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Rationale

One of Linux Australia’s goals is to provide members of our community with forums for discussion of Free and Open Source technologies. To facilitate these events, Linux Australia provides a legal structure, and administrative services on behalf of our community.

Linux Australia forms conference and event subcommittees in order to delegate responsibility for the organisation of individual conferences and events to enthusiastic and responsible members of our community. This includes delegating access to funds and bank accounts, and delegating authority to contract venues and suppliers for events.

This subcommittee policy exists to ensure that conferences are run effectively, and to minimise risks and liabilities to both Linux Australia and the conference team. It ensures that Linux Australia has oversight of our events, that our community is aware of the progress of events, and ensures that our events are run to a high standard.

This policy replaces Linux Australia’s former subcommittee policy for events, which involved appointing a subcommittee for each instance of each conference. This previously left open the question of conference selection and succession of conference teams.

Linux Australia also has the following requirements for conference subcommittees that need to be addressed:

  • More frequent reporting of conference activities
  • Greater oversight of budgeting and expenditure of conference funds
  • More frequent reporting of the financial state of the conference to council
  • Increasing due diligence for conference selection

The intention of this policy is to ensure that reporting is not arduous, but substantially increases Council’s awareness of how a conference is progressing. It also nominates specific avenues for conference organisers to seek advice.

Structure

Subcommittees are created by the Linux Australia Council, and each subcommittee will continue to exist at the discretion of the Council. Subcommittee members serve at the discretion of the council.

Each conference will have a single, long-standing subcommittee, which may be called a Steering subcommittee. In future, Steering subcommittees will be formed instead of the short-standing subcommittees for each instance of the conference.

A steering subcommittee consists of representatives of the team hosting the current rotation of the conference (the “site team”), and trusted representatives of the community.

Steering subcommittees consist of at least five voting members, and any number of non-voting members, known as observers.

The voting members are divided into two categories: site team representatives and community representatives. This is to ensure that community members, with the long-term interest of the conference, balance those who are more interested in the success of the current instance of the conference. All voting members must be members of Linux Australia.

Diagram of example subcommittee

Steering subcommittees must appoint a minimum of two community representatives. However, if only a single or no community representatives can be appointed, council shall act as the remaining community representatives for the purposes of voting and quorum.

The number of community representatives shall be weighted appropriately compared with the number of site representatives, subject to approval by council.

Steering subcommittees may also appoint any number of observers as they see fit.

At least the following roles should be in place:

Site Chair (Conference Director; President of the Steering subcommittee)

The lead organiser of the conference, and presides over any meeting of the subcommittee. Is directly responsible for the forthcoming instance of the conference.

Treasurer

A member of the site team. Is responsible for preparing conference budgets for consideration by the subcommittee. Prepares invoices for debtors. Prepares payments from the conference bank account for approval, and is responsible for ensuring conference debts are paid on time.

Community Representatives

Advises the subcommittee on decisions, and acts as a guiding influence to the remainder of the subcommittee. Ensures that financial decisions made by the site team have the long-term interest of the conference and LA in mind. Should be appointed from past organisers of the conference, or from trusted members of the community.

Bank Account Managers

The subcommittee should appoint at least two voting members with the ability to sign payments to the conference bank account: one must be the subcommittee treasurer.

Other Roles

Steering subcommittees may at their discretion define other formal roles, which may be fulfilled either by voting members of the subcommittee, or by observers.

Observers

Perform roles defined by the subcommittee, and are appointed by a method the subcommittee sees fit. Observers are members of a steering subcommittee, report to meetings of the subcommittee, and may request motions be put to vote, but do not have voting powers for the purposes of reporting to Council.

Observers may, at the discretion of the subcommittee, have formally defined roles for the purposes of the conference.

Role of the Subcommittee

Subcommittees will perform at least the following tasks, to ensure that their conference runs successfully, is handed over, and reports their financial situation to the council.

Nomination of Community Representatives

  • Community representatives shall be nominated by the membership, or by the Linux Australia council.
  • Community representatives shall be appointed by council from nominees.
  • Community representatives shall serve for terms of one year, commencing from the conclusion of one conference, to the conclusion of the following year’s conference.
  • Community representatives may be appointed for further terms as council sees fit.

Conference Bids and Selection (Appointment of New Site Team Representatives)

  • The subcommittee will design a bid process and receive bids for hosting a rotation of the conference. Bid processes must be approved by the LA Council before announcement.
  • A successful bid results in the subcommittee nominating two site team representatives, and designating the length of their terms. Bids shall be put to council for final approval.
  • For new or lapsed conferences, the site representatives shall be appointed upon request to the council.
  • For recurring conferences, the subcommittee should aim to advertise a bid process and accept a bid at least one year in advance of the conference instance being bid upon.
  • The site team representatives-elect become observers of the subcommittee upon their bids being accepted, until the conference immediately preceding their rotation concludes.
  • The outgoing site representatives shall remain as observers until council has deemed that the business of their rotation of the conference has concluded. Handover and Delegation of Authority
  • Observers to the subcommittee are either appointed automatically through processes in this policy, or by the voting members of the subcommittee.
  • The subcommittee may appoint observers to the subcommittee by majority vote.
  • The council can delegate authority to execute specific business of the subcommittee to any observer recognised by the subcommittee by majority vote.

