[Owasp-board] OWASP Whistleblower Policy Updates

Josh Sokol josh.sokol at owasp.org
Thu Nov 13 05:39:52 UTC 2014


The confidentiality piece is an interesting one and I feel like it really
becomes a situational thing.  My biggest concern is that when initially
disclosed, an accusation feels more like an attack to the accused, but
without the ability to defend oneself.  On the other end, you have people
who feel like a public ruling is a violation of our code of ethics because
it can "injure and impugn" their professional reputation.  That said, we
are an open organization and having a truly transparent process fits that
mold.  But then again, what about a more personal situation involving
sexual harassment or similar?  Publicly disclosing that could lead to
unwanted embarrassment.  I'll be the first one to say that I don't have a
good answer here and would be willing to listen if someone feels
passionately about it one way or the other.

I like the general idea of imposing a time limit for the reasons you
mentioned.  My concern is that our Compliance Officer is only one person
and can be handling multiple issues at one time.  We also have to keep in
mind that they are 100% volunteer in this capacity and putting time
constraints on them could be very stressful and lead to a less effective
investigation in order to fit it in the timeframe.  I'm not sure how much
sense it would make to time-box this.

Yes, you are right.  Independence, not neutrality, is really the more
fitting word here.  I've changed it.  Thanks for your feedback.  I love
your passion Andrew!

~josh

On Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 10:57 PM, Andrew van der Stock <vanderaj at owasp.org>
wrote:

> The policy is big on keeping things confidential. Now I do think this can
> be helpful to diffuse hot tempers, but is it actually necessary? I am happy
> if this is a policy that is adopted from a formal DRP or whistleblowers
> policy, and that's the norm for this type of policy.
>
> Time limits. It always seems like Australia is a breeding ground for bush
> lawyers, but one of the issues we had over the last three years is a sports
> doping scandal. The regulator took a very long time to come to a
> conclusion. Should the policy put in guidelines for timely conclusions? I
> would like to see all investigations investigated and finalised within 90
> days to be fair on the person being investigated as well as provide a timly
> outcome for those whose complaints are upheld. Is this possible and still
> maintain quality of results?
>
> Lastly, I think "neutrality" is a good goal, but independence is the word
> I think you mean when the policy says "neutral". The compliance officer not
> only needs to be independent, so as to enable investigations where
> Foundation or Board members are the complainants or the subject of an
> investigation, but also they need to be strong enough to resist efforts to
> compromise their independence, such as limiting scope of investigations
> (such as restricting the time or the nature of the complaint). I strongly
> feel that the Compliance Officer should be able to set their own terms of
> reference and run the complaints process without interference.
>
> Andrew
>
> On Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 3:03 PM, Josh Sokol <josh.sokol at owasp.org> wrote:
>
>> 1. The compliant officers role as neutral conciliator / mediator
>>> It might be people hesitate in filing an official complaint, as this is
>>> a harsh measure, and reaching out to the compliant officer as neutral party
>>> in an not yet escalated conflict.
>>> The current policy does not describe this possibility, it comes close to
>>> "IV. Commitment to Peaceful Conflict Resolution", but without filing an
>>> official compliant.
>>> This could be in chapter "IX. Compliance Officer".
>>> Q: is this part of the compliant officers role?
>>>
>>
>> I *think* what you're talking about is under section III. Initiating an
>> Informal Complaint.  The ED, Board, and Compliance Officer are all
>> identified in this paragraph as possible contacts for informal complaints.
>>
>> 2. Early notification of the compliant officer in case of serious
>>> complaints.
>>> As reason history has shown actions of investigation should been handed
>>> to the investigation soon possible. It might not be part of the
>>> Whistelblower Policy, but can we find an agreement any serious complaints
>>> the board or a board member has received, the Compliant Officer should be
>>> notified about early, before escalation!
>>>
>>
>> I agree that the Board needs to work with the Compliance Officer to
>> discuss serious complaints as early as possible.  I think that what you are
>> referring to here is basically the difference between an informal and a
>> formal complaint.  At the stage of an informal complaint, the goal is to
>> resolve the conflict with those that the conflict involves.  I have no
>> argument either for or against involving the Compliance Officer at this
>> stage.  But once we get to the formal complaint stage, then I think that
>> the Compliance Officer becomes the key player in the conflict resolution
>> process.
>>
>> In general, I think the role, responsibility of the Compliance Officer
>>> should be expressed in more clearly. As the independence of the board.
>>>
>>
>> Maybe you could provide an example wording for what you would like to see
>> changed here?  This is effectively what I was going with under section IX
>> when I say "The Compliance Officer is empowered to conduct their
>> investigations in isolation of the Board in order to maintain neutrality,
>> but are free to involve members of the Board as necessary.  It is solely
>> the Compliance Officer’s charge to determine whether or not a complaint can
>> be considered valid for investigation though any individual may submit a
>> complaint as noted above."
>>
>> ~josh
>>
>> On Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 5:07 PM, Martin Knobloch <
>> martin.knobloch at owasp.org> wrote:
>>
>>> Josh, et all,
>>>
>>> Two questions from my side as current developments raised this.
>>>
>>> 1. The compliant officers role as neutral conciliator / mediator
>>> It might be people hesitate in filing an official complaint, as this is
>>> a harsh measure, and reaching out to the compliant officer as neutral party
>>> in an not yet escalated conflict.
>>> The current policy does not describe this possibility, it comes close to
>>> "IV. Commitment to Peaceful Conflict Resolution", but without filing an
>>> official compliant.
>>> This could be in chapter "IX. Compliance Officer".
>>> Q: is this part of the compliant officers role?
>>>
>>> 2. Early notification of the compliant officer in case of serious
>>> complaints.
>>> As reason history has shown actions of investigation should been handed
>>> to the investigation soon possible. It might not be part of the
>>> Whistelblower Policy, but can we find an agreement any serious complaints
>>> the board or a board member has received, the Compliant Officer should be
>>> notified about early, before escalation!
>>>
>>> In general, I think the role, responsibility of the Compliance Officer
>>> should be expressed in more clearly. As the independence of the board.
>>>
>>> Cheers,
>>> -martin
>>>
>>> On Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 7:40 PM, Josh Sokol <josh.sokol at owasp.org>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>> Based on the feedback I received from Martin, I made a few changes to
>>>> the Whistleblower policy that I had previously sent out.  Please review
>>>> when you have a chance and feel free to provide feedback either via comment
>>>> or by responding back to this e-mail.  Here is the link:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> https://docs.google.com/a/owasp.org/document/d/1OwoHQtNGWxpr2qgSGbTqCRJJYLayh5d8zvzxoh2Cnqk/edit
>>>>
>>>> Thanks!
>>>>
>>>> ~josh
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>
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