[foundation-board] re. problems with OKFn
metazool at gmail.com
Tue Nov 16 12:10:18 UTC 2010
On 15/11/2010 23:01, Paola Di Maio wrote:
> - Jo suggested my proposal would make a great project for OKFN, and got
> me on a call call with Johnny (minutes circulated). In this call
> Jonathan said that this project would fit very well OKFn,
> that is a position to get funding for it, that they were
> just going to met a deadline shortly
The contents of http://okfnpad.org/sldig have changed since we had that
Skype call. However, I do not recall *any suggestion at all* that OKF
would seek funding for a project proposal, or any discussion of a
deadline. I don't know what you're referring to here. Paola decided not
to make a project proposal to OKF, having reservations about the extent
to which the Foundation is run openly.
> - I was asked by Jo and Jonathan,, in various correspondence and on
> public list, to become an organisational consultant for OKFn, various
> analyses of processes were posted to list,
> - She entered my name on the wiki as 'invited organisational consultant[
Jonny had no part in this. I invited Paola to share her reflections with
the coord group, which was just being set up, in my position as Chair; I
found Paola's suggestions about project documentation, building lists of
operational tasks, setting a positive example around transparency of
management, to be helpful, in the context of my own concerns. It seems
clear that the invitation was a mistake on my part, overstepping the
position as Coord group chair. When I realised this, I stood down as
Coord chair and stopped asking Paola for feedback on my concerns.
However: I still feel that that there is a tension between the
"distributed, networked organisation" origins and ideals of OKF on the
one hand, and paid project work undertaken directly without clearly
documenting what is happening for the wider OKF community and beyond on
the other hand.
Given we are in this situation, it makes sense to find simple ways to
remain open about the work that is being done (publishing detail about
budgets, team members, deliverables, timescales) in ways that will make
it easier for people within and outwith OKF to see what is being done.
> - When it became obvious that OKFn is continuing its poor organisational
> practices deliberately
> (unless you intend to
> rectify the situation, is good to be given the chance to do the right
I've pointed out, and am doing so again, several ways in which OKF has
been addressing the call for more public documentation of process and
management. These all look like good-faith steps to improve - the
process has to take time...
- Updating the governance documentation on the website
- Catching up on publishing archive of board meeting minutes
- Hiring a project manager for CKAN and setting up a public developer list
- Recruiting a "projects coordinator" to be responsible for documenting
and reporting on paid project work for the Foundation
- Committing to publishing quarterly accounts summaries
- Drafting a "transparency clause" so that for new paid projects, we are
not in a situation where funders would be surprised by full disclosure
of what OKF is receiving
> - Jo that OKFn had money to pay for project work and consulting work,
> and also mentioned that in fact that you are paid to do (some ) of your
Jordan gives a lot of time for free to review and draft contracts for
OKF. In addition, he is receiving 200 euros/day - a massively discounted
personal rate - for a few days over the first few months of LOD2, for
interim project management while it's being set up.
> and that Mark had been paid to write a report on various issues
> that we discussed (therefore his report is not independent, and some of
> his conclusions incorrect and misleading).
Mark was hired to do this by Rufus directly, not by OKF. This also
emerges from Mark's research interests. His report is intended to help a
projects coordinator get going. I'm not sure how it could be made
'independent'. Paola, you made some criticisms which I forwarded to the
and I invited you and others to discuss in more detail there. But the
problem is that people feel under attack - small changes don't seem to
be enough, and the accusations get bigger. It seems important to focus
on incremental improvements to the situation, to practical things we can
> - I advised Jo that both her work and my work done for OKFn throughout
> the summer should also be paid
I asked about this on the coord and board lists, when I realised that I
was spending a day and a half per week taking on tasks that a projects
coordinator should reasonably be doing. I didn't get any kind of
positive response - I was told that I was taking on responsibilities
which weren't envisaged as the work of the Coord group chair.
So I stopped working on these tasks and stood down as Coord group chair.
> - Later in the summer was confirmed that the project outline I
> proposed was now a part of OKFn deliverable for LOD2
This just isn't the case. Paola discussed a directory of open government
data resources idea in a Skype chat with Jonny and I. This didn't result
in any kind of project proposal to OKF.
One of the LOD2 work packages is about a "GovData.EU" resource,
aggregating data from different European portals:
http://lod2.eu/WorkPackage/wp9.html This has been in the works for at
least a year, more like two. I don't think it's reasonable to say that
this is Paola's project idea. Many people have been thinking about open
government data registries in the wider continuum of open data interest.
> - In Graz I met Soren to discuss the details of the LOD deliverable ,
> who confirmed that the project was not public so it could be discussed,
> and that we would have to decide how to go about it,
At this time the contract with the European Commission had not yet been
signed. The details of the LOD2 proposal and work packages were
published at http://lod2.eu/ very quickly after the contract was signed.
> - Jo told me that she is currently no longer involved in the deliverable
> and that despite all the work done throughout the summer OKFn does not
> intend to collaborate with me on this nor to compensate me for the
> 'organisational consulting' work done
I was grateful for Paola's support in informal discussions; neither of
us had an expectation of being paid for the effort. When it got to the
point where there was a) considerable effort, b) lack of results, c)
negative response to request for financial support to keep doing it,
I stopped engaging with OKF coordination.
Since when things seem to have blown up out of proportion...
> - that you have used my proposal to get funding and then left me out of it
Perhaps it would be helpful to see a timeline. LOD2 proposal was
submitted when I was still living in Spain - at least 18 months ago -
and got initial notice that it would be funded at least 6 months ago.
> - that you can operate secretly because being a foundation you dont have
> to be accountable
> ie, nobody can come and check what you are doing with the money you get,
* Agreed to publish the balance sheet regularly (Quarterly). Should not
That this hasn't been done yet reflects lack of time, not lack of will.
I would really like to see the situation improve. But it's increasingly
difficult to discuss it constructively, where valid criticisms are being
thrown in with untruths (the suggestions that OKF's work in LOD2 has
'stolen' a project idea, or that OKF offered to help find funding for
I remain on the OKF board of directors and try to press for more public
discussion and up-front transparency of project documentation by
default. But it's increasingly hard to do so where I'm associated with
these unjust accusations of fraud and abuse. :(
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