News & Notes 694:Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) – Annual Work Plan

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694 icon.jpg   News & Notes 694
8 April 2017

Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) – Annual Work Plan

Submitted to the residents in accordance with the 2016 FAMC mandate

The new nine-member team was selected by the Residents Assembly-approved selection process on 23 October 2016. Angelo, the secretary and Auralice, the chairperson, arrived in November, answering our call for much-needed assistance. One of our first duties was to review the mandate and what we noticed was an emphasis on verbs such as 'ensure', 'approve', 'oversee', 'constitute' and 'maintain' and a need to 'define' some things. Under the section “Responsibilities” are listed 22 points.

In December 2016 we were facilitated by Elvira and Joerg in a planning session during which we dreamed and envisioned about 40 ideas. Thereafter we met for several Wednesday afternoons to distinguish the objectives from the activities, to clarify our ideas, identify 'drivers' for each objective, and create timelines. Next we wanted to do a 'reality check'. On 15 February we held a 'sounding board' session with about 10 participants. We asked five questions, “What needs clarification”, “Where are the gaps”, “What would you say are the top three priorities”, “Do you resonate with this”, “How can you help”. During this helpful dialogue it was proposed, and we agreed, to offer another session. On 8 March we held a second 'sounding board' with about 6 participants (even though we invited about 25). We noted comments during the session and received written input from a few participants afterward.

Based on the input we've added a few additional activities, and initiated conversations with, for example, the Land Board about purchasing land, and recognized a “gap” in not addressing food costs, and providing more free services.

We view these objectives as being from one to three years in planning with some activities manifesting right away, while others will be initiated, developed, refined, and implemented over the next 12 to 18 to 36 months. They are in no particular order or priority. Each one is important and some are clearly inter-connected.

Basically speaking we aspire to support income-generating activities to increase our discretionary income; make changes to the maintenance system; create a registry for immoveable assets to obtain a clear picture of what we have, and develop guidelines for better utilization; improve our ways of matching human potential with needs in the many areas of service / work in Auroville; support food sustainability; and develop alternatives for affordable housing.

To meet these objectives we have submitted a budget request to the Government of India (GoI) plan grant subgroup to build an asset database, establish a GoI accounting office, develop a human resources department, and offer training in areas such as basic accounting and project management.

  • Objective: Increase financial transparency and accountability by simplifying and strengthening basic regulations and policies. Activities include: accounting manual; unified chart of accounts; policy on qualified business expenses; economic and financial indicators are accessible in a timely manner; cashless finances; contribution guidelines; create support systems including training, workshops for project management including budgeting, etc.; review Budget Coordination Committee mandate, membership, functioning in collaboration with the Auroville Council; system: how to deal with mismanagement / embezzlement.
  • Objective: Increase the accessibility of data related to assets and finances to ensure accurate documentation and more efficient use of Auroville’s collective wealth. Activities include: assets application, utilization (tracking & monitoring); create databases for assets and financial information, import existing data and analyzing missing data and fill the gaps; ensure appropriate training for users; economic and financial indicators are accessible in a timely manner; creating an early warning system and define indicators that help us to act on them; review Budget Coordination Committee mandate, membership, functioning in collaboration with the Auroville Council.
  • Objective: Grow Auroville’s income-generating activities to increase work opportunities for Aurovilians as well as increase the amount of unspecified income to City Services. Activities include: create “How to” manual for people to start a unit, etc. (in cooperation with IEL); economic and financial indicators are accessible in a timely manner; create more support systems including training, workshops; streamline process for unit application (research online possibilities). Make capital available for income-generating activities; for example, find incentives for units / individuals to keep funds in Financial Service; look at individuals who work outside the Auroville framework and see how to encourage everyone in the Auroville economy; sliding scale for unit contributions.
  • Objective: Restructure the GOI grant allocation and monitoring process to ensure fairness, transparency and efficient use of GOI grant monies as well as to ensure proper monitoring and accounting of received funds. Activities include: finalize FAMC proposal with GoI subgroup (in progress); review existing manual and regulations [reference SAIIER documentation]; set up central GoI grant accounting office.
  • Objective: Restructure HRT into a comprehensive Human Resource Department with processes and policies for building up and making effective use of Auroville’s human resource potential. Activities include: with inputs from HRT, write a proposal for new HR department organizational structure including communication platforms (for example, with Entry Service), aims, and objectives; create more support systems including training, workshops; succession plans; research existing apprenticeship programs already being offered in Auroville.
  • Objective: Redefine the maintenance system to ensure that it provides sufficiently for all (e.g. food, child maintenance, 'life-long maintenance', etc.). Activities include: get a clear picture of the current situation (in collaboration with the BCC); explore alternative systems and additional means of support; explore alternatives of individual Aurovilian contributions; distribute a questionnaire about what people feel are basic needs (recurring and one time); use the responses to create a baseline (average cost of living); defining in-kind and cash; review Budget Coordination Committee mandate, membership, functioning in collaboration with the Auroville Council; experiment with a sliding scale for individual contribution; work towards providing more free services.
  • Objective: Redefine the structure of all income-generating activities (units, services, activities) in order to create consistent guidelines. Activities include: explore new body “Auroville Board of Trustees” to oversee and strengthen all income-generating activities; raise awareness of role and responsibility (legal) of trustees, and support accountability; succession plan [refer to HR Department].
  • Objective: Explore innovative solutions to provide affordable housing opportunities for Newcomers and Aurovilians (e.g. renting & leasing agreements, alternate sources of funding, etc.). Activities include: Chandresh refine a proposal to present to the FAMC team; review Ulli's proposal concerning “rental” scheme; review previous initiatives to create affordable housing: What worked? What didn't and why?; review pro-bono housing criteria, process, allocation, etc.
  • Objective: Increase Auroville’s food production towards greater food security and self-sufficiency. Activities include: review and approve work plan of farmers; support healthy farms to bring more area under cultivation via financing schemes.
  • Objective: Ensure optimum utilization of assets in keeping with Auroville values. Activities include: develop stewardship guidelines; supporting and developing the Industrial Zone in order to provide space for new activities / units.

Overall: Communicate with the community all along the way.

This work requires input from individuals as well as groups. Would you like to help?

In community,
Amy, Bindu, Chali, Chandresh, Lyle, Prabhu, Stephanie, Ulli, and Yuval (FAMC)