Microgrants team Hanna Chris Clifford Geoffrey
Janet was excused
Others Joost (OSMF Board) Michael Collinson (Observer) Craig Allan (Observer)
Intro about the selection process
As this was the first meeting with the outside observers, Chris started with a rundown of previous steps. See below for an observer's report.
- deviding into five groups by member
- reviewing basic requirements
- recommending the ones you reviewed
- flagging possible issues
- endorsing the projects other team members have reviewed
Response by the Board
A first proposal (which went beyond the envisioned policy) was sent to the board. The following notes are largely based on the feedback recieved.
- one candidate only submitted for OSMF membership after the deadline for submission. Policy document: "Applicants must be OSMF member (but can apply for membership at the same time as the grant application)." > this project unfortunately needs to be eliminated
- a project where there is a mapping stipend, which is pretty close to paid mapping. The policy document mentions "Traditional paid mapping" as unlikely to be accepted. Stipend is 80 times 20 euro, but not clear what that means. From Wikipedia: "Most of Kibera slum residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.00 per day."
- a project with a lot of equipment bought, but it seems like a small company will be the owner. "Funding for shared mapping equipment." is a good idea. Policy note: ownership of equipment after the project should be explicitely in the policy document
- general remark from the Board: you can ask for modifications or not accept certain costs
- Policy note: Licensing of produced works should be open source. This was in fact defined in the policy document, but could perhaps be better qualified?
- Eliminating unnecessary costs: video conferencing can go through the OSMF bbb instead of own bbb or zoom
Observers Report by Craig Allan
As this is the first meeting held with Observers, it is appropriate to provide some background information. The meetings of the Microgrant committee were initially closed to non-members, despite an OSMF policy requirement for meetings to be open by default. Following discussion at the Board meeting of 6th May 2020, and at the Microgrant commit on the 11th May 2020, the OSMF Secretary issued a general call for interested members to apply to attend the meetings. Four members expressed interest. The Board then passed Resolution 28, appointing two observers drawn from the four interested members. The minuted decision did not specify the basis of selection of the observers, nor make any suggestion regarding the role of the observers.
Role of the Observers
From the limited information available I decided that it would be appropriate to adopt a role similar to that of an Election Observer, or perhaps an Auditor. In my experience Election Observers are present at polling stations and counting stations to, by their presence, reduce or eliminate a variety of risks that any selection process may face, including corruption, bias of many possible kinds and procedural flaws and errors. In addition, such Observers take care not to participate in, or attempt to influence the process.
I communicated the essence of the above paragraphs to the chair of the meeting before the meeting.
There were two observers. I chose to not make contact with the other observer to ensure clear independence if an enquiry arose.
Microgrant Commmittee Meetings
Prior to 4th June
The selection of proposed microgrant grantees had been completed in prior meetings, held before the 4th June. The Board had been provided with a list of suggested grantees. The Board returned the list to the Microgrant committee with a request to review the grantees full compliance with the schedule of stated requirements.
All of the above process happened before the observers were appointed. As I did not observe any of the earlier process, I have no comment on it. In the next cycle, I recommend that Observers are included in all meetings.
Meeting of 4th June
The meeting started on time but relocated conferencing from Jitsi to Big Blue Button after failing to fix technical problems. BBB worked well. Five members and two observers were present. One member had given their apologies prior to the meeting. There is no published quorum for the committee, so the meeting was quorate by default. The only item discussed by the committee was the return of the list of suggested grantees by the Board for review. A number of projects with possible problems were identified in discussion. The discussion was informal, open and without any intimidation or interference.
One principled decision made was that it was necessary to consider projects exactly as they were submitted, and to avoid making obvious small changes that would remedy defects in the applications.
Another discussion on principle was around observing a prohibition on paid mapping - discussion followed on whether small stipends paid to participants or organisers would constitute paid mapping, or not.
The microgrant specifications are not clear on the policy around ownership and further use of capital items (laptops, cameras, drones etc) after conclusion of the project. The committee was concerned that in future specifications it should be made clear that capital goods must be community owned during and after the conclusion of the funded project.
There was concern that all the deadlines in the application criteria should be met. There were applications with deadline transgressions, but there was no suggestion of relaxing deadlines for any projects.
There was clear general preference for projects that were linked directly to or supporting OSM structures or systems. Project with weaker links to OSM were singled out for review.
Towards the conclusion of the meeting, the list of proposed grantees was trimmed down with decisions based on the above discussions. The final list contained more projects than the initial 10 proposed, but overall costs were below the financial ceiling as not all projects used the full possible grant. The committee were concerned about deviating from their specification but motivated the deviation by identifying the inclusion of the additional projects at no extra cost as a compromise that benefits the OSM community.
The committee functioned democratically, acted honestly, fairly, in good faith and were concerned to act in the best interests of the broader OSM community. The committee is reasonably diverse, representing young and old, male and female and black and white persons from developed and developing countries in three continents. Members were all apparently fluent in English. I could not detect any bias, disadvantage or domination by any member or clique of members.