
the budget for next year is set (December-ish) - outlining plans for the
upcoming year, thinking about spending for events and swag needs for the
upcoming year, thinking about new ways to do outreach and what it will
take to do those efforts. While I will leave that idea in the hands of
FAmSCo leadership to drive if they wish - I think it is something where
Fedora could really expand in the future and benefit from, and so I hope
that Ambassadors worldwide keep this in mind as they continue their work
this year, and keep an eye out for new opportunities, and their minds
open to trying new things, and reaching new people.
Obviously this was an incredibly long email, and I expect that there are
a multitude of questions. Please feel free to ask, and I will answer as
best as I possibly can.