[Owasp-leaders] On ring-fencing finances, communicating with OWASP and more

Jim Manico jim.manico at owasp.org
Mon Aug 17 22:12:13 UTC 2015

The OWASP foundation made a promise to chapters - years ago - that we 
would isolate earned funds from each chapter for that chapter only. We 
then set up a regional conference profit sharing program for chapters 
and gave chapters a percentage of membership funds for members that 
flagged their chapter. This was all set up years ago before the election 
of any current board member.

I do not think the foundation should break that promise (if not verbal 
contract) to chapters around the world and reverse current chapter 

But we can certainly change that policy moving forward if needed, which 
is actively being discussed by the board, staff and others.

I look at this as many things in computer science - as a tradeoff, not a 
battle between good and evil.

Again, my hope is that we work together as adults to collaborate on a 
better policy if one is needed. *There is no way we are going to make 
everyone happy*. If you mess with chapter ringfencing, you are going to 
upset a lot of very hard working and active chapters. If we leave the 
ringfencing, it's going to limit major investment capability of the 

This is not a cut and dry issue in my opinion. I can see the benefits 
either way. I am most concerned about what the community thinks is best 
and what is best for the foundation and serving our mission.

Also, the whole board voting process slows things down. That "slowing" 
factor, like adaptive key generation algorithms, is by design. It takes 
a voting quorum of board members to significantly change policy or 
embark on major investments. So for those of you who are frustrated by 
what you perceive as "bureaucracy" then when what is the alternative? Do 
you want one "king" to just make all decisions? Do you want any member 
to just dictate new policy? I think for sure governance can be very 
inefficient - but no governance is even more inefficient.

So please, if you want to see something changed - there are positive 
avenues to do so. *Propose an bylaw change to the board or just ask 
questions on the board list,* *talk with members of staff,* *participate 
on the governance email list and trigger good debate* - while emailing 
the leaders list is a good way to get community involvement in your 
cause - please consider following  through with action that works with 
the foundation to actually make change beyond leaders list email.

*Communication Resources:*

 1. Contact the Staff w/ Tracking: https://www.tfaforms.com/308703
 2. OWASP Board List: https://lists.owasp.org/listinfo/owasp-board
 3. OWASP Governance List:


Jim Manico
Global Board Member
OWASP Foundation
Join me at AppSecUSA 2015!

PS: When the OWASP foundation did not use tracking forms, we received a 
large number of complains that support issues fell through the cracks. 
Now that we have a contact form with a tracking ID, we get complaints of 
bureaucracy. I think it's more important to NOT let issues fall through 
the cracks...

