Friday, March 27, 2009

Review Group Cites Lambeth Missteps

An independent group reported that it found no evidence of financial malpractice or dishonesty in its review of the 2008 Lambeth Conference’s finances. But the group said poor communication and risk management contributed to the conference's shortfall of more than half a million dollars.

Although the $564,000 deficit was less than the $1.74 million shortfall that was projected late last summer, the Lambeth Conference Funding Review Group said the smaller deficit was primarily because fewer bishops than originally expected attended the conference. Planners for the July conference committed expenditures before confirmed funding, a practice the review group called “precarious” and which made a shortfall “arguably inevitable.”

The group also said that “reporting lines, responsibilities and authority were sometimes unclear,” despite the formation of the Lambeth Conference Company in 2006 to manage the administration and finances of the conference. The reviewers said that having a company “to own the cost and contractual implications of decisions and to provide legal and financial accountability” was positive, but said the company had been “set up too late in the planning process to be able to inform key decisions.”

Recommendations for future conferences included having an approved operational and financial plan in place by 2013 for the 2018 conference; setting attendance fees to more realistically “factor in overall costs and financial need;” and “ensuring sufficient fundraising capability as part of future conference planning.”

The Church of England’s Archbishops’ Council and the board of governors of the Church Commissioners established the review committee after the Lambeth Conference Company came to them after the conference for financial help.

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