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Retrospective disqualification of WMCZ and WMHK
The FDC recommendations awarded zero proposed funding to WMCZ and WMHK, in both cases citing "ineligibility" of the entities as stated in FDC portal/FDC recommendations/2012-2013 round2#Footnotes.
According to FDC portal/Eligibility status/2012-2013 round2, both WMCZ and WMHK remained eligible throughout the review period. The footnotes also made it clear that the circumstances which led to the two entities' disqualification have arisen after their full eligibility was announced, and to my best knowledge neither entity has received any indication whatsoever that these changes in circumstances might lead to retrospective disqualification.
I'm therefore writing to the FDC ombudsman and board representatives to point out that it is in contravention of FDC guidelines that the FDC declared WMCZ and WMHK ineligible at the time of FDC recommendations. I urge the FDC ombudsman and board representatives to revoke the recommendations regarding these two entities' eligibility, and review the remaining findings to award partial funding as appropriate. Deryck C. 09:28, 30 April 2013 (UTC) (no longer writing on behalf of WMHK. I'm posting this here per discussion on mail:wikimedia-l and off-wiki exchange with Patricio)
- Dear Deryck, thank you for posting your appeal regarding the disqualification of WMCZ and WMHK on round 2. I will take a careful look at it, and I will let you know as soon as I have feedback. Lusitana (talk) 19:45, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
As the ombudsperson for the FDC I can publicly document the concern, but it should be clear that only the complaint of WMHK to the board can go through the official complaint process to try to reverse the FDC recommendation. First, to clarify what are the minimum standards for eligibility for the first year of the FDC process: previous grant reports submitted and approved for grant recipients, and in the case of payment processors, the appropriate and complete annual reports and financial statements. So that there can be a clear idea of the whole process concerning WMCZ as well as WMHK, I present bellow a resume of the facts that led to the final decisions:
Facts concerning WMHK's disqualification:
- On May 15th 2010 WMHK submits a grant request for the Education Toolkits for Liberal Studies project to print booklets to distribute to educational institutions.
- On August 3rd 2010 WMF sends WMHK an Email notification with reporting requirements, which includes the requirement that if the entity is able to achieve the proposed activity under budget, WMF will require that the unused funds are returned or that a request to re-allocate the remaining funds to other mission activities is submitted.
- On December 13th 2012 FDC eligibility is announced by WMF and WMHK is present in the “Yes, if” category if it fills its eligibility gaps, including acceptance of past due grant reports.
- On February 19th 2013 WMHK's final eligibility for the FDC funding (round 2) is announced, since WMHK has met its eligibility gaps by posting its past due and incomplete grant reports.
- On February 28th 2013 WMHK states that administrative and accounting costs associated with the grant project were also funded using this grant's money, but were for simplicity of accounting purposes reported as part of the chapter's general expenditure rather than as an expenditure of the grant. WMHK also requested that the remainder amount be reallocated to the future administrative costs of the chapter. (http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grants_talk:WM_HK/Education_Toolkits_For_Liberal_Studies/Report&diff=5285395&oldid=5237667)
- On March 7th 2013 WMF requests confirmation of the amount of remaining funds on the grant report discussion page and informs WMHK that grant funds may only be used for the purposes approved in the grant proposal, and also that WMHK will need to return the remaining funds or request approval to use them in another way. It was made clear they would like to help WMHK resolving this issue before staff proposal assessments were published. (http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grants_talk%3AWM_HK%2FEducation_Toolkits_For_Liberal_Studies%2FReport&diff=5301877&oldid=5285396)
- On March 23rd WMF posts a detailed message on the discussion page of the grant report including a notification of WMF's compliance status, a deadline for resolving WMHK's compliance issues, and detailed instructions for how to return or reallocate remaining funds (http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grants_talk%3AWM_HK%2FEducation_Toolkits_For_Liberal_Studies%2FReport&diff=5339637&oldid=5307112). WMF states that there has been no response to this.
- FDC decides on WMHK's proposal disqualification, since WMHK has not returned remaining funds from its Education Toolkits For Liberal Studies grant to WMF or submitted a request to reallocate these remaining funds to other mission-aligned activities.
- WMHK states that there is no clear guideline on what to do with underspend and the remaining funds.
- WMHK also states that the chapter is run by volunteers who have limited time and that WMHK itself has limited resources (working for Wikimania also caused the delay on returning/handling the unused fund).
Facts concerning WMCZ's disqualification:
- WMCZ's Presentation & Outreach grant (http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:WM_CZ/Presentation_%26_Outreach) was approved by WMF in December 2010, and at the time of approval WMCZ agreed to reporting on this grant based on a 6-month reporting schedule since this grant has no scheduled completion date.
- The grant's most recent report was expected between the end of December 2012 and was due no later than the end of March 2013 (within 3 months of the end of the 6-month term).
- On 15th February 2013 WMCZ is announced as eligible chapter for the FDC funding (round 2).
- On April 3rd 2013, WMF wrote WMCZ to request the past due report before staff assessments were published (http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grants_talk:WM_CZ/Presentation_%26_Outreach&oldid=5361727) and WMCZ immediately responding indicating it would post the report but failed to do so in time (http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grants_talk%3AWM_CZ%2FPresentation_%26_Outreach&diff=5362752&oldid=5361727).
