The article in this week's UU World online resembled a dramatic reading based (in part) on the UUA Board meeting more than an account of the meeting itself.
Here is a short response from me on the Board's decision to invest $100,000 with a management consultant next fiscal year to build capacity. (Most of the reports referenced below can be found in the January and April board packets on uua.org.)
In January 2013 the UUA Administration provided the Board with an ends monitoring report that catalogued a lack of success in key areas. (Where we have
data, the data points toward no growth or decline as opposed to growth.) This
report was the best ends report the Administration has written thus far because
it provided enough information about what the Administration is trying to
accomplish to generate questions and conversation with the Board. We reflected
that our numbers are declining in the pews and RE classrooms, but the UUA's
programmatic choices and the budget seem largely unchanged from year to year.
Following lengthy discussion the Board requested a remediation report grounded
in a strategic plan and addressing the major areas of concern that the
Administration had identified. A remediation report would provide detailed
answers to a question like: What programmatic or operational adjustments will
the President make to achieve the hoped for outcomes/ends?
The Board also approves the budget for the coming year in April, so trustees
expected to receive three related reports from the Administration for the April
meeting: a strategic plan, a remediation report indicating what would be done
differently to try to achieve better outcomes against the strategic plan, and a
budget that reflected both the strategic plan and the changes presented in the
remediation report. This is not what the Board actually received.
The UU World article notes that the Board and Administration disagreed over
monitoring reports; monitoring reports and operational definitions were
discussed but these were not the major concerns for the trustees. The Board was
focused on the continuing lack of a detailed strategic plan and the budget to
operationalize that plan. We spend millions of dollars annually in a budget that
is only loosely linked to a strategic plan or ends, therefore no one can
determine if the programs funded are the best way or even a good way to advance
Unitarian Universalism. Some trustees indicated that they would not be able to
approve the proposed budget.
During the discussion of reports at the April meeting, President Morales and
members of the executive team said that they cannot provide the reports that the
Board needs. While the Administration has stated this before, their statement
appears to have been heard differently at this meeting. The Board responded by
authorizing the use of $100,000 from reserves for a management consultant to
support the Administration in creating a strategic plan, aligning programmatic
efforts to the plan, evaluating the outcomes of those programs, and reporting,
and to work with the Board to assure accountability going forward. The
Administration approved this direction. The Board and Administration will work
together to identify an appropriate consultant to begin work this summer.
The UUA's annual operating budget is roughly $20,000,000. The Board feels that
the transtion after GA provides the appropriate time to invest $100,000 -- about
one half of one percent of one year's budget -- to help the Administration and
Board establish systems and practices that demonstrate accountability and assure
that the funds contributed by our congregations and donors will be put to the
best possible use to fulfill the purposes of Unitarian Universalism.