On 8/17/15 11:31 AM, Eoin Keary wrote:
> Johanna,
> The funds distribution in OWASP is broken. Has been broken for years. 
> Some funds are legally allocated to chapters and projects and can not 
> be moved. Other funds can be moved but the mix is unclear.
> The Owasp foundation should have reserved the right to allocate funds 
> where required. I believe this has been done but unsure.
> I believe some of the funds in OWASP would be best used as banking 
> test data as it will persist in banking systems forever :)
> This is my humble understanding of the issue.
> Eoin Keary
> OWASP Volunteer
> @eoinkeary
> On 17 Aug 2015, at 18:04, johanna curiel curiel 
> <johanna.curiel at owasp.org <mailto:johanna.curiel at owasp.org>> wrote:
>>  >I don't think there is anything preventing a project from doing the 
>> same, but I haven't seen it done at this point.
>> I think we need to create Project Summits in the form of events with 
>> the whole purpose to gather funds for projects .Open samm has done 
>> this and I think we can try that. Fo that we need the support of the 
>> staff Business liaison, Event manager, just as they put their work 
>> and efforts in Events and appsecs. Here cut share between OWASp staff 
>> time and projects can also be done.
>>  >OWASP has a project funding bucket.
>> Look, Denver chapter has around 50K in their bucket. The richest 
>> Project is ZAP with 10k... but thats is the exception. Even worse 
>> when you look at chapters outside US or EU, mine has only USD40 
>> dollars. Most projects have Zero Dollars.
>> And the limits right now are a support but do not help to get 
>> important things moving like OWASP Academy portal, Leaders like 
>> Azzedine assist and show case his chapter or project or other more 
>> complex initiatives. Or major improvements or promotions to their 
>> projects.
>>   >Remember that the Board is just a handful of leaders who were 
>> elected to set the compass.
>>   Yes but how do they know where to go, that's why the survey. The 
>> survey is the compass. And the leaders are elected to listed to the 
>> community.
>> And About committees...
>> The only existing active committee right now is the Project Review 
>> (which I still call myself a taskforce). I haven't see much 
>> initiatives or participation from other committees. So the committee 
>> concept in theory seemed like a great idea but in practice is not 
>> working because in my eyes, creating a committee is creating a mini 
>> board inside OWASP. We do not want to create oligarchies in the end.
>>   I thik we should cut off that comitee idea and be more practical. 
>> More like this
>>   Example:
>>   * John Lita wants to create an academy portal but developing it
>>     costs money and resources that volunteers alone cannot be easy
>>     pull off(owaspa project was the same and died, just like many
>>     educational initiatives)
>>   * John must create a proposal with defined goals and how to reach
>>     them. He joins other volunteers in this effort. No need to be a
>>     commitee.
>>   *  John & Claudia create a survey and seek support of the community
>>   *   If the idea has major feedback and volunteers, then John has
>>     the support from the staff to execute including looking for
>>     sponsors using crowdsource funding portals
>>   * Staff monitors development and results of the actions taken
>>   * Staff reports results to the community back
>> This is in my eyes how I have been working in the end, because , as 
>> volunteers, available time mostly depends on one or 2 passionate 
>> individuals like John-Lita, which are more dedicated and the rest 
>> follows...
>> Now if we want to change things, don't tell me to set a committee, 
>> because Josh , this has not work so far.
>>  Allow me  and let the staff know that they should support me and any 
>> other volunteers seeking for implementing their ideas ;-).
>> Lets cut the red tape with committees and let people know that if 
>> they want to do something,
>>   * Contact the staff.
>>   * Set a survey and gather support
>>   * Need more money? Set a crowd funding project @
>>     https://www.kickstarter.com under OWASP
>>   * Volunteers implement idea or project with the support of owasp
>>     staff and other volunteers
>> How do we get this idea to action?
>> Shall we create a survey?
>> Do you need to discuss this on a board meeting?
>> How do I get empowered and let the staff know that as a volunteer I 
>> have your support for this?(if I do?
>> You see...how dependable I'm from the board to be able to execute?
>> Off course I can always do this on my own but them I better do it 
>> without OWASP...
>> Regards
>> Johanna
>> On Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 10:55 AM, Josh Sokol <josh.sokol at owasp.org 
>> <mailto:josh.sokol at owasp.org>> wrote:
>>     Johanna,
>>     Thank you for putting your thoughts out there for everyone. 
>>     Silence is not good for anyone and OWASP will be far more
>>     successful if we know what our leaders are struggling with and
>>     make a conscious effort to improve it.  I think that many of your
>>     points are very valid and strongly support the idea of polls to
>>     gauge community support for actions being taken.  I also support
>>     the idea that the Board should be making as few of these
>>     decisions as possible and putting the power back in the hands of
>>     the community with support from the staff.  The Board should be
>>     the "compass" making sure that we are moving in the right
>>     direction with the community and staff being the ones actually
>>     pushing us forward.  That's not to say that members of the Board
>>     won't have their own projects or initiatives, but they do so as
>>     part of the community, not because of their roles on the Board. 
>>     The Committees 2.0 framework was a first step in driving this
>>     level of empowerment back to the community while maintaining
>>     accountability and providing appropriately scoped actions.  My
>>     impression was that the Projects Committee was rolling forward
>>     quite well under this guidance, but it sounds like maybe I was
>>     wrong.  Are there specific actions that you have tried to take on
>>     the committee that got blocked by the Board or hung up in "red
>>     tape"?  Are there needs for funding that haven't been met?
>>     Regarding the project vs chapter funding schemas, I'm not sure
>>     that there is a good answer.  Projects are typically made up of a
>>     pocket of individuals. Typically one leader with sometimes one or
>>     two others assisting.  Chapters are typically anywhere from 20
>>     people to hundreds.  We provide members with the ability to
>>     allocate their funds to either, but most associate themselves
>>     with a chapter rather than a project because that's where they
>>     participate. We also have chapters putting on conferences with
>>     the goal of raising funds.  I don't think there is anything
>>     preventing a project from doing the same, but I haven't seen it
>>     done at this point.  Those are the two main ways that I see
>>     chapters raising money.  Yes, there is certainly a difference in
>>     schemas and projects will have a more difficult time, but that's
>>     also why OWASP has a project funding bucket. Money from these
