Re: Padding the Books (Computers and BSA)
(no name) ((no email))
Tue, 15 Sep 1992 18:42:46 CDT
When I was the Special Assistant to the National Explorer President (what
a title...I was the PR person for the Exploring program!) in the late 70's
and early 80s (79-81 to be exact), the Exploring program went on a very
proactive membership inventory.
At the 1979 National Explorer President's Congress, there was a lot of
discussion on the fact that some Councils stated that they had lots more
members than what the official numbers from national said. So, the
East Central Regional Chairman, myself, and one of the East Central's
Area Exploring Chairs (from the old Area Six--West Virginia and
Southern Ohio) went to five councils and asked to see the charters from
At three of the five, there were only two or three "paper units"
[Paper Unit: One in which the membership and/or adult leadership has been
either altered or intentionally not updated in order to retain the unit as
an "active unit". Some of the alterations include changing the age of
one of the youth members to an adult age in order to keep the number of
adults in the unit constant; not deleting youth members that have not
rechartered and either unit or individual has paid fees for; not changing
the name of the adult primary leader, etc. These units are carried as
active units for a 120 day period after the expiration of the current year's
charter and then dropped from accountability by the local Council. In order
for a "dropped" unit to become active once again, it must register as a NEW
What this process does is creates a 120 day window for the professional and
the commissioner to find adequate adult and youth membership, to reorganize
the unit and to get it active once more. However, as a Commissioner and as
other Commissioners will tell you, once a unit is "dropped", the unit has
to be and should be reorganized from the start.
Some professionals and key volunteers use this period to keep the accountability
up for the unit to meet the quarterly "beat last year achievers" standings.
It looks really good for the District to have seventeen units this year
where last year at the same time, you only had nine. (and nope, it don't
matter if the eight units all are on the verge of dropping!)
"paper units" are most commonly found in urban and rural districts, but
most Districts have at least one. This is NOT a reflection on the professional
or the commissioner's staff, which works together closely to insure that
this does not happen. What this shows is that in many times, the unit leaders
fail to update and follow through with the application process for new members
and new leaders or leaders that move to other positions. ]
In two of the five Councils, we found lots of units that did not really
exist (how did we know this?? We called the leader of the units and they
told us so!) We also relied on the Councils' mailing lists for the
newsletter and other external program aids that leave the office.
Bottom line: Intentional "paper units" occur seldom and they are
easily found. If a bunch of college students can find this out, then
surely adults and particularily adults that have been in the program
for a long time can find them faster than we could have.
"paper units" are only one of several ways that a Council can "
pad" their units/membership figures. And to answer an earlier question,
the answer is NO, for the most part, whatever the local Council reports
to the regional office is what the Council is credited with. If ther
are questions, the Regional Director of Program along with three other
Area Directors (from the areas not within the council) come to the
local Council to do a records audit.
And remember, that the Scout Executive, the Council Commissioner AND
the Council President all sign the forms that certify that the numbers
are as acurate as they can be, within reason. Its the Executive Secretary
(Council executive or Scout Executive) that has *his* or *her* behind on
the line, though, when the figures are fudged!!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City