Board of Directors

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OSGeo Foundation Board of Directors

The board is elected by the Charter members as outlined in the Board Election Procedure.

Period: September 2013 - August 2015

Period: September 2014 - August 2016

More detailed information is available in the Board Member Profiles.

Meeting timeslots

Meetings

Next meeting
Previous meetings

Skate-Boarding

Aka Board sprint -- Board will get more often together, possibly via Hangout/Skype session and work through tasks, which are on the prepared list. Idea comes from agile development technique Scrum, with their sprints.

Anne: See the parallel Skate-Boarding of Fedora at http://fedoramagazine.org/lets-talk-about-fedora-project-objectives/ - I really like the idea of having 18 months goals, that are measurable, backed up by community agreement. Let's discuss this at the first Sprint. There are also some thoughts on Ubuntu governance that can inspire us, but I haven't gone through the whole discussion yet, and there are many differences between OSGeo and Ubuntu; so I'm not sure on how much we can learn from it.

Meeting Archive

2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - Earlier.

Board Priorities

This section outlines OSGeo board priorities, which is used as a basis for setting funding priorities and OSGeo's strategic direction. These priorities should be periodically revisited by the board, and refined over time.

Help us also estimate our current status in the SWOT_Analysis analysis.

Core principles are:

  • OSGeo should act as a low capital, volunteer focused organisation.
  • OSGeo should focus support on OSGeo communities and initiatives which support themselves.

Current priority areas include:

  • Global, regional and local FOSS4G related events, or events which include a FOSS4G stream.
  • Marketing OSGeo, which is currently focused around OSGeo-Live.
  • Education, which is currently focused around the network of Open Source Geospatial Research and Education Laboratories.
  • Local Chapters, as outreach initiatives are typically driven at the local level.

Expanding on these priorities:

OSGeo as a low capital, volunteer focused organisation

Should OSGeo act as a high capital or low capital organisation? I.e., should OSGeo dedicate energy to collecting sponsorship and then passing out these funds to worthy OSGeo causes.

While initially it seems attractive to have OSGeo woo sponsors, because we would all love to have more money to throw at worthy OSGeo goals, the reality is that chasing money is hard work. And someone who can chase OSGeo sponsorship is likely conflicted with chasing sponsorship for their particular workplace. So in practice, to be effective in chasing sponsorship, OSGeo will probably need to hire someone specifically for the role. OSGeo would then need to raise at least enough to cover wages, and then quite a bit more if the sponsorship path is to create extra value.

This high capital path is how the Apache foundation is set up, and how LocationTech propose to organise themselves. It is the path that OSGeo started following when founded under the umbrella of Autodesk.

However, as OSGeo has grown, OSGeo has slowly evolved toward a low capital volunteer focused organisation. Our overheads are very low, which means we waste very little of our volunteer labour and capital on the time consuming task of chasing and managing money. Consequently, any money we do receive (from conference windfalls or sponsorship) goes a long way - as it doesn't get eaten up by high overheads. This low capital path is something that is working very well for us, and the path we should continue to follow.

Support initiatives which support themselves

With the thousands of great initiatives and opportunities that OSGeo could get involved in, and limited budget, how should OSGeo set funding priorities? Acknowledging that our volunteer community is blessed with many talented individuals, our most effective way to tap into community potential is to welcome individuals to "help scratch their itch". Extending on this, funding priorities should follow the actions of already successful communities. (Note the difference between "talk" and "action"). If a task or project is important enough, it will attract volunteers and/or sponsors to make it happen. In practice, this will usually equate to providing co-contributions rather than outright funding.

OSGeo's focus should be on initiatives which are of value to all or most OSGeo projects, and to get best value for our limited budget, OSGeo should target initiatives which have high value with minimal investment.

With that in mind our priorities should be:

  • Cover the costs of running OSGeo: Bank fees, insurance, infrastructure, hosting etc.
  • Support marketing and out reach activities, with a primary focus on our FOSS4G global conference, followed by regional and then local FOSS4G or related events.
  • Educational type activities are a high priority, but likely will be a zero cost activity from OSGeo's perspective.
  • Other initiatives which fit our priorities, as suggested by membership.

Initiatives which probably wouldn't quality:

  • Sponsoring core development of a particular project. (Too expensive, and only supports one project)
  • OSGeo speaker travel expenses, or booth registration costs at a conference. (If conferences/local community feel this is important, they will either: 1. pay for the keynote, 2. make use of local talent, 3. waive fees for our non-profit, 4. find a local sponsor)

Conferences and related events

Conferences are financially risky events. They need to be planned well in advance, and you are never sure how many people will turn up, or whether some global event will have a substantial impact on registrations. Consequently, conferences such as FOSS4G require financial guarantees up front in order to secure a venue. To support and enable these conferences, OSGeo will endevour to retain sufficient capital to offer such guarantees for any FOSS4G event requesting it. If OSGeo's support is requested, then OSGeo would expect these events to budget for a modest profit under conservative estimates, and for OSGeo to retain profits from such events. To date, such profits, while relatively modest, have been OSGeo's primary income source.

