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Renewing Your Membership/CWFI

Procedure for Renewing Memberships and Certifications

Because we have implemented an automated membership and certification renewal process in our new website, there are some unusual steps that have to be taken for first-time renewals.  Please read this closely to understand how the process works.  It’s not difficult; it’s just not immediately obvious.

How the System Works

Renewals (called Upgrades by the automate membership subscription program) can only occur from a status below the Regular Member (or Affiliate Member) level.  Once a membership expires, the member’s status will be downgraded automatically until he or she renews (Upgrades back to Regular Member).  The member will get an automated email advising him or her that their membership has expired.  Once he or she renews, the membership (and CWFI) will be reinstated.  Renewal can be activated immediately by online (credit card) payment of dues.  Offline payments (check or money order) are also accepted but renewal won’t occur until the check or money order is received.

Why the System Doesn’t Seem to Work that Way

When a current member registers at the new website, he or she is upgraded by me to either a Regular or Affiliate Member status.  If that member is also a CWFI, he or she is also upgraded to CWFI at the same time.  Once upgraded, the system assigns a one-year expiration date to that membership and CWFI.  Current members, however, may not have a year remaining on their dues.  (I cannot change the expiration date manually – it messes up the system and can cause it to crash.)

When a membership (and certification) expires, a member’s status is manually reverted to ‘Registered User’ by me.  Since a Registered User status is a lower-privileged status, the member can then upgrade (renew) his or her membership by going to his or her Profile Page and selecting the Membership Details tab.  There the member will be presented with upgrade (renewal) options.  The member will select Regular Membership and click the “Upgrade” button at the bottom of the page.

Once the upgrade button is selected, member is taken to the payment option page and will select either the online payment or offline payment option.  If Online Payment is selected, the member can complete the credit card payment panel and make the payment through a secure (SSL) transaction.  His or her membership (and CWFI if selected) will then be immediately renewed.

If Offline Payment is chosen, the member will be presented with an invoice that must be printed out to activate the renewal process.  That invoice can be provided to your agency for payment.  If you’re writing a personal check or money order, the invoice should be sent along with the check or money order.  If being provided to your agency, ask them to make sure a copy of it is sent with payment so that it is properly credited.  Once received, the payment will be entered and the members status will be upgraded accordingly.

New members or members who have not yet registered but have received notice of renewal should simply register at the site and select Regular membership (and CWFI if appropriate) at the time he or she registers.  The process of payment will then follow the same procedure as above.

Why is the Process Seem Different for Current Members?

The truth is that the process really isn’t different.  The reason that existing members must be manually downgraded is because the membership year is fixed at one-year terms.  I can manually downgrade or upgrade registrations but I cannot change the default term of one year or expiration dates.  Once all members that have registered with time left on their current membership term renew for the first time, there will be no more need to manually downgrade a member’s status – the system will do that automatically.  Renewal will always occur through the Profile Page and the Membership Details tab.

What about Affiliate Members?

Since an affiliate member’s dues are paid by their organization, an affiliated member needs to do nothing unless he or she is a CWFI.  If an affiliated member is CWFI, then the affiliated member will be notified when the CWFI term expires.  That member will have 30 days to submit payment to renew the CWFI.  Once renewed, the Continuing Education report also needs to be submitted along with the payment or shortly thereafter to remain certified.  The renewal process is the same process described above for a regular membership renewal; you renew CWFI through the Profile Page under the Membership Details tab.

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Tax Evasion / Food Stamp Fraud

Brothers accused of tax evasion; wives also face federal fraud charges
BY BRIAN BRUEGGEMANN
Belleville News-Democrat

Two Maryville brothers and their wives are facing federal charges of tax evasion.

The defendants are Robert Todd McKinney and his wife, Belinda McKinney, and John Quinn McKinney and his wife, Chamethele McKinney.

According to the indictment, the brothers tried to avoid paying taxes on income from their business, McKinney Hauling of East St. Louis.

Steve Wigginton, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced the charges Monday.

The Internal Revenue Service filed tax liens against the brothers in 2003. The defendants subsequently engaged in fraud to avoid paying taxes, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges:

* That Robert and John McKinney lied about their ability to pay taxes and concealed assets.

* That Chamethele and Belinda McKinney set up nominee bank accounts that received income from the business, and provided false information on mortgage documents. The mortgages were for a home at 4941 Autumn Oaks Drive in Maryville for Robert and Belinda McKinney, and a home at 22 Seasons Ridge in Maryville for John and Chamethele McKinney.