Meeting and Voting

  • The subcommittee shall meet as often as is appropriate to amend their budgets and request to have funds made available.
  • The quorum for meetings shall be a majority of all members, subject to the following restrictions:
  • At least one site team representative.
  • At least one community representative.
  • If the Site Chair is not present at a meeting, the site chair shall nominate the role of presiding officer to another subcommittee member in advance of the meeting.
  • In the case of absence from a meeting, a subcommittee member may register their vote with the presiding officer in advance of the meeting.
  • Motions may only be passed by majority of all members present, as well as those who have registered proxy votes prior to a meeting. Motions shall pass only if the following conditions are met:
  • At least one community representative has voted in favour.
  • At least one site team representative has voted in favour.
  • In the case of motions regarding initial budget models, a majority of all community representatives (including those who have not voted) has voted in favour.
  • If a subcommittee member fails to vote at three consecutive meetings, the subcommittee may move a motion requesting the expulsion of that subcommittee member.

Budgeting

  • The subcommittee will meet regularly to approve budgets proposed by the treasurer.
  • For new conferences, budget models should demonstrate viability based on a minimum number of delegates, by negotiation with council, as well as attracting no sponsorship.
  • For recurring conferences, initial budget models should demonstrate viability based on multiple levels of attendance as appropriate, and no initial sponsorship.
  • Subsequent tracking budgets will also take into account actual collected sponsorship and registration funds, as well as expenses committed at the time of budgeting.
  • Budgets should consider both direct concerns of the conference, and long-term investments in the community
  • Direct concerns including the direct operation of the conference, including venues and catering, funding speakers’ attendance, etc; operating contingencies should also be budgeted for.
  • Where contingencies are spent, future budgets should have contingencies allocated to budget line items.
  • Long-term concerns include funding outreach programmes, and returning a profit to Linux Australia
  • Budget decisions must be submitted to the Linux Australia Council for final approval, accompanied by a report.
  • Subcommittees must act within the constraints of the budget most recently approved by Council.
  • The accuracy of budgets should be evidenced by written quotations and contracts where such documentation exists.
  • Documentation of costs and liabilities must be required for items representing more than 3% of the total expenses of the conference, or $5000, whichever is lower.

Conference Proceeds

  • The council takes care of a number of expenses conferences incur, such as insurance, accounting/tax issues, credit card processing fees. The council will provide the amounts/formulas for these entries to be included as expenses in the subcommittee budget.
  • Conferences must nominate a level of contingency for unforeseen expenses, and may be asked to nominate a surplus component in their budget. These amounts must meet the approval of council. The surplus proceeds of a conference contribute to the ongoing financial stability of Linux Australia and its ability to facilitate and support open technology communities.

Reporting

  • The subcommittee must report to the Linux Australia council regularly, in the form of minuted decisions and reports made by the subcommittee, including any budget updates.
  • Minutes shall be made available to the membership; items may be denoted in camera for items that need to be kept private to the subcommittee and council.
  • Financial obligations (including payment amounts and deadlines) must be reported, so the Council treasurer can make funds available to the subcommittee at appropriate times.
  • New financial obligations must be reported alongside an updated budget which takes into account the current financial situation of the conference. Council may, from time to time, request to meet with subcommittee members to discuss the state of the conference.

Responsibilities of Linux Australia

  • Linux Australia and the council will ensure that the following tasks are completed, to allow the subcommittee to successfully run the conference. Budgeting and Conference Finance
  • The Council shall consider, and vote upon budgets submitted by the subcommittee at the first available opportunity.
  • The Council shall hold the conference’s funds until such time as the Council believes these are required by the subcommittee.
  • The Council will release funds to the Site Chair and Treasurer to execute; the amount of funds made available should take into account contracted payment deadlines, per the reports made by the subcommittee.

Appointment of Subcommittee Members

  • Council shall appoint subcommittee members from eligible nominations in a time frame that will not impact the operation of the conference.
  • Where a council appoints new members to the subcommittee, the council will update the subcommittee register appropriately.
  • The council will not appoint subcommittee members without a minuted nomination from the membership, except:
  • When the community fails to nominate members after members’ designated terms expire
  • When it is of the opinion of the council that the subcommittee is acting against the financial interests of Linux Australia

Expulsion of Subcommittee Members

  • Where the subcommittee passes an expulsion motion, the Council will, at the first available opportunity, ensure that the subcommittee register is updated, and that a replacement is appointed in line with the policy.

Dispute Resolution

  • Any member of the association may appeal to the Linux Australia council regarding a minuted decision of the subcommittee to request arbitration. In this case, arbitration may be performed at the discretion of council. *If two subcommittee members appeal to the Linux Australia council regarding a minuted decision of the subcommittee, the Linux Australia council MUST engage in arbitration.