"The obligation imposed by law or lawful order or regulation on an officer or other person for keeping accurate record of property, documents, or funds. The person having this obligation may or may not have actual possession of the property,documents, or funds. Accountability is concerned primarily with records, while responsibility is concerned primarily with customers." The Free DictionaryIn the approved JFNA 2019-2020 Budget -- that epic work of fiction that we reported on in You Can Fool All of the People All of the Time, JFNA decided to deploy the concept of what the authors termed accountabilities. This is a word with which I was not familiar -- I wager whomever decided that this word would apply to anything JFNA did/does/would do had no idea what it meant either. In fact, there has been no accountability anywhere at JFNA over the past decade: not to the federations, not to their donors, not to the Board, not to the professionals across the Continent. Nowhere. No how.
So, friends, if there is no accountability (let alone accountabilities, whatever they are), there is no responsibility -- not as fiduciaries, not to the institution, not to our values, NOT TO A DAMN THING. How could there be when leadership doesn't understand the difference between the two. Be assured of this reality: at JFNA, for the past decade at least, no one has been held accountable for anything.
Think about the number of times, year-after-year-after-year, that the approved Budget recited that millions of dollars of programs would be evaluated -- that is to say that there would be accountability -- and, then, there was none...absolutely none. And, never was heard a discouraging word...
Was, for example, JFNA-Israel ever seriously evaluated? And, if so, who actually saw, read, absorbed the "evaluation?" Was the CEO ever seriously evaluated? And, if so, who actually saw, read, absorbed the "evaluation?" Seriously? Seriously. And right on down the line -- from programs to professionals to consultants. "Business as usual" at JFNA was the business of irresponsibility...total irresponsibility. A total lack of accountability.
Millions wasted on folly -- e.g., TribeFest was a failure, so let's do two more -- after all no one but some schmuck with a Blog asked any questions Millions wasted? Who knows? Who remembers? Same with #ish. Then there was the Rube Goldbergian Global Planning Table -- wasting how many millions. how many thousands of hours of professional and lay time on a thing that arrived DOA; yet survived comatose or dead for years until Michael Siegal buried it -- offering a mercy killing to the already dead.
And millions just wasted. For example, leadership's dotty decision to continue to compensate Jerry Silverman as if he were a fully performing CEO after the determination to eliminate his management responsibilities as CEO. Thus, for the last 6 years of Jerry's tenure, JFNA was not only paying him in full for 1/2 or less the responsibilities, it was paying Mark Gurvis as well to run the operation. Brilliant? Not so much.
And, now? Well, after a decade of no accountabilities and no responsibility JFNA once again says/dictates "trust us." Yes "trust us" to be accountable, to measure our successes and our failures; and ignore that we have promised you these before and never delivered. In fact, one of the "deliverables" under the new Budget is a new Department, and three new FTE's just to measure federation performance; not, G-d forbid, JFNA's.
I think Eric Fingerhut will be a success; certainly relatively and, based on past successes, absolutely. He has an incredible task ahead of him. I join with all of you in wishing him great success, and through his leadership, JFNA's. He is, after all, the last great hope that we have.