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Re: [Debconf-team] Getting DebConf attendees reimbursed quickly for travel costs

2011/6/27 Stefano Zacchiroli <leader@debian.org>
On Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 06:49:44PM -0400, Richard Darst wrote:
> - Getting money in from sponsors to be able to have money to send out
>   again.  This can sometimes take months after DebConf, though we
>   should be in a better than normal position this year.
> One possibility to work around the second problem is to use general
> Debian funds as a buffer.  We could reimburse attendees from Debian
> general funds, and then in a month or two, replenish Debian funds from
> our sponsor money.

From a principle point of view, I see no problem with that. We---as in
DPL + DebConf team---have agreed that DebConf budget is, year after
year, temporary. It gets "forked off" Debian budget at the first
expenditure for a specific DebConf and then "merged back" into Debian
budget ASAP after the end of the conference. As long as the money used
for reimbursements will be accounted for in the DebConf budget---which
has ambition of being "amortized 0 costs" across several DebConf
editions---Debian's / not DebConf money can easily be used to anticipate

An annoyance in doing that would be that such an expenditure will need
to be approved by the DPL, whereas during the time window of existence
of the DebConf budget, the DebConf chairs are autonomous in approving
expenses. In some sense, that would reduce some of the advantages of the
delegation and induce a bit more work on the DPL (and auditors). That's
not a blocker per se, as long as the goal you are proposing is worth

> I am watching DebConf finances closely enough that I think that we
> could track and manage such an arrangement.  Thus, my question to you
> all is:
> --> Is this worth pursuing?

I've been dealing with reimbursements, as a scholar waiting for those
reimbursements, for several years now. IME there are two major classes
of needs wrt when ones get reimbursed. Either you need the money
*before* a specific event, because otherwise you simply won't be able to
attend (e.g. you cannot afford the ticket costs). Or you can anticipate
the money yourself and be reimbursed later.

I've been in both categories depending on the occasion. But when I've
been in the latter category (i.e. able to afford anticipating ticket
costs); it didn't matter much to me whether the delay was 1, 2, or 3
months. This is, of course, just personal experience, not necessarily
representative of the needs of others. But *if* it is representative,
I'm not sure this part of your proposal is worth pursuing (while I think
the other one, collecting receipts earlier/more easily, is totally worth

Hi there! IMHO:

If someone knowstaht he/she cannot affford the ticket cost and there is a possibility of getting money before the event, first of all this person will be able to attend the event.

Everyday you wait to buy a ticket it gets more expensive, if a person receives money early and buys a cheaper ticket more money is saved and can be allocated faster.


> I do *not* know what Debian's non-DebConf assets are, and where they
> are.  Before anyone agrees to this idea, of course we must know the
> details of where money is money is and how much buffer we have (of
> Debian funds, but also sure enough that we will get sufficient sponsor
> money) that this is fiscally responsible.

The auditors (Cc:-ed) have been working on producing periodic, public,
and comprehensive reports since a while now. While I know they are
proceeding, as of now there is no visible outcome yet (do I need to add
here that the auditors would probably welcome your help? :-)).

As of now, most part of Debian's money are held by SPI and are reported
monthly in the reports you've already found (they are linked starting
from <http://wiki.debian.org/Teams/Auditor>). The other big chunk is
held by FFIS, whose reports are accessible only by the auditors and the
DPL. At the time of writing, Debian balance at FFIS is 33912.56 EUR.

Note, however, that bank balances are not enough to understand the state
of Debian finances. Most notably, recent cash flow might be missing, as
well as already approved expenses which have not been paid yet.

Hope this helps,
Stefano Zacchiroli -o- PhD in Computer Science \ PostDoc @ Univ. Paris 7
zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} -<>- http://upsilon.cc/zack/
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