[OSGeo-Board] Some whining from the outside

Gary Lang gary.lang at autodesk.com
Fri Aug 11 16:19:22 PDT 2006

GL> below

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael P. Gerlek [mailto:mpg at lizardtech.com] 
Sent: Friday, August 11, 2006 2:08 PM
To: board at board.osgeo.org
Subject: [OSGeo-Board] Some whining from the outside

Dear Board:

I'm writing this note because I'm becoming increasingly concerned about
our foundation's ability to "get stuff done" -- and, perhaps more
importantly, I'm starting to hear (privately) grumblings from others.  I
know I personally am starting to stall out, wondering if this is all
going to work.

Some questions and issues currently floating around include:

- What is the status of our budget?  

GL> Same as we said at the F2F. I am hearing a request to revisit this
though which will revise it downward

And what is the state of OSGeo's
finances?  (How much do we actually have?  Is it "our" money, or is it
still Autodesk's?)

GL> When OSGeo says it needs x$$ to do something, like hire an Executive
Director, I go and get it. I have to get it on a quarterized basis.
That's; my limit as a sponsor. So we have what we budgeted in Chicago I
have asked for, and I so far have been able to draw from that every
quarter. I spend no other part of the received money that OSGeo doesn't
ask for.

- What is the status of getting an Executive Director?  Several weeks
ago at the F2F some consensus was reached, and some candidate names were
mentioned, but we have not seen any action on this.

GL> Based on the F2F meeting and budget we came up with, as per the
above, I went and got that money approved. Now the board is revisiting
this decision. I would like to move forward so that we could support the

- What is the status of doing a binary stack?  Again, this was discussed
at the F2F but I'm not sure what action has been taken.

- What is the process for approving a move to the new Drupal-based site
Jo and Tyler are working on?  It appears to be the right move, and
people are putting time and effort into it as we speak, but I'm not sure
this has been "blessed" yet.  What needs to be done?

- It appears that the board only posts minutes to the Wiki, but no real
summary of what is transpiring (not everyone reads the Wiki updates or
watches IRC or subscribes to the board list, for example)  This gives
the appearance of either inactivity or behind-the-curtain activity,
neither of which are desirable.

- Did we ever formally announce when the next board will be elected?  At
least one person has (privately) suggested the current board is not
optimal anymore.

- What is the role of Lisa L?  She described herself to me as having
been hired to help OSGeo; if so, I don't see her as yet being active or
engaged.  What is the scope of her abilities and responsibilities, and
how can we take advantage of that resource?  And what, if any, relation
is there between her role and hiring our own Exec Director?

GL> Lisa L is a contractor to help Autodesk with MapGuide. I myself just
heard of her and met her at OSCON. I think we had role confusion there.
She has been realigned with her role within Autodesk. Hey, it's a big

Obviously there are a lot of good things going on: our "name" is out
there now and being recognized; the geodata committee is getting noticed
in lots of interesting places; we have a number of local groups coming
together; and the development projects continue doing great development.

But, I fear we have not made much progress on doing the actual work that
will bring value to the OSGeo "brand" -- things like creating a central
portal we can all work under, providing a 24x7 hosting and builds
service, designing a download site and populating it.

GL> These are my concerns as well.

We are a volunteer organization, which makes it hard to make Big
Decisions.  The Benevolent Dictator model is easy in that one person
directs things; if others disagree, they can fork and life goes on.
OSGeo doesn't use that model, which means that those empowered at the
top need to be able to act collectively and decisively -- and delegate

I think that the immediate hiring of an Executive Director would do
three important things:
  - show our members that we are moving confidently forward
  - provide a mechanism for the board's agreed-to high-level goals and 
    wishes to be acted on
  - provide a mechanism for the foundation's lesser goals and everyday
    to be acted on swiftly

Thank you.


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