Before my transfer from the Engineering Department to the Writing Department in 1989, the architect designing a 30-story staff residence building (that was about to be built near the four Watchtower printery buildings) mentioned to me his need for a professional cost analysis system to be put into place for future building projects. He designed the buildings but the Accounting Department paid the bills.
Consequently, after a project was completed, building costs were not shared with him. Since I was familiar with a bookkeeping system that could provide a breakdown of all segments of a construction project’s cost, I offered to design one for him to use for the new project.
After deliberation and approval by administrators, they made arrangements for me to work directly with the major New York construction company that was erecting the building. In effect, we had our own small accounting department. I received and paid all the bills associated with the project and did a monthly analysis of all costs associated (including overhead) with the project. I was amazed to learn that such an analysis had never been undertaken before. Without factoring in overhead costs along with materials, I knew that a construction business could easily go bankrupt. But Watchtower’s venture into the construction of large buildings throughout the world was a whole different matter.
At that time Watchtower’s Accounting Department didn’t have a cost accounting system in place – so building costs were not regulated and corruption could not be spotted. During a conversation with two prominent JW construction overseers who were directing different aspects of Watchtower’s worldwide expansion program, I was shocked to hear about large-scale thievery of heavy equipment and materials while being transferred from country-to-country. However, due to the constant flow of donations coming into the JW organization, these overseers lamented that it didn’t seem to matter to those who managed the financial affairs where the money went – as long as donations continued to flow in.