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Board - sharing budget doc

John Bryant
Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John

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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Alex Leith
Hey John

I don't think there's any issue with making this document open.

I think we have had enough open conversations around the document and the decisions that resulted in the actuals captured here that we can stand behind it. And it will be useful to future conference committees to see the contents.

+1 to sharing it.

Cheers,

On Tue, 20 Aug 2019 at 17:19, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Daniel Silk
+1

I'm keen for this information to be publicly accessible, it would be a useful resource for future organisers (and not just in our region).

On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 7:51 PM Alex Leith <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hey John

I don't think there's any issue with making this document open.

I think we have had enough open conversations around the document and the decisions that resulted in the actuals captured here that we can stand behind it. And it will be useful to future conference committees to see the contents.

+1 to sharing it.

Cheers,

On Tue, 20 Aug 2019 at 17:19, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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m: 0419189050
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Bruce Bannerman-3
In reply to this post by John Bryant
Hi John,

For FOSS4G-2009 we used a Professional Conference Organising (PCO) company to help us put the event together.

This proved to be very helpful to the LOC in getting the event organised and run smoothly.

I would recommend this approach in future events as it reduces the event risk and the LOC volunteer load considerably.

There are of course costs involved...

I don’t know if this factor is included in the information that you have below.

I do know that PCO treat their budgets as intellectual property that must be protected. Therefore, this is a situation where we need to be careful with what is made public.

In addition, if PCO costs are not included in the budget info below, making the budget public may also be detrimental to us obtaining a suitable competitive quote should we decide to use a PCO later.

Therefore, I recommend not making this specific information publicly available.

By all means use a process that makes the budget info available to registered potential bidders via other means.

My 2c.

Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 17:18, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Daniel Silk
Hi Bruce

Surely not a certainty that a PCO reduces the event risk - engaging a company would create a lot of new risks:
 - will they meet the standard we've set?
 - will they know how to engage with the community to ensure that it still feels like a community run event and not a copy+paste corporate conference?
 - will we have to raise prices and cut back on things like our Good Mojo program in order to mitigate the extra expense?
 - we would absolutely need to meet sponsorship and registration targets, rather than enjoying some elasticity because of our lean expenses

There has certainly been a lot of volunteer effort going into these events but that's an absolutely fantastic aspect to them. It's a time consuming experience but a rewarding one. I hope that all of the organisations that have been so willing to support this effort will also (continue) to provide in-kind employee time so that it's less dependent on volunteer time.

Regardless, I don't understand why we would struggle to obtain a competitive quote from a PCO if we released this information.

Cheers
Daniel
Conference Chair - FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019


On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 8:47 PM Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi John,

For FOSS4G-2009 we used a Professional Conference Organising (PCO) company to help us put the event together.

This proved to be very helpful to the LOC in getting the event organised and run smoothly.

I would recommend this approach in future events as it reduces the event risk and the LOC volunteer load considerably.

There are of course costs involved...

I don’t know if this factor is included in the information that you have below.

I do know that PCO treat their budgets as intellectual property that must be protected. Therefore, this is a situation where we need to be careful with what is made public.

In addition, if PCO costs are not included in the budget info below, making the budget public may also be detrimental to us obtaining a suitable competitive quote should we decide to use a PCO later.

Therefore, I recommend not making this specific information publicly available.

By all means use a process that makes the budget info available to registered potential bidders via other means.

My 2c.

Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 17:18, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Greg Lauer
I suspect that Bruce's comment's re PCO is more towards the idea of OSGEO OCEANIA running a global FOSS4G conference as opposed to the regional conference. I do agree with Daniels comment in respect to the regional conferences and experience to date has shown that it can be volunteer led, but at some time in the future as the conferences grow, outside assistance may be needed, but will probably be more of a hybrid model.

In terms of budgets I am of the opinion that only key financial items such as income (total tickets/sponsors) and expenses (totals/summary) should be made publicly available. I do not agree that the complete budget should be public. The concept of IP is one consideration (and I say that with some trepidation in an Open Source/Data community). There can be a multitude of reasons why we may not want to make specifics available. One example could be a catering company that sees last years budget and offers the same pricing for next conference, as opposed to the most competitive pricing. It may be that a sponsor does not want others to know the amount they have sponsored. There are plenty of other examples.

My concern is more broadly around competition for funding. Funding is scarce and we will find ourselves in competitive funding situations at some point in the future and we need to be mindful of how our competition (i.e. other organisations) may use public information for there benefit. 

All though we are (and always will be) a community led organisation, and accountable to our membership, we also need to mindful of the commercial imperatives, to ensure the long term availability of the organisation.

Greg

On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 7:16 PM Daniel Silk <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Bruce

Surely not a certainty that a PCO reduces the event risk - engaging a company would create a lot of new risks:
 - will they meet the standard we've set?
 - will they know how to engage with the community to ensure that it still feels like a community run event and not a copy+paste corporate conference?
 - will we have to raise prices and cut back on things like our Good Mojo program in order to mitigate the extra expense?
 - we would absolutely need to meet sponsorship and registration targets, rather than enjoying some elasticity because of our lean expenses

There has certainly been a lot of volunteer effort going into these events but that's an absolutely fantastic aspect to them. It's a time consuming experience but a rewarding one. I hope that all of the organisations that have been so willing to support this effort will also (continue) to provide in-kind employee time so that it's less dependent on volunteer time.

