[okfn-coord] Consultancy - best practice guidelines

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Thu Nov 5 17:46:14 UTC 2009

Apologies for delayed response on this -- came through last week's
sysadmin crisis ...

2009/10/27 Becky Hogge <becky.hogge at gmail.com>:
> Guys (and gals!)
> Here are my notes showing where Jordan and I have got to on the
> consultancy guidelines process. Please provide your comments /
> reactions, and then we can have a go at drafting the guidelines.

First, a big thank-you to you and Jordan for your work on this.

> An aside - Since starting to think about this, I've been flirting with
> the idea of us setting up another corporate entity to deal with
> consultancy, which had for-profit mems and arts with a provision that
> all net profits were handed over to the OKFN to further their
> activities and goals. Is there any appeitite for investigating this
> among the rest of the Board members?

This has also been going through my head under the rubric "Open
Knowledge Consulting" or the like. I note Jordan's comments about the
overhead but we should definitely weigh this as a serious option.


> OKFN Consultancy Guidelines

I've posted these up on the wiki so we have them in more permanent form:



(All of this stuff was great)

> One solution
> =========
> One solution would be to draft a set of guidelines that the Board
> should adher to, and then stick to them. The guidelines should be
> shared with the wider OKFN community and revisions suggested by the
> community could be considered by the Board. In addition, a dispute
> resolution process should be agreed upon to address a future situation
> where either individual members of the Board or members of the wider
> community believe the guidelines have been breached.
> These guidelines, while addressing the potential conflicts listed
> above, should have at their heart:
> *transparency: letting everyone know what's going on, including those
> on the discuss list
> *exemption from voting by those benefiting from the contract
> *disclosure: telling everyone when you have an interest.
> *value: work done in OKF's name should deliver value to the client,
> and should be of a quality that OKF supporters can be proud of

This seems great. Thoughs/questions:

1. There's a distinction to be made b/w work (be it consultancy or
grants or ...) that directly relates to an OKFN project or area of
work and one that is more tangential. For example, the current work
for AidInfo I feel clearly falls in the latter (tangential) category
while our work on CKAN for HMG into the former.

2. There's a feeling that there might be quite a lot of the more
tangential work and it might generate quite a bit of revenue.

I think it here that most of the issues lie -- and that issue of
potential conflict of interest related to income on a particular
project is much more secondary.

Going forward I think it may be hard for the OKFN (especially if we
get network members etc) to take on too much tangential work even with
good guidelines in place (though we should definitely have them

If so the logical thing will be to hive it off into Open Knowledge
Consulting or the like. OKF(N) could continue to take on grant money
and payment for work directly related to OKF(N) purposes.

There would still be a need for guidelines though as I imagine that
there would be sharing of personnel b/w the two entities.


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