* That Robert and John McKinney lied to federal agents by saying they resided in East St. Louis.

* That Robert and John McKinney claimed the company had no work or income when they were interviewed by federal agents. But on the same day, they made a deposit of $7,500, and around the same time, they made another deposit of $240,377.

* That the defendants have evaded paying taxes since 1999, and now owe at least $952,000 in income taxes.

* That Chamethele McKinney lied on government applications in 2006 in order to get food stamps.

Each defendant is charged with conspiracy, and related charges. The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

© 2007 Belleville News-Democrat and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.belleville.com

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Is Your Membership Near or Past Renewal?

In the process of changing websites, no notices for January were sent out in December and none have been sent out for February.  This transition period to the new website has usurped much of my time.  In addition to the website redesign and launch, normal UCOWF business aside from membership notices had to continue.  While members are registering at this site, they are building the membership list (which replaces the Directory).  Some unpaid members have registered and will be allowed to use and evaluate the new site until the old site closes.  At that time, anyone who is past due or is not a prior member will be contacted to determine if they wish to apply/renew their membership.  At $25.00 for an annual membership, we think the benefits one gets from this site far exceed the price of membership.

Once the site is officially launched and the old site closed down, I will begin backtracking and contacting those whose memberships are due or past due.  So if you haven’t been notified, don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten you.

We are including a subscription module in this website that will actually display your membership status in the Member Profile and send out notices automatically.  After a certain period of time if no renewal has been made, your membership is automatically deactivated.  The automated membership renewal notification process is not only for those paying by credit card.  Every member will receive notices and if you or your organization pays by check, then you will still have to mail the check to the Business Office with a copy of the renewal notice (so that your payment is credited properly).

The subscription module will also allow credit card processing through the site and contains a ‘shopping cart’ component.

The shopping cart component is an upgrade over our past credit card processing feature.  The shopping cart will permit grouping purchases in a single transaction.  For example, if you wanted to renew your membership and pay for a CWFI Exam, at the old site it would require you to make two separate purchases with a credit card.  If you wanted to pay for more than one membership renewal or one conference fee, you had to either complete individual transactions or contact me and accomplish the transaction over the phone.  Not any more.

Once our new component is installed and tested, members will be able to make multiple purchases with a credit card in a single transaction.  Doing this is a precursor to opening a UCOWF store through this site that will market UCOWF-branded merchandise.  The UCOWF store will likely appear sometime in the summer of 2011.

For the immediate future, if you know your membership is due, you can still either pay through the old website or send in a check with a renewal form or you can wait until the end of this month when we contact you.  Once contacted, you will have a certain amount of time to make payment to keep your membership active.

We hope this process will improve efficiency and the integrity of our membership listing.  Thanks for being a member of UCOWF.

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2010: A Big Year for CWFI Testing

Last year was a good year for the Certified Welfare Fraud Investigator program.  Ten members successfully passed the CWFI Examination and earned their certification, distinguishing them from their peers as professionals in the area of welfare fraud investigations.

 

In June, UCOWF Directors Rich Nawrot and Maria Schollenberger administered the CWFI exam at the NYWFIA annual training conference.  The following members successfully passed the exam:

  • Michael Grennan has been an Investigations Supervisor and conducting investigations with the Nassau County Department of Social Services in Uniondale, NY, since May 2007.
  • Daniel McCann has been an Investigator with the Oswego County Department of Social Services since September 2005.
  • Robert Milner has been a Welfare Fraud Investigator with the Ulster County Department of Social Services since December 2005

 

In September, the CWFI Exam was administered by CWFI Chair, Paula Kingery at the UCOWF Training Conference in Raleigh, NC.  These applicants successfully earned their certification:

  • Sandra Leonhard, President/Owner of Interstate Reporting Co., Inc., has been conducting investigations since 1998 in Menomonee Falls, WI.  She has a Bachelor of Science/Business Administration degree from Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, WI.
  • Andrew Petitt has been an Investigator with the West Virginia DHHR/OIG/IFM in Princeton, WV since October 2006.  He has a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree from Concord University, Athens, WV.
  • Freda Ashby has been an Investigator with the Buchanan Co. Dept. of Social Services, Grundy, VA since August, 2007.  She has attended Southwest VA Community College.
  • Danita Bragg has been an Investigator with the West Virginia DHHR/OIG/IFM in Beckley, WV since January, 2003.  She has a Bachelor of Science/Education degree from Concord College, Athens, WV.
  • Michael Barile has been an Investigator/Supervisor with the State of Connecticut Dept. of Social Services since 1992.  He has a Bachelor of Science/Business Administration and Master of Science/Political Science/Public Administration degree from Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT, and Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT.
  • Jolynn Marra has been an Investigator/Supervisor with the West Virginia DHHR since 1995.  She has a Bachelor of Science/Marketing degree from West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.