Regardless, I don't understand why we would struggle to obtain a competitive quote from a PCO if we released this information.

Cheers
Daniel
Conference Chair - FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019


On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 8:47 PM Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi John,

For FOSS4G-2009 we used a Professional Conference Organising (PCO) company to help us put the event together.

This proved to be very helpful to the LOC in getting the event organised and run smoothly.

I would recommend this approach in future events as it reduces the event risk and the LOC volunteer load considerably.

There are of course costs involved...

I don’t know if this factor is included in the information that you have below.

I do know that PCO treat their budgets as intellectual property that must be protected. Therefore, this is a situation where we need to be careful with what is made public.

In addition, if PCO costs are not included in the budget info below, making the budget public may also be detrimental to us obtaining a suitable competitive quote should we decide to use a PCO later.

Therefore, I recommend not making this specific information publicly available.

By all means use a process that makes the budget info available to registered potential bidders via other means.

My 2c.

Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 17:18, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
_______________________________________________
Oceania mailing list
[hidden email]
https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/oceania
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[hidden email]
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[hidden email]
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Daniel Silk
Hi Greg

Just a clarification on the income side of things:

Sponsorship amounts are already public information - our prospectus is public, the level that sponsors have backed us at is public information. This is industry standard given that sponsorship is publicly advertised in order to attract new sponsors. Our funding from OSGeo is also public information - it is discussed / approved etc on a publicly archived mailing list. Our conference registration fees are also public information. So the breakdown shown for income consists of very little new information.

Cheers
Daniel


On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 5:27 AM Greg Lauer <[hidden email]> wrote:
I suspect that Bruce's comment's re PCO is more towards the idea of OSGEO OCEANIA running a global FOSS4G conference as opposed to the regional conference. I do agree with Daniels comment in respect to the regional conferences and experience to date has shown that it can be volunteer led, but at some time in the future as the conferences grow, outside assistance may be needed, but will probably be more of a hybrid model.

In terms of budgets I am of the opinion that only key financial items such as income (total tickets/sponsors) and expenses (totals/summary) should be made publicly available. I do not agree that the complete budget should be public. The concept of IP is one consideration (and I say that with some trepidation in an Open Source/Data community). There can be a multitude of reasons why we may not want to make specifics available. One example could be a catering company that sees last years budget and offers the same pricing for next conference, as opposed to the most competitive pricing. It may be that a sponsor does not want others to know the amount they have sponsored. There are plenty of other examples.

My concern is more broadly around competition for funding. Funding is scarce and we will find ourselves in competitive funding situations at some point in the future and we need to be mindful of how our competition (i.e. other organisations) may use public information for there benefit. 

All though we are (and always will be) a community led organisation, and accountable to our membership, we also need to mindful of the commercial imperatives, to ensure the long term availability of the organisation.

Greg

On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 7:16 PM Daniel Silk <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Bruce

Surely not a certainty that a PCO reduces the event risk - engaging a company would create a lot of new risks:
 - will they meet the standard we've set?
 - will they know how to engage with the community to ensure that it still feels like a community run event and not a copy+paste corporate conference?
 - will we have to raise prices and cut back on things like our Good Mojo program in order to mitigate the extra expense?
 - we would absolutely need to meet sponsorship and registration targets, rather than enjoying some elasticity because of our lean expenses

There has certainly been a lot of volunteer effort going into these events but that's an absolutely fantastic aspect to them. It's a time consuming experience but a rewarding one. I hope that all of the organisations that have been so willing to support this effort will also (continue) to provide in-kind employee time so that it's less dependent on volunteer time.

Regardless, I don't understand why we would struggle to obtain a competitive quote from a PCO if we released this information.

Cheers
Daniel
Conference Chair - FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019


On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 8:47 PM Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi John,

For FOSS4G-2009 we used a Professional Conference Organising (PCO) company to help us put the event together.

This proved to be very helpful to the LOC in getting the event organised and run smoothly.

I would recommend this approach in future events as it reduces the event risk and the LOC volunteer load considerably.

There are of course costs involved...

I don’t know if this factor is included in the information that you have below.

I do know that PCO treat their budgets as intellectual property that must be protected. Therefore, this is a situation where we need to be careful with what is made public.

In addition, if PCO costs are not included in the budget info below, making the budget public may also be detrimental to us obtaining a suitable competitive quote should we decide to use a PCO later.

Therefore, I recommend not making this specific information publicly available.

By all means use a process that makes the budget info available to registered potential bidders via other means.

My 2c.

Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 17:18, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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Re: to PCO, or not [was: Board - sharing budget doc]

Bruce Bannerman-3
In reply to this post by Daniel Silk
Hi Daniel,

Kudos for working as Conference Chair for 2019. It is a big task, so well done.

