The board of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has approved and implemented two new measures designed to help make FSF governance more transparent, accountable, ethical, and responsible. They are a Board Member Agreement that enumerates the responsibilities of board members, and a Code of Ethics that lays out principles to guide their decision-making and activities.
“The FSF has always been a steady beacon for freedom and against the widespread mistreatment of computer users,” said FSF president Geoffrey Knauth. “In the last year, the board realized that we faced a challenge and opportunity to improve our governance practices and recruit new leaders to the FSF board. I’m proud of this important step in that ongoing work.”
The new measures are the first products of a six-month, consultant-led review. They formalize crucial aspects of the FSF’s governance, and will guide board members to understand and embrace their responsibilities to the nonprofit’s worldwide mission to promote computer user freedom.
The new Board Member Agreement spells out nineteen duties and responsibilities, including minimum expectations for organizational and financial oversight, participation in board activities, the recruitment of associate members, and annual performance reviews.
The Code of Ethics details thirteen specific provisions establishing how the board of directors will conduct the business affairs of the organization in good faith and with honesty, integrity, due diligence, and competence.
All current board members have signed and committed to upholding the new governance standards. These standards will be an important part of the FSF’s new process for evaluating and recruiting board members that is under review, and will be announced in early 2022. All candidate board members will be expected to uphold these standards upon joining the board.
Knauth said, “We want to make clear what the duties and responsibilities of board members are, as we work hard to attract new talent to keep the Foundation moving into the future, so that it will always be there to protect hard-won freedoms.”