 

In October, UCOWF Director Julie Jacobson administered the CWFI exam in Colorado, resulting in the certification being awarded to:

  • R. Tom Lopez has been an Investigator with the Logan County Department of Social Service, Sterling, CO, since July 2008.  He has attended Metro State College in Denver, Co; Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, CO; Bailie School of Broadcast in Aurora, CO; and Central Wyoming College, Riverton, WY.

 

Congratulations to our newest CWFIs!

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Out with the Old and in with the New! – The UCOWF Directory has Changed.

The old UCOWF Directory that allowed us to search for members has changed and is no longer the way to find members outside your office.  The old directory was incompatible with the new website.  That incompatibility forced us to find a new way of providing you a way to search for members when you need assistance outside of your office.

The new directory is built on a social networking platform.  While most of the social networking functions have been turned off, it provides you a different (and we think) better way to contact and communicate with fellow members.  Each member now has his or her own profile page.  It is a page that each member can easily edit to update addresses, titles, email addresses and phone numbers.  As you registered for the new site, that information was captured in the membership list.  Not all of the information is published though.  Your username and password are yours and yours alone.

To find and search the membership list, click on the Member Listings link under the User Menu.  There you will find a Search Users link.  You can search by first name, last name, agency, city and state/province.  This is the first advantage over the old system.  It enables you to find a member within a state or province closest to the area you want assistance with.

There is also a new feature titled: Connections.  Connections are contacts – members you do or may contact on a frequent basis.  There are different categories of Connections.  Connections can be listed under Friends, Co Workers, Out of State/Province Contacts, etc.  This way, you do not have to search for your fellow member each time you need assistance or just want to say ‘Hi’.

Since the membership list will ultimately be tied to the membership application/renewal process, information in the listings should be more current than before.

Collecting Debts Through Federal Payments

The Treasury Offset Program Newsletter

If you’ve never heard it spoken, you probably have thought about it: “What’s the point of trying to collect fraud and program violation overpayments from people on public assistance?”  Simply answered, the point is what alternative exists; allow fraudsters and violators free reign to steal tax dollars?

We all should know that overpayments in public assistance can be collected through reduction in ongoing assistance grants.  But you’ve probably wondered about people who have left the program but have no discernible source of income or those who are disqualified and have no other eligible household members from which grant reduction can be imposed.  How can these debts be collected?

The Treasury Offset Program (TOP) was implemented to redirect all or a portion of any federal payments to individuals who owe states a debt arising from overpayments from a federally-funded program.  TOP focused on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Food Stamp) debts owed by individuals resulting from program violations or fraud.  It makes sense.  An individual who violated program rules in order to receive assistance to which he or she was otherwise ineligible to receive should not benefit further from unaltered federal payments until that debt is paid.

Through the efforts of UCOWF members, a pilot project is currently underway to expand beyond SNAP debts and include collection of other debts owed to the states arising from fraud or program violations in other public assistance programs that have a federal funding component.  Expanding the TOP is a huge step forward in helping states deal with mounting uncollected debt.

To learn read more about TOP and how it helps collect unpaid debts, click this link: Treasury Offset Program Newsletter and download the May 2012 newsletter.  It is only a two-page newsletter but it is filled with information that all program integrity professionals should know.

UCOWF Member Makes a Difference

UCOWF Member and CWFI Linda “Pete” Peterson of Washington Department of Social and Health Services submitted the following press release on one of her cases. This is yet another outstanding example of UCOWF members making a difference to the taxpayers and citizens of their states, provinces and counties throughout North America.
 
 
Great job, Pete!
 

 
U. S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Washington

 

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

 

FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:

Thomas Rice, First Assistant U.S. Attorney

(509) 353-2767

 

Illegal Immigrant Sentenced for Benefits Fraud

Yakima – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that on December 12, 2011, Roman Ceniceros Mora, also known as Joseph Anderson Evans Shippentower, age 61, of Yakima, Washington, was sentenced to 96 months imprisonment for federal fraud and immigration charges. A jury in Yakima, Washington, previously found Ceniceros Mora guilty of 42 counts of fraud related to the unlawful acquisition of supplemental security income (SSI) and food stamps, a false claim of United States citizenship, and making a false statement in application for a United States passport. A separate jury convicted Ceniceros Mora of being an alien in the United States after deportation.