More inline below.


Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 19:16, Daniel Silk <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi Bruce


To use a PCO or not, is really up to the bidding team (LOC) when they consider the approach that they want to use.

A brief SWOT to using a PCO as I see it, based on my experience:

Strengths:

  • Capitalise on PCO expertise and experience to plan and run ‘events', regardless of the context.
  • PCO have well established supply chains, project plans, processes and procedures to help make the running of an ‘event' run smoothly.
  • Using a PCO allows them to handle the mundane and miriad of tasks that are required to ensure the smooth running of an ‘event’.
  • This frees up the LOC to concentrate on what their expertise is, the community aspects that they want to share as part of the ‘event’, e.g.
    • Managing finances
    • Marketing and event promotion
    • Attracting Sponsors
    • Community engagement
    • Keynotes
    • Presentations
    • Birds of a Feather
    • Code Sprints
    • Poster sessions
    • Social get togethers
    • etc
  • This results is less volunteer time being consumed by mundane tasks.
  • The use of a PCO gives those LOC teams with limited experience in running a FOSS4G event a much better chance to run a successful one. 

Weaknesses:

  • There is an additional cost for the PCO that must be recovered somewhere, perhaps by sponsorship, but more likely by distributing the cost amongst attendees. 
  • There is typically an upfront cost to engage the PCO. This money must be available.
  • There is a requirement to define requirements, run a procurement process to select a reputable PCO.
  • There is an addition relationship between the LOC and the PCO that must be managed proactively to ensure a successful event.

Opportunities:

  • There is an opportunity to develop a longer term relationship between a reputable POC and OSGeo-Oceania. This could potentially allow for:
    • lessons learned to be carried more easily forward between events.
    • more consistent events, without necessarily having to use the same LOC people.
    • new LOC teams to bid for events, while reducing the risk to a successful ‘event’.
  • Assuming good marketing and vibe, the ‘event’ may be able to attract more people than required to cover the costs of the POC for the ‘event’. 
  • This may result in a surplus that can be used to mitigate against the costs of future ‘events’, or to cover other planned OSGeo-Oceania activities.

Threats:

  • If the procurement process to select the PCO is not effective, there is the chance that a less experienced, or reputable PCO may be selected.
  • If the LOC/POC relationship is not managed effectively, then this could result in a risk to a successful ‘event’.
  • The cost for the POC must be spread amongst attendees. The fewer the attendees, the more the cost that must be charged. 
  • If there are less attendees than planned for, then there may be a cost impact to the conference where money will need to be found to address.
  • Allow a contigency for the unexpected. We had to deal with the affects of the GFC in 2009.


These SWOT thoughts are based in experiences from 2008 and 2009 in being a member of the FOSS4G-2009 LOC and on selecting, training and managing an effectine POC for the event. Overall I had a positive experience with the POC that we used. They certainly made our life much easier, particularly during the running of the actual conference.



Surely not a certainty that a PCO reduces the event risk - engaging a company would create a lot of new risks:
 - will they meet the standard we've set?

This will depend on how effective the LOC’s procurement and relationship management is. See also the SWOT above.

PCO related risks can be managed, and the use of a PCO may also mitigate against other LOC risks of trying to 'go it alone’.


 - will they know how to engage with the community to ensure that it still feels like a community run event and not a copy+paste corporate conference?

This is not a PCO task in my opinion. It is a LOC task.


 - will we have to raise prices and cut back on things like our Good Mojo program in order to mitigate the extra expense?

See relevent comments in the brief SWOT analysis above. 

Yes there will be costs, but most attendees will probably have their attendance paid for by their employers as a professional development activity.

There is also a good chance of a surplus that can be applied to future events.


 - we would absolutely need to meet sponsorship and registration targets, rather than enjoying some elasticity because of our lean expenses


Yes. But that will be required regardless of whether a PCO is used or not.

The most important aspects here are to know the market; have effective marketing; set realistic targets and budget; and manage expenses. 

This doesn’t change just because a PCO is engaged. 




There has certainly been a lot of volunteer effort going into these events but that's an absolutely fantastic aspect to them. It's a time consuming experience but a rewarding one. I hope that all of the organisations that have been so willing to support this effort will also (continue) to provide in-kind employee time so that it's less dependent on volunteer time.


Agreed. 

Volunteer time is a very scarce and valuable resource.

My opinion is that we don’t waste in on the more mundane aspects of the planning and running of the ‘event’.



Regardless, I don't understand why we would struggle to obtain a competitive quote from a PCO if we released this information.


I haven’t read the resource below and don’t intend to.

If there are expected costs for items listed in the documentation and these are made public, then an organisation who is bidding for the work can adjust proposals accordingly.


Cheers
Daniel
Conference Chair - FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019


On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 8:47 PM Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi John,

For FOSS4G-2009 we used a Professional Conference Organising (PCO) company to help us put the event together.

This proved to be very helpful to the LOC in getting the event organised and run smoothly.

I would recommend this approach in future events as it reduces the event risk and the LOC volunteer load considerably.

There are of course costs involved...