Other spatial conferences regularly request an OSGeo involvement, such as providing presenters, workshops, OSGeo-Live DVDs for distribution, or providing a booth. OSGeo facilitates such requests to the level we can achieve with interested volunteers, but typically expects the conference or sponsors to cover expenses.

OSGeo has limited budget set aside for code sprints, which are seen as a valuable forum for giving directly back to development teams. OSGeo will typically expect co-contributions from interested sponsors, and would prefer to support code sprints which are of benefit to multiple projects and communities.

Education

OSGeo is very supportive of educational initiatives which is helping the spread of OSGeo to students across the globe. This is currently focused around the growing network of Open Source Geospatial Research and Education Laboratories within Universities around the world.

This educational initiative is currently progressing well without requiring OSGeo's financial support.

Packaging and Marketing

OSGeo's marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend, osgeo4w. In 2012, OSGeo-Live was used at 45 events without OSGeo's financial support. It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local events or sponsors.

In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable banner).

In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.

Local Chapters

Much of OSGeo's marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned above.

Sponsorship

OSGeo will continue to welcome sponsorship. Due to OSGeo's low capital model, we are able to make sponsor's contribution provide substantial benefit to the greater OSGeo community. In return, we promote sponsors' logos on our website and through our OSGeo-Live marketing pipeline (which was used at 45 geospatial events around the world in 2012).

However, OSGeo doesn't plan to either task volunteers with specifically chasing sponsors, or hire someone to chase sponsorship on OSGeo's behalf.

See Also

Suggested involvement from board members

(This section is still in draft format.)

What is expected from OSGeo's Board of Directors? Legal details are listed in section 3 of our bylaws. This section provides addition practical guidelines to help set expectations between the community and the board about the level of effort involved in the volunteer director role. It aims to advise on likely time commitments, as well as clarify the limits of what should be expected. Note that these are suggestions rather than rules:

Focus
The board's primary responsibility is to efficiently and effectively make strategic decisions related to the running of OSGeo. In many (most?) cases, this will involve validating decisions already made by OSGeo's subcommittees. (bylaws section 3.1).
Payment (lack of)
Directors are not paid for their service (bylaws section 3.4), but director should not be out of pocket when working for the board. For instance, a board member should be refunded travel expenses, and possibly lost wages, if requested to travel on behalf of the board. [TBD: "compensation for lost wages" is yet to be agreed upon by the board.]
Time Commitment
Directors should expect to spend 4 to 12 hours per month of their spare time on board activities. Directors will need to fit board responsibilities around external commitments, such as a full time job and family. Directors should sometimes contribute a little more, maybe negotiating with the community or external organisation, collating or developing ideas and writing them up, doing some extra research to back a decision, or helping with administrative work like taking minutes.
Monthly meetings
Directors should attempt to attend all board meetings, which happen once per month, for ~ 1 to 1.5 hours. Selection of meeting timeslots are to be negotiated to try and suit all members. Directors should read and contribute to the agenda beforehand. If unable to attend, the board member should attempt to provide opinions on issues before hand, and vote on motions afterwards.
Face to face meetings
OSGeo Directors often attend conferences such as FOSS4G as part of their professional or personal interest, and these offer an opportunity for board members to meet face-to-face. Attendance at one or two of these events per year is encouraged, but not required. (Directors who cannot travel to events can still make very valuable contributions to the board.)
Email list
Directors should monitor and contribute toward discussions on the board email list, and aim to vote on motions within 2 working days. There are typically a dozen email topics, absorbing ~ 2 hours reading/writing per month.
Advocacy
Directors should be prepared to represent OSGeo locally, possibly internationally, typically by presenting or manning an OSGeo booth at conferences, in line with our [[OSGeo Advocate] program. Note the Advocate policy on Expenses.
See Also

Documents

Mailing list

The http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/board mailing list is used for most public board discussions. There is also a private board mailing list used only for matters that are considered needful to be kept private.

Previous OSGeo Foundation Boards of Directors

An interim Board of Directors with 5 members was elected on February 4th, 2006, by the initial members of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. On March 18th, 2006, the board has been completed to now total nine members:

Potential FAQ

Q: What do board members do?
A: http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Director_Responsibilities

Q: That doc doesn't say anything about meetings. How often to board members meet?
A: The foundation bylaws say the board meets after the after the annual members meeting and then at regular meetings on a schedule fixed by directors. In practice, the board schedules monthly meetings in addition to the annual face-to-face meeting after the AGM at the FOSS4G conference.

Q: How are board decisions made?
A: The bylaws (section 4.5) describe that a majority of members must be present for an event to be considered a meeting. At a meeting, each member present is given one vote. Strictly speaking (according to the bylaws) an affirmative vote by the majority of members present at a meeting constitutes a decision by the board. In practice, we don't consider a motion passed if there are any negative votes (TODO: document the +1, +0, -0, -1 voting procedure if needed).

Q: Is an IRC gathering a meeting?
A: The bylaws (section 4.4) say that an electronic medium may be used and an event will constitute a meeting if members can hear one another at the same time. In practice, we often have IRC meetings and then have a vote by voice if there are items that need voting on (TODO: document the convention on email voting if this is an alternative to voice voting).

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