From the ISKCON GBC – Minutes Of The Annual General Meeting – February 2017
313: Global Duties & Responsibilities of the Governing Body Commission[ISKCON Law]
Whereas the GBC wishes to formalize the understanding of its global services to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness;
Whereas it is important that duties and responsibilities be clarified at all levels of the Society;
Whereas the GBC wishes to produce a legacy document for the instruction and training of future GBC members:
That the document “Global Duties & Responsibilities of the Governing Body Commission (GBC)” is accepted as an official statement and shall be part of ISKCON Law.
(The following is an excerpt from the above mentioned document)
Three months after establishing the GBC, Srila Prabhupada wrote: “Formerly I issued one circular letter requesting all GBC members who are zonal secretaries also, to give me a fortnightly report of the activities in his jurisdiction, but I am not receiving. I’ve received no letter since a very long time from Karandhara, and I’m very interested to know how things are going in L.A. We have a great responsibility to pay $2,000. monthly to the church trustees.” (Letter to Rupanuga, October 28, 1970) Srila Prabhupada acted as overseer of the (then) twelve GBC members and was expecting regular reports of their zonal work. In his physical absence, the GBC should ensure that its commissioners and Zonal Secretaries fulfill their obligations and appropriately supervise and develop their zones, that its Ministers fulfill their mandates, etc.
Preventing neglect and entropy requires constant vigilance. Srila Prabhupada wrote to a GBC member: “You mention that you are no longer much occupied with seeing that the rent and mortgage is paid and that the incense is sold, but GBC means to be occupied with everything in the zone. It is not that now we are preachers we can neglect all other points. No, the GBC member is supposed to know everything and anything about the condition and situation of all matters within his jurisdiction. That is the meaning of secretary. So because we are engaged in many fields of activity I am especially relying upon that knowledge of my GBC assistants and secretaries to manage everything properly. But if we do not take time to understand how the financial matters are going on, then at any moment we may experience some calamity due to our inattention to these matters. Therefore, you should try to keep yourself always informed how the financial matters are improving and keep your watchful eye on every feature of our Krishna Consciousness activity. That is also part of preaching work. I am also preaching daily. But I am at the same time managing everything, seeing the statements of accounts, going to the bank, giving advice on every topic, like that. Just now I have purchased one apartment house with seven apartments just adjacent to the L.A. temple and very soon we shall invest in similar properties. So practically there is no question of my neglecting the financial matters of the society, and similarly, you shall do as I am doing. That is your real business.” (Letter to Satsvarupa, July 1, 1972)
Therefore Srila Prabhupada established the system of temple presidents regularly reporting to their GBC Zonal Secretaries: “In his last GBC report, Rupanuga Maharaja wrote that you are delinquent in sending him regular reports. The system of 18 temple presidents sending twice monthly reports to the GBC was devised by me to facilitate my receiving news of all the centers through the GBC. You are free to write me directly when the occasion arises, but do not neglect to send regular reports to Rupanuga Maharaja.” (Letter to Trai, February 1, 1974)
Of course, only the most important data and issues should come to the attention of the whole Governing Body Commission, but the Body should maintain a general awareness of what’s going on and verify that its representatives systematically oversee all aspects of the movement. Srila Prabhupada wanted to institute a culture of accountability and transparency, especially in regard to finances: “I am glad that you have admitted about the GBC members not very appropriately discharging their duty. I do not mind this discrepancy but you should be alert; you and all GBC members. We are now growing in volume all over the world dealing with public money. People have respect for our movement. Now it is time for GBC members to be very very careful . . . So far you are concerned, being the zonal secretary of that quarter of the world, your duty is to see that all our different centers within your jurisdiction must be going very accurately. The accounts are not being kept very scientifically . . . I have seen the rough trial balance in which it is stated that about Rs 13,000/- was spent for travelling expenditure. Of course you are all sons of big rich Americans so it may not be very big amount for you but we poor Indians, to us it is a shocking amount.” (Letter to Tamal Krishna, September 1, 1971)