On August 22 The New York Times published an article that suggested today's Post theme -- Nonprofit Fund Faces Questions About Conflicts and Selection Procedures -- that disclosed serious abuses of process in federally-funded grant making by a single non-Jewish non-profit. I began to think about JFNA's turn to one consultant after another with no apparent lay Board vetting, review or approval.
When over two years ago JFNA selected a marketing and branding consultant in what would become close to a $2 million contract, the then UJC Executive Committee was asked to approve the initial contract (some $650,000 as I recall). Only through questions, clearly discomfiting to the then Board Chair, was it disclosed that he had been negotiating with only this single consultant for months prior to submittal to the Executive Committee. Notwithstanding an express promise to return to the Executive Committee before any additional funding...the contract expanded and expanded with no further governance review.
Today, in almost every area of JFNA's work, consultants are the norm even as JFNA has a team of competent, often brilliant, professionals ostensibly to do its work.
Then there is the August 2010 selection and vetting references of a consultant to the Global Planning Table (f/k/a ONAD) in advance of any decision to even have a "Global Planning Table" (f/k/a ONAD). Some questions: What authorization was there to hire a consultant? Who selected the consultant? What other consultants were interviewed? What were the criteria for hiring a consultant? Who negotiated the contract? Who approved the contract...and so it goes. It seems to this observer that operating in this way in this instance discredits the "Summit" discussions as if they weren't even necessary.
It just goes on and on. A consultant for the YLC Retreat. Why not? A consultant for e-philanthropy? Absolutely. Etc., etc., etc.
Thus, the questions: (a) who are these consultants, (b) who authorized the hiring? (c) through what process have they been hired, (d) who has reviewed the multi-millions in contracts or (e) questioned why these consultants are needed? Well, the apparent answers are (a) who knows, (b) no one, (c) none, (d) no one and (e) no one. As in all areas, the top lay leaders of JFNA remain disengaged from their fiduciary responsibilities. "We'll leave it to the CEO" seems to be the refrain.
It's not just JFNA which is the loser here, my friends, it is the federations and it is us.