- WMF has since followed up with WMCZ, who has responded apologizing for the lateness of the report and indicating a wish to better adhere to reporting deadlines in the future (http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grants_talk%3AWM_CZ%2FPresentation_%26_Outreach&diff=5468536&oldid=5467689).
- WMCZ states a concern about the meaning of the concept of eligibility (why be eligible first and then not).
- WMCZ also states that the notification that disqualification would follow if documents were not presented was done only a few days before the deadline on 26th February), not giving enough time to prepare them.
- On the topic of eligibility, the WMF says it did not unnecessarily want to penalise the entities submiting proposals to the FDC, for not completing every last step in becoming compliant by the end of the period for meeting eligibility gaps, assuming they would do so before the decisions about the proposals were published. WMCZ was eligible for FDC funding since its outstanding reports were all complete. However the grant report for the 2010 grant (with no completion date and a 6-month reporting schedule) was not completed on time. This was only realised by the WMF when the preparations Staff Assessments began. At the same time, WMF should not have approved a grant with no completion date and without a clear reporting schedule, and should have taken this into account before confirming WMCZ's eligibility.
- WMCZ also states that the the hardest thing (since ineligibility was only one issue) was the structure of the whole document. It was designed for round 1 conditions, where FDC was supposed to cover operational costs only. For round 2 it was supposed to cover both operational and programmatical costs, something WMCZ was not informed about. As a result WMCZ's proposal was seen as "chapter-building plan", rather than a "project-building plan".
- As a response to this concern the FDC informs that it was established from the beginning that "The FDC will make recommendations on allocations of general funding to support an organization’s overall annual plan to achieve mission objectives" and that general support funds would cover both operational expenses and programmatic costs. However the need to communicate effectively purpose and process are greater than ever, and the FDC hopes to support all entities wishing to apply to the FDC, clarifying the process and helping entities choosing between project grants and annual plan grants.
Learnings for the future
The FDC staff states that they will improve the eligibility table to include potential eligibility gaps in addition to current gaps and will communicate directly with entities that have submitted Letters of Intent to ensure that they know how to remain compliant during the entire time their proposal is active.
Also, since in the first year of the FDC process, the minimum standards for eligibility would be to have previous grant reports submitted and approved for grant recipients, and in the case of payment processors, the appropriate and complete annual reports and financial statements, the FDC will devote particular attention to clarifying the details surrounding older grants that may allow ambiguities to enter the eligibility process, since they realise that WMF has not always administered these grants effectively in the past, and do not wish to compromise the integrity or clarity of the FDC eligibility process. Lusitana (talk) 18:15, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
- Jan-Bart and I, as Board representatives on the FDC, requested Susana for this investigation into the FDC process and thank her for her excellent work. Patricio.lorente (talk) 00:25, 15 May 2013 (UTC) Jan-Bart (talk) 06:06, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
WMHK's official statement regarding the recent decision of FDC
Wikimedia Hong Kong (WMHK) opposes the recent decision of the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) of Wikimedia Foundation. The FDC has rejected the proposal submitted by WMHK.
Wikimedia Hong Kong, the Hong Kong local chapter of Wikimedia Foundation, has the mission to promote Wikimedia projects and free cultures among local community in Hong Kong. WMHK achieves the mission through several outreach projects, which are funded by the grants from Wikimedia Foundation. The rejection of funding from the FDC makes WMHK having difficulties to continue achieving its mission.
We note that the FDC is concerned about WMHK’s internal governance, financial management capacity, and capacity of its volunteers to manage future projects. The FDC also mentioned that past activities do not sufficiently demonstrate a record of high impact. The problem is that WMHK is run by volunteers who have limited time. WMHK itself also has limited resources. To increase such capacities and impact mentioned by the FDC, WMHK has the necessity to recruit full-time staff in order to handle daily operation of WMHK as well as manage the projects. However, the recruitment cannot be done as WMHK lacks funding.
Another reason why FDC rejected WMHK’s proposal is that WMHK is out of compliance with its previous WMF grants. It is incorrect to say that as all the previous WMF grant projects were already submitted before the submission of the proposal to FDC. It is also incorrect to mention that WMHK mismanaging the previous funds, as there is no clear guideline on what to do if there is money left.
We believe the decision of the FDC is inappropriate. The decision is totally harmful for the development of WMHK, as well as the development of free culture in Hong Kong. The Wikimedia Foundation has the obligation to promote Wikimedia projects and free culture around the world. The rejection of funding makes the promotion of those projects in Hong Kong more difficult. The rejection of funding also makes the volunteers in WMHK think that their work is totally denied by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Rover Wong@WMHK (talk) 07:12, 4 May 2013 (UTC) copy from FDC portal/Complaints regarding FDC recommendations to the board/2012-2013 round2 by Simon Shek (talk) 09:48, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
Notification for FDC ombudsperson
I just want to link the FDC ombudsperson to the my comment regarding the Staff assessment, especially the last paragraph of the comment, because I asked for an improvement of the future FDC processes there and I believe the FDC ombudsperson shall be concerned. Thanks. Okino (talk) 11:15, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
- Hello Okino, thank you for you comment. Your concern for an improvement of the future FDC process is registred. The FDC staff will respond to you on the Talk page inline with the comment. Best, Lusitana (talk) 08:53, 14 May 2013 (UTC)