Committee Guidelines

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This is a proposed list of guidelines for OSGeo committees on effective operation OSGeo style. It is a rewriting of the Committee Chair Guidelines

How your OSGeo Committee Works

  • While input from all is welcome, a committee is an official body of the foundation, and should keep good track of it's own voting members. Committee members can be added and removed from the committee by motion in a duely established meeting.
  • By and large OSGeo committees should be operated on a consensus basis. If a committee members is strenuously objecting to something, all reasonable efforts should be made to hear their objections, and adapt policy in some commonly acceptable way. If that proves not to be possible a motion can be passed by a majority of committee assembled for a duely announced meeting. If voting is close enough that it is hard to know whether something has passed then consensus has not been achieved.
  • Generally speaking folks with skills and interest should be welcomed to join a committee. A large committee that isn't having problems reaching consensus is generally a good thing, if all or most members are actually contributing to the work of the committee. And the "cost" of inactive members is not high.
  • Note that anyone can become a committee member. Voting Members of OSGeo have no special status at the committee level, and we wish to encourage any qualified member of the community to get involved in committees.
  • A committee's chair is technically assigned by the board of directors.
  • If a chair is resigning, or if the committee would like to select a new chair, a motion on the topic should be fielded at a committee meeting and the result forwarded to the board for approval; this should be a formality. There should be no harm in the new chair acting as chair till this is finalized.
  • In theory, each committee is subject to the board, which can direct it by an official motion. This might be to alter policy, mandate, membership, chairmanship, or the existence of the committee. Individual board members cannot direct a committee.

Decision Making

When voting it is traditional to indicate support as "+1", a veto as "-1", weak support as "+0", and weak lack of support as "-0". If a motion isn't getting +1's from the majority of those present and voting perhaps it requires further discussion.

Chairs run meetings and should exercise some discretion in soliciting motions, when to declare the motion passed or whether to defer a controversial motion for further discussion and a vote at a later meeting (if it is felt that important parties are missing from the discussion).

Guidelines for Committee Chairs

  • Make sure your committee subdomain (ie. has a bit of content indicating the mission of the committee, the members and pointers to other documents.
  • Blow away all unneeded mailing lists. But there should be at least one mail committee email list with all members (and any other interested parties) subscribed.
  • Meetings should generally be via IRC, and announced well in advance by email on the committee mailing list. Use the World Clock like 1600 UTC to indicate time in all time zones (be sure to select the correct date so that day light is taken into account).
  • Recurring meeting times are desirable, and should be noted in the Foundation Calendar.
  • Meetings should have an agenda prepared ahead of time, usually in the wiki.
  • Generally speaking any interested parties should be welcomed to joining committee mailing lists, speak, and join IRC meetings. In IRC meetings the Chair will sometimes need to exert influence to keep discussions on topic and meetings progressing. Off topic discussions can be directed back to the mailing list.
  • For non-trivial matters it is encouraged that official motions of the committee be well formed and clear. For complex policies, they ought to be written up in advance of a meeting so the committee members have an opportunity to review them in advance.
  • Know your committees mandate. Generally a committee is formed by a motion of the board of directors, and that motion will include details on the responsibilities and role of the committee.