Roman Ceniceros Mora, a citizen of Mexico, had been living in the United States for decades following prior deportations. During that time, he repeatedly claimed citizenship in the United States by birth to American Indians in the Pacific Northwest. He also claimed to have served in the United States Marine Corps and claimed to have suffered combat related injuries during the Vietnam Era. He never served in the United States Marine Corps nor did he serve in Vietnam.

On May 25, 2010, Roman Ceniceros Mora submitted an application for a United States passport at a Post Office in Yakima, Washington. The application falsely claimed the name of Joseph Anderson Evans Shippentower, a real person. The Department of State Seattle Passport Agency subsequently detected inconsistencies in the information disclosed on the application. Further investigation by the department’s Diplomatic Security Service revealed the true nationality of Roman Ceniceros Mora, in addition to evidence indicating he was receiving SSI from the Social Security Administration and food stamps from the Washington Department of Social and Health Services. His applications for public assistance were based on his alleged injuries and claim of United States citizenship.

The Court also ordered Ceniceros Mora to serve three years of supervised release following his release from prison, but is then also subject to deportation to Mexico. Ceniceros Mora must also pay $155,431.18 in restitution to the United States and the State of Washington.

The investigation was conducted by the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, Veterans Administration Office of Inspector General, Washington Department of Social and Health Services, and the United States Border Patrol. Additional assistance was provided by the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office and the Marine Corps University History Division. This case was prosecuted by Shawn Anderson, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

11-CR-2039-WFN

Regional Mini-Conference Concept

Expanding Opportunities to Attend UCOWF Conferences

Less is more“.  You have probably heard that saying before and chuckled.  (Or maybe that thought has crossed your mind as you sat through a presentation that was too long, too detailed and too dry; I know I have!)  But with the economy impacting state and county budgets throughout North America, UCOWF is looking at ways to bolster attendance at our annual training conference and one idea that has surfaced could have merit if there is interest in it: Regional Mini-Conferences.

Our annual training conference has traditionally been a 3-1/2 day conference with between three and five tracks of workshops being given simultaneously.  The conference is designed to attract between 250 and 300 attendees and provides a wide variety of training topics within the program integrity arena.  To accommodate that number of attendees, a large hotel with large meeting rooms and a banquet facility are required.  Our traditional conference requires a substantial amount of audio-video support and an extensive number of presenters to fill the workshops.  Because of the costs associated with putting on a large annual training conference, the price of attendance must be set to cover costs and generate needed operating dollars for the organization each year.  In normal economic times, the cost is exceptionally modest compared to any other international professional organization that puts on a similar training conference of this scope.  However, we are not in normal economic times and two negative results occur: fewer members have the opportunity to attend because of lack of funding, and UCOWF takes in less operating dollars than needed to break even each year.

Regional Mini-Conferences

The idea of downsizing from an annual training conference to a series of smaller-scope conferences each year conducted throughout the US holds an intriguing solution to that problem.  Conducting a series of smaller conferences means smaller and less-expensive hotels would be needed, less audio-video support would be required, fewer presenters would be sought, and a lower conference fee would be asked (in the range of $150 -$175 per attendee).  Attendees would be away from their job for fewer days and conferences would normally be scheduled so that air travel costs would be minimized.

Here is the concept: A training conference designed for a maximum of 75 – 100 attendees would be conducted 3 times a year, offering one or two tracks of workshops over a 2-day span and located close to airport hubs in major cities of states with a solid number of potential attendees in the state or surrounding states.  These mini-conferences would be ‘no-frill’ conferences meaning no banquets and no evening events planned but would remain high-quality training focused on program integrity issues of interest and need.  The tracks would cover both investigative and collections/program integrity administration material.  A mini-conference would run from Tuesday noon to Thursday noon and CWFI exams would be administered after workshops conclude on the second day of the conference.

The regional mini-conferences would not replace the annual training conference however the required number of attendees at an annual conference to meet costs would be greatly reduced.  The annual training conference would remain a 3-1/2 day conference but pared down on the number of tracks.  The annual conference would have the banquet and evening events and would be more expensive to attend.