I don’t know if this factor is included in the information that you have below.

I do know that PCO treat their budgets as intellectual property that must be protected. Therefore, this is a situation where we need to be careful with what is made public.

In addition, if PCO costs are not included in the budget info below, making the budget public may also be detrimental to us obtaining a suitable competitive quote should we decide to use a PCO later.

Therefore, I recommend not making this specific information publicly available.

By all means use a process that makes the budget info available to registered potential bidders via other means.

My 2c.

Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 17:18, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Bruce Bannerman-3
In reply to this post by Greg Lauer
Hi Greg,

My comments on the use of a PCO or not relate equally to a regional, or a global event.

I discuss this in a bit more depth in my recent related post ’To PCO or not':


Kind regards,

Bruce



On 21 Aug 2019, at 03:27, Greg Lauer <[hidden email]> wrote:

I suspect that Bruce's comment's re PCO is more towards the idea of OSGEO OCEANIA running a global FOSS4G conference as opposed to the regional conference. I do agree with Daniels comment in respect to the regional conferences and experience to date has shown that it can be volunteer led, but at some time in the future as the conferences grow, outside assistance may be needed, but will probably be more of a hybrid model.

In terms of budgets I am of the opinion that only key financial items such as income (total tickets/sponsors) and expenses (totals/summary) should be made publicly available. I do not agree that the complete budget should be public. The concept of IP is one consideration (and I say that with some trepidation in an Open Source/Data community). There can be a multitude of reasons why we may not want to make specifics available. One example could be a catering company that sees last years budget and offers the same pricing for next conference, as opposed to the most competitive pricing. It may be that a sponsor does not want others to know the amount they have sponsored. There are plenty of other examples.

My concern is more broadly around competition for funding. Funding is scarce and we will find ourselves in competitive funding situations at some point in the future and we need to be mindful of how our competition (i.e. other organisations) may use public information for there benefit. 

All though we are (and always will be) a community led organisation, and accountable to our membership, we also need to mindful of the commercial imperatives, to ensure the long term availability of the organisation.

Greg

On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 7:16 PM Daniel Silk <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Bruce

Surely not a certainty that a PCO reduces the event risk - engaging a company would create a lot of new risks:
 - will they meet the standard we've set?
 - will they know how to engage with the community to ensure that it still feels like a community run event and not a copy+paste corporate conference?
 - will we have to raise prices and cut back on things like our Good Mojo program in order to mitigate the extra expense?
 - we would absolutely need to meet sponsorship and registration targets, rather than enjoying some elasticity because of our lean expenses

There has certainly been a lot of volunteer effort going into these events but that's an absolutely fantastic aspect to them. It's a time consuming experience but a rewarding one. I hope that all of the organisations that have been so willing to support this effort will also (continue) to provide in-kind employee time so that it's less dependent on volunteer time.

Regardless, I don't understand why we would struggle to obtain a competitive quote from a PCO if we released this information.

Cheers
Daniel
Conference Chair - FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019


On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 8:47 PM Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi John,

For FOSS4G-2009 we used a Professional Conference Organising (PCO) company to help us put the event together.

This proved to be very helpful to the LOC in getting the event organised and run smoothly.

I would recommend this approach in future events as it reduces the event risk and the LOC volunteer load considerably.

There are of course costs involved...

I don’t know if this factor is included in the information that you have below.

I do know that PCO treat their budgets as intellectual property that must be protected. Therefore, this is a situation where we need to be careful with what is made public.

In addition, if PCO costs are not included in the budget info below, making the budget public may also be detrimental to us obtaining a suitable competitive quote should we decide to use a PCO later.

Therefore, I recommend not making this specific information publicly available.

By all means use a process that makes the budget info available to registered potential bidders via other means.

My 2c.

Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 17:18, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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Re: to PCO, or not [was: Board - sharing budget doc]

Alex Leith
In reply to this post by Bruce Bannerman-3
Hi All

In my experience volunteering with SSSI and more recently with OO, for the regional conference scale of even up to ~400 people, there isn't a need for a PCO.

The cost of a PCO is high, and it ends up adding a range of inefficiencies and processes that provides value in a large event, but isn't necessarily worth the cost for a smaller event.

For context, Locate Conference has close to 1,000 attendees each year and registration costs around $1,000. These events run at a major venue and while there are volunteer governance roles, a huge amount of the work is undertaken by the PCO and a paid event organiser. SSSI ran a large event in Darwin recently and I'm almost certain it used a PCO, but I think it was fairly marginal in terms of returning a surplus.

Other events, like the SSSI regional conferences, even the big ones like Spatial Information Day in SA, which routinely attracts 350+ people, are organised mostly by volunteers with some paid resources, in a similar way to how we ran the FOSS4G SotM event in Melbourne last year.

Running an event without the added overhead of a PCO at the scale of events that we run, so 150-250 people, means that we can aim lean, keep it cheap, and if we have the sponsorship and registration numbers we dream of, then we can add on all the nice-to-haves that really provided value to the attendees. And in this way, we can run events expecting a surplus, which will allow us to occasionally handle an event that makes a loss or even that is designed to cost us money. And we can keep our events cheap, which means they are more inclusive and accessible.

