Draft of new NZOSS Constitution ready for review

Posted on: November 24, 2019 - 22:21 By: dave

At long last, we've got a draft of our new Constitution for your review.

There's a primary goal behind this rewrite of the Constitution:

We need to correct that problem with the current Constitution - is the 3rd bullet under the "Council Meetings" section: "The quorum for meetings of Council shall be seven members." That was an oversight. The rest of the constitution always uses a percentage (e.g. 75%) or proportion (e.g. more than half) to describe council numbers. So for most of the past year we've had 6 and now 5 councilors, meaning we're technically in breach of the Constitution, although not the spirit.

Given that we're going to the trouble of getting the membership to accept this minor constitutional tweak, we thought we'd clear out a bit of technical debt and do a bit of additional refactoring in the process, so the additional goals are to:

  • make sure our shared community values shine through. We cite a separate Tikanga document which, like our Code of Conduct, can evolve more fluidly than our Constitution (which requires a vote of the member with 75% in support to pass) by being external documents. [Do people think this is appropriate? Or should we try to include more invariant tikanga within the Constitution itself?]

  • simplify the constitution to make sure, where possible, that only things important to us are specified, particularly to avoid accidentally cutting off areas of activity that might be aligned with our values in future.

  • make sure we're in line with Charities Commission expectations - this Constitution is based on their "ConstitutionBuilder" and includes all the mandatory and recommended sections, as well as some of the optional ones where we thought it appropriate. A lot of what they recommend - based on others' experience - is crucial if thing go pear-shaped sometime in the future.

  • reflect the expansion of the "open source" playing field since 2003 when the Society was founded. Today, the ideas behind Free and Open Source are being applied in many areas outside of software, including hardware, ethical businesses/B Corps, hardware, data, government, education, legislation, and standards among others. We wanted to make sure that these - and other areas - areas also fall under our purview.

Comment Period

We will allow until 9pm Tues 26 Nov for people to review and comment on this draft. Instructions for commenting are on the draft Constitution itself.

Constitutional Vote

We will then have the vote for the Constitution from 8am 28 - 8pm 30 Nov on our survey site (the link will be sent to eligible voters, i.e. financial members). We will publish the result of the vote on 1 December.