Training materials an attendee receives at any UCOWF training conference would be disseminated but given to each attendee on a CD or flash drive to take with him or her, nearly eliminating printing costs.  A UCOWF valise or portfolio containing the training schedule and other materials would be standard at any conference, including a mini-conference.

We Need Your Input

A poll has been set up to gauge interest or response to the concept of regional mini-conferences.  We would like all members to vote on the poll to let us know if this idea has any appeal to the membership so please vote.  If you have additional ideas or comments that you would like to submit, please send them to ucowf@comcast.net.

UCOWF Members Make a Difference

Update on UCOWF Proposal– Expanding Collections of State Debt through the Treasury Offset Program (TOP)

As part of President Obama’s commitment to crack down on improper payments and enhance program integrity, a Partnership Fund for Program Integrity Innovation was created to help States and localities find ways to save taxpayer dollars and deliver benefits more efficiently and effectively.  A “Collaborative Forum,” a group of 200+ stakeholders from Federal, state, local and the private sector representatives, was formed by the Partnership. The Forum has been working to generate and review ideas for innovate pilot projects.  To date, four proposals from the Forum have been approved for funding by OMB.

UCOWF submitted a proposal for State Debt Recovery via the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) in programs that have a federal financial component.  In January 2011, a notice was posted on the UCOWF website that our proposal was selected for funding consideration by the Forum Steering Committee.  In late May 2011, the Partnership Fund announced the pilot had been approved for funding.  The following is a summary of the Pilot:

This pilot will address debt owed in Federal funded programs in which States disburse payments – such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and Child Care – by matching  State-submitted debt with Federal payment information to simulate the potential to increase recoveries by authorizing TOP to offset Federal income tax refunds in more cases. The simulation will look at which state-managed programs should be referred, which payments should be offset, the potential amount of recovered funds, and the costs/benefits of this method of debt recovery. As a simulation, no actual offsets will be processed.  The evaluation will be constructed to validate matches to assess the potential for “false positives” in each of the programs.  In addition, the evaluation will explore the need for and potential efficiencies to be gained by consolidating state debt prior to submission to Treasury.  Each participating State will determine participating programs in consultation with Treasury.

UCOWF members, Denny Erickson, Sandy Smith and Laura Adkins, have been extensively involved in the Forum and other UCOWF members have provided input on several other potential proposals.   Denny Erickson has been taking the lead as UCOWF’s representative for the TOP pilot on the Forum.  He has been collecting and compiling information for Treasury and has been assisted by other UCOWF members Sandy Smith and Laura Adkins.  Seven States – Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin – have volunteered to participate in the pilot.  If you would like more information on the pilot project contact Denny.   His contact information is available in the UCOWF member listings.

You may also check out other pilots that have been approved at the Collaborative Forum website: http://collaborativeforumonline.com.

Please keep checking back to this website for additional information.

UCOWF Faces Challenges

What every member needs to know about the impact the current economic climate has on UCOWF

For the last three years, UCOWF has experienced dwindling revenues that have eaten away at the organization’s cash reserves.  UCOWF is a non-profit organization that maintains a small operating cash reserve.  When annual costs exceed annual revenues, they repeatedly erode that reserve.  This year the UCOWF Board of Directors were faced with making decisions that every member, business and government agency is making around the country: how to live within our means.  Please read this article all the way through to understand how the Board voted to change the way UCOWF does business in order to live within its means.

UCOWF principally earns money in two ways: dues and fees.  Membership and CWFI dues account for about 35 percent of our annual revenue.  Proceeds from conferences account for almost all of the remaining revenue (60 percent) our organization generates to operate each year.  There are small amounts that come from interest on Certificates of Deposit and CWFI Exam applications but they are virtually insignificant by comparison.

This year’s budget deficit is estimated to be over $11,000; just a little over ten percent of the cash reserves UCOWF has left.  At this rate, UCOWF is on a collision course with bankruptcy in nine years unless changes are made.  Simple economics tell us we either have to increase revenues, cut costs or both.

Most of what follows is a brief synopsis of very passionate and contentious discussions that took place during the UCOWF Board of Directors meeting in March 2011.  The discussions centered on what changes were needed to significantly reduce or reverse the annual drain from our operating reserve.

Increasing revenues to help balance the ledger

The Board of Directors discussed suggested changes in our dues and fees.  The UCOWF Regular Membership dues of $25 was the starting point of the discussion.  The $25 cost for an annual membership in UCOWF has remained unchanged for almost two decades.  Annual costs incurred by UCOWF to do business certainly haven’t remained unchanged in almost two decades and similar professional organizations require annual dues of up to ten times the amount UCOWF sets for its membership. Therefore, the Board has voted to raise the annual membership dues to $35.

