Single Expenditure and Reimbursement Policy

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I think this is a horrible idea! Libera me... Free me! We need a free and open membership with power to create, build, and change the world. Creating little power structures is only going to limit the potential and opportunity for the membership.

And, we are creating a system that allows limitless possibilities... let's keep building that and focus on innovation, leaving behind us rules and regulations.

Richard Bewley, Donor

Strong oppose. This is a hacker space, not Model UN.

The proposal uses the euphemism "quickly organized projects" to refer to everything the space has ever done. The opposite of a "quickly organized project" is not, as it would seem, a "project with advance notice". Rather, it is a "project with advance notice at least one quorum-achieving meeting prior to its start, administrative overhead, and a papermonger to ride herd over the whole thing".

I like to remind people how expensive volunteer labor really is. It's also fickle. This policy would have the effect of biasing the process towards those members who revel in paperwork, and against, well, everyone who's ever actually accomplished anything for HacDC.

By my reading, if this policy had been in place from the beginning:

No shelves would have been built. Not only did the total expense for lumber and hardware (and the circular saw) exceed $100, but it was all purchased in drips and drabs when the need for it became apparent. Even supposing that there HAD been frequent quora to approve budgets, I wouldn't have undertaken the project because I am allergic to paperwork. If you find someone else who has a fondness for administrivia, a hand for carpentry, and a few hundred hours a month to dedicate to HacDC, by all means, send 'em over.

The Patent Examiner's stuff would've been passed up. Renting the van was a chunk of change, and I believe it was reimbursed. (I'm not sure of that, however.) Regardless, it came out of nowhere on very short notice, and no instant quorum was available to approve it.

HackersMart would not have happened. Yes, the idea was mentioned some time in advance of HOPE. But it didn't take clear enough shape to actually put together a budget for it until much later. Purchasing parts was already delayed so far that one order didn't arrive in time, and that's with no additional paperwork overhead. The pegboard display wall wouldn't have been built, since I didn't know what it would consist of until I was halfway done building it. And did you notice that the pegboard was carefully sized for reuse, enabling the Components Store display wall to pop up with zero additional purchases? I think that's good value for money, but I wouldn't have done it if there'd been hoops to jump through. Who would have?

Again, this policy would restrict such activity to only those individuals who can write up a detailed and complete BoM prior to beginning work. So far, I think everything that's actually benefitted the space has been done by individuals and in circumstances that this policy would block.

Bureaucrats beget bureaucracy. I oppose this trend as strongly as an absentee member can. Every bit of effort, every speck of sawdust, every drop of sweat I shed on behalf of HacDC is insulted by this proposal. Myself 19:58, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

(moved from original discussion page)

Reasons for Opposition

  • I think this idea sucks!
   Objections without reasons or identity are easily discounted. Ben 17:49, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm against this, since adding bureaucracy and extra work for the ministers is not good, particularly when there's no organizational need for it. If there were any substantive abuses of the current processes to cite, then something like this could makes sense. Status quo and less paperwork FTW. Ben 17:49, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

So yeah. What Nate said.

Getting stuff done is difficult. Adding further barriers to getting stuff done is counter to the spirit of the space. The current system, where people who need to get/buy stuff fork out their own money and run the risk of not being reimbursed, is plenty restrictive to prevent frivolous uses of our funds.

Further, I don't know of any instances of misuse of group funds. Creating rules to deal with imaginary problems (that may or may not ever become real) is a waste of time, and in this case is also harmful to our regular activities.

Finally, I think that spontaneous donations (of both time and money) are more frequent and larger-scale than any of the perceived problems. For instance, I know of some people who went out to NYC's Chinatown to buy supplies for sale for the Hackersmart at HOPE, and ended up contributing the supplies to the store rather than seeking reimbursement. And this is in addition to the 10+ hours they spent manning the store. And don't forget the Metrocard!

We're a volunteer group of good people trying to make something cool. That spirit is, in itself, very important to me. I'll kick the ass (metaphorically) of anyone who tries to further bureaucratize our space in ways that reduce flexibility or put up barriers to contribution.

-- Elliot.