If we were to bid for FOSS4G in 2021, though, we would engage a PCO.

Cheers,


On Wed, 21 Aug 2019 at 11:08, Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Daniel,

Kudos for working as Conference Chair for 2019. It is a big task, so well done.

More inline below.


Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 19:16, Daniel Silk <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi Bruce


To use a PCO or not, is really up to the bidding team (LOC) when they consider the approach that they want to use.

A brief SWOT to using a PCO as I see it, based on my experience:

Strengths:

  • Capitalise on PCO expertise and experience to plan and run ‘events', regardless of the context.
  • PCO have well established supply chains, project plans, processes and procedures to help make the running of an ‘event' run smoothly.
  • Using a PCO allows them to handle the mundane and miriad of tasks that are required to ensure the smooth running of an ‘event’.
  • This frees up the LOC to concentrate on what their expertise is, the community aspects that they want to share as part of the ‘event’, e.g.
    • Managing finances
    • Marketing and event promotion
    • Attracting Sponsors
    • Community engagement
    • Keynotes
    • Presentations
    • Birds of a Feather
    • Code Sprints
    • Poster sessions
    • Social get togethers
    • etc
  • This results is less volunteer time being consumed by mundane tasks.
  • The use of a PCO gives those LOC teams with limited experience in running a FOSS4G event a much better chance to run a successful one. 

Weaknesses:

  • There is an additional cost for the PCO that must be recovered somewhere, perhaps by sponsorship, but more likely by distributing the cost amongst attendees. 
  • There is typically an upfront cost to engage the PCO. This money must be available.
  • There is a requirement to define requirements, run a procurement process to select a reputable PCO.
  • There is an addition relationship between the LOC and the PCO that must be managed proactively to ensure a successful event.

Opportunities:

  • There is an opportunity to develop a longer term relationship between a reputable POC and OSGeo-Oceania. This could potentially allow for:
    • lessons learned to be carried more easily forward between events.
    • more consistent events, without necessarily having to use the same LOC people.
    • new LOC teams to bid for events, while reducing the risk to a successful ‘event’.
  • Assuming good marketing and vibe, the ‘event’ may be able to attract more people than required to cover the costs of the POC for the ‘event’. 
  • This may result in a surplus that can be used to mitigate against the costs of future ‘events’, or to cover other planned OSGeo-Oceania activities.

Threats:

  • If the procurement process to select the PCO is not effective, there is the chance that a less experienced, or reputable PCO may be selected.
  • If the LOC/POC relationship is not managed effectively, then this could result in a risk to a successful ‘event’.
  • The cost for the POC must be spread amongst attendees. The fewer the attendees, the more the cost that must be charged. 
  • If there are less attendees than planned for, then there may be a cost impact to the conference where money will need to be found to address.
  • Allow a contigency for the unexpected. We had to deal with the affects of the GFC in 2009.


These SWOT thoughts are based in experiences from 2008 and 2009 in being a member of the FOSS4G-2009 LOC and on selecting, training and managing an effectine POC for the event. Overall I had a positive experience with the POC that we used. They certainly made our life much easier, particularly during the running of the actual conference.



Surely not a certainty that a PCO reduces the event risk - engaging a company would create a lot of new risks:
 - will they meet the standard we've set?

This will depend on how effective the LOC’s procurement and relationship management is. See also the SWOT above.

PCO related risks can be managed, and the use of a PCO may also mitigate against other LOC risks of trying to 'go it alone’.


 - will they know how to engage with the community to ensure that it still feels like a community run event and not a copy+paste corporate conference?

This is not a PCO task in my opinion. It is a LOC task.


 - will we have to raise prices and cut back on things like our Good Mojo program in order to mitigate the extra expense?

See relevent comments in the brief SWOT analysis above. 

Yes there will be costs, but most attendees will probably have their attendance paid for by their employers as a professional development activity.

There is also a good chance of a surplus that can be applied to future events.


 - we would absolutely need to meet sponsorship and registration targets, rather than enjoying some elasticity because of our lean expenses


Yes. But that will be required regardless of whether a PCO is used or not.

The most important aspects here are to know the market; have effective marketing; set realistic targets and budget; and manage expenses. 

This doesn’t change just because a PCO is engaged. 




There has certainly been a lot of volunteer effort going into these events but that's an absolutely fantastic aspect to them. It's a time consuming experience but a rewarding one. I hope that all of the organisations that have been so willing to support this effort will also (continue) to provide in-kind employee time so that it's less dependent on volunteer time.


Agreed. 

Volunteer time is a very scarce and valuable resource.

My opinion is that we don’t waste in on the more mundane aspects of the planning and running of the ‘event’.



Regardless, I don't understand why we would struggle to obtain a competitive quote from a PCO if we released this information.


I haven’t read the resource below and don’t intend to.

If there are expected costs for items listed in the documentation and these are made public, then an organisation who is bidding for the work can adjust proposals accordingly.


