FSF takes next step in commitment to improving board governance
As first announced in April, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) board has been pursuing a series of actions to strengthen and modernize the foundation’s governance structure and processes. The goal of these efforts is to better prepare the organization for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
After a series of interviews with various firms, the board has retained a professional consultant to help the FSF devise and execute the changes needed to optimize the impact of the board and the organization.
During an initial six-month engagement, the firm will work with board members and FSF stakeholders to devise a range of systems and infrastructure that lead to:
A transparent community-supported process for identifying new board members and evaluating current board members;
A board member agreement that clearly outlines the responsibilities of all board members;
A code of ethics that articulates the values of the FSF and conveys a set of principles to guide its decision making and activities, as well as the behavior of its board members, officers, employees, and volunteers; and,
More focused and streamlined board processes that encourage consistent attention on FSF’s most pressing needs.
In addition, FSF executive director John Sullivan has begun recruiting candidates to succeed him as the organization’s chief employed officer. Completing his 18th year with the foundation, John is continuing in his role leading FSF’s day-to-day operations, managing all union and non-union staff, and serving as a clerk to the board.
With an active search for candidates underway, John is committed to assisting until a successful candidate is hired and onboarded.
The board is also evaluating the first proposed changes to its bylaws since 2002. The goals of these revisions are to ensure that user freedom cannot be compromised by changes in the board, members, or hostile courts, with particular focus on the future of the various GNU General Public Licenses (GPL); to codify the implementation of the staff seat created on March 25, 2021; and, to align the bylaws with the outcomes of the ongoing effort to modernize the foundation’s governance structure and processes.
As FSF continues to pursue its mission, the board believes these collective efforts will strengthen the organization’s governance, ensuring that it is transparent, accountable, and professional for current and future board members, associate members, staff, and the broader free software movement. These efforts also underscore the board’s recognition of the need to attract a new generation of activists for software freedom and to grow the movement.
The board thanks all FSF stakeholders for their support, and will continue to report our discussions and activities to the community as it moves forward.