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Re: [Debconf-team] Updated budget for DC14

First thing's first:  I've published an updated budget draft at
svn+ssh://svn.debian.org/svn/debconf-data/dc14/accounting/budget.ods, taking
into account the feedback so far in this thread, and also presenting three
different configurations of balanced budget: low, medium, high.  I believe
this most accurately reflects where we are at in the current budget process,
showing not only how we will spend the money we currently have but also how
we would spend more money if we had it.

The core budget, of things we can pay today, thus consists of:
 - venue rental
 - accomodation/food sponsorship
 - t-shirts
 - sponsorship bags
 - miscellaneous conference supplies
 - conference incidentals
 - (possibly) Debian-funded travel sponsorship

If we raise more funds than we have now (either through new external
sponsorship, or committment of existing Debian funds), but don't quite hit
our target for an ideal, we would add:

 - conference bags
 - additional travel sponsorship
 - conference dinner
 - accomodation/food sponsorship for additional attendees

And if we hit our top target, which I think necessarily assumes a
substantial contribution from existing Debian funds because we would not
manage to reach this amount from new sponsorship committments, we would add:

 - centrally-paid day trip
 - even more accomodation/food sponsorship
 - (optional) travel/accomodation sponsorship for invited speakers

Feedback from the team on the figures (and on the priorities) is welcome.

On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 10:55:23AM +0100, Philipp Hug wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 12:14 AM, Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> wrote:

> > > 1) sponsored amount of persons should be in the range of 120 based on
> > > previous years experience

> > http://rkd.zgib.net/http/debconf/old-dc10-stuff/only-arrived/rooms-by-date-2.txt

> > Those numbers show a peak of roughly 130 sponsored attendees.  This is
> > definitely lower than the 190 in the first draft budget (which is why I
> > believe I took numbers from the wrong file before), but higher than your
> > figure of 120.  I think we should target 130 for now.  This reduces the
> > budget by $30k vs. the first draft.

> I agree, DC10 is a good starting point, but I'd lower the estimates a bit
> because NYC is easier to reach, especially from Europe.  With 130 the
> bursaries team can be quite generous IMO.  Just as a reference: one
> sponsored attendee costs around 500USD.

It's certainly true that it's easier to reach NYC than Portland from Europe.
However, it's also possible that we'll see this offset by more conference
attendance from the west coast of the US.  In any case, I've taken this
feedback into account in revising the budget, and reduced the estimate for
sponsored attendees to ~120 on the low end.

> > > 2) sponsorship income of USD 156k seems to be really unrealistic now.
> > > Numbers from previous DebConfs would suggest a realistic target in the
> > > range of USD 90-100k

> > I agree; it seems unlikely that we will hit the $156k target set in the
> > first budget solely from external sponsors.  However, until the sponsors
> > are landed, any such numbers are speculative; the more important aspect
> > of budgeting is to make sure we don't incur liabilities in excess of our
> > *confirmed* sponsorship, and to identify which budget items can be
> > added/dropped/scaled late in the process.

> Looking at previous years sponsorship income, we should set a realistic
> target based on those values:
> (DC12: 60k, DC11: 55k DC10: 90k, DC9: 120k)

> I'd base it on DC10 and would suggest a target of 90-100k (and put 100k in
> the budget)

Our current committed sponsorship stands at $71k.  We still have a number of
plausible sponsors that we're trying to land, so while I don't think 100k is
guaranteed, I think it's a reasonable target.  I've set a slightly higher
value for the "medium" budget of $110k, but this is obviously flexible and
we can adjust the expenses side of the budget more precisely later when we
reach our "drop dead" date for incoming sponsorship.

> > > 3) we based our budget on the contracts

> > My draft was also based on the contracts; so if there's anything there
> > which you think is incorrect, that requires a bit more
> > explanation/discussion.

> The current contract only has 4 parameters:
> * primary check-in dates food
> * primary check-in dates accomodation
> * secondary check-in dates food
> * secondary check-in dates accomodation

> And if I understand the contract correctly we have to provide those
> parameters 30 days ahead of the conference.
> I assume you plan on giving them the actual food/accomodation values per
> night, but I couldn't find a way to do this with the current contract.
> My preferred option would be to have an updated contract with a minimum of
> nights/food and a price for each additional night/meal.
> We still have some time to revise the contract and provide them with better
> estimates closer to the conference.

The contract is the contract; it's been signed and locks us in for the
prices on the rooms and the venue.  There is no purpose in trying to
renegotiate the contract at this point, when the numbers are in fact
pass-through numbers from the caterer, and we should discuss with the
catering company at the appropriate time for the number of meals per day.

(Given that the numbers *are* pass-through, they really don't belong on the
contract.  But this is the standard contract that PSU uses for events, and
it's a mess, but it was time-consuming even getting more important problems
fixed.  So since this is a detail that doesn't seem to actually have an
impact, I'm not interested in spending time on this contract-wise.)

> > > 4) carry on surplus and deficit to next DebConf is insane

> > I don't understand this comment.  It's well understood that any surplus
> > from the conference is returned to the Debian general fund, and release
> > of funds for future DebConfs is subject to approval by the DPL.  In this
> > respect, having a surplus is perfectly fine, and the conference should
> > never run a deficit - because it should never spend more money than it
> > has via sponsorship + conference fees + DPL-approved Debian funds.

> In previous years we planned with a realistic (or with darst's planning a
> pessimistic) estimate of sponsorship income.
> A budget was then prepared based on those values to make sure a basic
> DebConf can happen.

> Closer to the conference date the actual amount of sponsorship raised is
> put in the budget to see how many attendees can be sponsored based on the
> sponsorship income.

> IMO: Only at this point it makes sense to ask for money from Debian, if
> e.g. the sponsorship target was not reached or due to some other unforseen
> circumstances.

And as a result of this approach, every year we end up sending out bursaries
confirmations later than we should.  Bursaries should be *finalized* no
later than three months before the start of the conference.  Any later than
this, and we are losing money (either ours or our attendees') to the

I have argued for several years that we need to fix this; now when it comes
time to actually implement such a scheme, in a year when Debian does have
the liquidity due to surplus from last year's DebConf, I am being undermined
by other members of the DebConf team arguing that we shouldn't ask Debian
for money until the very end.  I am not amused by this.

> The reason why we should agree on a budget soon is to start working on
> travel sponsorship requests.
> My suggestion is to use a budget of 25k for travel sponsorship and split it
> into 15k for existing Debian contributors and 10k for new contributors. (at
> DC13 we had a budget of 25k for Debian contributors, but in the end only
> 10k was paid)

It is precisely in order to work on travel sponsorship requests that I
believe we need to be discussing with the DPL about providing funds to meet
our goal, with the understanding that this money is going to be spent, and
may or may not be replaced in the current annual fundraising cycle.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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