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After Tetra Purchase, New Financial Controls in Effect at Reston Association

by Fatimah Waseem March 23, 2018 at 12:00 pm 20 Comments

After months of discussion, Reston Association’s Board of Directors unanimously approved stricter financial controls, a need flagged by two in-depth reviews of RA’s $2.65 million purchase of the Tetra property.

StoneTurn Group, an independent firm contracted to review the purchase and associated cost overruns, and a review by two RA members cited the need for updating RA’s purchasing and procurement policies over the last year.

The approval expands RA financial controls by requiring the involvement of multiple stakeholders in the review and approval process of contracts. The changes also clearly delineate steps required before and as contracts are considered. Major purchases require additional scrutiny and a greater emphasis is placed on competitively bid contracts.

Current policies have been criticized by some members as ambiguous and lax, resulting in a decision on the Tetra property that reviews indicate was not up to par.

All purchases above $2,500 require documentation justifying the need for purchases, at least two written quotes from competitive sources, an agreement reviewed by legal counsel and a purchase order signed by the department director, CFO and CEO.

Purchases between $5,000 and $24,999 require at least three written quotes from competitive sources. Major purchases of $25,000 and above require the issuance of a request for proposals, at least three written bids, a closed session meeting and final approval of the scope and pricing of the contract at an open board meeting.

For approval of those contracts, the approval of majority of board officers – defined as the president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and a board liaison for RA’s fiscal committee — is required. Earlier versions of the resolution allowed the fiscal committee chair to partake in the approval process — a move that RA Board Director Julie Bitzer said was inappropriate because it elevated the rank of a volunteer members to that of an elected board member.

Bitzer said she was amenable to allowing the fiscal committee and its chair to contribute by providing a general review.

In order to prevent the board from micromanaging the work of RA’s staff, Bitzer also suggested receiving an annual review of contracts awarded by staff, including a categorical breakdown based on cost brackets created by the resolution.

A move by Board Director John Mooney to require all contractors or service agreements to include provisions that prevent employees from discrimination based on factors like sex, race, color, national origin and religion also passed.

“These are times that we need to speak on such matters,” Mooney said.

Board director Victoria White objected to the proposal because she said it was more appropriate to include the provision in contractual language.

“Bottom line is, it needs to have teeth.” White said.

Other board members said the inclusion of Mooney’s amendment sends a strong message of RA’s position to the community.

A complete breakdown of the resolution is available online. A recording of the board’s meeting is also on YouTube.

  • TEAMSTERS #1

    I think the next logical step would be to unionize all employees. No projects of scale have ever been accomplished without union labour.

    • 30yearsinreston

      Firing half the’directors’ and managers would be better
      Startimg with the ‘Senior Directors’ is appropriate

      • Donald

        Well, they just hired their in house counsel, for $130,000 plus bonus and benefits. They’re also giving the acting CEO a bonus.

        Donald

    • Mike M

      LOL!

    • Donald

      When asked to explain the new process, Ganesan shared this simple explanation with the board:

      http://www.basement.org/c/images/blog/night-cycle.gif

      Donald

  • Greg

    Wacky idea of the year.

    “A move by Board Director John Mooney to require all contractors or service agreements to include provisions that prevent employees from discrimination based on factors like sex, race, color, national origin and religion also passed.”

    Good luck monitoring and enforcing.

  • Why do you bother?

    It’s better than nothing, I guess.

    • Greg

      Yes, but a better way is to have “legal counsel” (whatever that means) draft standard contracts at the price ranges with fill-ins for names, prices and other limited variables. Those standard contracts need not be further reviewed unless there are material changes. No need to have counsel review every contract or we will soon see $1m legal expenses.

      After all, legal counsel presumably reviewed all of the Tetra contracts and look what an expensive mess resulted.

      Also, none of this is RA rocket science: it’s all provided free of charge from the Community Associations Institute — to which RA belongs.

  • JW

    FIre half the employees. That will impose fiscal discipline.

  • Greendayer

    Wasn’t there a saying back in the day about closing the barn door after the cows escaped?

    • dudewe

      I believe the phrase was “closing the barn door after the horse bolted….” The horse in this case was the CEO.” But there were other horses in the barn, primarily senior directors. They are still in the barn and hopefully the election of some new directors will open the door just a little so they cam “escape.”

      Question, did the CEO (the CEO admitted the fiasco ultimately was her fault) get any monetary consideration when she left? If so, shame, shame the present RA directors and those incumbents running again should not be reelected.

      • Greg

        Hard to know for sure, but we do know:
        1. Catherine Cate Fulkerson is no longer the Reston Association CEO
        2. She was set to be on the payroll until the end of her contract (end of October 2018)
        3. Performance goals were eliminated
        4. The board moved to retain counsel presumably to review Fulkerson’s termination.

        Also, I believe I read elsewhere that the director of capital projects, Garrett Skinner, is leaving?

        In any case, there is much RA house cleaning yet to be done.

  • Terry Maynard

    I would like to thank Sridhar Ganesan for his leadership in establishing these hugely needed financial controls for RA. In less than a year, he and others accomplished more in sound RA financial management than has occurred in over a half century.

    Great work, Sridhar. We all need you to continue on the RA Board to ensure that these critical reforms are fully implemented.

    • JustSayin

      Just an FYI- The Stoneturn recommendations were made and delivered without Sridhar Ganesan’s participation. He was in the right place at the right time and has little to nothing to do with this accomplishment.

      • Donald

        “Cryptomnesiac defines someone who has no memory of actually stealing someone else’s work and assumes that it is her/his own.”

        So If Ganesan is the“cryptomnesiac”, what’s Maynard, who gives credit to Ganesan?

        It’s good to see the PAC is alive and well.

        Donald

        • cRAzy

          Maynard is a former RCA Board member, co-chair of Reston 20/20 (where he was brutally critical of Tetra), and member of the Reston Master Plan Task Force.

          So what have you done for Reston lately, Donald?

          • Donald

            I could care less if he recieved Star Fleet’s Medal of Honor and the Siver Palm Commendation.

            His efforts and those of his cohorts have become so obvious it’s laughable.

            Unfortunately, beyond the humor, their desire to maintain majority control of the board is frightening. Good people like Mooney and Bobzien have been basically neutered.

            This will have repercussions on a naive membership for years to come.

            Donald

          • cRAzy

            I’ll ask again: “So what have you done for Reston lately, Donald?”

            Your trolling of Ganesan and Maynard is disgusting.

            PS: I don’t think either Mooney or Bobzien feel “neutered.” Maybe you can explain that too.

      • cRAzy

        “He was in the right place at the right time and has little to nothing to do with this accomplishment.”

        He took ideas from Stoneturn (plus others) and turned them into policies and procedures for RA. Leadership is about achieving results, as Sridhar did, not just having ideas.

        • Donald

          His group will impact this community negatively, for years to come. Stealing the elections is high on the list.

          Donald

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