Fedora

Fedora Regional Budgets in FY2014

The fiscal year of the Fedora Project and all our financial terms follow Red Hat which means that our fiscal year ended February 28th. Since then FAmSCo and regional treasurers have been working on making the final account for the just ended fiscal year. It mostly involved catching all late expenses from the last quarter. And the results?

EMEA – $21,940 spent out of $22,100 budget – I was actually surprised we ended up so close to the limit, spending everything we’ve been given and not overspending. I know managing budgets and expenses is difficult for employees of Red Hat, you can imagine how hard it is in a community of volunteers spread all over the continent.

LATAM – $12,436 spent out of $12,100 budget – LATAM overspent a bit, but it’s very much in the “OK” zone and I’m actually glad that they dealt very well with the new situation that planning and budgeting is now in their hands.

APAC – $9,591 spent out of $17,100 budget – unlike LATAM, APAC had problems to spend what they projected mainly due to the fact that many events they planned never happened. Definitely a lesson learned for the future.

NA – N/A – it’s the only region where we don’t have a clear picture how the money were spent because there was no community tracking of expenses. Many expenses there are paid directly by redhatters and are not reported reported back to the community immediately like in other regions.We hope to improve this.

And what are our budgets for this fiscal year? I think Ruth Suehle allocated the budget among regions quite fairly mainly based on what the regions fulfilled the plans in the last year:

NA – $43,850
EMEA – $32,000
APAC – $12,650
LATAM – $16,500

And if you wonder what’s being paid from these regional budgets it’s mainly swag (stickers, badges, case badges, mugs, hats, fliers), media, travel and lodging subsidies for Fedora contributors to represent Fedora at various events etc. Although it’s mostly handled by ambassadors it’s open to any Fedora contributors.

 

Fedora

FAmSCo in F20 Term

Yesterday, we had the last FAmSCo meeting with the old set of members and it was effectively our last meeting in the F20 term. So I suppose it’s the right time to report how FAmSCo was working in the just ended term. Here are some stats:

Number of meetings: 31 (only 2 were cancelled due to Flock and Christmas holidays)Average attendance: 5.1 / 7 members (we didn’t reach quorum of 4 members in only one occasion)
Total number of topics discussed: 125 (4 per meeting)

Activity of members by number of meetings attended:

  1. Alejandro Perez 30
  2. Jiří Eischmann 25
  3. Robert Mayr 24
  4. Luis Bazán 24
  5. Truong Anh Tuan 21
  6. Christoph Wickert 20
  7. Buddhika Chandradeepa Kurera 9

As you can see Alejandro was again the ironman of FAmSCo in the last term, missing just one meeting. He will be missed in FAmSCo.

Activity of members by numbers of messages posted:

  1. Jiří Eischmann 1781 (71 per meeting)
  2. Christoph Wickert 1049 (52)
  3. Truong Anh Tuan 841 (40)
  4. Alejandro Perez 759 (25)
  5. Robert Mayr 570 (24)
  6. Luis Bazán 265 (11)
  7. Buddhika Chandradeepa Kurera 74 (8)

The highest number of messages posted for me is no surprise considering I chaired most of the meetings.

I’d like to note that this post is not meant to be a judgement of FAmSCo member’s contributions. It’s far more complex. But it’s nice to see that FAmSCo is active and we meet, discuss and make decisions regularly.

I’d like to thank the members that are leaving FAmSCo, especially Alejandro who served as the vice-chair in the last term and missed almost no meeting during his one and half year in FAmSCo. I’m very much looking forward to new members: Neville A. Cross and Jon Disnard. Both are a long-term contributors who have been very active in the regional communities. I’m also glad that all regions have representatives in FAmSCo again. That’s a very important thing for the communication between FAmSCo and the regions.

Fedora

FAmSCo in F19 term

The last meeting of FAmSCo in Fedora 19 term took place on Monday. Let me show you how we worked in the term through several statistics:

Time period: December 17th – June 24th

Total number of meetings: 27

Total duration of meetings: 29 hours and 14 minutes

Total number of discussed topics: 130

Number of meetings attended:

  1. Alejandro Perez – 27 (iron man who didn’t miss a single meeting, my fedora off to you, Alejandro!)
  2. Jiri Eischmann – 23
  3. Christoph Wickert – 19
  4. Truong Anh Tuan – 19
  5. Clint Savage – 16
  6. Nick Bebout – 15
  7. Buddhika Chandradeepa Kurera – 12

Number of messages written:

  1. Jiri Eischmann – 1682
  2. Christoph Wickert – 1416
  3. Truong Anh Tuan – 803
  4. Alejandro Perez – 679
  5. Clint Savage – 498
  6. Buddhika Chandradeepa Kurera – 276
  7. Nick Bebout – 127

Yes, it’s just stats. I also will try to blog more about problems FAmSCo is fighting. And you can come to my talk “Fedora Ambassadors: State of the Union” which has been accepted to Flock. I will talk about it there, too.