Cheers
Daniel
Conference Chair - FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019


On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 8:47 PM Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi John,

For FOSS4G-2009 we used a Professional Conference Organising (PCO) company to help us put the event together.

This proved to be very helpful to the LOC in getting the event organised and run smoothly.

I would recommend this approach in future events as it reduces the event risk and the LOC volunteer load considerably.

There are of course costs involved...

I don’t know if this factor is included in the information that you have below.

I do know that PCO treat their budgets as intellectual property that must be protected. Therefore, this is a situation where we need to be careful with what is made public.

In addition, if PCO costs are not included in the budget info below, making the budget public may also be detrimental to us obtaining a suitable competitive quote should we decide to use a PCO later.

Therefore, I recommend not making this specific information publicly available.

By all means use a process that makes the budget info available to registered potential bidders via other means.

My 2c.

Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 17:18, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Edoardo Neerhut
In reply to this post by Bruce Bannerman-3
+1 for sharing the budget. 
I'll read up on the PCO idea, but for me the appeal of the FOSS4G and SotM community and conferences has been the strong volunteer ethos which I think has a big impact in shaping the dynamic of the conference.

I'm not concerned about us getting competitive pricing for catering services or other services listed in the budget. It might even work in our favour as we can be clear about the maximum we have been paying per head.

On Wed, 21 Aug 2019 at 11:12, Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Greg,

My comments on the use of a PCO or not relate equally to a regional, or a global event.

I discuss this in a bit more depth in my recent related post ’To PCO or not':


Kind regards,

Bruce



On 21 Aug 2019, at 03:27, Greg Lauer <[hidden email]> wrote:

I suspect that Bruce's comment's re PCO is more towards the idea of OSGEO OCEANIA running a global FOSS4G conference as opposed to the regional conference. I do agree with Daniels comment in respect to the regional conferences and experience to date has shown that it can be volunteer led, but at some time in the future as the conferences grow, outside assistance may be needed, but will probably be more of a hybrid model.

In terms of budgets I am of the opinion that only key financial items such as income (total tickets/sponsors) and expenses (totals/summary) should be made publicly available. I do not agree that the complete budget should be public. The concept of IP is one consideration (and I say that with some trepidation in an Open Source/Data community). There can be a multitude of reasons why we may not want to make specifics available. One example could be a catering company that sees last years budget and offers the same pricing for next conference, as opposed to the most competitive pricing. It may be that a sponsor does not want others to know the amount they have sponsored. There are plenty of other examples.

My concern is more broadly around competition for funding. Funding is scarce and we will find ourselves in competitive funding situations at some point in the future and we need to be mindful of how our competition (i.e. other organisations) may use public information for there benefit. 

All though we are (and always will be) a community led organisation, and accountable to our membership, we also need to mindful of the commercial imperatives, to ensure the long term availability of the organisation.

Greg

On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 7:16 PM Daniel Silk <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Bruce

Surely not a certainty that a PCO reduces the event risk - engaging a company would create a lot of new risks:
 - will they meet the standard we've set?
 - will they know how to engage with the community to ensure that it still feels like a community run event and not a copy+paste corporate conference?
 - will we have to raise prices and cut back on things like our Good Mojo program in order to mitigate the extra expense?
 - we would absolutely need to meet sponsorship and registration targets, rather than enjoying some elasticity because of our lean expenses

There has certainly been a lot of volunteer effort going into these events but that's an absolutely fantastic aspect to them. It's a time consuming experience but a rewarding one. I hope that all of the organisations that have been so willing to support this effort will also (continue) to provide in-kind employee time so that it's less dependent on volunteer time.

Regardless, I don't understand why we would struggle to obtain a competitive quote from a PCO if we released this information.

Cheers
Daniel
Conference Chair - FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019


On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 8:47 PM Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi John,

For FOSS4G-2009 we used a Professional Conference Organising (PCO) company to help us put the event together.

This proved to be very helpful to the LOC in getting the event organised and run smoothly.

I would recommend this approach in future events as it reduces the event risk and the LOC volunteer load considerably.

There are of course costs involved...

I don’t know if this factor is included in the information that you have below.

I do know that PCO treat their budgets as intellectual property that must be protected. Therefore, this is a situation where we need to be careful with what is made public.

In addition, if PCO costs are not included in the budget info below, making the budget public may also be detrimental to us obtaining a suitable competitive quote should we decide to use a PCO later.

Therefore, I recommend not making this specific information publicly available.

By all means use a process that makes the budget info available to registered potential bidders via other means.

My 2c.

Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 17:18, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Bruce Bannerman-3
Hi Edoardo,

The use of a PCO and having a strong volunteer ethos are *not* mutually exclusive.

Both can coexist quite happily as has been proven at many FOSS4G events.

In the end this is really a decision for the team who puts together a letter of intent. 

Cheers,

Bruce



On 21 Aug 2019, at 14:21, Edoardo Neerhut <[hidden email]> wrote:

+1 for sharing the budget. 
I'll read up on the PCO idea, but for me the appeal of the FOSS4G and SotM community and conferences has been the strong volunteer ethos which I think has a big impact in shaping the dynamic of the conference.

