Board/Minutes/2020-10-S2S/Develop plan for conflict of interest on Working Groups

From OpenStreetMap Foundation

Notes by participants. Might be enriched.
Addition of background and some minor changes by Dorothea.

This session took place in parallel with the session "Managing staff - what questions need to be resolved". A summary of this session was provided to the other group.


Board members

  • Paul Norman
  • Rory McCann
  • Tobias Knerr

The rest of the board members participated in the parallel session "Managing staff - what questions need to be resolved".



Added post-meeting.

Related to takeover protections.

The board on 2020-05 adopted the following Conflict of Interest Policy and decided to consult the Working Groups (WGs) if there should be a Conflict of Interest policy for WGs and committees and what changes have to be made to the board CoI policy to make it applicable to these groups.

Past board discussions related to Conflict of Interest:


What does success look like:

  • default Conflict of Interest (CoI) rules for Working Groups (WGs) that don't specify otherwise

Report on the board's CoI/Working Groups consultation:
mostly apathy, some opposition. Board said Working Groups still make decisions, so there needs to be a CoI. It might discourage some volunteers, but that might be a good thing.

All 3 agree WGs can have CoIs & there should be a CoI policy.

Communication Working Group (CWG) recent discussion about CoI with regards to HOT request. Is this a CoI policy or a general editorial policy?

Different WGs do different things. When decisions are being made, should a CoI apply?

Should different WGs have different CoIs? e.g. Data Working Group (DWG) cares about what country a person is in, e.g. someone in China arbitrating disputes in that geographic area.

Can/Should the board overrule a very weak CoI rule from a WG? mostly in favour of the board being allowed to do that.

The board can look at this on a case by case basis.

Most working groups are fine with a CoI, but it's beneficial to have things in writing so everyone agrees and knows what's allowed.

This group supports WGs having CoI rules, and recognised WGs can have different rules.

What should the “default WG CoI” be?

  • Copy/paste the osmf board rules.
    • It's good enough for the board
    • It would be bad for the board to request WGs to follow stronger rules than the board is willing to follow.
  • ??

What should be on a default CoI?

What should happen with employment. OSM(F) WGs do not have 'seats' for corporate members.

Board CoI rules has things about your employment, and who your employer is. So that should already mostly be covered by the board CoI. We think some WG members want to purely promote their employer.

Good Governance would require that groups have CoIs. As part of OSMF being "more profesh(ional)", and doing serious business, all WGs should on paper have a CoI rule.


  • There should be a default Conflict of Interest (CoI) [policy] for Working Groups (WGs).
  • Board CoI is a good first draft/possible final form for WG CoI template.
  • Board may need to overrule a WG's CoI rule they give themselves if that document is not good.
  • Some WGs have different needs for CoI, some topics come up for some WGs, some don't.

Action item

  • Paul to create version of board CoI to be applicable to Working Groups.

Pending issues, not addressed

  • Board would need to vote for all WGs to have CoI.
  • Other kinds of issues arising from WG members’ affiliations, separate topic (e.g. “editorial policy for CWG”).