[foundation-board] URGENT: Problems with a specific individual and OKF projects

Jo Walsh metazool at gmail.com
Mon Nov 15 16:11:24 UTC 2010

Before i nip into a telecon, a five-minute background note from me.

I met Paola through the Open Knowledge Scotland event I co-organised 
back in May. She gave a talk about some of her PhD work which is on open 
governance, "Knowledge engineering for systems re-use".

She was interested potentially in bringing a project to the Foundation, 
building a directory of open government data registries and resources.
This got into questions about how OKF was run - how the Board was 
selected, how decisions were made, how participation was possible.
She identified several areas in which she viewed OKF process as lacking 
integrity -
1) Insufficient information about paid project work undertaken by the 
foundation - no documentation online about project budgets, teams, 
2) Self-selecting Board with no clear process for renewal, generally 
difficult to find minutes (which hadn't been updated in a while), bylaws 

Paola made useful practical suggestions - making a task list rather than 
focusing on specific roles - outlines for project documentation - and I 
asked her to join the coord group list and share her reflections.
The issues Paola identified, particularly around public accountability 
for paid work on OKF projects, had been in the back of my mind for some 
months. We've done something to address them since (updating the Board 
meeting minutes, moving on hiring a coordinator, committing *in 
principle* to publishing accounts quarterly, considering adding a 
transparency clause up-front to new contracts) but these things take 
time to work through and to get right.

So I would say this is the cause of Paola's ongoing dissatisfaction - 
that OKF is still carrying out the majority of its Board proceedings in 
private, beyond a need for that, and that we don't declare and document 
the paid work that OKF is doing, the percentage we take as a tithe over 
what contractors earn, etc etc. These things are still problems, there 
is a risk that not addressing them will undermine the Foundation's 
future credibility.

Paola has been a good friend to me - i saw quite a lot of her over the 
summer. I've only seen her odd hours at weekends, with Archer, since the 
beginning of September, and we haven't discussed OKF at all.
I'm confused by the recent spin-out into disinformation that has occurred.

I would like to see a good-faith attempt to fix the issues that have 
been raised, above, and think that would be a good way to move beyond 
this while being constructive, not descending into a pit of 

Okay this has been more like 15 minutes than 5. Hope it helps.

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