I'm not concerned about us getting competitive pricing for catering services or other services listed in the budget. It might even work in our favour as we can be clear about the maximum we have been paying per head.

On Wed, 21 Aug 2019 at 11:12, Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Greg,

My comments on the use of a PCO or not relate equally to a regional, or a global event.

I discuss this in a bit more depth in my recent related post ’To PCO or not':


Kind regards,

Bruce



On 21 Aug 2019, at 03:27, Greg Lauer <[hidden email]> wrote:

I suspect that Bruce's comment's re PCO is more towards the idea of OSGEO OCEANIA running a global FOSS4G conference as opposed to the regional conference. I do agree with Daniels comment in respect to the regional conferences and experience to date has shown that it can be volunteer led, but at some time in the future as the conferences grow, outside assistance may be needed, but will probably be more of a hybrid model.

In terms of budgets I am of the opinion that only key financial items such as income (total tickets/sponsors) and expenses (totals/summary) should be made publicly available. I do not agree that the complete budget should be public. The concept of IP is one consideration (and I say that with some trepidation in an Open Source/Data community). There can be a multitude of reasons why we may not want to make specifics available. One example could be a catering company that sees last years budget and offers the same pricing for next conference, as opposed to the most competitive pricing. It may be that a sponsor does not want others to know the amount they have sponsored. There are plenty of other examples.

My concern is more broadly around competition for funding. Funding is scarce and we will find ourselves in competitive funding situations at some point in the future and we need to be mindful of how our competition (i.e. other organisations) may use public information for there benefit. 

All though we are (and always will be) a community led organisation, and accountable to our membership, we also need to mindful of the commercial imperatives, to ensure the long term availability of the organisation.

Greg

On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 7:16 PM Daniel Silk <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Bruce

Surely not a certainty that a PCO reduces the event risk - engaging a company would create a lot of new risks:
 - will they meet the standard we've set?
 - will they know how to engage with the community to ensure that it still feels like a community run event and not a copy+paste corporate conference?
 - will we have to raise prices and cut back on things like our Good Mojo program in order to mitigate the extra expense?
 - we would absolutely need to meet sponsorship and registration targets, rather than enjoying some elasticity because of our lean expenses

There has certainly been a lot of volunteer effort going into these events but that's an absolutely fantastic aspect to them. It's a time consuming experience but a rewarding one. I hope that all of the organisations that have been so willing to support this effort will also (continue) to provide in-kind employee time so that it's less dependent on volunteer time.

Regardless, I don't understand why we would struggle to obtain a competitive quote from a PCO if we released this information.

Cheers
Daniel
Conference Chair - FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019


On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 8:47 PM Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi John,

For FOSS4G-2009 we used a Professional Conference Organising (PCO) company to help us put the event together.

This proved to be very helpful to the LOC in getting the event organised and run smoothly.

I would recommend this approach in future events as it reduces the event risk and the LOC volunteer load considerably.

There are of course costs involved...

I don’t know if this factor is included in the information that you have below.

I do know that PCO treat their budgets as intellectual property that must be protected. Therefore, this is a situation where we need to be careful with what is made public.

In addition, if PCO costs are not included in the budget info below, making the budget public may also be detrimental to us obtaining a suitable competitive quote should we decide to use a PCO later.

Therefore, I recommend not making this specific information publicly available.

By all means use a process that makes the budget info available to registered potential bidders via other means.

My 2c.

Kind regards,

Bruce


On 20 Aug 2019, at 17:18, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

John Bryant
In reply to this post by Edoardo Neerhut
I'm seeing a lot of support for publishing the budget, based on the benefit to the community and potential future organisers of this and other events. But also a few arguments against, which we need to consider, I'll try to summarise here.
  1. We shouldn't put others' intellectual property and commercially sensitive material into the public domain
  2. The budget is our own IP, which we should retain
  3. We may give too much info to caterers and other suppliers, and lose our bargaining position with regard to pricing
  4. We may give too much info to PCOs, and lose our bargaining position with regard to pricing
  5. We may put ourselves at a disadvantage when it comes to seeking funding, by sharing too much
Re: point 1, I strongly agree and the proposed public document has been redacted to take this into account. If there's still anything specific in there that needs a change, let's do it.

Re: point 2, I generally disagree, I don't see it as compatible with our position as an org responsible to an open community. I don't see a value proposition in classifying this specific information as protected. But would be interested to hear others' views on this.

Re: point 3, For the most part, our service providers (caterers, A/V, equipment rental, etc) are competing in a local market against other similar providers, and would be unlikely to be able to use this information to their benefit. They often have set pricing schedules, and probably don't have time or inclination to find our public budget document and play us accordingly. By getting quotes from several providers in each case, we can make sure we're getting competitive pricing.

Re: point 4, I don't have much experience with PCOs, I'm having trouble understanding how the information in this budget doc would disadvantage us in that relationship. Why would knowing how much we spent on catering in 2018 impact on this?

