Melbourne Decom 2013

Statement from Decom Organisers

Melburn Decom was a great success, with a record number of people attending and crew participating. However, a series of process failures meant that around $1700 of door takings went missing at some time after the night.

Extensive investigation, care and consultation have gone into understanding what happened. This has included multiple meetings with Burning Man, the venue and organisers. 

We have come to the conclusion that there were flaws in both our own and the venues systems of accountability.

These events have caused much heartache amongst the crew. However, it has also provided an opportunity to develop stronger processes and take home lessons for subsequent Decoms and others Burner community events.

For a more detailed outline of the investigation and what happened when and where is below.


Events during and post-Decom 

Melburn Decompression - organisational milestones and events pertaining to missing takings
Organisational milestones leading up to event
Date action taken
16/10/2013 Team lead roles confirmed. Description of roles and responsibilities pinned in Facebook Melburn Decom organising group. Door bitch manager - Responsible for door takings on the night and look after people doing door shifts.
3/11/2013  Last Decom meeting takes place at 2IC's house. One gate lead is in attendence. The other gate leads joins us on Skype. During meeting, gate role and tasks are confirmed as per meeting notes.

"Gate lead to coordinate with finance lead pre event re float and then afterwards for handover"
4/11/2013 Meeting notes are posted into a facebook message, involving main leads. Gate leads are included in this msg. See screen shot to the right.
Date Time Event Who has money and how much Solutions for 2014 Decom  
10/11/2013 12.50am By 12.50am, the venue has reached capacity (350 people) and the door has been closed to new arrivals. The space has become rammed with people, making it difficult for Decom crew to get from A to B and at times overloading the door. Door check-ins become harder.   Seek bigger venue  
10/11/2013 2am Grace the venue manager and a Gate lead alert the 2IC to the fact that there is too much cash in the cashbox at the door.  There is only person working the door at that time, so 2IC offers to transfer money to the safe. 2IC goes to the Bar291 office with Grace, where they both count the money, bundle it in groups of 10 and co-sign two slips of paper with the total of $3010 ($2900 bundled, $110 unbundled) on each. One paper slip is added to the money in the safe and the other is put in the cashbox. Venue, $3010 Ensure more frequent money transfers to safe. Include printed schedule on clipboard where door team lead keeps record of safe transfer amounts and time. Plus signature.  
10/11/2013 4am Finance team lead clears the door cashbox of remaining $500, with the understanding that the rest of the money will be turned over to her for book-keeping post event. She observes to one of the Gate leads, who is on the door, that the rest of the money has been transferred to the safe. 2IC, $500
Venue, $3010
Before Decom, event co-ordinators to confirm with gate and finance team leads the plan for final money handover. Plan to be recorded. All door takings to be stored in one place  
10/11/2013 6am Decompression party ends.  
10/11/2013 630am During some minor clean up, 2IC notices the cashbox sitting under the counter used as the Decom gate. There is change in it but no notes. She collects the cashbox at the door and takes it home with her.   Money transfer schedule to include end-of-night signoff, with final door takings total, final collection time from safe and signature from team lead.  
10/11/2013 2pm Finace team lead leaves for business trip. $500 kept in home office during business trip. 2IC, $500
Venue, $3010
Bank account to be designed for Decom use to allow for immediate deposits  
15/11/2013   Finance team lead returns from business trip (5 days). She reimburses 2IC $120 from the $500 she has kept in home office. 2IC has previously used her own funds to reimburse $120 to two participants (performers, artists, decor manager) for costs incurred for the night. 2IC, $380
Venue, $3010
15/11/2013   2IC returns cashbox to finance team lead, assuming that finance has the rest of the cash. Finance confirms she only removed $500 from the cashbox on the night. It is then that both parties become aware that the money has been left in the safe. 2IC, $380 + $110
Venue, $3010
16/11/2013   2IC texts Grace, the venue manager, to let them know that the money is still in the safe and needs to be collected. Grace says she will "call admin and find out where it is". Grace and 2IC agree on a date when Grace can hand off money.  
20/11/2013 5pm 2IC arrives at venue and is told to wait in the bar. Grace passes her a medium-sized ziplock bag with money. The money is not counted at that time.   Ensure that both venue and gate team lead (or proxy person) undertakes another money count and sign-off process when collecting takings from safe at end of the night.  
21/11/2013   2IC gives the money to finance lead, who lives in the same house. The money is put in the locked cashbox, which is placed in her home office. It is not counted at this time. The only people who have access to the house during this time are the 2IC, finance lead and a flatmate. There are no parties and no visitors during this time.  
27/11/2013   Finance lead departs for Sydney, returning 1/12 (5 days)  
    Finance lead removes $400 from the cashbox to reimburse event lead for the venue deposit, but the entire bag is not counted.  
6/12/2013   2IC emails receipts and claim to finance lead for remaining decompression expenses  
18/12/2013   Finance lead counts the bag of money and discovers that there this a substantial shortfall between the recorded door take (minus costs already paid) and the cash in hand. The two counter-signed slips of paper are still with the money. She alerts 2IC, who is sitting in the next room, and emails event lead to let him know too.  
19/12/2013   2IC rings Grace to let her know that about $1600 is missing from the takings. She asks Grace about the number of people who have access to the safe and the office.Grace says she will talk to Simon, the venue owner, and get back to her.  
21/12/2013   Event lead departs for family xmas in Sydney and elsewhere in NSW, returning 7/1/2013 (18 days)  
26/12/2013   Finance lead departs for SE Asia, returning 9/1 (13 days)  
8/1/2014   There has been no contact from Grace or Simon. 2IC emails Grace to ask whether she has spoken to Simon and whether he has been able to shed any light on the matter. She says that money could not have been taken from their end and wishes us luck.  
17/1/2014   Finance lead departs for New Zealand, returning 27/1 (11 days)