Fedora

FAm Budget and Governance Reform

We’ve entered the new fiscal year in which we’re facing a lot of changes and new things. No, I’m not talking about GNOME 4 or systemd 2 🙂 I mean changes in governance of Fedora Ambassadors. In FAmSCo, we worked on one of the biggest changes in how Fedora Ambassadors (and other contributors, too, because they’re not excluded) can spend money. But before I start explaining all the changes, let me state problems we were facing and reasons why we did the changes:

  • Our spending was decreasing. It sounds like something good, but in fact, it meant that we were doing less and less activities. Financial deporting wasn’t good (it was something we couldn’t really influence) and the whole community including FAmSCo lived in uncertainty how much money we have spent and how much we still can spend. So we rather didn’t spend. And because the classic corporate rule says “if you don’t spend it, you’ll lose it”, Fedora’s budget was shrinking.
  • FAmSCo evaluated almost all funding requests, so instead of focusing on “big” problems, we were dealing with day-to-day problems which is something a steering committee is not for.
  • Decision-making was pretty centralized and local communities were not so involved.

And here are the changes:

  • BUDGETING – first we wanted to remove the uncertainty which caused that we were afraid to spend money and do activities. Before that, FAmSCo was just approving requests and kept asking CommArch/OSAS if we still have money left and mostly we didn’t get any answer because of slow financial reporting. Now, we actually do budget planning and ask OSAS for an annual budget for the upcoming year. It has two positive outcomes: 1. we actually know how much we can spend and if we properly track our expenses we don’t even have to rely on Red Hat’s financial reporting and know how much money we have left. 2. if you’re making a budget and asking for money, you have to have an idea how to spend them. So instead of planning just expenses you actually plan activities on which you spend money. Of course, you can’t plan everything. There are always unexpected activities, new opportunities. We don’t want to turn them down just because we don’t have them in the budget. That’s why there is a treasurer/budget wrangler in each region that adjust and balance the budget. Budgeting is new to us, so this fiscal year is going to be a lot about gaining experience.
  • POWER TO REGIONS! we also believe that the power should be closer to community members. So we decided that the overall budget would be divided into 4 regional budgets: NA, EMEA, LATAM APAC. Each region had to think about what activities they’d do this fiscal year and how to fund them. It really helped some regions because until then they had hardly done any planning and had problems to spend money allocated to them. And I must say it helped all regions in the end. Now, regions are responsible for their budgets and they also evaluate and approve funding requests that belong to the region.
  • NEW APPROVAL PROCESS – because we gave regional communities the right to approve requests, we had to change the approval process. It was really difficult to find rules that would be applicable in all regions. We really didn’t want to damage what was working well for regions. So we decided to give them freedom within some boundaries and provide referenced rules. The boundary is $2000 limit per request. If it’s higher it needs to be approved by FAmSCo. The referenced rules are that expenses up to $500 can be approved on peer-review level (by a FAmSCo member, or community credit card holder), and expenses between $500 and $2000 needs to be approved by the local community (votes from 5 ambassadors at a regional meeting). Those limits and rules are not enforced by FAmSCo, regions can set whatever they want as long as they ask FAmSCo about requests over $2000, stay within their budget, and do everything transparently.

governanceOn the picture above, you can see the overall process. First step is budget planning. Regional community members have to get together and plan what they’d like to do in the next year and how much money they will need for it. Once their plan is approved by Fedora budget owner, they have a budget and know what events/activities/… they have money for, e.g. $2000 for FOSDEM. The approval process is about decisions how exactly they’d like to spend the money. How much do we need for swag at the booth at FOSDEM, is this contributor worth sponsoring airfare to the conference? All those requests should be in separate tickets and approved separately. The third step is payment itself. If it’s reimbursement it’s where community credit card holders come to the stage. They should make sure that all conditions under which the expense was approved were met and make the payment happen.

FAQ

I’m a community credit card holder, trusted by Red Hat to make payments. Why do I have to ask for an approval?

You surely are trusted by Red Hat to make payments, but payments are not expenses. Payments are done from a bank credit, expenses are done from a budget. Every payment has to match a budget expense in the end. You can find different budgets to make expenses from, but if your payment should end up as an expense in one of the regional budgets, in other words, become their expense, it’s fair to play according to their rules.

FAmSCo is taking power from us!

In fact, FAmSCo has given up a lot of power. We no longer approve most requests. FAmSCo now mainly serves as a supervisor making sure the whole system works and no one abuses it. Most of the power is now in the regional communities, much closer to community members.

Why should FAmSCo dictate us how to spend Fedora Project’s money? It’s not the emperor of Fedora Project, it only takes care of the Fedora Ambassadors program.

The whole governance and budget system I’m talking about applies to the regional support budget which has always been handled by ambassadors. But that doesn’t mean other contributors are excluded. They have an equal right to ask for funding from this budget as long as they follow the rules.

Why do we need rules anyway? We’re a community of Fedora enthusiasts. Good intentions should be enough.

Well, you’re a community of hundreds of people, maybe thousands. Such big communities can’t work without rules. That’s a fact. The governance and budget system helps us plan, prioritize with limited resources and make sure money is spent wisely. All our expenses also end up in RH accounting which has to follow many rules and legal restrictions. We tried to design the system to be as least bureaucracy as possible and we’re open to improvements if you think that there is too much red tape in some processes.

Useful links:

Reimbursements

EMEA Budget for FY14
NA Budget for FY14
LATAM Budget for FY14
APAC Budget for FY14