Affiliate Membership dues were also discussed.  Affiliated state welfare fraud organizations pay UCOWF $5 for each of its member for an affiliate membership.  That cost has actually plummeted 60 percent from the previous charge of $12.50 per member and the Board considered the suggestion of raising the affiliation fee.  However, the state organizations are faring no better than UCOWF in most cases.  Some of our affiliated organizations are considering dissolving due to dwindling membership and lack of support for their statewide training conferences that generate their operating revenue. UCOWF has no intention of being a burden to any affiliated organization and the Board rejected the idea of trying to increase affiliate membership dues until such time as the economy, wages and prices stabilize in North America.

Our annual training conference fee was discussed and the Board agreed to a modest increase of $20 for the training conference.  The regular conference fee was set at $295 versus $275 for last year’s conference.  Costs associated with running a conference have leapt over the past few years; particularly the food and beverage costs.  That modest increase of the conference fees and membership dues will hopefully offset the increase costs associated with doing business.

Reducing costs to help balance the ledger

Over the past decade, UCOWF has done well reducing its annual operating costs.  In 2003, the Board elected to change its business model from a ‘dead tree’ operation to a web-based delivery of benefits. Economics forced UCOWF to look at greater efficencies from the costs of publishing, printing and mailing membership directories and quarterly newsletters.  Adopting the web-based delivery of member services pulled UCOWF back from the brink of insolvency.  The fact that UCOWF has lost a significant portion of its cash reserve over the last two years and still has reserves to stay afloat is proof of how significant that decision proved to be.  Unfortunately, there is no similar ‘silver bullet’ left for us to reduce costs so significantly.

This year UCOWF revamped the website as most members know.  Revamping the website happened for three reasons: to lower the cost of operating its web-based services, to provide more current and better content for members, and to provide a website where only paying members could take advantage of member benefits.  The new website lowers the annual web hosting cost of our site by almost 80 percent (from $960 to under $200) while providing more current, collaborative, relevant and interesting content.  It also provides a platform from which better services may be launched in the future.

UCOWF switched to an an on-line meeting service to conduct its Spring Board of Directors meeting; saving about $2500 in annual costs.  The process was a little ‘clunky’ at times but certainly allowed the Board to accomplish its work. Due to ongoing problems with the on-line meeting service, UCOWF switched to telephone meetings which seems to be working quite well. Of course nothing can compare to in-person meetings but we must work within our means. That telephone meeting format will be used for future Board Meetings.

UCOWF will no longer mail out membership pins, cards and certificates.  We hope to replace those with digital cards and certificates that can be printed off by the member if he or she chooses to do so. We will continue to mail out CWFI certificates.

The Board discussed ways of reducing costs that eat away at the revenues generated by conference and vendor fees.  Reduced conference attendance several years in a row kept UCOWF from generating enough to match operating costs. Two major changes resulted from cutting costs associated with our conferences: the conference fee will no longer include a one-year membership in UCOWF and the hosted lunch will no longer be conducted for the foreseeable future. These two changes will save UCOWF approximately $9K in conference-generated revenue, assuming an attendance of 150 and the cost of the hosted luncheon averaging about $35 per attendee.

The Board discussed reducing the number of members sponsored to attend the conference.  Although the program states that ‘up to ten’ members will be sponsored, the majority of the Board felt that this benefit was too important to reduce or eliminate.  The actual value of the program was over $8,000 last year ($5,000 in direct reimbursements for ten members, $2,600 in conference fees waived, $250 in conference-fee included memberships not collected, plus the cost of conference materials and the hosted food and beverage costs for those sponsored members).

The end result

With the changes that the Board has elected to make, we believe that UCOWF will be able to continue operating for at least another fifteen to twenty years without facing the threat of dissolution or mandating great increases in fees and dues.  In that fifteen to twenty years, it is inevitable that the economy will pick up and the challenges we now face because of a faltering economy, dwindling membership, and fading support for training from counties and states will be reversed and instead of losing money each year, UCOWF can begin to rebuild its operating reserves.

We always want to hear what members think and solicit their ideas about ways to make UCOWF better and stronger.  If any member has ideas or suggestions, please visit The Forum and leave your comments and ideas for improvement there.