Thursday, 26 March 2009

Lambeth’s £288,000 deficit due to incompetence

POOR PLANNING, inexperienced management, and weak financial controls contributed
to a £288,000 deficit for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, a report released
last week by the Archbishops' Council and the Church Commissioners has concluded.
The management team, conference structure and business practices were not
up to the job, the report found, stating that the “arrangements in place for the 2008
conference were less robust than they needed to be.”

The conference's opaque management structure had left no one in charge, with
the result that there had been a “disconnect between design on the one hand, and capacity and execution on the other.” The lack of clear lines of authority had
led to cost overruns, with the financial team “not always aware” of the commitments
made by conference management staff. Two examples cited by the report were the “failure to recognise a commitment for expenditure of £411,000 on the
Big Top” the blue tent that served as the principle venue for conference meetings,
and IT support.

The conference finance director “did not know” about the Big Top bill, while the
conference “organiser did not know it wasnot in the budget.” Rather than charging a
flat fee for internet usage by conference goers, the University of Kent changed the
conference for individual log-ons, leading to a bill of £80,576---over £65,000 over budget.

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