Re: Election Boycott

Hello Everyone,

It seems that I should explain again why financial disclosure is
important to me and why I believe that we are not doing our job as
members if we are not evaluating and discussing foundation finances. The
issue is important enough to me, that I consider my membership in the
foundation useless without this information. If this seems silly to you,
great, simply ignore me and go code or document or use free software,
all of which are infinately more fun.

The two reasons I think financial disclosure is important:
        First, I believe that this issue is central to the purpose of
        the foundation. The foundation was formed *because* the one
        thing that the GNOME project could not do, without the
        foundation, was raise and spend funds to further the goals of
        the project. Since the managing of finances to effect positive
        change is *the (or a primary) reason* for the existance of the
        foundation, it seems obvious to me that access to the financial
        data is the way to evaluate the direction and effectiveness of
        the foundation and thereby to justify its continued existence. 
        Second, I suspect that increased transparency of the GNOME
        foundation to GNOME users could potentially make the GNOME
        desktop more relevant. The world of non-profits should be a
        *major* target of GNOME so developing a way to eat our own
        dogfood in financial oversight of the foundation might help make
        our desktop more relvant to others in that sector of the world

Steps towards a more transparent foundation:

Zero-effort steps:

1) Post all the completed documents in a directory on the web site. This
would include regulatory filings, accountants statements, periodic
reports, or documents presented to the board.

2) Take whatever is in GUIDESTAR and post it on the web site.

3) Place a link on the web site to the above directory.

Medium-effort steps:

1) Write an email (or several status reports) about the foundation status:

        # of full time/part time employees

        what provisions are being made for unemployment/retirement
        benefits of these employees (i.e. what *real* (not accoutant)
        long term liabilities we are undertaking.
        who are the accountants/who does the audits
        who are the donors and how much they give, how much they have
        changed over time. If I remember correctly we suggested charging
        a flat fee for commercial groups above a certain head count. Is
        this effective? are there any groups that would like to be part
        and can't afford to? are new groups coming on board all the
        How is the membership? Are new people joining every year? 

Larger steps: 

1) Develop a coherent policy of financial disclosure (what will be
disclosed, how, when).

2) Develop a systematic link between the accounts and the web site.

3) Promote the development of GNOME software tools to help the process
of transparency and oversight. This would require defining the data
available and allowing users access to such data.

4) Develop a system of regular reporting to the membership, in english,
in accoutantese, and in goverment speak, as is felt appropriate.

5) Get reports from the committees on their experience of the board and
finanacial responsiveness to committee needs.

These are not *demands* but rather invented suggestions for the work
that will lead the membership to have information to be able to evaluate
the foundation's work.

Please recognize that the aim for transparency is a multi-year
endevour. It is not obvious how to make it happen with a minimum of
work. I suspect that no one really knows how to make foundations
transparent so the board will be forced to work on this a little every
year. The foundation has existed for a number of years now and ought to
get started figuring out how to regularly increase the transparency of
its actions.

Finally, a note to each of you on the foundation. The work of the
foundation has now matured from its glamourous beginnings into the hard
sustained work of a multi-year process. It would be nice as you all
voted if you had a vision of what you wanted the foundation to be and
become. Do you want your foundation to be:
	a coordinating place for companies related to GNOME?
	an organizing committee for yearly meetings?
	a dispenser of funds help GNOME developers?
	...(left as an exercise for the reader)...?
Please don't simply vote for eleven people because there are eleven
slots open. That's passive democracy. Vote (or don't vote) to bring
about whatever vision you have.

good luck,
adrian custer

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