>>     local events as well as funds raised by our AppSec conferences
>>     gets budgeted specifically for this purpose.  To my knowledge, no
>>     reasonable request for funds by projects has been denied.  Just
>>     because there isn't money sitting "ring fenced" in an account for
>>     the projects, doesn't mean that there isn't money that can be
>>     spent.  It just means that it needs to be requested from the
>>     pool.  Yes, it's a different model of funding, but the end result
>>     is the same.  There are funds available at OWASP for everyone who
>>     needs them.
>>     There are obviously many things that need to be improved at OWASP
>>     and, unfortunately, the Board has been tied up in rules, events,
>>     bylaws, etc for a while now.  It's definitely not the "fun" part
>>     of the job and it is very time consuming. That said, I would
>>     argue that these are the things that need to be changed in order
>>     for everyone else (staff, community, etc) to be able to be better
>>     served. We've made several changes to the Bylaws and are working
>>     on more.  We've hired an Executive Director (Paul), an Event
>>     Manager (Laura), a Community Manager (Noreen), and a Project
>>     Coordinator (Claudia) just in the almost two years that I've been
>>     on the Board.  The needle on the compass is set and, while it
>>     takes some time to right the ship, we are getting there by giving
>>     our community the support it requires to be successful.  So,
>>     here's my general thought:
>>     1) If it's within the scope of a defined Committee, JUST DO IT!
>>     2) If there's no Committee defined for it, CREATE ONE, then JUST
>>     DO IT!
>>     3) If a Committee doesn't make sense, ASK THE STAFF FOR IT!
>>     4) If asking the staff isn't working or we need to change a
>>     policy to make it happen, LET THE BOARD KNOW!
>>     The Board should be the last resort, in my opinion, not the
>>     first.  We should be the enabler, not the bottleneck.  I think
>>     that our leaders make too many assumptions (probably based on
>>     past Board actions) about what needs to go to the Board and we
>>     need to get away from that.  Remember that the Board is just a
>>     handful of leaders who were elected to set the compass.  We have
>>     a finite number of things that we can handle and our Board
>>     meetings are typically overflowing with topics.  So, if something
>>     is bothering you, I would encourage you to change it. That's why,
>>     with the David Rook situation, I encouraged creation of a new
>>     Committee to determine a reasonable solution.  If it requires a
>>     policy change by the Board, then we can vote on that, but asking
>>     the Board to take action just perpetuates the oligarchy that you
>>     mention in your e-mail.  Instead of pushing these issues up to
>>     the Board for action, let's have the community DECIDE what they
>>     want and have the Board change the compass needle via bylaws,
>>     policies, and staff discussions, accordingly.  At least, that's
>>     my vision for OWASP.  Is that something that you can get on board
>>     with?
>>     ~josh
>>     On Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 8:11 AM, johanna curiel curiel
>>     <johanna.curiel at owasp.org <mailto:johanna.curiel at owasp.org>> wrote:
>>         Members of the board,
>>         With the recent issue regarding David Rook, and my latest
>>         experience with red-tape, I'm proposing the following.
>>         My goals is to call your attention to these issues which I
>>         have been observing for a years and not as a critique to your
>>         work, but I think if you do not pay attention to these issues
>>         and DO something about them, OWASP will loose valuable
>>         community participation.
>>           * When an initiative is proposed or launched by a member of
>>             the board, this should be followed up by a survey where
>>             the community can vote.Wether is a rule or money, these
>>             decisions should be taken based on collected data and
>>             proper substantiation to avoid oligarchy
>>           * When an initiative is launched by a member of the
>>             community, especially when this initiative cost more than
>>             10k, it should be substantiated with data how this
>>             initiative will benefit the community. Also should be
>>             followed by a survey
>>           * Staff should help creating the survey and analyse the votes
>>           * *In other words: do more survey to find out what the
>>             community needs and wants.*
>>         My observations and where I think you need to give more
>>         attention:
>>           * Board/Executive director should work closer with the
>>             staff for guidance and empowering their role. I have the
>>             feeling that the staff is paralysed waiting for
>>             instructions or following strict rules. The staff should
>>             be motivated to take initiative and implement projects on
>>             their own that can help the community. They should not be
>>             too dependent on an Executive director or member of the
>>             board for this part
>>         As I see it ,OWASP is known for his Projects & Chapter
>>         leaders which as volunteers have contributed the most to set
>>         OWASP on the spotlight. Therefore:
>>           * You should determine and implement better ways  to
>>             provide better funding schemas for projects . This is
>>             something a volunteer cannot do. And /nothing/ has been
>>             done to help  solve this issue
>>           * There is an unfair inequality in the way chapters can
>>             generate funds vs Projects.
>>           * Money is locked down in the chapters budget
>>           * Chapters outside US & EU have more struggles to find
>>             support. You should consider a way to support better
>>             these ones since their countries are not developed in the
>>             area of security as countries in EU and US.
>>           * Follow up: when issues like David Rook or a volunteer
>>             rants(like me or others ) out of frustation, take action.
>>             Put it in the agenda and try to solve and discuss the
>>             issues to improve the actual problems. So far I have seen
>>             very little follow up on major issues and discussions
>>             raised in the mailing lists
>>           * Way to much attention to rules, /events/ and bylaws etc.
>>             Time to take action and take decisions and propose plans
>>             for improvements of the actual situation above mentioned
>>         Being that said, and with all due respect to you, I hope that
>>         you can take actions and /execute/ improvements that have
>>         been an issue since I joined OWASP 3 years ago.
>>         Regards
>>         Johanna
>>         _______________________________________________
>>         Governance mailing list
>>         Governance at lists.owasp.org <mailto:Governance at lists.owasp.org>
>>         https://lists.owasp.org/mailman/listinfo/governance
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