Re: point 5, again, I am having trouble seeing this. Is there an example situation where the specific information in this budget would put us at a competitive disadvantage in a funding proposal?

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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Cameron Shorter
In reply to this post by John Bryant
+1. I agree with all John's points, for the same reasons.


On Tue, 20 Aug 2019 at 17:19, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi OO board,

I think it would be helpful for those considering a proposal for 2020 to have access to the 2018 budget. I've prepared a redacted version that removes transaction data, and any specific references to people or companies, in the interest of privacy. But I still think it contains a wealth of useful information to future event organisers.


Rather than provide it privately to those who ask, I'd rather open it up to the public... I see this as 1) more fair & transparent, and 2) significantly easier to manage. Do you see any issues with sharing this document with the public?

Cheers
John
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

adam steer-2
In reply to this post by John Bryant
Hi John, all

I agree with John’s point 1 - when we’re given commercial information from others, we should ask before publishing.

The rest? While open-source-ness is not incompatible with IP, I don’t think an organisational budget qualifies as protectable IP. It’ll be in a public annual report anyway, right?

Like John, I’d need specific examples for points 3-5. I don’t see why we’d lose a bargaining position - we can either pay for a thing, or not. If the latter we can seek a different service provider or not do a thing. We don’t have to do all the things for all the people all the time...

On obtaining funding, plenty of extremely cashed-up organisations continue to obtain funding from various sources. If we need more money to do a thing, I’m sure we can provide a strong enough case to win the funding we need.

I think as much budgetary open-ness as possible is a good thing, and the document shared by John is fine.

Regards,

Adam


On Wed, 21 Aug 2019 at 16:47, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:
I'm seeing a lot of support for publishing the budget, based on the benefit to the community and potential future organisers of this and other events. But also a few arguments against, which we need to consider, I'll try to summarise here.
  1. We shouldn't put others' intellectual property and commercially sensitive material into the public domain
  2. The budget is our own IP, which we should retain
  3. We may give too much info to caterers and other suppliers, and lose our bargaining position with regard to pricing
  4. We may give too much info to PCOs, and lose our bargaining position with regard to pricing
  5. We may put ourselves at a disadvantage when it comes to seeking funding, by sharing too much
Re: point 1, I strongly agree and the proposed public document has been redacted to take this into account. If there's still anything specific in there that needs a change, let's do it.

Re: point 2, I generally disagree, I don't see it as compatible with our position as an org responsible to an open community. I don't see a value proposition in classifying this specific information as protected. But would be interested to hear others' views on this.

Re: point 3, For the most part, our service providers (caterers, A/V, equipment rental, etc) are competing in a local market against other similar providers, and would be unlikely to be able to use this information to their benefit. They often have set pricing schedules, and probably don't have time or inclination to find our public budget document and play us accordingly. By getting quotes from several providers in each case, we can make sure we're getting competitive pricing.

Re: point 4, I don't have much experience with PCOs, I'm having trouble understanding how the information in this budget doc would disadvantage us in that relationship. Why would knowing how much we spent on catering in 2018 impact on this?

Re: point 5, again, I am having trouble seeing this. Is there an example situation where the specific information in this budget would put us at a competitive disadvantage in a funding proposal?
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

John Bryant
I don't want to rush this, but let's try and wrap up this discussion if we can. Are there any compelling explanations for how publishing the budget would compromise us in our relationships with PCOs and other suppliers, or any other showstoppers?  If there are any suggestions on the doc itself, let's raise them now.

If not, I propose we close this out on Tuesday and publish the version of the budget linked earlier in this thread.

Cheers
John


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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

Bruce Bannerman-3
John,

Make the call.

I don’t know what is in the budget papers, and don’t have the time the review them. I can only provide advice on what I’ve found before.

Kind regards,

Bruce


> On 24 Aug 2019, at 20:47, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I don't want to rush this, but let's try and wrap up this discussion if we can. Are there any compelling explanations for how publishing the budget would compromise us in our relationships with PCOs and other suppliers, or any other showstoppers?  If there are any suggestions on the doc itself, let's raise them now.
>
> If not, I propose we close this out on Tuesday and publish the version of the budget linked earlier in this thread.
>
> Cheers
> John
>
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Re: Board - sharing budget doc

John Bryant
Thanks all, looks like we have support for publishing this version of the budget, we'll do so now and I'll post it to the other thread about conf background.

Cheers
John

On Sat, 24 Aug 2019 at 15:19, Bruce Bannerman <[hidden email]> wrote:
John,

Make the call.

I don’t know what is in the budget papers, and don’t have the time the review them. I can only provide advice on what I’ve found before.

Kind regards,

Bruce


> On 24 Aug 2019, at 20:47, John Bryant <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I don't want to rush this, but let's try and wrap up this discussion if we can. Are there any compelling explanations for how publishing the budget would compromise us in our relationships with PCOs and other suppliers, or any other showstoppers?  If there are any suggestions on the doc itself, let's raise them now.
>
> If not, I propose we close this out on Tuesday and publish the version of the budget linked earlier in this thread.
>
> Cheers
> John
>
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